April 21, 2010 Article I of the U.S. Constitution – Janine Turner

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Howdy from Texas! What a great first day of blogging. How exciting to be having a national conversation about the reading of the U.S. Constitution. Don’t forget to read it with your kids at the dinner table, in the car, before bedtime! Perhaps they will then want to enter our, “We the People 9.17 Contest” for kids.

I want to thank David Bobb for being our first Guest Blogger. We have the link to his site at the Kirby Center on our site and they offer a fabulous five hour seminar about the Constitution that is broken down into 45 minute segments.

I get such a thrill when I read the Constitution. Our forefathers had such vision and  such wisdom! The Preamble is masterful and within it lies thoughts to ponder. Some relevant phrases today are: “promote the general welfare.” It does not say “specific welfare of every individual.” We are given liberty to pursue our welfare as we wish.

This leads to the second relevant phrase: “secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.” Well, let’s see.. the word Blessings is in there. Blessings are not from “government” but from God. We then have the word, “Liberty.”  How does one define Liberty? I looked up the word, “Liberty.” Here are two of the definitions:  “immunity from arbitrary exercise of authority: political independence.” Another definition is: “freedom of choice”; “liberty of opinion”; “liberty of worship..” If we are to take an inventory of our immunity form arbitrary exercise of authority and/or political independence today, then I think it is safe to say that these liberties are being infringed upon. How about freedom of opinion? It would certainly appear that the negative labeling of the Tea Party is an attempt to stifle freedom of opinion. How about freedom of worship?  What about the child in Massachusetts who was taken out of class and sent to the psychiatrist because the child drew a picture of the cross of Jesus?  Thus, in the Preamble, alone, I see many aspects that are both relevant and endangered.

Article I Section 8 drew my fascination. Our founding fathers intended for the two Senators from each state to be chosen by the State Legislature. The Senate was to be the State’s house and the House of Representatives the People’s House. This was changed, as we read today, by the XVII Amendment in 1913  – during the Progressive era. This was not our forefather’s intention. One has to ask  would the healthcare bill have passed today if the Senate was operating within it’s original intent – the Senate representing the States? Somehow, I do not think so.˜

The other clause that captured my attention was in Article 1 Section 8 Clause 8: “to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for Limited times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.” I think that this security of ownership gave people the desire and passion to spread their wings and fly. This clause gave Americans the burst of inventions and creativity that made America great. Promoting progress and giving the Inventors exclusive rights – in other words- giving the people their Liberty and keeping government out of their affairs – led to the fulfillment of human genius. Big government, the kind we face today, stifles the spirit of democratic ingenuity and deflates desire.

The list goes on and the study is broad. Yet, I am so grateful to have this opportunity to be reading, blogging, thinking about the U.S. Constitution with you all. I thank you for your participation. I look forward to hearing from you tomorrow and spread the word!

Blessings,

Janine Turner

Posted in Article I of the United States Constitution, Constitutional Essays by Janine | Edit | 10 Comments »

10 Responses to “April 21, 2010 Article I of the U.S. Constitution – Janine Turner”

  1. Jeff Phinney says:

    Last year I bought and began reading “The Words We Live By – Your Annotated Guide to the Constitution” by Linda R. Monk.

    One of the passages I highlighted was a quote by Judge Learned Hand during WWII that emphasizes that the constitution depends on the citizens for its support:

    “I often wonder whether we do not rest our hopes too much upon constitutions, upon laws, and upon courts. These are false hopes; believe me, these are false hopes. Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it”

    Miss Turner, thank you for the opportunity to allow us citizens to learn and hopefully support our Constitution and the documents that are the foundation of this great nation.

  2. Kristine says:

    Good of you to point out in your blog the distinction of who elects members of each house (originally): state legistlators to elect Senators and the people to elect Representatives . I read but did not register the import of the words written.

  3. Robert Shanbaum says:

    It is certainly interesting to see how a given passage (of any kind, I suppose) can be read so differently by different people. For example, Article I, section 8, paragraph 8 is usually read to empower the federal government to award copyrights and patents – both of which are an intrusion of the government into what would otherwise be an unregulated marketplace for intellectual property. That hardly can be said to constitute “keeping the government out of [the people’s] affairs.” On the contrary, like all the grants of power in the Constitution, it is a grant of power to the government to establish and enforce laws intended to produce a civil society that promotes “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”, or if you prefer, the “general welfare”, better than one that lacks such laws, or such a government.

  4. Dale Pettit says:

    Shame on all of us for neglecting our citizenship responsibilities to the United States Constitution. We have, over the past 100 years or so, been willing to allow our so called elected leaders to deviate from the true meaning of Liberty and Freedom! We could of course, claim we were busy making a living, busy with our own lives. Yes, fiddling while “Rome” burned or the “Titanic” sank etc.

