A Historical and Constitutional Perspective On The COVID Crisis, Part 2 – David Barton At The ProFamily Legislators Conference: Do governors and legislators have to uphold the Declaration and the Constitution? If we were to define grievances against our government today, what would they be? Tune in to understand why our freedoms are important and how we can regain and protect them!
Air Date: 02/23/2021
On-air Personalities: David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton
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Faith and the Culture
Welcome to the intersection of faith and the culture, where we look at all the hot issues of the day from a biblical, historical, and constitutional perspective. And all throughout this week we’re doing that specifically with the COVID crisis. We’re bringing you a presentation from David Barton at the ProFamily Legislators Conference on a historical and constitutional perspective on all of this chaos that’s out there.
He actually shared this at the conference for these legislators and we wanted to bring it to you, our listeners here on WallBuilders Live. And so today is actually the second part. This is going to be a five part series. If you missed yesterday, it’s available at our website right now, wallbuilderslive.com. But let’s jump right in where we left off yesterday. Here’s David Barton speaking at the ProFamily Legislators Conference.
ProFamily Legislators Conference
I like this decision that came out of federal Judge in Pennsylvania, September the 14th: “Broad population wide lockdowns are such a dramatic inversion of the concept of liberty in a free society as to be nearly presumptively unconstitutional.” If you log down, we’re just going to presume that’s unconstitutional, because you can’t do that in a free society. “The Constitution cannot accept the concept of a new normal where the basic liberties of the people can be subordinated to open ended emergency mitigation measures.”
This is the kind of stuff we’re starting to see in recent weeks, even Texas Supreme Court, state courts. Texas Supreme Court remind cities there is no pandemic exception to the Constitution. So we’re starting to see these kind of rulings coming down where there’s a lot of pushback, and they’re still.
Does the Bill of Rights Apply?
So, I can’t tell you how many hundreds of cases there are right now with the citizens and different groups fighting what’s happened with the lockdown, and we’re starting to win some of those. But nonetheless, constitutionally, the Bill of Rights is really clear on that.
Now, because there have been so many tax on bill rights, not just the 1st and 2nd Amendments, where I showed you the 3rd Amendment, the 4th Amendment, 5th, 6th, all the way through the 8th Amendments, the 10th Amendment, all of them are under attack because of what’s happened in COVID.
And a lot of the attacks do come through the executive branch. You guys are not the executive, you’re the legislative branch. So I’m going to show you some things about what’s happening and for you and the executive branch that have historical roots, maybe give you some ideas on things you can do in your states, probably some solutions you may want to propose. You’re going to have to fight the governor and do it.
Here in Texas, we have a problem. We never defined emergency powers. And we never defined how long they ran. And so our governor has taken control under emergency powers and we’re 10 months into this, and he hasn’t talked to legislators once about that. He spent $5.2 billion without any legislative approval on those expenses. So Texas is going to have to find a way to get some power back because we meet only every other year for 140 days.
Next time, we have the chance to correct what the governor did is in the next legislative session, and probably a lot of laws will be passed to try to limit his power, and he’ll probably veto all those laws. No executive wants to give up power.
A Power Struggle
So it’s a power struggle between the branches, the Founding Fathers talked about that. And what happens with the balance of power between branches, how you protect checks and balances and separation power. So I’ll give you some of the background on that as well.
So nonetheless, as we look at what’s there, because of all the rights and violations we’ve seen, when the conference started last night, currently at this point, when you look at bill tracker, there was 3,408 state pieces of legislation focused at dealing with COVID issues. So this is a big issue in every state at this point in time. Every state seeing stuff it didn’t like from what happened. And there’s nothing that’s anywhere close to that height of number and pieces of legislation that’s being introduce on any issue in recent years. I mean, this just takes it. So this is a big focus. This is where attention is focused.
So and looking in some of it, let’s just do a quick review of government principles. And even though you think I know how government works, I think I want to tell you some stories about government you may not be aware of. So hang with me there. This may seem simplistic. Let’s just start back with the Decoration of Independence.
