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What would "The Father of the Constitution" think of us now?

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  • Strongly Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Portland, OR
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    There are some modern day pundits that often decry how far we have veered off of the original meaning of our Constitution and how our Founding Fathers never meant for us to interpret the Constitution the way that we have come to interpret it. How dare we veer off the exact language of our Constitution? The answer to this question is: it's not easy, but our Founding Fathers developed a system of governance that allowed us to do exactly that. The original Constitution was never meant to be the end all and be all. That's why the Founding Fathers set up a system that allows it's citizenry to change the Constitution when it sees fit. They didn't make it easy to change, but they surely foresaw that as time goes on there may come a time when the Constitution would need to be amended to address that change.

    James Madison, also known as "The Father of the Constitution," knew all too well the need create a document that can last through the ages. If America had any chance of succeeding at all, the colonies would need to come together and form a union of states. What is often lost when pundits speak of our "Founding Fathers" is that this was a group of men with a massive disparity of interests and ideas. After the Constitution was ratified, Madison went on to be the first leader of the House of Representatives and cemented his place in history as the author of the Bill of Rights and played an important role in setting up the system of amending the Constitution when we saw the need to do.

    What would the "Father of the Constitution" think of what America has turned into? Did Madison foresee the system governance that our country has turned into? Corporations have nearly all the power, the separation between Church and State is blurry at best, and "We the People" seem to have a smaller voice than ever. Is this what Madison envisioned?
  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    Jared -- You wrote this post six years ago in 2012 and no one on this website thought to engage you on the Constitution. Perhaps now with the discussion of another "strict Constitutionalist" headed to the Supreme Court, we can step back, leave our emotions and ridicule of the Constitution on the sideline and engage in a conversation. I maintain that the US Constitution, as you wrote, is made to be amended and interpreted to meet the ever changing needs and wants of society. In that respect it has not failed us considering that it has been applied law since 1789, has been amended 27 times, and has thousands of Supreme Court case law decisions such as Roe v Wade that are established precedent or stare decisis.

    There certainly are some things that need to be fixed or scrapped (e.g. electoral college system), but our democracy and our Constitution has survived challenges much worse than Donald Trump. For those who advocate scrapping the whole Constitution and starting over, well you need to put your emotions aside and start thinking critically what that would entail.

  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Kenosha, WI
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    Since I do not know the constitution intimately, I did a Bing search, when was the last time it was amended?

    The answer was from an amendment proposed and ratified in 1971.

    So, amending the constitution for modern day 21st. century times seems to be essential, we are behind the times in this so called living document.

    Bing Search Result: "The last new Amendment proposed and ratified to deal with contemporary issues was the 26th Amendment. It lowered the voting age to 18 from 21. It was proposed and ratified in 1971 in response to the war in Vietnam. It has now been 46 years, almost to the day, since we last amended the Constitution to meet the challenges of our modern time."

    Now, 47 years ago.

  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    Dockadams -- Yes you are right. It sometimes takes a crisis of conscience to amend the Constitution, and the Vietnam War was the catalyst for the implementation of the 26th Amendment. There have been other proposed amendments that served a purpose in time, (e.g. Equal Rights Amendment of 1921) but die for later political expedience.

    In the case of the Equal Rights Amendment that stated "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex," it was Phyllis Schlafly who mobilized conservative women against it in 1971 arguing that it would lead to women being drafted by the military and to public unisex bathrooms. This amendment would likely have been ratified in the 1970s if not for the efforts of Schlafly to undermine it with falsehoods.

    A more modern version of that amendment would include protections for the LGBT community as well as women, but in both cases Republican opposition mostly in the southern states would make such an amendment difficult to get ratified. In the meantime, we need legislative laws for LGBT and women protections, but those too would likely be overturned in appeal by the new conservative Supreme Court if challenged in a lower state court case.

    It may be that some of the outright transgressions of the Trump administration will lead to either new laws or more Constitutional amendments, but these would not happen until Trump is long out of office. However, any new laws would have to survive the Supreme Court as well.

  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    jaredsxtn Wrote:
    What would the "Father of the Constitution" think of what America has turned into? Did Madison foresee the system governance that our country has turned into? Corporations have nearly all the power, the separation between Church and State is blurry at best, and "We the People" seem to have a smaller voice than ever. Is this what Madison envisioned?