    The media of the day, News Papers previously, TV comentators later and those same so called elected governement officails were and still do believe that the “common citizens” are not intelligent enough to govern ourselves. Now, the internet has opened up the shared discovery of this responsibility at the speed of light.

    We Trusted for too long our responsibilities to others. This program of self study of the constitution demonstrates the importance and true nature of the US citizens. Congratulations for a great spark of ingenuity, may it flame across America and the world.

    Thank you!

  5. Susan Craig says:

    It was originally thought that the Senators would be the advocates for the State the represented as a whole while the Representative proposed to be the populist advocates.

  6. John says:

    the 16th amendment my not have been ratified properly ???? this needs more investagtion

  7. Louis Palermo says:

    The Constitution must be understood as a catalyst to the events that preceded it! The Constitution is the Symbol of the United States- a sacred symbol. It is a symbol for liberty and justice. It is our attempt to limit its ability to be victimized; to protect itself from itself. The power behind the Constitution is that it limits government and protects our most sacred rights!
Article I creates legislative power and vests it in Congress. It creates national government and separates power. It accomplishes this by dividing power between the federal and state governments. This is Federalism in its most fundamental state. The Constitution may only be amended and not changed by statute. This important to understand because it conveys the history of this very instrument and how it was created in the first place. It was the founding father’s insight that was desired to be governed under it. 
Article I specifically drafted by the forefathers to create ’specific’ powers of Congress. Not powers of ’statute’ which could be altered by a tyrannical government. We need to keep the separation of powers- and the Constitution is the instrument that has stood the test of time and kept our most cherished values. We should continue to be suspicious by powers or persons that doubt the power of the Constitution. There is reason why those in power are required to take an oath to uphold the Constitution and that is primarily to limit any change by the ‘political’ majority. That is to keep a system of checks and more checks. Article I is the system of checks and balances that accomplishes that. 
So, furthermore, Article one is relevant today as it was 200 years ago to Keep the Power balanced! So the final issue is how the Constitution goes about keeping the balance. This ‘balance’ manifest itself through ‘interpretation’ of the very instrument-the Constitution.

  8. R. B. McGinnis says:

    Article I Section 8 drew my fascination. Our founding fathers intended for the two Senators from each state to be chosen by the State Legislature. The Senate was to be the State’s house and the House of Representatives the People’s House. This was changed, as we read today, by the XII Amendment in 1913 – during the Progressive era. This was not our forefather’s intention. One has to ask would the healthcare bill have passed today if the Senate was operating within it’s original intent – the Senate representing the States? Somehow, I do not think so.˜

    Ms Turner, With all due respect you may wish to review the historical context in which the XII amendment was adopted. Contrary to the opinions of Glenn Beck and other revisionist historians the early 1900s under the leadership of Presidents Roosevelt and Taft was an extremely necessary readjustment the American society. As a result of excesses of the robber barons in creating the cartels and trusts the interests of the ordinary citizens of the United States were protected from rapacious greed by the adoption of laws such as the food and drugs legislation providing for food inspection and safe medicine. All you have to do is read the “Jungle” to see the excesses of meat packing industry in the way immigrant labor was treated and the tainted meat that was being sold to the public. The creation of the Interstate Commerce Commission protected the interests of American framers from the exorbitant freight rates charged by the railroad cartels.
    I would also suggest that you make self of aware of the history of Montana, my state, regarding the election of William A. Clark as one of the first Senators of Montana. He essentially bought the Montana Legislature to secure his election. He bribed each legislator on the average of $12,000 per vote. The election was so fraudulent that the Senate refused to seat him. I will be happy to provide you with several historical references to this event. But, this blatant act of fraud was the major impedance for the adoption of 12th amendment.

  9. Sean Montgomery says:

    Janine, I heard you and about this on Bill Bennett Monday morning, and I’m so glad I did. My eight-year-old wrote down on his to-do for today to “Read Constitution first seven articles” which I printed for him. We will be discussing each Article each night at the dinner table so the whole family can benefit.

    God bless you.

  10. yguy says:

    “The Preamble is masterful and within it lies thoughts to ponder.”

    I’d go a lot farther than that. I’d say the Preamble is to the rest of the Constitution what the Two Great Commandments are to Mosaic law, which is to say any act or law which is a hindrance to the objectives in the Preamble is unconstitutional.

    I think a good example of this is Lincoln’s suspension of the Great Writ during the civil war, an act thought by many to be unconstitutional, but evidently deemed necessary by Lincoln to preserve the Union. Assuming he was correct, one only need look at Zimbabwe to reasonably surmise that the consequences of his failure in that regard would have been grim at best and horrific at worst.

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