The Constitution is a fantastic document and those who contributed to the writing of the Constitution were amazingly wise men. It is understandable for the Supreme Court to look to what the framers of the Constitution had in mind when it was written but the task of attempting to assertain what was the original intent is fraught with difficulty. We are dependent upon historical accuracy and our ability to undestand the context of the times under which the Constitution was written. It was a different time and circumstances were different.
Our view of what is moral and proper today is based upon the shifting tides of public opinion and our sense of what is right and wrong. Slavery for example existed during the writing of the Constitution. It is hard for people, today, to place themselves in the shoes of others without judging others based upon today’s sense of morality.
There are certain inalienable truths that exist for all times. For the fact that the founders memorialized a lot of these truths in our Constitution, we should be grateful.
For many issues the framers had profound disagreements about and therein lies the great danger in attempting to assess original intent upon cases that come before the Supreme Court today. Not only are the circumstances different today, but the framers did not speak in one voice on many issues.
The power to charter a corporation was one of the issues that the framers disagreed about. The court of today, has given corporations an inordinate amount of power that the founders would have been amazed at. History can be a guide and a useful tool in determining the rights of those who appear before the court. If one looked at Jefferson’s views towards Corporations it is hard to imagine how any justice today could claim to be a conservative and give so much power to corporations.
History goes in cycles. The court held strongly during the days of the Dred Scott decision to a fixed and unbending view of original intent. With this notion of original intent are we to be held forever to the idea that a race of people are only property and not men and women with the same inalienable rights that we all share?
The scales of justice are not always in balance. The historic arc of progress does not go in a straight line. It is my fervent hope that even though we may appear to take a step back for every two steps forward, the march of history is forward. Let us work together to insure that individual freedom remains not to the detriment of others but to the enrichment of our individual lives and for the common good of all.