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Justice Scalia: “A Living Constitution Doesn’t Exist” [Speech at Texas A&M]
Texas A&M University - Aggie Daily ^ | May 5, 2005

Posted on 05/05/2005 3:22:31 PM PDT by Constitutionalist Conservative

May 5, 2005 – Criticizing those who believe the Constitution should be flexible and adapted to modern times, Associate Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said Thursday during a speech at Texas A&M University that there is no such thing “as the living Constitution.”
      Scalia was speaking as part of the Twanna M. Powell Lecture at the George Bush Presidential Conference Center.
      “I’m what you call an ‘originalist,’ one who believes the Constitution should be interpreted exactly as it was adopted,” Scalia added.
      “It should be interpreted as it was written – nothing more, nothing less. Rights do not grow smaller or larger. Some legal experts say you have to interpret the Constitution broadly, but that’s not true under any circumstance.”
      Scalia, who was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1986 by President Ronald Reagan, added, “You hear the phrase ‘the living Constitution’ and that it’s a ‘living’ document. I’m a believer in the dead Constitution. Maybe we should better phrase it ‘the enduring Constitution.
      “The Constitution is not a living document. It’s a legal document, and legal documents do not change.”

      Scalia said that such controversial subjects as the death penalty and abortion are really not Constitutional issues “because there’s not one word about them in the Constitution. People who believe in a living Constitution would like to see such things as un-Constitutional.”
      The Constitution, he added, does exactly what it’s supposed to do: “It provides stability,” he said.
      Bush , when introducing Scalia, said that he “was a free spirit and deep thinker. He shares his views openly, and he is certainly thought-provoking.”
     Among the overflow crowd to hear Scalia were members of the Texas Supreme Court, the Fifth Court of Circuit Appeals and numerous federal and state judges.
      A native of Trenton, N.J., Scalia graduated from Harvard Law School and was a Sheldon Fellow of Harvard University. He was also a law professor at the University of Virginia and the University of Chicago and visiting law professor at Stanford and Georgetown. He served the federal government as General Counsel of the Office of Telecommunications Policy and was appointed judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for District of Columbia in 1982.
      He and his wife, Maureen, have nine children.
      Scalia, who was approved as a Supreme Court justice by a vote of 98-0, said such approval “would never happen today. Congress wants moderates and a moderate interpretation of the Constitution. The ‘living’ Constitution idea is seductive to the man on the street, and even to some judges.
      “But we must apply the words as they were originally written and we must be bound by their original meaning. We must think of what the words are and what the words meant when the people adopted them.

      “The Constitution doesn’t ‘morph’ to be what we want it to be.”
      Scalia said if there were one change he could make to the Constitution, it would be to make amendments to it an easier process.
      “Amendments are not easy to do,” he added.
      “They must be ratified by three-fourths of the states. But someone figured out that with the population disparity of states today, only two percent of the total population could prevent an amendment from being passed. It’s very difficult to get an amendment passed.”


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Front Page News; Government; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: constitution; judiciary; scalia; scotus
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05-05-05.jpg 
Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia spoke Thursday to an overflow crowd at the George Bush Presidential Library Center as part of the Twanna M. Powell Lecture Series. The series is an endowed program sponsored by the George Bush Presidential Library Foundation and designed to bring distinguished leaders and recognized experts to the Texas A&M campus to speak regarding major public policy issues and related topics.

1 posted on 05/05/2005 3:22:32 PM PDT by Constitutionalist Conservative
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To: Constitutionalist Conservative
“It should be interpreted as it was written – nothing more, nothing less."

That is the way it should be! Whoever came up with the idea of "flexible constitution" should be deported, or if not, be defrocked as a Justice or Judge and thrown out!!!

