Justification and Weaknesses of the Non-Interpretive Model
The question of Constitutional interpretation still has yet to be resolved. Should only the explicit commands of our nation's Founding Fathers be referenced in courts of law, or can it be justified that an outside body should extrapolate from the specific text of the Constitution to define and defend additional fundamental rights? Further, if this body, namely the Supreme Court, bases its decisions of constitutional relevance not wholly on exact interpretation, then regardless of reason, are they wholly illegitimate? The non-interpretive model allows the Court to interpret beyond the exact wording of the Constitution to define and protect the values of a society. The question of how the non-interpretative model can be justified must be answered. Despite much remaining confusion between the two models, it is clear that history has chosen the non-interpretative model without which many of the defining points in our nation's history would be unjustified.
The overwhelming strength of the non-interpretive model is that it has allowed for many fundamental decisions that have served to protect the natural rights of the members of this society. If on the other hand the interpretive model is to be accepted, a significant number of decisions must be revoked. Briefly, the majority of the due process clause is no longer justified. Fair criminal and civil procedures must be dismantled since they have no specific textual reference in the Constitution. Freedom of speech, religion, and property rights are all called in question. Also affected is the legitimacy of franchise and legislative apportionment bodies of doctrine. The equal protection clause of the Constitution when read literally outlines the defense of some forms of racial discrimination. However, it does not immediately guarantee the right to vote, eligibility for office, or the right to serve on a jury. Additionally, the clause does not suggest that equal-facility segregation is not to be allowed. Finally, the freedom from cruel and unusual punishments as outlined in the eighth amendment loses its flexibility. In this manner, a prima facie argument against the interpretive model is evident. Without the ability to move beyond the specific wording, the Court loses its authority to protect what society values as basic human rights.
A fundamental question relevant to this debate is whether or not values within our society are time-enduring or changing. When the Supreme Court makes a controversial decision, does it use the text of the Constitution to legitimize principles of natural law, social norms and arrangements? Or, is it acting as an interpreter of slowly changing values and imposing its views on society through its decisions? The Constitution is not a stagnant document; it is very much alive and changing with the times. Critics argue that the amendment process was created to allow change and that the role of the...