You go back to the Decoration of Independence and the Decoration of Independence, interestingly enough, our national birth certificate starts with 161 words. Those 161 words set forth 6 principles of government, immutable principles. The Founding Fathers said this this is the foundational principle of all government. This is stuff that was affirmed by people, from John Locke and Montesquieu to Blackstone to others. They should just understood to be fundamental principles of good government.
So after they set forth those 6 principles in the first 161 words, they say, now, having showed you the principles, here’s 27 grievances that show how these principles have been violated by King George the 3rd in Great Britain. So what the Declaration is here’s how government’s supposed to work. But here’s what’s happening. Here’s where it’s all screwed up. And then they get into their course of action.
And so here’s what we’re going to do to fix that. Here’s how it’s been screwed up, but here’s what we’re going to do. And that’s the final part of the Declaration. “With a firm reliance on the protection of divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, our sacred honor”, and so they lay out what they’re going to do to correct the grievances.
So following that same kind of pattern, I want to take you through. If we were to create a Declaration of Independence today based on what we’ve seen in the last 10 months, what would it look like? If we were to go through and say, here’s the fundamental principles of government.
And, they’re already given in the Declaration of the Constitution and here’s the grievances we currently have over the violation of these principles, then the question is, what do we do as a result of that? What would our course of action be? What would we do to help create and solve some of those grievances?
And by the way, interesting thing, the Declaration is the basis of the Constitution in so many areas. Every one of those six principles in the Declaration was incorporated fully into the Constitution. Now, I’ll show you some interesting things about the correlation between the two in just a minute. But what we get today is we get a lot of pushback from legislators who say I took an oath to uphold the Constitution, I didn’t take an oath to uphold the Declaration.
The Declaration and the Constitution
That’s what you think, you actually did. As a matter of fact, your state probably did not come into the United States except with an Enabling Act that required you to follow the principles of the Declaration in the specific Constitution that was common to Enabling Acts. You had to swear to uphold both documents.
We’re going to take a quick break, folks. You’ve been listening to David Barton speaking at the ProFamily Legislators Conference, and we will dive right back into his presentation when we return.
A Moment from American History
This is Tim Barton from WallBuilders with another moment from American history. The year after the American war for independence ended, we begin addressing the issue of Muslim terrorists in North Africa, who were attacking American ships and killing and enslaving American seamen.
Congress dispatched John Adams and Thomas Jefferson to negotiate peace. And when they asked the Muslim Ambassador the reason for the unprovoked attacks, he told them that it was written in their Quran that it was their right and duty to make war upon them whenever they can be found.
16 years of negotiations failed, and in 1801, America sentence military to crush the terrorists. When that war ended in 1805, the first American edition of the Qur’an was published, urging Americans to read the Quran to see for themselves that his teachings were incompatible with the safety and peace of non-Muslims. To see the first American Qur’an, and to get more information about America’s first war and Islamic terror, go to wallbuilders.com.
We’re back are off on WallBuilders Live. Thanks for staying with us. Let’s jump right back into David Barton’s presentation on a historical and constitutional perspective of the COVID crisis.
Changing the Foundations
What happens is when you want to be progressive and change the foundations, you say the Declaration doesn’t matter. It’s interested in the 1830s, 1840s, and 1850s as the abolition movement was going through Congress and so many abolitionists will say look, the Declaration says you have a right to liberty. Democrats, pro-slavery Democrats said that’s the Declaration, we took an oath to uphold the Constitution, we didn’t take an oath to uphold the Declaration… So when they wanted to be pro-slavery, they said the Declaration has no relevance to government.
Back in the 1970s, as the abortion movement was going forward, it’s interesting the same argument came up. I have a letter from Jack Brooks, who was head of Judiciary Committee, he’s a congressman from Texas, 52 years in Congress. And when Roe v. Wade as it was working its way through, he said, no, no, he said, you guys keep talking about the right to live, that’s Declaration. We took an oath to uphold the Constitution, we didn’t take an oath to uphold the Declaration. So the abortion issue, it’s a declaration-based issue, because it’s inalienable right to life. But it’s not in the Constitution, so it doesn’t hold water with us.
