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  • Morning Bell: Preserve the Constitution, Now More Than Ever

    The Constitution of the United States of America has endured over two centuries. It remains the object of reverence for nearly all Americans and an object of admiration by peoples around the world. Unfortunately, the assault by 20th century liberal theorists and activist judges has seriously undermined respect for America’s core principles, denigrating some constitutional rights they disagree with and making up others.

    Fortunately, there has been a renewed interest in the Constitution in recent years, as Americans seek to understand the founding principles and enduring truths that form the bedrock of our chosen form of self-government. Clearly, the future of liberty depends on America reclaiming its constitutional first principles.

    In that spirit, The Heritage Foundation is hosting an extraordinary series of events as we do our part to Preserve the ConstitutionHeritage’s Preserve the Constitution Series will feature the nation’s most respected judges, legal scholars, and policy analysts as they discuss how to combat these attacks on the rule of law and the Constitution.

    We began the Preserve the Constitution Series last Friday by taking a look at President Ronald Reagan, for whom the Constitution provided the foundation of his presidency and ultimately influenced his every decision. In our event, “A Constitutional President: Ronald Reagan and The Founding,“ I was joined by Steve Hayward, Jim Miller, and Lee Edwards. We discussed how, from the first days of his presidency, Reagan was guided by the first principles of the American Founding, especially the idea of ordered liberty.

    In the opening paragraphs of his first inaugural address in 1981 — much of which he personally drafted — President Reagan echoed the preamble of the Constitution, calling on “We the people” to do whatever needs to be done to “preserve this last and greatest bastion of freedom” — America. Eight years later, in his farewell address to the American people, the President said that the American Revolution was “the first revolution in the history of mankind that truly reversed the course of government, and with three little words, ‘We the people.’”

    Those words should remain a guiding light for government today—particularly as our country continues its war against terrorists. To commemorate 9/11, and the role of the Constitution during wartime, join us tomorrow for a lively discussion between conservative legal scholar and former Bush Administration official John Yoo, and the former head of the ACLU, Nadine Strossen.  They will discuss a new book of collected essays by distinguished scholars, of which I was proud to take part.

    Certainly, our Supreme Court plays a vital role in preserving the Constitution–particularly given the latest effort to expand the power of Congress with the passage of Obamacare. The Eleventh Circuit’s recent ruling striking down the individual mandate in Obamacare makes it almost certain that the Supreme Court will hear the constitutional challenge. Will the government be able to delay the final decision until after the 2012 election? And how will the Justices respond to the latest racial preference cases from the Fifth and Sixth Circuits: Will they overrule Grutter v. Bollinger or kick the can down the road for another 25 years? How will United v. Jones (the GPS tracking device case) and Florence v. Board of Freeholders (the prisoner strip search case) change Fourth Amendment protections? Will the High Court uphold the Arizona immigration law or strike it down?

    As part of our series, we will address those questions in a preview of the next Supreme Court term on September 28 with former Solicitor General Paul Clement and others. Other events in the series include: “The Constitution and the Common Defense: Who Ensures America’s National Security?“ on October 11, where I will be joined by former Attorneys’ General John Ashcroft and Michael Mukasey–the first event to feature three former Attorneys’ General; and on November 3, “Is ObamaCare Constitutional?” with Michael Carvin and David Rivkin, counsel for the National Federation of Independent Business and the states in the multi-state challenge to the new healthcare law.

    Though the Constitution has endured for over 200 years, its enduring integrity cannot be taken for granted. In order to preserve the Constitution, Americans must be aware of the role it should play in restraining our government. It is our hope with our Preserve the Constitution series to educate the public about the Constitution and hopefully change America’s course by restoring the courts to their constitutional role: to protect individual liberty, property rights, and free enterprise — and to enforce the constitutional limits on government.

    - Edwin Meese, III, served as the 75th Attorney General of the United States under President Ronald Reagan. He is the Ronald Reagan Distinguished Fellow in Public Policy and Chairman of the Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation.

