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post #1 of 1 (permalink) Old 03-06-2008, 06:11 AM Thread Starter
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Scalia Says 'Living Constitution' Reduces Democracy

I have to agree with Mr. Scalia. I do not think it is a "living" document either.

He is pretty cool!

Chris Blank
The Associated Press
March 6, 2008

American democracy has been weakened by a shift toward a so-called "living Constitution" that gives judges more power and lawmakers less, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said Tuesday during an appearance at the University of Central Missouri.

Appointed to the high court by President Ronald Reagan in 1986, Scalia said the Constitution's meaning hasn't changed since it was written more than 200 years ago.

The democratic process is supposed to fill in the gaps that the Constitution doesn't specifically address, he said. But when judges make interpretations contrary to what's expressly included in the Constitution, they are making policy decisions that should be left to Congress and the people, he said.

But because judges have been willing to make such policy decisions -- and because the public has grown to expect that they will -- Senate confirmation hearings have become partisan battles. Scalia said that was the case in hearings for Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito.

Noting that he was confirmed 98-0 by the Senate, he said he doubted he could get 60 votes today.

"The people and their representatives in Congress have realized what the game is, and they want people to rewrite the Constitution the way they want it," Scalia said.

He advised future Supreme Court nominees to say as little as possible to questioning senators because what is said "really commits you."

Scalia compared the philosophical shift on the Constitution with the sales pitch of a stock broker who tells a wary investor that poor economic performance is merely a case of the markets resting before climbing again.

"Get real. The stock market is not a mountain climber, and the Constitution is not a living organism," Scalia said. "It's a legal document."

Scalia spoke for about 40 minutes and took audience questions from a near-capacity crowd as part of the Julius J. Oppenheimer Lecture Series.

He focused extensively on a legal philosophy that says judges should look for the original intent in the Constitution.

He drew laughter and applause several times, including when "confessing" that he's a social conservative. He also quipped that "I have dinner with Ruth once a year" in response to a question about the Supreme Court justice with whom he would most like to share a meal.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a former general counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union.

The speech also was prompted by a book written by the chairman of the school's political science department about the justice.

Scalia's words weren't embraced by all. Several protesters held signs outside the auditorium, and one specifically called the Constitution a living document.

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