Whenever an argument involving the Constitution comes up, someone will often comment that we don’t know for certain what they authors intended, or that “that was then, this is now and it’s different.”.
I question the intelligence of anyone making those types of statements. Firstly, to me, the Constitution is pretty straight forward. It’s a short read, it’s in rather simple English, and one doesn’t need to have 4 years of law school to follow it.
In short, this was a document written for the people.
Not the lawyers or politicians who like to phrase things in muddy, vague manners.
We also know what the authors were thinking when they wrote this. See, they also wrote to each other, and published their letters in the news papers of the day. Many of these letters are available to us in the Federalist Papers, and the Anti Federalist Papers.
Others are available on line, and in published collections of our Founding Fathers works, all available through your favorite book seller.
So, we know what they were thinking.
So, the only reasons to say you don’t is because you’re either trying to deceive or because you can’t understand. Either way, I’m not sure I want that person speaking for me.
I’ll stick with these guys:
“On every question of construction carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed.”
Thomas Jefferson to William Johnson, 1823. ME 15:449 [link]
Thomas Jefferson (1743 – 1826): Third President of the United States (1801–1809), the principal author of the Declaration of Independence (1776), and Founding Father
“Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters.”
Daniel Webster: US diplomat, lawyer, orator, & politician (1782 – 1852)
“The Constitution shall never be construed to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms.”
Samuel Adams: During Massachusetts’ U.S. Constitution Ratification Convention, (1788.)
Samuel Adams (1722 –1803) statesman, political philosopher, and Founding Father