Monday, February 07, 2011

It's liberty, stupid!

"I think all the concern about democracy is overblown because the constitution lays out very clearly what it intended to accomplish and democracy is not among those. The blessings of liberty, protecting the blessings of liberty is the purpose of the constitution, and so where that clashes with democracy we should reject democracy."
That was a comment made from the audience by Timothy Sandefur as an introduction to a question, which I completely missed because I was busy digesting his first two sentences.

The audience was listening to a discussion called, Alternatives to Originalism: Conservative and Libertarian Perspectives, which discussed many other interesting viewpoints, not the least of which are the affects theory, methodology, and structure have on judges in their duty to interpret the constitution.

But I think it interesting to consider what the questioner posited, that nearly all the constitution's text, save its preamble, is to construct a tool whose purpose is to accomplish the goals described in its first 52 words:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Everything that follows those words are in pursuit of those words' goals.  

The structure of the constitution has a form of precedent of its own, and that is the first measure of any law's constitutionality should be whether it furthers the purposes of the constitution itself; justice, domestic tranquility, common defense, promote the general welfare, and the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity.

It's difficult to even type those words, especially the "..and our Posterity.." without wondering about our nation's $14 trillion debt and wonder how much of our prosperity will be consumed with paying-off the debt created by "ourselves."  The debt we've accumulated is of recent-enough origins that we can't justifiably blame its size on our ancestry, but our children will certainly be justified blaming it on us.

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