10 years ago, as we were doing the 32 States that did constitutional amendments to define marriage, you had the same pushback, because we said look, the Declaration says the laws of nature and nature’s God. Marriage is a God-given, God-defined institution. No, we do the Constitution, we don’t do the Declaration.
The same pushback. Every time you go to a value system, they say we don’t do the Declaration, we do the Constitution. Every time they want to fundamentally change a value, they say the Declaration has no standing, no funding. Now, that’s not accurate. It’s not true.
Looking at Original Intent
Sam Adams pointed out “At the very beginning. He said before the formation of the Constitution, the Declaration was received and ratified by all the states in the union and has never been dismantled. There’s no time the Declaration ever went out of operation.”
They understood that even back then. He was around for you know, 20 years after the Constitution had been written. And it was real clear, we never dismantled the Declaration. That’s part of what we do in the constitutional government.
John Quincy Adams said the same thing. He said “The Declaration of Independence was the platform upon which the Constitution of the United States had been erected. If you take the platform out, the documents going to fall. Anytime you take the foundation out of a building, is going to crumble.
That’s the way they saw the Constitution. You can’t take the Declaration out without the Constitution no longer working the way it’s supposed to.
He said the principles of claiming that the Declaration were embodied in the Constitution of the United States. Now, let me give you very specific examples of that. And these are examples a lot of times that we don’t look at today because they don’t seem as relevant.
But if you take, for example, and by the way, we’re going to look at intent here for a moment, I think one of the best definitions is how to find intent. We talked about original intent. We have Justices on the court now who believe in original intent.
I think the court in 1892 gave the best way to discover what original intent is. They said, what you want to do is determine the evil which was intended to be remedied. For example, when you pass a law, you had something in mind when you pass it.
It’s Important to Understand the Problems
What were you trying to stop? There was something bad going on you wanted to fix. 20 years from now, that’s what Judges need to remember. What were we trying to stop at the time? That’s the original intent of this law.
Why did they pass the First Amendment the Constitution? What were they trying to prevent? What were they trying to stop? Go back and see what was going on. If you find the evil that they were trying to remedy, then you understand that the First Amendment was not about separation of church and state, is about keeping the government from stopping public religious activities. That was the evil they were trying to stop. So original intent, I love that clause “Determine the evil which is intended to be remedied.”
So if you take clauses out of the Constitution, like if you look at Article 1, Section 5, paragraph four, it has this language. “Neither house during the session of Congress shall without the consent of the other adjourn for more than three days nor to any other place than that in which the two Houses shall be seating.”
Huh! I don’t know what it means. Or I go back and see what evil they were trying to remedy. Because that clause is a direct result of something that was going on with Great Britain, that Great Britain was doing to the United States. And because we didn’t like it, this was…
See, this clause is a direct result of grievance number four in the Declaration. If you’ll find a grievance in the Declaration, you’ll find a corollary in the Constitution solving the thing that they complained about. We don’t like the way Great…
Understanding the Grievances
We have all these fundamental understandings of government. Here’s where Great Britain’s screwed them up and here’s how we fix them. So if you look at constitutionally, it’s interesting grievance number five in the Constitution, and the Declaration is solved in Article 1 of the Constitution.
Now just go through the grievances, grievance after grievance, they have a solution to the Constitution. So if you want to understand the Constitution clause, go back and look and see what was happening that caused them to write that clause.
And you’ll find that you would not have the Constitution without the Declaration. The Declaration sets forth the grievance that the Constitution solves it.
You have to have the Declaration to understand original intent. That’s just the way it is. So when you look at the documents and how they work together.
This is why it is no surprise that the US Supreme Court decision long ago said “The Constitution is about the body and letter of which the Declaration is a thought and the spirit. It is always safe to read the letter of the Constitution in the spirit of the Declaration of Independence.” So you really don’t understand the Constitution without understanding the Declaration.
So going to the Constitution, looking at it for a bit, you can’t understand it without the Declaration. And that’s why Abraham Lincoln at a time of great constitutional crisis, and there’s no question that America had a great constitutional crisis when he was president. What he had to do with the Civil War, what do you do in some of the states decided to leave the union?
