Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Quote of the Day – The Meaning of Laws

 

“Laws are made for men of ordinary understanding and should, therefore, be construed by the ordinary rules of common sense. Their meaning is not to be sought for in metaphysical subtleties which may make anything mean everything or nothing at pleasure.” – Thomas Jefferson

The good news for woke activists judges and the Living Constitution advocates is that Thomas Jefferson was a slaveholder and therefore anything he says that disagrees with their viewpoint can be disregarded. And certainly they will disagree with this – that the plain wording of the law is the plain meaning of the law. It was the foundation rock of this republic; the rock Progressives are trying to dissolve to sand.

Published in Law
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There are 20 comments.

  1. Saint Augustine Member

    What is the point of America without a written Constitution as supreme law?

    Or the point of a written Constitution whose meaning changes while the words stay the same?

    Or point of a written Constitution whose meaning is not learned by reading it?

    • #1
    • June 16, 2019, at 6:27 AM PST
    • 8 likes
  2. Doug Watt Member

    The paradox of the advocate’s of the living, breathing Constitutionalist is they are trying to strangle it to death.

    • #2
    • June 16, 2019, at 6:55 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  3. Seawriter Member
    Seawriter Post author

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    The paradox of the advocate’s of the living, breathing Constitutionalist is they are trying to strangle it to death.

    That is because they do not really believe in it. They are using the concept to destroy the Constitution. Similarly, complex interpretation of plain legal language is a means to circumvent the purpose of a law when it is inconvenient.

    • #3
    • June 16, 2019, at 7:11 AM PST
    • 12 likes
  4. philo Member

    Saint Augustine (View Comment): What is the point of America without a written Constitution as supreme law?

    Similarly, what is the point of America without John Roberts to properly divine the otherwise obvious for us unwashed masses?:

    In this instance, the context and structure of the Act compel us to depart from what would otherwise be the most natural reading of the pertinent statutory phrase.

    • #4
    • June 16, 2019, at 7:33 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  5. Susan Quinn Contributor

    We can only hope that the ship will be turned around, slowly but surely, in spite of the odds. May truth and the Constitution reign!

    • #5
    • June 16, 2019, at 7:45 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  6. Vectorman Thatcher

    A quote like this from a brilliant president is to be savored.


    The Quote of the Day series is the easiest way to start a fun conversation on Ricochet. We have only 3 days left on the June Signup SheetWe even include tips for finding great quotes, so choose your favorite quote and sign up today!

    • #6
    • June 16, 2019, at 9:54 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  7. Unsk Member

    Those who want to destroy the Constitution simply want tyranny and dictatorship, while hiding behind nostrums that they are the “compassionate” ones. Instead they the epitome of evil.

    • #7
    • June 16, 2019, at 10:43 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  8. D.A. Venters Member

    I agree wholeheartedly with Jefferson’s quote and the post. It is one of those basic tenets that shores up one of the most, perhaps the most, essential one – the Rule of Law. 

    It will be, and has breen, tempting to stray from this from time to time. There will be times when hewing to this principle may result in outcomes you don’t like in particular cases, political defeats, etc…(recent controversies over birthright citizenship and “emergency” declarations come to mind), but it is important to stick with it nonetheless. 

    • #8
    • June 16, 2019, at 11:44 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  9. Arahant Member

    What? No penumbras of emanations?

    • #9
    • June 16, 2019, at 1:23 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  10. Randy Webster Member

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):
    Or the point of a written Constitution whose meaning changes while the words stay the same?

    My tagline back in BBS days was “A living Constitution is no Constitution.”

    • #10
    • June 16, 2019, at 2:57 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  11. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge

    Jefferson has it wrong. The purpose of laws is to justify the whims of power and the powerful.

    • #11
    • June 16, 2019, at 3:11 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  12. Skyler Coolidge

    The good news is that no matter how much it is ignored, someday it will be easier to return our freedoms simply because that’s what’s in writing. Without the Constitution as written, rights would have been trampled much earlier and there would be no hope of ever restoring them.

    Witness the second amendment. It almost died in the 1980’s after about six decades of determined action against it. Today, the second amendment is not entirely restored, but we are much better than we’ve been in a long time and the only reason is because all the justices on the Supreme Court followed the language of the amendment in Heller and restored what had almost been permanently lost. Were it not for the Bill of Rights enshrined as part of the Constitution, we would have been lost long ago with respect to all of our freedoms.

    The fight never ends, but we have something to fall back on after we stumble.

    • #12
    • June 16, 2019, at 5:29 PM PST
    • 11 likes
  13. I Walton Member

    Skyler (View Comment):

    The good news is that no matter how much it is ignored, someday it will be easier to return our freedoms simply because that’s what’s in writing. Without the Constitution as written, rights would have been trampled much earlier and there would be no hope of ever restoring them.

    Witness the second amendment. It almost died in the 1980’s after about six decades of determined action against it. Today, the second amendment is not entirely restored, but we are much better than we’ve been in a long time and the only reason is because all the justices on the Supreme Court followed the language of the amendment in Heller and restored what had almost been permanently lost. Were it not for the Bill of Rights enshrined as part of the Constitution, we would have been lost long ago with respect to all of our freedoms.

    The fight never ends, but we have something to fall back on after we stumble.

    It’s not back and forth, hewing to some center. It’s always erosion of local power, and centralization of power. The income tax was perhaps the fundamental loss, but just look at the size power and solidarity of the Federal Bureaucracy. We consider it a major victory to slow its growth when most of it shouldn’t even exist? The school system? Even private schools have to adhere to norms of that massive, for all intents and purposes federal system. We play at the edges with charter schools. We’re ending like all major civilizations ended, with centralization, all of them, even those we only know after they centralized like Egypt, Babylonia, even marvelous small places like Athens.

