I find it very interesting and disturbing to see how a constitution can be used to trap and enslave the people of the states into a statically fixed and inflexible union, along with an alleged supremacy of federal laws over state sovereignty, when the meaning of that same document can allegedly change over time under the so-called â€œliving constitutionâ€ theory. Let us apply first principles to find the truth of the matter. If a constitutionâ€™s meaning can change and thus its application and implementation, based upon current variable and assorted conditions, then the union itself must likewise be capable of change, based upon those same considerations.
Have you not noticed, when someone suggests that the sovereigns of a state have the natural and compactual right to peacefully withdraw themselves from the union (which was formed by the statesâ€™ ratification of the U.S. Constitution in 1787), there are those self-proclaimed constitution-loving scholars and politicians who proudly protest, â€œNo! You cannot do that! It is not allowed by our constitution! Once you voluntarily entered the union, you have waived your right to leave the union!â€ In the same breath, those same persons will gladly propose that the meaning and application of our constitution can change over time under a â€œliving constitutionâ€ so that our laws may reflect the current conditions of society (of course, determined by those other than the affected sovereigns themselves). They admit too much, for this statement is based upon a principle that necessarily destroys the position that the states have no right to dissolve their compact, or alternatively, destroys the living constitution theory.
If a constitutionâ€™s meaning and application can change over time based upon current conditions, then that necessarily means the union itself is subject to the same fluctuations as determined by the sovereigns that unilaterally became a part of that union. If the goal of a constitutionâ€™s force is supposedly to secure freedom, and in the name of that goal, those living-constitutionalists propose that a constitution changes over time, then it necessarily follows by principle of constitutional construction that those states who originally bound themselves to its force can relieve themselves of that force where the circumstances justify its dissolution. Put differently, where the circumstances of their ratification have changed to the point that freedom is best protected by their removal from the union, then removal it is as they choose. But I guess living-constitutionalists would deny the states this right because it would deny ultimate power to the almighty union/federal governmentâ€“their political god.
See, you cannot have it both ways: that is, the character and nature of the constitution changes over time, but the force holding those who voluntary entered the union never changes. The constitution provides both the meaning of government limitations and the terms of union. If the meaning can change, then so can the union. If you argue otherwise, please explain how a party to a compact (i.e. constitution) who entered the union upon certain guarantees, promises, protections and limitations is forever bound to that union (by force) when those guarantees, promises, protections and limitations are removed and replaced with meanings and applications contrary and different from those originally promised to be true. This is called â€œbait and switchâ€ which is considered criminal and illegal in any contract scenario throughout the states in America. Do you think this principle applies less to the most fundamental law in society: that is, in constitutions? George Washington did not think so:
â€œThe Constitution which at any time exists, till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole people, is sacredly obligatory upon all.â€ George Washington and William T. Peck, ed., Washingtonâ€™s Farewell Address and Websterâ€™s Bunker Hill Orations, (New York: Macmillan Co., original from Harvard University, 1919), 12.
Of course, tyrannyâ€™s way is to not to change a constitution by the explicit and authentic acts of the people who created the constitution (which of course requires debate, consent and ratification), but by oligarchic methods of court decisions, government precedent and fraud.
As I have noted before, the â€œliving constitutionâ€ idea was the catalyst to Americaâ€™s War for Independence. It is in fact the trap that would-be tyrants who creep up in republics use to trap and enslave unsuspecting (and of course, ignorant) people in what would otherwise be a free country based upon free principles in a constitution. It is in fact the snare that has been used against the states of America for generations and it is still used today as an extremely useful method for entrapment of sovereign states. The end result: governing the un-consented: tyranny.
Today marks a distinct point in Americaâ€™s history where the sovereign states of America have to make a decision about what principles they will submit to: the principles of freedom or the principles of slavery. Decisions are being made in this arena today, and will continue to be made as tyrannyâ€™s grip squeezes tighter and firmer around our necks. Some will choose freedom. Some will choose slavery. Some may be scared about what this may mean (not giving credibility to such feelings, but only observing them). It may mean economic struggles and political battles. It may mean inconvenience and more responsibility. It may mean political involvement and actually choosing a side. It may mean pains and labors and re-education. But I must ask: is the price of freedom too high? For our founders, they proved what Patrick Henry eloquently stated:
â€œIs life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!â€
Indeed, Americaâ€™s founders did not believe the price of freedom was too highâ€“at least with the assumption that their posterity would contribute their minds, hearts and bodies to maintaining that freedom. After having experienced all the hardships of securing freedom for these states in America, John Adams says to his posterity:
â€œPosterity, you will never know how much it cost the present generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you will make good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in heaven that ever I took half the pains to preserve it.â€ John Adams, Abigail Adams, and Charles Francis Adams, Familiar Letters of John Adams and His Wife Abigail Adams, During the Revolution: With a Memoir of Mrs. Adams, (New York: Hurd and Houghton, 1876), 265.
Perhaps John Adams has already repented.
Ultimately, matters of political and societal freedom are determined by those sovereign body-politics that have the power to make and un-make constitutions. The ultimate matter of which states will live in freedom is determined by the body-politic of that state: the people, who comprise the sovereign element of the state. Where lines are crossed, the sovereigns must decide for itself the recourse it will take to redress the usurpation. This is no new concept. James Madison notes the dangers in political battles whereby the federal government usurps power from the states as perpetrated by Congress and the President and confirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court decisions. He says in Federalist Paper 39:
â€œ[The United States Supreme Court decisions are] to be impartially made, according to the rules of the Constitution[, which] is clearly essential to prevent an appeal to the sword and a dissolution of the compact.â€
Madison recognized that when the federal government usurps its powers IN THE NAME OF the constitution, this puts the states in a natural position to defend their freedom and their powers. It forces the states to revert back to pre-U.S. Constitution status and to recall those powers once given. As a parenthetical note, Madison also recognized that an appeal to the sword is not necessarily the same thing as dissolution of the compact. It is only when union is forced by tyrants that an appeal to the sword is necessary in self-defense. Otherwise, dissolution of compacts should be peaceful.We have been told for years that the meanings and applications of the constitution supposedly have changed over time and that this is in fact constitutionally correct. Well then, what is good for the goose is good for the gander. That is, principles of construction require this conclusion: the sovereigns of the states then most assuredly have the innate right and power to decide whether or not those changes shall apply to their body-politic, in the interest of preserving freedom. Otherwise, if states are not allowed to choose their own political and societal fate after they entered into the union, then the federal government most certainly should not be given power which changes over time. One is static and the other is fluid. Yet both are governed by the same document. Moreover, do we see the chains of the constitution binding the federal government (as intended) to the same constraints that they insistently impose upon the people of the states?! Ha! It makes me laugh even to suggest it.
People of the states, it is time to wake up to our political realities. It is time to that we know the traps that have been laid before us. We must be astute statesmen and stateswomen, who know the principles of freedom, who know the nature and character of our union, who know when we are being taken for the gullible servants we have become. It is time that we not fall victim to tyrannyâ€™s trap. The States of America must once again look to the principles of freedom and into our own borders and sovereignty for political and societal freedom!