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Scott C. Bradley PLSC 312 Due: 12/16/14
II. Final Question (60 points).
(I) By its very nature, the constitution is the most expansive document in American political culture. The vagueness that surrounds the language of the constitution is to allow its application only in the context of what is necessary to carry out the exigencies of the time and for the spirit of the doctrine itself. “A Constitution, to contain an accurate detail of all the subdivisions of which its great powers will admit…could scarcely be embraced by the human mind. It would probably never be understood by the public.” What Justice Marshall is stating here (in Marbury v. Madison) is to examine that the constitution is vague in its letter, because it must be. For an acceptable form of government to operate under any given document, it must be able to be molded, and bend to the will of those in the time. It would be improbable or impossible for one single document to contain everything under legal code that would be necessary to direct the intent, and structure of the government and law itself. The founders created this document to be vague, so it may be interpreted to fit into the context to which it lies.
It is and has been the notion of American government that the Supreme Court is the body that directs meaning to the constitution. But, their words and wisdom prescribed to the constitution is not that of what could considered to be correct, but only the last stop to consider the meaning of the constitution as it applies on a case by case basis. Justice Robert Jackson’s words that “we are not final because we are infallible, but infallible only because we are final” (when speaking about the Supreme Court) is to say that the Supreme Court is only the last stop in determining what is the correct application of law, and what constitution means (in a given predicament). “Reversal by a higher court is not proof that justice is thereby better done” – Justice Jackson (two sentences before the particular given quote). It is not certain that the court is ever correct in their interpretation of the law, just by examination at how much the court has reversed its own decisions, and even how much they make a mockery of themselves in a previous light (i.e. the “Lochner” court). To Justice Holmes, it is only by an examination of the considerations necessary for the time that we truthfully know what is pertinent for a particular condition. There is no true logical or legal connection as to why the law is what it is. Its geniality is that it can be considered as what we the people consider it today (or at least those justices). Decisions are handed down because they are what they are to keep an operating nation at its time. Examining quickly, the Prize Cases, it was ruled constitutional for the president to act out of line with the constitution itself, because the state of the nation was determined to let it happen. Were the president to have acted in a constitutional manner, and wait for congressional response to attacks from those dirty southern rebels, then the constitution they were following would itself be destroyed. The constitution lives because it must, in order to survive, the governing body in charge of providing life to the constitution is the Supreme Court, and we don’t really know if they are even justly affirming their own decisions, as historically, they haven’t. It is only through time and experience that we know what is to be, can be, or should be done.
(II) Through American history, traditional views of constitutional law and its applications have never stayed the same. As the times change, so do the justices. They recognize Bob Dylan’s prescription that “The times they are-a Changin” as they author decisions of which change the scope of the constitution as it applies to the time. With consideration to their interpretation of the commerce clause, and congressional reach using it, there has been a wide spread change in how we view