September 17 is Constitution Day. The Constitution is 230 years old.
As countries go, the United States is one of the relative youngsters, nevertheless, our constitution is the longest lasting constitution in human history. So, Happy Birthday to the most important document in the life of every American citizen, a document which represents and embodies the freedoms that we have been enjoying for the last 230 years.
When the Founders wrote the constitution, they were very gun shy about tyranny. They fought against it for eight years. The last thing that they wanted was another king, so they carefully designed this document that many now refer to as “the law of the land” to make sure that was avoided.
Three equal branches of government and check and balances all but assured that. Many of the delegation wanted to add what we call now the Bill of Rights. Some of the Federalists were opposed to incorporating a Bill of Rights into the U.S. Constitution. Not because they wanted to limit state’s and individual’s rights, but to the contrary, because they thought that by enumerating them it may be interpreted as limiting those right to those which were thus enumerated.
So, they added the ninth and 10th amendments, which made it clear that the State’s and the Individual’s rights were not limited by that which was enumerated therein, but the government’s powers were strictly and absolutely limited to those enumerated therein. I am sometimes amazed by the intellect of these guys.
|Ninth Amendment||Tenth Amendment|
|The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.||The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.|
They, the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists, wanted to make absolutely certain that the federal government was limited and that its powers were limited to those which are specifically enumerated in the constitution, which are quite limited indeed.
How have we moved from these very clear and quite limited roles of the government? We see Presidents “passing laws” in a de facto fashion and refusing to enforce laws duly passed by Congress although sworn to do so. The Supreme Court has ruled on healthcare, education, abortion, and marriage although these powers are not enumerated the Constitution and thus reserved for the states. Why aren’t we throwing tea into the Potomac?
Pshaw! The Founders, on this day, 230 years ago, signed a document making certain that our freedoms would not be taken away, but they did not anticipate that they might be given away.
Happy Constitution Day. Celebrate it and protect it.
Nicholas Malino is a founding member of the Progressive Conservative Alliance, a national organization of rational-minded progressives and conservatives focused on bringing people of opposing political views together for civil and constructive dialogue. He is Managing Member of Tango Research, LLC a hedge fund in CT and NY. He has two books published on financial subjects.