    Getting back to Jared's questions above, it is difficult to imagine transporting a person over 200 years into the future to see if they "approve". Remember James Madison was a slave owner, but my guess in reading his bio in Wikipedia he would have approved of the new society of integration although at the time he was an advocate for returning them to an African-American colony in Africa rather than integrating them into our white culture.

    While Madison was a strong advocate for religious freedom as per the First Amendment, the term "separation of church and state" does not appear anywhere in the Constitution. Maybe it should.

    Wikipedia: James Madison

  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Kenosha, WI
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    A more modern version of that amendment would include protections for the LGBT community as well as women, but in both cases Republican opposition mostly in the southern states would make such an amendment difficult to get ratified.

    Yes, because lord knows there ain't no gay republicans!

    Governor Rauner yesterday was scolded & scorned by his own party members and republican voters with political ads because he officiated a gay union/marriage. As soon as a republican opens Pandora's box, another comes along and slams it's door.

    gopillinois.com/uncategorized/july-11-e...

    And just because there's an amendment, it doesn't mean that some lawyer will come along and reinterpret it's meaning to fit a situation or a lawsuit to their liking.

  • Independent
    Ft.myers, FL
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    Both Schmidt and Jared; are you kidding? This antique piece of paper which has way to few amendments has caused the shit we are now in. It is nice to go back in time, but it does not help. Stubbornly sticking to this outdated document will mean that we only further slide into the abyss. Dave and I have written lots about this; sticking with this "indoctrination" is the same as sticking like glue with religion. It must be an typical American decease; it may kill the patient eventually. Just grab your AR 15; and enjoy yourself; the Constitution says so; right? Sorry because of the "system" you get these anomalies and "chaos". Our idiot Trump is the result of only trusting old documents and "lawyers" who practise "case" laws" in order to even screw up the "system" even more. Thus grab your horse and buggy and enjoy.
  • Independent
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    Imo, herein lies the problem. The constitution established a system of government and governing. What is forbidden by the constitution is actually very little. What got us into the mess is a combination of SCOTUS rulings, politicians bleating about "original intent", worshipping the founders as though they were gods and an electorate/public that pays little to any attention to their civic duty and responsibility. A free press and a sound grounding in civics is necessary for a citizenry to be able to keep a republican democracy functioning. In addition sound institutions are necessary as well. Instead we have due to the Republican Party primarily for the last 40+ years tried to destroy that very republican democracy. So-called libertarianism and failed economic theology combined with mindless military adventurism have left the government gridlocked and the people seeking simplistic solutions. This is the fertile ground for fascism. Indeed, imo, Trump is the first step down that path.

    Look to the American people for the blame. If we could look to the American people for the solution that would be ideal. Instead the American people will continue to abdicate their responsibility in favor of bumper stickers, sound bytes and simplistic nonsense.

  • Strongly Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Portland, OR
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    Schmidt Wrote: There certainly are some things that need to be fixed or scrapped (e.g. electoral college system), but our democracy and our Constitution has survived challenges much worse than Donald Trump. For those who advocate scrapping the whole Constitution and starting over, well you need to put your emotions aside and start thinking critically what that would entail.

    I 100% with you. The law of unintended consequences would rear her ugly head if we simply got rid of our Constitution and started over.

    If we scrapped the Constitution today then we would no longer be guaranteed the right to engage in debate on this or any website. We'd no longer be guaranteed the right to criticize our leaders without fear of reprisal. And we'd no longer be guaranteed the right to tell a military officer they can't seize our private property.

    We would no longer be guaranteed the right to have legal counsel if we were falsely accused of a crime and we'd no longer be guaranteed the right to proclaim that God doesn't exist. I can go on and on, but I'm sure you get my point.

    Our Constitution is certainly flawed, but scrapping it and starting over isn't the answer. The answer is to get the American people participating in our democracy again. The upwards of fifty percent of eligible voters who chose to watch "Dancing With the Stars" instead of voting need to look in the mirror when their healthcare is stripped away and their union is dissolved and ask themselves if they are part of the problem. The government reflects the will of the people...who actually get off their ass and vote.

