Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Living and Breathing: The British Constitution
YouTube ^

Posted on 01/18/2014 7:09:51 AM PST by ProgressingAmerica

Does being unwritten make the British Constitution a living and breathing document?

Most conservatives resist the notion that the Constitution is a living and breathing document. But perhaps the notion is worth a second look if you just ask the following question: Which constitution? Once you decide to start comparing constitutions you might be surprised at your findings. There are living Constitutions out there, they just don't apply to the United States of America.

This article is built around three goals. First, to highlight a small piece of the history of Progressivism and how it relates to what’s written. Second, to highlight the discovery process -- without a continued curiosity of the era between 1900 and 1920 by the author, this might not have been considered. Third, to compare the two constitutions, the British Constitution and the American Constitution.

It all starts with Woodrow Wilson. Quite literally, the notion that the United States Constitution is a living and breathing document is a Wilsonian construct. The first time Wilson makes this point is in his 1908 book "Constitutional Government in the United States", in which he says on page 57:

Living political constitutions must be Darwinian in structure and in practice.

He expands on this idea during the 1912 election in one of his speeches titled "What Is Progress?":

Society is a living organism and must obey the laws of life, not of mechanics; it must develop.

All that progressives ask or desire is permission - in an era when "development," "evolution," is the scientific word - to interpret the Constitution according to the Darwinian principle; all they ask is recognition of the fact that a nation is a living thing and not a machine.

Just these words right here, and knowing who wrote them, give us tremendous power. Modern progressives will hem and haw if you ask them straight up what they mean by the notion "living and breathing document", but with this you can nail them on it. This is how the notion was built, this is its foundation. By saying that progressives want to interpret the Constitution along the Darwinian principle, what Wilson is saying is that he wishes to substitute one version of meaning with another version of meaning, even while assuming the exact same words exist on paper. Even for the most casual observer of the Supreme Court, you know that's what progressives want, they just never admit it. Wilson's background on this is not just highly interesting, it gives us an even greater ability to further erode the false reality that progressives live in.

Wilson held other ideological beliefs that shine light upon the notion, such as his belief in what he called "the spirit of the age". That is, the current generation is the only generation that matters. Now it is true that the Earth belongs to the living, but Wilson was no Jeffersonian. Jefferson believed that history was an important guide while Wilson is just like every other progressive, or rather, most progressives are much more Wilsonian than they realize. Progressives have no use at all for substantive history and tradition, it gets in the way of their schemes. Understanding what Wilson means when he talks about the spirit of the age is best summed up with what he told the Jefferson Club in 1911:

If you want to understand the real Declaration of Independence, do not repeat the preface.

What's in the "preface"? For most of us, that is the important things. For Wilson, that's where you find all of the inconvenient things. Without the "preface" all you have left is a list of grievances that are unmoored from the highly important anchor of Natural Law, all that's left is a list of grievances -- the spirit of that specific age.

Wilson's campaign for Governor of New Jersey also gives us insight into his belief system. While a candidate, Wilson publicly stated that if he were to win his election he would be an "Unconstitutional Governor". Wilson explained that while his opponent would gladly fill the role of governor as described in the state constitution, he would not. Once elected, Wilson would go on to meddle in the affairs of the NJ congressional delegations and act outside of New Jersey constitutional proscription. As Governor, Wilson acted much more like a Prime Minister than he did a Governor of a state.

Woodrow Wilson was also a huge fan of British Parliamentarianism, that's how he knew how to act like a Prime Minister so well and it is what led the discovery process. Wilson specifically cites Walter Bagehot numerous times in different speeches as well as cites one of Bagehot's best known books "The English Constitution" repeatedly in his 1887 PhD dissertation, "Congressional Government: A Study in American Politics".

