The Rubian Hypocrisy; or, Ignorant Lives Matter

This is Rubio's quote at the recent South Carolina GOP grudge match:

"Well, let me first talk about Justice Scalia. His loss is tremendous and obviously our hearts and prayers go out to his family. He will go down as one of the great justices in the history of this republic. You talk about someone who defended consistently the original meaning of the Constitution, who understood that the Constitution was not there to be interpreted based on the fads of the moment, but it was there to be interpreted according to its original meaning."

So, we need to parse Rubio's line here. Whether Scalia will go down as one of the great justices in the history of the republic is clearly debatable. If one knows absolutely nothing of the truly great names in SCOTUS history (e.g. Brandeis, Frankfurter, Warren, Douglas, Cardozo, Marshall) then one might be inclined to think Scalia would be in that category, but that'll be left to SCOTUS scholars.

My feeling is, he won't simply because he was adamant that his brand of originalism was flawless. Regardless, Rubio's statement echoes Scalia's in that the "Constitution was not there to be interpreted based on the fads of the moment, but it was there to be interpreted according to its original meaning" seems patently ridiculous to me based upon the rhetoric of the time.

Language counts. Rubio should know that a "fad" is, as we learn from the OED, "a crotchety rule of action; a peculiar notion as to the right way of doing something; a pet project, esp. of social or political reform, to which exaggerated importance is attributed; in wider sense, a crotchet, hobby, 'craze.'" So, what kind of a fad is Rubio referring to?

Certainly many of his policies could clearly be considered faddish if one were to believe in the origin of the word, the earliest of which came in the first third of the 19th century. And since he's such a stickler for notions of "originalism," then he should know that. The entire notion of "interpretation" is up for debate here since there's no one interpretation of most anything and the specious idea that one needs to interpret the Constitution "according to its original meaning" is beyond Rubio's intellect. See Derrida.

If one doesn't know what a fad is then one can't be expected to know what the original meaning of the Constitution is since it begs the question who has access to privileged meaning? See Derrida again. To even begin to interpret the Constitution's original meaning suggests that one not only knows the rhetoric of Constitution, but the rhetoric of the time. My guess is that Rubio (if not Scalia) has no bonafide notion of that, but even if he did, how does one take an 18th century document and use it to comply with 21st century "fads" without there being a rhetorical if not a political disparity? Not sure Jefferson, who read Homer in Greek for leisure, would agree with Rubio.

If Rubio is adamant about a strict interpretation of the original meaning of the Constitution then one might think his notions of originalism should apply to his thoughts on Scripture. After all, what was good for the ancients should be good enough for us as well. At the Family Leadership Summit that was held in Iowa, Rubio along with the other Republican presidential candidates spoke about their faith and how they care for issues such as marriage, religious freedom and defeating Islamist terrorism. "The candidates spoke to the crowd and faced questions from the moderator, Frank Luntz, a political consultant and Fox News contributor, and the audience, with a Bible placed on the table next to them. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, the first presidential candidate to address the annual event, picked up the Bible and read from Luke 12:48: "... From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked."

It's an interesting quote especially when one considers he didn't really quote it correctly. And if we're going to be originalists about everything, why not the Bible? According to the Living Bible, Luke 12:48 reads: "But anyone who is not aware that he is doing wrong will be punished only lightly. Much is required from those to whom much is given, for their responsibility is greater." Apparently, Rubio was quoting from the King James Version, but regardless he "blasphemed" by misquoting the text which brings up the entire notion of "originalism." Is misquoting the Bible consequential? Absolutely. According to its derivation blasphemy may mean any species of calumny and abuse: see (1 Kings 21:10; Acts 18:6; Jude 1:9) etc. Blasphemy was punished by stoning, which was inflicted on the son of Shelomith. (Leviticus 24:11). If we're going to be Biblical originalists, then that failure by Rubio should be exercised and I'm wondering if Rubio's handlers are now looking when they can rent out Sun Life Stadium for that stoning event.

Of course, the advantage to reading the U.S. Constitution is that it's written in English albeit 18th century English. Unless Rubio is adept at reading Aramaic, Hebrew, Greek, Latin etc. then how does he know what he's quoting is the original? Even the Bible Gateway offers no fewer than 55 English versions of Luke 12:48 so which one is the original? One version of Leviticus 20:27 states: "'A man or woman who is a medium or spiritist among you must be put to death. You are to stone them; their blood will be on their own heads.'" That would put a lot of psychics out of a job including Dionne Warwick and the Psychic Friends Network. What a blood bath that would be. Then there's Leviticus 20:13: "If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads" which is what a lot of Cruz supporters must agree with. Who can forget the memorable passage from one of Cruz's staunchest supports, Pastor Kevin Swanson, who has said in the past that Christians should attend gay weddings and hold up signs telling the newly married gay and lesbian couples that they "should be put to death."

Whether one is talking about the Constitution or the Bible, notions of originalism are somewhat iffy. Though Rubio (or Scalia for that matter) seemingly disapproves of the notion that language changes over time, the fact remains that it does. For example, the word "gay." To say that one is going to establish 21st century decisions based on the original rhetoric of the 18th century seems patently ludicrous to me. But what do I know. I'm only a writer.