Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Cruel Intentions

Read the ACLU brief for the upcoming Supreme Court case of McCreary County v. ACLU. Watch the ACLU utterly smack down the arguments for having the 10 commandments displayed in the courtroom (at least in this case). Smile and realize that the Court almost definitely will ignore the arguments and uphold the display anyway.

I got the link via Crescat's Waddling Thunder, who, while impressed with the argument, is unsure that the "Founders could have meant anything so draconian." I have never quite understood the "Framers' intent" theory of constitutional law. Basically, that theory says that we should look to what the Framers would have believed a certain clause of a law should do when interpreting that law--even, and here's where it gets messy, when that interpretation seems entirely at odds with the principle underlying the law. There seem to be several possible conclusions one can draw from that theory. The first is that the framers deliberately left their own prejudices out of the constitution for a reason--so that we were truly governed by laws, not men. That, of course, would defeat the FI theory on its own terms--it would be the framers intent that we not look at the framers intent. The second would be that the framers just assumed their prejudices were not inconsistent with the text. However, that appears to be incorrect, and it strikes me as odd that we'd ignore the text and uphold the musings of John Adams (or whomever). If the law says "free speech," but the framer thinks "but that can't possibly apply to sedition," all that means is the framer is contradicting himself. It doesn't exercise a magical power to exorcise "seditious speech" from "speech." This shouldn't be that hard of a concept. There is a third conclusion, I suppose, which is that America was meant to be in perpetual serfdom to the particular, extra-constitutional whims of Madison, et al. I would presume, however, that if this was the case, they would have given us some inkling of it in the "supreme law of the land."

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