This was the No-fault divorce argument, quite frankly. Once the session happened at that point in time, George Washington had dealt with an attempted secession back in his administration. Then you had Thomas Jefferson who had to deal with one, James Madison had to deal with one, 1810, Connecticut was trying to secede from the union.
The Courageous Leaders Collection
There was just time after time after time. The Founding Fathers said, look, this is not a No-fault divorce, you don’t come and go as you want. You don’t change. We made this as a covenant.
We started, we had a covenantal viewpoint and states made a covenant and states just can’t walk away from that covenant because they don’t like something, which is why the courts have never allowed nullification.
Got to interrupt for a second here, folks. We’re going to take a quick break, we’ll be right back and join David again at the ProFamily Legislators Conference.
Hi, friends, this is Tim Barton of WallBuilders. This is a time when most Americans don’t know much about American history or even heroes of the faith. And I know oftentimes for parents, we’re trying to find good content for our kids to read. And if you remember back to the Bible, to the book of Hebrews, it has the faith Hall of Fame where they outline the leaders of faith that had gone before them. Well, this is something that as Americans, we really want to go back and outline some of these heroes, not just of American history, but heroes of Christianity and our faith as well.
I want to let you know about some biographical sketches we have available on our website. One is called The Courageous Leaders Collection. And this collection includes people like Abigail Adams, Abraham Lincoln, Francis Scott Key, George Washington Carver, Susanna Wesley, even the Wright brothers.
And, there’s a second collection called Heroes of History. In this collection, you’ll read about people like Benjamin Franklin or Christopher Columbus, Daniel Boone, George Washington, Harriet Tubman. Friends, the list goes on and on.
This is a great collection for your young person to have and read and it’s a providential view of American and Christian history. This is available at www.wallbuilders.com. That’s www.wallbuilders.com.
In Times of Crisis, Go Back to the Declaration
Welcome back to WallBuilders Live. Thanks for staying with us. Let’s jump right back in with David Barton. Speaking at the ProFamily Legislators Conference on a Historical and Constitutional Perspective of the COVID crisis,
You can decide that you just don’t like something. There are ways to fix it if you don’t like it. And that’s why the states have to act together.
The Virginia-Kentucky resolutions of 1798, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison said, here’s how the states can nullify a federal thing. But it can’t be one state that does it, it has to be all the states that do it. And so there’s all these checks and balances inherent.
Nonetheless, Abraham Lincoln, I love the way he said this in his generation. He says, “My countrymen, if you’ve been taught doctrines conflicting with the great landmarks of the Declaration of Independence, if you have listened to suggestions, which would take away from its grandeur, and mutilate the fair cemetery of its proportions, let me entreat you to come back to the truths that are in the Declaration.”
That’s interesting that in time of constitutional crisis, he said go back to the Declaration, go back to the principles in the Declaration. So this is the way that they try to analyze and look at things. So we’re going to do some of that now.
What Would Our Declarations Say After the COVID Crackdowns?
Now, if we were in the position of saying, okay, we’ve got this thing with the Declaration, if we were suddenly Thomas Jefferson having to write a Declaration of Independence, on the basis of what we’ve seen in COVID, what would it look like? I’ve done this over the last few weeks, I thought, okay, if I had to write the grievances based on the principles, what would those grievances be?
And so I played with this. And so for the next few minutes, I’m going to take you through some of the grievances as I’ve seen them as we’ve categorized them. Again, we’ve gone through thousands of articles, news articles. We’ve taken headlines that go into certain categories. And I’m just going to throw some things up there. I’m going to read you kind of like a new declaration of independence for this pandemic.
You may totally disagree with the stuff that I pulled out, that’s fine. Remember, a lot of the guys disagreed with Jefferson on what he did back then, but it led to interesting discussions. And so you know, Jefferson wanted to ban the slave trade, and Georgia and South Carolina rejected, and that’s why it’s not in the Declaration.
