A Layman’s Guide to Penumbral Reasoning – American Thinker



A Layman’s Guide to Penumbral Reasoning


For over 50 years, constitutional scholars, and Supreme Court justices in particular, have used “penumbral reasoning” as one means to explain rulings expanding the Constitution of the United States.  Law schools describe it as “reasoning by interpolation.”  To put that in graphic terms, if you’re drawing a graph on paper, reasoning by interpolation allows you to extend the line off of the paper.  I’m not a constitutional scholar, but I don’t think that’s necessary to see that this can lead to a very dark place.

In legal terms, when a justice says they’re using penumbral reasoning, they’re admitting that the next thing they say is not actually written in the Constitution.  They’re using it as an interpretive instrument to claim that if the Founders were alive today, “They would put what I’m about to rule in the Constitution.”

Penumbras have been debated in legal papers for many years.  But in 1965, Justice William O. Douglas used penumbral reasoning in the majority opinion of Griswold v. Connecticut to declare that a right to privacy exists in the Constitution — even though it’s not written anywhere.  He then used this newly discovered “right” to find that a ban on contraceptives was therefore unconstitutional.  A right to privacy seems like a logical inclusion in the constitution.  But rather than five justices declaring it a right, why didn’t we add it to the Constitution with an amendment?  It couldn’t have been that difficult to get ¾ of the population to agree that they wanted privacy.  With an amendment, we could have avoided all the resulting controversy.

Instead, justices have been exploring the limits of penumbral logic ever since.  That’s how they “discovered” that a right to abortion is included in the Constitution.  They’ve become the test pilots, taking us for a ride while they “push the envelope” — only we don’t get a parachute.

To understand it better, let’s take a look at what a penumbra is.  The dictionary definition of a penumbra is the lighter area around the edge of a shadow.  When a legal scholar uses it, they’re saying that they see something emanating from the shadows of the Constitution — it’s there, even though it’s not written.  It’s a natural outgrowth of, or inherent in, something that is written.  Here’s the way I understand it: If you have a few drinks, squint your eyes, and look sideways, you can kinda sorta imagine what the Founders would write, even though they didn’t write it.  It’s perfectly straightforward.  The justices are saying that they can read the minds of political giants that have been dead for hundreds of years.  How humble of them.

The Supreme Court decided that the Supreme Court can declare that the Constitution means something it doesn’t say — without concurrence of the citizenry.  Isn’t that a bit like a king granting himself unlimited power over the serfs, and then saying it’s legal because the king gave himself the authority to write the rules?  What could possibly go wrong?

Maybe we can understand what could go wrong by looking at the application of penumbral reasoning to other legal venues.  How do you think a penumbral argument would go in a civil case?  Let me illustrate: You hire a builder to construct a new home for your family.  You enter into a contract with the builder to construct a single-family dwelling with three bedrooms.  But, by the time the home is completed, you’ve added another baby to the family.  You inform the builder that he’s in breach of the contract because you now need a four-bedroom home.  You file a lawsuit.  In court, you argue that the contract should have evolved with changing circumstances.  The requirement for a four-bedroom home was always there — as a penumbra, emanating from the requirement for a single-family dwelling.  How do you think this lawsuit will turn out?

Penumbral reasoning is absurd for contract law, and it’s also absurd for constitutional law.  If the words don’t have concrete meanings, the documents they are written on become meaningless.  Just because an argument originated with a scholar doesn’t make it any less asinine.  It just proves that Ivy League credentials do not bestow wisdom.

Let’s look at what this type of interpretation has led to. It started innocuously enough.  The justices used it to grant us a constitutional right to privacy.  That doesn’t seem like a bad thing.  Who could argue with that?  However, it did put us on the proverbial “slippery slope.”  Now that the Supreme Court has granted itself the authority to “read between the lines” of the Constitution, they’ve started finding other stuff.  Now they’ve discovered that we have a constitutional right to contraceptionabortion, and same-sex marriage.  I’m not arguing that any of these things are good or bad.  I’m saying that they should have been debated by the citizenry, not nine Supreme Court justices.

