Skip to comments.Scalia and Breyer Go At It Once Again
Posted on 03/24/2010 1:22:45 PM PDT by presidio9
How is the U.S. constitution meant to be read by the judges who interpret it? As it was written and ratified back in the 1780s? Or are its words and phrases meant to change along with a societys customs, mores and viewpoints?
Its a debate thats roiled the justices on the U.S. Supreme Court for years; a divide currently embodied in Justices Antonin Scalia and Justice Stephen Breyer (pictured). Scalias an unapologetic originalist, while Breyer, author of a book called Active Liberty, tends to push for a more expansive reading of the Great Document.
On Tuesday, the duo talked about their interpretive differences down at the U.S. Supreme Court. In the words of this AP story, they tried to explain why their differing views of judging so often lead them to opposite conclusions when the topic is abortion, the death penalty, gay rights or physician-assisted suicide. Click here for the National Law Journal story, as well.
So what did they come up with? Well, mostly, from the sound of it, some good-natured ribbing. We love this exchange:
I never heard that before and I certainly dont agree with it, Scalia said in response to one point from Breyer, according to the AP.
If I did make an argument you hadnt thought of before, I wish youd think about it, Breyer replied a few minutes later.
Breyer said his view of the Constitution allows the court to better carry out that initial intent that this document will in fact govern a changing society as society changes over the course of centuries.
Scalia, as hes articulated many many times before, finds that whole notion, well,
(Excerpt) Read more at blogs.wsj.com ...
What tortured logic.
It is a contract.
If you enter into contract with anyone then you are going to expect that it will mean the same thing twenty years later (or 200 years later) that it meant on the day that the contract was entered into.
To Breyer, the Constitution is whatever it needs to be to get the result he would prefer as super-legislator.
To Scalia, it is “the deal that was struck” at the time it was struck. If changing times and opinions call for changes in the Constitution, in Scalia’s view, then it should be formally amended via the process set out in the Constitution itself.
It is funny how Breyer’s interpretation of the Constitution allows him to rule in a way that almost perfectly matches what he believes politically. Almost as if he makes it up to get the outcome he wants.
I truly hope that some of the particulars of a constitutional convention are brought up to several of the justices. Everything from its organization, its rules of order, its physical formation, the exclusion of federal officials and officers, and once 38 States are in agreement as to the new constitutional draft, how the changes shall be promulgated.
This would be a tremendous intellectual challenge for a Supreme Court justice. But one well worth the effort.
And if you change your mind about something, or part of the contract becomes outdated, it had enough forsight to include simple provisions for making changes as necessary. People like Bryer reject those provisions, because they reject the contract as a whole.
Breyer simply works to find excuses to advance his leftist agenda. The actual Constitution won’t permit it and that is why he disregards the document.
Liberals make it up as they go. Alcee Hastings for SCOTUS!
At least we’d have some fun as OblahMao will be needing to replace that old fool Stevens with another dimwit!
Scalia is truly a wise man. When liberals attack, they never bring up his logic, just that he is a dinosaur, fascist or nazi. Point being I don’t they ever thoughtfully read his positions. His wisdom is amazing, he is also a constant reminder of the greatness that once was the USA. Another debt we own thwe ‘Gipper’.
“Or are its words and phrases meant to change along with a societys customs, mores and viewpoints?”
If it can mean anything, it means nothing. The point of writing laws down is so they can be known and outcomes can be predicted; lawmakers and legal scholars since Hammurabi have understood that. Law by fiat is tyranny.
When it became cool openly discriminate against white Men, Sotomayor was all too happy to piss on the constitution.
Breyer can KMA. By the time he reads this maybe the words will mean something else. In that case he can GF Himself.
GET THE BIRT CERT. meat heads!!!!!!
Well, we all know that the democrats changed the meaning of the word “is” a few years back so they think all words can be changed.
It is possible 3 years from now Republicans may have enough votes to remove these Judges. Since RATS cared not a wit about the people's wishes or tradition I hope we do likewise, and remove the judges who make up law or are slaves to arbitrary decisions.
A living Constitution is a dead letter.
If we find fault with the Constitution, amend it. Abolish slavery. Prohibit alcohol. Repeal prohibition.
It’s not up to judges to use their opinions and tastes to unilaterally amend the Constitution. To allow them to do so makes a mockery of the principle of rule of law.
Any change in interpretation is inherently offensive to the clear intent of the framers, vesting the power to do so in a few, or even a single individual, within a single branch of governemnt.
How could you seriously argue that the Constititution, which established enumerated powers, separation of powers and the ultimate authority of the people, should be effectively modifiable by five judges? ...when a wholly different process for modification is explicitly prescribed within the document itself?
If it was intended to be reinterpreted according to the language, times and whims of a few judges, the framers could easily have described that process.