So what of this British Constitution? Well for starters, it is unwritten. Which means that every single time you go to reference it you can interpret it however and in whatever way you wish. Does that sound living and breathing to you? According to the website of Pearson Education under the appropriate title of "The Changing Constitution", (And Parliament's own website) we find that their constitution only requires a simple 50+1 percent majority to modify. Not two thirds of both houses, not three-fourths of the states. Is the American Constitution starting to sound a lot more rock-solid to you yet? Another web page of Parliament makes it clear that the British Constitution relies upon 21 primary documents spanning back to the Magna Carta.

How many spirits of how many ages does that make their Constitution subject to? And therein lies why it's so important to understand Wilson in all of this. Everything you learned about his beliefs applies not to the American Constitution, but the British Constitution.

It is worth considering that some of you may be saying to yourselves that the amendments to the American Constitution inject a spirit of the age into it. This is true to a degree, but that is certainly not what Wilson was saying, and progressives today never say that. Their argument is always that the whole thing as it sits is subject to re-interpretation and that's exactly the way their judicial activists rule. But that could not be further from the truth. Our Constitution is written. You can see the words that comprise it, you can study what those words meant when it was ratified, and you can print a copy of it for yourself. You cannot print a copy of the British Constitution, it doesn't exist. That means every time there is a constitutional question, they end up with a different and unique interpretation.

Based on the history and the facts, you should reconsider the notion’s legitimacy. It seems readily clear that the British Constitution is without a doubt living and breathing, considering its structure as well as how Wilson laid his concept, and Wilson’s background ideology. But then if the British Constitution is living and breathing, then the American Constitution cannot also be living and breathing. These two documents by comparison are just too different.


TOPICS: Editorial; FReeper Editorial
KEYWORDS: britain; british; constitution; progressingamerica
Is China's Constitution a living and breathing document? Is Sri Lanka's Constitution a living and breathing document? Cuba's? How about the Republic of Cameroon?
1 posted on 01/18/2014 7:09:51 AM PST by ProgressingAmerica
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: LearsFool; YHAOS; knarf; locountry1dr; Kenny Bunk; OldNewYork; Zeneta; CommieCutter; SwankyC; ...

Ping.......


2 posted on 01/18/2014 7:11:43 AM PST by ProgressingAmerica (What's the best way to reach a YouTube generation? Put it on YouTube!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: ProgressingAmerica
Another influential book (1913) was Charles A. Beard's An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States.

It was a scholarly hit piece on the character of our framers. What we know as a worn out leftist tactic was fairly new then, to degrade our founding and constitution in order to elevate the oh so pure intentions of the social justice utopians.

3 posted on 01/18/2014 7:26:47 AM PST by Jacquerie (Article V.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: ProgressingAmerica
So what of this British Constitution? Well for starters, it is unwritten.

I am writing as one who has studied the history of the British Constitution in depth.

Its Constitution has a very long history and was not decided over a matter of two years like the American one. Instead it has an embedded nature going back to the 8th Century.

The king and his parliament, would make laws and send a copy of them to each county sherrif where the law then became the law of the land.

The importance of this is the fact that it became established law from which the people gained one of their most important supports. The other support was the morality taught by the Church.

So, the British Constitution is a written one established in embedded form over many centuries. It would take a team of historians many years to unpack them all. But they are there in every English county's records.

4 posted on 01/18/2014 7:38:17 AM PST by Slyfox (We want our pre-existing HEALTH INSURANCE back!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Slyfox

Yes, I know that the individual documents all exist in one form or another. That it would take a team of historians is along the lines of what I am getting at. Over time, the document has evolved. That’s nearly word for word the Wilsonian mantra. That was his whole point - development and evolution.

I hope that you haven’t taken my writing as a denigration of the Constitution of Great Britain. Many of the Founders thought that the document itself was a solid role model and in some ways we share that model.

What they did not like was the King.

We have a problem in that progressives are using this concept of “living and breathing” to circumvent our own Constitution and set up something that in practice is not all that different than what the Founders sought to escape.

