Constitution

Did the Framers Forget the Bill of Rights?

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AFTER THE CONSTITUTION WAS RATIFIED in 1788, the states adopted the first 10 amendments, which became known as the Bill of Rights. Given the importance of the provisions in those amendments, an obvious question arises: Why didn’t the Framers of the Constitution include those provisions in the original Constitution, thereby obviating the need to amend the document so soon ... [click for more]

Declare War before Waging War, Part 2

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Part 1 | Part 2 Naturally, presidents and their aides have been creative in coming up with reasons to short-circuit the Constitution’s clear requirement. Those who thus torture the Constitution include many conservatives who normally proclaim the importance of “original intent. ” Except when they want to empower politicians to do what they want. One ... [click for more]

Declare War before Waging War, Part 1

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Part 1 | Part 2 LIKE MOST CRISES, the shocking attack on the World Trade Center caused a rush to government for protection. People seemed willing to accept almost any new restriction on liberty or new spending program in the name of fighting terrorism. Few seem willing to criticize the president should he decide to expand the war to Indonesia, ... [click for more]

Emergencies, Military Tribunals, and the Constitution

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President Bush has ordered that people he suspects of being "terrorists" will be tried before military tribunals rather than indicted and prosecuted in the customary judicial manner. Judges and juries (which will consist of the same people) will be appointed by the secretary of defense, trials will be held in secret, and convictions will ... [click for more]

Remembering the Constitution

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CONSTITUTION DAY — September 17 — came and passed without fanfare. That is the day that commemorates the signing of one of the two most important documents in our nation's history. (The other one, of course, is the Declaration of Independence, which we celebrate on the Fourth of July.) In the midst of a crisis in which Congress has vested ... [click for more]

A Republic, If You Can Keep It

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AT THE CLOSE OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, a woman asked Benjamin Franklin what type of government the Constitution was bringing into existence. Franklin replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.” Regardless of one’s judgment concerning the type of government that the Constitution brought into existence in 1787, no one can deny that it was truly the most unusual and ... [click for more]

The Immutable Nature of the Constitution

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THERE’S A PHILOSOPHY ABOUT THE CONSTITUTION that’s killing it — ironically, by conceiving it as a so-called living thing, subject to reinterpretation by society. In our entire history, the view has been ascendant for only the last 40 years — a “contribution” largely of Earl Warren’s Court. Before that time, judges discerned the meaning of the Constitution from what ... [click for more]

Some Reflections on the Right to Bear Arms

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For millions of Americans the Second Amendment and its right for the individual to bear arms appears irrelevant and practically anachronistic. It seems a throwback to those earlier days of the Wild West, when many men, far from the law and order provided by the town sheriff and circuit judge, ... [click for more]

Liberty and the Constitution

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ONE OF THE MOST COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS in the United States is that people’s rights come from the Constitution. Without the Constitution, it is believed, people wouldn’t have such rights as freedom of expression and religion. People should be grateful to the Founding Fathers, it is said, for establishing the vehicle by which people could have such rights as life, ... [click for more]

The Myth of Self-Government

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AMERICANS PRIDE THEMSELVES on what we may call the Great American Myth of Self-Government. But in a very real sense we are governed not by ourselves but by a collection of men and women quite separate from ourselves. That, of course, is contrary to everything we learn in school. Then, again, most of those schools belong to some government. Think back ... [click for more]
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