Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Strict constructionists

You'll encounter people from time to time who like to claim that the Constitution should be strictly interpreted. These people decry the supposed role of activist judges in inventing new rights, and new powers of government. The strict constructionists say there should be no need to read things into the Constitution that the framers didn't put there.

Take a look at the Constitution and you'll see that it contains huge generalizations that imply a clear intent that we interpret. Examples:

"Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted."

How do you define "excessive," and "cruel and unusual" except in terms of an evolving standard?

"In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial..."

Care to strictly construct "speedy," anyone?

"No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime [...] without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation."

By leaving "due process" and "just compensation" undefined, the framers rely on us to interpret.

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated..."

Go ahead and define "unreasonable" without using your powers of reason.

Oh, and by the way, in terms of 'making up' new rights, the Constitution specifically grants rights which it does not mention:

Amendment IX (1791)

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Next time you hear a strict constructionist, I grant you the right to laugh.

...So far no Herxheimier reaction, and the elbows are almost back to normal. I can report, however, a dramatic improvement in the dishwasher. Since the brain transplant, it has come up to what I would consider normal performance levels. Oh let it be my role model! And my Civilization III play has also improved. Right now I am playing a normal game (on the easiest level) and appear to be dominating everyone else. There are still some problems with my internal grace, but I overcome these by unprovoked aggression against my neighbors.

Swallowing pills has become incredibly tricky and difficult over the past couple of months. There are muscle twitches on my abdomen from time to time now.

Both my kids have their first colds of the season. The boy is well enough for indergarten, but the girl has to stay home from preschool. The kids in a family we are close (exposed to) to both have sinus infections and are on antibiotics.

I tell you, this morning I woke up with a small headache, plus antibiotic stress, plus there was lots of screaming from cranky ones, so I took two Excedrin -- and boy do I feel good. I'm floatiing on a cloud of no pain. I know I am on drugs, but I'll take it!

Left grip is 29 pounds (20, 27, 29), right grip is 81 pounds (78, 81, 77), left leg balance is 4.19 seconds, and inhale volume is TK mL.
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