But the progressives have their own problem in that this idea does not work very well with a document that was decided over two years with a high bar for amendment. However, it does apply very well to a document that evolved over centuries, and only requires a simple majority to amend.


5 posted on 01/18/2014 7:56:30 AM PST by ProgressingAmerica (What's the best way to reach a YouTube generation? Put it on YouTube!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: ProgressingAmerica
What I am talking about is how sound and grounded law developed in England.

What Wilson is talking about is how he believed that he should be able to bend the law to his favor.

In that regard he is no different than King John or Henry VIII who did all they could to nullify established law in order to make their will the law of the land.

I haven't taken your writing as a denigration at all. Every time I find an opportunity to add a little history to a post I do it.

The "living and breathing" bit is a way for progressives to dismiss established law and make it available for someone like Obama to extract his will upon the people.

6 posted on 01/18/2014 8:41:47 AM PST by Slyfox (We want our pre-existing HEALTH INSURANCE back!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: ProgressingAmerica
Thank you for, again, presenting a topic for discussion which American citizens need to study, develop an understanding of, and consider for themselves the great difference and purpose between the written U. S. Constitution and the unwritten British constitution going back to the Magna Carta.

Such understanding is especially essential for the youth of America as they watch their, and their posterity's, freedoms being trashed by so=called "progressive" regressives who have misrepresented their "living Constitution" theory's roots as being authentic when, in fact, as will be documented in the following essay by Dr. Walter Berns to be, in fact, fraudulent.

Dr. Berns' essay, reprinted with permission, appears in a Bicentennial (1987) volume entitled "Our Ageless Constitution", Part VII.

Berns' work, as well as that of many other constitutional scholars celebrated the unique and enduring qualities of America's Constitution.

For the interest of any who wish to pursue the topic further, Dr. Russell Kirk ("The Conservative Mind"), in Part I, titled "Foundations of the Unique American Experiment," traced "The Roots of the Constitution," including similarities and differences to that of the British.

Here is Dr. Berns:

Do We Have A Living Constitution?

"Until the people have, by some solemn and authoritative act, annulled or changed the established form, it is binding upon them collectively, as well as individually; and no presumption or even knowledge of their sentiments, can warrant their representatives [the executive, judiciary, or legislature]; in a departure from it prior to such an act." - Alexander Hamilton

In the first of the eighty-five "Federalist Papers," Alexander Hamilton emphasized that:

... it seems to have been reserved to the people of this country, by their conduct and example, to decide the important question, whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government fromreflection or choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force."

The Framers knew that the passage of time would surely disclose imperfections or inadequacies in the Constitution, but these were to be repaired or remedied by formal amendment, not by legislative action or judicial construction (or reconstruction). Hamilton (in The Federalist No. 78) was emphatic about this:

"Until the people have, by some solemn and authoritative act, annulled or changed the established form, it is binding upon them collectively, as well as individually; and no presumption, or even know ­ ledge of their sentiments, can warrant their represen ­ tatives in a departure from it prior to such an act."

The Congress, unlike the British Parliament, was not given final authority over the Constitution, which partly explains why the judicial authority was lodged in a separate and in­dependent branch of government. In Britain the supreme judicial authority is exercised by a committee of the House of Lords, which is appropriate in a system of parliamentary supremacy, but, although it was suggested they do so, the Framers refused to follow the British example.

The American system is one of constitutional supremacy, which means that sovereignty resides in the people, not in the King-in-Parliament; and the idea that the Constitution may be changed by an act of the legislature-even an act subsequently authorized by the judiciary-is simply incompatible with the natural right of the people to determine how (and even whether) they shall be governed.