    Quick Hits:

    Posted in First Principles [slideshow_deploy]

    46 Responses to Morning Bell: Preserve the Constitution, Now More Than Ever

    1. June says:

      How are we going to save our country from the Obama regime? What can we do? I am so tired of the lies and all of the horrible tactics used by the liberals. Doesn't anyone just use their brains to see what is happening to us? It seems like our Congress is totally out of this world and in another one? We had a town meeting with our Representive this week and he didn't know about Agenda 21 and pooh poohed it as just a liberal scare tactic. It is real. Obama is working with the UN to take away our Constitution. What would we gain ? Nothing. But we would lose our country and our way of life. When is Washinton going to wake up and stop listening to each other and start realizing what is happening out in the real world?

    2. Robert, TX says:

      Our Constitution provides for a Congress (legislative branch) to not only check the power of the Executive Branch, but also the Judicial Branch of our government. The sheep in the republican House and at least 45 of the republican senators are completely derelict of their duties. Only the state legislatures and the citizens (legal citizens) can do anything to correct this despicable situation.

    3. Larry Donn Gillihan says:

      The Constitution of the United States of America is the law for our employees in the government, and I suggest we start throwing them in jail for violating it. We've got to get serious about this, folks, or our crooked employees are going to destroy the freedom so many have died to protect. Crooks go where the money is, and there's more money in the federal government than anywhere else, so they have infiltrated the government to rob us, and that's exactly what they're doing. To me, there is no question that Obama has engineered all this in an attempt to destroy the greatest Christian nation, as well as the most powerful nation that has ever existed on the earth. If he isn't thrown out in 2012, we can say goodbye to America.

    4. jcarman says:

      Heritage.org, will you be putting these (and future events) into ical or other format, so they can easily be added to an Outlook calendar?

    5. toledofan says:

      What never ceases to amaze me is the fact that we are the envy of the world, have been blessed with an exceptional experiment in Democracy, have shed our precious blood so others can have at least some of what we have and no matter the history or the sacrifice; there are those who continually want to bring it down. It's like we've fallen into a chasm of political correctness that is eating at our soul.

    6. David A. Stallman says:

      Yes…the enduring integrity of the Constitution must be protected. It is disingenuous of Heritage to claim unerring support of the Constitution when Heritage denies individual liberty to homosexuals and pregnant women.
      David A. Stallman

      • Don DeHoff says:

        David, I did not know the Heritage Foundation denies pregnant women. As for homosexuals, this issue is misunderstood by at least 80% of the people. The medical profession and science has conflicting opinions, and I see where the gay males and females (If I can use those two words), even look at each other with a jaundiced eye. There is even some disagreement among those of the same ilk. Is the matter genetic, medical, mental, environmental, or "just normal"? I suggest congress convene a hearing, with all sides represented, and see if "we" can come up with a common consensus as to what the issues are all about. I note we have extensive "rules" on how the straight community can address those who are gay, but few rules on how the they must conform. I take serious offense at being approached by a gay male, as his affliction must extend beyond just having sex with one of the same gender as he is not restricted to approaching just other gay males (Excuse that run-on sentence, but I am at a loss at to how make it more delicate)

      • dexter60 says:

        Perhaps it is in an effort to create an argument, but nowhere do I see "Heritage denies individual liberty to homosexuals and pregnant women." To issue an opinion that they should not be given special group rights is not denying or withholding anything as you seem to imply.
        What are these rights, in the Constitution? that all taxpayers must support abortion?
        Perhaps there are some other points of 'disingenuous'ness that press a little harder on the jugular of America you might point to.
        As it stands, to me you might as well be talking about there being a fly in your house or that the butter is too hard.
        Get a life and have a nice day.

    7. Whicket Williams says:

      The only way we are going to be able to save The Constitution is to get enough politicians willing to help in office, and eliminate huge swaths of the bureaucrats that run this country, while the politicians act as a sideshow to keep the people confused and divided. The FDA andEPA MUST be riened in. They are removing the freedoms of the people very fast!

    8. The Farmer says:

      To begain with we will need to replace our Congress with folks who understand that until we return to the Constitution we in effect have no Constitution!
      That just won't happen unless we vote out all incumbants each election, and that won't happen because we have become a self serving people, blinded by foolish desire, a me first additude when we vote.
      We have put the fools in charge and they are destroying us in their effort to stay in charge.

