Constitution Debate Renewed

Archive Report

Shift in Direction

Opposing Views on Applying Constitution

Americans sat-up and took notice last fall when Attorney General Edwin Meese III and Associate Justice William J. Brennan Jr. took opposing sides in the long-running debate over the proper way to apply the Constitution to modern issues. Meese led off last July 9, using an address to the American Bar Association (ABA) to tell the Supreme Court that it was on the wrong constitutional track. Describing the decisions of the just-ended court term as a “jurisprudence of idiosyncrasy,” Meese urged the court to adopt one of “original intention.”

In October, Brennan, the senior sitting justice, responded, defending the modern court's approach of interpreting the Constitution in light of contemporary realities.1 “We current justices read the Constitution in the ...

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