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Constitutional Intent Perverted

In 1823 John Taylor (of Caroline) wrote a book titled “New Views of the Constitution of the United States.”  A strange title for a book written so close to the ratification of the US Constitution, I had originally thought, however, after reading the book the title is very appropriate.  The secret journals of the Constitutional Convention were not published until 1821 and it was these journals, in my opinion, that spurred John Taylor into writing this book.

Had the journal of the convention which framed the constitution of the United States, though obscure and incomplete, been published immediately after its ratification, it would have furnished lights towards a true construction, sufficiently clear to have prevented several trespasses upon its principles, and tendencies towards its subversion. Perhaps it may not be yet too late to lay before the publick the important evidence it furnishes.

It was the opinion of John Taylor that the same men who promoted and argued for a consolidated national government during the convention were the same men who, after the ratification, were attempting to interpret and “construct” meanings from the document that were never intended.  His book aimed to do one thing (albeit complicated):

I shall attempt to ascertain the nature of our form of government, and the existence of a project to alter it.   

Prior to the release of the journals, Patrick Henry (who was not present at the Convention of 1787) warned against the consolidation of power and an end to the confederation in 1788 during the Virginia Ratifying Convention:

I am sure they were fully impressed with the necessity of forming a great consolidated Government, instead of a confederation. That this is a consolidated Government is demonstrably clear, and the danger of such a Government, is, to my mind, very striking. I have the highest veneration of those Gentlemen,–but, Sir, give me leave to demand, what right had they to say, We, the People.

It is this view of a consolidated National Government that John Taylor analyzes and exposes in his book.  The new view is that instead of the limited, federal government the Constitution was meant to create, the constructionists “project” was to break down the barriers put in place and expand the powers of the Federal Government into a national consolidated body with power over the several states.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on January 3, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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“To the Size of States There is a Limit”

What is a Republic and does it contain an element of representation?  In the US Constitutional context, James Madison defined republic as “…a government in which the scheme of representation takes place…” and “…the delegation of the government, in the latter [republic], to a small number of citizens elected by the rest…” –Federalist #10.  John Adams defined republic as “…a government, in which all men, rich and poor, magistrates and subjects, officers and people, masters and servants, the first citizen and the last, are equally subject to the laws.”  Also, the word republic was used specifically to describe a non-monarchical constitution during the writing and ratifying of the US Constitution. 

According to Donald Livingston, in his lecture Size, Scale, and American Republicanism, in the Greek traditions of republican governments, a republic requires three things:

1)      The citizens make the laws in which they live under;

2)      Legislation must be in accord with inherited tradition or common law, which they do not make – The Rule of Law;

3)      Human Scale – that is they must be small.

In a classical sense of the term representation does not appear to be a requisite for a republican form of government.  It might be inferred that because the citizens make the laws that representation is required, however it is not required that citizens be represented in order for them to participate in the lawmaking.  In the United States under the Constitution, a republican form of government was defined to include representation as a mode of citizen participation in the lawmaking process. 

So what does Donald Livingston mean when he refers to laws being made in accord with inherited tradition?  Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on December 22, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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