  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    Dutch Wrote: Both Schmidt and Jared; are you kidding? This antique piece of paper which has way to few amendments has caused the shit we are now in. It is nice to go back in time, but it does not help. Stubbornly sticking to this outdated document will mean that we only further slide into the abyss. Dave and I have written lots about this; sticking with this "indoctrination" is the same as sticking like glue with religion. It must be an typical American decease; it may kill the patient eventually. Just grab your AR 15; and enjoy yourself; the Constitution says so; right? Sorry because of the "system" you get these anomalies and "chaos". Our idiot Trump is the result of only trusting old documents and "lawyers" who practise "case" laws" in order to even screw up the "system" even more. Thus grab your horse and buggy and enjoy.

    Dutch -- You would be right if the nine Supreme Court justices followed a strict constructionist view of the Constitution. The fact that they do not as whole has given rise to a whole host of legislative laws that can only loosely be tied to some clause or clauses in the Constitution or its amendments. I used the example of Roe v Wade as "settled precedent" but with the likely addition of another strict constructionist on the court taking only the literal meaning of the Constitution, even this settled law could be undermined.

    To put it another way, the Constitution would indeed be a useless piece of paper for administering justice in the 21st Century if all the justices over the past 229 years took a strict constructionist view of the words and how they were narrowly applied in 1789. In fact, in the centuries that followed our courts have made enormous progress by applying more liberal common sense interpretations of the Constitution, and hence today those interpretations represent the foundation of our mountains of case law.

    If we were to throw out the Constitution, we would also be throwing out 229 years of case law that is tied directly or indirectly to those past interpretations of the Constitution.

  • Independent
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    Imo, the constitution isn’t open to interpretation. It is a framework for establishing a government. Since rights do not exist outside of the body politic, the new body politic established by the document required a bill of rights. Amendments to the constitution are made for specific reasons generally not addressable by legislation and/or judicial review. In point of opinion judicial review based upon constitutionality is a weak foundation. The document itself forbids only a few things. Judicial review is basically the judicial branch independently rendering a law void based upon a majority of justices and their personnal biases. Originalism is a myth. All rights, as noted by Jefferson, are subject to modification.
  • Independent
    Ft.myers, FL
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    Schmidt and Lonely; actually you both point to the same thing; like you can't maintain an document of the 1800's, thus try as an "bandaid" to find other ways to interpret it. My point is that essential things are missing in this document; like how to properly vet an President; exact limits of power for an President (as is done in Europe, they learned their lessons, if you don't); proper gun laws; elections without "money"and bribery; elections where only the votes count; get rid of the "electoral college"; getting rid of the "old" English government system; (make it more efficient! still counting votes by hand in Congress is ridiculous) ; a law what states that a President is not above the law and can't pardon himself or his buddies in crime; changing the "life" appointments of the Supreme Court judges; limit the powers of the influence of the billionaires in "governing"; limit the influence of the churches; tax them; any higher functions in government should have an qualifications test ( like a surgeon being appointed as an "building specialist" and an anti environment idiot becoming the head of EPA); put limits on what a President can spent for personal use/trips.etc etc etc. Sorry by maintaining the present system then the old steam locomotive will run of the rails for sure. The proof is in the pudding with asshole Trump and the GOP in power.

    "229" years of "case law" says exactly what I pointed out; you can forever fight about it like Roe v. Wade and still undo it. If you make the Constitution such way that it can easily be amended on a daily basis (an real "living" document), then you get an more workable document reflecting the "times". With "case" laws then you have to "dig" forever to find all the details/ background to change such again if the "people" demand such. Thus lots more work, which the lawyers love, because there is more money for them in it.

  • Strongly Liberal
    Independent
    Ohio
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    The first amendment says that Congress can make no law respecting an establishment of religion. Or in prohibiting there of.

    That means separation of church and state. It's what that means it's what it has always meant , before America . And if you want to interpret the second amendment you will have to be a part of a strong militia to own a gun. Sounds like a good idea. You should have to be accountable if you own a gun. That's all we ask. And I mean if we could enforce the fourth amendment ,please , the police could not strip you of all your rights ,like they do so many times , they could not block roads, use traffic cams , and the Patriot act would be , illegal. If they were really not allowed unreasonable search rights

    When Meuller indicts the rtump crime administration and their criminal co conspiritors, it will be because a grand jury allowed the indictments , that's amendment five.

