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Interpreting the Constitution In the Digital Era

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the you'll-notice-it-never-says-floppy-disks dept.

Government 144

oik writes "NPR's Fresh Air this week had an interesting interview with Jeffrey Rosen, one of the authors of Constitution 3.0 , which addresses a number of issues to do with interpreting the US Constitution in the face of new technologies (both present and future). Many of the topics which he touches on come up on Slashdot a lot (including the GPS tracking cases). It's well worth listening to the program (link in the main page), of which the linked article is just a summary."

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The real issue (5, Interesting)

Baldrson (78598) | more than 2 years ago | (#38249916)

If you are really interested in issues of Constitutionality and electronic technology, the issue most relevant to the original intent of the US Constitution was the establishment of de facto censorship of free speech created by the broadcast networks under the licensing authority of the Federal government. The broadcast licenses thereby issued allows public discourse to be limited to the range of issues and opinion determined by central authorities far from the citizens they were to "inform".

No tyrant in history was ever able to grab such power and the effect over the 20th century has been absolutely devastating to the United States. Even today, with the increasing disintermediation (and consequent slow recovery of freedom) of information, you still have public opinion being molded by the likes of Jeffrey Rosen and NPR. Indeed, no candidate seeking public office at the Federal level has had a hope of winning that office without the support of the broadcast networks, whose unconstitutionality is so ignored by Jeffrey Rosen and NPR (for obvious reasons).

Re:The real issue (5, Informative)

Xanny (2500844) | more than 2 years ago | (#38249994)

The power of media is just part of a recurring theme of politicians just ignoring the constitution and putting Supreme Court judges in place to keep whatever backwards legislation they pass as law.

If all three branches of government are controlled by private media dollars, there are no checks and balances left, and there is no way to enforce the constitution if all the branches are taken out of the picture like they are right now.

I mean that is the main reason for OWS, getting corporate influence out of government. The real solution is to really understand what the constitution was for - it was just a document to unify the states under a common base law. That was the reason for the 10th amendment. The states should be handling almost everything the fed is right now, and through financial mobility anyone disenfranchised with a given state could move to one that better suits their political ideology. The problem is that states have become irrelevant as amendments like direct voting of senators came about removing the states from the federal level.

It really is just a side effect of the top down politics when they should be bottom up - new ideas of political discourse should come from local attempts at new ideas and good ideas should build up across districts into state laws, and eventually if everyone starts doing the same thing it might become national law. The way it is now is just backwards

Re:The real issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38250062)

Letting the locals make their own laws? Isn't that racist, or something?

Re:The real issue (1)

Curunir_wolf (588405) | more than 2 years ago | (#38254886)

Letting the locals make their own laws? Isn't that racist, or something?

Hear, hear!

Re:The real issue (1)

Galestar (1473827) | more than 2 years ago | (#38250086)

Couldn't agree more. Large central government not only tramples all over our rights - it is just asking for corruption by powerful private interests.

Re:The real issue (1)

broken_chaos (1188549) | more than 2 years ago | (#38250138)

So you want the United States to turn into the American Union? Well, I guess it's working fairly well for Europe, but I though most Americans absolutely hated the EU.

Re:The real issue (2)

Pete Venkman (1659965) | more than 2 years ago | (#38250166)

It's not as explicit in the Constitution, but if you read the Declaration of Independence, you will notice that the states are free and independent states.

Re:The real issue (2)

i.r.id10t (595143) | more than 2 years ago | (#38254000)

There was a dust up in the 1860s that kinda put that thought to rest...

Re:The real issue (3, Insightful)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 2 years ago | (#38250628)

Please, look at the name of our nation again. United STATES of America. Like Pete Venkman already said, a bunch of free and independent states united together for mutual support. I don't recall where in my history books that the states abdicated their rights, in deference to the Corporate American Empire. I guess it was around the time that the federal government decided to expand interstate commerce laws. (not all of the fed's interstate commerce regulations are wrong, just as not all of them are right)

Re:The real issue (2)

ubrgeek (679399) | more than 2 years ago | (#38251332)

Which is why we used to be referred to as "these" United States instead of "the."

Re:The real issue (3, Informative)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 2 years ago | (#38251422)

United STATES of America.

One of those interesting bits of historical trivia - before the Civil War, "United States" was plural ("these United States"). Afterwards, it was singular ("the United States").

Which should give you a clue how the Founders intended things.

Re:The real issue (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38254484)

Which ones? While Jefferson certainly supported this viewpoint, Hamilton and Washington did not.

Acting like the founders are unified in viewpoint is wrong.

Re:The real issue (1)

Curunir_wolf (588405) | more than 2 years ago | (#38254914)

That's just a reference to the corporation THE UNITED STATES as contrasted with the political compact, codified by the Constitution, between the federal government and the sovereign States. It's not a change to the compact of the significance you imply, only that the Corporation of THE UNITED STATES did not exist before 14th Amendment. But it's an entirely separate entity.

Re:The real issue (2)

MyFirstNameIsPaul (1552283) | more than 2 years ago | (#38250174)

The 17th amendment certainly has some terrible effects on governance, but having 700,000 people per Congressional district is worse. [thirty-thousand.org] Another huge blow is the Supreme Court's invention of 'Incorporation', [libertyfund.org] which, along with enumerated powers of Congress, is at the heart of most issues, including those discussed on NPR and by the OP.

Re:The real issue (2)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#38252066)

If all three branches of government are controlled by private media dollars

They aren't. You ought to look into the ways that the federal government has been manipulating private media, for example, feeding prepared stories to the media or controlling content by controlling access to press conferences. I point this out because there is this insistence, despite copious evidence to the contrary, that business not a corrupt government is the greater threat to US freedom. I otherwise agree with your remarks.

Re:The real issue (2)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 2 years ago | (#38250102)

Add to this that every single technological advance in communications has been violated by the government despite the fact that the Constitution clearly indicates that it has no authority to do so whatsoever. Telegraphs, telephones, cellphones, the internet, gps... all tapped first, until the supreme court said "no".

While advances in communication seem to be stalling, sadly, advances in government bullshit continue apace. Why bother with all this warrant and constitutional limits on power when you can just ask companies up the food chain to roll over for you, all perfectly constitutional. After all, it'd be terrible if something were to happen to an entire rack of servers [nytimes.com] because the feds thought you weren't bending over far enough for them.

My guess is that ultimately, Obama will veto the law allowing citizens to be held indefinitely without trial, and the government will do it anyway, by having people held by private prison corporations not beholden to the Constitution. Of course, any complaints about "kidnapping" will be treated with the highest priority by the DA, and will be taken care of just as soon as they're finished with all of these important jaywalking and littering cases that suddenly are clogging the docket.

Re:The real issue (2, Informative)

anagama (611277) | more than 2 years ago | (#38250190)

My guess is that ultimately, Obama will veto the law allowing citizens to be held indefinitely without trial,

Obama did suggest he would veto this bill, but not because he cares about civil liberties. His threat was based on the notion that the President already has these powers and that the Congressional mandate would be an usurpation of and interference with those powers.

