Original Intent: Past v. Future

Do we really need a justice on the Supreme Court with a 250-year old mind set? Whose sense of the law is guided by a time when the material issues of society were far different than today? How can he adapt an unchanging view to change?

This is a typical conservative shibboleth: to put the law above the people it serves. By fixing its existence, the constitution protects only those who granted themselves the original powers built from freedom–limits were intentionally designed to protect the powers assigned to a few and denied freedoms to others.

Conservative jurists wrap the law around a colonial model, but real limits—then and now—were imposed upon members/groups within society: women, people of color, workers, the poor were denied participation by a constitution that denied them the vote and any legal redress. The law rolled up the ladder of opportunity; it sanctioned segregated societies, racist systems of violence and political economy, patriarchal misogyny where women were chattel and abused, and workers exploited.

Such was the glory of society governed under original intent! Even the slightest shift in law opens the way for a return of these dysfunctions! Original intent is a hypocrisy! It is a philosophical frame whose real intent—then and now—is to preserve power. The Senate should vote no on Judge Gorsuch’s nomination. To follow original intent is to follow a document inherently flawed by its times and its intent to lift power into the hands of a few.

Judge Gorsuch’s view of the law is inconsistent with progress. He lives in a day surrounded by yesterdays; we live in a world surrounded by tomorrows.


Migrant Payday, Homestead, FL. Marion Post Wolcott photograph. 1939.


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