What about the argument that the Constitution needs to evolve with the changing needs of our society?  Of course, it does.  But the use of penumbral arguments is an arrogation of power from the people to robed overlords.  It’s also a lazy man’s method of achieving constitutional changes without selling them to his fellow citizens.

The correct way to evolve the Constitution is through the amendment process.  Yes, it’s difficult and time consuming — and that’s a feature, not a bug.  By requiring broad buy-in, public debate is driven and consensus is achieved — or not.  With consensus, future controversy is minimized.

Is it possible that Roe v. Wade was not an example of the Constitution evolving with society, but rather of the Supreme Court dragging society towards their worldview?  How different would our debates about abortion be if ¾ of the citizenry had agreed on the legality of the practice in 1973?  If you answer, “But we would have never gotten it passed,” then you’ve just made my point.


By John Green


John Green is a political refugee from Minnesota, now residing in Star, Idaho. He is a retired engineer with over 40 years of experience in the areas of product development, quality assurance, organizational development, and corporate strategic planning. He can be reached at greenjeg@gmail.com.




Source: A Layman’s Guide to Penumbral Reasoning – American Thinker

In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – God’s Guidance for Finances


Malachi 3:7-12

When God created the heavens and earth, He carried out His plan with purpose. Nothing was haphazard, late, or uncertain. The same could be said regarding His plans for each of His children. Every aspect of our life, including our finances, is under His watchful eye and providential care. But despite His perfect record of faithfulness, money is one of the most difficult things for us to entrust to Him. We foolishly think that we can do a better job of handling our money than the omniscient, all-powerful God.

In Malachi’s time, the Jews had stopped trusting the Lord. One indication of the people’s distrust was their failure to give the tithes required by biblical law. God accused them of robbing Him, and they were suffering financial hardship as a result.

Sometimes Christians find that believing the Lord for salvation is easy, and yet they doubt He’ll keep His promise when it comes to money. Our willingness to give God the first portion of our income or resources is a test of our trust in Him. And the truth is, we can fully rely on Him because He promises to meet all of our needs (Phil. 4:19). Take a step of obedience today, and discover how faithful God is.

Bible in One Year: Numbers 20-22




Our Daily Bread — Spitting Image


Bible in a Year:

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.

Colossians 1:15

Today’s Scripture & Insight:  Colossians 1:15–23

During an outing, we met a woman who had known my husband’s family since he was a child. She looked from Alan to our son, Xavier. “He’s the spitting image of his daddy,” she said. “Those eyes. That smile. Yep. Looks just like him.” As the woman delighted in acknowledging such a strong resemblance between father and son, she even noted similarities in their personalities. Still, though they are alike in many ways, my son doesn’t reflect his father perfectly.

There’s only one Son—Jesus—who reflects His Father completely. Christ is the “image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation” (Colossians 1:15). In Him and through Him and for Him all things were created (v. 16). “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (v. 17).

We can spend time in prayer and Bible study, discovering the Father’s character by looking at Jesus—God in the flesh. He invites us to witness His love in action by examining how He interacts with others in Scripture and in our day-to-day living. After surrendering our lives to Christ and receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit, we can grow in knowing and trusting our loving Father. He transforms us to reflect His character, so we can live for Him.

What a joy it would be if others could say we look just like Jesus!

By:  Xochitl Dixon

Reflect & Pray

What character trait of Jesus have you seen cultivated in your life over the last year? What trait would you like to cultivate in the coming year?

Jesus, please help me know You more as You make me more like You!




Grace to You; John MacArthur – God Knows Everything


“Great is our Lord, and abundant in strength; His understanding is infinite” (Psalm 147:5).

God knows everything, and so He knows our sin.

