In Defense of the Constitution

In Defense of the Constitution

It's easy to look at our national treasures as antiquated, and irrelevant. I can understand why someone would believe such a thing if they're looking at the country through the lens of a single issue. When we do this, it leads people to devolve into activism and even protests regarding the hot button issues of the day – whether it be how elections work, or whether someone has the right to open carry a White Claw before the age of 21. Kids these days (and also adults these days) don't appreciate the trouble their forefathers went through to establish the rules of our Union, protect our rights, and make sure they laid a foundation that would serve us even today.

Thanks to Lin-Manuel Miranda, our generation has a renewed love for the United States Constitution, and American History in general. The laborious process Hamilton and his fellow framers went through, even up to the point of being shot, and never getting to be President (perhaps worse than being shot in my estimation) has yielded much for our generation. I'd contend that the framers of the constitution, including Hamilton himself, deserve the emoluments of a king, regardless of how archaic the word emolument may be, or how unconstitutional it is to accept emoluments from a king  – according to Article I, Section 9.

With that being said, the Gentlemen have done The Lord's work and deserve nothing less than honor. This is why I wanted to take a moment to address an ongoing discussion regarding the Constitution of the United States of America.

The question is this: Is the Constitution still relevant today? Does it still hold the power it did at its framing?

Personally, I chuse to honor the constitution (in fact, I say "chuse" out of respect, since that's the language in the very document I am chusing to discuss in this article). But some would say that it has failed us - and Grammarly is among them.

If history is any indicator, we'll probably forget ours and be condemned to repeat it, so I suggest that we take a moment to reflect on the background of our founding documents, and if the ink isn't smudged too much in the scanned version, take our time to understand it in its purest form. Of course, we'll need to decide the mode by which we interpret our nation's holy writ, with common approaches including textualism, judicial precedent, original meaning, pragmatism, national identity, moral reasoning, structuralism or historical practices, but regardless it's a straightforward process when you have the arduous work of the four fathers already done for you.

I say four fathers because I'm referring to James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, John Jay, and Alexander Hamilton, but that's not to cast any shadow on the 70 individuals known as The Framers and ultimately 39 that ended up signing the final document, representing 12 states.

The Constitution was written mostly by James Madison. The help of the alliterative founding father, John Jay was surely valuable as well and ultimately gained him a Supreme Court, a treaty and eventually a school or two to be named after him. The completion and ratification of the Constitution took 10 months from the time it was written, signed by Constitutional Delegates, and then ratified by 9 states, making it the defining document of our government and the law of the land for the fifty states and fourteen Territories we have today.

Blood, sweat, and the ink of about 85 articles were poured into producing and promoting the Constitution. The 85 Articles known as The Federalist Papers were published anonymously in The Independent Journal and The New York Packet in an effort to influence public perception, and create a case for the document's ratification. Many constituencies were resistant to the ratification, resulting in compromises like counting slaves as three-fifths that of other citizens, among other incongruences. Mostly, people were afraid that a stronger Federal Government would overpower the sovereignty of states, while taxing them, like what we impost on Puerto Rico today. The Anti-federalists didn't manage to block the Constitution, but their resistance lead to the Bill of Rights.

When the Constitution was completed, Alexander Hamilton and Arron Burr said it best, at least in the musical version of their real-life conversation.

Burr: The constitution’s a mess
Hamilton: So it needs amendments
Burr: It’s full of contradictions
Hamilton: So is independence, we have to start somewhere

A professor of constitutional law at Cornell University, Aziz Rana said “We have an amendment process that’s the hardest in the world to enact,”. I'm not sure whether to agree with him on this view or not, but considering that a Congress is having good luck if they can even pass a bill, I suppose ratifying a structural change to government is at least a little more than difficult, what with the 3/4ths majority of all red, blue and purple states having to agree on such a change. Considering the odds of 12,000 amendments proposed, 27 being adopted puts amendments at a track record of about a 0.00225% win rate.

As I sit, here, I'm watching the first of a series of hearings from the January 6th Senate Committee. I see 9 members of Congress fighting to uphold the constitution. They're vocally defending the Constitution, and grasping at straws to uphold its power.

The Constitution is a valuable document and it meant a lot to the people that dedicated their lives to creating it. It meant a lot to Hamilton, and the 39 people that signed it. It meant a lot to the generations of lawmakers and justices who defended it. It must have had very personal meaning to the people that have formed the original United States Government. Some put everything into the Constitutional Convention. Some gave their lives.

We're still disputing its meaning, with no less than eight methods of interpretation. But beyond the words, it doesn't mean the same to us today as it did back in 1788. Even our divided Supreme Court doesn't agree on its meaning. It’s full of contradictions, but so is independence.

The constitution’s a mess, so it needs amendments.  


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