We don't need more Luddites in life or on the Supreme Court. Don't get me wrong, I'm not in competition for the smartest person in America. Nevertheless, with my average intelligence, I can't see the virtue of being a strict constructionist as it relates to the Supreme Court. People employ that term as if it were the touchstone of judicial rectitude. If you are a strict constructionist, you are qualified to sit on the court. I don't get it.

It seems to me that being a strict constructionist should disqualify one for even being considered for the high court. A strict constructionist is one who believes that the words and the ideas of the Founding Fathers ought always to be followed. Therefore, when deciding an issue today, a strict constructionist would look at what the Founding Fathers' thoughts and decide the way they would have decided on that issue if they were alive today.

That anti-modernity mindset is reminiscent of the Luddites. They were followers of Ned Ludd who lead often violent protests against the automation of the Industrial Revolution and who wanted to go back to the pastoral lifestyle of hearth and home. Since then, the term, Luddites, has grown to include anyone who fears the future and wishes to return to the good old days of the past.

An 1812 drawing of Luddites destroying machinery.
Why would it be desirable to have any more Luddites on the Supreme Court? Doesn't that seem odd to you that being a strict constructionist is desirable? It does to me. Imagine calling a plumber for some trouble that you are having with your kitchen drain. The plumber assures you that he is qualified because he is a strict constructionist as it relates to plumbing. What? That is the very last type of plumber that I want to employ. Haven't things changed since the American Revolution in the plumbing theory and best practices for unclogging drains? Would you want someone who knew what the Founding Fathers of plumbing thought during the Revolution and have those practices used on your 21st century problems? I can't think of any business, organization, club, educational institution, or religious group that hasn't had new ideas or developed different ways of handling a particular situation over the past two centuries. What is wrong with modernity?

If none of us would employ a strict constructionist as a plumber, why then is the strict constructionist mindset desirable for a Supreme Court justice? If I had to have a Luddite in my life and the choice were between a plumber and a justice of the Supreme Court, I would far rather have a plumber than a justice. I would gladly take my chances on my clogged drain than having another justice that has issues with modernity.

In addition, while our Founding Fathers were ahead of their times in political science, they surely weren't divinely inspired in all matters. Thomas Jefferson got it right about all men being created equal, but he really dropped the ball when it came to the rights of women and the issue related to enslaving human beings. In fairness to Jefferson, precious few of the Founding Fathers got the issue of freedom and equality right.

Why is it that the radical right is so fearful of having non strict constructionists on the Supreme Court? What has the Court done that has gotten their underwear in a knot? It all goes back to the liberal Supreme Court in the 50s when the liberals said that segregation of the public schools was unconstitutional. Those damn liberals legislated that all school districts had to treat all Americans equally. Can you imagine that? Here in America, the Supreme Court mandated that each child in America should have the same educational opportunities regardless of skin color.

If the strict constructionists had their way, slavery based on color or second-class status based on sex would still be the law of the nation. Blacks and women got to legal parity in large measure due to not having strict constructionist in the majority on the court. In recent months, we have heard a lot about how brilliant some strict constructionist nominees have been; it seems to me that being a strict constructionist is blatantly wrong for America or for my clogged drain.

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