meeting marked the League's 85th Anniversary. LWV monthly meetings begin with
the Pledge of Allegiance.
Introduction by LWV's Pam Mattingly,
President of LWV's Lake Charles Chapter: Guy McLendon - National Coalition Liaison of
Republican Liberty Caucus. Guy was a Libertarian Party candidate for
Congress in 2002 in the Houston area, and he has been a member of the SWLA community
for 10 years ... He has worked at CITGO in the Automation Department during
Thank you Pam. It’s an honor to be invited to speak
here today. Thank you all for being here.
Before we get started, I’d like you to think about the
pledge of allegiance that you made to the flag … and to the Republic for
which it stands. Not a Democracy, but a Republic. The two are not the same.
The word "Democracy" is not used even once in
According to Congressman Ron Paul from Texas,
Democracies typically reject the rule of law in favor of majority opinion.
Please consider this quote from Thomas Jefferson:
"A democracy is nothing more than mob
rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the
Everyone please take a handout … the cover is from my
website – libertycoalition.us. It’s based on the 1st cartoon ever published
in an American newspaper in 1754. Credit to Ben Franklin and the
Pennsylvania Gazette …
On the cover, please read the quote from George
The basis of our political
systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their
Constitutions of Government. But the Constitution which at any time
exists, 'till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole
People is sacredly obligatory upon all.
Address, September 19, 1796
Since the Supreme Court alone is not the “whole
people”, they alone are not authorized to change the original intent. This
idea must be true since George could not tell a lie … You recall George even
confessed to chopping down his father’s cherry tree.
Since the whole people are expected to be involved in
changing it, it follows that all citizens and public officials, mayors … policemen …
and judges … all have a sacred obligation to read, understand and comply with
the original intent of the Constitution …
The Court does not have a monopoly on its
Franklin’s cartoon showed 8 of the original colonies.
I’ve replaced those with modern organizations. CATO Institute is the head …
the Republican Liberty Caucus … the Libertarian Party … and the Democratic
Freedom Caucus is the tail
Turning the page, see our topic today is “The US
Constitution – a Layman’s Overview”
Today we’ll discuss some history, review the
Constitution, and discuss methods of interpretation.
Your handout includes a reference from Stanford
University, and a copy of the Constitution … for reference today.
Let’s get started, on page 35, let’s read the
highlighted section of the Declaration …
… to secure rights, Governments are instituted …
deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed … whenever any
Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the
People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying
its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as
to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
In 1776, the founders felt that citizens, and not
government officials, have the ultimate authority in organizing their own
Later in history, Thomas Jefferson would describe such
ideas as being “The Spirit of ‘76
After the Revolutionary War, the government operated
under the Articles of Confederation for about 10 years
Prompted by their inability to negotiate a trade treaty
with Great Britain, a team was assigned the task to develop proposed changes
to the Articles
That team exceeded their instructions and instead
drafted a replacement document – today’s Constitution.
A great struggle began
Federalists championed the Constitution’s body. Three
of them Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay wrote 85 documents
called the Federalist Papers to sell it
Thomas Jefferson did not sign the Constitution. The
Anti-Federalists, including Jefferson and Patrick Henry, resisted
State Conventions eventually ratified it, but asked
Congress to send 12 proposed amendments back to the states for ratification
In Congress, Jefferson championed those amendments
every step of the way
He did good
Of the 12 amendments proposed, 10 were ratified in
1791. One of the last two was finally ratified in 1992, and is the latest
who founded the Democratic Party?
What was his motivation for founding it?
In Congress, between 1787 and 1791, Jefferson organized
a caucus to fight for the Bill of Rights. That caucus later evolved into the
early Democratic Party.
Now, let’s look at the Constitution …
On page one, see the highlighted words …”form a more
perfect union”, and “Secure the Blessings of Liberty”
The founders wanted to form not just any government …
but one that left intact some feature which they called “Liberty”.
What was meant by the words “Blessings of Liberty”?
What is Liberty?
Someone take a stab at it … anyone?
My last English professor once said that engineers
should use words as though they have meaning
dictionary.com, the definition that seems most
applicable is this:
Freedom from unjust or undue governmental control
In other words, Liberty is the absence of big
The design of the Constitution has features that were
intended to achieve an objective … to keep the lid on big government … by
giving only limited power to public officials.
That’s what they meant by “Secure the Blessings of
Liberty” for their posterity … for US.
Compare the government to a car. If you stab the tires,
or cut the spark plug wires … then, the car cannot perform its mission.