    9. J E Houser says:

      Preserve the Constitution? No. Rather the Constitution should be restored. Those appointed to the various courts have not followed, applied, enforced the Constitution, rather, they have "interpreted," "translated" it as they wished. While clearly written, it has been read with a desired consequence.
      The 17th Amendment should be repealed so that the senators, while bikigering with thier fellows would look over thier shoulders to get a hint of what thier appointers were thinking. And impose term limits upon them.

    10. B Eric says:

      I find it interesting that all the power of the Supreme Court to overturn or uphold a properly executed bill passed by the legislature is not in itself strictly conistutional. That power was taken by the court in the Marbury vs Madison decision. There is no mention of this authority in the constitution, as such I think that a Supreme Court decision should be able to be overturned by a 2/3 vote in each legislative house. After all it is We The People not the We the supreme court

    11. clarence swinney says:

      I encourage Ed to read my Reagan Firsts. Great Stuff
      google clarence swinney + Reagan Firsts
      I ask only prove me wrong with facts

      • Robert, TX says:

        Reagan was the first President to inherit a "misery index." Even my liberal professors at The University of Texas used to laugh at trying to add 10% unemployment to 12% interest rates AND 10% inflation. Our military was in such bad shape, the purpose of Grenada was to see just how bad it was. Reagan was not perfect, but he did save our country. Most of your "firsts" belong at the feet of the peanut farmer, Tip O'Neill and Jim Wright.

    12. Robert, TX says:

      Amen, Whicket! But it will only happen when enough people take responsibility (and ownership of) for this country and vote in citizen legislators that are truly independent of Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Pfizer, Merck and the managed healthcare giants that are literally running our country AND the media.

    13. Bill Evelyn says:

      The Constitution is dead. Judges, Congress, and the President has so shredded the document and its meaning that it is officially dead.

      • West Texan says:

        You hit on a favored James Madison quote, "Do not separate text from historical background. If you do, you will have perverted and subverted the Constitution, which can only end in a distorted, bastardized form of illegitimate government. ".

    14. West Texan says:

      "We the People" is great for mob rule and big government social progressiveness. To truly understand the constitution, the whole preamble is necessary. "We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union [a union of sovereign states], establish justice, ensure domestic Tranquility [protection of individual civil rights], provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare [so that states may manage their domestic house in a secure environment], and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity [a summation of all the aforementioned], do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

      Texas did not join the union to subjugate its government or citizens to federal despotism. They joined for the benefits of membership, defense and commercial trade. If they wanted the prior, they would have stayed connected to Mexico.

    15. West Texan says:

      "We the People" is great for mob rule and big government social progressiveness. To truly understand the constitution, the whole preamble is necessary. "We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union [a union of sovereign states], establish justice, ensure domestic Tranquility [protection of individual civil rights], provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare [so that states may manage their domestic house in a secure environment], and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity [a summation of all the aforementioned], do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

    16. haroldson says:

      Any American should be willing to help save the constitution, Bad thing is we have so many politicians and people in Washington who hold nothing sacred but money and personal power, We should have to start by cleaning house in senate and all government offices.

    17. Marion Leigon says:

      All the words in the world are worthless unless followed by action. And if no one in power is even listening
      what good are the words? Election via television ads tell voters nothing except what the speaker wants
      heard. Besides the absurd waste of dollars is scandalous. The lack of elligibility, capability and proven
      ability furthers the disastrous venture, as we have all seen by past and current history. Again, words are
      useless unless followed by action, and it is my hope that voters will research their choice of candidates
      thoroughly, noting especially their belief in returning to and enforcing the Constitution which heretofore
      was the backbone of the greatest nation ever known.

