The Constitution as a 'living document'
Words have connotations. When the words "living document" are uttered about the U.S. Constitution any conservative student of history will shudder with bewilderment and horror. Those words were spoken on two separate occasions last weekend by Pennsylvania's Attorney General, Tom Corbett.
I was present at the PA Leadership Conference when he first uttered those words from the podium as he was explaining why he should be elected as the next Governor of Pennsylvania. The moment those words passed his lips an audible gasp swept across the room full of conservatives.
Now one may ask, why this is such an awful thing to say? Allow President Obama to explain it himself and you will see why this room of conservatives was shocked by those specific words.
Barack Obama stated in his book, "The Audacity of Hope," (pages 53-54)
I appreciate the temptation on the part of Justice Scalia and others to assume our democracy should be treated as fixed and unwavering; the fundamentalist faith that if the original understanding of the Constitution is followed without question or deviation, and if we remain true to the rules that the Founders set forth, as they intended, then we will be rewarded and all good will flow.Progressives believe the Constitution is a living, breathing document. Their view is it is organic and easily changed to suit the needs of a changing society. Those in the Tea Party movement and conservatives alike understand the Constitution from the view of original intent where the Founders intent guides our understanding of its application. This is why Attorney General Corbett's words have caused a stir.
Ultimately, though, I have to side with Justice Breyer's view of the Constitution-that it is not a static but rather a living document, and must be read in the context of an ever-changing world.
The Pennsylvania Republican Committee's Chairman, Rob Gleason, has chastised Corbett's opponent Sam Rohrer for "creating an issue" after publicizing this video on his website. Mr. Gleason, I beg to differ. This issue was created by Mr. Corbett and the words he chose to use. If those words were not something he believed then they should not have been said. Say what you mean and mean what you say.
The Pennsylvania Republican Committee is in for a rude awakening in May. Citizens from across the state of Pennsylvania asked the committee to not endorse any candidates. The Committee pressed onward and anointed those whom they felt were next in line. It is time for the Committee to understand the principles that they are to stand for. May I remind the Committee of 2004 and who they endorsed? I would surely hate to see Pennsylvania end up with another Arlen Specter.
Katy Abram is the Arlen Specter town hall attendee who told him he has "awakened a sleeping giant." She can be followed at twitter/katyabram.com and www.katyabram.com.