The constitutional lie.

I posted an article on 05-04-09 that was part of a series I have been writing based on the book “The 5000 Year Leap by W. Cleon Skousen. The article was based on the 11th principle outlined in the book: “The majority of the people may alter or abolish a government which has become tyrannical”. I received a comment from a reader who made a point that I wanted to address in more detail than I could by simply posting a response in the comments. The following is the exchange thus far:

Lex Talionis:
“Please do not be deceived by the purported philosophical underpinnings of the Constitution because they were always a mere pretext to incite revolution and not a true basis for a new government. For example, the Declaration of Independence indicates that "the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God" entitle a people "to dissolve the political bands which have connected [a people] with another . . . and to assume . . . the separate and equal station," i.e., revolt. Yet soon after the American Revolution, the new government quickly established that the Supreme Court was the final arbiter of what rights Americans had. So much for "the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God." Moreover, the Declaration also provides that "all men are . . . endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness," that "to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men" that derives its powers "from the consent of the governed," and most importantly, "[t]hat whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness." If this be the case, then how can insurrection or other anti-government activities be a crime? After attaining power, the new government decided that the Declaration was a "political" document that had no legal force or effect of law. Thus, stop looking to founding era documents in some sort of misguided attempt to determine the philosophical rationale for the republic because it was always a scam to merely oust the monarchy”.

My Response:
“I'm not sure how to respond to that, our country was founded on a lie, a scam? If you truly believe that you, my misguided friend, are part of the problem. You are one of those who believe that our rights are negotiable and the constitution is flexible. If it is as you describe you should flee in a manner most expeditious for your rights are soon to be reduced to nothing more than the crumbs dropped to you by the ruling elite. That scam established a country that has enjoyed more prosperity and freedom than any other nation on Earth. It has been the well spring for freedom around the world and a beacon to immigrants seeking a better life. I am sorry that you are so lost in the "hate America" rhetoric spewed by the liberal left that you are blind to the facts. I will genuinely pray for you”.

Lex Talionis:
“robehren, you're interpretation of my comments is grossly misguided. First, I am not a liberal nor a republican. I am probably the biggest advocate of revolution that you will ever meet in your life. Sure, I desire the same revolutionary ideology as yourself, but any serious scholar of the founding documents and early American history reveals that is was more dogma than doctrine. I spent a year in law school studying these subjects. What are your credentials?”

Lex’s second response disturbed me more than the first and inspired me to respond in greater detail.

To begin with let me clear up a couple of small points:

First I did not refer to Lex as a liberal; I merely stated that I believed he had bought into the “hate America” rhetoric spewed by the left. It is entirely possible to accept the ideology of a party without being a member of that party. I disagree with Lex’s assessment regardless of his political leanings.

Second regarding my qualifications: I am not a law scholar nor do I portray myself as such. I have spent the last 12 years of my life enforcing the law as a police officer and thus believe I am qualified to speak to certain aspects of the law. It is from that perspective that I wanted to address the issue of the constitution’s validity.

Many on the left and right seem to believe that the constitution is either a living document or an archaic document not meant to be interpreted literally. The same people ardently support certain aspects of the constitution as sacred and immutable while holding that the parts they disagree with are subject to liberal interpretation. It cannot be both ways. Either the constitution is valid or it is not. Either we are to abide by its tenets or we are to disregard it entirely. When we allow it to be selectively enforced we weaken and dilute it to the point of irrelevancy.

Carrying Lex’s argument (the philosophical underpinnings of the constitution were a pretext or a scam) to its logical conclusion demonstrates the absurdity of the argument.

As a police officer I am bound to enforce the law as written. I am also restrained from acting in certain manners by provisions of the constitution; specifically the first ten amendments know as the bill of rights. The federal government and its enforcement agencies are also bound by these provisions.

A world without the constitution (or where it is nothing more than a pretextual lie) and hence the bill of rights might take on a slightly different look than that we are used to:

No First Amendment means that you are not free to speak you mind or to worship as you choose. The state could establish any religion it chose and then force you to participate. You could not associate or assemble as you choose to. There would be no free press to report on the abuses of the government.

No Second Amendment means that the government could render you defenseless. They could regulate or abolish your right to keep and bear arms.

No Third Amendment and the government could force citizens to feed and house soldiers.

The Fourth Amendment is a favorite among law enforcement (not so much). Without the fourth amendment any agent of the state (police officer, DEA, Marshall ect.) could search citizens without any reason or for any reason they want. You would no longer be secure in your person, houses, or possessions from the intruding long arm (and hands) of the law.

Without the Fifth Amendment you could be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, sans indictment of a Grand Jury, You could be repeatedly tried for the same crime until the government got the results they desired. You could be forced to testify against yourself. And my personal favorite you could be maliciously deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.

Without the Sixth Amendment there would be no speedy trial and defendants would rot in jail indefinitely. Trials could be held in secret and the right to a jury would not exist. There would be no right to confront witnesses against you or to even be told what you are charged with. Sounds fun doesn’t it.

The Seventh Amendment guarantees that in Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

The Eight Amendment is particularly salient at present as it prevents the torture of prisoners at the hands of the state (cruel or unusual punishment). Without it you would be at the mercy of your tormentors. You could be stuck in jail without the possibility of bail.

The Ninth Amendment states that the enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people. It means just because the constitution doesn’t specify certain rights does not mean the do not exist.

The Tenth Amendment restates a fundamental constitutional rule: If a particular power was not assigned to the federal government by the Constitution itself, then the states may exercise the power, unless the Constitution also prohibits the states from exercising it. The Tenth Amendment also states that people are free to act, without permission of the federal government, in areas outside the scope of the federal government's powers. (from MSN Encarta)

The argument is clear; either the constitution is valid and sacred or it is invalid and archaic. We cannot allow government to subjectively determine which parts are applicable and which they can disregard on a whim.

Our rights and by proxy our happiness, prosperity and spiritual pursuits are guaranteed by this document. I cannot accept that the constitution was a pretext or a scam perpetrated on the people of this country. Regardless of the underlying motivations of the founders this document is the only thing that separates us from totalitarianism or in the other extreme anarchy.

I for one am content to accept the constitution as written without reservation as to its philosophical underpinnings.

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