Do you realize that there are Americans who think that the Constitution is no longer necessary? Apparently, there are quite a few people with this idea because more and more of them are making comments about it. It seems that Progressives have given up on the idea of a living Constitution and just want to kill it altogether!
Louis Michael Seidman, a professor of constitutional law at Georgetown University, is one of the people who are saying that the Constitution – the Supreme Law of our land – is obsolete. In his article “Let’s Give Upon the Constitution” he claims that “the American system of government is broken” and that “our insistence on obedience to the Constitution, with all its archaic, idiosyncratic and downright evil provisions” should come to an end. He obviously does not like the fire walls that the Founders built into the Constitution.
Seidman used the following example to show what he thinks of the constitutional requirement that funding bills originate in the House. “Consider, for example, the assertion by the Senate minority leader last week that the House could not take up a plan by Senate Democrats to extend tax cuts on households making $250,000 or less because the Constitution requires that revenue measures originate in the lower chamber. Why should anyone care? Why should a lame-duck House … have a stranglehold on our economy? Why does a grotesquely malapportioned Senate get to decide the nation’s fate?
“Our obsession with the Constitution has saddled us with a dysfunctional political system, kept us from debating the merits of divisive issues and inflamed our public discourse. Instead of arguing about what is to be done, we argue about what James Madison might have wanted done 225 years ago.”
This professor taught constitutional law for almost 40 years, and now he is proposing constitutional disobedience! He bases this idea on the fact that “the Constitution itself was born of constitutional disobedience. When George Washington and the other framers went to Philadelphia in 1787, they were instructed to suggest amendments to the Articles of Confederation, which would have had to be ratified by the legislatures of all 13 states. Instead, in violation of their mandate, they abandoned the Articles, wrote a new Constitution and provided that it would take effect after ratification by only nine states, and by conventions in those states rather than the state legislatures.
“No sooner was the Constitution in place than our leaders began ignoring it….”
Seidman is correct in stating that the Constitution has been disobeyed since the early years of our nation, but he does not add that some of the worst offenders are FDR and Barack Obama! The fact that some people cannot or will not obey a law does not mean that it is a bad law!
Seidman claims that judges “assert that their colleagues have ignored the Constitution.” He claims that the problem comes from the fact that the “two main rival interpretive methods, `originalism’ (divining the framers’ intent) and `living constitutionalism’ (reinterpreting the text in light of modern demands) cannot be reconciled. He is correct in this claim. Our nation cannot be governed by the rule of law and the rule of man at the same time. The Constitution gives us the rule of law; progressives do not like it because they want to govern by the rule of man.
According to Seidman, some of the “commands” of the Constitution should be followed “out of respect, not obligation” such as “freedom of speech and religion, equal protection of the laws and protections against governmental deprivation of life, liberty or property.” He believes that even without the Constitution, “the president would still be checked by Congress and by the states” and that “there is even something to be said for an elite body like the Supreme Court with the power to impose its views of political morality on the country.” What makes him think that people will be checked voluntarily when they refuse to be checked by law?
I personally do not understand how Seidman could “teach” constitutional law for forty years without spending some time studying the Constitution, the reasons why the Framers wrote it as it is, and how the “checks and balances” of the Constitution made the United States the leader of the world. I have been studying these works for less than four years, and I seem to have a better understanding of the material than a “constitutional professor” who “taught” it for forty years. Seidman appears to me to be the same type of “constitutional professor” that Barack Obama is. It appears to me that they study the Constitution just enough to find ways to get around it.
If Seidman had studied the history of the Constitution and our nation, he would have known that the Framers replaced the Articles of Federation with the Constitution because the Articles of Confederation did not work. Under the Articles of Confederation there was no unity of purpose among the Colonies and no way of enforcement. Each colony had its own militia and its own money and basically did things in its own way. General George Washington and his army nearly starved and/or froze to death in Valley Forge because the “government” did not have the authority to force the states to provide for the army.
Other people have written about the professor’s article. Douglas V. Gibbs believes that a “whole generation of students are being taught that the Constitution is unimportant, and if anything, a hindrance.” In his very enlightening article entitled “Let’s Not Give Up On the Constitution,” Gibbs illustrates well that Seidman does not understand the Constitution properly.
“Reading the article, and his credentials, two things became abundantly clear to me. First, Professor Seidman supports the concept of Constitutional Law, a.k.a. case law. In other words, the Constitution does not necessarily mean what it says. The text of the Constitution means what judges say it means.
“Second, Professor Seidman abhors originalism. In other words, he has disdain for those that believe in defining the Constitution as it was originally intended by the Founding Fathers involved in crafting the document.
“After completing reading his article, one other thing came to mind that startled me, when considering that this gentleman is a teacher in one of our fine collegiate institutions… Professor Seidman is completely ignorant of the Constitution. He believes it to be a living document based on an ever-changing society, and the court’s view of the Constitution based on their rulings.
“The best way to explain the professor’s failure to properly understand the Constitution (or perhaps refusal to recognize the originalist point of view), we must pick apart his article bit by bit, piece by piece….”
Gibbs then proceeded to pick the professor’s article apart and explain why the professor is wrong in his stated beliefs. I found this article to be very enlightening on the subject of why we should not give up on the Constitution.
