The Constitution is Not Dead (But it Isn’t Living Either)

October 14, 2011 at 3:23 pm

The United States – often recognized as a beacon of freedom to the world, though perhaps more so in the past than in the present.  The original colonists came here seeking a fresh start, a land of unrivaled opportunity, and a reprieve from the oppression of the British Crown.  Immigrants in more recent times come for similar reasons.  They come to escape oppression, to pursue new opportunity, to endeavor to better themselves and their families by taking advantage of the freedoms we here take for granted.  The ultimate reason is the freedom to determine one’s own destiny.  At one time, this was the single most appealing feature of the land of Lady Liberty to others around the world.  Slowly, the United States is slipping from its previous grandeur.  As the citizens sit back and allow themselves to be lulled into oblivion by mind-melting television shows and the latest in fashion, football or celebrity gossip the freedom and liberty that we take for granted is being stripped away.  Like an onion, each layer is slowly removed and eventually, it will be gone entirely.  With each layer compromised come the stinging tears of those who witness the degradation.  We are not yet past the point of no return.  The tools required to restore the Republic are in place.  They just need to be utilized and enforced.

In their quest to ensure the blessings of liberty for future generations our nations Founding Fathers established a supreme law of the land, known as the United States Constitution.  At the behest of the States they established 10 amendments to the new Constitution which comprise what we call the Bill of Rights.  Upon those 5 pages the foundation of the United States system of government was laid.  Some argue that the Constitution is no longer relevant, or that it is incapable of addressing the issues of our modern era.  Some believe in the idea of a “living” Constitution which is the notion that the document is fluid and can be interpreted in such a way as to fit it to whatever the current needs of government require.  Others believe in a strict interpretation of the Constitution as originally intended by the Founders.  Sadly, it seems that the majority does not know about the Constitution, does not think about the Constitution, and are not aware of just how significant it is.

Say you are an architect and you design a new skyscraper.  How do you relay your design to the contractors who will be constructing the new building?  You would use a blueprint.  The blueprint would lay out the exact specifications of the building, and it would provide the foundation needed for the contractors to commence building.  Now what would happen if that blueprint were modified by some of the contractors who did not care for the placement of some of the steel I beams?  What if the blueprint were ignored entirely?  Obviously the resulting structure would be unstable, if it could remain standing at all.

That is what has happened to our country.  The blueprint has been ignored by those whose job it is to follow it to the letter.  As a result, our foundation is compromised, and our nation is teetering.  We the people who were responsible for ensuring that our officials honor the Constitution have failed in our responsibility.

The Constitution institutes the structure of the federal government.  It dictates that there shall be a legislative, judicial, and executive branch.  It divides and limits the power of each to ensure fairness and institute checks and balances to dissuade the excessive collection of power in a single branch and the abuse that inherently comes with it.  It assigns specific duties to each branch and denies all powers not specifically enumerated.

The Bill of Rights guarantees the rights of the citizens.  It protects the free expression of ideas and religion, as well establishing the right for citizens to assemble and protest against government policies.  It provides for the privacy and security of the people and their property against unreasonable search or seizure.  It solidifies the right to a fair trial for all accused of a crime and provides for the humane punishment of the convicted.  It empowers the people to secure themselves and gives teeth to the claim made in the Declaration of Independence that “it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish [destructive government], and to institute new Government” insomuch as it provides a last resort against tyranny in the right of citizens to own and carry firearms.  Lastly, the Bill of Rights dictates clearly that any powers not delegated to the federal government so long as they are not prohibited of the states, are to be expressly reserved to the states and the people.

This is the core of the United States.  These are the words that our nation is built upon.  Without them, the Republic is no more.  It is vital that our elected representatives be held accountable by us.

Those who believe in a “living” Constitution undermine the foundation of liberty.  We see the current state of affairs at the federal level.  We are in this situation because of those who choose to ignore the Constitution entirely, or who interpreted it to their liking.  A common excuse is the “necessary and proper” clause.  This argument is a reckless bastardization of the original intent.

The Founders made it clear what their intent was.  Alexander Hamilton had this to say on the matter:

“It may be affirmed with perfect confidence that the constitutional operation of the intended government would be precisely the same, if these clauses were entirely obliterated…” – From Federalist #33

Thomas Jefferson had this to say:

“The Constitution allows only the means which are “necessary,” not those which are merely “convenient” for effecting the enumerated powers. If such a latitude of construction be allowed to this phrase as to give any non-enumerated power, it will go to everyone, for there is not one which ingenuity may not torture into a convenience in some instance or other, to some one of so long a list of enumerated powers. It would swallow up all the delegated powers, and reduce the whole to one power, as before observed. Therefore it was that the Constitution restrained them to the necessary means, that is to say, to those means without which the grant of power would be nugatory.”

George Nicholas clarified further before the Virginia ratifying convention:

“[the necessary and proper clause] only enables them [Congress] to carry into execution the powers given to them, but gives them no additional power.”

This could not be clearer.  The Founders intended the clause to allow the government to institute what was necessary for it to carry out only the powers enumerated.

Once it is accepted that the Constitution may be interpreted in whatever way is most pleasing to the government at any particular time it, as a whole is lost.  Such an idea makes it possible for the government to interpret away any and all of the protections that the Constitution exists to enforce.  It violates the amendment process, by making it permissible for the government to justify its actions using fallacious arguments.  In this way, the Constitution is ignored, and the government ceases power that it was never intended to have.

The Founders recognized that from time to time it would be necessary to make adjustment to the Constitution.  That is why they created a process for amending it.  Using this amendment process is the only acceptable way for the government to modify the Constitution.  Simply side-stepping the entire rule of law as it is laid out is unacceptable and highly damaging to the Republic and to liberty.  This is the reason the United States is in its current condition.  The federal government ignored the Constitution and as a result has set our nation upon a path to ruin.

Only through strict adherence to the very letter of the Constitution can we regain our freedoms, conquer our oppressions and ensure the fruits of liberty for our children and for generations to come.  The Constitution as an ideal must be kept alive at all costs; as law, it must be to our representatives as inescapable as death.

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