Skip to comments.THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION: WHAT DOES IT REALLY SAY?
Posted on 01/07/2005 3:51:55 PM PST by Tailgunner Joe
The most important legal document in America is the United States Constitution; and, when asked, more than 90% of the American people say the Constitution is important to them. Congress also recognized the ongoing importance of this document in 1956 when President Dwight D. Eisenhower was asked to proclaim September 17 to 23 of each year as "Constitution Week" in remembrance of the signing of the United States Constitution.
This year, two hundred and sixteen years after the Constitution was adopted, many Americans will celebrate Constitution Week with recitations of the Preamble, with events reliving the signing of the Constitution, and even with a special ceremony of public bell ringing in Philadelphia where this important document was drafted.
But just how many Americans have actually read the Constitution or know what this document actually says? After all, many law schools do not even require that law students read the Constitution as part of their program of study.
According to various surveys taken of the American people in recent years, 95% of them could not correctly answer basic questions about the Constitution:
Despite this lack of knowledge about the Constitution, 84% of Americans believe that in order for our American constitutional form of government to work as intended, Americans are required to function as an active and informed citizenry. Citizenship Week this September is a good time for all Americans, and especially Christians, to resolve to become both informed about the Constitution and active in ensuring its preservation.
The following is a list of the key provisions in the various articles of the United States Constitution. If you learn these few facts, you will instantly be more informed about our Constitution than the vast majority of Americans.
Other key amendments that have become part of the Constitution include: the abolition of slavery (Amendment XIII: 1865); authority for a federal income tax (Amendment XVI: 1913); the right of women to vote (Amendment XIX: 1920); a two term limit for Presidents (Amendment XXII: 1951); lowering of the voting age from twenty-one to eighteen years (Amendment XXVI: 1971), and delaying the effective date of Congressional pay raises until after an election (Amendment XXVII: 1992).
Finally, there have been fifty bills proposing additional amendments to the Constitution of the United States introduced into the current 108th Congress. Many of these proposed amendments are attempts to check the extraordinary powers currently being exercised by the federal judiciary, which are often contrary to the will of the people as expressed through their elected representatives at the state and federal levels. The following proposed Constitutional amendments currently before the Congress specifically focus on moral and religious issues:
It is intentionally very difficult to enact and ratify a Constitutional amendment. An amendment must be approved by two-thirds of the House of Representatives and the Senate, and then be ratified by three-fourths of the state legislatures or by conventions in three-fourths of the states. This difficulty was intended to make amendments rare and to preserve the stability of the government.
James Madison, who was the father of our Constitution, understood that men could not effectively govern themselves without a clear understanding of the Biblical doctrine of mans inherent sinfulness. As a result, he drafted the Constitution so that no one branch of government was given absolute control over the others and so that a rigorous system of checks and balances would protect the people from tyranny. The following provisions demonstrate this basic theological understanding:
When the first Congress, assembled after the Constitution was ratified by the states and took effect in September 1789, one of the first acts of the legislators was to ask the President
[T]o recommend to the People of the United States, a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed, by acknowledging, with grateful hearts, the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a Constitution of Government for their safety and happiness.
More than 200 years later, we should share this same spirit of thanksgiving and prayer, particularly as we consider that James Madison and other Founding Fathers described the successful drafting and ratification of the United States Constitution as a miracle which could only have been brought about by Divine intervention.
All Americans, and especially Christians, should also carefully consider the advice of our first two Presidents as we celebrate our continuing Constitutional government, which has served us so well for these past two centuries.
President George Washington said in his Inaugural Address on April 30, 1789:
[T]he propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has ordained.
President George Washington said in his Farewell Address on September 19, 1796:
Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and morality are indispensable supports. . . . And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. . . . reason and experience both forbid us to expect that National morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.
Finally, John Adams, our second President, warned in 1798:
Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.
As Christians, it is our duty to maintain the moral and religious foundation on which our society was built and for which our Constitution was drafted. We must work hard to resist the efforts of those who would tear down the moral fabric of our society and undermine the true intent of Americas Founding Fathers.
A good first step to defending the Constitution is learning what it actually says. A second good step would be to pass that knowledge along to your children, grandchildren, and fellow citizens. Finally, a good third step would be to thank God for the Constitution that we have the privilege of living under in this nation. Then also pray that the spiritual and moral intent of the men who wrote the Constitution would be revived once again in our land.
In the revolution days lawyers used only two or three books to practice law. Definitly a Bible and a Law Dictionary. The others were most likely a copy with the few laws of the time.
Now we have 12 linear feet of new case law every year.
I exercise quite a bit so I thought I had a healthy constitution........zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
Absolutely correct. And the government itself is aware of it, and by law, has created the annotated constitution.
2500+ pages of analysis and interpretation of constitutional law.
America did inherit English common law principles which far exceeded the statutes in existence. I suppose you're probably right, but any lawyer with access to prior decisions would carry the day.
The two books that were most widely owned in colonial America were:
The Bible and
Blackstones Commentaries on the Laws of England
Many Supreme Court- and even Appeals and District Court- rulings are a delight to read for their insight into the Constitution and it's history.
The rulings that bother me aren't.
"The Constitution relied on the Bible" - Where?
Wow, what a link! I spent 20 seconds there and quickly decided to bookmark it.
but those colonial laptops were a bear to put in a saddlebag.
I once had access to a high speed link and downloaded the whole thing.
My granddaughter - 5th grade - had to learn the Preamble this year. She was very impressed that I remembered how it started. (I did not remember much else, but I could remember how it started.)
ROFL. It's because they weren't wireless.
that site seems to get the second amendment wrong.
"Many of the problems we face today are a consequence of people's persistent failure to do so."
You nailed it, Supercat!
(To the original poster: Nice post. Thanks much!)
I am not a lawyer, constitutional or otherwise. This is what gay marriage is using. Why are the laws of some states able to do away with laws of other states? If a state has denied gay marriage, how can another state say they have to allow it?
James Madison modeled the plan to divide the federal government into three branches on Isaiah 33:22; "For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; he will save us."
That is why so many conservatives support a Federal Marriage Amendment.
My second option is to hang out with people like you.
I will support it, but it is a shame that it is necessary.
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