Here is a quote from the White House's position on the bill:

Detainee Matters: The Administration objects to and has serious legal and policy concerns about many of the detainee provisions in the bill. In their current form, some of these provisions disrupt the Executive branch's ability to enforce the law and impose unwise and unwarranted restrictions on the U.S. Government's ability to aggressively combat international terrorism; other provisions inject legal uncertainty and ambiguity that may only complicate the military's operations and detention practices.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/legislative/sap/112/saps1867s_20111117.pdf [whitehouse.gov]

Obama supporters are very neatly summed up in this cartoon: http://americanextremists.thecomicseries.com/comics/156 [thecomicseries.com]

Re:The real issue (4, Insightful)

anagama (611277) | more than 2 years ago | (#38250234)

Here's a real gem from Obama's position on the law:

Moreover, applying this military custody requirement to individuals inside the United States, as some Members of Congress have suggested is their intention, would raise serious and unsettled legal questions and would be inconsistent with the fundamental American principle that our military does not patrol our streets. We have spent ten years since September 11, 2001, breaking down the walls between intelligence, military, and law enforcement professionals; Congress should not now rebuild those walls and unnecessarily make the job of preventing terrorist attacks more difficult.

In other words, Obama is saying "Bush, Cheney, and I have managed to get get around constitution for the last decade. If you pass this bill, you jeopardize all that hard work."

Re:The real issue - Obama's stance is worse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38252412)

http://www.emptywheel.net/2011/11/17/obama-issues-veto-threat-to-revised-detainee-language/

"Because the authorities codified in this section already exist, the Administration does not believe codification is necessary and poses some risk."

Re:The real issue (0)

RogueWarrior65 (678876) | more than 2 years ago | (#38250252)

Add to this the ongoing attempts to resurrect the Fairness Doctrine which is really only a bullsh*t euphemism for "We on the left can't survive in a free market society therefore we're going to pass a law that is essentially redistribution of wealth in the form of forcing broadcasters to run shows that failed miserably (aka Air America)."

It makes you wonder if NPR could survive without tax dollars. Quite frankly, I think they'd gain more support if they could prove that they can. So here's a modest proposal: NPR should put aside the tax dollars it gets and if they don't run short at the end of the year, give it back.

It's the pledge week question (2)

swb (14022) | more than 2 years ago | (#38250488)

It makes you wonder if NPR could survive without tax dollars.

One of the superb ironies during the "cut NPR funding" kerfuffle of a couple of years ago was hearing the head of Minnesota Public Radio, Bill Kling, on a talk radio station being asked about this.

The caller said "Every time there is a pledge week you tell us government funding is only a fraction of your revenue and you desperately need our donations. Why is it when you are about to lose government support you claim it will drive you into the ground? Which claim is true and which one is at best an exaggeration and at worst an outright fabrication?"

It was hilarious. The guy really had no substantive answer. His nuanced answer was probably right, which was "well, if we lost all government money at once, we'd have to make some not insubstantial cutbacks."

Who knows what the REALLY means -- cashiering half the workforce, ending programming, cutting broadcast hours and shuttering facilities? Or does it mean something more subtle, like no more goodies at staff meetings?

Re:It's the pledge week question (4, Insightful)

heypete (60671) | more than 2 years ago | (#38250940)

The loss of government funding wouldn't dramatically affect NPR itself (about 7% comes from "grants and contributions"). The largest single source (34%) of their funding comes from station programming fees.

However, it would affect many of the local public radio stations that re-broadcast NPR (and which, in turn, pay NPR for programming fees). According to this site [npr.org] , 16.4% of the average public radio station's funding comes from government funding and grants from the Corporation from Public Broadcasting. About 14.3% of a public radio station's funding comes from universities, which frequently get income from the feds.

Without funding from the government, many public radio stations would have insufficient funds to continue to operate and would need to close down. NPR would likely be able to continue without much trouble, but local radio stations that actually provide services to their local community would be shut down.

Many of the pledge weeks are for the local stations to raise funding, not for NPR itself (though the NPR radio staff often record "Give $local_station_name money!" ads for the stations).

Re:It's the pledge week question (1)

TheNastyInThePasty (2382648) | more than 2 years ago | (#38250972)

You need n dollars to run your company. x dollars come from government subsidy. "A fraction" can still be a significant amount (but usually in English it means less than 1/2). You will still need n-x dollars in donations. Not having x, and not getting n-x in donations are both serious issues because that will put you below n. What's so hard to understand?

Re:The real issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38250384)

Even today, with the increasing disintermediation (and consequent slow recovery of freedom) of information, you still have public opinion being molded by the likes of Australia's Rupert Murdoch and FOX NEWS. Indeed, no candidate seeking public office at the Federal level has had a hope of winning that office without the support of the broadcast networks, whose unconstitutionality is so ignored by Australia's Rupert Murdoch and FOX NEWS (for obvious reasons).

ftfy

Re:The real issue (2)

kenh (9056) | more than 2 years ago | (#38250750)

What?

The quoted poster (who I lacked the will to scroll back far enough to respond to directly) wrote:

Indeed, no candidate seeking public office at the Federal level has had a hope of winning that office without the support of the broadcast networks, whose unconstitutionality is so ignored by Australia's Rupert Murdoch and FOX NEWS (for obvious reasons).

That people solely rely on mass media outlets to inform their opinions is not "unconstitutional" - it is irresponsible...

BTW, Rupert Murdoch is a US Citizen, has been for the last 30 years [wikipedia.org] .

Who cares about the slave-owners' constitution? (1, Interesting)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | more than 2 years ago | (#38249938)

Forward to the dictatorship of the proletariat!!!! That is the only solution!!!!!! Smash capitalism!!!!!!!!!!

Re:Who cares about the slave-owners' constitution? (1)

sycodon (149926) | more than 2 years ago | (#38250614)

+1 funny because it seems like a silly sarcastic jab at OWS or -1 because this guy actually believes what he's spouting?

Re:Who cares about the slave-owners' constitution? (0)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | more than 2 years ago | (#38250640)

eAT COW turds you imperialist demagogue!!!!!! Smash imperialism with international socialist revolution!!!!!!!! Down with capitalism!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Dog fart! Down with capitalism!!!!!!!!

Re:Who cares about the slave-owners' constitution? (1)

sycodon (149926) | more than 2 years ago | (#38250776)

OK, I'm going with Funny. Genius even.

Re:Who cares about the slave-owners' constitution? (1)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | more than 2 years ago | (#38250858)

Those are the bosses' laws for the bosses' government. Dopey looking robot is eating your face, apologist for capitalism!!!!!!!

Why would you want to interpret the constitution? (3, Insightful)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 2 years ago | (#38249962)

When you can simply ignore it.

It's not as if there are any repercussions.
 

