Constitution Day 2013

Constitution - #2  by Diane Rufino

Last Tuesday was Constitution Day – September 17.  It marks the day that the Convention in Philadelphia in 1787 concluded and the final draft of Constitution was signed by the delegates who attended.  It is fitting that this is the day we choose to honor the US Constitution.  As we all probably know, the Convention was called in a somewhat devious and misleading manner.  James Madison and others from Virginia called the Convention (after securing a promise that the most beloved man in America would serve as its president – George Washington) for the express purpose of AMENDING the Articles of Confederation and tweaking the Continental Congress (the government at the time) to make it more effective. The most glaring defect of the common government was its ability to raise the revenue it needed to carry out its functions.

All the states sent delegates except Rhode Island.  And so 12 of our original 13 states participated in Philadelphia. Collectively they appointed 70 individuals to the Constitutional Convention.  But a number of our most important Founding Fathers did not accept or could not attend. These included Richard Henry Lee (of VA), Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Samuel Adams, and John Hancock. Jefferson, who authored the Declaration, was overseas at the time, acting as Minister to France. And Patrick Henry did not trust the intentions of some of the delegates.  He found out the real intention of the Convention – to scratch the Articles entirely and to write a new Constitution and design a new government.  Patrick Henry suspected that New York’s delegate, Alexander Hamilton, a strong monarchist, would try to get his way and fashion our new government after the British Monarchy. And so Henry declined to go to Philadelphia, claiming: “I smell a rat.”

And so when a total of 55 delegates from the states met in Philadelphia, they soon found out the real purpose of the gathering. Some did not take the news very well and argued that they did not have the proper authority to abandon the Articles of Confederation.  James Madison, George Mason and Edmond Randolph, all of Virginia, arrived in Philadelphia well-prepared. In fact, Madison was the first to arrive.  He arrived in February, three months before the convention began, with a Plan already prepared and a blueprint for the new Constitution and government in place. Although he authored the Plan, it was Randolph, who was Governor of Virginia at the time, who proposed it at the Convention – in the form of 15 resolutions. It was known as the Virginia Plan. It called for a strong NATIONAL government with many centralized functions and also with a UNIVERSAL VETO power over the States.  Madison called it a “universal negative.” Under Madison’s Virginia’s Plan, the government would have the power to veto any state law “for any case whatsoever.”

Luckily, the Virginia delegation couldn’t sell all of their plan to the other states and the Convention turned out to be a 4-month exercise in compromise and well-intentioned debate.  In the end, on September 17th, we got a constitution that created a limited FEDERAL government.  It was quite different in many respects from the government that the Virginians proposed. Luckily, the overwhelming number of delegates at the Convention that year did not believe in concentrating too much power in a common government; they believed that government is most responsive when it is closest to the People and so they remained steadfast that the bulk of government power must remain with the States.  A government that is closest to the People can serve them best and can be “altered or abolished” by them when circumstances demand it.

The delegates ranged in age from Jonathan Dayton (of NJ), aged 26, to Benjamin Franklin, aged 81, who was so infirm that he had to be carried to sessions in a chair. They brought with them the interests of their States and their people. They brought with them a wealth of knowledge and a keen eye on the prize they fought for in the American Revolution (which Patrick Henry would later describe as “that precious jewel – Liberty”).  They brought with them their understanding of what a common government should do to serve them and also to serve a common good for all States.  Not one State intended to surrender its sovereignty or its influence.  Not one state intended to surrender its individual identity for a “national” identity.

In the close of the Convention, only 39 delegates would feel compelled to sign the Constitution.  Many refused to sign because there was no Bill of Rights.  More than half of the Virginia delegation wouldn’t sign, including Mr. Randolph himself and George Mason (who wrote Virginia’s Bill of Rights). Elbridge Gerry, of Massachusetts was another powerhouse that refused to sign it.  A Bill of Rights, they argued, was an absolute necessity to limit any government.

The particular opposition by George Mason is most compelling.  While Elbridge Gerry was, by most accounts, cantankerous, irritable, and most disagreeable to many things and Randolph was likely sulking since his Plan was rejected in good part and believing that the States would ultimately reject a new constitution anyway, it was Mason who refused to sign based on pure principle.

George Mason didn’t trust a large republican government…  not without a Bill of Rights, that’s for certain.  He believed certain stipulations were necessary to protect the liberties of the People from the reaches of government.  James Madison, on the other hand, argued against a Bill of Rights. It was his position that such stipulations weren’t necessary due to the nature of the Constitution. He argued that the Constitution specifically enumerated the powers that were delegated to the federal government. That is, the document explained what the government COULD do and not what it COULD NOT do.  He feared if a Bill of Rights was included, it could ultimately backfire on the People. He feared that if a Bill of Rights was added to prohibit the government from intruding on rights A, B, and C, then it could be inferred that the government could intrude on rights D, E, and F. Madison explained that if you listed some individual rights, you must list them all and that would necessarily change the Constitution from forbidding the federal government from doing anything not enumerated to something that allows the government do whatever it wants as long as it is not listed in a Bill of Rights.

