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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Constitutional and Biblical Scholarship: "Like the Bible..."

"Like the Bible, it ought to be read again and again". (FDR via Epstein and Walker 1) In my personal opinion, no wonder FDR was an Anti Semite: that is, he treated the Constitution-- a living document-- and the Bible-- a fixed document-- as on the same par: that is, he thought that each was a document into which could read his own interpretation and thus implement said interpretation with the supposed support of said document. As FDR read Anti Semitism into the Bible, many have read their own interpretations into the Constitution.
The late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall correctly stated that "the framers 'could not have imagined, nor would they have accepted, that the document they were drafting would one day be construed be a Supreme Court to which had been appointed a woman the descendant of an African slave.'" (ibid. 6) The Constitution was inherently "'defective from the start'" (ibid.) because of its status as a living, amendable document and scarily framed by WASP Supremacist, Unitarian, and Deist misogynists who treated the Bible in the same way that FDR later would-- and by treating the Bible as such, they framed the Constitution based on their inherently UnJewish and UnChristian concept of (for a lack of a better term) Judeo Christianity (or at least Judeo-Christian priniciples).
As in the awful perversion of Biblical study known as modern Biblical scholarship, Constitutional scholarship has produced schools of original intent, textualism, and original meaning-- all three of which (in the case of Constitutional scholarship) harken back to what the framers (often chauvinistically, WASPishly, Unitarianistically, and Deistically wanted); and stare decisis, polling jurisdictionism, and pragmatism-- all three of which seek to interpret and implement the Constitution within the context of changing times and other factors.
For example and for comparison:
  1. A Reform Jew may treat kashrut as no longer or even not ever really valid under modern Biblical scholarship's forms of original intent, original meaning, and pragmatism: "[Reform and Orthodox] differences in perspective can be seen in every aspect of life: how holy days and festivals are celebrated, how kashrut (the laws of keeping kosher) are kept, how the prayer service is organized and conducted, etc. But it is not accurate to generalize and say All Orthodox Jews do this...' or 'All Reform Jews do that...'"; and " For Reform, the Torah is the God-inspired attempt by Hebrews/Israelites/ Jews to understand their surroundings and their relationship with God. While it is a holy document, the Torah is rooted in the past, and we can even sometimes discern the circumstances under which certain sections were written down. Reform thus sees development in Judaism, not just through the biblical period but thereafter as well, so that we can continue the process of helping Judaism evolve by coming to our own understandings." ( Union For Reform Judaism)
  2. In the same way that Reform Jews in modern Biblical scholarship  see kashrut and other apparently-flawed and for-the-time institutions; many (including the late Justice Thurgood Marshall) in Constitutional scholarship use original intent, original meaning, and pragmatism to see the Constitution as the framers' " attempt... to understand their surroundings and their relationship with God" and government; and thus believe about the Constitution as Reform Jews believe about the Bible (including the New Testament; although to be fair, Orthodox Jews like Shmuely Boteach and Dr. Amy-Jill Levine believe the following more about the New Testament than do Reform Jews)-- that is, " While it is a [sacred] document, [the document] is rooted in the past, and we can even...discern [and study] the circumstances under which certain sections were written down. [We] thus sees development in [the underlying philosophy behind the document], not just through the [document's] period but thereafter as well, so that we can continue the process of helping [the document and philosophy underlying it] evolve by coming to our own understandings." In other words, Constitutional stare decisis, polling jurisdictionism, and textualism within the context of pragmatism and the other schools of Constitutional scholarship are born out of the idea that the Constitution is  the framers' " attempt... to understand their surroundings and their relationship with God" and government.
In conclusion, treating the Constitution as a living document and treating it as though it were the Bible (and vice versa) causes real problems. Firstly, one can pervert the Constitution into the always-good document that (as the late Justice Marshall rightly pointed out) it wasn't. Secondly, one can read his or her own interpretations into the Constitution and, to begin with, suggest that it was ever even based on Judeo-Christian principles to begin with when it was based on three main perversions of Christianity-- chauvinistic WASP Supremacism, Deism, and Unitarianism. Thirdly, one can (so to speak) turn the clock back on how the Constitution has become by using original intent, original meaning, and textualism if he or she so wishes to use those three as the ways to interpret the Constitution. 
In further conclusion; one can basically hold the supposedly-Judeo-Christian Constitution as sacred as the Bible and treat it as "[l]ike the Bible" instead of like the chauvinistic, WASP Supremacist, Deist, and Unitarian document that it would continue to be lest people like Justice Marshall continue to treat it like Reform Jews treat the Bible (and like some Orthodox Jews treat the New Testament as a part of the Bible).
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