Re:Why would you want to interpret the constitutio (2)

russotto (537200) | more than 2 years ago | (#38250002)

If you merely ignore the constitution, your enemies may use that against you; not because they have love of the constitution, but merely because they can. Interpreting it out of existence is both more permanent and less likely to rebound on you. Example: Having the cops beat the shit out of Occupy Wall Street protesters on camera. Sure, you can get away with it, but it could cause political damage. Better: Re-interpret the constitution so "freedom of assembly" means "assembly only in designated protest areas, for short periods of time". Then have the cops beat the shit out of the protesters not for protesting, but for protesting in the wrong place. You're just following the law, then.

Re:Why would you want to interpret the constitutio (1)

anagama (611277) | more than 2 years ago | (#38250124)

If you merely ignore the constitution, your enemies may use that against you; not because they have love of the constitution, but merely because they can.

Indeed they can use it against you, but that is only part of the theater event we call politics, i.e., huge rhetorical differences, zero policy differences. Witness the disparaging remarks democrats made against Bush for his civil liberties violations, such as due process free detention. Those same people, now that Obama is in office, are using Bush/Cheney arguments to justify Obama's policies including due process free execution.

Re:Why would you want to interpret the constitutio (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 2 years ago | (#38250142)

Indeed they can use it against you, but that is only part of the theater event we call politics, i.e., huge rhetorical differences, zero policy differences. Witness the disparaging remarks democrats made against Bush for his civil liberties violations, such as due process free detention. Those same people, now that Obama is in office, are using Bush/Cheney arguments to justify Obama's policies including due process free execution.

Just because the two sides are the same from our viewpoint doesn't mean that they aren't actually opposed in the one thing that matters to them, which is who is to be the master.

Re:Why would you want to interpret the constitutio (1)

sycodon (149926) | more than 2 years ago | (#38250668)

Supporters of the various hate speech laws and are quick to point out the freedom of speech has its limits. I think it is also safe to assume that these very same people are probably in general agreement with OWS.

Yet they don't seem to think that Freedom of Assembly is subject to the same kind of reasonable limits...such a not creating a public nuisance or health hazards.

Re:Why would you want to interpret the constitutio (2)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 2 years ago | (#38250742)

Supporters of the various hate speech laws and are quick to point out the freedom of speech has its limits.

That never made sense to me. The constitution states no such limitation. If you don't like that, then wouldn't the proper thing to do be to amend the constitution? Same for anything else. Rather than following the proper procedures, they seem to just create invisible exceptions and/or interpret it as they like.

Re:Why would you want to interpret the constitutio (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#38251376)

the proper thing would be to rap the hate speech to ground with another speech.

as is with nazis.
it's ridiculous that you can do an illegal thing with a pen and a piece of paper in a shut box.

now if you're actually planning and performing lynching, that's a whole different matter. but making an ass out of yourself shouldn't be illegal.

Re:Why would you want to interpret the constitutio (2)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 2 years ago | (#38252512)

The libertarian always looks at a law from an isolated egotistical position instead of a higher broader definition.

If you take something like hate speech if you only look at it from an extremely egotistical position "I can't say ___ therefore *my* right to free speech is being infringed."

That's a legitimate egotistical position. However that's not how a government can look at any given action. It has to take into account the *net* effect of speech on its citizens.

So while it's true that stopping someone from saying "We need to round up the Mexicans and gas them." would infringe on their speech... hate speech by its legal definition is speech which infringes on others' rights.

If someone's advocating for violence against a group of law abiding citizens and threatening them if they freely assemble then their speech infringes on a large group of people's rights. The net effect of the hate speech is that a large number of people lose their own freedoms and rights. So their speech must be reduced in order to protect the speech of others.

Hate speech suppresses the rights of minorities since it impedes their ability to live free of the threat of constant violence. When they're living under the threat of violence numerous freedoms will be taken from them.

Re:Why would you want to interpret the constitutio (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 2 years ago | (#38252578)

If you take something like hate speech if you only look at it from an extremely egotistical position "I can't say ___ therefore *my* right to free speech is being infringed."

Because it is. One of my rights (to say that) is not present.

But I also care about other people's rights (just as I hope they care about mine). I might not agree with them, but I'm not willing to ban the speech just because some people find it offensive.

So while it's true that stopping someone from saying "We need to round up the Mexicans and gas them." would infringe on their speech... hate speech by its legal definition is speech which infringes on others' rights.

There is no right to not be offended. They should, in my opinion, take action when something has been/is about to be done.

If someone's advocating for violence against a group of law abiding citizens and threatening them if they freely assemble then their speech infringes on a large group of people's rights.

Threatening someone has no such effect. Actually stopping them from assembling would have such an effect.

Too many people with thin skin, in my opinion. They can vanish for all I care.

But my comment wasn't about that at all. It was about invisible exceptions in the constitution. It was about the fact that they just ignore it entirely rather than amend it. If something is important (or deemed so by a majority and by the government), then it should be a much easier task.

Re:Why would you want to interpret the constitutio (1)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 2 years ago | (#38253656)

Saying something that someone doesn't like isn't legally "Hate Speech".

It's pretty privileged to say "Grow thicker skin" when you don't have someone actively trying to get people to murder you and living in constant threat.

I think people should have the freedom to live their life without constant harassment and intimidation just as I do. It's the old adage "your rights end where my nose begins". The categories of hate speech which are not protected by the first amendment are all cases where someone else's rights are being infringed by that speech.

Re:Why would you want to interpret the constitutio (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 2 years ago | (#38254072)

Saying something that someone doesn't like isn't legally "Hate Speech".

It seems to me like that's what it essentially comes down to. Or, at least, that's what I think the name implies.

It's pretty privileged to say "Grow thicker skin" when you don't have someone actively trying to get people to murder you and living in constant threat.

The "if you were in situation X, you'd feel differently" argument? That doesn't mean that the way I feel now is 'wrong.' In fact, it's completely irrelevant. That argument could be used against anyone.

I value absolute freedom of speech.

It's the old adage "your rights end where my nose begins".

As long as it remains speech, none of your rights have been infringed upon. None of the rights that I care about, anyway.

which are not protected by the first amendment

No such thing exists. The first amendment lists no exceptions to freedom of speech. As I said, if you do not like that, then amend the constitution. I think that's better than simply pretending that there are things in the constitution that aren't there.

Re:Why would you want to interpret the constitutio (1)

Curunir_wolf (588405) | more than 2 years ago | (#38254998)

The libertarian always looks at a law from an isolated egotistical position instead of a higher broader definition.

That's just a bunch of tortured rhetoric for criticizing libertarians for believing in individual liberties, when you would prefer that all individuals to be subservient to collectivist ideals. The biggest problem with that viewpoint is that somewhere along the way, you have to resort to shutting up the non-conformists through violent force.

Re:Why would you want to interpret the constitutio (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 2 years ago | (#38250928)

Supporters of the various hate speech laws and are quick to point out the freedom of speech has its limits.

Anyone making the argument that "freedom of speech has limits" in order to justify a particular limit is intending on greasing the rhetorical slope and pushing you down it.

I think it is also safe to assume that these very same people are probably in general agreement with OWS.

