can of worms....
Posted by Kate on July 29, 1998 at 09:21:32:
In response to Migrane-inducing consequences of negating authorial intentions, written by Joan, too on July 28, 1998 at 22:30:37
] This is, indeed the heart of the matter, and has significant implications in other disciplines, as well, as Cox points out:
]Influential schools of legal thought that subject Constitutional rights to endless reinterpretation "in the light of current circumstances" depend on theories that posit the unknowability or irrelevance of the Founding Fathers' literary intentions.
] If we are free to toss aside the actual intentions of the framers of the U.S. Constitution, and the written opinions handed down in trials conducted in the past, judges are then free to rewrite the laws without benefit of legislative or voter approval. For this reason alone I find the "New Critics" postion untenable. If, indeed, some of the intentions of the writers of the Constitution are nowadays irrelevant, it is the role of the legislature and/or the voters to amend it, not of the judges or juries to re-interpret it. On a "recreational" level, I dislike the notion that all of the work that an author does to make their writing communicate their intentions should be disregarded, but in many other disciplines, negating the intentions of an author can have significant effects on society as a whole.
Ooh Joan, now you're taking the argument in a different direction. Whether or not one can apply literary theory to constitutional interpretation is indeed a difficult question. I would be extremely loathe to say that because I think understanding what JA intended is important for my understanding of P&P, that the (alleged) intentions of the drafters of the US constitution should be binding on future judges, without any account being taken of changed circumstance. That is a whole different debate.
- Not theoretically... Joan, too 21:17:49 7/29/98 (2)
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