Our time in history has been called “the Information Age.” Computers work around the clock storing the glut of information from all branches of knowledge. And this flood of data is growing bigger all the time. Without the help of advanced technology, we could process and interpret only a tiny fraction of it.

In contrast, God is omniscient; He knows everything. Our Scripture for today says, “His understanding is infinite.” Isaiah asks, “Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord, or as His counselor has informed Him? With whom did He consult and who gave Him understanding? And who taught Him in the path of justice and taught Him knowledge, and informed Him of the way of understanding?” (40:13-14). The answer to all those questions is, “No one.”

Since His knowledge is infinite, God never learns anything, nor does He forget anything. When you pray, you’re not telling God something He doesn’t know. He merely chooses to work through our prayers.

God knows every detail of our lives. Jesus says, “The very hairs of your head are all numbered” (Luke 12:7). God doesn’t have to count them because He intrinsically knows how many there are. He also knows all our thoughts (Isa. 66:18). David says, “Even before there is a word on my tongue, behold, O Lord, Thou dost know it all” (Ps. 139:4). In that same psalm, David goes on to say, “Even the darkness is not dark to Thee” (v. 12). You can’t hide anything from the knowledge of God.

God’s omniscience should be a deterrent to our sinning. Think about some of the wrongs you did as a child when your parents weren’t around. You never would have done those things in front of them because you didn’t want to be punished. And you might have gotten away with a few things. But “God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil” (Eccles. 12:14). Even though the eternal penalty for sin has been paid by Christ, God still disciplines us when we sin (Heb. 12:5-11). Is there anything in your life you would be ashamed about if God knew? If so, repent, because He does know!

Suggestions for Prayer

Praise God for His infinite knowledge.

For Further Study

Read David’s praise for God’s omniscience in Psalm 139:1-6. What specific areas of God’s knowledge does he mention?

Additional Resources




Joyce Meyer – Are You Exhausted?


And Jesus said to them, The Sabbath was made on account and for the sake of man, not man for the Sabbath; so the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.

— Mark 2:27-28 (AMPC)

Are you excessively tired all the time, even after getting a full night’s sleep? Have you been to doctors, but they can’t find anything wrong with you? You might be experiencing some of the symptoms of burnout. Long periods of overexertion and stress can cause constant fatigue, headaches, sleeplessness, digestive problems, tension, and other issues.

Some other signals of burnout are crying, negativity, irritability, depression, cynicism, or even bitterness toward others’ blessings. God established the law of resting on the seventh day to help us keep from burning out. The law of the Sabbath simply says we can work six days, but by the seventh, we need to rest and spend time worshiping God. He rested after six days of work, not because He gets tired, but so we would follow the pattern.

In Exodus 23:10-12, we read that even the land had to rest after six years, and the Israelites were told not to sow in it the seventh year. During this rest, everything recovered and prepared for future harvests. People today are often quick to argue that they can’t afford to take a day off, but I say that they can’t afford not to do it. We often hear, “I’m too busy to take a break. I would never get everything done if I did that.”

My answer is, “Then you’re too busy and something needs to change in your life.” When we’re too busy to follow God’s instructions, we will pay the price eventually. Remember, the Bible says we reap what we sow. If we sow continual stress with no rest or time to recover, we will reap the results in our bodies, emotions, and minds. So I want to encourage you to start to take steps toward resting more. When you honor God with your time, you’ll reap the benefits of rest.

Prayer Starter: Father, please help me to be more intentional to trust You enough to rest when I need to. Thank You in advance for teaching me how to balance work and rest in a healthy way. In Jesus’ name, amen.




Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – To Him Be the Glory


To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity.

 2 Peter 3:18

Heaven will be full of the ceaseless praises of Jesus. Eternity! Your unnumbered years shall run their everlasting course, but forever and forever; “to him be the glory.” Is He not a “priest forever after the order of Melchizedek”? “To him be the glory.” Is He not king forever—King of kings and Lord of lords, the everlasting Father? “To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity.” His praises shall never end.

