John Nichols: Elena Kagan Embraces Jefferson's Original Intent





[John Nichols, a pioneering political blogger, has written the Beat since 1999. His posts have been circulated internationally, quoted in numerous books and mentioned in debates on the floor of Congress.]

Thomas Jefferson was not a strict constructionist when it came to the Constitution.

The essential founder could not have been clearer on that point: "We have not yet so far perfected our constitutions as to venture to make them unchangeable," Jefferson wrote to John Cartwright two years before his death.

"The real friends of the Constitution in its federal form, if they wish it to be immortal, should be attentive, by amendments, to make it keep pace with the advance of the age in science and experience," the author of the Declaration of Independence and the third president explained to Robert J. Garnett in that same year....

So who carried the mantle of Jefferson when the Senate Judiciary Committee gathered Tuesday to consider the confirmation of the latest nominee to sit on the bench of the high court that considers the Constitution?

It was Solicitor General Elena Kagan, the nominee, who stated the Jeffersonian principle when she declared that, "The constitutional law that we live under does develop over time."...


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