Tag Archives: Philadelphia Convention

2012 Election Is Only the First Step

As a Constitution Conservative, I take a back seat to no one when it comes to defending the Constitution. In fact, I go much further than most conservatives do. I believe the Philadelphia Convention, and the thirteen state ratifying conventions were all done under the superintending providence of God. Therefore, I also believe that our founding documents contain God’s plan for the governing of America. Even a casual survey of American history clearly shows that whenever we deviate from that plan we pay a dear price in political turmoil and economic hardships.

It is imperative for the survival of the Republic that Mitt Romney be elected in November. Obama has to be turned out of office before he completes his mission to “fundamentally transform America” — if it is not too late already. Romney is the only alternative available at this time. However, we must not be misled into believing that electing Romney is going to turn things around overnight. Throughout his political life, Romney has been a follower, not a leader. That is not going to change automatically when he gets in the White House.

Furthermore, Romney has not exhibited a firm grasp of the Constitution during his campaign for the Presidency. For example, he has promised to “repeal and replace” Obamacare. Millions of voters will cast their ballot for him based on that promise. However, when he makes it, he is being disingenuous. The President does not repeal legislation, only Congress can do that. Even Romney knows that much about the working of our government, therefore, he is being disingenuous with the American people when he makes the promise. What he should say is, “on my first day in office I will urge Congress to repeal Obamacare as its first order of business.”  That he can do.

He also says frequently, “On my first day in office I will, by executive order, issue waivers to the states exempting them from having to enforce the provisions of Obamacare.” (Paraphrased) Here he is violating at least two clear provisions of the Constitution. Executive Orders, in the sense he is using the term, carries the weight of law. The very first sentence in the body of the Constitution, First Article, First Clause, clearly states, “All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.” Executive Orders, other than administrative orders directed to employees of the Executive Branch directly in the President’s chain-of-command, are unconstitutional.

When he indicates that he will not enforce Obamacare as President, he is in effect, saying that he and he alone will decide what the law is. Unfortunately, the same conservatives who condemn Chief Justice Roberts and the Obama Justice Department for making one-man decisions concerning which laws to enforce or what the law is in the first place, are the same conservatives that are cheering Romney on in his promises. Far too many critical decisions are made in our government by one person, whether it is the President, a bureaucratic Czar, or the “swing vote” on the Supreme Court. This has to stop, and should never be encouraged by a Constitution Conservative, whether or not we agree with the intended outcome.

One of the most overlooked sentences in the Constitution is found in the last sentence of Article II, Section 3, “He (the President) shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed…”  This is one of the few specific duties of the President spelled out in the Constitution. Whether we like it or not, Obamacare was passed by Congress and signed by the President, therefore, it is the law and the President is responsible for its execution.

However, it is not the law of the land. Article VI, paragraph two says, “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof … shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the judges in every State shall be bound thereby,” Notice, it is the Constitution itself that is the Supreme Law of the Land, not the opinions of the Supreme Court or the acts of Congress when they conflict with the Constitution. One of the first landmark cases of the Supreme Court was Marbury vs. Madison in 1803. Chief Justice John Marshall, writing for the Court, said in his opinion, “a law repugnant to the Constitution is null and void.” Obamacare is not only repugnant to all thinking Americans, it is also repugnant to the Constitution; therefore, it is really no law at all. Nevertheless, until it is repealed by Congress, it is the duty of the President to enforce it. What then, can we do?

To answer that question we have to look to the hierarchy of sovereignty laid out in our Founding documents. In the Preamble to the Constitution which defines the purpose of our federal government, we read, “We the People…do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”  The Tenth Amendment in the Bill of Rights says, “The Powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

In America, the supreme power resides with the people by natural law, as enshrined in the Declaration of Independence. In order to maintain a civil society, the people delegate certain powers to representatives elected by them to serve in the state legislatures that, in turn, are restricted by State Constitutions. In 1774, the people of the original thirteen states formed state governments made up of their elected representatives. Those state legislatures delegated certain powers to the First Continental Congress to form a confederation, primarily for the purpose of conducting the Revolutionary War. In 1786, Congress authorized a convention in Philadelphia for the purpose of strengthening the Articles of Confederation to make them more effective in dealing with issues common to all the states that could not be adequately handled by the states individually. In that Convention, the Constitution was written creating a federal government with limited powers for carrying out a finite number of enumerated responsibilities dealing mostly with national defense and commerce.

In the hierarchy of powers, the federal government as a creation of the Constitution has the least amount of legitimate power, carefully limited to those matters delegated to it by Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution. In all matters not delegated to the federal government by the Constitution, State Law is supreme over federal law. This power structure is not contradicted by the “Supremacy Clause” quoted above in Article VI. Since legislating health care is not one of the enumerated powers given to the federal government by the Constitution, the state legislatures can forbid the enforcement of Obamacare within its jurisdiction. Until it is repealed by Congress– hopefully in January 2013–, it is up to the state governments to prevent its implementation on a state-by-state basis.