Only in that both groups include a lot of leftists. Personally, I find it hard to agree or disagree with OWS, in that their message is incoherent; some groups have put out messages claiming to speak for the protesters, but aside from the general idea "Rich people suck", I'm not sure the statements really are representative. Personally I prefer to consider myself part of the 52% (that's the 53% who pay taxes, minus the top 1% of rich bastards. OK, may be approximate due to non-taxpaying rich bastards)

Re:Why would you want to interpret the constitutio (1)

Curunir_wolf (588405) | more than 2 years ago | (#38255028)

Only in that both groups include a lot of leftists. Personally, I find it hard to agree or disagree with OWS, in that their message is incoherent; some groups have put out messages claiming to speak for the protesters, but aside from the general idea "Rich people suck", I'm not sure the statements really are representative. Personally I prefer to consider myself part of the 52% (that's the 53% who pay taxes, minus the top 1% of rich bastards. OK, may be approximate due to non-taxpaying rich bastards)

Pretty rational position on the whole movement, I think. But my biggest problem with the movement (and the whole "beat up on the 1%" class warfare meme as a whole), is that it doesn't seem to distinguish between those members of the class that are honest and work hard for the money, and those members that have robbed and defrauded and colluded with government bureaucrats and politicians to basically steal to gain and retain their wealth. There are both kinds of wealthy people among the 3.6 million people that currently fall into that group, and it's a mistake to claim that all of them should be derided.

Re:Why would you want to interpret the constitutio (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38250220)

Also what is a real pain (and this has been happening for a long time). It is almost the same problem as 'patents and copyright'. That for some reason now that there are computers that the whole thing doesnt make sense anymore.

The rules are almost dead simple to follow yet people keep trying to reinterpert them to mean something else.

The first 7 articles say how our gov works. Day to day and in exception cases.

The first 10 amendments were to limit the first 7 articles and what they do. They were written in plain language so people could follow it. Trust me they were very deliberate about that. The guys who wrote it could pontificate with the best of em...

The ammendments can be summed up pretty much as follows

1) we can say whatever about the gov, and the gov stays out of religious affairs (not the gov doesnt have it in it, just stays out of it).
2) There needs to be an army. That army shall be of your common folk. They will have guns. They get to keep them.
3) The gov can not just put soldiers where ever. In other words buy your own damn buildings to put your soldiers in. Also feed them yourself. Unless someone lets you do it.
4) If the gov wants to seize something, or riffle thru our shit it needs to get the 3rd branch involved and make a case.
5) This one is 'cant be tried twice'. AND if the gov takes something under (4) unjustly it needs to pony up some cash.
6) You dont deserve to rot in jail for 20 years for jay walking. Also the gov will help you out and make sure your trial is fair. Going as far as to procure counsel for you.
7) Civil cases shall be a jury trial.
8) Dont impose more money there is in the world for bail. Also dont make punishments what most people consider cruel just because you want to get revenge somehow.
9) If it isnt in here people get those rights. Or the 'if it isnt illegal then you can do it' clause. Instead of the other way around.. For example in most states flame throwers are legal because there is no real laws regulating them...
10) If itsnt declared here the states get to decide. This was a big issue during the civil war in addition to slavery (people in the north and south still do not understand each other and why they fought).

The remaining 17 were created due to particular situations arising. Where if congress wanted to make something illegal they needed to make an amendment for it. Or states abusing people in some way or another. Or tweaking the way the gov works in some way (such as when pay raises can be passed).

In many ways Congress has abused the 'interstate commerce' clause to abuse all 10 of these at some point or another. They will continue to do so. This is usually because of greed, money. Sometimes that 'they know better', this is sometimes true. However, sometimes it is just a matter of opinion sure it may be 'bad' for people. But do you really want people legislating morality? What if that morality doesnt agree with yours? This becomes the 'there should be a law for that' rule that is so ingrained in people. In many ways they are going too far with their rules in order to swat a minor annoyance (ie amendments 18 and 21).

And back to my original point. NOTHING in there precludes the rules being equally applied to computers. That we somehow need 'new' rules is just treating computers as something more than they are. They are not magical devices. They are tools that let us effectively communicate with each other. Though what I see on youtube and slashdot sometimes makes me wonder about the effective bit :)

Re:Why would you want to interpret the constitutio (1)

sycodon (149926) | more than 2 years ago | (#38250718)

Best post of the whole discussion languishing at 0.

The worst part is the someone felt it necessary to post AC. No doubt because they figure such a sentiment would not be well received on /.

Re:Why would you want to interpret the constitutio (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38250880)

"The rules are almost dead simple to follow yet people keep trying to reinterpert them to mean something else."

Yes, that's it. The Constitution is mostly written in clear, simple language. It only becomes complex when people want it to mean something other than what it plainly says.

KSR's Mars trilogy make me think about the now (4, Interesting)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 2 years ago | (#38249974)

While the political themes of Kim Stanley Robinson's trilogy beginning with Red Mars [amazon.com] have divided readers, I found the constitutional debates within to be fascinating. The settlers of Mars come together in a constitutional convention that takes new, present-day technology and ecological themes into account, and examine a far larger set of models of political organization than the American Founding Fathers knew about. Junking it all and starting from scratch seems like a wonderful opportunity. Ever since I read those books in the mid-1990s, I've felt sad that not only is American democracy co-opted by special interests and the inevitability of a stagnant two-party system, but even at best it would be limited to a late 18th-century worldview.

Re:KSR's Mars trilogy make me think about the now (4, Informative)

hort_wort (1401963) | more than 2 years ago | (#38250130)

... I've felt sad that not only is American democracy co-opted by special interests and the inevitability of a stagnant two-party system, but even at best it would be limited to a late 18th-century worldview.

It'll make you even more sad to find out that Thomas Jefferson believed the Constitution should be scrapped and rewritten every 19 years, a new set of rules that each generation decides for itself to follow. All the modern politicians that talk about the founding fathers tend to skip over that point.

You're welcome. :-\

Re:KSR's Mars trilogy make me think about the now (1)

lennier1 (264730) | more than 2 years ago | (#38250592)

They'd have outlawed the phrase "get off my lawn"?

Re:KSR's Mars trilogy make me think about the now (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38250202)

If they ever opened a Constitutional Convention nowadays it would immediately become a referendum on abortion and prayer in schools. That is, Religion, and the hell with all the other problems facing this country's freedoms. I know you mean well but no thanks, I'll take an 18th-century worldview to a 10th-century worldview, anytime.

Re:KSR's Mars trilogy make me think about the now (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38250204)

Well it's not really a two party system. There are dozens of parties (wiki it). Problem is there are only two who have the money to make waves due to special interests an lobbyists. The others don't stand a chance. Kind of like corruption R' us.

Re:KSR's Mars trilogy make me think about the now (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 2 years ago | (#38250236)

Please. Utopian crack dreams are hardly new. KSR is just the latest crackhead proposing stupid non-solutions.

Spider Robinson wrote good scifi, because he wrote about things he understood. Hippies in communes with a hidden alien in their midst, I can suspend that much disbelief.

KSR proposes that the hippie commune is the crew of a space mission. They would have _all_ died while arguing about the ecology of dead mars. They would have all died again when the earth rightfully cut off their supplies. Not a believable character in the bunch. They are believable in the woods growing pot. Not on any frontier, much less as part of a multi-billion dollar mission.