But Mason wasn’t convinced by fellow his fellow Virginian’s rationale.  For Mason, it came down to principal, basic human nature, and the enormity of history that taught us what happens when government has the ability to concentrate power. In early 1776, before Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence, Mason drafted the Virginia Declaration of Rights and helped frame Virginia’s constitution. George Mason was exceedingly proud of Virginia’s Declaration of Rights, and was pleased that it became a model for other states. In part, the Declaration of Rights provided:

SEC.1 That all men are by nature equally free and independent and have certain inherent rights, of which, when they enter into a state of society, they cannot, by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity; namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.

SEC. 2. That all power is vested in, and consequently derived from, the people; that magistrates are their trustees and servants and at all times amenable to them.

SEC.3.  Government is, or ought to be instituted for the common benefit, protection, and security of the people, nation, or community; of all the various modes and forms of government, that is best which is capable of producing the greatest degree of happiness and safety, and is most effectually secured against the danger of maladministration and […] when any government shall be found inadequate or contrary to these purposes, a majority of the community hath an indubitable, inalienable, and indefeasible right to reform, alter, or abolish it, in such manner as shall be judged most conducive to the public weal.

The document had sixteen sections, but it’s quite clear that these short paragraphs encompassed America’s Founding Principles, which Thomas Jefferson would later incorporate into the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence. Mason simply did not trust a government to police itself.

Even Thomas Jefferson agreed.  He wrote James Madison from his post in France that a Bill of Rights should be added: “A Bill of Rights is what the people are entitled to against every government, and what no just government should refuse, or rest on inference.”

The decision of whether to add a Bill of Rights ultimately came down to the States in their Ratifying Conventions. And George Mason, along with Patrick Henry, would do all they could to derail the ratification of the Constitution until proper assurances and restraints were added.

At the Virginia Ratifying Convention in June 4, 1788, Mason took the floor and addressed the delegates:  “Does any man suppose that one general national government can exist in so extensive a country as this? I hope that a government may be framed which may suit us, by drawing a line between the general and state governments, and prevent that dangerous clashing of interest and power, which must, as it now stands, terminate in the destruction of one or the other. When we come to the judiciary, we shall be more convinced that this government will terminate in the annihilation of the state governments: the question then will be, whether a consolidated government can preserve the freedom and secure the rights of the people.  If such amendments be introduced as shall exclude danger, I shall most gladly put my hand to it. When such amendments as shall, from the best information, secure the great essential rights of the people, shall be agreed to by gentlemen, I shall most heartily make the greatest concessions, and concur in any reasonable measure to obtain the desirable end of conciliation and unanimity…”

Patrick Henry accused the Virginia delegation of abandoning the spirit of the Revolution by taking the Constitution at face value and trusting a common government to respect the sovereign powers of the States and limit itself to expressly-delegated objects.  On June 5, 1788, he addressed the members of the Ratifying Convention with these words:

“When the American spirit was in its youth, the language of America was different.  Liberty, sir, was then the primary object.

      We are descended from a people whose government was founded on liberty; our glorious forefathers of Great Britain made liberty the foundation of everything. That country is become a great, mighty, and splendid nation; not because their government is strong and energetic, but, sir, because liberty is its direct end and foundation. We drew the spirit of liberty from our British ancestors; by that spirit we have triumphed over every difficulty. But now, sir, the American spirit, assisted by the ropes and chains of consolidation, is about to convert this country into a powerful and mighty empire. If you make the citizens of this country agree to become the subjects of one great consolidated empire of America, your government will not have sufficient energy to keep them together. Such a government is incompatible with the genius of republicanism. There will be no checks, no real balances, in this government.

      Consider our situation, sir; go to the poor man and ask him what he does. He will inform you that he enjoys the fruits of his labor, under his own fig tree, with his wife and children around him, in peace and security. Go to every other member of society; you will find the same tranquil ease and content; you will find no alarms or disturbances. Why, then, tell us of danger, to terrify us into an adoption of this new form of government? And yet who knows the dangers that this new system may produce? They are out of sight of the common people; they cannot foresee latent consequences. I dread the operation of it on the middling and lower classes of people; it is for them I fear the adoption of this system. I fear I tire the patience of the committee, but I beg to be indulged with a few more observations.

 I profess myself an advocate for the liberty of the people. I have said that I thought this a consolidated government; I will now prove it. Will the great rights of the people be secured by this government?  Suppose it should prove oppressive, how can it be altered?  Our Bill of Rights (Virginia’s) declares that ‘a majority of the community hath an indubitable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to reform, alter, or abolish it, in such manner as shall be judged most conducive to the public weal.’ 

