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In Words of
Granite Graven

 
                                                                     
Lo, were the words of law                       
But letters carved in ice,                       
They would with every thaw,          
Melt—and not suffice.                                         
                                                                 
Wherefore the ways of men                     
Enduring rules require,
To keep from melting then,
The law by self desire...

And thus prevent a faction
From writing as it will,
And put its way in action,
An agenda to fulfill.

'Tis better to chisel in stone
The rules to govern by,
And let to all be known:
The same it doth apply.
                                                             
This ought to be the way,
The Constitution's viewed:
Its words are what they say,
And so should be construed...
                                                             
O let the law be lettered,                  
In words of granite graven,
And misrule of it be fettered,
From those in robes of raven.

Let not a gavel strike
To smite the rock as written,
To engrave as judge would like,
And thus be struck and smitten...

But stay a Justice hand,                    
Incising with other thought,
Like that of foreign land
Or apart the original wrought...

Alter not a whit,
Of what's inscribed in it.

If newness needs to be,
There's provision to amend:
But naught by judicial decree
—This we ought defend!

O Eagle, cast thine eye
Upon America’s Writ,
And from our spangled sky,
Protect, intent of it.                           — John Riedell
 

Author's notes: Law, like poetry, is written in words which have meaning.  As one should understand poetry according to the mind of the poet, one should understand the Constitution according to the mind of the framers: their words stood for certain concepts, setting up a certain defined structure of law.   James Madison told the Constitutional Convention in 1787, that the plan they were considering "would decide forever the fate of republican government."
     A judge should decide whether a law is in accord with the intent and meaning of the writers of the Constitution.  He or she should not establish law, according to a thought or an interpretation of his or her own liking. 
     The verb "construe," here used above in the past tense, contains the word "true"—in applying a decision to the present, the judge must be true to what was meant in the past!   Even an understanding of Holy Writ is not open to just any opinion, but is subject to an understanding of what its words meant when they were written.  You follow the intent of the word. 

   
 

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