Jonah Goldberg

Don't worry, this isn't another column about gay marriage. But let me briefly refer to noted constitutional scholar and historian, Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe. Here's his view on amending the Constitution to bar gay marriage: "Our Constitution, a sacred document - you know, our forefathers knew what they were doing. This wasn't a rough draft. And let's not try to continually do amendments to it as we move forward. I would like the states to make the decisions on what they think is right in their individual state. It shouldn't be up to the federal government."

Wow.

Did we know that Terry McAuliffe was even more of a strict constructionist on the Constitution than Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Robert Bork? Did I simply miss the DNC press release reporting that the Democratic Party officially opposes all of the amendments since the Bill of Rights? Actually, if we are to read McAuliffe literally, I suppose he's against the Bill of Rights, too - after all, the Constitution "wasn't a rough draft" and our forefathers "knew what they were doing."

I assume McAuliffe knows what he's getting his party into. After all, the original version of the Constitution provided that only three out of five blacks should count in elections. The Democratic Party already counts on a high turnout of the black vote to stay competitive. Making 40 percent of African-Americans ineligible to vote won't help much.

OK, enough about McAuliffe. But there's a larger point here. Liberal opponents of the Federal Marriage Amendment insist constantly that they consider the Constitution a "sacred document" that shouldn't be "tinkered" with. I'm very sympathetic to this view, but, frankly, I don't really believe them.

Here's my problem. Most of the liberals invoking the inviolability of the Constitution in the debate against the FMA are the same liberals who generally invoke the doctrine of a "living Constitution," which demands that we constantly "reinterpret" the document.

For example, in 2000 when asked what kind of judges he'd appoint, Al Gore replied, "I would look for justices of the Supreme Court who understand that our Constitution is a living and breathing document, that it was intended by our founders to be interpreted in the light of the constantly evolving experience of the American people."

Are you cottoning on to my confusion yet? Liberals believe that the Constitution shouldn't be literally changed but they advocate a constantly changing meaning for what's already in the document.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
TOWNHALL DAILY: Be the first to read Jonah Goldberg's column. Sign up today and receive Townhall.com daily lineup delivered each morning to your inbox.


TOWNHALL MEDIA GROUP