Re:KSR's Mars trilogy make me think about the now (1)

Curunir_wolf (588405) | more than 2 years ago | (#38255170)

The whole series was really fascinating, and the society that grew out of their ideals pretty fascinating (even if just as fantastic as the technologies from Blue Mars. But they had similar advantages that the American colonists did: The population was selected as people who were either the best educated, most capable, most adventurous, non-conformist in their native populations, etc., and they had a lot of virgin resources and the best technology available for taking advantage of them.

Crap, I forgot the point I was going to make.

constitutional interpretation (5, Interesting)

doug141 (863552) | more than 2 years ago | (#38250022)

One thing I always found interesting about constitutional interpretation is that the same people who argue the 2nd amendment should only apply to muskets (on the basis that the writers of the constitution supposedly could not have imagined anyone ever designing what they all wanted... a gun that shoots faster and further), will turn right around and assert the first amendment has a wide reach with respect to electronic mass media. Electronic mass media... like that was easier for a colonist to see coming than a rifle upgrade.

Re:constitutional interpretation (1)

jellie (949898) | more than 2 years ago | (#38250152)

I've always felt that the "Living Constitution" depends on the context of the current period. Even those who strongly support gun rights (e.g., Scalia) has said that it may not be unconstitutional to bar felons from possessing certains, for example. But the constitution has never said anything regarding that.

The fact that technology has changed so much over the past 200+ years shows that originalism makes little if any sense now. Like the GPS tracking and the Fourth Amendment -- I think it's an unreasonable search if done without a warrant, but trying to claim the original meaning or intent of the Amendment says something about it one way or the other seems ridiculous.

Re:constitutional interpretation (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 2 years ago | (#38250184)

If you do away with interpreting the Constitution according to the original intent of the Framers, the Constitution serves no useful purpose and should just be done away with. Either the Constitution means what the Framers intended it to mean, with changes made according to the system they put in place to change it, or it doesn't really mean anything and is just used to support whatever it is that the powers that be wish to do (and to shelter them from the consequences of not doing the things that they do not wish to do that a significant block of the people wish them to do).

Re:constitutional interpretation (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#38250912)

The trouble with "Originalism" is that it really only addresses a fairly modest set of problems.

The Constitution itself is necessarily somewhat underdetermined. It simply isn't exhaustive enough to unambiguously define the correct outcomes for all potential questions that might arise when it was written, never mind those raised by technological and social changes unknown to the writers.

Effectively, "Originalism" boils down to operating on the assumption that the Constitution 'incorporates by reference' the broader writings of its various authors whenever it does not sufficiently address the problem in question. The problem is, even if one were to do all the legwork(ie, chase down the author/authors of each bit, incorporate from their other political writings to provide definitions for insufficiently defined terms, and so forth) the resulting document would also be necessarily somewhat underdetermined(if somewhat less so than the Constitution alone) and quite possibly internally inconsistent(it was, after all, the product of a somewhat contentious comittee, so some of the vaguer passages are vague in order to paper over significant disagreements, not vague because their meaning was deemed obvious...)

This doesn't make it a useless strategy, the hypothetical 'originalist expanded constitution' would provide resolution of a larger set of problems than the unexpanded version; but it doesn't save you from the fact that the supply of precisely determined Constitutional answers runs dry fairly quickly and throws you right back into the realm of making things up as you go along, by a variety of methods that are tolerated largely because we don't have any better ones...

Re:constitutional interpretation (3, Insightful)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 2 years ago | (#38251856)

Well, there are two reasons for that. The primary reason that the Constitution is "underdetermined" is because it was a document designed to limit the power of government. Many of the issues that people think the Constitution does not speak clearly enough on are issues that the Framers considered to be things that the Federal government should not be involved in. The second was that the Framers intended that those who followed them should amend the Constitution as needed to address new issues.
For the most part though, I believe that the "problems" you see in the Constitution result from the attempts to twist it to allow the federal government to do things the Framers thought they had explicitly denied it the power to do.

Re:constitutional interpretation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38250624)

You don't think prohibiting people convicted of violent crime from possessing arms passes strict scrutiny?

Re:constitutional interpretation (1)

Jiro (131519) | more than 2 years ago | (#38250778)

Felony doesn't necessarily include violent crime. Google "felony" "littering", for instance.

Re:constitutional interpretation (1)

i.r.id10t (595143) | more than 2 years ago | (#38254364)

Yes, that was my envelope that I put at the bottom of that trash pile...

You got 27 8x10 full color pictures with notes on the back to prove it?

Re:constitutional interpretation (1)

kenh (9056) | more than 2 years ago | (#38250876)

It is widely accepted that convicted criminals give up some of their rights as a form of punishment (incarceration, for example, or the ever popular "sexual predator" registries that are becoming so popular, and the restrictions being "registered" imposes on the offender), losing the right to bear arms is just another example, as is losing the right to vote in elections.

Re:constitutional interpretation (1)

EuclideanSilence (1968630) | more than 2 years ago | (#38254124)

I wonder how those who support criminals giving up their rights as a form of punishment would explain away the 8th amendment.

        Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
 

...as is losing the right to vote in elections.

Shouldn't people who are in jail be the most important people to defend their right to vote?

Re:constitutional interpretation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38251644)

It is trivial to get not just a felony, but three felonies (which means life) here in the state where I live:

Scenario 1: Smoking a joint. Cop tackles the arrestee, joint flies out and lands in the bushes. Now the person arrested now has three felonies to fight, attempted arson, possession with intent to distribute (even if it is a marijuana seed), and attempting to destroy evidence (the joint flew out of the guy's hand when tackled.) Yep, life in prison.

Scenario 2: Pissing on a wall in a back alley. Charge #1 -- toxic waste depositing. Charge #2 is public lewdness. Charge #3 is indecency with a child, because the DA can allege that a kid could have ridden past in a car. Instant sexual offender record and a life sentence.

Scenario 3: Closing the apartment door when a cop demands to come in and doesn't have a warrant. The closing the door is an assault on a peace officer charge, and they now have the ability to come in and search freely because a felony was in progress.

Re:constitutional interpretation (1)

sycodon (149926) | more than 2 years ago | (#38250812)

It's simple really:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects

GPS tracking you is "their persons". Your cell phone, car, etc. are clearly your effects.

Re:constitutional interpretation (1)

jellie (949898) | more than 2 years ago | (#38250986)

The police can legally follow you around in a car without a warrant. They argue that GPS tracking is the same thing. I don't agree with the argument, but it's not easy to argue that they're completely different situations.

Re:constitutional interpretation (1)

sycodon (149926) | more than 2 years ago | (#38251044)

I think the difference is that they have to violate your personal effects (your car) to do that. Now, if they could detect you car relying on some specific emission (electronic, most likely), then I think they have a case. But as long as they have to actually put something on your car, then no.