That which was bought with blood deserves to last while immortality endures. The glory of the cross must never be eclipsed; the luster of the grave and of the resurrection must never be dimmed. O Jesus, You will be praised forever. So long as immortal spirits live—as long as the Father’s throne endures—forever, forever, unto You shall be glory.

Believer, you are anticipating the time when you will join the saints above in ascribing all glory to Jesus; but are you glorifying Him now? The apostle’s words are, “To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity.” Will you not today make it your prayer? Lord, help me to glorify You. I am poor; help me to glorify You by contentment. I am sick; help me to give You honor by patience. I have talents; help me to extol You by spending them for You. I have time, Lord; help me to redeem it, that I may serve You. I have a heart to feel; Lord, let that heart feel no love but Yours, and glow with no flame but affection for You. I have a mind to think, Lord; help me to think of You and for You. You have put me in this world for something. Lord, show me what that is, and help me to work out my life-purpose. I cannot do much, but as the widow put in her two copper coins, which were all her living, so, Lord, I cast my time and eternity too into Your treasury. I am all Yours; take me, and enable me to glorify You now, in all that I say, in all that I do, and with all that I have.


One-Year Bible Reading Plan




Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Loves the Truth


“He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.” (Deuteronomy 32:4)

Does God ever lie? No, He cannot lie. He is a God of truth and does not sin, so He never says anything that is not true. Everything in His Word is absolutely true.

God wants us to tell the truth, too. Have you ever told a lie? Sometimes we plan ahead of time to tell a lie, maybe to cover a mistake we’ve made. Maybe your little brother rubs a whole can of red Play-Doh into the carpet because you weren’t paying attention when you were babysitting him, so you decide that when your mom gets home, you’ll tell her that it happened when you had to go answer the phone.

Other times, lies just sort of slip out when we’re under pressure. Maybe your dad asks if you fed the dog, and you say you did – even though you didn’t – because you’re in the middle of a video game and don’t want to stop.

We have all lied about something, and sometimes we don’t take those lies seriously. Lying is sin. In fact, the Bible even says that God hates lying. In Proverbs 6, God lists six things He hates. Only one sin is listed twice in that list: lying! God wants us to tell the truth. When we tell a lie, we need to confess our sin to God, and then we need to confess our sin to the person we lied to and tell the truth instead.

God is Truth, and He hates lies.

My Response:
» Have I been telling the truth? Do I need to confess a lie – to God and to the person I lied to?

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Denison Forum – Responding to the Ravi Zacharias scandal: Three biblical steps every Christian must take now


FILE – In this May 29, 2020 file photo, images of Ravi Zacharias are displayed in the Passion City Church during a memorial service for him in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson, File)

Note: The impeachment and acquittal of former President Trump by the Senate raise vital questions for our culture and our future. However, given the urgency of today’s topic, I will postpone my response to the impeachment proceedings until tomorrow’s Daily Article.

Witnessing the fall of someone we greatly admire elicits deep, painful emotions. We feel betrayed by them and embarrassed that we trusted them. The more public our faith in them, the more public our shame and the deeper our anger. We wonder if there is anyone we can truly trust. If they were part of a larger movement, that movement’s reputation is disgraced along with them.

These emotions describe the way many of us have felt since allegations of sexual abuse first began surfacing against Ravi Zacharias, one of the best-known and most admired evangelicals of our generation. I wrote at his death of my gratitude for his life and legacy. Then horrendously sinful personal stories began to surface.

Last Friday, the report of the law firm hired by Ravi Zacharias International Ministries to investigate these stories was made public. The scathing twelve-page document is heartbreaking. I will not describe here what it describes, but it includes evidence of rape, other acts of sexual abuse, and numerous extramarital relationships.

Christianity Today and others are reporting on the details of this scandal. My purpose today is to consider it in the context of spiritual warfare and to identify three biblical lessons we must each learn today, before this story becomes our story tomorrow.

