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***(39)法治研究
·法治论/郭国汀
·自然法原理
·法律的定义
·法律的本质与精神
·什么是法治?
·法治的基本原则
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·法治与民主的前提与条件
·法治的起源与历史
·开明专制与法治--极权流氓暴政下决无法治生存的余地
·法治的基石和实质
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·一篇值得推介的法治论文杰作/郭国汀
·Judicial Independence and Canadian Judges
***(37)自由研究
***表达自由新闻与出版自由
·当代自由主义的基本特征
·只有新闻自由能治官员腐败之顽症
·郭国汀 唯有思想言论舆论新闻出版结社教育讲学演讲的真正自由才能救中国!
·中国争人权、言论表达自由权的先驱者与英雄名录
·中国政治言论自由的真实现状-我的亲身经历(英文)
·郭国汀论政治言论自由:限制与煽动罪(英文)
·郭国汀论出版自由——声援支持《民间》及主编翟明磊
·郭国汀 美國言論自由发展簡史 [1]
·美国的学述自由:Academic Freedom in the USA
·祝愿祖国早日实现真正的自由!新年祝福
·向中国良知记者致敬!
·丹麥主流社會召開中國言論自由研討會
·中共倒行逆施,严控国际媒体报导中国新闻
·关于思想自由与中律网友的对话 /南郭
·性、言论自由、自由战士
·性、言论自由,自由战士与中律网友们的讨论/南郭
·自由之我见
·不自由勿宁死!
·自由万岁!----我为“新青年学会四君子”及“不锈钢老鼠”辩护
·真正的民主自由政体是中国唯一的选择
·自由万岁!新年好!
·三论思想自由
·为自由而战,为正义事业献身,死得其所无尚光荣
·言论自由受到了严重威胁
·思想自由的哲学基础/郭国汀
·冲破精神思想的牢狱--自由要义/郭国汀
·我们为什么要争言论自由权?/南郭
***(38)思想自由与宗教信仰自由
·郭国汀论宗教信仰
·神学与哲学的异同
·宗教的思索
·爱因斯坦信犹太教和贵格教也信上帝
·信神是愚昧吗?!基督教义反人性吗?!谁在大规模屠杀婴儿?!
·爱因斯坦宗教信仰上帝相关言论选译
·爱因斯坦宗教上帝相关言论第二集
· 爱因斯坦原信的准确译法
·大哲大师大思想家大政治家论宗教上帝
·哲学家的前提与基础
·宗教是统治阶级麻醉人民的鸦片吗?
·为什么说爱才是宇宙的本质?
·宗教起源的根源何在?
·圣父圣子圣灵三位一体论的由来
·人民圣殿教真相
·质疑东海一枭良知大法兼驳良知宇宙本体论
·自然科学与宗教哲学灵魂
·读东海兄批判美国神话有感
·郭国汀为上帝信仰辩护
·驳东海之糊涂上帝观
·四海之内皆兄弟人类本是一家人
·推荐陈尔晋先生之《圣灵福音》
·质疑东海君之《良知大法》
·祝愿祖国早日实现真正的自由!
·关于司法公正的讨论郭国汀律师在北大法律信息网上发表了非常危险的错误观点应该予以驳斥!
·中共当局封杀言论为那般?
·六四的记忆
·谈中华文化与道德重建(四)
·中国百年最伟大的文字!
·郭国汀:为刘荻女英雄辩护吾当仁不让!
·只有思想言论出版新闻舆论的真正自由能够救中国!
·只有说真话的民族才有前途
·一个能思想的人才是力量无边的人/南郭
·思想之可贵在于其独立性
·独立思想是最美的
·思想的高度统一是人类社会之大敌
·统一思想之谬误由来已久矣/南郭
·我的心里话--有感于杜导斌先生被捕
***中共专制暴政政治迫害郭国汀律师实录
·郭国汀律师遭遇黑色元宵节
·中共对我的八次政治迫害--在温哥华告别恐惧讨共诉苦座谈会上的发言(上)
·中共暴政对我的八次政治迫害(中)
·中共暴政对我的八次政治迫害(下)
·If You Really Want Control Lock up Their Lawyers
·Anti-communist sentiments landed Chinese lawyer in an asylum
·我的思想认识与保证/郭国汀
·郭国汀律师的[悔罪][悔过]与[乞求]
·郭国汀因言论“违宪”行政处罚听证案代理词
·我推崇的浦志强大律师/郭国汀
·我被中共当局非法剥夺执业资格的真实原因
***(24)《共产主义黑皮书》郭国汀编译
·共产党皆变成杀人犯罪团伙的历史与理论分析
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Constitutional Interpretation

Constitutional Topic: Constitutional Interpretation
   The Constitutional Topics pages at the USConstitution.net site are presented to delve deeper into topics than can be provided on the Glossary Page or in the FAQ pages. This Topic Page concerns the various interpretations of the Constitution that have evolved over time.
   
   The Constitution is many things to many people. Undoubtedly, it is the frame work for the Government of the United States of America, defining the three branches and clearing delineating the powers of the branches. It also undoubtedly grants certain power to the federal government and grants others to the states; and it undoubtedly guarantees the basic rights of the people.