Unlike in Britain where, formally at least, the queen rules by the grace of God (Dei gratia regina), American government rests on the consent of the people; and, according to natural right, the consent must be given formally. In fact, it must be given in a written compact entered into by the people. Here is Madison on the compacts underlying American government:

Neither civil society (or as Madison puts it, "the people in their social state') nor government exists by nature. By nature everyone is sovereign with respect to himself, free to do whatever in his judgment is necessary to preserve his own life - or, in the words of the Declaration of Independence, everyone is endowed by nature with the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of a happiness that he defines for himself. Civil society is an artificial person (constituted by the first of the compacts), and it is civil society that institutes and empowers government. So it was that they became "the People of the United States" in 1776 and, in 1787-88, WE, THE PEOPLE ordained and established "this Constitution for the United States of America."

In this formal compact THE PEOPLE specified the terms and conditions under which "ourselves and posterity," would be governed: granting some powers and withholding others, and organizing the powers granted with a view to preventing their misuse by the legislative, the executive, and the judicial branches alike. WE THE PEOPLE were authorized by natural right to do this, and were authorized to act on behalf of posterity only insofar as the rights of posterity to change those terms and conditions were respected. This was accomplished in Article V of the Constitution, the amending article, which prescribed the forms to be followed when exercising that power in the future.

The Framers had designed a constitutional structure for a government which would be limited by that structure - by the distribution of power into distinct departments, a system of legislative balances and checks, an independent judiciary, a system of representation, and an enlargement of the orbit 11 within which such systems are to revolve" And to the judges they assigned the duty, as "faithful guardians of the Constitution," to preserve the integrity of the structure, for it is by the structure (more than by "parchment barriers") that the government is limited. It would he only a slight exaggeration to say that, in the judgment of the Founders, the Constitution would "live" as long as that structure was preserved.

The Enduring American Constitution

Now, almost 200 years later, one can read Hamilton's words in Federalist No. 1 and conclude that, under some conditions, some "societies of men" are capable of "establishing good government," but that most are not. This is not for lack of trying; on the contrary, constitutions are being written all the time - of some 164 countries in the world, all but a small handful (seven by the latest count) have written constitutions - but most of them are not long-lived.

In September 1983, the American Enterprise Institute sponsored an international conference on constitution writing at the Supreme Court of the United States; some twenty-odd countries were represented. With the exception of the Americans, the persons present had themselves played a role - in some cases a major role - in the writing of their countries' constitutions, most of them written since 1970. Only the con­stitution of the French Fifth Republic predated 1970; and the Nigerian, so ably discussed and defended at the 1983 conference by one of its own Framers, had subsequently been subverted, much as the four previous French republican constitutions had been subverted. It would seem that many peoples are experienced in the writing of constitutions, but only a few of them - conspicuous among these the people of America - have an experience of stable constitutional govern­ment. In that sense, we surely have "a living Constitution." That is not, however, the sense in which the term is ordinarily used in the literature of constitutional law as shall be explored herein.

Treating The Constitution As A Thing Without Form or Substance: New Definitions Of 'Living'

In the language of many today, a "living Constitution" is not first of all one that is long-lived; rather, its longevity is a secondary or derivative quality which is attributed to its "flexibility" or better, its "adaptability." It is this quality " ­ adaptability" that allows it to be "kept in tune with the times," as the members of this school of thought sometimes say. According to them, a living Constitution is first of all a protean constitution - one whose meaning is not fixed, but variable.

In this respect, it is similar to the Constitution as understood by the "judicial power" school. Some judicial power advocates go so far as to say that, until the judges supply it in the process of adjudication, the Constitution has no meaning whatever. Here are the words of judge Lynn D. Compton of California, writing in 1977 in the pages of the Los Angeles Times:

"Let's be honest with the public. Those courts are policy-making bodies. The policies they set have the effect of law because of the power those courts are given by the Constitution. The so-called "landmark decisions" of both ofU.S. Supreme Court and the California Supreme Court were not compelled by legal precedent. Those decisions are the law and are considered "right" simply because the court had the power to decree the result. The result in any of those cases could have been exactly the opposite and by the same criteria been correct and binding precedent.

