Letter to the editor: Note the nuance

Posted 5/28/20

 

While criticizing government’s expansive actions during this pandemic, a frequent letter writer asks,”Does not the constitution... clearly state the roles of government?” …

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Letter to the editor: Note the nuance

Posted
 
While criticizing government’s expansive actions during this pandemic, a frequent letter writer asks,”Does not the constitution... clearly state the roles of government?” His biased answer — that it does — is both incredibly simplistic and inaccurate. 
If our state and national constitutions were so clear, there’d be little need for the courts to interpret the law. And yet they assume that vital role in the very systems those constitutions have created. In the two-and-a-quarter centuries since the Constitution was written and ratified, the US Supreme Court has been responsible for creating legal definitions for words like commerce, citizen, equality, privacy, etc. Those justices have been challenged to outline the meaning and limits of the “necessary and proper” clause, taxes and duties, the “supremacy” clause, free speech, the right to bear arms, search and seizure, and countless others instances of “unclear” and changing language in The Constitution of the United States. And fifty sets of state courts face similar tasks.
America is fraught with conflicts over gun ownership, reproductive freedom, voting rights, environmental protection and so on. Why? Because our constitutions are unclear and ripe for encouraging disagreements.
Our current problems are complex; their solutions, if they are to be successful, must recognize and accommodate those complexities. Simplicity rarely succeeds.
Please consider this next time you vote. And please — vote!
Kevin McNamara,
Arvada

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