I've been enjoying the PBS show, Constitution USA with Peter Sagal. Essentially, Peter Sagal rides on a motorcycle and interviews people about the U.S. Constitution.
a scene in last night's episode, Peter is talking with a scholar. The
scholar referred to the Eighth Amendment's ban on "cruel and unusual
punishments", arguing (if I understood him correctly) that the author of
this Amendment was allowing for the interpretation and application of
the Constitution to change with time (at least in this case). After
all, what was "unusual" back when this Amendment was written may not be
"unusual" today, for what is common and what is unusual change.
In debates about the Constitution, some argue that we should base our
interpretation on the intentions of the Constitution's framers, whereas
others hold that the Constitution is a living, breathing document, and
thus that the interpretation of the Constitution should change with
time. But what if the framers themselves intended for the Constitution
to be a living, breathing document, in some areas? And is there a way
for us to go beyond their original intentions, while still being
faithful to them, on some level?
N. Snaith on the Value of the Hebrew Bible
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