"In short, these precedent-setting policy decisions were the products of the social, economic and political philosophy of the majority of the justices who made up the court at a given time in history .."

So extreme a view of judicial power is not likely ever to be expressed in the official reports; there (perhaps in order to be dishonest with the public) even the most inventive judge will claim to be expounding the Constitution, if not its ex­plicit provisions then, at least its emanations, penumbras, or lacunae (Griswold v. Connecticut). What is of interest is that a judge should be willing to express it anywhere - for what it means is that a constitutional provision can be interpreted, but not misinterpreted, construed but not misconstrued. More to the point here is that it means that the Constitution is a living charter of government only because it is repeatedly being reinvented by the judiciary.

The 'Living Constitution' school and the 'Judicial Power' school may be indistinguishable at the margins, but they derive from unrelated and distinct sources. 'Judicial Power' is a product or an extension of legal realism, the school of thought whose advocates, from the beginning of the twentieth century, have argued that the essence of the judicial process consists not in interpreting law, whether statute or constitutional, but in making it. Its advocates today speak with a certain nonchalance of "creating" constitutional rights (Moore v. City of EastCleveland), and, when pressed to cite their authority for doing so are likely to point to the work of contemporary legal theorists like Ronald Dworkin and his bookTaking Rights Seriously . It is Dworkin who has purportedly given this sort of "constitutional lawmaking" what it has always lacked ­ a philosophical underpinning. As he sees it, rights cannot be taken seriously until there has been "a fusion of constitutional law and moral theory," and to make it clear that he is not referring to any particular moral theory that may have informed the Constitution as written, he finishes that sentence by saying that that fusion "has yet to take place."

As it turns out, however, the moral theory he propounds, and which he hopes to "fuse" with constitutional law, proves to be nothing more than a fancy way of justifying what the judge Comptons among us have been doing all along. And what they have been doing is, essentially, treating the Constitution as a thing without form or substance, except insofar as it authorizes the judges to give it substance.

The living Constitution school also claims to have a source more venerable than legal realism or Ronald Dworkin - justice John Marshall. A former president of the American Political Science Association argues that the idea of a " 'living Constitution'...can trace its lineage back to John Marshall's celebrated advice in McCulloch v. Maryland (1819): 'We must never forget that it is a Constitution we are expounding...intended to endure for ages to come, and consequently to be adapted to the various crises of human affairs' " The words quoted are certainly Marshall's but the opinion attributed to him is at odds with his well-known statements that, for example, the "principles" of the Constitution "are deemed fundamental [and] permanent" and, except by means of formalamendment, "unchangeable" (Marbury v. Madison). It is important to note that the discrepancy is not Marshall's; it is largely the consequence of the manner in which he is quoted - ellipses are used to join two statements separated by some eight pages in the original text. Marshall did not say that the Constitution should be adapted to the various crises of human affairs; he said that the powers of Congress are adaptable to meet those crises. The first statement appears in that part of his opinion where he is arguing that the Constitution cannot specify "all the subdivisions of which its great powers will admit;" if it attempted to do so, it would "partake of the prolixity of a legal code" (McCulloch v. Maryland), In the second statement, Marshall's subject is the legislative power, and specifically the power "to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution" the explicitly granted powers.

Neither Marshall nor any other prominent members of the founding generation can be 'appropriated' by the living Constitution school to support their erroneous views. Marshall's and the Founders' concern was not to keep the Constitution in tune with the times but, rather, to keep the times to the extent possible, in tune with the Constitution. And that is why the Framers assigned to the judiciary the task of protecting the Constitution as written.

They were under no illusions that this would prove to be an easy task. Nevertheless, they had reason to believe that they had written a constitution that deserved to endure and, properly guarded, would endure. Hence, Madison spoke out forcefully against frequent appeals to the people for change. Marshall had this Madisonian passage in mind when, in his opinion for the Court in Marbury, he wrote:

At this point, it is well to remember Hamilton's strong warning about unwarranted presumptions by those in government of a power to depart from the people's established form as quoted in the title of this essay.

