Filed under: Freedom, History, Law, The Constitution | Tags: Eighteenth English Theories, European Constitutions, Mark Steyn on the Constitution
“The republic’s founders were, I’m afraid, British subjects animated by certain eighteenth-century English theories about liberty, themselves deriving from the principles of common law and Magna Carta. It is not “Eurocentric ” to make such an obvious point. Indeed, “Europe” was noticeably antipathetic to these ideas and in many ways still is. That’s why, while America still has only the same yellowing parchment it started out with two centuries ago, the continent has lurched through its Third Reichs and Fourth Republics and wholesale constitutional rewrites every generation. The U.S. Constitution is not only older than the French, German, Italian, Belgian, Greek and Spanish constitutions, it’s older than all of them put together. The ideas of a relatively small group of Englishmen on the rule of law and responsible government have been responsible for centuries of sustained peaceful constitutional evolution in America, Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, Barbados, Mauritius. True, of those Englishmen, America got the exceptional talents, as is clear from a casual comparison of The Federalist Papers and an equivalent opus called Canada’s Founding Debates. But generally, around the world, the likelihood of living your life unmolested by the arbitrary cruelties of government is inversely proportional to how far the state departs from Anglo-American theories of liberty.”
From Mark Steyn
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Freedom, History, Law, The Constitution | Tags: A Living Constitution?, Constitution Day, Mindful of Our Stewardship
For over a hundred years Progressives have been trying to persuade Americans that times have changed, and that browned and aged document we call the Constitution badly needs updating. Our founding documents were all right back in the 1700s, but over 200 years later this is a different and modern world. Why, they didn’t even have Blackberrys.
Shouldn’t the Constitution change and develop to fit our evolving society? The Liberals really like the notion of a “living constitution.”
I find it fascinating that newly elected Congressmen, after long exhausting weeks on the campaign trail, come to Washington to be sworn in as new public servants — senators and representatives — raise their right hands and swear allegiance to the Constitution, then start figuring out ways to get around it or change it.
There is a major reason for that. Ronald Reagan explained:
I had a copy of the Soviet Constitution, and I read it with great interest. And I saw all kinds of terms in there that sound just exactly like our own: ‘freedom of assembly,’ and ‘freedom of speech’ and so forth. Of course, they don’t allow them to have those things, but they’re in there in the constitution.
But I began to wonder about the other constitutions — everyone has one — and our own and why so much emphasis on ours. And then I found out, and the answer was very simple. That’s why you don’t notice it at first, but it is so great that it tells the entire difference.
All those other constitutions are documents that say that “We, the government, allow the people the following rights,’ and our Constitution says “We, the people allow the government the following privileges and rights.”
Today, Attorney Joseph W. Stuart in an essay on Constitution Day, writes about his own legal education and a course in the philosophy of law. The essay is delightful and thought-provoking.
The only text we had for the course was the U.S. Constitution. It served Professor Weiss well as a means to help us inquire into legal and political philosophy, into rights and powers and liberties, and their limitations. For the first class, he read from the top of the text: “We, the people of the United States of America, in order to form a more perfect union . . .” Then, leaning forward on his cane, he asked, “Who are ‘we’?” We — meaning the small “we” of a handful of students and our teacher — spent the entire first session on that question, and the next several classes on the Preamble alone. We had good reason to do so, because it told us much: that the drafters of the document intended that it be an agreement by and from and among the people, and that it united them with their descendants, securing the justice and liberty just won.
The “living Constitution” is another one of those euphemisms I have been writing about. Liberals don’t like the current Constitution and want to change it because it limits what they can do. We, the people of the United States of America, have granted the government only these limited powers, and they don’t get to do whatever they want. When they start telling us what kind of light bulbs we must use, what cars we must drive, what kind of health care we are allowed to have — they’re way out of line, abrogating power to themselves to which they are not entitled.
Our country was not predestined to prosper; it did so through choices made at its Founding and renewed every generation since; the choices of freedom over rule, property over collectivization, the liberty of the individual human spirit over the dictates of the enlightened few. We should be thankful for the wisdom of our ancestors in creating this heritage, and mindful of our stewardship as we are called to carry forward this idea called America. (James Robbins)
Filed under: Conservatism, The Constitution | Tags: Constitution Day, Holidays
Happy Constitution Day!
(thanks to Gay Patriot for the reminder.)