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To the Republic: Rediscovering the Constitution

To the Republic: Rediscovering the Constitution

About the project

In her nearly 250 years of independence, America has endured brutal wars, catastrophic natural disasters and ravaging economic depressions. Through every challenge, she has survived because of a singular focus on the founding principles that launched one of the greatest experiments in human history and that tested the very boundaries of the capabilities of man.

Can a free people govern themselves?

Today, America faces a crisis unprecedented in her history. Not that we are more hopeless than we were during the frozen winters of the Revolution. Not that we are more riven than during the Civil War. Not that we live with a greater injustice than slavery. Not that we are more frightened and hungry than we were during the Great Depression. Not that we are more outraged than we were after 9/11.

What makes this troubling time unlike any other is the full-scale assault — from the criminal class to the highest levels of governmental power — on the very principles of our Founding. The simple yet powerful ideas of equal justice under law, of self-governance, of rights given by a Creator, not a man or a king, and of freedom of speech and religion have come under open attack from every level of society.

So the time now is ripe to revisit those principles. Remind ourselves how the Founders grappled with every question. Test their answers. Reevaluate their thinking for a modern world that, at least on the surface, looks different from the ink-quilled days when those principles were set to parchment and made into history.

The Washington Times has laid that challenge at the feet of some of the country’s pivotal thinkers. Each week in the coming months, we will present their findings and arguments to you as we rediscover the Constitution.

Recent Stories

Leon Small, originally from Jamaica, holds a United States flag in a naturalization ceremony, Wednesday, April 28, 2021, in New York. While on the brink of furloughing 70% of its roughly 20,000 employees that summer, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration said almost overnight that it would end the year with the large surplus. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

It's time to end birthright citizenship

In October, a girl named Echo was born in California. But neither this new American citizen's parents mother nor father had ever set foot in the United States. Instead, newborn Echo was sent home with Auntie Wang, a Chinese nanny hired by an agency called Fat Daddy, to await the arrival of her parents from China.

People line up to speak during a reparations task force meeting at Third Baptist Church in San Francisco on April 13, 2022. A report by California's first-in-the-nation task force on reparations Wednesday, June 1 will document in detail the harms perpetuated by the state against Black people and recommend ways to address those wrongs. (AP Photo/Janie Har) **FILE**

San Francisco reparations plan likely violates Constitution's equal protection clause

It is a bit ironic that San Francisco's African American Reparations Advisory Committee recently proposed that the city pay $5 million each to virtually all Black San Francisco residents over the age of 18, pay off educational and other debts, provide an annual payment, and pay reparations to Black people all over the country with drug convictions.

Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch stands during a group photo at the Supreme Court in Washington, April 23, 2021. (Erin Schaff/The New York Times via AP, Pool) **FILE**

Gorsuch dissent on Title 42: Supreme Court not 'policymakers of last resort'

In a recent case before the Supreme Court, several Republican-led states argued in Arizona v. Mayorkas that the Title 42 orders -- which essentially allow the federal government to prevent certain people from coming into the country during a public health emergency because of the fear of communicable disease (in this case, COVID-19) -- must remain in place.

A shooter fires a rifle at a target at Slate Ridge Vermont, an unpermitted gun range and firearms training center, Saturday April 17, 2021 in West Pawlet, Vt., during what organizers called a Second Amendment Day Picnic. A judge has ordered the owner of Slate Ridge to survey the property and demolish any unpermitted structures. (AP Photo/Wilson Ring)

Second Amendment liberty's most essential safeguard 200 years later

The right to keep and bear arms has a prestigious and gloried history. Titans of constitutional law such as St. George Tucker and Joseph Story referred to this protection as the "true palladium of liberty" -- the bulwark that preserves all other inalienable rights.

A sign for Wall Street hangs in front of the New York Stock Exchange, July 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, file)

Biden administration's hypocrisy exposed with its records concealment

Recently, the Securities and Exchange Commission and Commodity Futures Trading Commission fined 11 Wall Street firms $1.8 billion because "the firms' employees routinely communicated about business matters using text messaging applications on their personal devices."

Migrants released by the Border Patrol with notices to appear in court on Feb. 5, 2022, in Somerton, Ariz., wait for COVID-19 testing at a Regional Center for Border Health warehouse before being taken by charter bus to the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. Records obtained by The Associated Press show COVID-19 infection rates have plummeted among migrants crossing the border from Mexico as the Biden administration faces a critical decision whether to extend sweeping restrictions on asylum. (AP Photo/Elliot Spagat) **FILE**

Constitution gives Congress, not Biden administration, power to regulate immigration

By expanding the narrow and obscure presidential authority to grant "humanitarian parole" -- the legal term for temporary admission -- and allowing foreigners to enter the United States improperly, the Biden administration is bypassing Congress' traditional law-making power to regulate immigration.