    • #13
    • June 17, 2019, at 5:16 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  14. Full Size Tabby Member

    The principle Jefferson expresses is also the basis for the idea that “ignorance of the law is not a defense for a violation of the law.” The laws are supposed to be few enough and clear enough that “normal people” can comply readily. Otherwise, the law becomes a trap for the citizenry. Unfortunately, we have arrived at that point (see the “Three Felonies a Day” concept). 

    • #14
    • June 17, 2019, at 7:30 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  15. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    The paradox of the advocate’s of the living, breathing Constitutionalist is they are trying to strangle it to death.

    That is because they do not really believe in it. They are using the concept to destroy the Constitution. Similarly, complex interpretation of plain legal language is a means to circumvent the purpose of a law when it is inconvenient.

    I think most of them are quite fond of the Constitution and believe it to be good – and being good, it couldn’t possibly prevent them from doing the things they believe to be good and necessary. 

    • #15
    • June 17, 2019, at 7:33 AM PST
    • 1 like
  16. Full Size Tabby Member

    The British have operated under an unwritten “constitution” for centuries based on history and a series of negotiations for power between the Sovereign and the elected representatives. Our American Colonial ancestors saw that the government (both the Sovereign and the “elected” representatives to whom the colonists had little to no input) could do much mischief yet still claim to be within the parameters of the unwritten constitution. I suspect this was a motivator for the Founding Fathers to write down the constitutional parameters of the new United States government. A “living” constitution that changes based on the whims of the powerful who control those changes is no better than an unwritten constitution.

     

    • #16
    • June 17, 2019, at 7:39 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  17. Full Size Tabby Member

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    Jefferson has it wrong. The purpose of laws is to justify the whims of power and the powerful.

    I don’t share the full measure of your cynicism, but only the powerful get to determine the meaning of a “living constitution.” Therefore, although those who advocate for a “living constitution” often claim to be advocating on behalf of the powerless, in fact they are pushing a system that will inevitably favor the powerful.

    The beauty of a system of simple written laws (and constitutions) is that the system tends to protect the less powerful.

    • #17
    • June 17, 2019, at 7:45 AM PST
    • 1 like
  18. Old Bathos Member

    Funny that the fact that Woodrow Wilson was an out-and-racist does not mean that the progressive movement he launched should be jettisoned. Or the fact that Margaret Sanger was so racist she even had top Nazi pen pals (“we must breed a race of thoroughbreds”) does not mean that Planned Parenthood is illegitimate. 

    Nevertheless the very principles and documents that ground our protection of natural rights regardless of race, creed, sex or IQ must be dumped because half of those who implemented them in the late eighteenth century could not see their way to undo the slave-holding social order in which they were born and raised. It was the very principles they brought to life that made slavery untenable. Yet we are called upon to reject them in favor of doctrines that literally enslaved millions.

    It is not just that our high schools and colleges turn out grossly ignorant products. It’s that they graduate not realizing they are grossly ignorant. Self-aware stupidity is always forgivable. If colleges were to say in the brochure “there’s a ton of good stuff over in the library but for ideological reasons and to conceal the widespread incompetence of our faculty we are going to present political drivel instead” that would be better than producing people like AOC who sincerely believe they have a handle on things.

     

    • #18
    • June 17, 2019, at 8:14 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  19. Full Size Tabby Member

    TBA (View Comment):

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    The paradox of the advocate’s of the living, breathing Constitutionalist is they are trying to strangle it to death.

    That is because they do not really believe in it. They are using the concept to destroy the Constitution. Similarly, complex interpretation of plain legal language is a means to circumvent the purpose of a law when it is inconvenient.

    I think most of them are quite fond of the Constitution and believe it to be good – and being good, it couldn’t possibly prevent them from doing the things they believe to be good and necessary.

    I at least partially disagree. I don’t think they are fond of the Constitution and believe it to be good. I believe they just think of the U.S. Constitution as something that is. Justice Ginsburg of the U.S. Supreme Court has even said she does not think the U.S. Constitution is good, and she would not recommend it to others. 

    I think the advocates of a “living constitution” believe they are good, and can’t believe that any Constitution that is good would prevent them from doing things they believe to be good and necessary. The focus is not on the goodness of the structure, but on the goodness of the people doing the rewriting. 

    • #19
    • June 17, 2019, at 9:20 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  20. kedavis Member

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    Funny that the fact that Woodrow Wilson was an out-and-racist does not mean that the progressive movement he launched should be jettisoned. Or the fact that Margaret Sanger was so racist she even had top Nazi pen pals (“we must breed a race of thoroughbreds”) does not mean that Planned Parenthood is illegitimate.

    Nevertheless the very principles and documents that ground our protection of natural rights regardless of race, creed, sex or IQ must be dumped because half of those who implemented them in the late eighteenth century could not see their way to undo the slave-holding social order in which they were born and raised. It was the very principles they brought to life that made slavery untenable. Yet we are called upon to reject them in favor of doctrines that literally enslaved millions.

    It is not just that our high schools and colleges turn out grossly ignorant products. It’s that they graduate not realizing they are grossly ignorant. Self-aware stupidity is always forgivable. If colleges were to say in the brochure “there’s a ton of good stuff over in the library but for ideological reasons and to conceal the widespread incompetence of our faculty we are going to present political drivel instead” that would be better than producing people like AOC who sincerely believe they have a handle on things.

     

    Very well put. I emailed this to several friends/relatives. (With attribution, of course.)

    • #20
    • June 17, 2019, at 6:15 PM PST
    • 3 likes