Q: How many eggs do French people like to have for breakfast?
A: One is an oeuf.
Hilarious!Â That’s about the quality of Jonah Goldberg’s recent posting at NRO, titled “Close Encounters with a ‘Living Constitution'”.
Here’s the setup.Â Goldberg orders an Arizona Omelet at the diner, the Red Flame.Â But the server brings him a bowl of oatmeal.Â When Goldberg objects that he didn’t order this, the server replies that he, in fact, did order the oatmeal.
â€œThis is oatmeal,â€ Iâ€™d say. â€œThe menu says that the Arizona Omelet has cheese and onions and jalapenos in it. It also says itâ€™s an omelet.â€
Waitress: â€œWell, we here at the Red Flame believe that the menu is a living, breathing document that changes with the times. Oatmeal is healthier than an omelet, and we feel that people should eat more of it. So, we only serve oatmeal, but we call it by different names.â€
The point, as we see, given the analogy, is that taking X as a ‘living document’ is just to impose one’s will on the document.Â Words don’t mean what they mean at all.Â Or they mean what we just want them to mean.Â And here’s how Goldberg sees the plausibility of this line of thought:
Thatâ€™s more like how the doctrine of the â€œLiving Constitutionâ€ works in real life. A judge makes a small leap of interpretation that seems reasonable â€” say, replacing onions with shallots, which after all, are a kind of onion. Then the next judge makes another incremental hop in interpretation. And then another. And another. Until eventually the waitress brings me the head of Alfredo Garcia
There are some issues where I think liberals have a sincerely held, rational, and legitimate point of view that I simply disagree with. But the doctrine of the Living Constitution is not one of them.