Re:constitutional interpretation (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#38251310)

well.. it's much simpler to say that it would be legal for them to just observe where you go through roadside cameras, a satellite camera and so forth.

but come on, attaching a bomb looking device to your car while you're not looking is different, it's taking massive shortcut. at least you should kiss that gps device goodbye if you decide to do that and not insist on it being federal property.. getting a warrant can't be _that_ hard but it puts a sort of a safe guard on it - the work to decide that you need that gps tracker and the work to actually attach it and follow where it goes greatly surpasses sending the fax, making the phonecall or whatever it is that they need to do to get a warrant.

Re:constitutional interpretation (1)

rohan972 (880586) | more than 2 years ago | (#38253458)

The police can legally follow you around in a car without a warrant. They argue that GPS tracking is the same thing. I don't agree with the argument, but it's not easy to argue that they're completely different situations.

The police can obtain a warrant to search your house, including your bedroom and toilet. Police installing cameras providing video feed from your bedroom and toilet are not the same thing. The constancy and surreptitiousness of electronic surveillance make it fundamentally different to a police officer physically watching you.

Alternatively, if the are held to be the same thing, electronic surveillance is not needed, since we already have police officers, and they're the same thing!

Re:constitutional interpretation (1)

EuclideanSilence (1968630) | more than 2 years ago | (#38254132)

The police can legally follow you around in a car without a warrant. They argue that GPS tracking is the same thing. I don't agree with the argument, but it's not easy to argue that they're completely different situations.

So what if a non-police-officer wants to follow someone around, or put a GPS tracker on someone's car? Isn't that usually considered stalking? A minimum requirement for getting a warrant should be when they are doing something anyone else isn't allowed to do.

Re:constitutional interpretation (1)

kenh (9056) | more than 2 years ago | (#38250834)

The government placing something on your car to record/transmit your location is an "unreasonable search" - the gov't has no right to put anything on your car, be it a bumper sticker or GPS tracker... The fourth ammendment covers unreasonable searches, how does it not apply? Would any person think it reasonable for the gov't to place a tracking (or really ANY) device on your personal property?

What about the GPS tracker example is so exceptional that it is outside the scope of the Constitution?

Re:constitutional interpretation (1)

kenh (9056) | more than 2 years ago | (#38250774)

They also had cannons back then, does the 2nd ammendment cover cannons too?

Re:constitutional interpretation (1)

doug141 (863552) | more than 2 years ago | (#38251014)

What the 2nd amendment covers today is up to the whim of the 9 on today's court. The issue I raise is that people who would answer your cannon question don't then apply whatever logic they used to the other amendments. Instead, they first consider what answer they want for each individual issue, then selectively pick arguments to support their preference of "what the constitution covers." BTW cannons are ordnance, not arms.

Re:constitutional interpretation (1)

kcbnac (854015) | more than 2 years ago | (#38251948)

Sadly no. Anything above 0.50" is considered a "destructive device" and BATFE would like to have a word with you over :-/

Re:constitutional interpretation (1)

i.r.id10t (595143) | more than 2 years ago | (#38254400)

Miller vs US re: the NFA of '34 said that his sawed off shotgun and full auto stuff wasn't protected because they weren't common military arms of the times.... of course, they are now.

Which means I guess that grandpa's duck gun isn't protected, but the part of the '84 FOPA that cuts off new additions of full auto stuff to the NFA registry is unconstitutional...

Interpret? Your doing it wrong. (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38250078)

>***Interpreting*** the Constitution

Thats where you went wrong... there is no such thing. Don't like what it says, then amend it.

A constitution open to interpretation is worthless.

Re:Interpret? Your doing it wrong. (3, Insightful)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 2 years ago | (#38250150)

Thats where you went wrong... there is no such thing.

All texts require interpretation. No human utterance is unambiguous. This has been understood for over a century now, since Saussure proposed l'arbitraire du signe. Science, bitches.

Re:Interpret? Your doing it wrong. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38250280)

Indeed. Although that doesn't mean an interpretation can't be wrong.

You could interpret "freedom of speech" as meaning "freedom of speech that doesn't criticize the government." In fact, you could 'interpret' it to mean whatever you want. But that doesn't mean your interpretation is correct.

But the people in power get to make the decisions.

Why? (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 2 years ago | (#38250120)

Why should you interpret the constitution? Being that it's a founding document, what should be done is it should be the guiding principal. It should remain as it is. Laws should be tested, and the laws be tested against the constitution. You get into no type of serious fuckups when you interpret a founding document, because you go from "this document says, in the intention of the framers" to "this document says, in the intention of the state."

This is generally how was test law in Canada. It works well, very well. That's not to say there aren't serious fuckups from time to time either, but it can always end back at the supreme court.

Usurping power by subverting the Constitution (3, Interesting)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#38250212)

This is the real problem - 'interpreting' the Constitution.

There should be no such thing, no 'interpreting', because this is used to justify anything, any power grab, any expansion of gov't power, any kind of thing that gov't wants.

You know it's true, they interpret Bibles the way they want to fit in any new technological advancement and same becomes a problem with the Constitution. It's not supposed to be interpreted, it's supposed to be followed. It's the law.

It's not the Constitution that needs interpretation (and I am not saying the document is perfect, far from it, it is not making it explicit that it shouldn't be interpreted for example).

The law that applies to the private citizens is not interpreted - you kill somebody - there is no 'interpretation' of the law. The question is only of your guilt.

It should be same with the Constitution - gov't takes over some power, the question is only the amount of guilt that should be allocated, not whether it was permitted by the Constitution that this power was supposed to be taken over.

There is a larger question here as well - should gov't even be allowed to pass NEW laws at all? I don't think so.

If the physics laws were changing all the time (F=MA today, some time from today it's F=2MA, some time later it's F=A; E=MC2, E=MC, E=C, E=4C; Today Hydrogen has this mass, tomorrow it's half that.) There would be no stars, no planets, no life in that unstable system.

Same with society and economy and gov't. Gov't sets the basic laws and then society and economy work around those laws. Change the laws and economy/society now must change how it works to accommodate the change of laws. Do too much of this and enough times and you destroy the economy and society.

That's what you have now - destruction of economy and society by gov't.

This was caused by various loose 'interpretations' of the Constitution (at first), and now it's just blatant disregard to the Constitution, which is LAW that gov't is supposed to abide by.

This is your fundamental problem.

Re:Usurping power by subverting the Constitution (4, Insightful)

LocalH (28506) | more than 2 years ago | (#38250704)

There is a larger question here as well - should gov't even be allowed to pass NEW laws at all? I don't think so.

The problem isn't new laws, it's that they exceed their authorization to pass laws covering certain things. The Interstate Commerce Clause basically turned into the legal equivalent of a rootkit when it can cover activities that are fully intrastate, merely because they can "affect" interstate actions. That little bit of legal wrangling pretty much guts the 9th and 10th, from a practical standpoint. If a person is too "self-sufficient", that means they are affecting the interstate market for various things and must be stopped (see Wickard v Filburn [wikipedia.org] ).

