Monday, September 17, 2007


September 17 is Constitution Day. This is the day that commemorates the signing of the Constitution on September 17, 1787. The Constitution is the fundamental basis of our political system. But most people know little about it. The Constitution doesn’t just talk about Congress and the Supreme Court. It sets forth a profoundly conservative vision of government and society. It is crucial that people understand these principles if liberty is to be maintained.

Natural Law The Constitution is predicated on the existence of natural law. The Declaration of Independence states that "We hold these Truths to self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness." This thinking extends to the Constitution. The Bill of Rights does not pretend to grant rights that can be repealed at the government’s discretion. It recognizes pre-existing God-given rights. This can be seen most clearly in the Ninth Amendment, which states "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."

A Republic, not a Democracy The Founding Fathers created the Constitution to provide "a Republican Form of Government" to the states. The word democracy never appears in the Constitution. In fact, the Founders despised democracy. Although the distinction has become blurred, the distinction between republic and democracy can be summarized as being that in a democracy, policy should be whatever the people want it to be, whereas in a republic, there are right and wrong things to do regardless of what people think. In a republic, the people serve to check the government, not provide a mandate for tyrannical policies.

Limited Government Having just fought a war to prevent the British Empire from imposing tyranny on America, the Founding Fathers understood the necessity of strictly limiting government power. Most constitutions provide the government with unlimited power and restrict the freedom of the people. But our Constitution restricts the powers of the federal government, limiting its functions to a few explicitly enumerated activities.

A Well-regulated Militia The Constitution gives Congress the power "To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia" and "calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions." The militia in general is composed of all law-abiding adult citizens. The Second Amendment states that "the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed" because "A well-regulated militia [is] necessary to the security of a free state." In the last resort, the militia will be necessary to overthrow a tyrannical government. Thus no gun control laws are constitutional.

Federalism The Constitution has a separation of powers and checks and balances so as to divide and limit federal power and prevent the rise of a dictator. The system of federalism means that most issues are left to the states. This accommodates different opinions and ensures more responsive and effective government. All federal actions not explicitly authorized by the Constitution, including welfare and entitlement programs, are unconstitutional. Before the Seventeenth Amendment, senators represented state governments, giving them a say and helping to limit federal power. Before the Sixteenth Amendment, income taxes were unconstitutional.

Unconstitutional Spending The Tenth Amendment states that "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited to it by the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people." What powers are not delegated to the federal government? The Constitution grants the federal government no authority for actions concerning welfare, entitlements, retirement, health care, poverty, agriculture, labor, the economy, education, foreign aid, gun control, the environment, or product regulation. The states may address these issues if they wish, but any federal spending or regulation in these areas is unconstitutional.

Freedom of Religion The first amendment declares that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." This means that Congress can neither establish a religion nor stop the states from doing so. Also, establishing a religion is not the same as endorsing a religion, which the federal government often did during the founders’ era. The founders believed that a moral and religious populace was crucial for good government. The phrase "separation of church and state" never appears in the Constitution.

God in the Constitution Some people claim that the Constitution is a secular document without reference to God. But Article VII states that the Constitution was signed "in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty-seven." Further, the First Amendment protects freedom of religion, which its author James Madison defined as how we worship the Creator.

Secession The Constitution is a contract between the American states. Before the Constitution, the thirteen colonies were sovereign, independent countries. When they created the Constitution, they created "dual sovereignty," agreeing to delegate part of their sovereignty to the federal government, while retaining the rest. This union is voluntary, and the Founding Fathers believed that the states had the legal power to withdraw at any time. Further, the Constitution does not give the federal government any authority to stop secession. Thus perpetuating the union is left to the states, not the federal government. The war for Independence was a war of secession.