      The voice of tradition, I trust, will inform posterity of our struggles for freedom. If our descendants be worthy the name of Americans they will preserve and hand down to their latest posterity the transactions of the present times……

      Liberty, the greatest of all earthly blessings…  Give us that precious jewel, and you may take everything else!   Guard it with jealous attention. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel…

At this point, the adoption of the Constitution seemed unlikely. Virginia would likely not ratify and neither would New York, and North Carolina clearly would not ratify. Without Virginia, Madison realized, there could be no hope of ever building a coalition to adopt it.  Madison needed Virginia. And so he began working tirelessly for ratification. He teamed up with Alexander Hamilton and John Jay on a series of articles (collectively called “The Federalist Papers”) that were published in newspapers all throughout the States making the case for ratification. And then he changed his stance on a Bill of Rights. He promised to include a bill of rights as the first order of business for the new federal congress. This finally brought George Mason around, which then helped tip Virginia towards ratification.

In the end, as we know, the Constitution was ratified by the States and we became a “more perfect Union” in 1788.  On June 21, 1788, New Hampshire became the ninth and last necessary state to ratify the Constitution of the United States, thereby making it the Law of the Land.  Virginia and New York ratified it within a month and North Carolina wouldn’t ratify it until over a year later (November 1789).

The Federalist Papers, the debates in the various State Ratifying Conventions, and the Bill of Rights itself continue to be a lasting testament to the limited nature of the US Constitution.

In past years, Tea Parties, Constitutional groups, and other conservative organizations honored Constitution Day by passing out pocket Constitutions.  We have asked people to take the time to read it and become familiar with it.  But perhaps the real message we need to send is how all our Founding documents fit together and why the Constitution still matters.

First, let’s ask what IS a Constitution?  Our Founders gave us that answer.

The Supreme Court, with John Jay (author of some of the Federalist Papers) as the Chief Justice, told us in 1795:

What is a Constitution? It is the form of government, delineated by the mighty hand of the people, in which certain first principles of fundamental laws are established. The Constitution is certain and fixed; it contains the permanent will of the people and is the supreme law of the land…
       It is stable and permanent, not to be worked upon by the temper of the times, nor to rise and fall with the tide of events; notwithstanding the competition of opposing interests, and the violence of contending parties, it remains firm and immovable, as a mountain amidst the raging of the waves.”   [Opinion in Vanhorne’s Lessee v. Dorance, 2 U.S. 304, 308 (1795)]

A constitution is not the act of a government, but of a people constituting a government; and government without a constitution is power without a right. All power exercised over a nation, must have some beginning. It must be either delegated, or assumed. There are not other sources. All delegated power is trust, and all assumed power is usurpation. Time does not alter the nature and quality of either.”   — Thomas PaineRights of Man (1791-1792)

The purpose of a written constitution is to bind up the several branches of government by certain laws, which, when they transgress, their acts shall become nullities; to render unnecessary an appeal to the people, or in other words a rebellion, on every infraction of their rights, on the peril that their acquiescence shall be construed into an intention to surrender those rights.” — Thomas JeffersonNotes on Virginia, 1782.

Our peculiar security is in the possession of a written Constitution. Let us not make it a blank paper by construction.” — Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to W. Nicholas (1803)

Does it sound like our Constitution was intended to become a LIVING, BREATHING DOCUMENT?

The reality is that the Constitution is not a stand-alone document.  And I think that is where our discussions have failed.  Our founding documents fit together as follows:

(i) The Declaration of Independence.  It proclaims our philosophy of sovereignty, rights, and government.  It establishes the order in our country and puts government in perspective. The individual precedes government. Government must serve the individual by protecting his rights.

(ii) The US Constitution.  It designed a government (checked by the sovereign powers of the States and the People) to embrace the philosophy set forth in the Declaration.

(iii) The Bill of Rights.  It further limits the authority of the federal government (as the preamble to the Bill of Rights states: “In order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added…..”)

We enjoy our God-given rights because our founding documents boldly assert that only We the People have the right to determine our government, since it is only by the voluntary and temporary delegation of our rights to govern ourselves that government exists. We have the right to “alter or abolish” government when it becomes destructive of its ends (which is first and foremost to protect and preserve our rights to Life, Liberty, and Property and the right to defend them). Nowhere in any of our founding documents is government given a life of its own; it has no right or power to seek its own self-interests nor to preserve, insure, or protect its existence. Yet today, government’s interests are placed above those of the People. Government has made sure that it has the exclusive power to define its own powers.

Our creature has become our master.

Too often the Supreme Court uses a skewed perspective. Instead of asking:  ’Are citizens’ rights being violated by this law?’  the Court asks: ‘Is the violation of citizens’ rights justified because of overriding government goals and objectives?’  Too often the answer the court delivers is ‘yes.’  When your rights get in the way of a government objective, you lose.

       Government created to protect your rights should have no goal higher than the protection of those rights. When government’s own goals override your rights, government is acting unconstitutionally. Government often states that these violations of citizens’ rights are necessary ‘for the good of society.’  Society is ill served by laws which violate the rights of the citizens making up that society.

