Sunday, October 31, 2010

Let's Discuss The Constitution, From the Git-Go

Let us discuss the Constitution and what this Republic is all about, or supposed to be. With all of the people running for the U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, various governors’ mansions, etc., and the Tea-Partyites and various pundits, blathering about the Constitution, and with the people in the White House and Supreme Court daily thumbing their noses at it, I feel it was important to start this project. The Constitution is not taught too intensively, or too originally, in the schools these days, so we will have to think about fundamental things here.

Justice Sandra Day O'Conner, upon retiring from the U.S. Supreme Court, observed that the greatest danger to the Republic comes from people being ignorant of their Constitution. Upon the pre-ratification writing of the fundamental charter, Ben Franklin commented that "Now you have a Republic..., if you can only keep it." It can only be kept if the public becomes educated about the founding premises and then commits itself to hewing close to the lines intended by the Framers.

It is most alarming that there is little instruction about the Constitution in the schools these days. Instruction on what we are about, and supposed to be about, and the evolving difference between the two, should begin in elementary and secondary school. But it does not, in most schools across this Fruited Plain. Many people never even read the Constitution until they get into certain college classes; some people have never read it. It is increasingly clear that many politicians, who swear to uphold it, have never read it, don't understand what they read, or intentionally violate its teaching. I had to interrupt my serious study of the Constitution when I went to law school, which says something about what is [or is not!] going on in the legal profession these days.

This series of offerings will help correct those shortcomings. You might not like all you read here, but that will only mean that either you do not understand, or are a counter-constitutionalist. And that is okay: your right to believe and spout other than what the Framers taught and intended is protected by what they wrote, the First Amendment, provided your position does not rise to the level of treason.

There are ideologues and polemicists on both, or all, sides, and talking heads competing for listenership instead of truth, who have agendas that have nothing to do with what the Framers intended, or which are downright violative of those founding intentions.

To begin, let us recall the founding notion that the national or central government [erroneously called "federal"] has, generally speaking, only the power conferred on it in Article 1, section 8, of the Constitution. If it is not there, the central government cannot regulate in the area without practicing usurpation. That is, the central government is a government of specifically enumerated powers, with implied powers of government reserved to the states. I leave it to you to track down a copy of the Constitution, read that section, and then we shall continue next time. You will return to these pages aghast at how far from its intended boundary line the national government has strayed, and that is partly why it has come to label itself "the" "Federal Government." Our scheme was to be that we would have "a" “federal” government, the difference about which we shall attend to next time.


  1. I am one of your students. Incidentally, I was at the lecture in your picture profile.


  2. Yes, I know you are, and a fine one at that. The photo is from a lecture I did for the great Bubba Head in San Diego a few years ago.


Be civil, intelligent, and non-confrontational.