In this Nov. 10, 2020, file photo the morning sun illuminates the rotunda of the Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)  **FILE**

17th Amendment weakened balance of power between states, federal government

As we head toward the 2022 elections, it is a safe bet that few Americans can identify the 17th Amendment to the Constitution, even though it's one of the most significant amendments. Ratified on April 8, 1913, it completely changed the balance of power in our federal system.

A parking spot reserved for electric vehicles is seen in the parking lot of a metro station in Norwalk, Calif., Monday, Aug. 29, 2022. Discounted prices, car-share programs, and a robust network of public charging stations are among the ways California will try to make electric vehicles affordable and convenient for people of all income levels as it phases out the sale of new gas cars by 2035. Advocates for the policy say the switch from gas- to battery-powered cars is a necessary step to reducing pollution in disadvantaged neighborhoods, but that the state make sure those residents can access the cars, too.(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

California's ban on gas-powered vehicles can't pass constitutional smell test

The California Air Resources Board recently voted to ban the sale of gasoline-powered cars and trucks in California by 2035. Such a ban will eviscerate consumer choice, pose enormous and perhaps insurmountable challenges, and lead directly to increased dependence on communist China.

The chamber of the House of Representatives is seen at the Capitol in Washington, Feb. 28, 2022. Just seven Republicans, along with most Democrats, used remote voting in the House when it began two years ago as the pandemic erupted. As of April 2022, over half of GOP lawmakers used the proxy voting system at least once, along with nearly all Democrats. More than 50 of the Republicans who’ve used it this year also once signed onto a lawsuit seeking to declare the practice unconstitutional. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)  **FILE**

Congress' proxy voting should be abolished

Last week, 158 members of the House of Representatives, many of them already on vacation, gave their vote on the reconciliation legislation, known as the Inflation Reduction Act, to someone else. This proxy voting, initially established during the COVID-19 pandemic, is a perfect symbol of all that is wrong with Congress. People didn't even bother to show up to debate and vote on legislation that many of them later described in statements as "historic."

A Sotheby's New York employee holds Virginia's Official Ratification of the United States Constitution, a defining document of early American government and precursor to the U.S. Bill of Rights, Tuesday, July 5, 2022, in New York. The document will go to auction on July 21, 2022 and is expected to sell for $3-5 millions. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)

American liberty secured by structural protections in Constitution

We often celebrate the fundamental freedoms articulated in the Bill of Rights and advance the notion that the liberties secured to us as Americans therein are somehow unique or particular to the American experiment. That is not completely correct.

Two rows of metal security fencing are erected outside the U.S. Supreme Court, Sunday, June 5, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Should Supreme Court justices be term-limited?

Amid the hysteria regarding recent Supreme Court confirmations, two proposals have arisen from the Democrats: court packing and term appointments. Neither of these responses is particularly novel and both would prove ultimately counterproductive.

A man stands near tents on a sidewalk in San Francisco, Nov. 21, 2020. A one-night count found San Francisco's homeless population dipped slightly to roughly 7,800 people in 2022. The last point-in-time count found more than 8,000 residents in 2019 in a city where unhoused people are highly visible. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

Inequality critical for success of American democracy

Anxieties over inequality are pervasive in America today. Arguments are made that if we could eradicate major economic disparities, then the less fortunate would have more voice in government and our society would be more just. For some, economic equality is becoming the highest form of morality.

Homeland Security logo is seen during a joint news conference in Washington, Feb. 25, 2015. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)  **FILE**

Free speech under assault by government's new disinformation board

The Bill of Rights, now in many ways the core of the relationship between American citizens and their government, was a happy accident of political necessity, brought about finally by the voters in a congressional race in the Commonwealth of Virginia in 1788.

The U.S. Capitol building is seen before sunrise on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, March. 21, 2022. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe, File)

Constitution's separation of powers prevents tyranny of majority

Is his book, "The Spirit of Laws," the Baron de Montesquieu laid out a path forward for the new republic that would balance its democratic impulses - which feared institutional and distant power and revered dispersed and localized power - and its nationalist impulses, which feared the rule of the mob, the ascendancy of an unreflecting reliance on reason, and lack of efficiency and energy in the government.

