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 lichenfarmer
  • Posts: 3
  • Joined: May 01, 2020
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#78637
I'm a little confused as to how many viewpoints are in this passage. I interpreted lines 9-15 to be the defence of the living document proponents that were introduced in lines 1-5, rather than completely different groups of views. What kind of hints in the text did I miss? I went over it a couple of times now and still see it the way I originally did, that being living document proponents = judicial activists = framers.

Thanks in advance!
 Jeremy Press
PowerScore Staff
  • PowerScore Staff
  • Posts: 836
  • Joined: Jun 12, 2017
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#78972
Hi lichenfarmer,

Substantively, I don't think you've missed too much in lines 9-15, in that those lines are describing the judges who subscribe to a "living document" approach (lines 9-10), and the framers whose position suggests the adaptability of the Constitution (lines 11-15). And the author does seem to be trying to cast both those groups as supporting a "living document" approach.

But what the exercise wants you to do is specifically call out the groups themselves and recognize that there are potentially multiple different individuals (or groups of individuals) who take the same, or similar, positions. The exercise also wants you to recognize when the viewpoints are truly identical and when there is some potential "daylight" between them.

So, for lines 9-10, it's important to recognize we're talking about an identifiable group here: a certain group of judges. Now it's true that those judges are cast as being part of the group of "living document" proponents. But they might not be the only individuals who are proponents. They're a subset. And it's also important to recognize that they're given a special viewpoint: they consider themselves "interpreters, not activists," which is particular to their position as judges. An academic, for example, who likes the "living document" theory doesn't have to cast herself in that way, because she's just theorizing and not actually doing the work of applying the law to judge cases. So, in that limited sense, the judges in lines 9-10 have a unique perspective within the group of "living document" proponents.

In lines 11-15, the author is tracing the point of view of the framers, an identifiable group separate from judges and others. Are the framers advocates of the "living document" theory? The author certainly sees them that way, and wants us to see them that way. But you have to be careful to allow the framers their own position. They "felt the Constitution would have to adapt to a changing nation." Does that make them full-on "living document" proponents? There might be a pretty good argument for that (which the author seems to be trying to make), but the framers themselves preexisted the current debate, so we have to be careful to allow them their own viewpoint (and position in the debate). And to be careful about inferring too much about their position.

I hope this helps!

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