I have long contended and even argued with some college professors regarding the simplicity of the American Constitution and wondering why it seems so difficult for politicians to grasp. My liberal professors were not appreciative of my arguments but one did tell me that he loved having me in class. He said, “I disagree with about 90% of your arguments but you argue from a position of thought and create an environment in the class that forces people to think and inspire them to take a definitive position.” I also got an A in the course, but that is another story and a long time ago.
How is it that a document as simple as the American Constitution, has become so difficult for those in Washington? I believe that part of the answer lies in the fact they are always attempting to read it in extreme legalese rather than simply reading what it says. They are seeking ways to mold it to their ideological position rather than accepting it at face value or even researching the writings of the Framers which explained their positions. Do you realize that the American Constitution can be read in less than half an hour by most people? Some of the insistence that it is impossible for the average person to read is akin to the Dark Ages when the Church prohibited the parishioners from reading the Bible for themselves. The leaders were able to advance incredible heresies and commit atrocities because of ignorance by the common man, but when people were able to read for themselves, they understood and rejected the church’s position on many things.
In our humble beginnings as a nation, the Framers and our Founders believed it was imperative that every citizen have access to a copy and be able to read the document for themselves. They purposely designed it so that it could be understood by even students in elementary school. One of the most popular texts of that era included the 1828 Catechism on the Constitution by Arthur Stansbury. Tragically today, many college professors have scarcely read the document and their students know even less about the contents of the document. I have been told by some that they avoid the Federalist Papers because they were written with such complicated and intricate legal arguments that only judges and lawyers could possibly understand. THAT IS FALSE! Three prominent men of our founding era penned the Federalist Papers, namely James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay. They wrote them so that the average citizen of that day could easily comprehend what was being said as they explained their position and the position of the Constitution.
I wonder how many can name the five guarantees of the 1st Amendment without looking them up? One survey reported that less than 1 in 1000 could. Those five basic guarantees are; freedom of religion, press, speech, petition, and assembly. Today, few know the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, or the Bill of Rights. We are told, as were those sitting on pews in the Dark Ages, it is too complicated for the average mind to comprehend and must be left to those charged with handling it. NO! Our Republic was designed to be a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people” not the other way around. In the early years, the reading, interpreting, and understanding of it could be called Originalism, Original Intent, or Textualism. They believed, as do I, that the Constitution means just what is says. President Thomas Jefferson said it eloquently as he explained the matter to Supreme Court Justice William Johnson, “On every question of construction, carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed.” AMEN, Mr. Jefferson, Amen!
In this view of interpretation, when we read that ONLY the U.S. House of Representatives can initiate a tax, what it means is that ONLY the U.S. House of Representatives can initiate a tax. Not too difficult, is it? Likewise, when it declares that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” it means ONLY Congress is restricted. It does not mean that a student cannot say a prayer because Congress does not mean student, does it? The Original Intent method was followed until the Progressives managed to indoctrinate enough with the idea of a Living Constitution and thereby subverted the meaning of the document as written and intended by the framers.
The alternative philosophy followed by most of the Democrat Party today has five pillars and they religiously adhere to them. Let me advance them briefly without commentary.
- There are no objective, God-given standards of law, or if there are, they are irrelevant to the modern legal system.
- Since God is not the author of law, the author of law must be man; in other words, the law is the law simply because the highest human authority, the State, has said it is the law and is able to back it up by force.
- Since man and society evolve, therefore law must evolve as well.
- Judges, through their decisions, guide the evolution of law.
- To study law, get at the original sources of law – the decisions of judges.
That philosophy was first introduced by Harvard Law School Dean, Christopher Columbus Langdell who applied Darwin’s premise of evolution to jurisprudence. He reasoned that since man evolved laws must as well and therefore the Constitution must necessarily be a Living Document, not a Fixed one. This philosophy found a willing proponent and advanced an idea that is anathema to the intent of the Framers when Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes said, “We are under a Constitution – but, the Constitution is what the judges say it is.” NO! IT IS WHAT THE CONSTITUTION SAYS not what you are any other jurist says it is or wants it to mean. We need a return to the mentality of one of the Founders, the original Chief Justice John Jay as he offered this instruction: “Every member of the State ought to diligently read and to study the constitution of his country… By knowing their rights, they will sooner perceive when they are violated and be the better prepared to defend and assert them.”
There are several more articles I could and should right to better articulate the value and simplicity of the Constitution. I urge every American to get a copy and read the document. It is not complicated, only the lawyers and politicians make it complicated. If we are to be the true owners and overseers of our government we must KNOW what the Constitution says. In these troubled times, it is imperative that we KNOW what the Constitution says and DEMAND strict adherence to it.
God, bless you and God bless America!