The Constitution has been operative since 1789 after the ratification of nine states (American Vision and Values, Page 52). Today many question the relevancy of a document 222 years old to our society. The Founders created a governmental framework, defining three branches and giving powers to the government and others to the states. It also guarantees the rights of the people. It took two and one-half years for the 13 colonies to ratify the Constitution. This ratification period was one of great debate and produced a series of essays complied into The Federalist. Authored by John Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay during the ratification debate in New York, they tried to get public support for the Constitution. Thus began the first defense of the Constitution and its original intent; which continued on when the US Supreme Court first convened on February 2, 1790. It was not until John Marshall of Virginia became the fourth Chief Justice in 1801 that the powers and role of the Court were clearly defined. Marshall took the Court from being the weakest branch to being one of the most powerful branches of government with its power to interpret the Constitution and laws passed by congress and the states.
Many conservatives follow the philosophy of originalism to interpret the Constitution by the “original” understanding of its words and ideas. This does not provide for a modern interpretation which changes with the times. The “Living” Constitution is an opposing philosophy in which the Constitution is an evolving document which is flexible to the needs and values of society as it evolves.
I agree with the philosophy of originalism and the belief that the Constitution is “fundamentally a rulebook for government” (Moore, Page 175). The Constitution gives specific power to the federal government in Section 8. Many would call this list of powers limited, but the Framers’ intention is clear to limit the federal government and allow the states to more closely govern the people – through the consent of the people. To further strengthen the rights of the people, The Bill of Rights was ratified on December 15, 1791. With only the first ten amendments, it is no accident that two amendments, 9 and 10, specifically define the Constitutions purpose to protect rights, given to the government from the people; and the powers of the government are “only those delegated to it by the Constitution on behalf of the people” (Spalding, Page 145).
Madison in Federalist No. 10 (Page 131) also supports the view of the Framers to have “great and aggregate interests being referred to the national, the local and particular to the State legislatures”. Madison expounds further in Federalist No. 39 (Page 135) about the constitutional limits of government to “certain enumerated objects only,” and the states being delegated the remaining “objects”. Federalism was created in the Constitution and while it seems a difficult concept U.S. Attorney General, Edwin...