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Has The Supreme Court Ever Used The Declaration Of Independence To Decide A Case?

 
 
Reply Sun 5 Feb, 2017 11:13 pm
Talking to some internet Confederates on YouTube. They seem to believe that the Constitution derives its legitimacy from the Declaration of Independence. I always thought the Constitution derived its legitimacy from the fact that the states all signed onto it, and that the Constitution was the basis for the Supreme Court deciding whether a law is constitutional or not.

Then I got to thinking, I wonder if, by chance, these latter-day Confederates might be right in at least a few cases. Has any case been successfully argued before the Supreme Court because the attorney proved the Declaration of Independence said something, so it still applies now?
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Feb, 2017 12:58 am
@Blickers,
The Constitution is the supreme law of the land, (partly) based on the Declaration, I thought.
roger
 
  2  
Reply Mon 6 Feb, 2017 01:04 am
@Walter Hinteler,
Constitution is supreme. Treaties are the second highest ranked. My impression is that the Declaration of Independence is considered a very important historical document, but carries no force of law.
layman
 
  0  
Reply Mon 6 Feb, 2017 01:12 am
@Blickers,
Yeah, I agree with you and the other posters here.

Courts don't rely on the DI as "law" but in the course of stating the rationale for giving their opinions, I think they have often cited it for the ideas and ideals it contains.

Courts often look to the "legislative history" (premlinary drafts, debates on the floor, etc.) of a law in an attempt to ascertain the true intention of the statute. It helps them properly "interpret" the statute in question. The DI is it's own kind of "legislative history," which preceded the drafting of the constitution.
0 Replies
 
jespah
 
  6  
Reply Mon 6 Feb, 2017 07:10 am
The Declaration isn't law. About the only thing it might do is provide some level of rationale behind the writing of, among other things, the Constitution. But the Declaration isn't precedent, any more than Thomas Paine's pamphlets are.
layman
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Feb, 2017 07:27 am
Quote:

A quick search at Findlaw indicates that there are at least 100 United States Supreme Court cases that mention the words "Declaration of Independence" somewhere in the dicta of that opinion.


http://candst.tripod.com/doisussc.htm
layman
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Feb, 2017 07:31 am
@layman,
A sample from the same site:

Quote:
The Amistad, 40 U.S. 518 (1841)

This case...presents, for the first time, the question, whether that government, which was established for the promotion of justice, which was founded on the great principles of the revolution, as proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence, can, consistently with the genius of our institutions, become a party to proceedings for the enslavement of human beings cast upon our shores, and found, in the condition of freemen, within the territorial limits of a free and sovereign state?
0 Replies
 
tsarstepan
 
  7  
Reply Mon 6 Feb, 2017 08:51 am
@jespah,
jespah wrote:

The Declaration isn't law. About the only thing it might do is provide some level of rationale behind the writing of, among other things, the Constitution. But the Declaration isn't precedent, any more than Thomas Paine's pamphlets are.

Or the Federalist Papers despite Libertarians and other conservatives misinterpreting/coopting for their originalist branding.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  3  
Reply Mon 6 Feb, 2017 01:54 pm
The important point is that the proposed constitution was ratified as written by the original 13 states. All other states have been admitted under the terms of that constitution. Them jokers can go pee up a rope.
0 Replies
 
Baldimo
 
  -3  
Reply Mon 6 Feb, 2017 04:41 pm
@roger,
It might not carry any force of law, but we have seen it used as a defense for some things, take the phrase "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness".
0 Replies
 
oralloy
 
  -2  
Reply Mon 6 Feb, 2017 05:24 pm
@roger,
roger wrote:
Constitution is supreme. Treaties are the second highest ranked.

Federal statutes are co-equal with treaties.


roger wrote:
My impression is that the Declaration of Independence is considered a very important historical document, but carries no force of law.

Some things that have no force of law can be used as evidence of what the Framers intended though, and thus can be decisive in court cases where they need to decipher the meaning of something that does have force of law.

I have no idea if the Declaration Of Independence has ever been used thusly however.
0 Replies
 
oristarA
 
  1  
Reply Tue 7 Feb, 2017 04:37 am
In my humble opinion, the Declaration Of Independence is about how to establish a country, while the Constitution is about how to govern a country.

Blickers
 
  2  
Reply Thu 9 Feb, 2017 05:54 pm
Thank you all for answering. All of you gave very useful answers.

Quote jespah:
Quote:
The Declaration isn't law. About the only thing it might do is provide some level of rationale behind the writing of, among other things, the Constitution. But the Declaration isn't precedent, any more than Thomas Paine's pamphlets are.


Quote layman:
Quote:
Courts don't rely on the DI as "law" but in the course of stating the rationale for giving their opinions, I think they have often cited it for the ideas and ideals it contains.

Courts often look to the "legislative history" (premlinary drafts, debates on the floor, etc.) of a law in an attempt to ascertain the true intention of the statute. It helps them properly "interpret" the statute in question. The DI is it's own kind of "legislative history," which preceded the drafting of the constitution.


There is no contradiction between these two answers. So you cannot use the Declaration as a precedent-it's not the same as a court decision. But you can use it to show the founders' take on certain issues when they wrote the Constitution.

Very useful info, thanks.
RABEL222
 
  2  
Reply Thu 9 Feb, 2017 11:04 pm
@Blickers,
Even the Supreme Court justices dont know the constitution, as evidenced by the corporations are people with the right to vote, decision.
Baldimo
 
  0  
Reply Fri 10 Feb, 2017 10:54 am
@RABEL222,
Corporations vote? Do they register to vote in the state where their headquarters is listed, or does each office location get it's own vote? Who in the company makes the decision on who to vote for? Is it the call of the CEO, BoD, share-holders, employees or a consensus of all involved with the company? Maybe it's the company telling their employees how to vote and if they don't do what the company says, they get fired...
RABEL222
 
  1  
Reply Fri 10 Feb, 2017 08:08 pm
@Baldimo,
Sorry, I dont converse with the uneducated.
Brandon9000
 
  1  
Reply Fri 10 Feb, 2017 09:48 pm
@oristarA,
oristarA wrote:
In my humble opinion, the Declaration Of Independence is about how to establish a country, while the Constitution is about how to govern a country.

You may be technically correct, but I believe that the Declaration of Independence has more significance than that. It is a statement about human rights and the fundamental relationship between man and government.
0 Replies
 
layman
 
  1  
Reply Fri 10 Feb, 2017 10:35 pm
@oristarA,
oristarA wrote:

In my humble opinion, the Declaration Of Independence is about how to establish a country.


Actually, Oris, it's about how to declare WAR, eh?

Kinda like FDR and his "day that will live in infamy" speech.
0 Replies
 
Baldimo
 
  0  
Reply Fri 10 Feb, 2017 11:29 pm
@RABEL222,
Keep telling yourself that, I'm sure you have plenty of conversations with the mirror. The only uneducated comments were the stupid ones you made about corporations voting and then refusing to back up your stupid comments.
0 Replies
 
woiyo
 
  0  
Reply Mon 13 Feb, 2017 09:59 am
@oristarA,
Holy Cow !!! Really no sense of history or facts anywhere here !!!

The Declaration of Independence and UC Constitution have nothing in common other than one declared our independence from England (which really is a list of grievances) while the other outlined the form of govt and individual rights.
0 Replies
 
 

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