7th Circuit Judge Richard Posner gave a speech the other day. In the speech, he said in part: “Eighteenth-century guys, however smart, could not foresee the culture, technology, etc. of the 21st century. “Which means that the original constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the post-civil war amendments (including the 14th), do not speak to today.” This has got to be one of the dumbest things I have ever heard, especially coming from a judge of his standing.
If you follow the judges reasoning, the following should also be ignored.
Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, because he did not envision Facebook.
Most of the Bible because the writers did not envision psychology.
The Art of War can be ignored because he did not envision nuclear bombs.
The writings of Plato and Aristotle can be ignored because they did not envision telescopes or microscopes.
This short list shows how the judges’ line of thinking is at best: ignorant, elitist, arrogant, and just plain stupid. (Feel free to add to the list)
What the judge and those using the “they did not envision” mantra do not understand is the true genius of the Founding Fathers was they understood human nature. And, since human nature has not changed in the history of our species, their writings and the writings of all the greats throughout history are now and will forever remain relevant. Human nature has not changed, wither carrying a spear or carrying an AK-47, the basic nature of mankind is the same.
One example of our founding fathers genius is the second amendment. They knew human nature and knew a politician would someday rise and seek to oppress the people. They knew this because they saw it taking place in their time and they bothered to read accounts left to them by “dead white guys”. To prevent the oppression of the citizen by a future politician, local, state, or Federal, they put in the second amendment so the average citizen could protect himself from enemies both foreign and domestic. (Now—where have I heard that before?)
The founders knew the world was changing and did not say “Every household shall keep a musket and twelve loads of ammunition”. Nor did they squint their eyes, peer into the future and say: “Every household shall keep an AK-47, AR-15 or their equitant and two banana magazines, each capable of holding 30 rounds of ammunition”. They did not have to “envision” what weapons may be invented, they wanted the citizen to have the ability to protect themselves, whatever the future might bring.
The founding fathers also warned future American generations about making changes to government because of what seems important at the moment. From the U.S. Constitution: “Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.” The key words in this part of the Constitution is “transient causes” and our Founding Fathers would be horrified to see our Federal government keeping itself relevant by changing their beloved America to please transient (temporary) popular causes such as gay marriage, climate change, etc.
No one can “envision” what the future may bring but if we discount human nature these people would create an America where chaos rules whenever new technologies are developed. The judges’ statement shows you may be well educated, a billionaire, a movie star, or an elected politician but if you discount human nature, time and events will prove you to be foolishly throwing away the great gift that is America.