What do you know about the Constitution of the United States of America?

If you are like most Americans, you have never read the Constitution of the United States. Sure, you my have read some of the amendments to the Constitution. You may know that you have the right "to remain silent" so as not to incriminate yourself. You probably know that you have the right to freedom of speech, religion, assembly, the right to bear arms and others, but what do you understand about the US Constitution as a plan for a system of government.

The US Constitution was designed, not simply as a list of the rights that you have, but as an ideal system of government. The US Constitution created a system of government that would have some power over the nation to unify the states and provide for causes that required unified action. And instead of putting all of the power of the national government in one body, or in one person, the power that this national government could exercise would be divided among three branches of government: the Executive (the Presidency), the Legislative (the Senate and the House of Representatives), and the Judicial (the system of courts). This basic structure is the structure of the Constitution.

The Constitution is divided into Articles. The First Article gives the duties and responsibilities of the Legislative branch of Government. The Second Article explains the duties and responsiblities of the Executive branch of government. Article Three describes the duties and responsibilities of the Judicial branch of the Federal government. Article Four lays out some of the rights and responsibilities of the states, however because the states existed prior ot the Federal government, they retained the rights the had previously enjoyed and Article Four explains the states' roles in the new Federal Government. Artivles Five, Six and Seven give the procedures for the amendment of the constitution, dealings with the new nations debts, oaths to be administered for office, and how to ratify the constitution, that is, for it to be accepted and become binding on the people.

After those Articles come the Amendments to the Constitution. A number of Americans were hesitant to fully support this new constitution because it had no written guarantee of rights of the citizens. Many of the framers did not see this as necessary, because under thier design, the new Federal government had a limited role dealing with the issues that were relevant to the nation as a whole. They believed that the states were the people's guarantor of the rights which they enjoyed like the right to free speech etc. and thus, a written guarantee of the rights of citizens was not needed in the Federal Constitution.

As it was designed, the US Constitution was an outline for the Federal Government. It was not intended to meddle in the everyday affairs of Americans. It was designed to deal with the issues that were vital national issues. However, there was a great concern among Americans that the Federal Government could grow into something like the Monarchy in Great Britain and many people wanted a written guarantee of their rights against the Federal Government. In order to get a majority of Americans to support the Constitution, it was promised that the first amendments would be made to the constitution in the form of the Bill of Rights, which would outline the rights that the Federal Government could not infringe upon.

These rights include:
  • I - Right to Free Speech, Press, Assembly, Religion, Petition Govt. for Redress of Grievences.
  • II - Right to Keep and Bear Arms.
  • III - No obligation to house military soldiers.
  • IV - Right against unreasonable searches and seizures.
  • V - Rights as to Trial, no takings without just compensation
  • VI - Right to speedy trial, Right to Confront accusers/witnesses.
  • VII - Right to trial by jury in civil cases.
  • VIII - No Excessive Bail, Fines or Cruel and Unusual Punishment.
  • IX - Rights not listed in Constitution are retained by the people.
  • X - Rights not given to Fed gov. are reserved to the states or the People.
There have been 27 amendments in all. They have done many things like abolish slavery, change how senators are elected, change how taxes can be collected, allow for all citizens to vote and term limits for certain government officials.

The US Constitution was designed to limit the federal government. The framers believed that citizens were happiest when the government was not interfereing in their lives. Thus, they believed that the Federal Governemnt should be limited so as not to assert authority over the states and the people which would cause a great burden on Americans in the loss of their rights or in the laying of burdensome taxes.

As the years have gone by, many of these rights have been limited, and in many instances the original intent and meaning of the Constitution have been ignored by many in the federal government for varying reasons. Over the years, the federal government has ballooned in size to the point where now there is a federal agency involved in almost every function of our lives. Housing, Food, Environment, Health, Employment, Energy, Welfare, Education and Communications are all areas in our life that are affected by Federal Regulation. It could soon be the case that the federal government will be able to tax you for your personal (that is from breathing) CO2 emissions. Is that right? Is it really true that we need Federal Regulation of these aspects of our lives? If they were truly vital government functions, might the states do a better job of regulating this than the Federal Government? Is it right that the government is spending taxpayer dollars to "bail-out" Banks and Car Companies and Unions?

In this series of articles, I will demonstrate the various protections that that Constitution provides against a massive, expensive and oppressive Federal Government.

The genius behind the constitution is this, if we do not like what is happening in the Government, we have an option. Simply, vote the bums out. If we see that our representatives are not following the US Constitution, it is our DUTY to vote them out of office. If our representatives are not representing our best interests, or if they repeatedly ignore our desires, we can simply vote them out. No need for armed revolution, no need for coup d'etats, simply vote them out of office. Early on in US history, the Supreme Court took upon itself, and gave itself the Authority to decide what is Constitutional and what is not. The founders did not include this in the constitution and did not intend this to be the case. Thomas Jefferson wrote that when it comes to questions of constitutionality, the final decision is not with the Supreme Court, but with the People: "The ultimate arbiter is the people of the Union." The people of the union speak through their representatives, through amendments to the constitution and through who they elect to office. This can only work however if the people are educated on the constitution, and if they vote to enforce it.

In order to preserve liberty and the freedoms you enjoy, you must learn about the US Constitution and compare it to what the government is doing. There is no reason to assume that the Federal Government always acts constitutionally or that it is wiser than common sense. Remember, this is the government that gave billions of tax dollars to bankrupt companies, all the while assuring us that the companies would not go bankrupt, but then did. This is the government that, in a frenzied and misplaced panic, gave billions of tax dollars to banks. These are all actions and powers not given to the Federal Government from the Constitution. It is time for you to know for yourself whether your representatives follow the Constitution or whether you need to vote the bums out.

The US Constitution is a model for a government with limited powers that is divided up in order to protect citizens from the infringements of their liberties and to provide for what is necessary in the Federal Government. When we are educated about what it is, and what it provides, we will be in a much better position to vote into office the people who will work to preserve the constitution and our liberties as Americans.

In the following weeks, I will address Article I, II, and III of the Constitution and then the remianing articles and then I will address the amendments to the constitution all in more detail to help provide a better understanding of what the various parts of the constitution mean.
Next week, Article I.


12dozen said...

Some clauses in the constitution may get past you at first read, like "Ex post Facto" laws. Do you know what they are? An ex post facto law is a law that has a retroactive application. Something both state and federal government has been known to pass, even though it is prohibited to both in our constitution.
I guess I am not like most people in that I have read the constitution through a number of times and studied it to understand it. Unlike what the Supreme court would have you believe they did write it in English.

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