Marshall referred to the "principles" which he called "permanent," and the "basis on which the whole American fabric has been erected" Yet Marshall also chose to address the much broader issue of the general scope of the national powers. The Constitution must be construed to "...allow to the national legislature that discretion, with respect to the means by which the powers it confers are to be carried into execution, which will enable that body to perform the high duties assigned to it, in the manner most beneficial to the people." It is these powers, not the Constitution, which are flexible and adaptable to meet the crises of "human affairs."

Ironically, the very case cited by the "living Constitution" school, when properly read, demonstrates that John Marshall, at least, saw, no need for flexibility in the Constitution.

Summary: Do We Have A Living Constitution?

What has been undertaken here has been providing (within a very brief compass indeed) an accurate statement of the principles underlying the American Constitution: pointing to (but by no means elaborating) the political theory from which they derive and the constitutional conclusions to which they lead. Among the latter is the untenability of the proposition that constitutional limitations can be jettisoned, constitutional power enhanced, or the constitutional divi­sion of powers altered, by means other than formal constitutional amendment.

It will not be argued that it may sometimes be convenient to allow the Senate to originate a bill "for raising revenue," but convenience is not a measure of constitutionality. There is much to be said in favor of the legislative veto - Who would, in principle, deny the need of checks on administrative agencies? - but, as the Supreme Court correctly said, the Framers anticipated that Congress might find reason to employ such devices and, when designing the so-called "presentment clause" in Article 1, Section 7, forbade them ( Immigration and Naturalization Service v. Chadha). And from a particular par­tisan perspective it is understandably frustrating, simply because the required number of states had not yet ratified the Equal Rights Amendment, to be denied the power to pro­mote the cause of sexual equality; but frustration alone cannot justify a judicial attempt to preclude the necessity of for­mal ratification, as Justice Brennan is said to have wished to do. In Frontiero v. Richardson (411 U.S. 677, 1973) the Supreme Court was divided on the issue of whether sex, like race, should be treated as a suspect classification. We are told that Justice Brennan circulated a draft opinion in which he proposed to declare classification by sex virtually impermissi­ble and that he knew this would have the effect of "enacting" the pending ERA. "But Brennan was accustomed to having the Court out in front, leading any civil rights movement," a major publication stated. Hence, we are further told, he saw "no reason to wait several years for the states to ratify the amendment." No reason, that is, other than the fact, which Brennan implicitly acknowledged, that the Constitu­tion as then written, and which had not yet been rewritten by the only people authorized to rewrite it, did not support the role he would have the Court hand down.

Those who would use "convenience" or "frustration" as reason, or who insist that it lies within the powers of the Court (or the Congress or the Executive) to effect constitutional change, can be charged with a lack of respect for the principles on which, as Marshall wisely observed: "the whole American fabric has been erected."

We are told that it is unreasonable - even foolish - to expect that the Framers could have written a Constitution suitable alike for a society of husbandman and a society of multinational corporations, to say nothing of one as well adapted to the age of the musket and sailing ship as to the age of intercontinental nuclear-tipped missiles. As the problems have changed, the argument goes, so must the manner in which they are confronted and solved, and the Constitution cannot be allowed to stand in the way. Indeed, there is no reason to allow it to stand in the way, we are told, because the Framers intended it to be flexible. And we are told that John Marshall would support this position. But it was Marshall, in McCulloch v. Maryland, who stated: "Throughout this vast republic, from the St. Croix to the Gulf of Mexico, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, revenue is to be collected and expended, armies are to be marched and supported." The United States, in this view was not intended to be a simple society of husbandmen, and Marshall Clearly saw that the Constitution empowered Congress to do what was required to meet the crises of the Republic, and to maintain the Constitutional structure intended by the Framers, changing it only when such change would be in keeping with the structure itself.

