Friday, February 10, 2012

U.S. Supreme Court Justice fails to "worship" the U.S. Constitution!

U.S. Supreme Court Justice fails to “worship” the U.S. Constitution!

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has suggested Egypt look at newer constitutions for tips instead of the U.S. Constitution.  She believes it would be better for Egypt to take ideas from constitutions drafted more recently than one drafted more than two centuries ago.


Is Justice Ginsburg sounding an alarm for people to take notice?  Founding father Thomas Jefferson recognized that the Constitution should be changed from time to time - perhaps in every generation.    Although they are sworn to uphold and defend the Constitution, should we expect justices to "worship" it as if it were sacred -- and remove those justices from the Court if they do not appear to do so?   According to a Stanford law professor, "this is not law, its politics."   And based on the knee-jerk reactions of Justice Ginsburg’s critics, one might even say it’s not law, its religion.

On other occasions Justice Ginsburg has said that, "By disregarding the wording of the Constitution, we are symbolically saying the document is not important to us.”   Her reference here is to the frequently mistaken views citizens have about the First, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.  Many Americans do not seem to understand that government does not explicitly give us “freedom of expression” or “free exercise of religion,” or “due process” or “equal protection under the law”  -- but that those are rights that the government cannot restrict.

By becoming a member of the Super Court, did Justice Ginsburg waive her right to free speech?   The Constitutions’ framers did not  “worship” the document they drafted.  And Americans saw fit to amend the Constitution 27 times in the 225 years of its existence.  Such a document is not sacred and its meaning must be re-examined in light of change, circumstances, technology and evolving mores over time.  If one were asked to design a vehicle for the 21st century, would one look to a carriage design from the 18th century?   A Constitution is the by-product of shared culture’s experiences and mores.  As such, one size simply does not fit all.

Responding to the questions asked of her Justice Ginsburg made several statements which helped me form an opinion.  A few of them were:
"You should be aided by all the constitution writings."
"The spirit of liberty must be in the population of the people."
"We the people were an imperfect union - we are still forming a more perfect union, yet there is genius in our Constitution."

I think Justice Ginsburg offered Egypt sound advice.


Charlesha L. said...

Did justice Ginsburg really give Egypt sound advice?

Looking at Anne's response/analyze of this issue it is possible that she has given them sound advise. In my opinion the constitution was the starting foundation for U.S rights but it is clear that America has evolved drastically and need new ideas to express and support the rights and laws of the nation.
Another thing is that documents such as the constitution has been revised many times that I do not think it needs to be worshipped by the supreme court justice as sacred but respect because of its purpose.

Gabe AB said...

Although we haven't had one in a while, an Amendment to the constitution is a broad enough recourse to avoid having to rewrite the constitution every generation. This ability to amend is what really keeps our constitution relevant, but the fact that we haven't had any amendments in recent years proves that our constitution is adaptable enough to survive the times, even if it was written over two centuries ago. I find this whole article greatly interesting, as you do think of Supreme Court justices as people who would promote the American Constitution. However, Ginsburg is smart enough to realize that there is no "one size fits all" and that the people of Egypt are better off constructing their own constitution than simply copying and pasting from existing ones that may or may not relate to their culture.

Amber P. said...

The U.S. Constitution is a document that was put in place nearly two centuries ago and therefore needs to be updated to adhere to the changing world. All things need to be taken into account, like current issues that are arising when adding to the Constitution. I think it is logical advice from Justice Ginsburg to tell Egypt to not follow the U.S. Constitution because Egypt very different from the United States. I believe Egypt needs to form their own Constitution based on their own beliefs. Every country needs a different Constitution to follow the needs of their own country and people. As far as “worshiping” the Constitution, I believe it is all Justices in the Supreme Courts’ duty to uphold the Constitution and enforce it, however it does not mean they must tell other countries to follow the U.S. Constitution. This does not mean they are going against their duties as Supreme Court Justices. Their duties are to uphold the Constitution in the United States only!