In a statement posted on his greatagain.gov website this week, Donald Trump’s peeps provided the boss’s job description: “As President, Donald Trump will fulfill that sworn duty [to uphold the U.S. Constitution], vetoing legislation that exceeds Congressional authority, taking actions as Chief Executive and Commander-in-Chief that are consistent with his constitutional role, and nominating Judges and Supreme Court Justices who are committed to interpreting the Constitution and laws according to their original public meaning.”
By deploying the word “public” in the sentence above, the author (if not Mr. Trump himself) is signaling that the once and future real estate magnate will favor a Supreme Court nominee who subscribes to the “original meaning theory” rather than “original intent.”
Wikipedia.org explains the difference.
The original intent theory, which holds that interpretation of a written constitution is (or should be) consistent with what was meant by those who drafted and ratified it. This is currently a minority view among originalists.
The original meaning theory, which is closely related to textualism, is the view that interpretation of a written constitution or law should be based on what reasonable persons living at the time of its adoption would have understood the ordinary meaning of the text to be. It is this view with which most originalists, such as Justice Scalia, are associated.
No need to get lost in the weeds. Simply put, an originalist judge doesn’t view the Constitution as a “living document,” subject to whatever interpretation fits the current political agenda. He or she is bound by the Constitution as writ.
So when a Supreme Court judge reads the Second Amendment, mandating that the right to keep and bear arms “shall not be infringed,” he or she should say, well, that’s it. No gun control laws. Right?
Right! But that’s not how it has worked out in real life. Even Justice Scalia signed on to the bit of the Heller decision that OK’ed “reasonable regulations” on Americans’ natural, civil and constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms. Anyway, there’s more good news in Mr Trump’s policy statement.
He will defend Americans’ fundamental rights to free speech, religious liberty, keeping and bearing arms, and all other rights guaranteed to them in the Bill of Rights and other constitutional provisions.
Interesting that the statement highlights these three rights. If nothing else it indicates that gun rights have a high priority in the Trump administration. And reaffirms the belief that Mr. Trump will nominate a solidly pro-gun Supreme Court judge. Perhaps not someone who’s against any gun control, but certainly someone who’s against most gun control.
Considering the Clintonian barrel we were staring down before Mr. Trump’s upset victory at the polls, I’ll take it. You?