2 posted on 05/05/2005 3:29:24 PM PDT by Sen Jack S. Fogbound
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To: Constitutionalist Conservative
I enjoy listening to Justice Scalia speak on the Constitution.
3 posted on 05/05/2005 3:30:14 PM PDT by Texas_Jarhead (To hell with Mexico, its policies, and its leaders)
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To: Constitutionalist Conservative
Boy, Algore is going to have a fit. He is the believer of the Living Constitution.
4 posted on 05/05/2005 3:30:59 PM PDT by RetiredArmy (IF YOU HATE DEMOCRATS - CLAP YOUR HANDS!!! clap clap clap)
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To: Constitutionalist Conservative; Texaggie79; Dog Gone; wardaddy

Whoop!

5 posted on 05/05/2005 3:31:08 PM PDT by Southack (Media Bias means that Castro won't be punished for Cuban war crimes against Black Angolans in Africa)
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To: Constitutionalist Conservative; GoLightly

What I can't stand is the way the left uses the term "living document" as if it meant "alive and well." Yes, it's alive and well. And it means exactly what it did the day each article and amendment were ratified. Nothing more, nothing less.


6 posted on 05/05/2005 3:32:49 PM PDT by risk
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To: Constitutionalist Conservative

"Rights do not grow smaller or larger."

How is this squared with the 9th amendment?


7 posted on 05/05/2005 3:32:54 PM PDT by Mr. Blonde (You know, Happy Time Harry, just being around you kinda makes me want to die.)
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To: Constitutionalist Conservative

Thanks for the post; it is heartening. Why do I not expect to hear about it in the msm? Get all my news from FR. Thanks again.


8 posted on 05/05/2005 3:33:50 PM PDT by Mother Goose
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To: Constitutionalist Conservative

The Constitution does discuss the death penalty. Life and limb, etc... I'm uncomfortable with his assertion that it doesn't.


9 posted on 05/05/2005 3:34:44 PM PDT by risk
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To: RetiredArmy

Don't you mean he thinks he is the inventor of the Constitution? clap clap clap


10 posted on 05/05/2005 3:36:39 PM PDT by Mother Goose
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To: Constitutionalist Conservative

Excellent, Justice Scalia, Excellent. You are a great, true American. You are a wonderful ally on the Supreme Court, along with Rehnquist and Thomas.


11 posted on 05/05/2005 3:38:48 PM PDT by wk4bush2004
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To: Southack

I'd love to see a transcript of the whole speech. Better yet, I would have liked to have been there.


12 posted on 05/05/2005 3:39:47 PM PDT by Dog Gone
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To: Constitutionalist Conservative

The U.S. Constitution is like the Ten Commandments...
The Rock upon which those who hate freedom ..break themselves

imo


13 posted on 05/05/2005 3:40:49 PM PDT by joesnuffy (The generation that survived the depression and won WW2 proved poverty does not cause crime)
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To: Sen Jack S. Fogbound

' “It should be interpreted as it was written – nothing more, nothing less."
That is the way it should be! Whoever came up with the idea of "flexible constitution" should be deported, or if not, be defrocked as a Justice or Judge and thrown out!!!'

How does that square with the idea that orginally man/men were white, male and over 21?


14 posted on 05/05/2005 3:42:32 PM PDT by Ignatius J Reilly
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To: RetiredArmy

All libs will hate this speech, and probably disagree with Scalia as new Chief Justice. It is refreshing to hear someone back the original document...not a MSM thing


15 posted on 05/05/2005 3:45:46 PM PDT by CIDKauf (No man has a good enough memory to be a successful liar.)
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To: Constitutionalist Conservative
“The Constitution is not a living document. It’s a legal document, and legal documents do not change.”

Hoorah for Justice Scalia! Now tell that to Mrs. Clinton, Ms. Pelosi, Ted Kennedy, John Kerry and the rest of the Socialist Democrats and all Progressives who want to tamper with this incredible document. The United States Constitution is Etched in Granite!

16 posted on 05/05/2005 3:45:46 PM PDT by yoe
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To: Sen Jack S. Fogbound

Be tied for treason.


17 posted on 05/05/2005 3:46:25 PM PDT by mlc9852
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To: mlc9852

sorry - tried -


18 posted on 05/05/2005 3:48:37 PM PDT by mlc9852
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To: Constitutionalist Conservative

I'll bet those who subscribe to a living Constitution believe the same about the Bible. That is the reason so many who call themselves Christians promote same-sex marriage and abortion.