Re:Usurping power by subverting the Constitution (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#38250726)

The real rootkit is the authority to pass any new laws. If a gov't can pass a new law, it can then eventually usurp the power and go above and beyond its original authorization. All the laws that are needed should be only based around the most basic principles: protecting individual freedoms, property, enforcing the contract and the criminal law and protecting the borders.

Re:Usurping power by subverting the Constitution (2)

elsurexiste (1758620) | more than 2 years ago | (#38250830)

You run against two problems if you don't interpret:

  • The human language is ambiguous.
  • You can't cover all possible scenarios.

So we pay all these lawyers and judges because they know the spirit of the law (what it's trying to accomplish), and they have the tools to make informed decisions on unforeseen cases. Just imagine a binding document from a few centuries ago. It's impossible that it could have foreseen virtual realities, GPS, pervasive drug traffic, or near-zero cost of duplicating information.

Anyway, the constitution is just a framework. We do need more laws because life is complex, new kind of agreements appear, and there's always someone with less power getting abused. Can you solve the issues of children of divorced parents without additional laws, just by resorting to the constitution? How about the issue of importing/exporting foreign species? You spoke of this "guilt", but what that means? After all, law should be impartial. How can you measure "guilt" in a case of murder? You eventually have to put additional clauses to further refine what murder means and how to allocate guilt... which are subject to interpretation because, as before, unexpected things are going to happen. The difference is that we had plenty of time to learn about murder, so we have pretty much everything covered... for now at least.

Do you really think there shouldn't be any new laws after this whole financial fiasco? They gamed the system because they were allowed to, and the constitution couldn't possibly have expected this kind of things.

P.S.: Your analogy is incorrect. Laws are ways to regulate society and, in general, guidances on how to live a good life; natural laws are just descriptions we have on how the world works. It's no wonder that both change rather frequently. Today, we don't think certain situations are un/acceptable anymore (e.g. same-sex marriage and pedophilia), and today our understanding of the physical world has changed (a few years ago, neutrinos didn't have mass; now, they do and may even travel FTL).

Re:Usurping power by subverting the Constitution (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#38252748)

You don't need to cover all scenarios. You only need to state that the purpose of the document is to shackle the government by the law that is created by the people in order to achieve a union, which is only possible by agreeing upon a government system that shackles the government.

You need to shackle the government and to prevent it from going above the authorization that the people gave it.

Maybe the problem is that the law applies too far in time, that the people from the past set the law for the people in the future, but if you follow that route and you continuously change the law, you destroy the economy and society with all this instability.

So the question becomes can the people of ONE generation set the basic PRINCIPLES of the government in a way that will be agreeable with the people of the future generations, and what to do in case where SOME people do not wish to have the law apply to them?

What about the fact that there are people who do not like the principles set for them?

If the principle of the founders of a government is individual freedom and then later on some people find this inconvenient, should they be forced by the system to follow the law as it stands without attempting to change it?

What about the people who do not want the law changed?

So democracy then, right? Voting for politicians who are given the power to change the law. But if the law changes away from the first principles of individual freedoms, then it is clearly changing towards LESS individual freedoms, not more.

Realize that if a government is set up with the maximum prohibitions against stepping over individual freedoms, then ANY law that changes the original law decreases the individual freedoms, it does not increase it.

The real question is: does democracy work? I don't see it working. The US founders didn't see it working, so they were certain that there will be attempts to change the law of the government and to break the Constitution, that's why there is a complex gov't structure.

The reasons are clear: democracy allows MAJORITY of people to STEAL FROM or otherwise ABUSE minority.

That's how the US tax code works. That's how the US regulations work today passed by all these unelected departments and offices. That's how the Federal reserve works. That's the IRS and income taxes. Everything that moves money from some people's pockets to other people's pockets, it's all about diminishing the individual freedoms and theft and abuse of government power.

Who benefits and who loses is not that relevant, what is relevant is that the system breaks, the economy suffers and then the society falls apart and there may be even wars and mass murder and hunger and suffering.

The real problem is allowing the people to change the law from a set of rules that enforce maximum individual freedoms, because any change leads to minimizing those freedoms and there final result is always totalitarian - authoritarian government, based on whatever ideology (communism or socialism or fascism or just dictatorship, it doesn't matter).

Once you are on the path of allowing the law of maximum individual freedoms to be changed, you are going the wrong way.

Re:Usurping power by subverting the Constitution (2)

chrismcb (983081) | more than 2 years ago | (#38253644)

The law that applies to the private citizens is not interpreted - you kill somebody - there is no 'interpretation' of the law. The question is only of your guilt.

Actually there is. The law that applies to the private citizens is MOST DEFINITELY interpreted. This is what the courts do. Laws are not black and white, and it is up to the judges to interpret the laws. Whether this is a law ratified by congress, or the consititution.

Easiest and safest interpretation (4, Interesting)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 2 years ago | (#38250244)

I'll make it easy. Stick with the traditional interpretation and follow it like plain language. If you treat the Constitution as a list of government permissions and not a set of restrictions, and ditch the attempts to interpret the enumerated rights as somehow limiting anything not mentioned...

The Constitution is VERY easy to interpret when you are trying to argue on the behalf of freedom. The only time you need a crack lawyer to argue an interpretation is when you are trying to present an interpretation that seeks to limit freedom.

Some argue that such a simple approach is flawed as it would prevent the government from performing functions that we want them to do such as the EPA, Dept of Ed., etc. That is not true because for anything so important and universal that it requires the federal government, then we need to go through the effort to amend the constitution to grant the government the authority to do that. If it really is that important then passing the amendment will happen. If it doesnt pass that means you either were proposing something that more people than you didn't want, or you need to spend more time convincing people that they want the government to do what you say they should do.

Imagine you hire someone to repair a wall in your house. While he is working he sees you have a broken window and decides that you would be better off and fixes the window of his own volition. What he didn't know is that you were going to build an addition and the window was being removed anyway.

The repairman exceeded his authority and even though he was doing something 'good', but the right way to do it would be to ask you to amend his contract to grant him the authority to fix the window in addition to the wall.

Sure, its harder, but hat process ensures that you have to 'opt in' to increased government rather than the easier method that requires us to actively 'opt out' by continually passing new 'protections' each time the government figures a way around the old protections.

Re:Easiest and safest interpretation (1)

kenh (9056) | more than 2 years ago | (#38250894)

The Constitution is VERY easy to interpret when you are trying to argue on the behalf of freedom. The only time you need a crack lawyer to argue an interpretation is when you are trying to present an interpretation that seeks to limit freedom.

+1

RON PAUL (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38250278)

RON PAUL

I'm afraid of what we'd lose. (4, Insightful)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | more than 2 years ago | (#38250316)

You can bet the Second Amendment would be gone. That's the lynchpin keeping all the other ones in place. On another note, the constitution doesn't need to be recreated. The founders created a clear method for amending it, which has happened over two dozen times now.

Papers and effects (5, Interesting)

Compaqt (1758360) | more than 2 years ago | (#38250338)

What part of "papers and effects" don't they understand?

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects [constitution.org] , against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Your computer (and phone) is as much your "papers" as the media is a "press".

