Jonah writes an utterly retarded piece on his endorsement of a "dead constitution" (i.e., one that is constructionist or not "living"). Nestled in his annoying cutesy writing is just the sort of deception (or more generously, misunderstanding) that leads Americans not only to mistrust individual judges, but to hold misconceptions about the nature and function of the judicial branch. Let's take a look at the relevant portions of his essay and give him a grade, shall we? We'll start him off with a 100% and take off points as necessary.
Better Off Dead: A conservative Constitution
Corny title: -3 points.
In Washington, conservatives and liberals are quietly loading up on drinking water, D batteries, and extra ammo, in preparation for the coming battle over judges. Ralph Neas himself has been seen by the campfire carving notches into the stock of his rifle, muttering, “Pain don’t hurt.” No one knows when the fight’s coming, but everyone knows it is. But while we’re digging fresh foxholes and listening to our Vera Lynn records, waiting for the blitzkrieg, it might be worth taking a step back to look at the big picture.
Joke falls flat: -2 points. Unfunny metaphor continues long after showing itself to be unfunny: -3 points.
This is a battle between the forces of life and death, and, as inconvenient as it may be to the marketing efforts of abortion opponents, we are resolutely on the side of death. For we are those who believe the only good constitution is a dead constitution...
Silly rhetoric: -2 points Using the phrase "For we are those": -4 points. General douchebaggery: -8 points.
Let's skip ahead some:
The more reasonable arguments for a living constitution revolve around the view that society is changing too fast and the Constitution-as-written must grow to stay relevant...
And it’s obviously true that the Founders never envisioned a world of embryonic stem cells or retinal-scan cat doors (coming soon!). And there are good answers for what the Supreme Court should do when the Constitution is truly silent on an issue. For example: It should stay silent.
But the problem here is that these arguments are all on the opposition’s turf. Conservatives aren’t merely anti-living Constitution — we are pro-dead Constitution. In order for us to live in freedom, the Constitution must die (Faster, Federalist Society! Kill! Kill!).
Weak attempt to refute counterargument: -15 points. More lame humor: -5 points. Too many exclamation points: -12 points.
I cannot fathom how it is that Jonah not only lives in a world with embryonic stem cells but also mentions them in his piece, and yet doesn't understand why the original meaning of a document written over 200 years ago might not be entirely relevant today. Stem cells...hell, why jump that far forward in history? There were so many other things the founders didn't envision. Like gas lighting, which was invented in 1792. Or batteries, which showed up in 1800. Tin cans (1810). Photographs (1814). Matches (1827). Wrenches (1835). Safety pins (1849). Plastic (1862). Barbed wire (1873). Toilet paper (1880). We could go on for volumes before we even get to the stuff that really matters.
Yet Jonah would have us believe that the founders--who in 1789 were wiping their asses with god knows what--were able to create a document that fully applies to contemporary situations.
The case for dead constitutions is simple. They bind us to a set of rules for everybody.
Setting the stage for the introduction of a false dichotomy involving dead constitutions versus no rules: -18 points.
Having a set of rules with a fixed (i.e., dead, unliving, etc.) meaning ensures that future generations will be protected from judges or politicians who’d like to rule arbitrarily...A “living Constitution” denies us our voice in this regard because it basically holds that whatever decisions we make — including the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments — can be thrown out by any five dyspeptic justices on the Supreme Court. In other words, the justices who claim the Constitution is a wild card didn’t take their oath to uphold and defend the Constitution in good faith because they couldn’t know what they were swearing to.
Introduction of false dichotomy: -5 points. Inexcusable misinformation imparted by use of false dichotomy: -20 points. Not understanding issues: -20 points. Misstatement of judicial powers: -18 points. Saying that there justices who claim the Constitution is a "wild card" when there in fact are not: -15 points.
First of all, if we consult our 8th grade American government textbook, we see that Supreme Court justices cannot "throw out" Constitutional amendments.
Second, Jonah would have us believe that there are two choices: a fixed set of rules on the one hand and decisions that are completely arbitrary on the other, as if even the smallest step outside the original text of the Constitution will result in complete chaos. This is absurd. Clearly, there is a range of interpretive stances, along which we may locate any one justice any any one point in time.
Third, in his goofy attempt to offer a quick and easy solution to solve the problem of (in his view) maverick judges, Jonah forgets that there are many dimensions along which a justice's behavior can vary. Adherence to a "dead Constitution" principle of interpretation doesn't automatically give us (what Jonah would see as) a judge that plays by the rules. A justice could, for example, show a disregard for precedent that might result some pretty erratic behavior.
And what of the fact that much of the Constitution is so vague as to demand signficant interpretation? Hmm? What is "cruel and unusual"? How many words have a more context-dependent meaning than "unusual"?
Anyway...all in all, out of 100 points, Jonah loses 31 points for style, 113 points for content, and 8 points for being a douche, giving him a final score of -152. Could be worse.