    18. Don DeHoff says:

      Both, very well-reasoned and stated. However, The Heritage Foundation, while not overlooking, have placed upon the back-burner, the problems being created by the Muslim/Islamic factions. They are making serious inroads into every facit of life here in the U.S, with both, their 7th Century very barbaric and ungodly philosophic positions that they tout as a religion, and their "Sharia" laws", with its voluminous supporting other directives which make our Federal Tax code look like a 2nd grade library. These combined " hodgepodges" make Islam , completely undecipherable, even by their own "learned" leaders. If we do no get this ongoing and massive effort reversed, almost all of our other problems will become purely academic.. I encourage your leaders and board of directors/advisors set down an immediately come up with an amended problem priority list to be acted upon within the next 12 months. I personally believe this Muslim/Islamic issue to be the most critical problem the U. S. has faced since the Civil War.

    19. GLORIA MILLS says:


    20. GLORIA MILLS says:


    21. r sparks says:

      Preserve is great…….. abiding by and enforcing the Constitution, by those who take an oath to "defend" it, such as bribery, Article II Section 4 – Nelson & Landrieu's bought votes on Obamacare …… publicly done and shamefully ignored by most media, congressional members and the President……. because he was complicit
      in the fix!

    22. It's very important to preserve it – it's what is standing between us and tyranny. The real question that everyone has touched upon is enforcing it. It has been violated so many times with no penalty and no accountability, that it makes us look backward to want to enforce it. We need to keep speaking up and educating our kids and our friends.

    23. Jeanne Stotler says:

      Return the reading of and the study of the Constitution to high schools, it was mandatory when I went to school. After they read it and understand it Maybe they will see why we need to vote this administration out. Thanks Heritage for putting copies in the hands of those who never read it.

    24. Ron W. Smith says:

      The Constitution is a marvelous document that has endured because it is marvelous. That does not, though, mean it is perfect. An old Benjamin Franklin saw that. A younger George Washington saw that. And Thomas Jefferson went so far as to suggest a constitutional convention regularly scheduled for open discussion and debate. James Madison, however, feared opening the door to criticism and thought promoting veneration of the document the only safe course against changes made foolishly.
      The Preamble and many of the later amendments show the danger in regarding the Constitution as a suit to be worn a lifetime regardless the changes in the body wearing it. The founding fathers could not possibly imagine the country as we now know it–more than 300,000,000 people and problems that simply did not exist in the late 18th Century. Just for example, we no longer have slavery but do, in some quarters, have a nostalgia for it–for workers without voice, for minimal reward for effort, for benefits only at the whim of the "owner" boss, and immigrant labor cheaply induced. Slavery existed for quite a while into the 19th Century despite "all men are created equal" the theme ever since the Declaration of Independence. An amendment to the Constitution was necessary to close the obvious "hole" in what the founding fathers gave us.
      So many other possibilities for discussion and debate of our marvelous Constitution, a truly inspired document, exist and should be officially offered the American people lest those with ulterior, self-serving motives restrict the possibilities of a nation to offer its people real justice, real safety from the tyranny of a majority, and a real chance to live their lives free from the international interventions and wars currently engineered by those with empire on their minds.
      I hope those in leadership positions at The Heritage Foundation have nobler intent than JUST preserving the Constitution. I'm all ears, all eyes.

    25. Russell Errett says:

      When the U.S. was found the battle cry was “no taxation without representation”. This should be turned around to “ no representation without taxation”. When 50% of the people pay no income tax and 50% of the people receive largess from the government. Can we expect to have a turnover of the status quo? Name one government that survived by using compassion or over taxing for bribes and other aggrandizement.

    26. M. Sutton says:

      Our nations military officers (commissioned and non-commissioned) swear an oath to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. I served for 25 years and during that time, i never received one minute of training on what that oath means. I have spoken to scores of other men and women in all the services, from E-1s to O-9s and not one of them could recall getting training on our Constitution, the very thing we swore to defend with "our last full measure of devotion".

      Who are the keepers of our Constitution? Am I missing something, or is there something very wrong about such an 'oversight'? Heritage Foundation, Mr. Meese, American citizen – What can you do to help rectify the situation???

