Saturday, July 04, 2015


In support of the SC gay marriage ruling, Will implied that James Madison would approve:
In 1824, in retirement 37 years after serving as the Constitutional Convention’s prime mover, James Madison, 73, noted that the 1787 “language of our Constitution is already undergoing interpretations unknown to its founders.” He knew that the purport of the text would evolve “with the changeable meaning of the words composing it.”
That would be fine if Madison meant he was OK with that BUT HE WASN'T. The full letter can be found here and this is the relevant paragraph:
With a view to this last object, I entirely concur in the propriety of resorting to the sense in which the Constitution was accepted and ratified by the nation. In that sense alone it is the legitimate Constitution. And if that be not the guide in expounding it, there can be no Security for a consistent and stable, more than for a faithful exercise of its powers. If the meaning of the text be sought in the changeable meaning of the words composing it, it is evident that the shape and attributes of the Government must partake of the changes to which the words and phrases of all living languages are constantly subject. What a metamorphosis would be produced in the code of law if all its ancient phraseology were to be taken in its modern sense. And that the language of our Constitution is already undergoing interpretations unknown to its founders, will I believe appear to all unbiassed Enquirers into the history of its origin and adoption. Not to look further for an example, take the word "consolidate" in the address of the Convention prefixed to the Constitution. It then and there meant to give strength and solidity to the Union of the States. In its current & controversial application it means a destruction of the States, by transfusing their powers into the government of the Union.

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