Some Americans today believe that the
Constitution should not be interpreted; instead it should be followed according
to the authors’ original intent.
However, the founders themselves had disagreements over
“interpretation” and “intent.” “The
argument that original meaning should guide constitutional interpretation is
nearly as old as the Constitution itself” (Whittington). Interpretation is one thing, but these people
are robbing us of liberty and it cannot be justified by saying it is a matter
of opinion. The
following four issues regarding early interpretations of the Constitution: Bank of the United States, Alien and Sedition Acts, Virginia &
Kentucky Resolutions, Louisiana
Bank of the United States, the war left us
in debt, and some states were bankrupt, we needed one consolidated currency. Alexander
Hamilton suggested a central bank. It was built while Philadelphia was still nation’s
capital. First banks charter was drafted in 1971 by the congress and signed by George
Alien and Sedition acts were
signed by president John Adams in 1798, the acts were designed to limit the power
of the opposition republican party, but enforcement ended after Thomas Jefferson
was elected in 1800. These acts enabled the government to imprison or deport
aliens and to prosecute critics of the government. The alien and sedition acts
were passed by congress in 1798 in preparation for an anticipated war with France.
It banned the publishing of scandalous and false writings against the
government and many citizens said it violated the right of speech. Interpreting
the prominent participation of immigrants in the republican opposition party as
evidence of a disloyalty, Federalists supported strict restrictions for foreigners
and critics of their policies. Alien act said that the person arriving in the
States had to wait fourteen years to become a citizen.
The Virginia and Kentucky resolutions
of 1798, were drafted by James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, their whole
purpose was designed primarily as a protest against the infringement of this
principle by recently enacted alien and sedition laws. In those resolutions Kentucky
and Virginia legislatures took the position that the federal alien and sedition
acts were unconstitutional.
The Louisiana purchase was a
territory in the west central United States purchased from France in 1803
during Jefferson’s rule. The constitution specifically grants the president the
power to negotiate treaties which is just what Jefferson did. It is true that
the constitution does not specifically authorize congress, let alone the
executive branches to purchase land from other nations.
live under an ever-growing administrative state, in which distant bureaucrats
centralize legislative, executive, and judicial power” (Wurman). The
constitution was never intended and today’s
originalists often argue that any communication,
oral or written, should be interpreted by its original public meaning, unless
there is some indication that it should be interpreted in another way. the
important point is that originalism matters. Applied vigorously, it can
transform how we interpret the Constitution and lead to a dramatic reduction in
the scope and size of the federal government.