What right did they get to GPS-track you? Isn't your car an "effect"? Even if not, it still is your property. So where did the government get the right to use your property without due process of law (5th amendment)?

Where'd the government get the right to confiscate servers? Domain names? Where's the due process of law?

The constitutional view is that the government only has such powers as have specifically been given to it. The state's view is that they have plenary (unlimited) power until stopped by a greater power.

A Constitution 3.0 would not be needed if there were a proper perspective on the existing constitution.

Read the link for the Federalist Papers, the Antifederalist Papers, and more.

Interpret (1)

vvaduva (859950) | more than 2 years ago | (#38250376)

The fact that it's subject to interpretation is in itself showing how ridiculous the whole argument is. It's a piece of paper...it will mean whatever the government employees, judges and cops want it to mean.

Waiting Periods (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38250598)

There needs to be a waiting period on Freedom of the Press. A cooling-off time when they can check facts.

Trust in the news media (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38250632)

My kids were taught in grade school - 7th grade during the required science fair project report - to never cite the news media to support a fact. The lesson was repeated in high school during the dreaded junior year required English Class Report. The documented rules included: the loss of one letter grade for each citation of a news source! Unfortunately, this valuable lesson is not always taught in school. There are actually people who believe what they read in the news! And the selection of politicians is at the forefront of the problem. The media, because the 50% of the population with below average intelligence believes the news, can make (Obama) or break (Cain) a candidate. Obama has proven to be incompetent and lacks any leadership skill. And Cain's behavior is on a par with Bill Clinton, Jesse Jackson, John Edwards, Jack Kennedy. If the media wants to attack Cain's morals they need to attack the well known Democrats who don't have morals. But the media is biased and untruthful. I think some folks consider the media Truth Terrorists who can do more damage to a country or to an individual than al Qaeda could hope for. And the US Justice system suffers from a similar fault. The only thing not emphasized in a court is the TRUTH! Something is wrong with a model of civilization that not only doesn't seek the truth, but hides the truth. We really need a new amendment to the constitution that states that the TRUTH is ABSOLUTE and overrides all other constitutional guarantees. There are three groups who would object: News journalists because they can't be truthful, Politicians because they can't be truthful, and Lawyers because they can't be truthful. Is there any question about the scum of the earth? The Taliban and al Qaeda are next on the list!

What do you want? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38250796)

So much effort is made trying to see the founders' vision. Got a vision of your own?

Don't think of the constitution as law; think of it as a sales pitch. Do you believe it? If you do, then you can defend -- no wait -- promote the constitution, perpetuate the meme. If you don't believe it, then it's just like any other law: ink on a page.

Look at one piece of it, like the 10th Amendment: seriously, people decided they just don't care. A vast majority of people. There is no conceivable situation (try to think of one and watch yourself fail) where it would ever be cited by SCOTUS in striking down something, or by a legislator to argue for voting against something. It isn't a law, it's a failed sales pitch. Our vision of the nation we want, doesn't include those words. That's how flexible things are. The constitution is a manifesto. It's like the Holy Bible to a Christian. Take what you want from it, and pretend the stuff you don't like isn't in there.

If this situation is somehow unpleasing to you, and you don't like the veil of law's illusion lifted so easily, then the only other thing to do, is keep the law up-to-date with popular political opinions. Pass more amendments. Find out what people really want in their government, and get it engraved on to the stone tablets. You shouldn't ever be consulting two-century-old documents to answer a question of law. At most, you should be consulting them for inspiration.

It is pointless to argue about the what the words say in applying the 1st or 2nd Amendment to a modern situation. Stop interpreting the constitution. Write the constitution.

The constitution is NOT your bible! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38251138)

Should google monitor every person in the world and let people search those people and know where everyone is at all times? Why are you asking the constitution? Search your own heart. Ask yourself if that's something you think the government should allow. If you don't think so, make a law. That's what lawmakers are for. If the constitution doesn't say "you cannot make a law preventing google from gps monitoring all peoples of the world", then you CAN make a law about that. You don't need an amendment, or need to base the law on an existing amendment. We do not have a constitution that says it is non-expandable, or that it answers every question you may have.

Re:The constitution is NOT your bible! (2)

Mycroft_VIII (572950) | more than 2 years ago | (#38252592)

Actually it's more if the constitution doesn't say you can make a law you CANT.

"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."
      Tenth amendment to the constitutions of the United States Of America. (see also the tenth amendment)
    The good news is we shouldn't need a new law to stop warrentless gps tracking.

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized"
Fourth Amendment.

    The constitution is to give the federal government the minimum necessary powers to do it's job and NO MORE, the rest is for the states and individuals.

Mycroft

Re:The constitution is NOT your bible! (1)

Mycroft_VIII (572950) | more than 2 years ago | (#38252604)

preview preview preview.
The should be (see also the NINTH).

sry

Mycroft

The ass-backwards interpetations.. (1)

Xeranar (2029624) | more than 2 years ago | (#38252904)

I see coming out of people is disturbing. They don't want corporate control but they want state's to decide things where corporate money is easier to influence. In fact they've proven in more rural states buying the legislature or a federal seat is cheap compared to the populous states. The constitution was designed that the state's had rights to decide basic customs and rules that make sense for their populous at their time. The Federal government though was just like the government of England, it was designed to handle interstate commerce, defense of the nation, and foreign affairs. As it turns out though our founding father's didn't have the guts to put an end to slavery so they passed the buck along until it erupted and hence forth after that the Federal government has spent a large portion of it's time working to get basic human rights for all citizens.

In dealing with the media the regulations work perfectly fine if you put competition first. Back in the 1960s they had an equal time clause that forced issues to have equal amounts of time on television. It was a wonderful rule that got destroyed because it allowed for a more equitable distribution of facts. But to resort to wanting state's rights is ludicrous, it's a fool's gambit to want it because the people who do only want it because the larger Federal body isn't doing what they want. When things are going their way they'll want Federal power. Ironically state's rights have been long associated with the worst things in human history, slavery, racism, ethnocentric hatred, and corporate greed. Power has to reside somewhere and in the modern state it resides in the government. Trying to remove corporate power is far better than simply trying to deregulate.

Reintepreting the Constitution (1, Insightful)

hackus (159037) | more than 2 years ago | (#38253132)

You do not have to worry about that.

The constitution no longer exists, practically.

Most people don't even know what it stands for or even know what it is due to the immigration policies.

People don't come here any more for freedom or liberty, since that too, is almost gone as well.

They come for a job. Those too, are on the way out.

What will be left is a fascist dictatorship. They will come for you in the night.

They will come for your wife, if she misses a payment on her student loan.

They will come for your children, if your neighbour tells lies about you to the TSA that you abuse them.

They will come for the old, to take their property for even so much as missing $10 dollars on their tax bill.

Yes, they will come.

It is only a matter of time now.

By the time people realize the voting box has no affect, it will be too late.

The only option left, will be to pray for a Nuclear first strike by China or Russia to destroy the political power structure so that a representative republic can once again take hold.

What a horrible future the American people have, and what horrific choices are in store for the next generation.

-Hack

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