So they had lots of debates along the way. And then there were times that friendly amendments are given by Adams and Franklin, and said, hey, why don’t you change this word? So you know, you’ve probably seen the handwritten copy of Jefferson with all the mark outs in it and changed words along the way. So this is just something for thinking about, it’s not trying to make a fixed document, but it’s just for points of discussion, and points to introduce some historical context and background.
So let me just kind of read it to you and then come back and point out why we said some of the things we said, what the background is in some of those. And again, even little bit of phrases like the man’s house is his castle, when you see how many Bill of Rights amendments came from that one phrase, it is pretty amazing. So let me take you back into it.
A Declaration of State Lawmakers of the United States of America
So let’s just call A Declaration of State Lawmakers of the United States of America. We’re ticked off with what’s happened on COVID. We don’t like what the executives have done. We don’t like the way that we’ve lost separation powers. Whatever it is, courts, anything else, let me take you through the same general concept of let’s start with the statement of principles.
Then, let’s go to the grievances, and then let’s see what the course of action will be. So just I’m going to read it and then we’ll come back to it. And by the way, as I mentioned, we’re going to look at the principles, we’re going to do the grievances, then come back to the course of action.
So a Declaration of State Lawmakers of the United States of America, again, this is just me, it’s not you guys. This is just me putting out talking points. And if it’s in yellow, I’m quoting directly from the original Declaration or from a founding document. If it’s in white, that would be the new stuff that goes with it. So if I took the Constitution Declaration and its principles as the basis of our government, which we’ve sworn to uphold, then using that, here’s what I would say. Oh backup.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal. They’re endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.” None of that’s changed, till believe that today, just like we believe that back then.
“That among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, as well as those listed in federal and state bills of rights and those evident in natural law that is laws of nature and nature’s God.” So in the Declaration, they originally listed four inalienable rights, the right to life, liberty property together with the right to defend those, that’s in the Declaration.
They came back in 1791 and said, hey, we’ve got a bunch more. We told you the Declaration said among other rights, we have these four. Here’s some of the others. The right to petition, assembly, speech, press, religion, the right to keep and bear arms, actually to rights in the 2nd Amendment, the right to individual self-defense and collective self-defense.
THE AMERICAN STORY
So you’ve got individuals and militias. The 3rd Amendment: government can’t set up shop in your home. The 4th to the 6th Amendment’s the due process clauses on to 8th Amendment. S that’s why they had four in the Declaration, they came back to others and said here’s a bunch more. So that’s why we say listed in the federal and state bill of rights as well as the Declaration.
Quick break, friends, we’ll be right back and we’ll jump right back into David Barton’s presentation. Stay with us on WallBuilders Live.
Hey guys, we want to let you know about our new resource we have here at WallBuilders called The American Story. For years, people have been asking us to do a history book, and we finally done it. We start with Christopher Columbus and go roughly through Abraham Lincoln.
And one of the things that so often we hear today are about the imperfections of America, or how so many people in America that used to be celebrated or honored really aren’t good or honorable people.
One of the things we acknowledge quickly in the book is that the entire world is full of people who are sinful and need a savior, because the Bible even tells us that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” And yet what we see through history and certainly is evident in America, is how a perfect God uses imperfect people and does great things through them.
The story of America is not the story of perfect people. But you see time and time again how God got involved in the process and use these imperfect people to do great things that impacted the entire world from America. To find out more, go to wallbuilders.com and check out The American Story.
A Moment from American History
This is David Barton with another moment from America’s history. How should we respond if confronted with frustration and conflict? The proper response was given over 200 years ago in a lengthy speech, when Benjamin Franklin told the delegates at the Constitutional Convention: “In this situation of this assembly, groping as it were in the dark to find political truth, how has it happened, sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of light to illuminate our understanding?
“Have we now forgotten that powerful Friend? Or do we imagine we no longer need his assistance? God governs in the affairs of men. I therefore move that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of heaven and its blessings on our deliberations to be held in this assembly every morning before we proceed to business.”
Benjamin Franklin knew that prayer was the proper response. For more information on God’s hand in American history, contact WallBuilders at 1808REBUILD.