    Six says you have the right to a speedy trial. Not sure ,you want one though.........

    Seven says some nonsense about twenty dollars ......what ?

    Eight would have to rule the death penalty ,cruel ,unusual ,,,,ya ,they don't care about ,eight .

    Nine is , .What? Enumeration ,construed, .yikes

    Ten, anything not mentioned , the states can do whatever they want . Yay. Let's use this one alot. For pot.

    Eleven the judicial power of the US, . Blah blah blah , you can't sue city hall.

    Twelve is the bastard that gave us the goddamed electoral college.fuck this amendment and the horse they rode in on the write it in 1804. Ya that's right , Washington and Jefferson did not have to deal with the electoral college. That's kind of like football before helmets or base ball before they had gloves , does it count ??????

    Thirteen , it is irony that the slaves got freed by thirteen and it really was bad luck because as much as they were attacked lynched persecuted , murdered,fucked over and raped by the white man ,you would have thought they would have allowed for that when they just let them into the wild to be fucking slaughtered . But no.

    Fourteen, your state can't make stuff illegal if the federal government says so , so there,..... ,south.

    Fifteen should have been part of thirteen because duh , black people should get to vote without being murdered. South.

    Sixteen hello income tax thank you president Wilson ,republican, hat making moron who signed this abomination , on Christmas Eve. The Republicans told us all to pay up and the Republicans voted for them again too.

    Seventeen , ratified in 1913 ,created the Senate , what ? Really . Did not know that .

    8teen , prohibition .

    9teen, womens get the vote , many elect to not vote ,some vote ,it was 1920 , there was no beer no bars no booze temperance was responsible for such a fabulous times ,the roaring twenties . Yay.

    Twenty, well after nearly 150 years of not really caring when they got around to getting to work in Washington and try to get anything done since they all had electricity and running water anyway and a car ,since they are government people , decided to make a shedual for a dailly working z meeting ,taking office and humping their secretaries. Mostly that was Republicans .

    Tewnty one is the same as 8teen.onnsteroids , take that , what wait, repeal that shit , they did sometime ,idk when .

    Twenty two in 1951 , after electing democrat Franklin Roosevelt 74 times in a row , the sniveling Republicans made a new law so they could get back involved in our government and it's been a disaster . Obama probably would have been elected 75 times in a row.

    Twenty three says the district of Columbia is special . But only the district , not the city or the state it's in or the people who live there but only the people who work there. So they get a special treat to further do discussing things that you will never know about , from me.

    Twenty four, no poll tax. Finally .hear that , South ?

    Twenty five , the president bone is connected to the vice president bone , the vice president bone is connected to the speaker of the house bone . You know the song . This is where it came from. Now it can be told.

    Twenty six, .eitheen year old children may now vote please. None do.

    Twenty seven through seventy four, do not exist.

    Seventy five , America is now a fascist Nazi regime. Surprise.

  • Independent
    Ft.myers, FL
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    Main, I guess you got the "idea"; it is Humpty Dumpty all over again; who can have enough glue to fix it? Putin? Ha Ha.
  • Independent
    Ft.myers, FL
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    Guess where does it say in the Constitution that an President can on its own dictate "tariffs", on its own decide to have an two hour "alone" meeting with an Putin type without recording anything; just on its own have a meeting with Kim ( N.Korea) without doing your "home work" or preparation. Of course such should not be in the Constitution, but in an "mandatory operation manual" for the White House. Such is totally missing (or totally incomplete). It should be clearly defined in such manual the "do's and "don'ts" as well "limits", also if the rules are not followed, what are the consequences or punishment. Also there should be an clear "non-partisan" oversight unit with "real experts" who should review anything beforehand, before activating anything. But yeah they probably "claim" that such is in place, but lying about it because it is totally partisan/incomplete and not strictly adhered to.

    Watching this government at work, it shows how totally inefficient it is, as well the total incompetence in lots of area's. So we need an huge broom to cleanup the place.