published Monday, September 17th, 2012

225 years ago today

'We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

Those words from the Preamble to the United States Constitution, ratified 225 years ago today, are among the most famous in American history -- perhaps surpassed by only the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Surprisingly, the Preamble was little more than an afterthought. Pennsylvania's Gouverneur Morris (who was known for his wooden leg, his prodigious womanizing -- and resulting venereal diseases -- and his death, brought on by his decision to stick a piece of whale bone through his urinary tract to relieve a blockage) slapped the intro onto a nearly final draft of the Constitution.

What wasn't an afterthought, though, were the powers granted and the protections guaranteed by the document.

With the nation's independence secure, the framers of the Constitution weren't facing the same pressures of strategic timing or threats to their lives and property as the signers of the Declaration of Independence 11 years earlier. The 55 delegates to the Constitutional Convention spent an entire summer, from May to September, considering and deliberating the proper role of government. As a result, each power granted to the government was born out of careful reflection.

In the Constitution, the framers were quite clear that government's rights came from the people, as opposed to the rights of the people coming from the government. This notion flies in the face of what many of today's self-important bureaucrats and power-hungry lawmakers would have you believe.

The Preamble makes it obvious that "We the People... ordain and establish this Constitution." That's "We the people," not, it should be noted, "We the government." With those words, Morris forcefully declared that all federal powers come from the people. Any exercise of those powers by the government is strictly limited by the articles, sections and amendments that comprise the Constitution.

The first sentence after the Preamble -- the beginning of Article I, Section 1 -- furthers that point by stating, "All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress." In other words, any powers that Congress has are listed in the Constitution and they're not allowed to do anything else.

Unfortunately, the framers' guarantee that, in America, the government has only the small amount of power outlined in the Constitution is too often disregarded by government. Still, just because some government leaders don't properly respect the Constitution doesn't mean Americans should give up on the document.

Remember, according to the Constitution, the people are the ones with the power to give. Power isn't government's to take. Therefore, it is crucial that the Americans remain vigilant in ensuring that government is permitted to take only as much authority as we've granted in the supreme law of the land.

That dogged defense of the Constitution has sustained this great nation 225 years and with continued vigilance, the Constitution will guide the United States 225 more.

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EaTn said...

We the people are the government, except where the Supreme Court elects a president. We elect the government and we can unelect the government. As the old saying goes, when you point a finger at the government three more fingers are pointing back at yourself.

September 17, 2012 at 5:25 a.m.
Fendrel said...

I am far from a Constitutional expert, but you made a statement which, at least on the surface, doesn't seem to be correct.

You said that "...In other words, any powers that Congress has are listed in the Constitution and they're not allowed to do anything else."

Simply because the writer assigns the listed powers to Congress does NOT imply that all of Congress' powers are necessarily listed nor does it imply that Congress is prevented from doing anything which is not listed. Your paraphrase is inaccurate.

September 17, 2012 at 8:06 a.m.
Livn4life said...

Lighten up Fendrel, those Congress' powers paraphrased words are merely his interpretation. Everyone has his or her own interpretation, right?

September 17, 2012 at 10:51 a.m.
Fendrel said...

Livn4life,

The phrase "in other words", indicates that you are attempting to clarify what was previously said, saying the same thing, but using different words. He did not say the same thing, he expanded on what was said and changed the meaning. This is not a matter of interpretation or understanding, this was simply making it say something that it clearly did not say through misuse of language. It has nothing to do with whether or not a person has a right to their own interpretation.

September 17, 2012 at 11:20 a.m.
ORRMEANSLIGHT said...

The word I would ask to be focused upon is 'Amendment'. That serves the people well.

September 17, 2012 at 12:16 p.m.
ORRMEANSLIGHT said...

Editor's Note: This is such an apropos article for a previous comment, that I will also apply said comment to this article: kwo

The giants of our society's government know constitutional law very well. They are the elected officials of the United States Congress. They are held to the strictest standards for upholding our nation's Constitution. The constitutionally, lawfully, correct procedure/method in which they open every session of Congress is.......THEY PRAY ALOUD A PRAYER OF FAITH. Please see below a link to the Congressional Record (112th Congress). It opens with these words: "The PRESIDING OFFICER. Today's opening prayer will be offered by Rev. Joel Osteen, the Senior Pastor...The guest Chaplin offered the following prayer: "Let us pray"

Now, for those on this site, including myself, when we become members of Congress, let us give the correct Constitutional interpretations. Until then, In Jesus Christ's Holy Name...Well......."LET US PRAY"

Ken ORR

http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CREC-2012-04-26/pdf/CREC-2012-04-26-senate.pdf

September 17, 2012 at 1:03 p.m.
rolando said...

EaTn -- You know better than claiming "except where the Supreme Court elects a President." One must presume you are referring to the baloney-filled charge the far-left Progressives made concerning algore's failed Florida recount. As you well know, his campaign tried railroading the vote count using "hanging chads, dimples of hesitation, and other crap". The Progressive-loaded Fla Supreme Court upheld the recount and the SCOTUS slapped it down for improper application/direction of Florida voting law. It merely remanded the case back to the Fla SC...which ran out of time. Perhaps if it had followed Fla voting law to begin with.....

September 17, 2012 at 4:20 p.m.
rolando said...

This pretty well covers the limits on federal governmental powers:

"Amendment X

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."

Pretty clearly stated, that.

But what the heck, this government [all of it] ignores the Constitution in anything else that limits them.


“We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.” ~Abraham Lincoln.

September 17, 2012 at 4:30 p.m.
EaTn said...

rolando....with the Gore/Bush fiasco this country passed-up a golden opportunity to reverse the antiquated electoral college way of electing our president, and allow it to operate like every other elected position with a popular vote. Until this happens the general population will never trust our presidential election process. Even now, only a handful of states will determine the November outcome.

September 17, 2012 at 4:41 p.m.

It's funny, this whole editorial doesn't mention the Articles of Confederation. Or how it failed for years.

Which was the reason why we had another Constitutional Convention.

Nor did it mention:

The Congress shall have Power - To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

And it also left out one important detail. How some people have used their "dogged defense" of the Constitution to justify fostering abuses on the people.

Is it time to reform the US Constitution? I think so, long past. At the least, we could implement some solutions to various problems including Congressional dis-Representation, but I don't see it happening.

rolando, just don't try to be sovereign citizen now.

September 18, 2012 at 11:28 a.m.
fairmon said...

hwtnb said.....

Is it time to reform the US Constitution? I think so, long past. At the least, we could implement some solutions to various problems including Congressional dis-Representation, but I don't see it happening.

I am glad you don't see it happening, it is good it won't happen. It would be time well spent if each member of congress asked regarding each legislative proposal is it constitutional? is it legal? can we afford it? A no answer to any one of these should result in a no vote. Any item not paid for that is adopted should include a tax increase to pay for it.

The constitution and the principles therein have not failed but congress and administrations have failed miserably.

September 19, 2012 at 2:08 a.m.
rolando said...

EaTn -- A bit late for this but Libs would love to eliminate the electoral college; that way, five or six states alone could determine the next president.

Which is exacty WHY we have and have always had an electoral college not beholden to the voters. You ARE aware that nothing federal requires them to follow the voters, right? Don't know about individual states...used to be the voters didn't select them in any case. Sometimes state Legislatures did.

That is also why we have two houses in Congress; the number of members of one are determined by state population -- the other has only two per state, regardless of population...that way the smaller states are not overpowered by the populous ones and vice versa.

September 23, 2012 at 9:37 p.m.
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