Letter: Intent on change

Letter to the Editor

Regarding the editorial “Happy Birthday, America,” it makes a number of good points but misses on two.

First, the editorial complains: “I’m always bemused when our Supreme Court waxes eloquent on what founders intended and original intent is what counts in interpreting our Constitution.” 

What is at issue is not “original intent” but “strict construction.” The language should be strictly construed to give the words the meaning understood at the time, a more objective standard than determining the intent of numerous authors. 

The Bill of Rights was necessary to the passage of the Constitution because it served to limit the power of the Federal Government, and many of the Founders feared that, absent those specific checks, the new Federal Government might wield the power George III had exercised. They were meticulous in their use of language to ensure that the Federal Government would be limited. 

The prevailing idea of a “living Constitution”, i.e., the Court is free to give the language the meaning the Court feels it should have today, is nonsensical. The Founders expected that, if times required changes in the Constitution, those changes would be effected in accordance with the provisions for amendments. Can anyone imagine the Founders accepting the concept that in the future as few as five unelected, politically appointed lawyers could change the meaning of the language the Founders chose? 

Second, the editorial contrasts the role muskets played in our successful revolution with the modern day availability of AR-15s with 40 shot clips. It misses the point: the arms should be proportionate to what the government could bring to bear against the citizens. If King George III had AR-15s, the citizens would need them too. 

Richard M. Coleman