NBC News’ Katy Tur on Wednesday questioned whether the Supreme Court should take an originalist view of the Constitution — because we are living in the current year.
A partial transcript follows:
TUR: I do want to start with you, J.D. Based on where Americans stand on the issues, and Americans have really moved in a much more progressive direction over the years, do you think it’s appropriate to continue to take such a strict originalist view of the Constitution given it’s 2018 and not 1776? [The Constitution was written in 1787.]
VANCE: Well, I don’t know that Americans have become more Progressive on everything. Certainly, times have changed since 1776, but how you interpret the Constitution is ultimately different from what policy preferences you want.
This is a point conservatives make pretty often about the Supreme Court. Whether you want the laws to move in a progressive or conservative direction, the Supreme Court is a separate institution with a separate mandate under our constitutional structures.
For example, if you want abortion to be outlawed or you want abortion not to be outlawed, that is a question, and there’s an open debate around whether that question should be decided by the Supreme Court or that question should be decided by voters and state legislatures, and by federal legislators. That is a question to me about constitutional structure, not so much about policy preferences.
TUR: Well, the ark of history has shown that opinions have become more progressive and even just lately on the issues that are potentially going to come before the court or issues that have been ruled on relatively recently by the court.
Americans are more progressive. Look at the polling. Most Americans support Roe v. Wade, gun control. They are split whether states should be able to restrict firearm ownership. But when it comes to money and politics, a majority want the next Justice to support limits on campaign spending by corporations and unions that goes against the Citizens United position.