Nullification Many of the Founding Fathers, including Jefferson, believed that states had the power to nullify laws passed by the federal government within their own boundaries. This principle was enshrined in the Virginia and Kentucky resolutions of 1798. Violations of the Constitution would undoubtedly occur, and the federal government could not be trusted to limit itself. Since the states created the federal government, they should "interpret" the Constitution.

Judicial Review The executive, legislative, and judicial branches are often described as equal. But the Founders clearly wrote in The Federalist that Congress would be most powerful, the Supreme Court least. The Constitution does not give the courts any authority to overturn laws. In 1803, the Supreme Court usurped this power in a case called Marbury v. Madison. Since then, the courts have acted as tyrants by legitimizing federal power-grabs and interfering with the legitimate powers of the states, such as regulating abortion and allowing school prayer.

Living Constitution? Some people have advanced the notion that we have a "living constitution" whose meaning changes over time. This is a convenient belief for those who wish to ignore the Constitution’s limitations on government power. Britain has an unwritten "constitution" which does not interfere with government power. That’s just what our Founding Fathers wanted to avoid. How would you like the rules to be "living" when you play poker?

General Welfare and Interstate Commerce Some people try to get around Constitutional limits by citing the general welfare clause. However, "general welfare" is simply a summary of the specific powers listed in the Constitution, according to its author, James Madison. Another common justification is the interstate commerce clause. But this simply means goods crossing state lines. It has been perverted to imply that Congress can regulate any activity that affects interstate commerce. The "necessary and proper" clause has been similarly perverted.

Electoral College The President is selected by the Electoral College. This reflects the role of the states in creating the federal government. For about forty years, electors were selected by state legislatures, not voters. The Electoral College also decentralizes elections, isolating fraud and limiting the effects of natural disasters. Centralized elections would invite massive fraud.

War Powers The Constitution grants Congress the power "to declare War," as well as "raise and support Armies" and "provide and maintain a Navy." This power is not granted to the President. This means that decision to go to war will not be made by one person. This decentralized power and provides an important check on government.

The Constitution’s meaning is clear—it strictly limits government power. It must be defended.


Anonymous said...

A quote from the New York Times for all of you to consider: "The administration’s disinformation machine portrayed the debate [about the Military Commissions Act] as a fight between tough-minded conservatives who wanted to defeat terrorism and addled liberals who would coddle the worst kinds of criminals. It was nothing of the kind.

There is nothing conservative about expressing contempt for the Constitution by denying judicial procedure to prisoners who happen not to be Americans."

This is why your party cannot be trusted after President Bush and while it is evident through numerous conservative debates that the base of your party still supports these heinous actions. You have lost your credibility.

Also, nice admission on your part that the 2nd Amendment states that guns should be regulated in the context of a militia. So much for individual rights with guns...I'll remember that next time you feel like posting that more guns are better.

Adam said...

"We hold these Truths to self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

Unless you're gay, right?

Matthew said...

Adam: Wrong.

Adam said...

Matt: How so?

They can't engage in civil unions because people don't want them to.

Because?? It's immoral? It will destroy family values?

I just don't understand this whole issue.

The divorce rate is through the roof, is that the fault of homosexuals?

Or is it the fear that these "perverts" will corrupt your kids? That's it, right?

The social fabric of America will be destroyed once homosexuals can have the same rights as heterosexuals!!!!

I ask you Matt, please show me some studies, facts, and information on how homosexuals have a negative effect on the nation.

I want to see how they affect families. How they are destroying the social fabric of the country. How they are bad people, who do not deserve the same rights as the rest of us.

Please find this information for me, and I will gladly join your side.

Matthew said...

You're creating a straw man argument.

What you said:

"We hold these Truths to self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness... Unless you're gay, right?"

What I said:


The US Constitution does not deny rights to homosexuals. This does not require studies to prove, but rather a simple reading of the document. I hope you do join "my side," but first I simply ask you to know what "my side" is.

Adam said...

Your side claims that homosexuals are destructive to society and that homosexual marriage would be destructive to society.

Where's the proof?