The recent rulings by the Supreme Court have brought about a lot of discussion as to how they relate to or violate the Constitution, our Ten Commandments and the basis of law in our country. It is my belief that the majority opinions actually interpreted and upheld the Constitution, while those who dissented did so based on their own political leanings.
There are others who hold the exact opposite viewpoint than mine. By having their own views of the rulings defeated, they immediately want to change the Constitution itself.
While I am certainly not a Constitutional scholar, I did study it in high school in a time where we actually learned about it and out nation’s history, things I believe are now rarely done in our public schools. Instead we hear about how everything in America is bad, including our founding, a sad commentary on why we were founded while we still shine as a beacon to many throughout the world despite our missteps and imperfections..
In order to be more aware of who and what this country was really founded and based upon, I read up on what the Constitution is about and what our Founding Fathers wanted for this new country they fought and gave up much for. The following is what I found.
A chief aim of the Constitution as drafted by the Constitutional Convention was to create a government with enough power to act on a national level, but without so much power that fundamental rights of all individuals would be at risk.
The founders of the Constitution were delegates appointed by the state legislatures to represent each state’s welfare. It was constructed on September 17, 1787 after months of conflicting views, heated debates and clashing ideas It finally yielded to compromise and many thoughtful reconsiderations.
The Convention of 1787 was called to revise the ailing Articles of Confederation, that previously guided the now freed colonies. The Convention abandoned the Articles, drafting a Constitution with a much stronger, but still restricted national government. Nine states had to approve the Constitution before it could go into effect.
James Madison is known as the Father of the Constitution because of his pivotal role in the document’s drafting as well as its ratification. Madison also drafted the first 10 amendments known as the Bill of Rights.
Madison and Thomas Jefferson argued that the Constitution had an original meaning concerning the powers it granted the national government. Those powers were enumerated, and the government could only do things the Constitution expressly said it could do, except under very rare and limited circumstances.
We have our Constitution because the Founding Fathers wanted to set up a fair and balanced government. The focal point
Among them was the idea that all people are created equal, whether European, Native American, or African American, and that these people have fundamental rights, such as liberty, free speech, freedom of religion, due process of law, and freedom of assembly.
Our Constitution is not perfect. Nothing created by man is. But there is probably no greater document in the world that lays out what a country is all about. And under the right circumstances and with a two thirds majority vote it can be changed if and when needed.
Beliefs of the Founders
The key tenets of the Constitution are; limited government; republicanism; checks and balances; federalism; separation of powers; and popular sovereignty.
The Framers, wanted the amendment process to be difficult. They believed that a long and complicated amendment process would help create stability in the United States. Because it is difficult to amend the Constitution, the amendments that are added are usually permanent.
A central issue during its development was whether the federal government or the states would have more power. Many delegates believed that the federal government should be able to overrule state laws, but others feared that a strong federal government would oppress their citizens.
So limitations were put on the federal government. First, it was divided into three separate, but in theory equal branches, the Legislative which writes the laws, the Executive which administers the laws and the Justice which interprets the laws.
By creating this, the Founders believed that they would keep one person or group from imposing its will on everyone else. They also did not believe in political parties and felt representation came from those willing to give time and service to the country and to then leave when their work was done so others could then take their turn and do the same.
Fears of the Founders
The Founders feared a large republic in which the government, like the Empire from which they had declared independence, was unresponsive to the people. They also feared that a corrupt Senate, Judiciary, and Executive could conspire to form an aristocracy much like what they had fought against. Here are some of the warnings that those in power felt about the Constitution.
He said, “I agree to this Constitution … and I believe, further, 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.”
He said: “They serve to organize factions … to put in the place of the delegated will of the nation the will of a party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority…. “Let me … warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party….”
He anticipated the encroachment of one branch of government over the others. He said: “It is important … that … those entrusted with its administration … confine themselves within their respective constitutional spheres, avoiding in the exercise of the powers of one department any encroachment upon another…. The spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all the departments in one, and thus to create … a real despotism.”
He said: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
He said, “Our government is now taking so steady a course as to show by what road it will pass to destruction, to wit, by consolidation first, and then corruption…. The engine of consolidation will be the federal judiciary; the two other branches the corrupting and corrupted instruments.”
In other words, if the Supreme Court uses its judicial mandates to draw more and more power to Washington; then the Congress and the Executive will use this new power to shatter the Constitution and corrupt the dual federalism which was designed to balance the political powers between the government and the states.
When Jefferson’s cousin, John Marshall, became Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Marshall set himself and his associates up as the “final arbiter” on all constitutional issues. Nowhere in the Constitution was the federal judiciary given the power to enforce its will on the states or the other two federal departments.
Jefferson had the Supreme Court in his sights when he wrote: “The great object of my fear is the federal judiciary. That body, like gravity, ever acting with noiseless foot and unalarming advance, gaining ground step by step and holding what it gains, is engulfing insidiously the [state] governments into the jaws of that [federal government] which feeds them.”
He said: “If Congress can employ money indefinitely, for the general welfare, and are the sole and supreme judges of the general welfare, they may take the care of religion into their own hands; they may appoint teachers in every state, county, and parish, and pay them out of the public treasury; they may take into their own hands the education of children, the establishing in like manner schools throughout the union; they may assume the provision of the poor…. Were the power of Congress to be established in the latitude contended for, it would subvert the very foundations, and transmute the very nature of the limited government established by the people of America.”
The Constitution of the United States is the foundation of our Federal Government. It is often called the supreme law of the land; no law should be passed that contradicts its principles.
For over two centuries the Constitution has remained in force because the framers successfully separated and balanced governmental powers to safeguard the interests of majority rule and minority rights, of liberty and equality, and of the federal and state governments.
The Constitution still empowers people. The Constitution is old, so old, in fact, that it is the world’s longest surviving written charter of government. It provides a legal framework that still works today and would work better still if our political branches would follow it as it was designed.
Through all the changes, the Constitution has endured and adapted. The framers knew it wasn’t a perfect document. But they allowed for this and that it could be amended if needed and decided by a super majority of the states.
The principles laid out in the text have been replicated by every major (and many minor) democratic countries. Without the principles of the Constitution, the principles of a free society would be impossible.