   The Constitution is short; it cannot and does not attempt to cover every eventuality. Even when it seems it is clear, there can be conflicting rights, conflicting spheres of power. When disputes arise, it comes time for people, and most importantly judges of the Judicial Branch, to interpret the Constitution. The concept of constitutional interpretation is foreign in some countries, where the constitution makes a reasonable effort to cover every eventuality. These constitutions are generally rigid and little changing, adapting slowly to advances in political views, popular opinion, technology, and changes in government. The U.S. Constitution, however, has been termed a Living Constitution, in part because it grows and adapts to internal and external pressures, changing from one era and generation to the next.
   When a new situation arises, or even a new variation on an old situation, the Constitution is often looked to for guidance. It is at this point that the various interpretations of the Constitution come into play.
   There is no one right way to interpret the Constitution, and people often do not always stick to one interpretation. Below, then, are the major divisions in interpretation; your own personal beliefs may fall into several of these categories.
   Note: the major sources for material for this section were "Constitutional Law: Cases and Commentary" by Daniel Hall, and "On Reading the Constitution" by Lawrence Tribe and Michael Dorf.
   
   Originalism, or, Original Intent
   Originalists think that the best way to interpret the Constitution is to determine how the Framers intended the Constitution to be interpreted. They look to several sources to determine this intent, including the contemporary writings of the framers, newspaper articles, the Federalist Papers, and the notes from the Constitutional Convention itself.
   Originalists consider the original intent to be the most pure way of interpreting the Constitution; the opinions of the Framers were, for the most part, well documented. If there is an unclear turn of phrase in the Constitution, who better to explain it than those who wrote it?
   Opponents of originalism note several points. First, the Constitution may have been the product of the Framers, but it was ratified by hundreds of delegates in 13 state conventions - should not the opinions of these people hold even more weight? Also, the Framers were a diverse group, and many had issues with specific parts of the Constitution. Whose opinion should be used? Next, do the opinions of a small, homogeneous group from 200 years ago have the respect of the huge, diverse population of today? To a black woman, how much trust can be placed in the thoughts of a white slave owner who's been dead for generations?
   In truth, as with all of the following interpretations, most people use originalism when it suits them. Finding a quote from a framer to support a modern position can be a powerful way to advance your point of view.
   
   Modernism/Instrumentalism
   Those who most oppose the Originalist approach often consider themselves to be modernists, or instrumentalists. A modernist approach to Constitutional interpretation looks at the Constitution as if it were ratified today. What meaning would it have today, if written today. How does modern life affect the words of the Constitution? The main argument against originalism is that the Constitution becomes stale and irrelevant to modern life if only viewed through 18th century eyes. Additionally, we have more than 200 years of history and legal precedent to look back on, and that we are modern individuals, with as much difficulty in reasonably thinking like 18th century men as those 18th century men would have had trouble thinking like us.
   Modernists also contend that the Constitution is deliberately vague in many areas, expressly to permit modern interpretations to override older ones as the Constitution ages. It is this interpretation that best embodies the Living Constitution concept: the Constitution is flexible and dynamic, changing slowly over time as the morals and beliefs of the population shift. Modernists do not reject originalism - they recognize that there is value in a historical perspective; but the contemporary needs of society outweigh an adherence to a potentially dangerously outdated angle of attack.
   Originalists feel that modernism does a disservice to the Constitution, that the people who wrote it had a pure and valid vision for the nation, and that their vision should be able to sustain us through any Constitutional question.
   
   Literalism - historical
   Historical literalists believe that the contemporary writings of the Framers are not relevant to any interpretation of the Constitution. The only thing one needs to interpret the Constitution is a literal reading of the words contained therein, with an expert knowledge in the 18th century meaning of those words. The debates leading to the final draft are not relevant, the Federalist Papers are not relevant - only the words.
   The historical literalist takes a similar look at the Constitution as an originalist does, but the literalist has no interest in expanding beyond the text for answers to questions. For example, an historical literalist will see the militia of the 2nd Amendment as referring to all able-bodied men from 17 to 45, just as in the late 18th century, and this interpretation will color that person's reading of the 2nd Amendment.
   
   Literalism - contemporary
   Very similar to an historical literalist, a contemporary literalist looks only to the words of the Constitution for guidance, but this literalist has no interest in the historical meaning of the words. The contemporary literalist looks to modern dictionaries to determine the meaning of the words of the Constitution, ignoring precedent and legal dissertation, and relying solely on the definition of the words.
   Just as the historical literalist view parallels the originalist view, but much more narrow in focus, so too does the contemporary literalist mirror the modernist; and again, the main difference is the literalist looks only to the words of the Constitution for meaning. To expand on the 2nd Amendment example, the contemporary literalist will view the militia as the modern National Guard, and this will color that person's views on the 2nd.
   
   Democratic/normative reinforcement
   Finally, the democratic interpretation is the last approach to interpretation. Democratic interpretation is also known as normative or representation reinforcement. Democratic proponents advocate that the Constitution is not designed to be a set of specific principles and guidelines, but that it was designed to be a general principle, a basic skeleton on which contemporary vision would build upon. Decisions as to the meaning of the Constitution must look at the general feeling evoked by the Constitution, then use modern realism to pad out the skeleton.
   As evidence, democrats point out that many phrases, such as "due process" and "equal protection" are deliberately vague, that the phrases are not defined in context. The guidance for interpretation must come from that basic framework that the Framers provided, but that to fill in the gaps, modern society's current morals and feelings must be taken into consideration. Changes in the Constitution that stem from this kind of philosophy will end up with principles of the population at large, while ensuring that the framers still have a say in the underlying decision or ruling. This interpretation is seen to enhance democratic ideals and the notion of republicanism.

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