Discussion board topic 5: constitutional interpretation

Our system of government is based on the Constitution. It outlines in general terms the powers of government and the rights retained by the people.

Among the problems with the constitution is the fact that it is inherently ambiguous. No one knows what it means, despite the fact that many people confidently assert their personal interpretation as “the meaning” of various provisions.

For example, Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3 assigns sole authority over “commerce… among the several states” (interstate commerce) to the federal government. But what does that mean? “Interstate commerce,” according to the dictionary definitions of the words, means commerce between or among states, as opposed to “intrastate commerce,” which would be commerce entirely within a state. So does the fact that a factory is inside a state mean it’s “intrastate,” and thus immune from federal regulation? (This is how the supreme court ruled until 1937.) Or does the fact that the goods produced in the factory are shipped across state lines mean it’s “interstate.” (As the court rules today, though the current governor of Texas would like to change that.)

To give one more example, what does “freedom of speech” mean? Again, we all know the dictionary definitions of the words, but the court has held that our speech is not really free in many instances. We can’t joke about bombs at the airport. We can’t yell “fire” in a crowded theater, when there’s no fire. We can’t say things that are false and harmful about other people. We can’t send, or even possess, certain types of pornography. And there are, of course, many other limitations. So what does “free speech” mean? Who knows?

The same thing can be said of all powers and rights in the constitution.

So, we don’t know what, exactly, the powers of the government are, and we don’t know what, exactly, our rights are, in particular fact situations.

Our way of resolving this problem is that we have a supreme court to decide. The court hears and rules on dozens of cases each year, many of which result in more or less power for the government and more of less extensive rights for the people. But the members of the court are just people like us. And though they’ve spent a lot of time studying, they can no more answer all the questions presented to them than you or I could. At least not in a way that everyone will agree is “the meaning” of some power or right.

The best we can hope for is that people will accept rulings of the court, understanding that future rulings may change what the constitution “means,” and they regularly have.

Given that we depend on the court to establish, for now, what the constitution means, how they interpret it becomes very important. There are many ways scholars think about how members of the court interpret the constitution. One common way to think about interpretation is “originalism” versus “living constitutionalism.”

An originalist thinks we should try as best we can to get inside the heads of the framers in 1787 to figure out what they would have said in answer to a question, and do that.

A living constitutionalist thinks we should be mindful of changes in society since 1787 and use the basic principles outlined in the constitution to answer questions as they should be answered today.

Both arguments are made by smart people who want what’s best for America and its people.

QUESTION: What do you think? How should judges interpret the constitution?

Remember you need to make your “Initial Post” of at least 250 words 

Semester Papers
Calculate your paper price
Pages (550 words)
Approximate price: -

Why Work with Us

Top Quality and Well-Researched Papers

We always make sure that writers follow all your instructions precisely. You can choose your academic level: high school, college/university or professional, and we will assign a writer who has a respective degree.

Professional and Experienced Academic Writers

We have a team of professional writers with experience in academic and business writing. Many are native speakers and able to perform any task for which you need help.

Free Unlimited Revisions

If you think we missed something, send your order for a free revision. You have 10 days to submit the order for review after you have received the final document. You can do this yourself after logging into your personal account or by contacting our support.

Prompt Delivery and 100% Money-Back-Guarantee

All papers are always delivered on time. In case we need more time to master your paper, we may contact you regarding the deadline extension. In case you cannot provide us with more time, a 100% refund is guaranteed.

Original & Confidential

We use several writing tools checks to ensure that all documents you receive are free from plagiarism. Our editors carefully review all quotations in the text. We also promise maximum confidentiality in all of our services.

24/7 Customer Support

Our support agents are available 24 hours a day 7 days a week and committed to providing you with the best customer experience. Get in touch whenever you need any assistance.

Try it now!

Calculate the price of your order

Total price:
$0.00

How it works?

Follow these simple steps to get your paper done

Place your order

Fill in the order form and provide all details of your assignment.

Proceed with the payment

Choose the payment system that suits you most.

Receive the final file

Once your paper is ready, we will email it to you.

Our Services

No need to work on your paper at night. Sleep tight, we will cover your back. We offer all kinds of writing services.

Essays

Essay Writing Service

No matter what kind of academic paper you need and how urgent you need it, you are welcome to choose your academic level and the type of your paper at an affordable price. We take care of all your paper needs and give a 24/7 customer care support system.

Admissions

Admission Essays & Business Writing Help

An admission essay is an essay or other written statement by a candidate, often a potential student enrolling in a college, university, or graduate school. You can be rest assurred that through our service we will write the best admission essay for you.

Reviews

Editing Support

Our academic writers and editors make the necessary changes to your paper so that it is polished. We also format your document by correctly quoting the sources and creating reference lists in the formats APA, Harvard, MLA, Chicago / Turabian.

Reviews

Revision Support

If you think your paper could be improved, you can request a review. In this case, your paper will be checked by the writer or assigned to an editor. You can use this option as many times as you see fit. This is free because we want you to be completely satisfied with the service offered.