LOS ANGELES, California (January 26, 2011) – On Tuesday night, President Obama delivered his much anticipated State of the Union Speech.
But for all of its poetic oratory, political rhetoric and ambitious plans, the speech begs a question. How can any American really evaluate the state of the Union without understanding the foundation upon which that Union rests â€“ the Constitution?
Some people-including the former law instructor who now serves as President of the United States-believe that it is impossible to reconstruct the Constitution’s original meaning. Constitutional scholar Robert G. Natelson demonstrates that this view is little more than a crock.
In his latest book, The Original Constitution â€“ What it Actually Said and Meant, Natelson contends that the meaning and intent of the founding document does not hide in a foggy shroud of mystery. Anyone â€“ even a law professor – can understand the clear meaning of the Constitution with a little effort and study.
â€œCompetent founding era scholars largely agree on what most of the original Constitution’s provisions mean,â€ Natelson writes. â€œMuch of the disagreement among constitutional writers results from unfamiliarity with the historical record or with 18th century law. We will never be absolutely certain of the complete meaning of every constitutional clause. But we can reconstruct much of the original Constitution’s meaning with clarity and confidence.â€
Natelson does just that.
Drawing on 25 years of experience as a Professor of Law at the University of Montana, and a career spent meticulously studying the framers writings, documents from the ratifying conventions, and 18th century legal sources, Natelson weaves scholarly subject matter into an easy-to-read book for the average American.
Does the â€œcommerce clauseâ€ really authorize Congress to require American’s to buy health insurance? Does â€œgeneral welfareâ€ mean the federal government can do ANYTHING defined as generally beneficial? What does â€œnecessary and properâ€ really mean?
Examined within the context of original Constitutional meaning, the answers to these questions become clear.
â€œIt will change the way you look at your government,â€ Tenth Amendment Center communications director Mike Maharrey said. â€œToo many people, including so-called Constitutional experts, explain the meaning of the Constitution through a legal lens, relying on court precedents and interpretations to construct meaning. Talk about building on shifting sands. It’s completely divorced from the framers’ intent. Natelson digs down to the bedrock and sets Constitutional understanding back on a firm foundation.â€
The current political climate has rekindled interest in the founding documents. Just a few weeks ago, the 112th Congress opened up with a reading of the Constitution on the House floor.
â€œIt’s nothing but a dog and pony show in a fancy room if they are just going to read it and then ignore what it really means,â€ Maharrey said. â€œHopefully, this fervor will open the door for solid scholars like Robert to get the message out.â€
Contact the Tenth Amendment Center to set up an interview with Professor Natelson or to get a copy of the book for review.