       The Constitution (and the federal government it brought into existence) was created by the states to serve the states. It sets forth the rules for how the government must behave and says, in effect (in the tenth amendment)  ’Any powers that we did not give to you are ours; we’re still the boss.’

This is like exercising parental control. You tell your child how to act, with whom he (or she) may associate and what time he must be home. You assign household chores and responsibilities. In short, you establish rules of proper conduct.

       Suppose that this works fine for a while, but as your child grows, he begins testing the boundaries you had set and breaking the rules, but you do nothing to prevent it. One day you realize that your child is making his own rules, even telling you what to do and what you cannot do. If you object that he is not acting within the rules you set down, he says that he knows better than you what your rules mean. If you try to assert your own rights, you are punished — your child is now bigger and stronger than you are. Your child’s allowance demands are ever increasing. If you don’t do something to correct the situation soon, you’ll be declared incompetent and your child will control all aspects of your life.”

The Tea Party and Constitutional groups take a lot of criticism.  The media, for example, says that the Tea Party has lost steam and has lost relevance.  And sometimes, I admit it, I wonder if it might be true. But when I celebrate Constitution Day and when I continue studying the Constitution and what our Founders intended, and when I have those “light bulb” moments when I begin to understand why certain principles were incorporated into our founding documents, I am reminded of why the Tea Party was founded in the first place and why it is so important.  And I am re-inspired to be a part of it, as well as the Tenth Amendment Center.  It’s because the Tea Party is the party of the Constitution.  We understand its relevance……   We understand why our Founders rejected that Virginia Plan in Philadelphia and why they spent four months building the consensus for a government that would be delegated only limited powers and that would be restrained by a series of checks and balances.

We understand that the problems our country faces today are all a direct consequence of the federal government’s failure to keep itself limited to the express powers delegated to it by the States back in 1791 AND the States’ failure to stand up and remind the government of its limits.

We understand – because we know that America is still defined by the Declaration of Independence – that every time the federal government oversteps its constitutional authority, it is taking sovereign power away from We the People and from the States.  And it has to stop.   We are slowly (maybe not slowly) slipping back into tyranny.

There is a lot at stake in the American experiment. Ours is a nation founded on an ideal and nothing else.  Whether that grand ideal will survive depends on whether the American experiment is successful or not. What is that ideal?  It is the notion that individuals are sovereign and that they are endowed with Natural rights that are “self-evident” and “inalienable” which are an integral part of their very humanity. Since these rights come from our Creator, they cannot be deemed to be granted by government. Hence government is powerless to take them away or violate them. In fact, governments are instituted to serve the People and to protect those rights.

It was from that ideal that our Founders understood the great challenge that would be presented:  How to keep the role of government strictly limited in order that liberty is enlarged and that government is prevented from growing into a new form of tyranny.  They studied history and were well-aware that the nature of any government is to control and gain more power from those it governs. And that in that challenge, we understand why the Constitution is still relevant.  At one time it defined a limited government and it offered numerous protections against those governmental intrusions which they knew would come eventually.  The Constitution still holds the power of limited government and still defines the proper relationship between the People, the States, and the federal government. The key is to put that document, with its original meaning and its original intent, back to work for the American people and for the protection of their inalienable rights.

The Tea Party summoned the spirit of the Revolution to resurrect the Constitution. They went back to the days of peaceful civil disobedience, ownership of their rights and destiny, engagement of their government in their civil liberties, and robust discussion of what it means to be a “free” people.

They took the name “Tea Party” because of its rich historical significance. The Boston Tea Party occurred on December 16, 1773 as a protest against the tax on tea imposed by a government in a far-off land that did not permit its representation in the legislative process (Parliament).  Earlier that year, the British government passed the Tea Act, which authorized the British East India Company to ship tea directly to colonies while the government levied a tax of three pence on each shipment. While the Tea Act actually lowered the price of tea for colonists (so that even with the tax, the colonists were still paying less for tea), many colonists were still angry at being taxed at all.

“Taxation without Representation” was a rallying cry that was particularly significant. The taxes the British tried to collect were modest and the revenue collected was to be spent entirely in the colonies for their benefit and protection. It wasn’t even going to be sent back to the mother country. So why all the fuss and cry of “tyranny”?  It was because the real reason for American Revolution was the lack of political machinery to protect the colonists’ rights.  In short, our founding agitators and revolutionaries weren’t as concerned about the insignificant tax on tea as they were with the underlying violations of their basic human rights.

The American experiment will continue to be successful only as long as we continue to be as vigilante and protective of our rights and as long as we continue to demand that government keep its distance. And so, as we recognize Constitution Day each year on September 17, we should re-commit to our Revolutionary spirit as Americans and read our founding documents in that light. As Jefferson warned, we shouldn’t render our government one of general and unlimited power because we’ve tacitly allowed it the exclusive domain to interpret the Constitution as it sees fit.  We can all know the meaning and intention of the Constitution simply by doing our homework and reading what words of wisdom our Founders left. We don’t need government officials or judges to tell us.  Government wants power.  People want liberty.