The simple fact is that our Founding Fathers provided “the world’s greatest political success formula. In a little over a century, this formula allowed a small segment of the human family – less than 6 percent – to become the richest industrial nation on earth. It allowed them to originate more than half of the world’s total production and enjoy the highest standard of living in the history of the world.
“It also produced a very generous people. No nation in all the recorded annals of the past has shared so much of its wealth with every other nation as has the United States of America. Even when it loaned money, it often forgave the debt.
“But Americans have much more to share than their wealth. They have the world’s greatest political success formula to share…. The world needs to know this formula. It worked for Americans when they were an undeveloped country. It will work for underdeveloped countries today.” (See W. Cleon Skousen, The Making of America – The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution, pp. 1-2.)
Skousen continued with his explanation that all mankind desires three things, freedom, prosperity, and peace, and that the United States Constitution was written to achieve those “three great human aspirations.” He reminded us that the Constitution “provided the political and economic climate for six subsequent revolutions” – the Industrial Revolution, the Machine Revolution, the Transportation Revolution, the Communications Revolution, the Energy Resource Revolution, and the Computer Revolution – all “magnificent advancements” [that] can continue to thrive only in a climate of freedom….”
The government set up under the United States Constitution was the “first successful attempt to build a whole civilization on the principles of freedom. Americans, as a result, became the first free people in modern times. A study of the Founders’ writings indicate that they “intended [the Constitution] to be strictly interpreted exactly as it was originally written. They knew that in its original form it would adapt itself very readily to the needs of changing times. It was specifically designed to disperse political power among the people and protect the freedom of the individual by putting chains on the excessive ambitions and frailties of human nature, which is always the same from generation to generation. They knew we would need these constitutional chains in our present industrial age just as much as they did in their own agrarian age of farming and horticulture. In other words, the Founders saw the Constitution as a perpetual charter of human liberty that would never become obsolete.” (See Skousen, pp. 3-6.)
A simple study of the Constitution and the writings of the Founders shows that they intended the Constitution to govern a free people – whether that society consisted of 13 colonies or 50 or more states or whether there were 100,000 people or more than 300 million people. The Constitution also includes a way where it can be amended to fit changing needs. This is why it has endured for more than 235 years.
“Part of the reason for the Constitution’s enduring strength is that it is the complement of the Declaration of Independence. The Declaration provided the philosophical basis for a government that exercises legitimate power by `the consent of the governed,’ and it defined the conditions of a free people, whose rights and liberty are derived from their Creator. The Constitution delineated the structure of government and the rules for its operation, consistent with the creed of human liberty proclaimed in the Declaration….
“By the diffusion of power – horizontally among the three separate branches of the federal government, and vertically in the allocation of power between the central government and the states – the Constitution’s Framers devised a structure of government strong enough to ensure the nation’s future strength and prosperity but without sufficient power to threaten the liberty of the people.” (See Edwin Meese III, “The Meaning of the Constitution,” The Heritage Guide to the Constitution, p. 1)
The Constitution also established a land of freedom where the gospel of Jesus Christ could be restored to earth. While restoring His gospel to earth, Jesus Christ revealed many things to the Prophet Joseph Smith, including the revelation that the Constitution of the United States was inspired by Him. The following scriptures illustrate how God feels about our Constitution and the men who wrote it.
“And that law of the land which is constitutional, supporting that principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges, belongs to all mankind, and is justifiable before me.
“Therefore, I, the Lord, justify you, and your brethren of my church, in befriending that law which is the constitutional law of the land;
“And as pertaining to law of man, whatsoever is more or less than this, cometh of evil.
“I, the Lord God, make you free, therefore ye are free indeed; and the law also maketh you free.
“Nevertheless, when the wicked rule the people mourn” (Doctrine and Covenants 98:5-9).
“According to the laws and constitution of the people, which I have suffered to be established, and should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles;
“That every man may act in doctrine and principle pertaining to futurity, according to the moral agency which I have given unto him, that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment.
“Therefore, it is not right that any man should be in bondage one to another.
“And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood” (Doctrine and Covenants 101:77-80).
Since God is the ultimate authority on all things, I know that we can trust His word. He said that he raised up the Founders for the very purpose of establishing the United States Constitution. God desires that the Constitution to continue in order to protect the rights of all flesh. If God wants the Constitution to be the law of our land, then those who desire to destroy the Constitution must be listening to someone other than God.
An ancient American prophet named Lehi taught his children about the importance of agency. He told them, “Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself” (Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, 2 Nephi 2:27).
We know that Satan tried to destroy our agency in our pre-earth life, and we know that freedom is essential to fulfilling our potential here on earth. We also know that the Constitution of the United States provides and protects our liberties – particularly freedom from an oppressive government. Since we know these things, we should be able to discern where the desire to destroy the Constitution originates.
Satan desires to put all of us in bondage to him, and those people who follow Satan also desire to control as many people as possible.
Just as Hitler, Stalin and other men sought control over the citizens of their nations, there are people in our nation today who are seeking control over us. They do not believe that we are capable of governing ourselves. These are the people who desire the downfall of our Constitution. We must defend and protect our Constitution in order that it can continue to defend and protect our liberties!