19 posted on 05/05/2005 3:50:45 PM PDT by taxesareforever
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To: risk

"The Constitution does discuss the death penalty"

Where?


20 posted on 05/05/2005 3:50:55 PM PDT by CIDKauf (No man has a good enough memory to be a successful liar.)
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To: Constitutionalist Conservative

“The Constitution is not a living document. It’s a legal document, and legal documents do not change.”

Now, if we could just get the libs to understand this.


21 posted on 05/05/2005 3:53:29 PM PDT by GloriaJane (http://music.download.com/gloriajane)
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To: CIDKauf
Specifically, in the Fifth Amendment, to wit:

Amendment V
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.

(boldface added for clarity)

22 posted on 05/05/2005 3:56:31 PM PDT by SAJ
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To: Ignatius J Reilly

That's why the Constitution has a provision to change it by amendment - not by interpretation.


23 posted on 05/05/2005 3:56:42 PM PDT by mlc9852
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To: RetiredArmy

Algore is unconstitutional.


24 posted on 05/05/2005 3:57:22 PM PDT by GSlob
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To: yoe

"Legal documents do not change".

Exactly. It's like a divorce. Ten years later a spouse comes back and says, "Yes, I signed it, but I changed my mind. I believe our decree is a living document. So I want all your share of the investments and give me back the Spode china."


25 posted on 05/05/2005 4:00:53 PM PDT by squarebarb
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To: SAJ

To be deprived of "life, liberty,or property without due process of law"...so this is to say that with due process of law, then one could be deprived of life, liberty, and due property?


26 posted on 05/05/2005 4:03:39 PM PDT by CIDKauf (No man has a good enough memory to be a successful liar.)
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To: risk

Amendment V

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

What question about the death penalty does that raise for you?


27 posted on 05/05/2005 4:10:09 PM PDT by jackbill
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To: CIDKauf

Yes, indeed. As does the other boldfaced clause.


28 posted on 05/05/2005 4:10:22 PM PDT by SAJ
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To: CIDKauf

Clearly the death penalty was an expected aspect of "capital trials." Capital punishment means "you lose your head." Therefore, in Amendment 5, "...be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb..." and "nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property" we are clearly discussing capital punishment. To argue that capital punishment is cruel and unusual would be to assume that Amendment 5 did not address the punishments of the day, and therefore, would be revisionist.


29 posted on 05/05/2005 4:12:35 PM PDT by risk
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To: jackbill
What question about the death penalty does that raise for you?

None. The death penalty is constitutional by my reading of that amendment.

30 posted on 05/05/2005 4:13:28 PM PDT by risk
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To: SAJ

The first provision is about double jeopardy. So the federal government can only kill someone once under that provision. It's irrelevant to the death penalty.

The second provision actually allows the federal government to deprive people of all those things WITH due process of law.

The second is the only one of the two that MIGHT tangentially touch on the death penalty--and then because it PERMITS it.


31 posted on 05/05/2005 4:14:44 PM PDT by LibertarianInExile (The South will rise again? Hell, we ever get states' rights firmly back in place, the CSA has risen!)
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To: Ignatius J Reilly

How does that square with the idea that orginally man/men were white, male and over 21?


I believe the other references of the laws that referenced the Black Men/Women were superceded by the passing of the Emancipation Proclomantion and the Civil War. Men /Women are referenced as Men/Women regardless of their race.


32 posted on 05/05/2005 4:15:22 PM PDT by 26lemoncharlie (Defend the US CONSTITUTION - Locked and Loaded)
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To: mlc9852
Well you have to interpret the document. That's what Judges do. Interpret the Constitution.
33 posted on 05/05/2005 4:16:08 PM PDT by Borges
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To: Constitutionalist Conservative
Scalia said Thursday during a speech at Texas A&M University that there is no such thing “as the living Constitution.”

