Saturday, July 4, 2015

For whom do we speak? The meaning of the Declaration of Independence

For whom do we speak is a question that judges, political leaders, each of us must answer.  Is it the Founders?  Posterity? The Nation?  Principle? Are we bound by the original meaning of laws?

President Barack Obama - Eulogy - Rev. Clementa Pinckney, College of Charleston, Emanuel A.M.E. Church, Charleston, S.C.  
Rev. Pinckney "embodied the idea that our Christian faith demands deeds and not just words; that the “sweet hour of prayer” actually lasts the whole week long -- (applause) -- that to put our faith in action is more than individual salvation, it's about our collective salvation; that to feed the hungry and clothe the naked and house the homeless is not just a call for isolated charity but the imperative of a just society."

Obama's Eulogy Finds its Place In History - Michiko Kakutani, NY Times

Justice Anthony Kennedy - Opinion of the Court - Obergefell v. Hodges
"The Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach, a liberty that includes certain specific rights that allow  persons, within a lawful realm, to define and express their identity. The petitioners in these cases seek to find that liberty by marrying someone of the same sex and having their marriages deemed lawful on the same terms and conditions as marriages between persons of the opposite sex."

President Barack Obama, Remarks on the Supreme Court decision in Obergefell.  "...this ruling is a victory for America.."

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. Our nation was founded on a bedrock principle that we are all created equal. The project of each generation is to bridge the meaning of those founding words with the realities of changing times -- a never-ending quest to ensure those words ring true for every single American.
Progress on this journey often comes in small increments, sometimes two steps forward, one step back, propelled by the persistent effort of dedicated citizens. And then sometimes, there are days like this when that slow, steady effort is rewarded with justice that arrives like a thunderbolt.

This morning, the Supreme Court recognized that the Constitution guarantees marriage equality. In doing so, they’ve reaffirmed that all Americans are entitled to the equal protection of the law. That all people should be treated equally, regardless of who they are or who they love. "

First Things Symposium - After Obergefell 
Robert George: "How shall we respond to a lawless decision in which the Supreme Court by the barest of majorities usurps authority vested by the Constitution in the people and their elected representatives? By letting Abraham Lincoln be our guide. Faced with the Supreme Court’s Dred Scott decision, Lincoln declared the ruling to be illegitimate and vowed that he would treat it as such. "

C.J. Taney in Dred Scott v. Sandford (1856)

"In the opinion of the court, the legislation and histories of the times, and the language used in the Declaration of Independence, show that neither the class of persons who had been imported as slaves nor their descendants, whether they had become free or not, were then acknowledged as a part of the people, nor intended to be included in the general words used in that memorable instrument....No one, we presume, supposes that any change in public opinion or feeling, in relation to this unfortunate race, in the civilized nations of Europe or in this country, should induce the court to give to the words of the Constitution a more liberal construction in their favor than they were intended to bear when the instrument was framed and adopted."

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