On interpretation

I’m no lawyer but have always been interested in the Court as an institution: its history, personalities, decisions. I often get impatient with liberals when they decry “judicial activism” or conservatives when they regard the Constitution as inviolate. If it’s so inviolate how have we accepted the Bill of Rights applying to the states and the full integration of African-Americans into the body politic (to take two) when sixty years of conservative jurisprudence ruled otherwise? At least William O. Douglas was honest: he first decided what he thought was right then found the precedents to support those results; none of this nonsense about “original intent.” It led to slipshod opinions but at least he was enough of a realist to accept that the law is like a poem or essay, subject to dozens of possible interpretations. The only “wrong” interpretation is one which hurts the most people.

My only response: win elections and we’ll get the justices we want.

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