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Topic
The Constitution: Interpretation


Quotes

“I entirely concur in the propriety of resorting to the sense in which the Constitution was accepted and ratified by the nation. In that sense alone it is the legitimate Constitution. And if that is not the guide in expounding it, there may be no security.” (James Madison, in letter to Henry Lee June 25, 1824.)


“On every question of construction [of the Constitution] let us carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or intended against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed.” (Thomas Jefferson, Letter To Justice William Johnson, Monticello. June 12, 1823.)


“It is the people, and not the judges, who are entitled to say what their constitution means, for the constitution is theirs, it belongs to them and not to their servants in office—any other theory is incompatible with the foundation principles of our government.” (President Theodore Roosevelt, 1912.)


“The Constitution on which our Union rests shall be administered by me according to the safe and honest meaning contemplated by the plain understanding of the people of the United States at the time of its adoption -- a meaning to be found in the explanations of those who advocated, not those who opposed it.…These explanations are preserved in the publications of the time.” (Thomas Jefferson)




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