It is not the definition today, if in fact it has changed, that should matter, but rather the definition commonly in use at the time the Constitution was adopted. That's why the Oxford English Dictionary
is useful because it gives the history of the meaning of words. The idea that we can amend the Constitution merely by changing the meaning of the words the Framers used is absurd. (How difficult is it to change the meaning of a word? Consider: liberal, gay, marriage.
As for a "legal thing," the Framers used many words and phrases: year, dollar, natural-born are examples. They used them because they were words that everyone of their time understood well. The phrase natural-born was so well understood that neither Story nor Rawles commented upon the natural-born citizen requirement in their commentaries. But Rawles does use the phrase elsewhere in his commentary in a way that makes it obvious what his understanding was.
posted on 07/20/2009 10:55:13 AM PDT
Did everyone have birth certificates then?
posted on 07/20/2009 10:57:09 AM PDT
(Everything happens as God wants it to...otherwise, things would be different.)
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson