With judicial opening, it’s time to rage against dying of Constitution 

When the poet Dylan Thomas said, “Rage, rage against the dying of the light,” he was talking about old people and their demise. But the powerful phrase also could instruct us on other issues, such as fighting against the death of our Constitution, which oddly enough is most endangered by those who refer to it as “living.”

Drafted by men who had studied that history and their own colonial history, who had immersed themselves in the lessons of ancient civilizations and studies of European governments, whose high idealism co-existed with insightful realism, the document has endured through decades of those who would dim it.

While not the bright force it once was, it’s always a reminder of the grand dream this nation set out to realize.

Protecting and restoring it are crucial, and the wrong replacement for retiring Justice John Paul Stevens could put it in further jeopardy. Republicans should be prepared to resist if President Barack Obama nominates someone whose judicial philosophy shows it disrespect, even if the dissenters stand little chance of keeping the person off the Supreme Court.

They should especially watch out for any nominee who tells us what at least one of those prominently mentioned for the job does — that this 18th-century document just won’t serve in the 21st century if taken too literally.

The liberal call today is for a “living” Constitution that somehow instructs us by its spirit. Republicans can answer that a consequence of this theory is judicial oligarchy.

Defeated court nominee Robert Bork rightly dismisses the contention that in order to know what various constitutional passages are all about, you would have to see into the minds of the authors. You instead do the same thing you do with current laws: You read them.

Obviously, different people will sometimes come up with different interpretations. The point is to take these passages seriously, not simply to desert them as no longer relevant.

What we do not need — what ultimately could give us a terrible dying of the light — is what we have been getting too much of: amendment by judicial fiat.

Rage against that, Republicans, and do not worry too much about politics. The job is to safeguard the nation.

Examiner columnist Jay Ambrose is a former Washington opinion writer and editor of two dailies. He can be reached at Speaktojay@aol.com.

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