I. The United States Constitution is essentially a set of principles that provides for the framework of our government, establishes the three main branches of government and provides for their functions. It also contains an enumeration of the rights and liberties of the people. It is a relatively short document considering the role it plays in every nation. Because the constitution contains only general principles and policies, it does not seek to cover every eventuality.
It also does not seek to provide a solution to every conceivable problems of man. As a result, disputes among those in power and those between the government and its citizens are likely to arise. Under the constitution, it is the Supreme Court and the other courts that are tasked to interpret the constitution. The concept of judicial interpretation has spanned a number of controversies regarding how the judges are to perform their constitutional function. Some say that the Supreme Court must adhere to the principle of strict constructionism.
Under this principle, in case of doubts in the interpretation of any vague and doubtful provision of the Constitution, the Supreme Court must strictly construe its provision. According to Law. com, strict constructionism refers to the interpretation of the constitution “based on a literal and narrow definition of the language without reference to the differences in conditions when the Constitution was written and modern conditions, inventions and societal changes. (“Strict Construction”)
This principle is preferred because it protects against judicial activism or judicial legislation which means that the Supreme Court goes beyond its function of mere interpretation and encroaches upon the domains of the legislature. By following this principle, the public can be assured that the constitution will not be abused and its meaning will not be changed depending on the whims and caprices of the Justices of the Supreme Court. Strict constructionism is contrasted with the principle of Original Intent.
Under this principle, the vague and doubtful provision of the constitution is interpreted by means of ascertaining the intent of the framers of the constitution at the time it was enacted. They do this by examining different sources, including contemporary writings, newspaper articles and the notes from the Constitutional Convention. This is preferred compared to the principle of Strict Constructionism because it goes beyond the literal wordings of the constitution and determines the reason behind the constitution.
It affirms that the reason why the constitution was vaguely written and couched in general terms is because the framers wanted the future generations to refer to the intention of the original framers of the constitution for guidance. Among the arguments against the principle of Original Intent is that the framers may have written the constitution but it was the will of the people who made it happen and who ratified it. Considering that they were merely agents and that the real principals are the delegates to the Constitutional Convention and the people, too much attention to the intent of the framers should be tempered.
Secondly, even the framers had differences amongst themselves on some issues. In case of dispute, which intent should be upheld by the Supreme Court? For the present society, it is very troublesome that the intent of a person who has been dead for several generations shall be used as basis for important decisions that may affect a person’s life and his future. Among the arguments raised against strict constructionism is that it does not give justice to the constitution.
As a living document, the constitution must be interpreted in accordance with its spirit that gives life to it not according to its strict and literal meaning that kills it. II. The procedure in juvenile justice system is essentially different compared to the procedure in adult courts. In criminal courts, our criminal justice system takes into account the element of free will. This means the court considers that when the crime was committed, the same was done willfully and intentionally by someone who is in full possession of his mental faculties.
As a result, the penalty imposed is proportional to the crime committed. On the other hand, when a juvenile commits a crime, the law takes into account that he lacks full intelligence. The law considers that he is still corrigible. As a result, the emphasis is not on punishment and deterrence but on rehabilitation. The following are the differences in the proceedings before juvenile courts and adult criminal court: a) the proceedings in the criminal court are public and as a matter of public policy the public can gain access to their records except on certain cases.
On the other hand, juvenile courts keep the proceedings private so as to avoid social stigma being placed upon the juvenile; b) another difference is that trial is strictly based on the fact of the commission of crime. No other evidence that seeks to prove the good character of the accused is generally admissible. On the other hand, juvenile courts take into account in its hearing the fact of the previous record of the juvenile; c) the determination in criminal courts is that the accused is either innocent or guilty.
On the other hand, juvenile court’s ruling is that the juvenile is adjudged delinquent for the purpose of protecting the juvenile against the social stigma; d) two proceedings are involved in juvenile courts, once the juvenile is adjudged to be delinquent, another hearing is conducted for the purpose of determining the penalty to be imposed. On the other hand, only a single trial is conducted in adult criminal courts. Once the defendant is adjudged guilty, the finding already includes the proper penalty to be imposed without the need of separate hearing.