We are a nation of laws. That is what some say about the young immigrants covered by DACA. Therefore they must leave if we are to remain a nation of laws. But we give our judges discretion, have a parole system, and presidential pardons. We leave a little room for grace. We have a constitution but it has checks and balances and amendments to ensure we are not caught in legalism and outdated laws. We have elections to allow periodic assessment of our elected officials. In other words nothing is in stone. But if you listen to folks you would not think this was the case.
We have “Originalists” who think we are to only follow the original intent of the Constitution. As if a constitution written in 1787 should hold completely without amendment or change. These of course are the fundamentalists and legalists of the Constitution. ‘The Constitution was inspired work every dot and iota’ they say. The problem of original intent is the interpreters of original intent must be infallible. You may have general consent of the Supreme Court but one group of justices has reversed the opinions of another group of justices. It is handed down from the hand of God or our infallible founders. Of course we have and continue to add amendments (twenty-seven out of thirty-three proposed have been ratified by the states); it is constitutional after all.
But there are other problems with Originalists. The culture in which the Constitution was written was one in which African-Americans were slaves and many of the writers had what any reasonable person of today would call racist views. Another issue was the view of women as less and therefore they were not allowed to vote. It is also true (in a uniquely classist opinion) only landed citizens could vote. None of these opinions would be considered correct in today’s mainstream culture. But we are to believe that in this culture the Constitution was left unencumbered with the prejudices of its day. But opinions today are always influenced by culture. My God is a compromise with the slaveholders that blacks could be counted as 3/5ths of a person to be considered infallible?
And there is the rub: most people making the argument that we are a nation of laws against DACA immigrants are what I call the 3/5ths racists. They are more interested in having things remain as they once were even if it has racist consequences. Do not remove monuments, do not use revisionist history, and do not say black lives matter (which is the correlation of the Black is Beautiful movement of the sixties and seventies). They like to use laws to hide their real feelings. I do not care if you are a Mexican; I care that the law is upheld, they say.
Here is the truth as far as I am concerned. The people in Jesus’ day who demanded adherence to the law were the Pharisees. Jesus did not mind their adherence to the law. It was when they put the law over the needs of a person that he always responded harshly. People who opposed his healing on the Sabbath were holding the law over human need. I view this similarly: those who want to uphold the law over treating the DACA immigrants fairly and with no standard of human decency are not in the right.
So ye Originalists, Pharisees, 3/5ths Racists tread gently; you hold the soul of a nation in your hands. This soul while lawful is not bound by laws only. Let us do right by the DACA immigrants because we may be entertaining angels unawares.