Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

On Interpreting The Constitution

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Amy Coney Barrett before the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary for her nomination to the United States Supreme Court

Much has been made in recent days about Judge Amy Coney Barrett, the President’s nominee to fill the vacancy on the United States Supreme Court created by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Barrett has her critics. I am one. But there are other criticisms, including of the rushed process, which I too, hold. Rushed things hardly ever have good results.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has indicated that the full Senate will most likely have a vote on Judge Barrett on Monday, 26 October 2020 – a mere 31 days since her nomination on 26 September 2020. In stark contrast, her initial nomination to the Federal judiciary took 5 months 24 days.

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) has published a paper entitled “Supreme Court Appointment Process: President’s Selection of a Nominee,” (R44235) first published on October 19, 2015, and updated periodically, and most recently on September 28, 2020, which answers some essentially basic questions about the nomination process, and provides background, and historical overview for the same. The “CRS serves as nonpartisan shared staff to congressional committees and Members of Congress. It operates solely at the behest of and under the direction of Congress.”

Regarding Judge Barrett’s Judicial “style” which she and others call “textualism,” and or “originalism,” it seems to me to be a rather bizarre way to think of the document which forms the foundation of our government, which has endured since it was written and ratified in the late 1700’s. Doubtless, the Founders, and those alive then could not begin to conceive of plucking stardust from an asteroid (which NASA recently did) to analyze, communicating instantaneously with someone on the opposite side of the globe using video teleconferencing on a hand-held device, traveling faster than the speed of sound, splitting the atom, and using laser light to communicate, so why would we begin to imagine that we should adhere to some arbitrary, or even capricious standard to interpret what it means to, or for us, today?

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot expressed it best in this brief story, why “originalism” and “textualism” are misguided rules.

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) — Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she is preparing for when Amy Coney Barrett takes her seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. She was asked to share her thoughts Tuesday on the judge and minced no words.

Mayor Lightfoot was first asked if she views the U.S. Constitution as Judge Barrett does, as an “originalist.”

Originalists firmly believe all statements in the U.S. Constitution must be strictly interpreted based on the original understanding at the time the Constitution was adopted. They do not believe in the concept of a “Living Constitution” that can be interpreted in the context of current times.

“You ask a gay, black woman if she is an originalist? No, ma’am, I am not,” Lightfoot laughed.

“That the Constitution didn’t consider me a person in any way, shape or form because I’m a woman, because I’m black, because I’m gay? I am not an originalist. I believe in the Constitution. I believe that it is a document that the founders intended to evolve and what they did was set the framework for how our country was going to be different from any other.”

“But originalists say that, ‘Let’s go back to 1776 and whatever was there in the original language, that’s it.’ That language excluded, now, over 50 percent of the country. So, no I’m not an originalist.”

Mayor Lightfoot said she’s deeply worried about some of Judge Barrett’s stated views, for instance, being against gay marriage.

“I deeply worry about this woman’s stated views. She’s on the record on a number of different things, not the least of which is thinking that gay marriage is something that shouldn’t be countenanced. And she’s got soulmates in Justice Thomas and others, who think that the decision by the Supreme Court…should somehow be rolled back,” Lightfoot said.

“What should I tell my daughter — that somehow now my wife and I are no longer married? That we’re no longer legitimately recognized in the eyes of the law? That is dangerous, dangerous territory. And what about a woman’s right to choose? We’re gonna keep re-litigating this issue, and we’re gonna make abortion illegal, as Amy Coney Barrett thinks it should be?”

The Mayor also called Republicans “hypocrites” for pushing the Barrett nomination when they put off taking up the Merrick Garland nomination by President Obama.

“The hypocrisy is something that is a bitter pill for me to swallow,” Lightfoot said.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

 
%d bloggers like this: