Sunday, October 17, 2004

Jefferson on amending

Just came across a great quote from one of TJ's letters in 1816 regarding the necessity of amending the Constitution from time to time (in this case, he was actually referring to the constitution of Virginia):

"Some men look at constitutions with sanctimonius reverence, and deem them like the arc of the covenant, too sacred to be touched. They ascribe to the men of the preceeding age a wisdom more than human, and suppose what they did to be beyond amendment. I knew that age well; I belonged to it, and labored with it. It deserved well of its country. It was very like the present, but without the experience of the present; and forty years of experience in government is worth a century of book-reading; and this they would say themselves, were they to rise from the dead."

"I am certainly not an advocate for frequent and untried changes in laws and constitutions. I think moderate imperfections had better be borne with; because, when once known, we accomodate ourselves to them, and find practical means of correcting their ill effects. But I know also, that laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed, and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy, as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors."

This has great relevance for the mission of Amend, Inc.

Comment for today: The first several sentences could have been written today to describe Kerry, and his opposition to the marriage amendment. He is constantly denigrating the push to amend the Constitution, and accusing Bush of "politicizing" it. All this, notwithstanding the fact that he supposedly does not support gay marriages.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Marriage Amendment in the debate

The Federal Marriage Amendment is sure to come up again in tomorrow's debate. Kerry will most certainly accuse Bush of trying to divide the country by "politicizing" the Constitution. The appropriate response: the Constitution is a political document. That's why the framers included in the Constitution itself the means to amend it! To suppose that the Constitution could not be altered in response to changes in political sensibilities is preposterous. We would not have the beloved 14th Amendment if that were the case.

In this particular case, the Constitution needs amending because of the capriciousness of many of our present-day judges. The framers of our Constitution most certainly could not have guessed that the definition of marriage would ever be questioned. Thus, they saw no need to define marriage. Things have changed; the definition of marriage is indeed under assault. The appropriate response therefore would be to change the Constitution. If the Amendment fails, it would fail for political reasons - its backers could not secure the required 2/3 vote in each house, and concurrence by 3/4 of states.

Ten Commandments

Today, the Supreme Court announced that it would rule on two cases having to do with the display of the ten commandments in government spaces. It would be truly bizarre if they were to rule that the display of the ten commandments was somehow unconstitutional in light of the fact that they are on display in the very courtroom where the judges have been deliberating for their entire tenure on the Court.

I suspect that, once again, the outcome will hinge on Justice O'Connor. She has disappointed of late, and I would not be surprised if once again she proved anathema to those who value the legacy of our Constitution.