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Interpreting the Constitution.

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jrodefeld Posted: Sun, Aug 19 2012 8:10 PM

When I get into debates with some people and I try to make the case for a literal interpretation of the Constitution and the document being properly used to strictly limit the government, I frequently hear replies about how the founders all disagreed about the meaning of the various phrases and clauses of the Constitution, and how many of the ratifying convention arguments were contradictory, so it is basically impossible to have "original intent" interpretation.

Futhermore, people will say that some of the text was intentionally vague to allow interpretation.  They say that the Constitution was a compromise (which it was) but that it unified entirely different groups that disagreed on almost everything.

The bottom line is that these people say that the Constitution was designed to be a living breathing thing that can be reinterpreted over time.


My question is can we make a compelling case that the vast majority of the founders agreed strongly on basic principles and interpretations of the Constitution and that the ratifying convention arguments correctly support our argument for strictly limited government?

Can we show definitively that most programs that leftist support are completely unconstitutional based on fact and evidence rather than "just one intepretation of many"?


Thanks for the help.

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You're right that these are pretty common arguments, so there's plenty of rebuttal available.

However, I want to point out that for a great number of people here, there isn't really going to be much interest in "creating a compelling case" for the Constitution in any real substantial sense.  For a relatively quick reasoning as to why, see here.

That being said, various historians have done some good work on this, most notably Tom Woods and Kevin Gutzman.  I definitely recommend checking out their works, in particular,

The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution

Who Killed the Constitution?


Tom Woods' Liberty Classroom offers excellent course that cover the subject as well.

And here's a playlist of good videos.


For some specific info, see these posts:

Some Guy: Ron Paul Doesn’t Know the Constitution

Iowa Teacher: Ron Paul Doesn’t Know Constitution

Leftist Tries to Take Down Ron Paul on Constitution

This Is How You Do a Radio Interview

Jefferson Was Right, Webster Was Wrong

Major Constitutional Scholar Implicitly Concedes Defeat


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@ OP:  No, because the leftists you refer to are right.  Look at what the U.S. Federal Constitution replaced, how it failed to do what the Federalists said it would do (Shay's rebellion was an excuse as is proven by the fact that Federalist agents wound up murdering 5 civilians during the Whiskey Rebellion even though the rebels didn't threaten anyone and didn't initiate violence), and the fact the U.S. Federal Constitution itself is unconstitutional.  The Federalists ratified it illegally and they threatened force against RI so that RI would vote for it after it already took effect.

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Bogart replied on Mon, Aug 20 2012 12:07 PM

The answer is: The Living Breathing Document side is unfortunately correct.  The Constitution simply means what 9 people in a stone building in black muumuus say it means.  It does not matter what we think or what the Republicans think.  It is what the vote of these 9 think. 

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gotlucky replied on Mon, Aug 20 2012 12:10 PM

The Myth of the Rule of Law by John Hasnas

***I highly recommend reading this***

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^^^this is the best intro to polycentric law I've read.

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