Similarly, damage vital features of the Constitution,
and see your government grow with no limits
Let’s look a litter deeper at the features intended to
limit the power of public officials …
Article 1 talks about Congress …
On page 1, Section 1 says … “All legislative powers
shall be vested in a Congress”
That means the President is not authorized to issue
executive orders that have the force of law
That means the Supreme Court is not authorized to
legislate from the bench
When they do so, they violate their oath of office …
they are then in breach of their verbal contract. They are breaking the
On page 6 … still in Article 1 -- Section 8 … we find
the famous “enumerate powers” section. That's a list of approved powers
If the Constitution is a blueprint for a car, then
Section 8 is the “engine”
Only Congress can make federal laws … and, their power
is legally limited by this list
Here’s some food for thought: if the owners of a store
catch a manager exceeding his authority in such a way as to enrich himself …
what happens to him? He’s accused of embezzlement? Theft? He’s fired …
One flaw of the Constitution is that both Congress &
the President are granted the privilege of investigating their own crimes.
If the President commits a crime, the attorney general
investigates it. Guess who the Attorney General works for? Similarly, crimes
committed by Congressmen are sent to an internal ethics committee
Fixing that flaw would be a good reason to amend
One last point on enumerated powers: only Congress is
authorized to declare war, and Congress is not authorized to transfer that
authority to the President.
If they do so, they violate a deliberate design
On page 8, still in Article 8, Section 9 reads
"a regular statement and account of ALL
public money shall be published"
I question whether that's happening.
On page 9, Article 2 … talks about the Executive
Branch, or the President … including the Electoral College … It’s been
proposed that the President should be elected by popular vote, and the
Electoral College eliminated. Consider this.
A state has the same number of Electoral College votes
as the total of their Senators & Representatives. Each state having two
Senators was intended to give small states equal representation in one of
the two branches of Congress.
The Electoral College gives small states a more equal
weighting in the selection for President … Here’s an example to think about
… Texas has 34 electoral college votes, and Wyoming has 3. A switch to
popular vote, would be like dropping Wyoming’s electoral college votes down
from 3 to 0.8 …
On page 12, Article 3 … talks about the Judiciary, or
Supreme Court … it often refers to judicial power, but does not clarify what
those powers are
On page 14, Article 4 … talks about how states interact
with each other.
On page 15, Section 4 also requires the feds to
“guarantee a Republican Form of Government” …
Politicians in Washington no longer talk seriously
about our having a Republic
On page 15, Article 5 … describes 2 ways to amend the
Constitution. Congress can propose the amendment, or the States can tell
Congress to call a Convention to adopt amendments.
So citizens, acting through their state governments,
should still be able to bypass the discretion of federal officials, and
change the Constitution directly. I say “should” because today’s federal
government may hijack such a Convention.
Article 6 … covers public debt, the supreme law of the
land clause, oaths of office & a religious test. This religion test is one of
only two clauses in the entire Constitution that addresses Separation of
Church & State. The other is the 1st amendment.
On page 16, Article 7 is ratification. Notice under the
state of Virginia, our 3rd President did not sign, but instead began to
fight for the Bill of Rights
On page 20, would someone read the preamble to the Bill
of Rights … that’s highlighted?
“The conventions of a number of
the States having at the time of their adopting the Constitution,
expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of
its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be
The Anti-Federalists, champions for the Bill of Rights,
were concerned the concept of enumerated powers would not be enforced, so
further restrictions were placed on the power of federal officials
Let’s skip down to an amendment that is very often
forgotten – the 10th … on page 23
“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.”
For instance, the federal government is not authorized
to get involved in the educational system, but no such restriction is placed
upon state governments. So, the power to educate children is reserved
exclusively to the States, or to the people. The federal Department of
Education is not constitutional
Even today, the Constitution still has flaws … a flaw
from day #1 is that States were able to trample on the rights of their state
On page 25 & 26, see the 14th Section 1:
“No state shall make or enforce
any law which shall abridge the privileges and immunities of citizens
…”, then the due process clause, “… nor deny the equal protection of
The 14th did add one new enumerated power. The feds are
now able to stop the States from abusing rights of citizens. I see no other
NEW enumerated power given there. Reports of the demise of the 10th
amendment have been greatly exaggerated. The 14th did not repeal the 10th.
We’ve been discussing rights …. The Bill of Rights …
what exactly is a “right”?
Volunteers … ???
A right is different than a privilege. A privilege can
be taken away … a right is inherently yours.
"a right is not something that
somebody gives you; it is something that nobody can take away"
“A right is the sovereignty to
act without the permission of others. The concept of a right carries
with it an implicit, unstated footnote: you may exercise your rights
as long as you do not violate the same rights of another”
Sounds a lot like the Golden Rule … doesn’t it?
Rights and responsibility are two sides to the same
coin … You can’t have one without the other
Let’s discuss a definition that I disagree with.
Interest Theory of Rights:
“Person A has a right to
something if an aspect of A’s well being justifies the imposition of
duties on others – that is, duties required to secure A’s interest”
If a duty is imposed on you, can we agree your service
is not voluntary? It is imposed. In other words, that other person is being
subjected to involuntary servitude … That is "not voluntary service"
On page 25, please see the 13th amendment …
“Neither slavery nor involuntary
servitude shall exist within the United States”
Question: does the 13th permit the government to impose
involuntary servitude upon American citizens?
