But I am a Strict Constitutionalist

I got asked in the comments section in the previous post (Chambless on Hamilton: Round 2):

In defense of libertarian scholars, you dont see a problem in having a liberal interpretation of the Constitution? These are strict rules put in place on the central government, how can you just have a liberal interpretation and ignore some of the most fundamental rules that limits the government to protect individual rights?

I am being criticized for advocating the “liberal interpretation” of the Constitution, as to say, I advocate the position that the Constitution does not have this “end all, be all” mentality on the structures of government. Yes, I support this position, but it is the position advocated by the defenders of the Constitution in The Federalist Papers. Sure there are certain general rules that the government cannot just change, but the details of government, of course they can. As I said in the previous post, the Founding Fathers did not know of problems that America would face in the future, nor did they pretend to know, which is why the Constitution is so vague and short, especially compared to other constitutions.

The way I derive this position though is not from arm chair logic though, i derive it straight from the Constitution and I also use The Federalist Papers help out with what specific things imply, since these were the main set of papers that defended the Constitution and advocated for its ratification. So I am being a “strict constitutionalist”. This was how the Constitution is supposed to be viewed.

We have Tea Partyers and other right wingers claiming this label, but without evidence to back up their views. They think they are the actual strict constitutionalists for advocating the position of “if it does not say it directly, it does not go!” They protest wearing those American colonist costumes assuming this is how the Constitution, and its Founding Fathers that influenced its passing, was supposed to be interpreted.

Though, little do they know that it is the “liberal interpretation” that is the strict constitutionalist view


One response to “But I am a Strict Constitutionalist

  1. As someone with a JD and concentration in constitutional law I would say that your view is the correct one. The constitution was never meant to be read the way the Ron Paul crowd wants it to be. Jefferson even said something to the effect that keeping strict textualism to bind future generations would be like forcing a grown man to wear a boy’s coat. They knew that the world would evolve, things would change, and you had to have a constitution that could adapt to that change. The constitution is a living one. The founding fathers may not have imagined things like the internet and how they would affect the first amendment, but they did imagine having a flexible first amendment that could apply the principles to a variety of situations.

    Besides, the textualist (Tea party) interpretation doesn’t exactly give you much freedom. They are usually wailing about the commerce clause being too liberal but don’t think about other area. For example, the Court liberally applied a right to privacy for things like telephone conversations. There is no mention of privacy or a right thereto in the constitution, so to the textualist it does not exist. Furthermore, under the textualist view, things like warrantless tapping of phone lines and cell phone signals would be perfectly fine. The 4th amendment doesn’t say anything about radio waves, it only protects the person and his house from search. If you are talking on a phone or using the internet, as soon as the signal leaves your house and is either traveling through the air or on a public powerline, according to the textualists it should be up for grabs, its not like the constitution ever said those things were protected. Thankfully those silly liberals on the Court, when confronted with issues like this, decided to use a liberal interpretation and apply the “spirit of the law” to these new technologies with the understanding that they had an underlying purpose that went beyond the bare text of the constitution itself.

    I know those angry conservatives are furious over the commerce clause, but they need to sit and pause for a second and think about the implications of what their philosophy entails if it was actually carried out over all the areas of the constitution.

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