A Living Constitution as a Creature of the Elite

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Rhode Island’s far-left Democrat U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse has joined the ranks of his colleagues engaging in (let’s say) enhanced questioning techniques of Christian nominees.  As National Review’s Ramesh Ponnuru highlights:

Whitehouse then asks nominee Trevor McFadden seven questions based (loosely) on these facts about his church. Whitehouse asks McFadden whether he agrees with the associate pastor, for example. Several other questions relate to whether McFadden could faithfully apply the Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges decision, which required governments to recognize a fundamental right to same-sex marriage.

Suggesting that Whitehouse’s line of questioning is inappropriate, Ponnuru draws a distinction between a person’s being a member of a religious organization, like a church, and making statements similar to those that a senator finds objectionable.  That approach misses the bigger problem (and hypocrisy) with Whitehouse’s approach.

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Progressives such as Whitehouse believe that the Constitution ought to be interpreted so as to adjust to the changing standards of the times, as a “living document.”  The only mechanism for doing that in a democratic society would be for the country, through elected representatives, to appoint judges who match their standards and will rule accordingly, even if it means overturning decisions that prior courts have made.

Of course, one suspects that Whitehouse and his ilk don’t really want the Constitution to be interpreted according to the standards of the people at the time.  They want it to be interpreted according to the standards of an elite that sees itself as more enlightened than the hoi polloi.

This means that Whitehouse wants the evolution only to go in the direction that he believes to be correct.  Those with whom he agrees should feel free to reconsider rulings of the past, while those with whom he disagrees should be kept from the bench.



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