As Patrick Henry warned on June 5, 1788 when he addressed the Virginia Ratifying Convention: (paraphrasing) “When we lose the American spirit and our mental powers have decayed, then our liberty will be gone forever.”

In Honor of Constitution Day 2013

Constitution - Destroying the Constitution

by Diane Rufino, September 17, 2013

Today is Constitution Day. Please take the time to reflect upon the principles that inspired our independence from Great Britain, united independent sovereign states, and inspired generations of Americans to put themselves in harm’s way to promote the same to those who have been and continue to be oppressed all over the world.  The most important of these principles is the inherent freedom and sovereignty of the individual, which is the cornerstone of the document which lays out the moral and ideological framework on which our country established its independence and dedicated its existence, the Declaration of Independence.

Our founding documents fit together as follows:

(i) The Declaration of Independence – which proclaims our philosophy of sovereignty, rights, and government
(ii) The US Constitution – which designed a government (checked by the sovereign powers of the States and the People) to embrace the philosophy set forth in the Declaration
(iii) The Bill of Rights – to further limit the authority of the federal government (as the preamble to the Bill of Rights states: “In order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added…..”)
(i) The Declaration of Independence – which proclaims our philosophy of sovereignty, rights, and government.
(ii) The US Constitution – which designed a government (checked by the sovereign powers of the States and the People) to embrace the philosophy set forth in the Declaratio.n
(iii) The Bill of Rights – to further limit the authority of the federal government (as the preamble to the Bill of Rights states: “In order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added…..”)

We enjoy our God-given rights because our founding documents boldly assert that only We the People have the right to determine our government, since it is only by the voluntary and temporary delegation of our rights to government ourselves that government exists. We have the right to “alter or abolish” government when it becomes destructive of its ends (which is first and foremost to protect and preserve our rights to Life, Liberty, and Property and the right to defend those rights). Nowhere in any of our founding documents is government given a life of its own; it has no right or power to seek its own self-interests nor to preserve, insure, or protect its existence. Yet today, government’s interests are placed above those of the People. Government has made sure that it has the exclusive power to define its own powers.

I ask everyone to please take the time to read the Declaration and the Constitution and acquaint yourselves or re-acquaint yourselves with the principles that protect your liberties and define the government that our Founders created for us for that purpose. Share with family and friends. Reflect upon the quotes below and look at the QUESTIONS that I’ve listed which follow them and test your knowledge !!

“What is a Constitution? It is the form of government, delineated by the mighty hand of the people, in which certain first principles of fundamental laws are established. The Constitution is certain and fixed; it contains the permanent will of the people and is the supreme law of the land…”   — Vanhorne’s Lessee v. Dorance, 2 U.S. 304, 308 (1795)

“The Constitution of a State is stable and permanent, not to be worked upon by the temper of the times, nor to rise and fall with the tide of events; notwithstanding the competition of opposing interests, and the violence of contending parties, it remains firm and immovable, as a mountain amidst the raging of the waves.”    — Vanhorne’s Lessee v. Dorance, 2 U.S. 304, 308 (1795)

“A constitution is not the act of a government, but of a people constituting a government; and government without a constitution is power without a right. All power exercised over a nation, must have some beginning. It must be either delegated, or assumed. There are not other sources. All delegated power is trust, and all assumed power is usurpation. Time does not alter the nature and quality of either.”   — Thomas Paine, Rights of Man (1791-1792)

“The purpose of a written constitution is to bind up the several branches of government by certain laws, which, when they transgress, their acts shall become nullities; to render unnecessary an appeal to the people, or in other words a rebellion, on every infraction of their rights, on the peril that their acquiescence shall be construed into an intention to surrender those rights.”    — Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782.

“Our peculiar security is in the possession of a written Constitution. Let us not make it a blank paper by construction.”    — Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to W. Nicholas (1803)

DO YOU KNOW YOUR CONSTITUTION and YOUR GOVERNMENT ??

1. What is the relationship between the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution?

2. What is the purpose of the Declaration of Independence?

3. The first paragraph of the Declaration of Independence explains the foundation of Individual Liberty. What is that foundation (2 laws)?

4. The second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence explains the relationship between We the People and government in the United States.  What is that relationship?

5. What are the first 10 amendments called?  Why were they added?

6. Where in the Constitution is the “Wall of Separation” mentioned?

7. Where in the Constitution does it require criminals be read the “Miranda” warning?

8. Where in the Constitution do we find that the Supreme Court has the power to issue binding decisions?

9. Where in the Constitution do we find the president having the power to send US troops to engage in acts of war without an official declaration of war?