I wish I knew who said this, but I've heard that "liberals want to prove the Constitution is a living document by killing it."

34 posted on 05/05/2005 4:20:22 PM PDT by KarlInOhio (Relying on government for your retirement is like playing Russian roulette with an semi auto pistol.)
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To: Borges

And you interpret the actual words. It's not written in poetry. The words mean what they say. But justices go by their own biases because they are human. That's why we need more conservatives.


35 posted on 05/05/2005 4:22:13 PM PDT by mlc9852
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To: Borges

Fine unless they're "interpreting" rights never fathomed by the founders . . .


36 posted on 05/05/2005 4:23:35 PM PDT by Mach9 (.)
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To: mlc9852
Everyone goes by their own biases. You can't step outside of yourself to read something. We just prefer a bias towards a conservative interpretation. :)
37 posted on 05/05/2005 4:28:02 PM PDT by Borges
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To: mlc9852

Oops I misread your post. Disregard my last response to you. Sorry.


38 posted on 05/05/2005 4:29:34 PM PDT by Borges
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To: Constitutionalist Conservative; CHARLITE
Excellent post CC.

Char...over here.

FMCDH(BITS)

39 posted on 05/05/2005 4:31:59 PM PDT by nothingnew (I fear for my Republic due to marxist influence in our government. Open eyes/see)
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To: Constitutionalist Conservative; SittinYonder

Music to my ears!


40 posted on 05/05/2005 4:34:05 PM PDT by eyespysomething (hmmm....)
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To: Constitutionalist Conservative
This man is absolutely brilliant!
41 posted on 05/05/2005 4:36:45 PM PDT by Paige ("Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism." --George Washington)
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To: nothingnew
QUOTE OF THE DAY (from GetLiberty.com)

"There are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations."

James Madison

42 posted on 05/05/2005 4:37:00 PM PDT by CHARLITE ("People are not old, until regrets take the place of their dreams." - John Barrymore)
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To: mlc9852

sorry - tried -

I thought you meant tied tightly around the neck.


43 posted on 05/05/2005 4:39:18 PM PDT by freedomfiter2
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To: Constitutionalist Conservative
“The Constitution is not a living document. It’s a legal document, and legal documents do not change.”

Hehe....just so. Try to re-interpret the meaning of a subpoena or a search warrant and see what a judge has to say about it. It's amazing sometimes the level of utter BS that people will choose to believe. Well, perhaps not so amazing after all.

;o)

44 posted on 05/05/2005 4:44:08 PM PDT by IoCaster ("That to live by one man's will became the cause of all men's misery." - Richard Hooker)
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To: Southack

BTTT


45 posted on 05/05/2005 4:58:01 PM PDT by wardaddy ( Lucchese Belt Raised)
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To: Constitutionalist Conservative

9 children?

I never knew.

My hero.

Procreate baby!


46 posted on 05/05/2005 4:58:51 PM PDT by wardaddy ( Lucchese Belt Raised)
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To: Constitutionalist Conservative

"Bush , when introducing Scalia, ..."

Bush was there?


47 posted on 05/05/2005 5:01:14 PM PDT by Buck W. (Yesterday's Intelligentsia are today's Irrelevantsia.)
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To: CHARLITE
"There are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations."

James Madison

Oh yeah. We witness it every day.

BTTT

FMCDH(BITS)

48 posted on 05/05/2005 5:02:46 PM PDT by nothingnew (I fear for my Republic due to marxist influence in our government. Open eyes/see)
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To: Sen Jack S. Fogbound

The fifth Ammendment sets out the safeguard for
being tried for a ''Capital'' crime. While the term
''death'' is not used, a capital crime is one for which
you lose your capit - ''head''.

IMHO, the 5th condones the death penalty because it sets
the guidelines for imposing it.


49 posted on 05/05/2005 5:05:49 PM PDT by plangent
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To: Constitutionalist Conservative

Scalia for Chief Justice.


50 posted on 05/05/2005 5:08:34 PM PDT by Bahbah (Something wicked this way comes)
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