On a post yesterday, a contributor wrote of being in favor of the conservative ideal of original intent. As I answered him, I am not in favor of original intent. In fact, I think that any devoted Christian should run far away from original intent. Why do I say that? Well, let’s really look at the Constitution and some special clauses that are in it.
Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.
Oops, the original intent of the Constitution was that slaves were less than a full person. The original intent of the Constitution was that Indians not be taxed, but neither could they vote. And, guess what? They could be moved onto reservations regardless of any opposition that they might put up. That was the original intent. No, I do NOT believe in original intent. What is incredibly sad about the Native Americans is that some of the phrases in the USA Constitution have roots in the Gayanashagowa or the Great Law of Peace of the Iroquois (or Haudenosaunee) Six Nations (Oneida, Mohawk, Cayuga, Onondaga, the Seneca and Tuscarora) which dates from before the Magna Carta of which we are so justly proud. For example, there is a very USA attitude in one of the articles of the Great Law:
Any Chief or other person who submit to Laws of a foreign people are alienated and forfeit all claim in the Five Nations.
I am sure you can recognize that attitude in our refusal to adhere to any foreign treaty that we have signed. Oops, even with the Native American tribes that we persecuted and with whom we engaged in genocidal warfare. And, no, I am not exaggerating.
The original Constitution did not force the States to allow women to vote. It took the 19th Amendment, which was not passed until the 20th century, to allow women to have the right to vote. In fact. male African-American and Native-American males had the right to vote before women did. You might wish to check out the 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution of the United States. No, I do NOT believe in original intent.
The Twenty-Fourth Amendment of the United States prohibits the poll tax. It was a measure used both to keep blacks from voting and, frankly, to keep any poor person from voting. No, I do NOT believe in original intent.
I do NOT believe in original intent because I believe that African-Americans should not be slaves. I do NOT believe in original intent because I believe that if we sign a treaty, we should honor it. I do NOT believe in original intent because I believe that women should vote. I do NOT believe in original intent because I believe that poor people should have the right to vote.
If you are a Christian, there are several reasons why you should reject original intent. Having said that, you can still argue that some phrases should be held to their original intent. But, in order to do so, you need to show why original intent is indicated in this particular phrase of the Constitution, but not indicated when it comes to slaves, women voting, etc., etc.
Let’s give up on original intent. Frankly, it is not something a Christian should really want to support. We need to support what is moral, whether or not it was the original intent of the Constitution.