Annette Gordon-Reed on Constitutional Law

Gordon-Reed:    It’s a strange notion.  It’s a strange idea and I think that, well, I think the framers of the constitution, Jefferson had ideas about the constitution but he was in France while it was being written.  I think it’s a strange notion and I think they would be surprised if the idea that we would be sort of constraining ourselves based on, you know, what we thought they were thinking at that particular time.  I'm not a strict constructionist in that way.  Jefferson thought there should be a new constitution every 20 years, because you have to start over, you can’t have people.  But we’ve come to view the constitution almost like a scared document and we don’t want to fool with it and so we keep trying to, you know, make things work under it and it’s really a tough thing, but I’m not a strict constructionist.  I mean, I really think, you know, John Marshall said it’s a constitution we expound and with that suggest is that every generation of people has to come to its understanding of what liberty means and what, you know, due process means given where we are at this moment, so I don’t believe in that. 

Question: How can we explain the Supreme Court’s constructionist positions?

Gordon-Reed:    Well, they are thinking that if you, what is the, their argument be what is the constitution mean if, you know, the people who sit down and draft it and they say, you know, here’s what we want and here’s what we think constitute.  This is why we’re putting this together.  If you don’t agree with it they’d say amend it, because they know that that’s next to impossible to do politically.  It’s very, very hard to do.  So, I can understand the ideas what is the, you know, for people, there’s some people who think, well, rules are rules.  And, you know, and if the rule on its plain face says one particular thing that’s why I’m going to stick with but it doesn’t make any sense to me given that it is a constitution, it’s not a [statue of book].  It is something that has to be interpreted for ourselves and since we can’t really know what those people were doing, that’s an…it’s an illusion to think that you can read the mind of James Madison perfectly or, you know, Alexander Hamilton.

Annette Gordon-Reed analyzes those who see the Constitution through the strictest lens.

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Dead – yes, dead – tardigrade found beneath Antarctica

A completely unexpected discovery beneath the ice.

(Goldstein Lab/Wkikpedia/Tigerspaws/Big Think)
Surprising Science
  • Scientists find remains of a tardigrade and crustaceans in a deep, frozen Antarctic lake.
  • The creatures' origin is unknown, and further study is ongoing.
  • Biology speaks up about Antarctica's history.
Keep reading Show less

A world map of Virgin Mary apparitions

She met mere mortals with and without the Vatican's approval.

Strange Maps
  • For centuries, the Virgin Mary has appeared to the faithful, requesting devotion and promising comfort.
  • These maps show the geography of Marian apparitions – the handful approved by the Vatican, and many others.
  • Historically, Europe is where most apparitions have been reported, but the U.S. is pretty fertile ground too.
Keep reading Show less

Why are women more religious than men? Because men are more willing to take risks.

It's one factor that can help explain the religiosity gap.

Photo credit: Alina Strong on Unsplash
Culture & Religion
  • Sociologists have long observed a gap between the religiosity of men and women.
  • A recent study used data from several national surveys to compare religiosity, risk-taking preferences and demographic information among more than 20,000 American adolescents.
  • The results suggest that risk-taking preferences might partly explain the gender differences in religiosity.
Keep reading Show less