That the American Constitution is long-lived, has enduring qualities, and was intended for the ages cannot be doubted. That it was founded on enduring principles, and that it was based on the authority of a people who are sovereign has been attested to by many of its leaders. That it can be changed when, and if, the people ordain such change is a part of its own provisions. For these reasons, it can be said to be a "Living Constitution" - but let that not be claimed by those who would use the language to subvert the structure.


Our Ageless Constitution, W. David Stedman & La Vaughn G. Lewis, Editors (Asheboro, NC, W. David Stedman Associates,1987) Part VII:  ISBN 0-937047-01-5: (Essay adapted by Editors for publication in this Volume in consultation with Dr. Walter Berns from Berns' article by the same title in National Forum , The Phi Kappa Phi Journal, Fall 1984)
This essay may be download here.

7 posted on 01/18/2014 8:54:15 AM PST by loveliberty2
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Slyfox

Meant to include you on the above post. Sorry!


8 posted on 01/18/2014 8:56:27 AM PST by loveliberty2
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: Slyfox

Wilson was half-British and apparently visited Northern England, where his mother was from, frequently. Might explain his anglophilia.


9 posted on 01/18/2014 9:00:48 AM PST by sinsofsolarempirefan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: loveliberty2
We are told that it is unreasonable - even foolish - to expect that the Framers could have written a Constitution suitable alike for a society of husbandman and a society of multinational corporations, to say nothing of one as well adapted to the age of the musket and sailing ship as to the age of intercontinental nuclear-tipped missiles. As the problems have changed, the argument goes, so must the manner in which they are confronted and solved, and the Constitution cannot be allowed to stand in the way. Indeed, there is no reason to allow it to stand in the way, we are told, because the Framers intended it to be flexible
. . . which is why their handiwork includes Article V, Amendments.

10 posted on 01/18/2014 12:06:15 PM PST by conservatism_IS_compassion ("Liberalism” is a conspiracy against the public by wire-service journalism.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: conservatism_IS_compassion
Thank you!

As Berns quoted Hamilton:

"Until the people have, by some solemn and authoritative act, annulled or changed the established form, it is binding upon them collectively, as well as individually; and no presumption or even knowledge of their sentiments, can warrant their representatives [the executive, judiciary, or legislature]; in a departure from it prior to such an act." - Alexander Hamilton

Hamilton's words are a rebuke to the current President's concoction of an "excuse" for a "departure" from the Constitution's structuring and limitations on Executive power and protection of "the People's" right to have their elected representatives in the Legislative Branch to "make" the laws, and requiring the Executive, by solemn oath, to "execute" those laws faithfully.

11 posted on 01/18/2014 12:18:13 PM PST by loveliberty2
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: ProgressingAmerica; LearsFool; YHAOS; knarf; locountry1dr; OldNewYork; Zeneta; CommieCutter; ...
The men who conceived of and wrote the COTUS were very well aware of British Constitutional History, which after all was a key part of their education, legal and otherwise.

True, there is no such thing as a written "British Constitution." But there is, as you point out, definitely such a thing as its written history. That history is encapsulated in our COTUS.

Wilson's deviation has born full fruit in our era, in which like it or not, we are living through a rolling anti-constitutional coup d'etat. Since the electorate is oblivious to this; ignorant of the most basic aspects of our history, the question becomes, "Can the electorate vote to abrogate the Constitution?"

Since they returned him to office, the POTUS surely seems to think so.

12 posted on 01/18/2014 2:15:45 PM PST by Kenny Bunk (This GOP is dead. What do we do now?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Kenny Bunk
Thanks for the Beep!

As you can see, I’ve been a bit busy, but I appreciate being included.

13 posted on 01/18/2014 7:53:04 PM PST by YHAOS
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: Slyfox

“not decided over a matter of two years like the American one.”

Crack a history book sometime, genius.


