Hermeneutic: a word everyone should know.

Let's talk about one of my favorite words...hermeneutic. (longer post, but hope you read anyway)


adjective: hermeneutic

1. concerning interpretation, especially of the Bible or literary texts.

noun: hermeneutic; plural noun: hermeneutics

1. a method or theory of interpretation.

     I often talk to people about how interpreting the Constitution is remarkably similar to how we (should) interpret the Bible. "Originalism" usually takes a beating from the Left these days, and it's not really a fair description of what Supreme Court Justices like Clarence Thomas or Neil Gorsuch actually are trying to do. Thomas, for instance, usually approaches legal questions based on the "original public meaning" at time of ratification, i.e. the understanding of the Delegates at the Constitutional Convention of 1787 in Philadelphia.

      This lines up pretty nicely with the "Historical-grammatical" hermeneutic of Biblical interpretation used by many traditional Protestant theologians...bear with me...

      "The aim of the historical-grammatical method is to discover the meaning of the passage as the original author would have intended and what the original hearers would have understood."

See how this works? We can easily use the same hermeneutic to decipher Constitutional meaning from the original text...the advantages of using this on the US Constitution should be clear: The original copy of the text is actually on display in the Smithsonian, and there are literally REAMS of literature on the topic from the Founding era, from notes on the Convention of 1787, to private correspondence between the principal actors, the Federalist Papers, and so on.

      Now for an example dear to Republicans and conservatives (and me): The Second Amendment. Based on Madison's letters, the Federalist papers, and so on, it's CLEAR the Founders intended for there to be an individual right to arms protected by the Constitution. It's not even close if you read the primary sources.

      Now here's one for the Democrats and "liberals". The doctrine of enumerated powers doesn't give the Federal Government any power to regulate Immigration...only "naturalization", i.e. qualifications for obtaining citizenship outside of birth. I've seen some rather creative arguments from Republicans that Article 1, section 9 gives Congress power over "migration" but...that first paragraph CLEARLY refers to migration/importation of slaves and was a deal done to keep Georgia and the Carolinas from walking out of the convention altogether. It's not even close.

      Conveniently, this means a strict reading of the Constitution will obviously slay sacred cows for both the two major political parties. I'll be standing by to grill up the steaks...


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