One: Grieve for the victims 

Jesus warned us that Satan “was a murderer from the beginning” and “a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). Our Savior also told us that “the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10). Whenever we find death, lies, theft, and destruction, we know that our spiritual enemy has been at work.

This is what happened to the victims of Ravi Zacharias’ sins. Each person he abused is someone made in God’s image and beloved by our Father. How I would feel if this happened to my wife is how we should all feel today.

We are told to “weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15). Try to imagine how these victims have felt over these years. Then pray for their healing and for the body of Christ to demonstrate his compassion and grace to them.

And remember that sin always affects the innocent. Satan loves to use one sin to destroy as many lives as he can. The next time you are tempted with “private” sin, remember the victims of Ravi Zacharias’ sins. The women he abused will never forget their pain, and his family and colleagues are shamed and grieving as well.


Two: Expect private sin to become public 

Here is how Satan’s strategy with so-called “private” sin works: “Each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death” (James 1:14–15).

Is tempted is in the present tense, showing that temptation is an ever-present reality for us all. Lured means to be “dragged away.” Enticed means to catch by use of bait, as in trapping an animal or catching a fish.

The Greek syntax of sin when it is fully grown indicates that this result is not inevitable; we can stop sin before it reaches this stage. However, we must confess our sin immediately (1 John 1:8–10) because sin begins to metastasize immediately. Otherwise, the result is physical and spiritual death (Luke 15:32Ephesians 2:1Revelation 20:14). The Bible consistently warns us that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23; cf. Ezekiel 18:20).

The next time you are tempted by “private” sin, see this temptation as bait in a cage. And know that its consequences will be far worse than its rewards, for you and everyone who knows you. I will repeat a statement I have made often over the years: sin will always take you further than you wanted to go, keep you longer than you wanted to stay, and cost you more than you wanted to pay. Always.

Three: Repent now 

The Bible reveals: “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). We includes every Christian. What Satan did to Ravi Zacharias, he wants to do to you and to me today.

If you are harboring “secret” sin that has not yet been exposed, don’t believe Satan’s lie that you will be the one person who will get away with it. Your Enemy is waiting until you climb even further up the ladder so that your fall will be even more devastating to you and all those you hurt on the way down.

If this could happen to Ravi Zacharias, it can happen to any of us.

I have known several “fallen” ministers over the years. The ways their private sins were made public were so unusual and unpredictable that none could have imagined being found out as they were.

If you are living in unrepented sin, you are climbing a ladder that will collapse under you when Satan chooses. Get off it now with confession, repentance, and contrition. Read 1 John 1:9, then claim its truth as God’s promise for your soul.


What to do if you’re walking on ice 

I am writing this morning in the midst of the worst winter weather we have seen in the Dallas area for decades. The storm began last Thursday, leading to a 135-vehicle wreck in Ft. Worth that killed six people and injured dozens more. Transportation in our region is largely shut down today.

One reason is that ice fell before the snow began, coating our bridges and roads. As a result, under the snow we can see is a sheet of ice we cannot see. When we walk or drive on the snow, the ice it is hiding can be dangerous and even deadly.

When ice is under your feet, the safest thing you can do is get on your knees and crawl to safety.

Do it now.




Upwords; Max Lucado –More than Job Ever Dreamed


Listen to Today’s Devotion

If you underline any passage in the book of Job, underline this verse: “I had heard about you before, but now I have seen you” (Job 42:5). Job sees God—and that is enough. But it isn’t enough for God. The years to come find Job with his health restored. His lap is once again full of children and grandchildren. A new beginning indeed.


If Job ever wonders why God doesn’t bring back the children he has taken away, he doesn’t ask. Maybe he knows that his children could never be happier than they are in the presence of this One he has seen so briefly. Something tells me that Job would do it all again if that’s what it would take to hear God’s voice and stand in his presence. For God gave Job more than Job ever dreamed. God gave Job himself.


Begin Again


For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.