Constitution Thread

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by mcrain, Dec 14, 2010.

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  1. mcrain, Dec 14, 2010
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2010

    mcrain macrumors 68000


    Feb 8, 2002
    I've noticed that recently some forum members have argued against ideas, laws or proposals by using the term "unconstitutional." Rather than debate the merits of a particular idea or law or proposal, instead, there is this theory that Congress can not act in the way proposed. This would, in their minds, require Constitutional amendment before the idea or law or proposal could be considered. Aside from avoiding the underlying issue, this made me concerned about the overall understanding of our Constitution.

    Apparently people have some confusion about the powers granted by the Constitution. Hopefully this thread will give us a forum in which to discuss the document, the framers' intent, and the powers of Congress, the Executive, and the Judiciary.

    For starters, here's a link:
    University of Missouri, Kansas City School of Law

    I suggest reading the PDF written by Jeremy Waldron of NYU Law.
  2. IgnatiusTheKing macrumors 68040


    Nov 17, 2007
    das Fort
    My understanding has always been that the Constitution grants power to the government and the Bill of Rights limits it.

    There was actually much debate at the time of ratification over the need for a Bill of Rights, simply because a lot of people (including James Madison, the so-called "Father of the Constitution") didn't necessarily see the need for it since Congress only had the powers granted explicitly by the Constitution and could not legislate outside of those narrow boundaries.
  3. mcrain thread starter macrumors 68000


    Feb 8, 2002
    True, there were some that felt the Constitution was a limit on the powers of the government, while others, had opposing views. The various framers and states with opposing interests had their views incorporated into what we have now. So, in essense, it's more complicated than any single framer's description.
  4. Iscariot macrumors 68030


    Aug 16, 2007
    If I were a heavyweight boxer (or a personality on the tv show Jersey Shore) I'd call myself "The Constitution."
  5. iJohnHenry macrumors P6


    Mar 22, 2008
    On tenterhooks
    Has "The Constipation" been taken yet??
  6. Huntn, Dec 14, 2010
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2010

    Huntn macrumors P6


    May 5, 2008
    The Misty Mountains
    Part 1_____________________________________________________________
    Declaration of Independence- The Charter, Purpose Document, why we were founded. 1400 words.

    Constitution- By laws, how we will govern ourselves. 4500 words. 4000 of the words describe the three branches of government and how they will operate. 400 words describe the relationship to the States and the process of making amendments. The preamble consists of the first 52 words that state the six core purposes of why the Constitution was written. They define and limit the rest of the document to these six purposes as described in the preamble.

    Bill of Rights-
    10 items that describe citizen rights

    Preamble of the Constitution

    Preamble Paraphrased:
    Connect States, Ensure Justice, Ensure Peace, Provide Defense, Promote General Wellfare, Secure liberty for now and the future. General Welfare- means promote a fair economic playing field for our citizens.

    Part 2__________________________________________________
    3 branches of Government

    1st Branch Congress:
    1. Borrow and Coin money.
    2. Regulate Commerce.
    3. Regulate Immigration
    4. Set up post office and roads.
    5. Create an environment for good commerce.
    6. Maintain Army, Navy, Militias
    7. Declare War
    8. Conduct Impeachments
    9. Oversea District of Colombia.
    10. Make laws limited to the six purposes of the Constitution and these areas.

    2nd Branch Executive Branch (President)
    1. Act as Commander in Chief
    2. Appoint Ambassadors, Judges, and Officers.
    3. Enforce Laws of U.S.
    4. Sign Treaties & recieve ambassadors from other countries.
    5. Grant pardons
    6. Give State of the Union to Congress.

    3rd Branch- Judicial (Supreme Court)
    1. Take appeals from citizens, courts, & states.
    2. Make Principled judgments.
    3. Ensure jury trials.
    4. Uphold Constitution.

    Important Concept: All 3 Branches of the U.S. government are to uphold and interpret the Constitution, not just the Supreme Court. The founding fathers were concerned because Supreme Court justices were appointed for life, there could be Judicial Overreach or Judicial Tyranny.

    Balance of Power over the Court: Congress establishes jurisdiction of the court, what kind of cases they can rule on and congress can impeach judges if they feel they are operating outside of Constitutional bounds.

    Checks and Balances:
    Congress- slightly more powerful than other branches.
    President- powerful in war and keeping the law, otherwise medium power.
    Supreme Court- Mostly used for checks and balances, least powerful.

