Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia Declares The Constitution ‘Dead’

Before a gathered audience at Southern Methodist University in January, right-wing ¬†Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia¬†declared that the US Constitution was “dead, dead, dead.” You see, Scalia believes in something called Originalism, the idea that the US Constitution was written by a single minded ideology, with the ability to be used as intended by the divine minds of the founding fathers in perpetuity. Yes, it is just that crazy.

He said this in response to the idea of the US Constitution being a living document, an idea put forward by the founding fathers themselves. For example, Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to Samuel Kercheval dated July 12, 1816:

I am certainly not an advocate for frequent and untried changes in laws and constitutions. I think moderate imperfections had better be borne with; because, when once known, we accommodate ourselves to them, and find practical means of correcting their ill effects. But I know also, that laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed, and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy, as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.

[it] will be said it is easier to find faults than to amend [the Constitution]. I do not think…amendment so difficult as is pretended. Only lay down true principles, and adhere to them inflexibly.

And that is but one of our founding fathers. James Madison, the man who wrote the US Constitution, had this to say:

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 is not the guide in expounding it, there may 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.

In other words, our founders viewed it as a living document, not some dead piece of paper. That is why our government can authorize an Air Force, despite the failure of our founders to even conceptualize such an idea. Imagine trying to manage a modern seaport without the use of electricity, that is what Scalia is arguing for. If the idea did not exist for the founders, we cannot use it today, using his Originalist argument.

If the Constitution were a dead document, unable to be interpreted to the modern era, then the United States would have collapsed long before the Civil War. The rise of telecommunications, through the telegraph and railroads, would have doomed it. Nations with rigid constitutions have collapsed for far less. But ours endures, because we have a living constitution. When Scalia calls the Constitution “Dead” he is truly telling us all that he wishes the United States to be dead, for that would be the result of a dead Constitution unable to reflect the era in which it is used.

The Constitution is a living document, for otherwise modern society cannot exist. He would see the United States abandon modern amenities, no radio, television, internet, computers, all of it would need to be thrown in the rubbish heap if his ideas were to be adopted widely. The neo-luddite ideas he holds are as archaic as his arguments, and have no place on a judicial bench. Scalia is only proving himself senile. It is time for him to hang up the robe.