14 posted on 01/18/2014 7:55:14 PM PST by Lurker (Violence is rarely the answer. But when it is it is the only answer.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: Lurker
“not decided over a matter of two years like the American one.”
Crack a history book sometime, genius.

The American Constitution was written and passed by unanimous consent in 1787 and ratified by all the states in 1789. That is two years genius.

15 posted on 01/18/2014 8:17:21 PM PST by Slyfox (We want our pre-existing HEALTH INSURANCE back!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: Slyfox

You forgot the years between the end of the Revolution and the formal start of the first Convention, Skippy.


16 posted on 01/18/2014 8:25:24 PM PST by Lurker (Violence is rarely the answer. But when it is it is the only answer.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: Lurker

They did not begin writing the Constitution until 1787. What don’t you understand about that? Skippy.


17 posted on 01/18/2014 8:32:17 PM PST by Slyfox (We want our pre-existing HEALTH INSURANCE back!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]

To: Slyfox

RE: “The British Constitution has a very long history and was not decided over a matter of two years like the American one.”

That seems quite misleading to me.

The British legal system shares many founding documents and learned essays with the American system, and America also shared 150 years of Common Law tradition with Britain.

By 1776, the Articles of Confederation were being drafted, and they certainly provided a useful template for the final Constitution in 1789.

And, by 1777, most of the states had written their own Constitutions, which also influenced the federal Constitution.


18 posted on 01/19/2014 12:09:05 AM PST by zeestephen
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: Kenny Bunk
Yes, the progs pulled off a coup. What an awful decade. Overnight we went from a federal to a democratic republic. Our Framers knew exactly what happens to democratic republics. They all end with an Obama.
19 posted on 01/19/2014 3:08:08 AM PST by Jacquerie (Article V.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: zeestephen
The Articles of Confederation are not the Constitution.

The Constitution was written in a rather short time, over a matter of weeks. They call it a miracle. What actually happened was our Founders had at their hands all of the information they needed to make such quick, clear decisions. They had the examples of all the colonies from which to chose. For example, when they looked at the need for a strong executive, they noted that the governor of the New York colony had the best structure in place from which to work. So, they used that example in the planning of the role of the president.

But they also had one thing that no other group deciding such a Constitution had. They all shared the very same moral philosophy. That made their work quick and efficient. So, our Founders were able to avoid the mistakes made by the French who had at their tables quite divergent philosophies. And we see how their Revolution devolved.

The actual deciding and writing and ratification was only two years. The writing of the embedded Constitution of England was not so quick.

20 posted on 01/19/2014 7:29:27 AM PST by Slyfox (We want our pre-existing HEALTH INSURANCE back!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

To: Slyfox

That’s a good thing, in my view. When I originally wrote my paper some time ago, if I would have had access to someone such as yourself with more in-depth knowledge of the document itself and how it evolved I probably could have written something even better.

Thanks for posting.


21 posted on 01/19/2014 1:46:11 PM PST by ProgressingAmerica (What's the best way to reach a YouTube generation? Put it on YouTube!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: ProgressingAmerica
Your post was helpful in contributing to the flow of information that is really important.

We generally do not have any idea how far our posts will reach or even who reads them, but it is all for the good.

Thank you for posting.

22 posted on 01/19/2014 3:33:58 PM PST by Slyfox (We want our pre-existing HEALTH INSURANCE back!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 21 | View Replies]

To: ProgressingAmerica; cripplecreek; AmericanInTokyo; Alex Murphy; P-Marlowe; Lazlo in PA; Diamond; ...

Thank you, ‘ProgressingAmerica,’ for this essay. I’m pinging it out to others who may be interested.

The Woodrow Wilson quotes and references to social Darwinism would be horrifying even to many liberals today who certainly do **NOT** want a “survival of the fittest” approach to society.

This is really helpful in showing the roots of the “living breathing Constitution” concept.


23 posted on 02/18/2014 9:32:16 AM PST by darrellmaurina
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson