Constitution Search and Find
In celebration of the creation of our nation’s governing document, and because liberals largely ignore the principles upon which our country was founded, we’re going to have a little educational fun at their expense.
In honor of Constitution Day (September 17th) and the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln’s birth this year, let’s play a game of “Constitution search and find.” Grab your copy of the Constitution and try to find justification for various leftist causes that are not provided for in the Constitution. In this way you can educate yourself and your fellow Americans in a humorous way and attack the left at the same time. Yah-hoo!
Here we go…
- What is the ultimate law of the land?
- Who may declare war?
- True or False? The judicial branch is confined to interpreting existing law, not making or executing law.
- Who is to promote the “general welfare” (either in Preamble or Article 1, Section 8)?
- True or False? The “separation of church and state” phrase so frequently invoked today means that religion and politics should be kept apart from one another by the First Amendment.
- Should constitutional interpretation follow original intent or construct a living document?
- What is the Bill of Rights?
Scroll down for answers. Sources are at bottom.
1. The Constitution is, and must, by its very nature be, the supreme, fundamental, permanent law of the American legal system. No court decision, statutory law, or other form of “law” is either equal to, or superior to, the Constitution.
2. Congress (Article 1, Section 8).
4. The People, NOT Congress.
In 1794, Congress appropriated $15,000 for relief of French refugees who fled from insurrection in San Domingo to Baltimore and Philadelphia, James Madison stood on the floor of the House to object, “I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.”
Constitutional limits on federal power are explained by James Madison in Federalist Paper No. 45: “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined… be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce.”
This is directly out of Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution. Article 1, Section 8 explains the LIMITED role of Congress. We’ve let Congress and the Presidents get out of hand. We’ve failed because we don’t understand the Constitution.
Commie libs think the meaning of “general welfare” means that Congress can do just about anything it wants to. Again, this is because of our ignorance of history and the Constitution.
In a letter James Madison wrote to Edmund Pendleton “If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the ‘general welfare’, the government is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one …With respect to the two words ‘general welfare’, I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators.”
Thomas Jefferson wrote in a letter to Pennsylvania Representative Albert Gallatin, “Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but only those specifically enumerated… Whensoever the General Federal Government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force.”
In 1947, in the case Everson v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court declared, “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.” The “separation of church and state” phrase which they invoked, and which has today become so familiar, was taken from an exchange of letters between President Thomas Jefferson and the Baptist Association of Danbury, Connecticut, shortly after Jefferson became President.
Jefferson believed that the government was to be powerless to interfere with religious expressions for a very simple reason: he had long witnessed the unhealthy tendency of government to encroach upon the free exercise of religion. As he explained to Noah Webster:
“It had become an universal and almost uncontroverted position in the several States that the purposes of society do not require a surrender of all our rights to our ordinary governors . . . and which experience has nevertheless proved they [the government] will be constantly encroaching on if submitted to them; that there are also certain fences which experience has proved peculiarly efficacious [effective] against wrong and rarely obstructive of right, which yet the governing powers have ever shown a disposition to weaken and remove. Of the first kind, for instance, is freedom of religion.”
Jefferson believed that God, not government, was the Author and Source of our rights and that the government, therefore, was to be prevented from interference with those rights. Very simply, the “fence” of the Webster letter and the “wall” of the Danbury letter were not to limit religious activities in public; rather they were to limit the power of the government to prohibit or interfere with those expressions.
Earlier courts long understood Jefferson’s intent. In fact, when Jefferson’s letter was invoked by the Supreme Court (only twice prior to the 1947 Everson case – the Reynolds v. United States case in 1878), unlike today’s Courts which publish only his eight-word separation phrase, that earlier Court published Jefferson’s entire letter and then concluded:
“Coming as this does from an acknowledged leader of the advocates of the measure, it [Jefferson’s letter] may be accepted almost as an authoritative declaration of the scope and effect of the Amendment thus secured. Congress was deprived of all legislative power over mere [religious] opinion, but was left free to reach actions which were in violation of social duties or subversive of good order (emphasis added).”
