Walter E. Williams

 Whether "evolving standards," the "weight of international opinion" and good ideas should determine court decisions underlies much of the ongoing conflict over President Bush's federal court appointees. A federal court appointee who'd say his decisions are guided by the letter and spirit of our Constitution would be tagged by Democrat senators and a few Republican senators, such as Arlen Specter, as an extremist. They'd prefer justices who share former Chief Justice Charles E. Hughes' vision that, "We live under a Constitution, but the Constitution is what the judges say it is." Translated, that means we don't live under the Constitution; we live under tyrannical judges.

 Many law professors, and others who hold contempt for our Constitution, preach that the Constitution is a living document. Saying that the Constitution is a living document is the same as saying we don't have a Constitution. For rules to mean anything, they must be fixed. How many people would like to play me poker and have the rules be "living"? Depending on "evolving standards," maybe my two pair could beat your flush.

 The framers recognized there might come a time to amend the Constitution, and they gave us Article V as a means for doing so. Early in the last century, some Americans thought it was a good idea to ban the manufacture and sale of alcohol. They didn't go to court asking the justices to twist the Constitution to accomplish their goal. They respected the Constitution and sought passage of the 18th Amendment.

 The founders were right about a lot of things, but they were dead wrong when they bought into Alexander Hamilton's Federalist Paper No. 78 prediction that the judiciary was the "least dangerous" branch of government.


Walter E. Williams

Dr. Williams serves on the faculty of George Mason University as John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics and is the author of 'Race and Economics: How Much Can Be Blamed on Discrimination?' and 'Up from the Projects: An Autobiography.'
 
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