"Laws are made for men of ordinary understanding and should, therefore, be construed by the ordinary rules of common sense. Their meaning is not to be sought for in metaphysical subtleties which may make anything mean everything or nothing at pleasure."
Thomas Jefferson
(1743-1826), US Founding Father, drafted the Declaration of Independence, 3rd US President
Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Johnson, 1823.
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Reader comments about this quote:
We hold these truths to be self evident (by way of example: The Second Amendment) !
 -- Mike, Norwalk     
  • 5
    It's almost as though he knew the Constitution would be "interpreted" away...
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
  • 5
    One reason the laws are confusing is that they are written by lawyers. Then, of course, you have to hire lawyers to interpret them.
     -- jim k, Austin, Tx     
  • 4 1
    ... or that fools would exist that think that despite the meaning being intended to be self-evident, it still needs to be interpreted as everyone inherently has a different point of view at an individual level and the interpretation must occur at the societal level... and a great example is the 2nd amendment (complete with its lack of punctuation and words which have very different meaning at the time it was written to those which are self-evident for today's reader).
     -- Anonymous, Reston, VA, US     
  • 3
    "THE RIGHT OF THE PEOPLE TO KEEP AND BEAR ARMS SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED"....There's no confusion there at all Reston. :)
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
  • 5
    hmmm, a rare comment from the 'A' from Reston. I complement you on your progressive / socialistic / incomprehensible double speak. As Carlton has written out a portion of the 2nd Amendment, the 'A' from Reston, maybe you can enlighten the rest of us; what words have changed meaning here to render the seemingly self-evident point of view different for individual and societal levels?
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
  • 5
    The pestilential influence of those power mongers who are without regard either for the Truth or for the law characteristically resides in the unholy faculty that they possess to instill doubt and confusion, regarding, particularly, the inherent significance of words, in the minds of those whose minds and lives they would endeavor to command.
     -- Patrick Henry, Red Hill     
  • 3
    Ordinary understanding, of ordinary rules of common sense, Chophshiy Liberty, financial freedom from bondage, tax, at Your Pleasure. Eleutheria Liberty, manumission from slavery. Apeleutheros Liberty. access to the presence of God a Freed man. These words have remained the same for thousands and thousands of years, and need no private interpretation. Ignorance knows no bounds to stupidity. Simplicity, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. To count to three, will get the job done.
     -- Ronw13, Oregon     
     -- robert, Somewhere in the US     
    Cuan diferente seria el mundo (y para mucho mejor)
    si los legisladores siguieran un sencillo principio básico señalado por el gran americano Thomas Jefferson :
     -- Luis Perez, Panama     
  • 1
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