It means what I want it to mean

Thomas Sowell describes a Calculated confusion (Washington Times Commentary 05jl21) that is being used to rationalize innapropriate behavior and to confuse and cloud an issue as a means of ‘winning’ a debate.

But now a massive effort to muddy the waters has been launched by those who want judges who will continue to impose the liberal agenda from the bench. Words like “activists” and “intent” are being twisted beyond recognition.

Liberal law professors have joined in redefining words. One has given a numerical meaning to “judicial activism” by counting how many laws particular Justices have declared unconstitutional. As Mark Twain said, there are three kinds of lies — lies, damned lies, and statistics.

Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said it in plain English that interpreting what was meant by someone who wrote a law was not trying to “get into his mind” because the issue was “not what this man meant, but what those words would mean in the mouth of a normal speaker of English, using them in the circumstances in which they were used.”

Such contemporary followers of Holmes as Judge Robert Bork have said the same thing in different words. More important, nobody ever voted on what was in the back of someone else’s mind. They voted on the plain meaning of obvious words.

The term “constitution in exile” has been borrowed to put a label on this disengenuousness that makes it sound profound and impressive and scholarly. The idea is to paint those who think the constitution says what it means and means what is says as radical extremists who deny the court its proper duty. These ‘radical extremists’ seem to think the court’s duty is that of helping to reign in and hold accountable the legislative and executive branches. This means that the judicial branch looses the flexibility to make its own laws and act as an oligarchy to put into effect legal positions that are not approved by the dumb and illiterate masses.

Meanwhile, those who delve into nuance and mind reading and ‘enlightened’ interpretation of law to suit current needs and desires and philosophies of the intellectual class, why, these are just normal, well meaning, middle of the road, good people with the best of intentions of everyone! Its the other guys who are radical extremists.

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