George Will Plays Hamilton Burger; and Trigger-Locks

In a recent column, George Will announced that he had “a few questions” for Supreme-Court nominee Kagan. His tone was that of one confident that his questions would make his target quake in her nomination-process.

In one question, he asserts that Justice Scalia once asserted that the Constitution was “there” to prevent change, that is was not a malleable, living document. Then he asked Ms. Kagan, “Is he wrong?”

I immediately thought of the hapless character, Hamilton Burger, in the old Perry Mason series. Going in for the kill, Hamilton would immolate himself.

Okay, so, literally, the document isn’t living. It appears, printed, on paper and online.

But otherwise, it changes and explicitly supports change because it includes a provision for amendments. So, even leaving aside that judges and justices reinterpret the document, implicitly, all the time, Mr. Will, please pull your ham out of your burger.

The question also reminded me of the episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show when Ted, the pompous anchorman, proclaims that calls from his local station in Minneapolis to the White House had gone unanswered. Ted leans toward the camera and then says, “What’s the matter, Mr. President? Afraid of something?” Ms. Kagan must fear George Will about as much as the White House feared Ted.

In a side-note, I gather the Supreme Court is now unamused by laws that insist upon gun-owners’ using trigger-locks. I will not engage the question of whether said laws and the attitude behind them are right or wrong, good policy or bad policy. I will not engage the subject of how practical trigger-locks are. I’m only bemused by the fact that, somewhere in the Constitution, the 5 conservative justices apparently found something about trigger-locks on “arms,” trigger-locks that in no way impinge upon the right to bear arms. Apparently Scalia made an exception and decided the document is a living document.

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One Response to “George Will Plays Hamilton Burger; and Trigger-Locks”

  1. wildbillhaltom Says:

    Once again, Dr. Will is mistaken. The man who told us that Robert Bork would embarrass the Senate Judiciary Committee gets the Constitution wrong. The Constitution does not exist to prevent change. The Constitution exists, among its many reasons for existence, to slow changes. The Constitution regulates changes so that the polity is not protean. The Constitution brakes frenzy so that movements such as the tea parties do less damage.

    If the Constitution prevented change, the Constitution would long ago have been replaced. If the Constitution stopped changes, then the liberty and democracy celebrated on the 4th of July would be doublespeak.

    Our constitutional system changes gradually and slowly. Maybe the pace is a bit brisk for Dr. Will. However, it is very un-conservative for Dr. Will to channel Hamilton Burger.


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