Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Vague Guidelines & The Constitution.

Yesterday, my blog on the radical doctrine of church-state separation elicited the following comment:
Second: the Constitution is a profoundly vague document. I'm of the opinion that this was an intentional strategy. It was written that way precisely to allow lots of future leeway. Otherwise, wouldn't it be more clearly written, without all those inkblots?
JPE comments from: TotC Talks About My Activist Judges Blog.

I agree with JPE here, the Constitution had to be a general document, the founding fathers knew things would change and were more intent upon laying down general guidelines rather than specifics. The specifics come from legislation not the constitution. For example we have freedom of the press but did not go into further detail as to what constitutes the press.

Does this give a problem for textualists? I saw someone somewhere (blogger) accuse Justice Scalia of reading the constitution and law like a fundy reads the Bible. When it says the world was created in seven days, gosh darnit it means seven 24 hour 60 minute/hour 60 second/minute periods and nothing else! I disagree with this accusation.

I was unable to read the book further last night but I wonder how textualists deal with vagueness.

I would also guess that one can see the language in constitutional amendments tighten up in specificity as time goes on.