Q: Why do you keep talking on the campaign trail about “the U.S. Constitution”? What does that have to do with me?
A lot. Our Constitution ensures our basic freedoms — from our ability to speak openly, to worship as we please, to carry a gun to protect our family. It also limits the power of the federal government in our lives. As a result, all of us should have a basic understanding of what the Constitution says. Many of us do not. That’s why I keep talking about it.
Q: Do you consider the Constitution written in 1787 a perfect document? It did not address a number of important issues — like slavery.
No, I do not consider the Constitution written in 1787 a perfect document! Nor did the Framers. That’s why they included in the Constitution an amendment process which has:
• Abolished slavery.
• Given women the right to vote.
• Protected freedom of speech, religion, and the press.
• Answered a number of questions not anticipated when the Constitution was written
I am exceedingly grateful the Framers made amending the Constitution a slow and deliberate process — not something quick and easy. I also do NOT consider the Constitution a “living document” as most Americans understand those two words. I believe strongly the Constitution is a “legal document” consisting of words, with precise meaning, that do not change over time.
Q: You state in your platform that the U.S. Constitution is “the greatest document written by man.” Do you really believe that?
Absolutely! What other constitution better protects basic human rights the way the U.S. Constitution does? Our Constitution has stood the test of time. It is 233 years old — by far the world’s oldest national constitution. No other constitution comes close. In fact, only 14 of the world’s 195 national constitutions pre-date World War II — and many of the constitutions written since World War II are based on the U.S. Constitution.
Q: What makes the U.S. Constitution so popular with other nations?
The idea that “political power flows from the people to the government.” Before the U.S. Constitution was written 1787, the prevailing philosophy on how nations should be governed was just the opposite — vast numbers of people believed that “political power flowed from the government to the people.”
Q: What was wrong with the Article of Confederation that governed the 13 colonies from 1781-1789?
There were several problems. Some of them were:
1. The central government had no means of raising revenue other than what the states were willing to give them.
2. The central government had no control over foreign commerce or interstate commerce.
3. The central government could not compel the states to honor national obligations, such as paying foreign debt or honoring treaties with other countries.
4. Maybe the biggest weakness of all was that the states were sovereign under the Articles of Confederation — not the people.
Q: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anton Scalia once said that people who believed the U.S. Constitution was a “living document” were idiots. Do you agree with those strong words?
Absolutely. The Constitution is NOT a “living document” as most Americans understand those two words. It is a “legal document” consisting of words, with precise meaning, that do not change over time. If people don’t like the way the Constitution reads, they should change the document through the amendment process.
Q: What is the process for amending the U.S. Constitution?
The Constitution can be amended one of two ways:
1. By a three-fourths vote of the states after two-thirds of both the U.S. House of Representative and the U.S. Senate have approved the amendment.
2. By a three-fourths vote of the states at a state convention convened by the U.S. Congress after two-thirds of the states requested a state convention be convened.
Q: How many amendments have been proposed —and how many have been adopted?
More than 3,200 amendments have been proposed. Only twenty-seven have been adopted. The last amendment was passed in 1992.
Q: What are some of the proposed amendments that were NOT adopted?
• Equal Rights Amendment for Women (ERA).
• Amendment to balance the budget
• Amendment to limit taxes.
• Amendment to ban abortions.
• Amendment to eliminate the one-person-one-vote rule.
• Amendment to limit the number of citizens that House members can represent.
• Amendment to require an election whenever Congress votes itself a pay raise — before the pay raise goes into effect.
Q: Does the U.S. Constitution “give” rights to people?
No. It only “guarantees” rights. The U.S. Constitution says the rights guaranteed in the document come from God.
Q: What kind of people were the 55 delegates who met in Philadelphia in 1787 to write the U.S. Constitution?
They were a diverse group. Thirty-four were lawyers, the rest were soldiers, planters, educators, ministers, physicians, and merchants. They were all very practical, common-sense men who were convinced that concentrated political power corrupts. They were determined to create a U.S. federal government with limited political power.
Q: How does the U.S. Constitution limit the power of the federal government?
In several ways. Some examples are:
1. Federal power is divided between three separate but equal branches (Executive, Legislative, and Judicial) — so that no one branch can dominate the other two branches or control the government.
2. The only power the three branches have are listed in Articles 1, II, and III of the U.S. Constitution. Powers not specifically spelling in the three articles are reserved to the people and the states.
3. Among the powers of the Legislative Branch is the ability to make laws. However, that power is divided between the U.S. House of Representatives (where membership is determined by the population of each state) and the U.S. Senate (where each state has two representatives). Also, before a law can go into effect, it must be approved and signed by the President.
4. Among the powers of the President is to serve as the chief executive of the U.S. and as commander-in-chief of the U.S. armed forces. The President also has the authority to veto any law passed by Congress that he considers unjust. A Presidential veto can be overcome by a two-thirds vote in each of the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate.
5. Among the powers of the U.S. Supreme Court is the ability to invalidate an act of the Legislative Branch which it considers in violation of the U.S. Constitution.
Q: In a sentence, why was the U.S. Constitution written?
To organize a federal government and limit its power.
Q: How would you describe the U.S. Constitution as a document?
It’s an “instruction manual.” It simply sets parameters on how to make and enforce laws. It tells lawmakers what they can and cannot regulate — and then places limits on what they can regulate. It does not meet human needs because that is the job of the three branches of government.
Q: Is the federal government a “limited government” ?
Absolutely! It only possesses powers given to it by the U.S. Constitution.
Q: Do you consider the U.S. Constitution a “rigid” document?
Absolutely. It is a written, legal document that cannot be easily changed.