It’s Our Constitution Too
For decades, conservatives have been clamoring for adhering to the original intent of the Constitution. Liberals have too often ceded ground by arguing for a more flexible interpretation. The framers were not uniformly in favor of limited government and did not necessarily intend for the Constitution to lock us into such a vision. William Forbath explains:
That’s a major failing, because there is a venerable rival to constitutional laissez-faire: a rich distributive tradition of constitutional law and politics, rooted in the framers’ generation. None other than Madison was among its prominent expounders — in his draft of the Virginia Constitution, he included rights to free education and public land.
Likewise, many framers of the Reconstruction amendments held that education and “40 acres and a mule” were constitutional essentials that Congress must provide to ex-slaves. They also held that equal rights and liberty for white workingmen required a fair distribution of initial endowments, including free homesteads and free elementary and secondary education, along with land-grant-funded state colleges.
And, of course, one of the most prominent founders, Alexander Hamilton, was an advocate of central banking and an a government that promoted industry. There is no reason to think that original intent favors a conservative vision of government. The founders were too smart for that.