While it is the responsibility of every Patriot to vote for Mitt Romney for President in the upcoming election, do not be misled into expecting President Romney to reverse the downward slide of American society without constant prodding from our side. Those patriots who expect to return to their slumber after the November election had better stock up on NoDoze. The real work begins in January of 2013 and we can expect it to continue for at least the next generation if we are to return America to the Constitutional Republic designed by our Founders. While we are attempting to regain control of our federal government, we also have to give serious attention to reforming our state governments. More on that later.

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July 4th: Picnics and Fireworks

The Declaration of Independence is the foundation document for everything American.

I was sitting in my office last night (July 4), listening to the whistles, booms and bangs of fireworks going off in every direction around the neighborhood. I could not help but wonder how many of the revelers were celebrating the 234th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, and how many were celebrating the extra day off from work and the opportunity to set off illegal fireworks without having to worry about being arrested.

It had been a long weekend, with my grand daughter’s wedding on Saturday and Church Services, a picnic and Fourth of July celebration on Sunday, so I really was not in the mood for any deep thinking. However, I did think about a couple of comments I had read or heard on the Internet, radio or TV — I don’t remember which— concerning the Declaration of Independence.

One person was trying to make a point using a quote from the Declaration of Independence, and the other was reminding him that the Declaration was not law. I also heard a radio show a day or so earlier, where a young man was sent out on the streets of Seattle to find out how much the public knew abut Independence Day. Only four out of ten people interviewed knew that the Fourth of July was the celebration of our Independence from Great Britain in 1776.

It seems to me, the Declaration of Independence does not enjoy the place in America’s consciousness it deserves. Few of us recognize that it is the foundation of our Constitution and our form of government. On July 4, 1776, the thirteen colonies became thirteen free, independent and sovereign countries or nation states. The Declaration of Independence declares,

“That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do.”

The word “united” here refers to their united stand in favor of Independence and their determined resistance to the British Crown. They did not have a united, constituted government until 1781. After declaring Independence, the colonies formed a loose confederation under the Articles of Confederation for mutual defense, keeping the principle of independent and sovereign states set forth in the Declaration. When the Philadelphia Convention met in 1787 for the purpose of amending the Articles to make them more effective and enduring as a governing document, they again kept this fundamental principle of state sovereignty and incorporated it into the Constitution.

The Declaration of Independence serves as the introduction to both the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution. The Constitution does not introduce any new principles. It simply acknowledges and codifies the principles set forth in the Declaration of Independence; sovereignty of the people, sovereignty of the states, equality of birth, and the unalienable rights of life and liberty, are all principles found in the Declaration of Independence. The Constitution incorporates these principles and enshrines them in its seven Articles and the ten Amendments making up the Bill of Rights.

The states did not give up the principle of state sovereignty when they ratified the Constitution. Instead, they emphasized it with the Tenth Amendment, locking into place the limits imposed on the federal government by Section Eight of Article I in the Constitution. Few decisions in history have contributed more to the chaos and dilemmas found in today’s government, than the deliberate, incremental decisions to usurp state sovereignty and meld the states into the consolidated national government we have today. Unless stopped, the federal government will continue to consolidate and build its power until the American people are transformed into subjects, and no longer liberated citizens of a free state.

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Obama's Flawed Constitution

liberty-bellPresident Obama has expressed, on several occasions, his belief that the Constitution is a flawed document.  He has also indicated a primary goal of his administration is to change the way things are done in America to match the principles on which he believes the nation was founded.  Millions of Americans cheer his efforts, believing they will make their lives easier and more rewarding.  Since more than sixty percent of Americans approve of his job performance after four months in office, pursuing his goal to remake America, it is important to understand just what the founding principles of our nation really are.

We will not find a definition of those principles in the Constitution although we do find examples of them.  At the same time, we find several places where the Constitution seems to contradict those principles.  The Constitution is a political document.  As such, it reflects compromises on issues that many of the framers did not agree on. The two most important were those between the federalists and the republicans and between the slave holding states and the anti-slave states.

The founding documents of America are actually three distinct documents written at different times and for different purposes.  They are The Declaration of Independence (1776), The Constitution (1787) and The Bill of Rights (1789).

The Declaration of Independence, often referred to as the nation’s charter, was based on a republican philosophy and contains the founding principles for our form of government.  The first principle is that a legitimate government receives its powers from the people.  The second is that all men are created equal. The third principle is that of unalienable rights endowed by God, not granted by government.  The fourth is that the only purpose of government is to protect those rights in a secure and stable civil society.

