Posted on 26 February 2011.
Background: A strict Constitutional interpretation means doing only exactly what the Constitution specifically authorizes and absolutely nothing else regardless of what’s going on now, whereas a loose constitutional interpretation permits one to “interpret” the meaning of a provision in the context of new or developing facts and circumstances. Most Conservative Republicans and just about all Tea-Party members argue for a strict interpretation of the U.S. Constitution contending that the best government is the least government especially as regards economic freedom and property rights, but not in foreign affairs where a big powerful military is necessary or in moral matters like abortion, embryonic stem cell research, or gay marriage which must be prohibited. In contrast, many Liberal Democrats suggest that the federal government should oversee and regulate the many and varied aspects of modern day life to ensure socio-economic rights, personal freedoms, and liberties or else the people will suffer, especially at the hands of big business or groups that seek to impose their own moral beliefs on everybody. Liberals also generally oppose an American world-wide military presence.
- Americans can look after themselves especially if there is never any gun control–they do not need a federal Big Brother who “taxes and spends” in order to snoop around the States and double-check everything, except that we must secure our borders against illegal immigrants and Islamic terrorists. Furthermore, government programs simply encourage people to become lazy and dependent instead of strong and self-reliant.
- We must neither tax our wealthiest citizens or corporations in order to permit their financial successes in a free market system to “trickle down” to the rest of the people at the bottom of the economic hierarchy, nor regulate big business which would then lose money in attempting to comply with expensive and burdensome health and safety regulations.
- There is no climate crisis, and anyway America has plenty of oil, gas, and coal resources which private industry should be perfectly free to exploit unhindered by any conservation or carbon-emission regulations.
- We must look to the greater welfare of the country–like with health care–to best ensure equal opportunity, and individual rights and personal freedoms for everybody instead of just safeguarding elites like big business or the military-industrial complex. A level playing field in which there is equal opportunity is very important.
- We need to tax everybody fairly in order to best secure through regulatory expenditures the blessings of liberty and equality for all of our citizens and thereby avoid inequity and injustice.
- The Founding Fathers drafted a Constitution which was appropriate for thirteen Sovereign States when the entire Eastern Seaboard was covered in a forest and the main perceived threats to the new country were wild animals and Native Americans–times have changed, and a fresh interpretation of the Constitution for a World Superpower with international hegemony on a technologically advanced planet is now mandated. Furthermore, the whole point of government is to help the people, not step back from helping, because government exists for the people.
~KS FEB ’11
Posted in Domestic Affairs, Philosophical
Posted on 02 January 2011.
Background: The eighth amendment of the US Constitution states, “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” This clause about “cruel and unusual” punishment has been ambiguously interpreted throughout the history of the country. The definition of “excessive” punishment is that 1) it is not proportional to the crime (Weems vs. United States, Coker v. Georgia), 2) does not fit prevailing standards of punishment (Trop v. Dulles), and 3) is not widely accepted among state governments, known as a “national consensus” (Tison v. Arizona, Penry v. Lynaugh). When considering the death penalty, especially for minors and the mentally ill, and situations where torture has been inflicted, determining constitutionality can be much more difficult. The Supreme Court decisions Stanford v. Kentucky and Atkins v. Virginia both limited the death penalty’s constitutionality in the cases of people under 18 and those with mental handicaps. However, with 21 US states and territories outlawing the death penalty, there is no clear “national consensus” for the punishment in general. This ambiguousness has been the cause of much dispute regarding punishments for felons, supposed terrorists, and political prisoners. The “cruel and unusual punishment” doctrine has also been implemented into the UN’s moratorium on the death penalty and influenced the United Nations Convention Against Torture. However, the effectiveness of this provision has been negligible because of the ambiguous definition of “torture” and whether it overlaps with the term, “cruel and unusual.”
Posted in Domestic Affairs, Military, Philosophical
Posted on 10 December 2010.
“Don’t ask, Don’t tell” is a law enacted in 1993 that mandates the discharge of openly gay, lesbian, and bisexual service men and women. According to Zogby International 2006 survey, 74% of military personnel are comfortable serving alongside gays and lesbians. Even 58% of conservatives are in support of the repeal of “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” according to the Gallup poll from 2009. It is believed to be an invasion to the freedom of speech in the First and Fifth Amendment and because it infringes on the sections stating: “Nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” Is denial to serve your country an infringement of constitutional rights? What could the United States gain by repealing this act?
Posted in Domestic Affairs, Hot Topics, Military
Posted on 05 December 2010.
As one of the most controversial decisions in Supreme Court history, Roe V Wade determined that women have the constitutional right to privacy, which extends to abortion. Justice Harry Blackmun, the author of the majority opinion, stated that the Constitution does not explicitly mention a right to privacy but, “in varying contexts the Court or individual justices have, indeed, found at least the roots of that right.” Some critics of the decision feel that Roe V Wade actually created the right to privacy, one that was not in the constitution, but simply expanded on the 9th amendment as one of the “enumerated rights.” Did the courts expand on the “enumerated rights” of the ninth amendment in an unconstitutional way or did they do their job and protect the rights of all citizens?
Posted in Domestic Affairs, Hot Topics