"The framers of the constitution employed words in their natural sense; and, where they are plain and clear, resort to collateral aids to interpretation is unnecessary, and cannot be indulged in to narrow or enlarge the text; but where there is ambiguity or doubt, or where two views may well be entertained, contemporaneous and subsequent practical construction is entitled to the greatest weight."
Justice Melville Weston Fuller
(1833-1910) Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, 1888-1910
delivering the opinion of the court in MCPHERSON v. BLACKER, 146 U.S. 1 (1892)
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Reader comments about this quote:
After considering the source of the statement, it is a half truth to make a lie believable. To the Supreme Court, there are no words in their natural sense that are plain and clear. By way of example "shall not be infringed". Here, "where two views may well be entertained" and "entitled to the greatest weight" means anti-law / unconstitutional social engineering in the extreme.
 -- Mike, Norwalk     
    The constitution is written in stone. It is not a living-breathing document to be liberaly interputed.
     -- cal, lewisville, tx     
    Tricky aren't they ! In total contradiction to the previous Quote.
    The text is removed, buy Mr. fullers statement. To minimalize the depth of understanding based upon his private interpretation. We need no private interpretation of the Constitution, as also the inspiration text to support its standing before the human race !! The Rock upon which the Republic rest ! There is but one source, of liberty and Freedom in the Universe. This nation was exalted by the God of nature, to stand in the Light of Liberty and Freedom according to the source text of its inspiration. KJB. The words which we speak are spirit. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Fourth book in the NT. First verse. This is like gravity, a subjective fact ! You that labor in the word, which treat it with so much contempt, Every man is brutish in his knowledge. Jere, 10:14. And so it is, in the pulpit, whatever ( hill ) they preach from. God is a Spirit, and they that worship him, must worship him in Spirit and in truth.
    That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. Such is with our Constitution also, a document of the Spirit of Liberty and Freedom !!! Verily, verily, I say unto thee, we speak that we do know, and testify, that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. If I have told you of earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things ? The hidden hand that conducts the affairs of men. O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps. Washington and others new these truths very well !!
     -- watchman13, USA     
    watchman, a little less preaching would be in order.
     -- jim k, austin tx     
    Editor, thank you for everything ! ! !
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
    Sorry if that's a bit much. But that happens when socialism steps on my livelihood.
     -- watchman13, USA     
    I have seen the first half of this quote used by conservatives -- I can see why they left out the second part. ;-) Typical judicial-speak.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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