    Bill of Rights (brief comment in video)
    1. Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting the exercise thereof.
    Also insures Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Press.

    X. Powers not delegated to the United States are reserved for the states respectively or the people.

    Reemphasised: Declaration of Independance and Constitution designed to work together. The Preamble of the Constitution limits what government is able to do.
  7. Huntn macrumors P6


    May 5, 2008
    The Misty Mountains
    It says "note history" throughout Part 3. I have not included history to keep the post short. Ask and I can add particulars on any Amendment.

    Part 3__________________________________________________
    Bill of Rights source: Wikipedia and U.S. Constitution Online.

    Theses are the Bill of Rights amendments to the Constitution. (Details after short list)

    *First Amendment – Establishment Clause, Free Exercise Clause; freedom of speech, of the press, and of assembly; right to petition
    *Second Amendment – Militia (United States), Sovereign state, Right to keep and bear arms.
    *Third Amendment – Protection from quartering of troops.
    *Fourth Amendment – Protection from unreasonable search and seizure.
    *Fifth Amendment – due process, double jeopardy, self-incrimination, eminent domain.
    *Sixth Amendment – Trial by jury and rights of the accused; Confrontation Clause, speedy trial, public trial, right to counsel
    *Seventh Amendment – Civil trial by jury.
    *Eighth Amendment – Prohibition of excessive bail and cruel and unusual punishment.
    *Ninth Amendment – Protection of rights not specifically enumerated in the Constitution.
    *Tenth Amendment – Powers of States and people.

    * Amendment 11 - Judicial Limits. Ratified 2/7/1795. Note History
    * Amendment 12 - Choosing the President, Vice-President. Ratified 6/15/1804. Note History The Electoral College
    * Amendment 13 - Slavery Abolished. Ratified 12/6/1865. History
    * Amendment 14 - Citizenship Rights. Ratified 7/9/1868. Note History
    * Amendment 15 - Race No Bar to Vote. Ratified 2/3/1870. History
    *Amendment 16 - Status of Income Tax Clarified. Ratified 2/3/1913. Note History
    * Amendment 17 - Senators Elected by Popular Vote. Ratified 4/8/1913. History
    *Amendment 18 - Liquor Abolished. Ratified 1/16/1919. Repealed by Amendment 21, 12/5/1933. History
    * Amendment 19 - Women's Suffrage. Ratified 8/18/1920. History
    * Amendment 20 - Presidential, Congressional Terms. Ratified 1/23/1933. History
    *Amendment 21 - Amendment 18 Repealed. Ratified 12/5/1933. History
    * Amendment 22 - Presidential Term Limits. Ratified 2/27/1951. History
    * Amendment 23 - Presidential Vote for District of Columbia. Ratified 3/29/1961. History
    * Amendment 24 - Poll Tax Barred. Ratified 1/23/1964. History
    * Amendment 25 - Presidential Disability and Succession. Ratified 2/10/1967. Note History
    * Amendment 26 - Voting Age Set to 18 Years. Ratified 7/1/1971. History
    * Amendment 27 - Limiting Changes to Congressional Pay. Ratified 5/7/1992. History
  8. fivepoint macrumors 65816


    Sep 28, 2007
    The argument of originalism vs. activism basically boils down to this... do you think the words of the constitution mean anything and consequently that it should be read as intended and that any changes you desire must be made constitutionally go through the amendment process... or do you think they're 100% open to reinterpretation (i.e. subversion/redefinition)

    Activist vs. constructionist. Living Document vs. originalist.

    The mistake I fear most modern liberals make siding with the 'activist' or 'living document' side of this argument is that in their effort speed change for the better in their eyes, they're allowing the government to encroach on our liberties more easily (without amendment) than the founders intended. As long as the government is making the RIGHT changes in their eyes - it's worth it. What they don't seem to consider is what happens when the government wants to make the WRONG changes... changes they don't like. The Patriot Act is a perfect example... it clearly goes against the constitution, but due to judicial activism - a living document reading - the original words of the constitution were twisted and redefined to make the patriot act 'legal' under current law, even though it's clearly unconstitutional. So, the liberal defense of subversion for the sake of welfare, for the sake of social security, and universal healthcare, etc. has led directly to subversion for the sake of the Patriot Act.

