Scalia Dismisses 'Living Constitution'

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People who believe the Constitution would break if it didn't change with society are "idiots," U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia says.

In a speech Monday sponsored by the conservative Federalist Society, Scalia defended his long-held belief in sticking to the plain text of the Constitution "as it was originally written and intended."

"Scalia does have a philosophy, it's called originalism," he said. "That's what prevents him from doing the things he would like to do," he told more than 100 politicians and lawyers from this U.S. island territory.

According to his judicial philosophy, he said, there can be no room for personal, political or religious beliefs.

Scalia criticized those who believe in what he called the "living Constitution."

"That's the argument of flexibility and it goes something like this: The Constitution is over 200 years old and societies change. It has to change with society, like a living organism, or it will become brittle and break."

"But you would have to be an idiot to believe that," Scalia said. "The Constitution is not a living organism, it is a legal document. It says something and doesn't say other things."

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David M. Zucker - 2/20/2006

Thank you, J. Scalia. I have changed my mind and now consider J. Holmes, J. Cardoza, Morris R. Cohen, Carl Llewellyn (sp?) et al as idiots. (I'm not even trained in the law. Is there someone out there who may add to this list?

Tim Matthewson - 2/18/2006

Scalia seems to be totally unaware that the Founding Fathers had sharp disagreements with each other and would rather remain content with the notion of original intent, a concept that has never existed at the time and has only been invented by conservatives such as Scalia in the last 20 years.
Somebody should make a list of the key words operative in the law today which are not in the federal Constitution and give the list to Scalila. If the law were restricted to such words written and intended by the writers, our society would fall apart. For example, the notion that corporations are immortal, a pivotal concept to modern America, the Miranda decision, the federal reserve board, much of the executive branch, and the entire welfare state would have to be abolished. Scalia and the members of the Federalist society would be the first ones to oppose such revolutionary changes. But they would favor selective changes, the ones that they think are popular and would turn back the clock to their definition of the good old days.

Michael Green - 2/16/2006

Boy, Scalia must think he serves with eight complete idiots. Well, seven, since Thomas never has an original thought. Well, maybe six, since Roberts voted with him that since the U.S. Constitution clearly states that assisted suicide is illegal (uh, which article was that in, again, Nino). Well, maybe five, since we don't know where Alito will land. So, that means that a majority of the justices must be idiots. I'm so glad that Justice Scalia is joining his fellow right-wingers in contributing to a more intellectual, fruitful dialogue about the important issues of the day.