The Constitution of the United States of America is the bedrock of every law and regulation in this country. How many of the over 300 million people in this country have ever even read it? Have you?
In today’s age of the net, the easiest way to read the Constitution is search it. If you want to print it out, depending on the program you use and the format from which you print from, the entire thing, including the preamble is 20 pages or less. Night before last, I read the Constitution again just for timing purposes and it took me 34 minutes, including reading the names of the signers. This time I read the version at the U.S. House of Representatives website.
It amazes me the number of people that say things like “that’s un-Constitutional” and then finding out they have never even read the document. I was first introduced to the mechanics of the Constitution in the 6th grade. I actually started studying it in my sophomore year of high school. I have been studying the document for over 40 years now. It is one of the most fascinating things I have ever read.
The most pronounced interpreter of the Constitution has been the Supreme Court. The document itself gives the Supreme Court its right to both exist and to decide what is or is not Constitutional. The number of pages and words written by the Courts in interpreting the Constitution are, in multiplication, millions of times greater than the original document’s contents. Those numbers grow with each day.
The amazing part of this is that some of the most important interpretations by the Courts come not from the document itself but, from personal letters of people that had nothing to do with writing the Constitution at all. Case in point; the Separation Clause of the First Amendment. In several of its rulings, the court used a letter written by Thomas Jefferson in 1802 to the Danbury Baptist Association in which Mr. Jefferson stated his personal opinion that the religion clause of the First Amendment built a wall of separation between church and state.
The words “separation of church and state” are not written in the Constitution but, by interpretation of the Supreme Court, that concept is rule of law. It is the basis of strife nearly everyday.
People Quoting Things Not In The Constitution
One of the most heated arguments that I’ve ever been in was about the Constitution and got me fired from a job. Back in the ’70s, I was working on a drilling rig in Kansas and we were ‘slow drilling.’ On this particular night we somehow got stared talking about politics and that led to the Constitution. I was in my 20s at the time and my driller was in his 50s. In the course of the conversation he declared “the Constitution says that this is a country of the people, by the people and for the people.” I told him “that’s not in the Constitution, that’s in the Gettysburg Address.”
The telling of the argument we had would take pages and include words best not printed. We left the rig next morning angry at each other and not speaking. Instead of just letting it go, I got my copy of the Constitution and a book containing the Gettysburg Address out and took them to the rig with me that night.
After we did the rig check, I brought out my documents and showed my driller the error of his ways. That infuriated him so badly that he actually wanted to fist-fight me. I spent the rest of the night outside. When it got time to change to go home, he told me to pack my gear and that he was firing me. I got another roughnecking job the same day but, it was years later before I ever argued the Constitution again.
The Constitution Today
The House of Representatives made history today with the reading of the Constitution on the floor. There are also going to be classes taught to the freshmen members of the House on the Constitution. Like it or not, the document is going to be in your face everyday. That is a GOOD thing. It is way past time that ‘we the people’ get re-educated in the founding documents and what they mean to us as a nation and as a people.
Do yourselves a favor and read the Constitution. You will learn way more from that hour of your time than watching Joy Behar.
God Bless America