Quotes on the Original Intent of the Constitution

by Matt Slick
5/5/2010

The Constitution of the United States was intended to be understood in a certain context and was not meant to be reinterpreted in modern thought. To do so is to invalidate areas of the Constitution. Therefore, to properly understand the intent of the Constitution we must not apply modernistic interpretations. Instead, we should seek to understand what was meant by the founding fathers in their context.

  1. Original intent of Constitution
    1. James Madison, fourth president, 1809 to 1817
      1. "I entirely concur in the propriety of resorting to the sense in which the Constitution was accepted and ratified by the nation.  In that sense alone it is the legitimate constitution and if that be not the guide in expounding it there can be no security for a consistent and stable, more than for a faithful, exercise on its powers... what a metamorphosis would be produced in the code of law if all its ancient phraseology were to be taken in its modern sense." (Barton, Original Intent: the Courts, the Constitution, and Religion, (Wall Builders, P.O. Box 397; Aledo, Texas, 76008), p. 22)
    2. Justice Joseph Story, founder of the Harvard Law school, nominated to the Supreme Court by President James Madison.
      1. "The first and fundamental rule in the interpretation of all instruments [documents] is to construe them according to the sense of the terms in the intention of the parties." (Barton, Original Intent: the Courts, the Constitution, and Religion, (Wall Builders, P.O. Box 397; Aledo, Texas, 76008), p. 23)
      2. "the real object of the [First A]mendment was not to countenance, much less to demand, Mahometanism, or Judaism, or infidelity, by prostrating Christianity; but to exclude all rivalry among Christian sects."  (Barton, Original Intent: the Courts, the Constitution, and Religion, (Wall Builders, P.O. Box 397; Aledo, Texas, 76008), p. 31)
    3. Justice James Wilson "(1742 to 1798) one of only six people who signed up both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.  He was a law professor, nominated by President George Washington as the original justice on the United States Supreme Court and in 1792 he was co-author of America's first legal commentaries on the Constitution."
      1. "The first and governing maxim in the interpretation of a statute is to discover the meaning of those who made it."(Barton, Original Intent: the Courts, the Constitution, and Religion, (Wall Builders, P.O. Box 397; Aledo, Texas, 76008), p. 22)

 

 

 

 

 
 

About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.