Democracy Dies in Darkness

Letters to the Editor | Opinion

Mitch McConnell is no constitutional savior

September 11, 2018 at 5:32 PM

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Capitol Hill in Washington on Sept. 5. (Cliff Owen/AP)

Regarding Hugh Hewitt’s Sept. 9 Sunday Opinion essay, “Mitch McConnell saves the court — and the future”:

“I am certainly not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions. . . . But I know also, that laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed, and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy, as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.” Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Kercheval, July 12, 1816. Stick that in your originalist pipe and smoke it, Mr. Hewitt. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) didn’t save the Constitution; he gave it the bird.

Michael Daly, Washington

Hugh Hewitt built his arguments on an assertion that is commonplace but demonstrably false: the notion that constitutional originalists, epitomized by the late justice Antonin Scalia, are bound by the words in the Constitution and its amendments and do not view the Constitution as a living document.

But Scalia’s most famous and infamous opinion is D.C. v. Heller, which addressed the meaning of the Second Amendment and its 27 words. Scalia found it required about 40 pages of sophistry to utterly dismiss as a rhetorical flourish the first 13 words of that amendment, addressing a well-regulated militia and its necessity to the security of a free state.

Scalia used his considerable legal talents to excise our law to fit his prejudices in a shameless fashion, the very antithesis of the behavior of a constitutional originalist. If Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh is an originalist cut from the same cloth, we are in for a volcanic burst of judicial creativity.

John Shages, Washington

Hugh Hewitt was mistaken. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) blocking of Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland from receiving a confirmation hearing was a serious violation of the Constitution and his oath of office.

Michael Olson, Drayden

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