Note to Justices Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, and Alito – from Thomas Jefferson

July 2, 2015

Since Thomas Jefferson is considered by most Americans as an authority on the original intent of the framers of the US Constitution, the conservative wing of the current US Supreme Court and all those fine Republican candidates for President who have claimed in the last week that the majority opinion in the equal marriage decision got it really wrong, I recommend for their consideration this statement of our 3rd President and author of the Declaration of Independence signed exactly 239 years ago today. Perhaps the four justices and Republican candidates will change their minds!?

“Some men look at constitutions with sanctimonious reverence, and deem them like the ark of the covenant, too sacred to be touched. They ascribe to the men of the preceding age a wisdom more than human, and suppose what they did to be beyond amendment. I knew that age well; I belonged to it, and labored with it. It deserved well of its country. It was very like the present, but without the experience of the present; and forty years of experience in government is worth a century of book-reading; and this they would say themselves, were they to rise from the dead. I am certainly not an advocate for frequent and untried changes in laws and constitutions. I think moderate imperfections had better be borne with; because, when once known, we accommodate ourselves to them, and find practical means of correcting their ill effects. But I know also, that laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed, and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy, as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.”

-Thomas Jefferson

Source: Wordsmith.org – A thought for the day

The complete letter in which the above passage is found can be accessed here:


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