The Constitution is a form of a contract—the contract was made among the 13 original states to form a stronger federal government. That contract was made in 1787—more states have joined the Union and have accepted the Constitution—but what did they accept? The contract (the Constitution) was formed in 1787—since that time, many things have changed, including the meanings of words. How should we interpret that contract today?
Which of the following statements best describes the approach to constitutional interpretation that you believe judges should follow? Explain why you think your answer is the correct one.
- Judges should apply the intentions of the framers, as best as they can determine it.
- Judges should look at the words of the provision in question and base their decisions as best they can on the plain meaning of the language.
- Judges should generally follow precedent (the decisions in previous cases under the same constitutional provisions) as much as possible, looking to the text and intentions of the framers only
when the case law is unclear.