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And, if I don’t much flatter myself, it doesn’t stop me from being a clearer thinker than your average Senate Democrat.
One thing my dogma tells me is that there are a lot of sins we humans do that are none of the government’s business to stop–gossip, lust, laziness, gluttony, not praying enough, not following the Golden Rule, and the list goes on.
It also tells me about some other sins that are in a different category. The government might actually have a role in preventing them–divorce for reasons other than infidelity, for example.
But my dogma also trains me to pay attention to the meaning of a text–especially its original meaning. How Psalm 121 makes me personally feel may be kind of interesting, but what the Bible actually means is much more important than what it may happen to mean to me. The original meaning of the Bible–the things its authors meant and wrote down in the text–is much more important.
It’s not a religious dogma that tells me that I should read the Constitution in similar fashion (with some appropriate modifications). It’s common-sense that tells me that–and philosophy joins in. But my dogma trains me to attend to the original meaning–trains me much better than, for example, your average Senate Democrat.
If some law supported by my dogma would not be permitted by the Constitution, so be it.
In fact, the left’s problem with Amy Coney Barrett appears to be that she won’t rely on dogma to interpret the Constitution but will instead focus on its original meaning. The Court should have 9 Judges who agree on that. (However, I could go for 8 of them plus Richard Epstein with his alternative version of non-originalism.)
With 9 originalists on the Supreme Court, we would have a Court that does not interpret the Constitution according to dogma. They would only interpret it according to the meaning each part of the Constitution had when that part became law.
That would be great. In a country where we’re supposed to have neutral arbitration in courts, religious liberty, and a political system not based on any comprehensive view of Life, the Universe, and Everything, that is exactly what we should want.
This is one reason why the Left’s propaganda about the Court leaning “sharply to the right” is ridiculous, and why there is no need whatsoever for a balanced Court.
Of course, the news that the Court is all that conservative would come as a shock to any actual conservative who is half a centimeter to the right of John McCain. But, more importantly, the point of originalism is largely that the Judges of the Supreme Court do not have any business interpreting the Constitution according to their own political preferences.
Unless, of course, we’re talking about a political preference for a Constitutional order, for the American system of government–and not against the very idea of it. But if that is the case, then one’s political opponents have not the slightest right to a Court that would give their perspective the time of day. They are revolutionaries against the law of the land.
Nice revolutionaries, often enough–friendly enough people you’d like well enough if you met them socially. Your friends, your neighbors, your co-workers, your cousins, your in-laws. They deserve your respect, love, prayers, and friendship. They should be treated according to the Golden Rule. They deserve olive branches along the lines of friendly words when their legal luminaries pass away.
They don’t deserve olive branches in the theater of conflict–not where their quiet, non-violent revolution against the sovereignty of the written law is taking place.
But if a leftist does respect the sovereignty of the written law, then an originalist judge is the olive branch. An originalist judge will, between the dogmas of that leftist and the dogmas of a Southern Baptist social conservative like me, arbitrate neutrally to see which ones may be put into law without violating the sovereign Constitution.
Let’s try putting this last bit in the form of a constructive dilemma argument:
1. A liberal/progressive/leftist/Democrat either respects the authority of the Constitution as written, or does not.
2. If he does, then an originalist Supreme Court will give him precisely the neutrality he deserves, and an originalist Supreme Court would be perfectly fair to him.
3. If he does not, then he is opposed to the sovereignty of the written Constitution.
4. If he is opposed to the sovereignty of the written Constitution, then his position does not deserve any representation on the Supreme Court, and an originalist Supreme Court would be perfectly fair to him.
So, either way: 5. An originalist Supreme Court would be perfectly fair to liberals/progressives/leftists/Democrats.
The dogma lives loudly within me. And that’s not a problem. But if you do have a problem with my dogma, as I perhaps might have with yours, then we should both want an originalist Supreme Court.Published in