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In this episode of IJW we take a look at the life, legacy, and retirement of Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, and what distinguished his judgements and legal philosophy from other Supreme Court Justices. We then examine the legal doctrine of “originalism” — the idea that our founding documents should only be interpreted according to the specific contexts and understandings of the time they were written.
What is our own take? Well, our view probably lines up less with the Heritage Foundation, and more with Thomas Jefferson himself:
“I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions, but 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 discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to 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
“Some men look at Constitutions with sanctimonious reverence, & deem them, like the ark of the covenant, too sacred to be touched. they ascribe to the men of the preceding age a wisdom more than human, and suppose what they did to be beyond amendment.”Thomas Jefferson
Finally, we add another somewhat different interpretation of the Constitution — not only as a set of foundational laws and principles to be followed, but as a living engine of enfoldment that was designed to reconcile seemingly irreconcilable views. Something we might want to better emulate ourselves as we engage with each other on flat postmodern media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.
We hope you enjoy the discussion! Let us know what you think in the comments below.
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Written and produced by Corey deVos
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About Mark Fischler
Mark Fischler is a Professor of Criminal justice and current program coordinator for the criminal justice and criminology programs at Plymouth State University. Prior to joining the Plymouth State faculty, he practiced law, representing poor criminal defendants for the New Hampshire Public Defender’s Office. Mark has worked extensively with alternative theoretical models in law, constitutional law, and higher education, and has published on integral applications to teaching, being a lawyer, and legal theory. His focus in the classroom is ethics and criminal procedure, and is well respected for a teaching philosophy that emphasizes recognizing the humanity and dignity of each student. Professor Fischler was awarded the outstanding teaching award at his university in 2014. He currently offers a weekly Spiritual Inquiry class through Satya Yoga Studio.
About Corey deVos
Corey W. deVos is Editor-in-Chief of Integral Life, as well as Managing Editor of KenWilber.com. He has worked for Integral Institute/Integal Life since Spring of 2003, and has been a student of integral theory and practice since 1996. Corey is also a professional woodworker, and many of his artworks can be found in his VisionLogix art gallery.