“Let us raise a standard to which the wise and honest can repair.” George Washington to the delegates at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, 1787.
The standard George Washington is talking about is the few simple rules for governance found in the very short US Constitution. What sets the standard high is the discipline required to follow these and other rules that constitute our unique Rule of Law.
The following are some of the key intellectual premises upon which the rules are based; some US Constitutional rules that are often misunderstood; and important interpretations of US Constitutional rules by the Supreme Court of the United States.
SOME OF THE KEY INTELLECTUAL PREMISES UPON WHICH THE RULES ARE BASED
- Less government power at the national or federal level and more power at the state, county, township, and municipal level.
Why? Because the Founders knew that historically power tends to corrupt individuals, especially those elected to government office. Corruption at the local or state level has local or statewide impact. Corruption at the national level putrefies the whole nation. National leaders take an Oath of Office to preserve, protect, and defend the US Constitution and to follow its rules.
- The development of the person, not the group.
Why? Because the leading value protected and encouraged by the US Constitution is securing the Liberty of the Person. Liberty of the Person is lawful choice by an individual. In order to encourage individual development and quintessential citizenship, the Founders felt that government at all levels should have a very light hand. Emphasis on group status negates the individual meritocracy upon which our system, including our economic system, is based.
- The US Constitution is but one part of our Rule of Law.
Why? Because the American Rule of Law consists of other equally important rules. The Founders recognized that Moral Law (right from wrong) supersedes the US Constitution. The Founders signed the Declaration of Independence from Great Britain based on Natural Law. An individual’s right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness does not come from the US Constitution, it comes from our Creator.
SOME US CONSTITUTIONAL RULES THAT ARE OFTEN MISUNDERSTOOD
- No government entity, federal state or local; entities that use a substantial amount of taxpayer dollars (public schools and public colleges and universities, for instance); or private entities that serve as a proxy for government actors (Facebook, Twitter, and other social media on behalf of the FBI or Homeland Security, for instance); are allowed to censor any view regarding public policy if that view is delivered in an appropriate forum, and conforms to time, place, and manner restrictions. Words intended to incite imminent violence are not Constitutionally protected.
Why? Because one’s opinion on public policy, whether informed or misinformed is protected from government or proxy censorship by the Free Speech Clause of the 1st Amendment to the US Constitution. The Founders felt that a “marketplace of ideas” is more important to the stability of the nation than controlled “truth” propagated by government or government proxies. This is particularly true of conclusions having to do with science. Any government or government proxy “Misinformation Board” is unconstitutional. The Founders felt persuasion more compatible with Liberty than coercion.
- Those persons from other countries seeking asylum in the United States under our law should apply for that asylum outside of the physical soil of the United States.
Why? Because after the Civil War, 1860-1865, the nation ratified the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution that grants full US Constitutional rights to “persons” within the jurisdiction of a state. When an asylum seeker sets foot on American soil they are a “person within the jurisdiction of a state.” Each person seeking asylum should, therefore, have their case adjudicated prior to entering the country. Once here, it is Constitutionally hard to remove persons who do not qualify to be in the United States under our federal law.
- The first US Constitutional duty of the federal government is to provide for the common defense of the nation. This first duty includes protecting each state from invasion when a state legislature or Governor requests help.
Why? Because providing for the common defense of the nation includes the guarantee in Article IV of the US Constitution that the federal government will protect each state “against Invasion.” Congress has passed federal laws regarding persons not eligible for entrance into the United States, but the current Executive Branch of the federal government refuses to execute that law. The US Constitutional remedy for any executive federal public servant failing in a duty to execute federal law is impeachment, and if found culpable, removal from office and further federal public trust.
IMPORTANT INTERPRETATIONS OF US CONSTITUTIONAL RULES BY THE SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
- Pierce v. Society of Sisters (1925)
“The fundamental theory of liberty upon which all governments in this Union repose excludes any general power of the State to standardize its children by forcing them to accept instruction from public teachers only. The child is not the mere creature of the State; those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right, coupled with the high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations.”
- Marsh v. Chambers (1983) Justice Burger quoting Justice Douglas:
“We are a religious people whose institutions presuppose a Supreme Being.”
- Cohen v. California (1971)
“One man’s vulgarity is another’s lyric.”
Is there a gist to all of this? Yes, there is and it is very simple. We are privileged as Americans to have a system that gives us a chance to seek virtue, that gives us a chance to rise to excellence, that gives us a chance to begin anew. We need but follow a few simple rules and demand that those rules also be followed by those we elect to public trust. This is the standard to which the truly wise and honest can easily repair.