That Court then succinctly summarized Jefferson’s intent for “separation of church and state”:
“[T]he rightful purposes of civil government are for its officers to interfere when principles break out into overt acts against peace and good order. In th[is] . . . is found the true distinction between what properly belongs to the church and what to the State.”
6. Such rhetoric makes a living constitution sound appealing, but it is actually a complete misportrayal of the difference between the two philosophies. In reality, both accommodate an evolving society; in fact, under the strict construction (or originalist) viewpoint, Article V of the Constitution requires that the Constitution be a living document. The real difference between the two approaches is not whether the Constitution should evolve, but rather how those changes should occur – and who should make them.
Article III states that “The Judges, both of the Supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their offices during good behavior,” and it is not “good behavior” to hand down rulings based on personal social views rather than the Constitution’s words.
David Barton of the Texas-based organization called WallBuilders has published a handbook called Impeachment, in which he lays out the constitutional foundations for using impeachment to curb our present overactive judiciary. (WallBuilders, P.O. Box 397, Aledo, TX 76008, 817-441-6044)
The Constitution contains six clauses about impeachment. The House of Representatives has the sole power of impeachment (the presentation of formal charges). The Senate has the sole power to try impeachments, and conviction requires a two-thirds vote. Punishment can be removal from office or removal plus a bar against future office-holding.
Impeachment is not a criminal proceeding, and Congress cannot impose civil or criminal penalties. Contrary to current popular misconceptions, the offense for which a judge may be impeached does not have to be a crime or have any statutory or criminal basis. Barton quotes numerous Founders to prove that they viewed impeachment as a remedy for a broad range of non-statutory offenses such as (in George Mason’s words) “attempts to subvert the Constitution,” or (in Alexander Hamilton’s words) “violation of some public trust.”
Even that great advocate of judicial power, Chief Justice John Marshall, wrote during impeachment proceedings against Justice Samuel Chase for his arbitrary use of judicial power that “a Judge giving a legal opinion contrary to the opinion of the legislature is liable to impeachment.” Carter and Clinton judges are constantly making rulings contrary to what the legislature intended.
The impeachment cases brought during our country’s first half-century involved non-statutory offenses, such as judicial high-handedness. It’s easy to think of some current judges who could be targets for impeachment on that charge…
Americans were shocked when Congressional investigations in 1995 unfolded the truth about the fatal tragedies at Ruby Ridge, Idaho and Waco, Texas. In the former, an innocent woman and child were killed in cold blood by an FBI sharpshooter, and in the latter, 80 American men, women and children were incinerated by the Federal Government in a full-scale military attack. Both events involved outrageous abuses of power by federal law enforcement agencies, followed by lies, coverups, and destruction of evidence.
Ruby Ridge and Waco were, constitutionally speaking, none of the Federal Government’s business. Neither incident involved interstate activity or posed a threat to the Federal Government.
The underlying problem is that so many criminal laws and laws regulating firearms have been federalized. Until very recent years, everything involved at Ruby Ridge and Waco would have been handled under state and local laws (if, indeed, there were anything to handle at all, since the Ruby Ridge sequence of events started only when a BATF agent entrapped Randy Weaver into committing a minor firearms violation).
Former Attorney General Edwin Meese believes that these outrages require remedies that are much more fundamental than the mere suspension and forced retirement of several agents.
Federalizing crime contradicts constitutional principles, according to Edwin Meese. The U.S. Constitution gave Congress jurisdiction over only three crimes: treason, counterfeiting, and piracy on the high seas and offenses against the law of nations. The Constitution left responsibility for public safety solely in the domain of the states.
Congress, however, has created more than 3,000 federal crimes, many of them redundant with state laws. Hardly any crime, no matter how local, is now beyond the jurisdiction of federal criminal authorities.
Meese accurately says that federalizing crime increases “the potential for an oppressive and burdensome federal police state.”
7. First Ten Amendments to the Constitution. Ratified in 1791, these amendments limit government power and protect basic rights and liberties of individuals.
- See 1, #13.
- http://www.wallbuilders.com/LIBissuesArticles.asp?id=86 and http://www.eagleforum.org/psr/1997/mar97/psrmar97.html
- http://consource.org/index.asp?bid=750 ( http://www.consource.org/ )
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