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April 26, 2015

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The Constitution’s brilliant simplicity

Another view?

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Cesar F. Lumba’s letter, “Constitution shows lack of wisdom,” is way off the mark. He criticizes the document using 21st century logic. Apparently he is unable to analyze the document with 18th century thinking.

He argued that the Second Amendment did not distinguish between defensive and recreational arms. In 1787, Americans made no such distinction. Mr. Lumba claims there is no check against the power of the Supreme Court. Yes, there is. It’s called a constitutional amendment. The brilliance of U.S. Constitution lies in its simplicity, and Mr. Lumba has failed to make that connection.

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  1. "He [Cesar F. Lumba] criticizes the document using 21st century logic. Apparently he is unable to analyze the document with 18th century thinking." - from the letter

    I concur with the author of this letter, but I want to point out that logic is the same no matter what age it belongs to. Mr. Lumba's shortcoming was not that he did not use 18th century thinking, but that he simply does not understand philosophy in general from what I could tell from his letter.

    Our Constitution is a remarkable document. It is very short when you look at it, especially when you consider the form of government it establishes.

    The Bill of Rights is equally elegant in its simplicity.

    The Constitution and the Bill of Rights endeavor to implement the principles of the Declaration of Independence, which in turn is a masterful statement of the ideals promoted by what we call the Enlightenment and more specifically as expressed by John Locke.

    Those ideals have not changed one iota in the years since our Founding Fathers and the Framers put them in writing.

  2. The US Constitution has passed the test of time perfectly despite all the dummies and doubters that have come and gone since it was signed.


  3. "Apparently he is unable to analyze the document with 18th century thinking."

    Ahhh, but fortunately for us there are a few people available today who still have more 18th century than 21st century insight.

    The Constitution is a dynamic document not a static model. If it weren't, the Supreme Court would have long ago run out of cases to decide. The Constitution has evolved with our country through legal precedent moreso than amendment.

    "The brilliance of U.S. Constitution lies in its simplicity..." The true brilliance lies in our ability to adapt and expand the document to the world and the times we live in.

  4. Mr. Bencivenga,

    Well stated! Kudos!

    Unfortunately, your statement "Apparently he is unable to analyze..." pretty much explains why we are where we are in so many aspects of our society.


  5. Constitution SIMPLE???? If it were we would not need a supreme court. In 200 plus years they still haven't been able to determine what constitutes "Freedom of Speech".

  6. Hegeman,

    Perhaps you are unaware - the functions of the Supreme Court are spelled-out in Article III. It is an important component of that simple and brilliant document. Our forefathers/authors anticipated issues of the sort you described.


  7. Have you read Article 111? In the 1800s it wasn't even clear how many courts should comprise the Supreme Court. There have been attempts to divide into multiple courts.

    In addition the Supreme Court doesn't even fully understand its own role in the judiciary. The justices constantly argue amongst themselves and publicly.

    Nearly every decision rendered by the court has dissenting opinions.

    Constitutional law is an industry in this country with law firms making a fortune. It's a gigantic mess. None of it is simple.

    Whether the founding fathers anticipated the law would become the multibillion-dollar industry that it is is debatable. You didn't have cases dragging on for decades in the early days of this country.

  8. The Constitution spells out what the Government may or must do. The Bill of Rights spells out what the government may NOT do, with the Tenth Amendment being the ultimate brake.

    I would wager the vast majority of Court cases zippert1 is complaining(?) about are a direct result of the government forgetting, or intentionally, trying to overstep its bounds.

    The Constitution only becomes complex when that is attempted. Be very glad the Framers had the foresight (and maybe a touch of paranoia) to plan for this.

    The above represents a list of every Supreme Court case since 1791. They run the gamut from confusion about pianos to runaway slaves. Many have nothing to do with the government overstepping its bounds.
    zippert is not complaining. Just putting forth some facts.

  10. Hageman,

    I expect you are refuting Bencivenga's assertion that the Constitution is simple and brilliant, but you actually are making his case.

    Let me be clear: you can settle law suits in the courts as laid out in the Constitution or, as in many other countries, they can be settled (at the extreme) with a firing squad.

    Additionally, your statements "Constitutional law is an industry in this country" & "You didn't have cases dragging on for decades in the early days of this country" have nothing to do with the simple brilliance of the most important document mankind has ever produced. Unrelated facts.

    Furthermore, the fact that this isn't self-evident to everyone and that there is any debate is quite troubling.