Justice Antonin Scalia was invited to the University of Central Missouri by James Staab who is the Chair of the Department of Political Science. Staab wrote a book entitled, "The Political Thought of Justice Antonin Scalia". I have yet to read it but Heidi said it was pretty good although she didn't agree with everything.
The title of Scalia's lecture was "Constitutional Interpretation". He started out by saying that there were 2 thoughts, Originalism and those who believed in a "living constitution", he belonged to the former. Originalism used to be orthodoxy but now it is the minority view. He now says that "You could fire a grape shot out of a cannon over the best law schools in the country - and that includes Chicago - and not hit an originalist". It all changed with the Warren Court.
He then talked of the youngest Justice to ever serve, Joseph Story (who I had just learned about by listening to A Spiritual Heritage Tour of the United States Capitol by Dave Barton) and John Marshall.
He said the Founding Fathers wrote the bill of rights because they knew that future generations wouldn't be as wise or as virtuous.
He then proceeded to elaborate on how those that believe in a living constitution want it to "evolve" so that they can have their way on the different issues. They will rewrite it to say what they want it to say. Scalia was confirmed 98-0 but he said that would never happen today. Why?? Because liberals have figured out that originalists aka strict constructionists will not make the constitution say what they want it to say. Thats why at all cost, people like Bork and Thomas were to be stopped.
There is also this perception that those who believe in the living constitution are for more freedom. Yet, this isn't really true because he said often it takes away old freedoms.
The Living Constitution theory can be a seductive argument--There is this perception that if you care passionately about something that means it must be in the constitution. Scalia says, "How do you talk someone out of this?"
Arguments against the Living Constitution:
--If you don't believe in originalism, what do you want judges to be looking for?
--What else can be used besides the constitution?
--What is the alternative to originalism? There isn't a theory called, non-originalism.
--The alternative is letting judges govern you.(Think about how scary that is)
He concluded his speech by saying it was an unhappy ending because he didn't have a lot of hope for getting more originalists. Yet, he concluded with this awe-inspiring
quote that says it all for me on why I'm involved in politics:
"It is a battle worth conducting, and you should know what the battle is about."
--"Whatever that Means"
--"I confess, I'm a social conservative."
--Talking about the case BMW vs. Gore he said, "Not Al, this is a different Gore. Thank God. Once was enough..."
--"pox on both their houses"
--"I should be a pin-up guy for criminals."
--"If it was up to me I would have thrown this bearded, sandal wearing, flag burner into jail."
--"Tell the people to get lost"
--"If you are going to believe in a living constitution, at least let it be an American one."
--"Classes of little kids from grammar school come to the court now and then and repeat, 'The Constitution is a living document.' And I have to tell them it's dead."
Tomorrow, I will conclude with Part 3 where I will detail his comments on abortion and religion. I will also tell his great 9/11 & Flag stories.
Justice Antonin Scalia Rocks!!--Part 1
Others who attended the event and blogged about it:
--I'm Hear to talk about Constitutional Law (Heidi's post)
--Scalia Commentary, Part 1 (High School Teacher & Coach who took a bunch of his students to the lecture)
--Antonin Scalia in Warrensburg (parts 1-4) (This is a liberal site but he gives a very accurate accounting of what was said in the speech.)