10. Where in the Constitution do we find the legislative or executive branches having the power to limit or define the rights listed in the Bill of Rights?  (The preamble of the Bill of Rights is clear on this)

11. Where in the Constitution is the federal government granted the power to mandate healthcare or control education?

12. Where in the Constitution is Congress granted the power to spend taxpayer money to bailout selected businesses?

13. Where in the Constitution does it grant the Congress to tax and spend for any object other than those that are expressly listed in the Constitution?

14.What provision in the Constitution permits Congress to transfer its powers to legislate to unelected agencies?

15. Whose document is the Constitution?

16. Who does the Constitution protect?  And what does it protect from?

17. Does the government have any “rights” under the Declaration of Independence or in the Constitution? Is there any provision that permits it to engage in action or policies to further its own interests and longevity?

18. The President believes he has the right to identify American citizens as “enemy combatants” (a term invented by the Supreme Court during the era of WWII) thereby detaining them indefinitely and denying them their constitutional rights. An “enemy combatant” is a person who engages in belligerent acts (war) against the US.  Isn’t this type of person already identified in Article III, Section 3?

19. Can a treaty over-ride any provision of the US Constitution?  Can it limit any of the Bill of Rights?

20. Which provision in the Constitution is the state equivalent of the Supremacy Clause?

21. Which Article establishes the automatic nullification of unconstitutional laws?

22. What Article requires that all government officers, both state and federal, must have a working knowledge of the Constitution?

23. At whose level of understanding was the Constitution drafted?

24. Who or what does government serve?

25. When elected representatives and government officials (both federal and state) take their oath of office, what do they pledge their allegiance to??   The United States or the US Constitution?

26. In Article V, Section 2 (Supremacy Clause), it reads: “in pursuance thereof.”  What does that mean?

27. What are the citizenship requirements for a candidate seeking to be President of the United States?

ANSWERS:

1.  The Declaration is our moral compass. It establishes the relationship between the Individual and government.

2.  The Declaration of Independence had 2 purposes. First, it declared that the American states were dissolving the political bonds that connected them to Great Britain. In other words, the Declaration was a secessionist document.  Second, in explaining the reasons for their dissolution, the states proclaimed “to a candid world” the fundamental principles upon which they would declare their independence as free and sovereign states. The Declaration articulated the foundation of their societies and their government. It articulated the American blueprint for ordered liberty. The American system would be founded on the supreme sovereignty of the Individual (“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed”).  In announced that there would be no divine right of Kings or any premise that rights come from government. In fact, it would be the other way around. Government would only have those powers that the people voluntarily transfer or delegate to it to make laws for and protect them. That’s why all 13 states at the time agreed to the provision that “whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends (to protect and secure the rights of the People), it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”).

3.  Nature’s Law and God’s Law

4.  Sovereign power resides in the Individual. That is, he has the rights associated with being a free person – Life, Liberty, and Property, as well as all rights associated with them – PLUS he has the right to defend them – ie, the rights of self-defense, self-determination, and self-preservation. In order to form into communities and protect those rights, governments are instituted to provide those protections en masse. Government, that is, is instituted to serve the People and has as its primary purpose, the obligation to protect the rights of the Individual.  “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government..”

5.  The Bill of Rights.  The first 10 amendments grant NO rights.  They acknowledge certain rights that are so fundamental, so essential, and so integral to the notions of liberty that the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT is absolutely prohibited from violating them.

6.  This is a legal fiction – devised by a progressive Supreme Court designed to centralize power in the federal government. The Justice who gave us the “Wall of Separation” was Hugo Black, in the 1947 case Everson v. Board of Education.  Hugo Black was a leader with the KKK, tasked with administering the Klan oath (one provision being that there is a “Wall of Separation” to prevent Catholics, one of their target groups, from gaining any political power). In the decision, Black wrote:  “The First Amendment has erected a wall between church and state. That wall must be kept high and impregnable. We could not approve the slightest breach.” Our Founders understood that the key to effective, responsible government is having a citizenry that is capable of governing themselves and conducting themselves according to certain productive guidelines. Those guidelines come from morality and religion (which are intertwined). Only a moral and religious people are capable of ensuring that government remains limited and therefore capable of preserving liberty for future generations.

