Monday, July 23, 2012

reading the law

Reading Constitutional law accurately is a technical exercise, requiring specific ways of evaluating language and intention.

The Second Amendment, for example, is as brief as the author could make it and still get everything in he wanted to cover. This benchmark standard of concision and brevity, of which the Second Amendment is such an excellent example, requires that an accurate interpretation of the law will take every word into account.

In law school, according to the blogger Hecate who has experience in these matters, this requirement is known as "reading the statute in a way that will not 'render' any of the words in the statute as 'surplusage.'”

The other requirement of reading law is that it must be interpreted in a way that takes into account its purpose or intent. The Second Amendment was written for a country which had no standing army. The male citizenry was thus drafted by the Second Amendment as a kind of armed, ready reserve.

The infant republic would be defended by its yeoman peasantry, who would show up for service in good condition from all that work down on the farm, and armed with a weapon they were familiar with and could use. In theory, that's how it would work, anyway.

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Taking all the words of this single-sentence, concise law into account, there is absolutely no evidence that those who wrote and approved it had in mind the right of every idiot and lunatic under the sun to acquire limitless numbers of weapons of mass destruction, and the ordnance to blow people and stuff up because he was having a bad hair day.

Found this item at Atrios's blog.