Welcome back to WallBuilders Live. Thanks for staying with us today. We’re going to dive right back into David Barton’s presentation on a Historical and Constitutional Perspective on the COVID crisis.
Our Fundamental Philosophy of Government
To secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, that’s the purpose of government, government was established to secure inalienable rights. Here’s the two dozen or so inalienable rights we have as individuals given us by God, our Creator gave us these rights, governments are instituted among men to protect those inalienable rights, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed so that the people transfer their power to certain elected people to do for the people what the people want done. And that’s what the Declaration in Constitution talks about.
So this is all fundamental philosophy of government. This is what we have in the Declaration in Constitution. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter and to institute new, now, Declaration says government. We’re not saying new government, we’re saying new policies. It’s a reset, you’re going back to the original principles.
So it’s the right of the people to alter and institute new policies, returning to fundamental constitutional principles, and organizing the powers of government back to the Declaration as such form as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. The principles of the Constitution and the inalienable natural rights they protect are fixed and universal to be upheld at all times regardless of circumstances and situations.
That’s kind of like that Supreme Court case we looked at 1866, doesn’t matter what the crisis is. These principles don’t go away. They come from God.
Can the Constitution be Suspended?
They transcend every circumstance. And no provision in the Constitution is ever to be suspended unless by the consent of the people in the States through a constitutional amendment in the specific manner in which the Constitution specifies.
The only time you can change a constitutional right is if you amend the Constitution. Article 5 gives us that process. It can be that through a Convention of States or by amendments proposed in Congress, but it has to be ratified by the Congress first and then by the people. And if the people agree with it, then you can suspend that right or change or alter it or whatever. And that’s what we have with subsequent amendments to the Constitution.
For example, original amendments are not understood legally by wacky Supreme Court Justices like Taney to include protection for all people, only white people. Well, that’s not what the Founders had in mind. And that’s why 10 of the 13 states actually had blacks voting during the Revolutionary era.
Why the Amendments?
I mean, John Hancock in 1793 hosted what was called an “Equality Ball”, celebrating the equality of blacks and whites. Governor celebrated that. But you have a Supreme Court justice Taney, who said, no, no, no, they never intended for these rights to be extended to the black people.
So that’s why we had to do 13th, 14th, 15th Amendment, but we amended the Constitution to make sure those rights were extended to all people. So that’s the only way you can suspend a constitutional right is if change in the Constitution.
Back to the Declaration, “Prudence dictates that policies long established should not be changed for light and transient causes. But experience has shown that mankind is more disposed to suffer while evils are bearable than to rouse themselves and confront the bad policies which had been accustomed.”
That was an interesting thing. He said, you know, nations tend to put up with bad policies for a long time, and a lot of times they don’t rouse themselves. But in America, we’re going to rouse ourselves and say, we’re not going to put up these bad policies anymore. So that was part of the Declaration language.
It was there comes a point in time in which we keep saying, okay, governor if that’s what you say, okay, if we have to shut down, okay. We keep saying okay, and at some point, we have to say no, that’s not okay because this violate fundamental rights.
A Historical and Constitutional Perspective On The COVID Crisis, Part 2
So back to this. It says, “But when a long train of abuses and usurpations shows they’re designed to reduce the people under arbitrary despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to do everything within their power to return to constitutional principles, reinstitute jurisdictional separation of powers with checks and balances, and renew their commitment to preserve the people’s freedom and God-given rights.
It is time to reset our state and local governments, restoring them to their constitutional design and objectives, preserving limited government within constitutionally established parameters.” Now, that’s the principles. Here we start to transition to some of the grievances.
During the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, the balance of powers between the three branches were severely disrupted, and as a result, the American people were stripped of many individual liberties with constitutional rights usurped or suspended. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world. And this is where the Declaration then goes into its grievances.
Alright, friends, out of time for today, this is the second part in a five part series. So tune in tomorrow, and we’ll pick up right where we left off here with David Barton. It’s a presentation he gave at the ProFamily Legislators Conference on the Historical and Constitutional Perspective of the COVID crisis. Thanks so much for listening today. You’ve been listening to WallBuilders Live.