United States Constitution
The United States Constitution became the undisputed law in 1788 after it was approved in New Hampshire. There have, however, been discrepancies on its interpretation, with one side of the debate, the originalists arguing that the constitution is the heritage of the country and the supreme law and should be interpreted as originally written. On the other hand, the living document proponents believe that the constitution’s interpretation should be adjusted according to the changing circumstances.
Therefore, the underlying philosophical debate is whether the aw of the land should remain intact and its originality preserved, or should its interpretation be adapted to the advancement in society (Yun-qing, 2017). Hence, this paper takes a closer look at the opposing sides on the constitutional interpretation and its impact on the court’s ruling on the Griswold v. Connecticut case.
Original Intent of the Constitution
The proponents of the original intent of the constitution viewed the law of the land as stable and independent of time and originated the term originalism in the 1980s, suggesting the constitution’s semantics. The two most popular originalists are Raoul Berger, Antonin Scalia, and Alfred Avins. They proposed the original intent theory, which points out that it is reasonable for judges to understand and only consider the constitution’s original meaning when making their ruling (McCarthy, 2017).
Another early proponent of Sam Ervin’s originalism is Sam Ervin, a segregationist who also opposed the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Robert Brork also advocated for originalism in his work “Neutral Principles and Some First Amendment Problems” (Yun-qing, 2017). The holders of this ideal use the concept of textualism, which considers the words used on the constitution as authoritative, ad the basis of the American principles.
Therefore, it is essential to consider what the “Founding Fathers” mean during the constitution’s interpretation. This ensures objectivity in the implementation of the rule of law. Additionally, it limits and binds the rule of law’s application across generations. Originalism also argues that preserving the original intent of the constitution plays a critical role in preserving the separation of power among the government’s three arms (McCarthy, 2017).
Another proponent of this type of constitutional interpretation, Chief Justice Roberts, implied that intentionalism does not care which party wins in a legal dispute as the law is left to interact across time. This ensures that the land law remains unaffected by intended results, even when politically correct.
A living constitution is an alternative standpoint that suggests that the constitution should hold the underlying contemporary values. They argue that social problems change over time with society’s changing circumstances. This is because the law of the land is meant to ensure order in the society, making the constitution a dynamic document that should be consistently updated to suit societal needs (Yun-qing, 2017).
Additionally, the terms of the constitution’s modification should be spelled in the same document. This group recognizes the rapid changes in business and technology, giving rise to untapped fundamental societal issues. This point of view was the key proponent of William J. Brennan, who pushed for living constitutionalism as the best principle. He also argued that change is a fundamental aspect of the human race, and the law of the land should recognize these changes.
Jack Balkin criticized the rising movement of originalists suggesting that people modifying the constitution to suit society’s changes provides the citizens with an active role to change the fundamental principles used to govern them (McCarthy, 2017). The constitutional theory, the basis of this standpoint, thrived the struggle, and the interpretation of the constitutions should hold an internal logic and recognize the changing circumstances.
Griswold v. Connecticut Case of 1965
In the Griswold v. Connecticut case of 1965, the Supreme court ruled that banning contraceptives, as was the case in Connecticut, violated marital privacy, which is a right. Justice William O. Douglas pointed out that the bill of rights. In the case, Dr. C. Lee Buxton and Estelle Griswold were fined $100 for advising a couple on contraception, which was against Connecticut’s law. William O. Douglas decided that even though it directly prohibited the act, the shadows within the various constitutional amendments protected the doctors from prosecution (McCarthy, 2017).
This is based on the penumbra theory that the constitutional amendments’ underlying effect guarantees privacy, even though the law does not explicitly provide so. This case was a classic originalist versus constitutionalists debate, as the originalist point of view holds that the law prohibited Dr. C. Lee Buxton and Estelle Griswold from giving the couple advice on contraception. Therefore, the arrest and the $100 fine followed the Connecticut rule of law, as provided by the founding fathers.
The advancement of the societies’ perception of contraception since the19th Century was irrelevant to this case as the law has to remain intact (McCarthy, 2017). The alternative view holds that William O. Douglas was nullifying the arrest and fine as provided by the constitutional theory. The subsequent constitutional amendments protect the parent’s freedom to receive contraception advice and for the healthcare providers to facilitate this. This case provides a good basis for the amendment of the law surrounding abortion, in-vitro fertilization, and same-sex marriage, as it is important for the law to keep up with the advancements in our civilization.
- McCarthy, E. (2017). In Defense of Griswold V. Connecticut: Privacy, originalism, and the iceberg theory of omission. Willamette L. Rev., 54, 335.
- Yun-qing, W. A. N. G. (2017). Constitutional Originalism, Living Constitution and Constitutional Interpretation in Complex Situations. Northern Legal Science, 01.