7.  Another legal fiction – again devised by a progressive Supreme Court (the Earl Warren Court in 1966, in the case Miranda v. Arizona). The Warren Court was characterized as promoting the rights of criminals over victims and the ability of police (and the criminal justice system, in general) to fight crime and protect law-abiding citizens. The Miranda warning is not a constitutional right…  it is a procedural safeguard imposed by the Supreme Court to make sure criminals do not suffer any violations of their constitutional rights with respect law enforcement. The Miranda warning includes elements of the Fifth Amendment (protection against self-incrimination) and the Sixth Amendment (the right to counsel).  After Warren’s time as Chief Justice ended in the mid 1970’s, a more conservative Court appointed by President Richard Nixon set out to undermine the Miranda ruling.  For the next twenty years, the Court weakened Miranda by un-mooring it (unlinking it) to the Constitution.  The subsequent (conservative Courts), the Burger and Rehnquist Courts, later interpreted the Miranda holding as a mere prophylactic [protective] measure and made clear that a violation of Miranda does not equal a constitutional violation.” (1994).  While it was still illegal for prosecutors to use a transcript of a defendant’s coerced testimony against him or her at trial, the information gained from that testimony could still be used to build a case against an accused. The Supreme Court had the chance to re-visit Miranda warnings in 2000 (in Dickerson v. US) and overrule the Miranda decision, but it chose not to. It chose to save Miranda. In Dickerson, Chief Justice William Rehnquist explained that the Court would not address the issue of whether Miranda warnings constitute judicial overreaching (He wrote: “The Court may or may not agree”), but would stand on stare decisis (the judicial practice of relying on Supreme Court precedent, or prior decisions). In other words, the Court would not feel it was necessary to reverse the Miranda decision of 1966. Rehnquist made two points to support the decision: (1) “We do not think there is such justification for overruling Miranda. Miranda has become embedded in routine police practice to the point where the warnings have become part of our national culture,” (ie, NYPD Blue, Law & Order, etc);  and (2) The Supreme Court has already weakened Miranda sufficiently so that it no longer effectively prevents slaw enforcement from good police work.

8.  Read Article III.  It reads: “The judicial power of the United States….”   [“United States” means federal government.  When the Constitution was ratified, the nation was considered a Union of sovereign states. It’s name was NOT the “United States.”  If anything, the nation was referred to as “The united States,” meaning that the individual states have formerly decided to unite for limited and common purposes, for their ultimate protection and security].  So, the judicial power of the government was vested in one supreme court and other inferior courts (as the Congress might from time to time ordain and establish. In Section 2, the Constitution assigns jurisdiction to the Supreme Court. In certain cases, the Court has “original” jurisdiction (meaning that the first time a case is heard, it goes before the Supreme Court), but nowhere does the Constitution state that jurisdiction is also “exclusive.” So cases can be heard in State courts as well. Nowhere does the Constitution state that decisions by the Supreme Court trump decisions in a state’s highest court.

9.  Nowhere. The power to declare war is set out in Article I, Section 8.  In Article II (The Executive), it states clearly that the President only becomes the Commander-in-chief of the Army and Navy (and of the state militias) when they are called into service of the United States (again we see the term “United States.”  Again it means the federal government).  So the President becomes the Commander-in-chief of the Army and Navy when they are called into service by the federal government. In other words, only after Congress declares war are the forces of the United States called into action and only then does the President assume war powers.

NOTE:  Notice that the Constitution affirms the right of states to establish militias for their individual defense.  Most states have such forces established as state National Guards. In 2010, President Obama nationalized

nearly all National Guard Forces in various states; Georgia, Alabama, Kansas, Minnesota, Tennessee, Virginia, Louisiana, South Carolina – to name a few.  In response, the Governors of Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia have re-established “State Defense Forces.”  (These forces can go against federal forces should the need arise. Also important to note: There are NO federal laws prohibiting National Guard troops from also joining their State’s Defense Forces. This dilemma occurred during the Civil War with many “citizen soldiers” choosing to serve their states instead of the Federal Government).

10.  The Executive and Legislative branches have no such power. In fact, both branches are EXPRESSLY forbidden from limiting any of the rights acknowledged in the Bill of Rights. Likewise, they are forbidden, by the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, from limiting the scope of rights reserved to the People and the States, respectfully, when the Bill of Rights were adopted (1789).

On the contrary, the Bill of Rights expressly limits the power of the federal government.

The Bill of Rights does not grant us any rights. Rather it re-affirms certain rights so fundamental, so essential, and so integral to our humanity and assures, through a permanent addition to the US Constitution, that the federal government cannot violate, infringe, or even burden such rights.

The Preamble to the Bill of Rights explains exactly the nature of the first ten amendments (Bill of Rights) as it relates to the Constitution.  It reads:

     “THE Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.”      (Wednesday, March 4, 1789)

The government is a limited social compact.  The Constitution, when ratified by 2/3 of the states back in 1787-1789, “created” or established the federal government. By its very terms and provisions, the government created was intended to be a limited common government for the purpose of “managing” and serving the States – not to control them. The Constitution creates a government separated into 3 distinct spheres of power (Separation of Powers), it creates a series of Checks and Balances, it checks power through the federal nature of government (States v. Federal Government, each possessing sovereign power; memorialized by the Tenth Amendment), and it further limits power by incorporation of the Bill of Rights.  If anyone can look at all these safeguards and not understand that our government was intended to be one of limited powers and limited scope, then they need more formal education.

11.  Nowhere

12.  Nowhere

13.  Nowhere.  Congress is given express authority to legislate for approximately 17 enumerated objects (Article II, Section 8).

