Thursday, July 8, 2010

Two Things That The Framers Actually DID Intend

Those of you that follow the Indy Radio Factor, We The People Project, and/or RTS Radio are aware that I am currently writing a book about the Constitution that involves my researching the original source documents. Today, I'd like to share two things with you from James Madison's own notes from the Constitutional Convention that will turn a couple of the current views upside down.

The first belief is that our Constitution either is or is becoming outmoded and must be "reinterpreted" for the current society. It is said that the Framers only intended to draft a document for their own contemporary society and that they could not possibly have been able to anticipate current developments. While it is true that the Framers could never envision all the technology and other "surface" developments that have come along the way, that is not the way they drafted the document. The document is based upon HUMAN NATURE which is the one thing about mankind that does not change. If you have any doubt that they were planning for a time beyond themselves, you need look no further than James Madison's own statement to the Constitutional Convention on June 26, 1787: "In framing a system which we wish to last for ages, we should not lose sight of the changes which ages will produce." (emphasis mine) In other words, when they were drafting the Constitution they wrote it with the intention of it being applicable then as well as into the future. Obviously, the framers realized that there would still be imperfections as well as things that they could not anticipate. For this purpose, they provided us with the constitutional amendment process. The amendment process is the constitutional way of changing the Constitution. It is not the role of the courts to just arbitrarily decide what the "meaning" of the text is. In fact, it is only their duty to determine to the best of their judgement what the framers intended, not to decide what it should mean now.

The second issue is the belief that somehow the Constitution guarantees everyone equality of results. This is simply not true. In this country you are guaranteed equality of justice before the law and equality of freedom to pursue your interests. During the constitutional convention, Alexander Hamilton spoke of this unequal distribution of wealth and property on June 26, 1787. James Madison summarized Hamilton's statement this way in his notes: "It was certainly true: that nothing like an equality of property existed: that an inequality would exist as long as liberty existed, and that it would unavoidably result from that very liberty itself. (emphasis mine) In other words, as long as there is freedom there will be unequal distribution of wealth and property. But that is they great reward of being in a free society. The harder you work the more fruit you can create for yourself to enjoy. Conversely, taking away freedom is the only guaranteed way to create equality of outcome. For my money, I don't want to live in a nation like that!

Ryan Smith
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