    27. Paul says:

      To restore the federal courts to their constitutional role will require a couple of steps,1) repeal the 17th amendment to restore state representation in the congress and balance to the congress, right now our congress is a representative mob rule, every congressman pandering to the mob with all kinds of unconstitutional promises. Make the senate responsible to the states as originally instituted then the problems of this nation can begin to be addressed, with out this first step NOTHING will get done. 2) impeach every federal judge the has stretched, twisted, distorted or ignored the constitution in any way on the grounds of treason, they are duty bound by their oath of office to administrate 100% with-in the bounds set forth by the constitution that they swore to uphold. Also repeal the 16th amendment, consolidate all federal taxes in one place where they can be seen every time a purchase is made. Then take unconstitutional social programs and turn them back over to the states where they belong and lower the federal taxes proportionally. It really is a simple plan that will get the federal government back with-in it's limits and take the shackels off the engine of free interprize at the same time.

    28. A Reams says:

      I have an idea. Maybe we should require all candidates for congress to pass a test on the constitution. If they don't pass, they cannot be included on the ballot. Perhaps Heritage can conduct a seminar for these candidates if they need help in understanding the constitution. We could also ask Heritage to grade the tests.

      • Robert, TX says:

        And yet the Constitution itself says nothing about a "test" as a qualification for Congress. Do you think our Congessmen are stupid? They know exactly what THEY are doing. They think we are stupid, for putting up with their circus. And as an electorate, we are stupid!

      • Bobbie says:

        I think it's a very good idea so we the people know what is expected of the government. right now, they'll do anything if it brings in tax dollars. there has to be discipline. we deserve to know what their role is, NOW!

    29. Bob Dewey says:

      The 1913 ratification of the 16th and 17th Amendments I believe were the causes of our present omni present government totally contrary to the ideas of the Founders. If the Tea Party does not address the repeal of these two Amendments, their voices will be waft to inconsequential history.

      • Robert, TX says:

        Very true. Right now, the Tea Party is just a rubber stamp for 90% of the republican sheep. Until the Tea Party throws our a Boehner or McConnell RINO, they are just another blog.

      • West Texan says:

        I totally concur. Thank you.

    30. and2therepublic says:

      "[T]he preservation of the sacred fire of liberty and the destiny of the republican model of government are justly considered, perhaps, as deeply, as finally, staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people."

      George Washington – First Inaugural Address – April 30, 1789.

    31. gary sheldon says:

      The reason for the second amendment and gumMINT fear of it is becoming very apparent.

    32. steve says:

      You speak of preserving the constitution yet back such policies as adding a gay marriage ba or budget process legisaltion to the constitution? So you mean, preserve it against liberal agendas, but allow conservatives to amend all they want?

    33. Adam G says:

      I get so animated when the liberals attempt to screw over what others have fought so strongly for! The topics touched on this website are talked loud and clear at http://toughenupamerica.com/. I suggest you listen to some tough talk!

    34. Sheree Miller says:

      When you are discussing legislative issue you should use the actual name of the act.
      There is concern about whether people have read the entire act, –
      Please at least let them read the entire name
      Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

    35. Dr. Aubie Baltin says:

      TERM LIMITS of ONE 8 YEAR TERM and ONE TERM ONLY; Without Term Limits We will never get enough votes to pass the tough legislation to reverse the last 80 year slide into Socialism (by both party's) Was it not Nixon that stated, as he imposed Price and Wage Controls and took the USA off of the Gold Standard, "That we are all Keynesians Now" Reagan May have been a Conservative but he was surrounded by Keynesian Socialists so that even he signed 10 Tax Increases.Nush had control of both houses of congress and yet he could not pass a comprenhesive Energy Bill but he was able to pass A socialist Drug Bill, even though Medicare was on the verge of Bankruptsy. Without Term Limits it will always be business as usual. We must eliminate the need to get re-elected in order to change the class of people that run for office. Dr. Aubie Baltin

      • Dr. Aubie Baltin says:

        If we can get a Million Americans to volunteer and risk their the best years of their lives in service to their country while being under payed so much so that they can't support their family properly. Don't tell me that we can't get retired successful people to devote 8 years for $100,000/year with only the same retirement and medical benefits that the rest of the country gets?

    36. patrick oharen says:

      As a member of the Heritage Foundation I would like the advertised five booklets of the Constitution. How do I request them? Thank you – Patrick Oharen

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