During the Revolutionary War, a Federation of the thirteen states was formed to carry out the war and perform other functions of a national nature, under the Articles of Confederation.  The Federation had no taxing powers, no means of regulating commerce between the states, and no mechanism for enforcing laws passed by the Congress.  The Articles of Confederation proved inadequate as a blueprint for governance, and the states authorized a convention in 1787 for the purpose of amending the Articles to correct many of the defects.

The Convention, meeting at Philadelphia, was dominated by Federalists who wanted a strong central government with the states in a subordinate relationship to the federal government, much like the relationship between counties and towns to state governments.  The minority, known as the anti-federalists, was strongly opposed to the Constitution as written.  Fearing it gave too much power to the central government, they demanded a Bill of Rights.  Many of the Founding Fathers we revere today were on opposing sides in the debate.

Federalists Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, and James Madison, among others, were strongly opposed to a Bill of Rights.  Federalist No. 84 by Hamilton was written in opposition, arguing that adding a list of specific rights guaranteed by the Constitution was not only unnecessary but dangerous to the welfare of the union.  Many of the strongest advocates for a Bill of Rights were not delegates to the Convention. Thomas Jefferson was in France on a diplomatic mission during the debates and unable to contribute personally.  However, in a letter to his friend James Madison he expressed a strong concern that the Constitution did not contain a bill of rights.  Patrick Henry, another strong anti-federalist refused to attend the Convention and therefore did not take part in the debates.

However, after the draft of the Constitution was presented to the states for ratification, Henry became one of the dominant leaders in the anti-federalist opposition along with Samuel Adams, and John Hancock of Boston.  Failing in their efforts to get a Bill of Rights included in the Constitution the anti-federalists worked diligently in their state legislatures to secure assurances that a Bill of Rights would be added as amendments to the Constitution as a condition of ratification.  In this, they succeeded.

The discord in the Philadelphia Convention can be seen by comparing the title of the Declaration with the signing statement of the Constitution.  The full title of the Declaration boldly proclaims it to be “The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America”.  By comparison, the Constitution simply says in the last paragraph,

“Done in Convention by the unanimous consent of the states present the seventeenth day of September in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty seven and of the independence of the United States of America the Twelfth in witness whereof we have hereunto subscribed our names.”

This ambiguous wording was drawn up by George Mason and presented by Benjamin Franklin as a way of encouraging delegates to sign the draft and maintain the impression of unanimity on their behalf.  Notice, it is the Convention itself, not the signing of the Constitution that claims the “unanimous consent”.  On the day of signing only 43 delegates representing twelve states were present, including George Washington, President of the Convention and William Jackson, Secretary.  Three of the forty-three delegates that were present refused to sign; hardly a unanimous agreement.

Five states ratified the Constitution shortly after it was presented to the states.  However, it bogged down in Massachusetts.  Only after Samuel Adams and John Hancock had negotiated “the Massachusetts Compromise”, did the Massachusetts Convention vote for ratification. The compromise, recommending amendments to be considered by the new Congress, should the Constitution go into effect allowed delegates to vote for ratification with the prospect of a Bill of Rights being added later.

The Adams-Hancock compromise probably saved the Constitution from certain defeat.  Other states followed their example in their ratifying conventions.  Without the Bill of Rights, there would be no basis in law to protect our rights and restrict the powers of Congress.  The Tenth Amendment is the cornerstone of our founding documents and the basis for the doctrine of “enumerated powers”.  Even with the addition of the Bill of Rights, there were still contradictions between the principles found in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

These differences were not to be reconciled for another hundred years.  Only after the Civil War at a cost of more than 500,000 lives in battle and the addition of Amendments 13, 14 and 15, was the principle that “all men are created equal” recognized in the Constitution.  Today the Declaration and the Constitution, with its amendments, are in near perfect harmony. Unfortunately, from the beginning, the federal government has seemingly violated the letter and the spirit of the Constitution at will with little if any opposition from the people as a whole.

For the past seventy-five years we have witnessed the wholesale violation of the Constitution by Congresses, courts and Presidents, none more so that our current President and Congress.  When President Obama speaks of “perfecting” the Constitution or “remaking America” he is really talking about discarding the Constitution and tearing down all the traditions and customs that have made America great.

The warning uttered by Benjamin Franklin at the close of the Philadelphia Convention has an ominous ring to it today.

“Sir, I agree to this Constitution with all its faults, if they are such; because I think a general Government necessary for us, and there is no form of Government but what may be a blessing to the people if well administered, and believe farther that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in Despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic Government, being incapable of any other.

Have the American people been so corrupted by the allure of socialism as to be incapable of any form of government other than despotism, as Franklin suggested?  The next few months and years will answer that question for many generations to come.