Montesquieu Portrait from French 200 Franc Banknotes. Photo credit: Prachaya Roekdeethaweesab via Shutterstock **FILE**

How a dead French aristocrat helped the Framers create the Constitution

In considering the Constitution, it is essential to remember that there were two factions involved in the discussion -- the Federalists, who prioritized liberalism, and Anti-Federalists who prioritized democracy -- and one dead French aristocrat and political philosopher who helped them both find their way.

In this Aug. 6, 2018, file photo, a statue of Thomas Jefferson stands in front of the Rotunda on the campus of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

Respecting separation of powers key to restoring Congress

In a March 1789 letter to James Madison, Thomas Jefferson wrote: "The tyranny of the legislatures is the most formidable dread at present, and will be for long years. That of the executive will come in its turn, but it will be at a remote period."

In this Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020, file photo, a statue of Alexander Hamilton stands in Central Park in New York. A new research paper takes a swipe at the popular image of Alexander Hamilton as the abolitionist founding father, citing evidence that he was a slave trader and owner himself. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File)

Alexander Hamilton indispensable to America's success

Alexander Hamilton's relentless insistence on a set of national institutions - a commercial economy, a navy of respectable weight and a central bank -- laid the foundation for modern American global hegemony.

Bible on a pulpit. Photo credit: Wolkenengel565 via Shutterstock. FILE

Freedom comes from God, not men

No text is more celebrated as a guide to the genius of our nation's founders than The Federalist, and no single essay from The Federalist is more celebrated than James Madison's No. 10. In it, Madison offers the promise of the "well-constructed union" that tends "to break and control the violence of faction."

In this Aug. 14, 2019 file photo, The Statue of Liberty is shown in New York. The Department of Homeland Security says New York residents will be cut off from ‘trusted traveler’ programs because of a state law that prevents immigration officials from accessing motor vehicle records. Acting Deputy DHS Secretary Ken Cuccinelli says tens of thousands of New Yorkers will be inconvenienced by the action.  (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Constitution's preamble explains America's mission statement

The preamble to our Constitution was a last-minute addition to the document that, according to the courts, has no substantive legal meaning. Yet it contains the noblest articulation of the mission statement for our country.

Article One of the US Constitution, 2nd amendment and 5th Amendment. Photo credit: zimmytws via Shutterstock. *FILE*

Classical education critical for preserving Constitution

The Constitution sometimes seems out of sync with the spirit of our times. This is troubling for those of us who value individual rights, federalism and institutional safeguards against tyranny.

In this March 23, 2016, photo, the U.S. Constitution is held by a member of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) **FILE**

The Lame Mule Act is today's Flat Earth Society

When thinking about the Constitution, we often focus on what has gone sideways or just plain wrong. It is useful, from time to time, to reflect on how our constitutional processes and limits have resulted and can result in a government that is better, more responsive, more adaptable, and more likely to be able to repair itself if something is broken.

Patrick Wyrick, Oklahoma Supreme Court Vice-Chief Justice, arrives for the inauguration of Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt in Oklahoma City, Monday, Jan. 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Think less of judges and rely more on democratic processes

The Constitution gives me as a federal judge the power to preside over certain cases and controversies. This isn't much, as federal cases make up only a tiny fraction of the millions of cases filed in American courts each year, with the overwhelming majority presided over by state and local judges.

In this June 21, 2008, file photo, Susette Kelo, left, former owner of the controversial little pink house, stands in front of her old home at its new location in New London, Conn. Susette Kelo took on the city of New London, which was trying to take her house through eminent domain. She ultimately lost in a 5-4 decision by the Supreme Court. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill, File)  **FILE**

Government's power to seize private property must be reined in

Despite the deep polarization of American politics right now and the concurrent divides on a wide range of constitutional issues, there is at least one issue on which there is considerable cross-ideological agreement: limiting the power of eminent domain.

Poll worker Phil Dingus cleans one of the voting machines at the Virginia High School precinct during the Virginia Democratic Primary Election, on Tuesday, June 8, 2021, in Bristol, Va. (David Crigger/Bristol Herald Courier via AP) ** FILE **

State legislatures have the power to fix election processes

State sovereignty is at the heart of the election system. The Constitution places responsibility for success squarely on the shoulders of state legislators. The Founders' decision to place elections in the hands of states followed months of debate about the proper balance of power between the states and the national government.

