'This Week' Transcript: The Battle for the Constitution

WILL: It's one thing to say it's open to interpretation, which it obviously is. It's very open-textured language. On the other hand, I mean, when you say unreasonable searches and seizures, what's reasonable? We argue about that. But to say that the Constitution is a living, evolving document, as you did, is almost oxymoronic. A Constitution is supposed to freeze things. It is an anti-evolutionary device as Justice Scanlon (ph) said. It is intended to put certain things beyond the reach of transient majorities. That's the language of Justice Jackson in a famous case.

The point of the Constitution is that majorities are dangerous, and we have to protect against them. Hence, what Oliver Wendell Holmes said, if my fellow citizens want to go to hell, I'll help them, because that's my job. He was saying the Constitution exists to enable majorities. That's exactly wrong.

DYSON: That's all great on paper, I mean, which is where it's written. But when it makes the transition from parchment to pavement, there, again, is the rub. The reality is that that document, when I talk about it being living and vital, I'm talking about the interpretation of it, I'm talking about the meaning of it, I'm talking about the symbolic power of the cache, the purchase of notions of freedom, justice, equality and democracy. They mean nothing if they are simply entered in ink. They must travel into our common humanity. And I'm suggesting that that document is critical to the reinterpretation of people of color and women. We were rejected into the mainstream of America. Were it not for some vibrant reinterpretation of that document and appealing to its living legacy, none of us could be here. I wouldn't be here talking to you, not as an equal, at least.

STENGEL: One of the misnomers in our society is that most people -- a lot of people confuse the Declaration with the Constitution. The Declaration is the music. The Constitution is the libretto. And those values that we cherish are really in the Declaration and they are also, by the way, in the amendments, I mean, which -- and the Bill of Rights, which people forget, was not part of the original Constitution.

AMANPOUR: But we're here today, and I want to know what you think about this, George, and actually Jill as well. We do get a sense, certainly from the Tea Party, certainly from the big political leaders now, Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin -- she hasn't jumped in but nonetheless -- they are framing this debate around the Constitution, that this is a document that is under siege. Is that, do you think it's under siege?

WILL: Has been for a century. Woodrow Wilson, Crowley (ph), the rest of the progressive movement, set out to say the Constitution was all very well once, but now we're a more complicated society with more grand ambitions for the government, and therefore what the founders did, which is put the government on a short leash, has to be undone. We have to cut the leash on government, and that's what the progressive project has been for a century.


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