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Originalism

It’s Not Like They Were Gods

One thing I do not understand is the judicial principle of originalism, according to which we have to somehow divine the intent of our Founding Fathers. That strikes me as rather silly. Take Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, for example. While Jefferson was Adams’s Vice President, he did everything possible to subvert him, including hiring a yellow journalist named James Callender to attack Federalist positions. This was at a time when the winner for President was forced to take the loser as his Vice President. And that was written in the Constitution! (It was not until later in life that Adams and Jefferson were reconciled, and they both wound up dying on July 4, 1826, fifty years to the day after the Declaration of Independence.)

If two of our Founding Fathers were such enemies, how is it possible to arrive at any consensus by reading their long-dead minds regarding the problems of the 21st Century. Remember, these same Founding Fathers were forced to accept slavery. Perhaps Trumpf’s nominee to replace the late Antonin Scalia, Neil M. Gorsuch,  would be more comfortable if slavery were reinstated.

Will we all have to wear powdered wigs and take snuff? Do we have to give up the automobile in favor of the horse and buggy? Would we have to give up the Internet and our whole telecommunications network just because some judge has this jones about some long dead politicians, as great as they were in the context of their own times.

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