Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Strict Interpretation
Harriet the Judge

Robert Reich provides a history lesson about "strictly interpreting" the Constitution on tonight's MarketPlace NPR news program, noting that the term isn't quite as strict as its terminology would lead you to think. In particular, he focuses on the change in opinion back in the 1930s favoring "private property over community standard of fair play," and how it eventually flip-flopped (with the justices in the new majority maintaining their "strict interpretation" of the Constitution).

Now, we no longer have a Great Depression to contend with, but we've still got a big question of economic values. The economy has been growing at a healthy clip, but not since the Guilded Age of the 1890s has this nation experienced anything like the inequality of income, wealth, and opportunity we're now witnessing. A central question in the years to come is whether we should try to reverse this trend. Are we the sum of individual goods, or is there a common good? Once again, property or community? And once again, the Supreme Court will be helping America choose. Which side is Ms. Miers on?


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