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Letter to the editor
U.S. Constitution wasn't meant to change with times
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Forsyth County News


Applying “original intent” is the only morally valid method of interpreting the U.S. Constitution, because in applying the Constitution we are upholding the will of and restrictions placed on government by the People.  When we “expand,” “modify,” or “update” the interpretation of the Constitution without amending it, we are not violating “the will of the Founders;” we are violating the compact between the governed and the government they consented to.

While the Founders’ intent and debates are instructive of how the Constitution should be applied, we need to remember that the Constitution was not ratified by the Founders.  The Founders had no authority to adopt the Constitution on behalf of the People. In fact, those opposed to the Constitution criticized the document and Constitutional Convention, asking “Who were these men to speak for ‘the People,’ “ because they were merely delegates sent there by the states (see the Anti-Federalist Papers).

For this reason, the Constitution was sent for ratification to the people, and was considered by and adopted by ratifying conventions, whose delegates were elected separately from those of the state legislatures.  Thus, the argument that the Constitution was adopted by the states is incorrect — it was adopted by the People.

To this, liberals typically respond, “But so much has changed since then and we cannot continue to interpret the Constitution according to original intent and have it be effective in modern times,” or better yet, “No one alive today approved the Construction, so why should we be held to the intent of people 200 years ago?”

The answer to both questions is that because the Constitution was ratified by the people, it can only be amended by the people, and indeed it has been on several occasions. Once adopted, the Constitution, as lawfully amended, is accepted by succeeding generations by assent and acquiescence, binding these succeeding generations to the intent of the drafters at the time the Constitution or the Amendment was ratified.

As such, to allow the judiciary, president, or even the legislative branch to bend, change, or reinterpret the Constitution in contradiction to the intent of the People at the time the Constitution or any of its respective amendments gave such powers to the government is to steal power to which it has no right from the only source it may be derived — that is the People.

Ethan Underwood