“Without serious engagement in the issues of the day and participation by citizens in the elections, we risk losing our republic. We risk giving up our role as sovereigns and instead become subjects,” writes Anthony T. Caso, a clinical professor of law at the Dale E. Fowler School of Law. (Associated Press)

We risk losing our republic without active participation

Elizabeth Powell was a leading woman in Philadelphia and a political thinker who hosted salons during sessions of the Continental Congress. It did not surprise Benjamin Franklin, then, when Powell approached him at the end of the Constitutional Convention and asked: "What have we got, a republic or a monarchy?" Franklin's answer: "A republic, if you can keep it."

United States armored unit moves north into Cambodia, 10 miles north of Katum base in South Vietnam. Unit is 2/47 Infantry, A-Company, the first to cross the border into Cambodia on May 1, 1970, following orders from U.S. President Richard Nixon to search out Communist High Command Headquarters. (AP Photo/Henri Huet) ** FILE **

War Powers Resolution should be repealed

With the possibility of a more interventionist foreign policy approach looming, questions will inevitably resume over which branch of government actually is responsible for sending U.S. troops abroad.

Immigrants who have entered the United States illegally are giving more congressional representation to districts where they live while taking it from citizens elsewhere. (Associated Press)

Illegal immigrants shouldn't be included in congressional count

The House of Representatives, otherwise known as the "People's House," was designed by the Framers to be the body of the federal government most sensitive and receptive to voter opinion. That's why almost all members represent fewer voters than senators do, and it's why each member represents as equal a number of constituents as is possible and practical.

“There is no more local control than that which resides at the kitchen table. Our Founders knew we were a country of individuals who granted the government enumerated powers,” writes Justin Owen of the Beacon Center of Tennessee. (Associated Press photograph)

Give power back to the states, as Founders envisioned

With the Democrats holding a slimmer-than-expected majority in the House and a 50-50 split in the Senate, the next two years will represent an almost equal tug of war between Republicans and Democrats in Congress.

“[Former President Donald] Trump was a norm-breaker. Some of those norms should not have been broken. The impeachment process is one means by which Congress can attempt to reestablish those norms,” writes Keith E. Whittington. (Senate Television via AP)

What is the purpose of a Senate impeachment trial?

The Senate is starting a most unusual impeachment trial. For only the second time in its history, it is likely to proceed to trial to consider articles of impeachment against a former government official.

The United States Capitol building, east front, at dawn is seen in this general view, Monday, Jan. 27, 2020, in Washington, DC. (AP Photo/Mark Tenally)  **FILE**

States must stand up to feds to stop poaching of their power

The word "federalism" does not appear in the Constitution, yet it is the guiding principle that preserves the United States from the defects of unitary governments, like Great Britain, in which all power flows from one central government, and the defects of confederation, in which power is dispersed and consequently attenuated beyond usefulness.

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence in an undated file photo. (Associated Press photograph)  **FILE**

Invoking 25th Amendment would set dangerous precedent

The "To the Republic" series has primarily addressed the original Constitution rather than the subsequent amendments. However, there has been much discussion of the suddenly popular 25th Amendment during the Trump administration, particularly since last week's riot at the Capitol.

In 1920, the Senate did not approve the Treaty of Versailles, pictured here on June 28, 1919, creating the League of Nations. “Notably, the United States has not withdrawn from many treaties that we have ratified, but when we do, they have normally been in place for years,” writes David S. Jonas. (Associated Press photograph)

Biden should renegotiate Iran nuclear deal as a treaty

Most Americans believe that the Senate ratifies treaties, but that is the president's function and is one of many brilliant checks and balances in our system of government, as noted by Alexander Hamilton in the Federalist Papers.

“Voters need to start supporting legislators who tackle difficult topics using laws passed by elected officials rather than regulations created by the unelected and largely unaccountable bureaucracy,” write Richard J. Crespin and Daniel M. Gade. (Associated Press photograph)

American republic in danger as power seeps out of Congress

Before republics fall -- from ancient Rome to modern America -- their legislatures show signs of dysfunction. They avoid tackling the tough challenges facing their societies, defer to other branches of government, and fail in their basic obligation to represent the popular will.

“The moment the American people cease to insist on fidelity to the Constitution, that document and the freedom and prosperity it has protected for nearly a quarter of a millennium could be forfeit overnight,” writes Rep. Tom McClintock of California. (Associated Press photograph)

Mother's Rule shows importance of Constitution's separation of powers

In Federalist 51, James Madison noted the difficulties of loaning power to a government-run by men and not angels. A degree of government is necessary to maintain order and protect liberty, but too much of it can quickly devolve to tyranny.