In grad school, I took a course about the law of advertising in PR. Our first assignment was to argue for the point of “original intent” or “original meaning” in regard to the Constitution. I dug up the forum and my response to compare how the intent of the Constitution back then could impact our ability to communicate freely now.
After analysis, “original intent” appears to be an outdated perspective when considering the laws of today. If we are to take the Constitution at face value, various laws would become nothing more than inferences. “Liberty interests under the Fourteenth Amendment, such as the right to terminate a pregnancy, are not specified in the Constitution. Thus the protection of these rights must be justified on theories other than originalism.” (Thomas, Kenneth. 2011). The reading goes on to illustrate how the Founding Fathers responsible for the Constitution provided no guide for interpretation. How can you take laws at face value without a true understanding of their interpretive meaning?
Since there were not instructions for interpretation, civilization has modified certain laws based on their own interpretations of legality. This is where the aspect of “original meaning” comes into play. According to author Kenneth Thomas, “This doctrine of objective “original meaning” emphasizes how the text of the Constitution would have been understood by a reasonable person in the historical period during which the Constitution was proposed, ratified, and first implemented.” (Thomas, Kenneth. 2011).
Many envision the U.S. Constitution as the framework for every aspect of civilization we witness today. “Mass Media Law” states, “One Supreme Court justice described a constitution as a kind of yardstick against which all the other actions of government must be measured to determine whether certain actions are permissible. The U.S. Constitution is the supreme law of the land. Any law or other constitution that conflicts with the U.S. Constitution is unenforceable.” (Pember, Don and Calvert, Clay. Mass Media Law. P. 9. 2011).
The last comment is detrimental to the true mission of our nation. Historically, there have been certain aspects of the constitution that could not be followed by measuring “original intent”. One online source, “Scholastic Newstime”, illustrates the evolution of the constitution. “America has grown and changed during the last 200 years, and so has the U.S. Constitution, including amendments to our voting laws and age, and limiting presidential terms in office.” (Scholastic Newstime. 2016).
“The American legal system has several layers, more possibly than in most other nations.” (Friedman, Michael. Introduction: Outline of the U.S. Legal System). Each of these layers should work as a cohesive element and create laws that will evolve with the needs of the people. This cannot be done by following the “original intent” of the ancient framework embodied in the constitution.
Pember, Don and Calvert, Clay. (2011). Mass Media Law. Scholastic Newstime. (2016). Retrieved from http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/article/how-us-constitution-has-evolved-over-time.