If We had been True to the Constitution

It would be amazing to hear the reaction of the Founders to the situation our nation finds itself in today. They created a plan of government that would lead to "a more perfect union" and expressed the desire that the manifest destiny of America would be as a "city set on a hill" whose light of freedom would be the envy of the world. Instead we are bogged down in the gutter of corruption, greed, immorality and power struggles both at home and abroad. Studying the Founders formula for freedom reminds us so refreshingly how it could have been. An incident with our students last month reminded us of that fact once again.

Just three weeks ago another glorious week was spent with 50 of our junior and senior high school students in Washington D. C. and surrounding areas. This is an annual event as part of a year-long intensive study of the creation of the United States of America. With a working knowledge of the 28 Principles of Liberty as found in The 5000 Year Leap and a continuing study of the application of these principles in The Making of America , our students see first hand the lands and places where all of this happened. One of the most powerful concepts our students learn is the limited role the federal government was intended to have in our constitutional republic. As James Madison said, "The powers delegated to the federal government by our Constitution are few and defined." Our scholars have learned that the Constitution clearly enumerates these "few and defined" powers thusly: Twenty powers to the Congress (Article I.8), six areas of responsibility to the President (Article II.2 and 3), and eleven kinds of cases assigned to the federal courts (Article III.2).

A feeling of reverence is present in the National Archives Building where those precious original documents are displayed in dimmed light-the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States. Then there are all the buildings lining the streets of D.C., but the three which are the most impressive are the Capitol, the White House, and the Supreme Court, representing the three branches of government so carefully structured by the Founders. As a teacher, I always look for opportunities to have my scholars experience first-hand what they have for so long studied in the classroom. One of those memorable experiences happened this time in the chamber of the U. S. Supreme Court.

"I've never heard of those eleven kinds of cases"

One of our favorite places to visit is the Supreme Court. If the Court is not in session, we take our scholars right into the chamber of the Court itself. Here, along with others who have waited for the tour, we enter the inner chamber and immediately begin to appreciate the beauty and symbolism of this building. The docent welcomed us and proceeded to give about a 20-minute lecture about what happens in this room. She explained the seating arrangements, the procedures of the court, and some of the symbols in the room, including the freezes on the walls high above. Especially impressive are the rays of "streaming inspiration" which, she explains, are representative of the divine wisdom necessary for good law. She also points out, among other lawgivers of history, the figure of Moses holding the tablets upon which are written the Ten Commandments.

It was interesting to hear that nearly 10,000 cases are appealed to this high court every year from lower federal courts and that one of the tasks of the justices is to decide which of the cases they will hear that year. The docent explained that it take four justices to decide to hear a case and that they can only hear approximately 200 out of the 10,000 submitted in any given year. At this point the lecturer asked if there were any questions. A few procedural questions were asked and then one of our scholars raised her hand and asked:

"The Constitution clearly outlines the eleven kinds of cases the federal courts are authorized to hear. Do the justices use these eleven kinds of cases as guidelines when they are deciding which few of the thousands of cases they will consider?"

I sat there in amazement that one of our scholars, without being coached beforehand, could formulate such a question, taking what was learned in the classroom and making a sincere inquiry as it applies in real life in that courtroom. I sat anxiously awaiting the presenter's answer.

The docent indicated she didn't quite understand the question and asked our scholar to repeat it, which she did. The presenter then said:

"I really don't know of those guidelines in the Constitution and I don't think anything like that is considered here when deciding which cases are to be taken."

She further said, "I don't think anyone here even talks about that."

She then added, "You know, I don't remember even studying about that when I took civics in school."

This was one of those moments which drives a teaching point home with such force that it needed no further comment from me. One scholar was over heard saying as he left the court chamber, "They don't even use the Constitution in this room?"