    For a good starter-course on 'originalism/constructionism' start here.

  9. CaptMurdock Suspended


    Jan 2, 2009
    The Evildrome Boozerama
    Yeah, the Heritage Foundation. There's a swell bunch of constitutional law scholars. :rolleyes:

    "Judicial activism" has nothing to do with the PATRIOT Act. The country was pissing its collective panties because a bunch of terrorists actually managed to bring a couple of buildings down, and people were seeing boogeymen everytime a guy with a beard with a complexion darker than Tony Orlando walked by. You might as well blame "judicial activism" for the Buffalo Bills losing the Super Bowl.
  10. Huntn macrumors P6


    May 5, 2008
    The Misty Mountains
    Usually the people who argue not violating the Constitution are not happy with where the country is and think that going back to the original document will fix everything. That is debatable. The new deal (Great Depression) occurred because of excesses and a desire to give the common man a fair shake. Strictly by the rules, "the general welfare" clause can be construed to cover things like Social Security. Otherwise, they should have made changes to the Constitution. But the people in charge felt it was the right way to go. And ever since then, every party in power has not seen fit to return to the strict interpretation of the Constitution. Why is that?
  11. mcrain thread starter macrumors 68000


    Feb 8, 2002
    I think the question you really want to ask is whether the Constitution really gives Courts the ability to rule on Constitutionality. If yes, then the last 200 years can not be ignored. The role of government and the understanding of Constiutional power has evolved over time, and that can't just be discarded. As such, the problem is NOT that much of what Congress has done is unconstitutional, but that in order to require your interpretation of the Constitution, you would need to amend the Constitution.

    I corrected that for you, so that everyone would see that you were linking to the Heritage Foundation, not exactly a reputable or an unbiased source.
  12. fivepoint macrumors 65816


    Sep 28, 2007
    The first part of your post is interesting, I might have taken this conversation further and had a meaningful debate with you Mcrain, but unfortunately you're too focused on petty politics and positioning. Your attack on my reference from Heritage is ridiculous and sad. Nevermind that the piece was written by Mr. Keith E. Whittington, a "professor of politics at Princeton University and visiting professor of law at the University of Texas at Austin". Nevermind that it's a position held by thousands of judges across the country including several on the supreme court. Let's just ignore everything because I don't like the Heritage Foundation. I, Mcrain, refuse to debate the actual merits of the argument because, you, Fivepoint, DARED to link to a source I don't like. News doesn't happen if Fox reports it, facts aren't real if Heritage or Cato reference them, criticisms aren't valid if Beck or Limbaugh voice them. I, Mcrain hold the key to valid sources and no one is able post any other!

    Brilliant - although fairly representative of the quality of your posts in these forums. There are sometimes a glimmer of hope... but yeah... this is fairly representative.
  13. werther macrumors regular

    May 15, 2006
    'As intended'...this is where your post becomes a joke. This is the whole reason why the courts must debate intent in the first place. Your argument, once again, is based on the false premise that the authors of the the constitution were ideological monoliths.
  14. mcrain thread starter macrumors 68000


    Feb 8, 2002
    You do realize that all I did was highlight the fact that your source was the heritage foundation, which, like fox news has a history of bias and slant and presenting opinions that are on the fringe. I did not dissect or argue against the points made by the author, nor did I imply that his opinion was not held by a lot of judges (in fact, I would guess a lot due to the 30+ years of GOP stacking the benches with right-wing ideologue activist judges, and their efforts to obstruct the appointment of liberal or middle of the road judges).

    Anyone but me find it rather amusing that FP spend most of that post bashing me and falsly accusing me of attacking the author of the piece, rather than in any way responding to my point?
  15. skunk macrumors G4


    Jun 29, 2002
    Republic of Ukistan
    Amusing? It tends to get rather predictable after a while.
  16. CHAOS STEP macrumors 6502


    Nov 2, 2005
    playing tiddlywinks with Kim Jong-un
    The US constitution is just a botched up version of the Magna Carta.

    They're both ancient relics of the past and whilst our system has evolved and moved forward because of it, the US constitution seems to hang round their necks like a millstone.
  17. angelwatt Moderator emeritus


    Aug 16, 2005
    This thread was brought to our attention through numerous post reports from various members directed at various members. Essentially, you're all reporting each other. As such, this thread has been closed because it no longer promotes fact-based debate and mutual respect for participants.
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