14.  Nowhere

15.  It is the People’s document. It is a permanent and binding charter (social compact or social contract) which transfers limited sovereign power from a free people to a government for the purpose of that government to serve them and to protect their God-given inalienable rights (after all, “inalienable” means non-transferable. Fundamental human rights can never be divested or deprived from human beings…  that is, under the American system of government, thanks to the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights).  The Constitution limits government in our lives – at least it was supposed to. It sets boundaries on government, thereby allowing us to freely exercise our natural, God-given, inalienable rights.  It is a RESTRAINING ORDER on government.

16.  The Constitution protects We the People from unsanctioned interference in our lives and upon our liberties and property by government.  It limits government in our lives.  See answer above.

17.  Nowhere

18.  Such a person would be a traitor.  Another title was invented by the Supreme Court (in an attempt to give FDR the extra power he wanted for the federal government; See Ex Parte Quirin, 1942) solely for the purposes of giving the President of the United States extraordinary power to strip American citizens of their constitutional rights in order to interrogate them and punish them.

Article III, Section 3 defines treason and defines a traitor:  “Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. [ie, Waging war against the United States or aiding and abetting an enemy].

19.  NO !!!!  Treaties are equivalent in stature to federal law.  They have the same force of law and status as federal laws.

20.  The Tenth Amendment

21.  Article VI, Clause 2 (the “Supremacy Clause”). If a federal bill is not passed in “pursuance”  to the Constitution, it has no constitutional or legal authority and cannot be regarded as “supreme law of the land.”  If it is supreme, then the authority to regulate falls to the States. In fact, it is the duty of the States, under our notions of ordered liberty and under the Tenth Amendment, to prevent unconstitutional laws to be enforced upon a free people.

22.  Article VI, Clause 3. “The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution…”

23.  The “average citizen” or “voters.”   See the very recent cases of District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) and McDonald v City of Chicago (2010) – both addressing the Second Amendment right to have and bear arms.

24.  Government serves We the People.”  It has no more authority to govern us, our lives, or our property than what is delegated expressly in the Constitution.  Same thing for state governments and state constitutions.  Constitutions represent the “Permanent Will of the People” in establishing the role, the scope, and the limits of government in their lives.

25.  The US Constitution

26.  It means two things. First, a federal law, for example, must comply with the procedural requirements of the Constitution such as being passed by both Houses of Congress before being signed by the President and appropriations bills must start in the House. Second, it must substantively comply with the Constitution i.e., be within the enumerated powers of the general government as spelled out in the Constitution.

27.  “No Person except a natural-born citizen, or a citizen of the United States at the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible for the Office of President.”

The intent of this constitutional requirement that the President be a natural born citizen can be summarized by various letters written by Justice John Jay to President George Washington:

“The intent of the United States constitutional requirement that the President of the United States be a natural born Citizen of the United States is:

(1) to reduce the likelihood that a President of the United States would have a former, or present, attachment to a foreign country (because such an attachment could influence one to make decisions that would not promote the interests of the United States); and

(2) to increase the likelihood that the interests of any President of the United States will coincide with those of the United States.

What does “natural born citizen” mean?

—  “Born” means “from birth”

—  “Natural: means “having a normal or usual character” or “conforming to a thing’s natural or essential nature, function, association, or arrangement in nature – such as the natural bond between mother and child; the natural basis for reproduction

—  “Citizen” means “a person domiciled in the United States, for whom rights, privileges and immunities are set forth in the United States Constitution.”

–>  So, the following interpretation of the phrase “natural born citizen of the United States” most likely means: Those citizens born as citizens (of the United States) of the particular expectable kind that is considered by the United States as belonging to the United States to a maximal degree.

–>  The common understanding of a “natural born citizen” is that the following necessary and sufficient conditions must be found for a candidate to be considered a natural born citizen of the United States:

(i)  The person was born in the United States;

(ii)  Both parents of the person were Citizens of the United States when that person was born, and

(iii)  The person has been a Citizen of the United States, since birth.

NULLIFICATION IS THE MOST EFFECTIVE WAY TO RESTORE CONSTITUTIONAL LIMITS !!  Thomas Jefferson called Nullification the “Rightful Remedy” to stop the federal government from enforcing unconstitutional laws, policies, and court decisions on the American people. 

 Learn more about Nullification.   Join us at NULLIFY NOW! in Raleigh on Saturday, October 19 at 9:00 am the Raleigh Convention Center, 500 S. Salisbury Street, downtown Raleigh.   SPEAKERS include Thomas Woods (author of “Nullification: How to Fight Federal Tyranny in the 21st Century”), Mike Church (conservative talk radio show host and producer), Publius Huldah (dynamo strict constitutionalist and lawyer), Michael Boldin, Dr. Greg Brannon (running for US Senate), Dr. Dan Eichenbaum (of Dr. Dan’s Freedom Forum), and others!   Get your tickets now for $10.00 – at www.nullifynow.com.