Republican plans rouse debate on constitution's role

Pages: 6 (1406 mots) Publié le: 23 mars 2011

REPUBLICAN PLANS ROUSE DEBATE ON CONSTITUTION'S ROLE Preliminary remark: it was important to note one formal characteristic of the text: almost every element of information is repeated; most of what is stated in the first half (column 1) is reformulated in the second half (column 2). This (a quite common feature in this type of article) should have helped you clarify meanings. I THE ISSUE §1states WHAT is under review in this article: through the recurrence of terms all belonging to the category (or field) of change: amend, new idea, alter, new [social rules], transform, referring to Republican proposals for new amendments to the Constitution. Note that proposals for "new amendments” in themselves are nothing new (§ 17: "thousands of proposals . . ."), so that the questionbecomes: - In what sense "new"? New amendments means both "more amendments": quantitative, not relevant here, and also "different amendments": qualitative: what is at stake here, the different nature of these proposed amendments, explicitly described as departing from (§ 2) all previously adopted amendments (§§ 2 & 3 and 11 & 12). The following table presents the system constructed by the text (ratherthan by the "author") and clarifies the relationships between the three contrasted series of amendments: Past amendments Earlier/ post Civil-War amend20th century th th ments (18 -19 centuries) - Fundamental rights - at the margin - basic liberties - procedural (≠ substantive) (≠ Amdt 18) Present proposals (1995) CHANGE: - economic policy - social rules - behaviors (= Amdt 18)

Note that one20th century amendment, the 18th Amendment, is described as not belonging to the series (§11: exception; §18: rare example), and is in fact equated with the new proposals (§11: a social policy); note also that this "foreign body" disappeared from the Constitution after 14 years. The table describes a polarized system: the two extreme series (1 & 3) are defined by opposite properties (are describedthrough radically contrasted terms); thus - Fundamental rights and basic liberties (the reference is to the Bill of Rights adopted in 1791, and to the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments adopted 1861-1870) belong to the same category as principles: what by definition is general and does not change, is characterized by stability and permanence; - economic policy, social rules, and behavior bydefinition change and evolve according to time and place: they depend on circumstances. The two poles can then be described in terms of: (unchanging) principles  fixed  circumstances (changing) unfixed

E12AN/E12ANY -Papineschi


Endeavoring to promote to the permanence (fixity) of the constitutional text (see ch. 1, The Constitution) rules concerning domains characterized by change amountsindeed to radically altering the nature of the Constitution through the confusion of different types of law, which can be hierarchized as follows: - "Natural law"1: the most general type of law, describing principles and norms that are (supposedly) valid for all times and all places—hence "natural"; see today's "human rights". Not relevant as such here, but as the basis for: - Constitutional law(especially in the case of an 18th century constitution): one national—and so, specific—case of implementation of natural law; defines the institutional framework, and the powers of governments and the rights of citizens (see def. ch. 1). - Positive law (akin to substantive law): law as legislation (see "statutory legislation", § 7), the body of rules adopted by a legislative body that regulates allsorts of aspects of life in a given society (at a given time); necessarily subject to change (see highway code, e. g.). II THE ACTORS Another relevant question is that of WHO exactly promotes such radical change from accepted practice. Close analysis of the terms of the text makes it possible to avoid the basic misconstruction consisting in identifying the two "sides" (For and Against) as the...
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