Originalism argues that the meaning of the Constitution was fixed at the time it was put in print. Therefore, in applying any question in regard to the constitution, the correct course of action is to determine the meaning at the time it was written and apply it to the current issue. People who are proponents of originalism believe that the purpose of having a written constitution is “to memorialize and entrench certain fundamental rights so that they can prevail in moments of passion when a crazed mob might want to cast them aside” (S.G. Galabresi, 71, American Vision and Values). Albeit dramatic, I can understand the point of Galabresi. The fundamental meaning of the Constitution at the time it was written is extremely important. If the meaning is bent to satisfy the situation at hand, at what point has the “bending” gone too far? The line drawn in the sand would become very hazy.
The people doing the interpreting make all the difference. The Judicial system is extremely inconsistent. Someone in Georgia could be sent to prison for life based on a circumstantial case, while someone in Wisconsin could be charged with the same offence and not even go to trial, due to insufficient evidence. Many times it is determined by the judge whether or not to send a case to the grand jury. If the Constitution is followed as it was intended would there be such inconsistencies’?
As stated in section 88, (Locke, 115-116), as man becomes a member of the commonwealth, he then forfeits his power to “punish offences”. He is no longer allowed to serve as judge and jury or to exact vengeance, but to stand aside and allow the laws put in place to work. It is necessary to allow the law to work in the manner it was intended. Taking matters in our own hands will only result in the vigilante on the wrong side of law enforcement.
The opposing argument is that the Constitution is a “living” document. As the times change, so does the meaning of the document. It is difficult to conceptualize a document written over 200 years ago could possibly encompass the world we live in today. The changes in technology that have taken place in my life time alone are mind blowing. In some ways it can be compared to the interpretation of the bible. Many people have argued how to decipher the written word in today’s world.
I do not subscribe to one philosophy over the other, (for or against originalism) as I can see the pros and cons of each argument. What I can be personally sure of however, is that man is fallible. According to the Constitution of the United States, Article VI, “Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution of Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding”. When it is determined by judges to make a decision based on the constitution, it seems absurd to have such extreme inconsistencies’. I was under the impression case law is referred to in an effort to show precedence in a given case. ...