Only Two Ways to Interpret the Constitution

One of the friends of the Founders in the present Supreme Court is Justice Clarence Thomas. In a recent speech, he said: "Let me put it this way; there are really only two ways to interpret the Constitution-try to discern as best we can what the framers intended or make it up. No matter how ingenious, imaginative or artfully put, unless interpretive methodologies are tied to the original intent of the framers, they have no more basis in the Constitution than the latest football scores." (Wall Street Journal Opinion, October 20, 2008)

A look at several of today's issues clearly reveals most of our government programs today are far from the Founders' original intent and as Justice Thomas says, have about as much basis in the Constitution as the latest football scores-the authority is purely made-up. For example:

U. S. foreign policy:

Founders' intent : Expressed in the Monroe Doctrine wherein the U. S. promised to stay out of the affairs of other nations, particularly those of the eastern hemisphere.
Made-up intent: Involve ourselves in the affairs of nearly every nation on earth and try to buy their friendship with money we don't even have.

U. S. monetary policy:

Founders' intent : Congress to establish and control our money system based on gold and silver standard to prevent manipulation.
Made-up intent : Give control of monetary system to private bankers who issue fiat money which lets them make money out of nothing--money on which we then pay them interest.

Federalism or vertical separation of powers :

Founders' intent : Only limited and carefully defined powers to the federal government. Government concerned with people's lives and property is only at state level or lower.
Made-up intent : Allowing Washington to have direct influence and control of local government, which destroys strong local self-government.

Horizontal Separation of Power:

Founders' intent : The power to make law was given exclusively to the representatives of the people in Congress.
Made-up intent : More laws are being made by the executive and judicial departments than are made by congress, which effect millions of people and their property.

National Debt:

Founders' intent : Debt is a temporary evil and if used must be paid off before the generation that borrowed it leaves the scene. It is immoral to pass debt on to next generation. It amounts to taxation without representation.
Made-up intent : Debt is a blessing to America. We can borrow ourselves wealthy. Passing debt onto the next generation allows those to pay the debt who will benefit from the programs paid for by the borrowed money.

Income Tax:

Founders' intent : The Founders put a prohibition of income tax into the Constitution because its enforcement violates the privacy rights of U.S. citizens. They said there are much better ways to raise revenue.
Made-up intent : Unconstitutional programs pushed in the "Progressive Era" became so expensive that new sources of revenue needed to be developed. A tax on incomes began at two percent and is only limited by what politicians can get away with. It is also a vehicle to implement a graduated tax to redistribute wealth.

Welfare Programs:

Founders' intent : The Founders' scale of fixed responsibility for one's welfare is: self, family, church, community, county, and state. Never was the federal government to be involved in welfare programs.
Made-up intent : The federal government has unconstitutionally become the sugar daddy of the American people. One reason the federal government has done this is because the monetary system lets the money managers create money out of nothing. It buys votes and wins elections.


Founders' intent : The Founders specifically excluded agriculture from the purview of federal authority saying it is only a local and state function.
Made-up intent : Government programs in agriculture have taken away the freedom to fail, a necessary ingredient in the free-market system. The federal government has increased the cost of food by layer upon layer of regulation.

Marriage and Domestic Law:

Founders' intent : The core unit which determines the strength of any society is the family, therefore governments have the responsibility to foster and protect its integrity.
Made-up intent : State and federal judiciaries have injected themselves into the questions of marriage, redefining marriage and endangering the most fundamental building block of society.

Thomas Jefferson constantly warned against letting the federal government gradually usurp power over the people. Such bureaucracies bring heavy spending and debt. He said such debt would put the people under such a burden that all they can do is to work long hours in order to survive. Said he:

"And to preserve their independence, we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must make our election between economy and liberty orprofusion and servitude . If we run into such debts as that we must be taxed in our meat and in our drink, in our necessaries and our comforts, in our labors and our amusements, for our callings and our creeds, as the people of England are, our people, like them, must come to labor sixteen hours in the twenty-four, [and] give the earnings of fifteen of these to the government for their debts and daily expenses; and the sixteenth being insufficient to afford us bread, we must live, as they now do, on oatmeal and potatoes; have no time to think, no means of calling the mismanagers to account; but be glad to obtain subsistence by hiring ourselves to rivet their chains on the necks of our fellow sufferers.... This is the tendency of all human governments." (The Making of America , page 395)

Sadly, with the makeup of our new administration and congress, it looks like we may be far down the road to fulfilling Jefferson's fears.



Earl Taylor, Jr.