I consider conscription to be a clear,
obvious violation of the 13th amendment.
In 1803, the Supreme Court ruled in a case “Marbury vs
“It is emphatically the province
and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is.”
This opinion seemed reasonable when used to strike down
Acts of Congress that violate the Constitution. However, this ruling was
later abused. The Court uses this to redefine the meaning of words,
and thereby violate
Let’s talk about …
Methods of Interpretation … as
explained by the legal scholars at Stanford University:
1. Textualism – that is, follow the letter of the law
2. Originalism – that is, follow the general intent
3. Hypothetical Intent
4. Living Tree
The first three methods are all basically “fixed view”
using the idea of entrenchment … that’s the idea that …
"Those whose powers are
constitutionally limited must not be legally entitled to change or
delete those limits at their pleasure."
Without entrenchment, no Constitution can be effective
Strict textualism is weak because it may not let the
court use common sense … For example, 1st amendment may protect the right to
free speech without exception. Yet, a jerk who would yell “fire” in a
crowded theater is violating the rights of others
I use the term “Border clash” when the perceived rights
of one person conflict with the rights of another
Originalism is better. Life in
modern society is much different than life in 1787 … The applications today
are different than what the founders could have anticipated … For instance,
thinking of free speech, Ben Franklin could not have anticipated spam on the
Would he have considered spam to be free speech? Dunno
… With SPAM, there may be some “Border Clash” going on …
Hypothetical intent goes farther by predicting what the
founders would have concluded if they had all the data available today. I
like the phrase “extrapolated original intent” …
Point / Counterpoint
Critics of the fixed view charge that different
founders meant different things by what was written and signed
To that, the fixed view counters that we must take the
words as written as evidence of the final consensus.
Critics of the fixed view say the court should not be limited by the
“dead hand of the past”.
The Fixed View counters that the Court’s opinions do
not amend the Constitution itself until the requirements of Article 5 have
Up until the early 20th century, Americans and the
Supreme Court basically adhered to the concept of the fixed view.
On page 27 and 28, note the 16th, 17th and 18th
amendments were all passed around the time of WW1. These three were not
merely bad for Liberty … they dealt her a mortal blow.
The 16th imposed an income tax. Now, I don’t object to
reasonable taxation, but consider my opinion. An income tax is an ownership
claim by the government of a fraction of your time …
Your life is made up of the experiences between the
time of your birth, and the time of your death. My opinion is that a claim
of ownership of your time is like claiming to own a part of your life …
This suggests the government granted itself an
exemption to the 13th amendment. It’s like having a government monopoly for
enslavement of citizens, but only on a timeshare basis
The 17th. Prior to 1913, the state legislatures
appointed the United States Senator. Termination of this design feature
helped to make state and local government mere puppets to the federal
Could the feds threaten Louisiana with cutting off
highway funds if Baton Rouge appointed the US Senator?
I don't think so.
The 18th began prohibition. That’s when righteous
people began to hijack the power of government … using it as a tool to
impose their own lifestyle preferences on others
Today, such abuse of power is common.
Here’s the good news … around WW1, government officials
still believed they had to comply with the general intent of the
Constitution unless they changed it
Having to repeal prohibition with the 21st amendment
put egg on the face of federal officers.
They hate egg on their face!
Between losing face, and FDR’s zeal to pass the New
Deal, our federal officials abandoned the Rule of Law
The “living tree” blossomed in the early 1930s. Its
advocates say the Constitution is not only the document you just read …
Instead, they literally claim that an “unwritten”
*** an unwritten *** Constitution should be used … one that abandons entrenchment.
Based on that, personal opinions written by Supreme
Court justices have the effect of passing an amendment … unlawfully
bypassing Article 5.
Why bother to comply with Article 5 when your huntin’
buddy on the Supreme Court can write the opinion you want? … Such opinions add yet
another branch to the Living Tree.
What’s next? Amendment based on public opinion polls?
Well, guess what? You’ve got that already.
Question: did George Washington believe in the Living
Tree method of interpretation?
Washington’s Farewell Address says that changes require
an “explicit and authentic act of the whole people” … that’s clearly a fixed
My personal hope is that, like the legendary Phoenix,
Jefferson’s Spirit of ’76 will arise from the ashes.
Liberty requires us to have strict limits on the power
of government officials
Today we are the 1st generation of the 21st century. We
could restore Liberty in remembrance of those ancient patriots Patrick
Henry, Jefferson & George Washington.
Or, we could do it for ourselves, our children and for
the many generations to come.
Let THIS be the generation who chops down not a cherry
tree, not a living tree, but a vicious weed … an unlawful method of
Thank you very much, and may Liberty survive in these
Are there any questions?