Constitution Alive – A Citizen Guide To The Constitution Part Four: Today is the last part of the four-part series we’re bringing to you this week. This is going to be an opportunity to really dive into the Constitution and walk through it clause by clause, article by article, section by section. We’ll be looking for those areas in the Constitution that are our responsibility to do something! Tune in now for more!
Air Date: 03/o1/2019
On-air Personalities: David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton
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Transcription note: As a courtesy for our listeners’ enjoyment, we are providing a transcription of this podcast. Transcription will be released shortly. However, as this is transcribed from a live talk show, words and sentence structure were not altered to fit grammatical, written norms in order to preserve the integrity of the actual dialogue between the speakers. Additionally, names may be misspelled or we might use an asterisk to indicate a missing word because of the difficulty in understanding the speaker at times. We apologize in advance.
Faith And The Culture
Welcome to the intersection of faith and the culture. This is WallBuilders Live! Where we’re talking about today’s hottest topics on policy, faith, and the culture, always doing that from a Biblical, historical, and Constitutional perspective.
We’re here with David Barton, America’s premier historian and the founder of WallBuilders. Also, Tim Barton, national speak is Rick Green, I’m a former Texas state legislator, national speaker, and author.
You can join us online at WallBuilders.com and WallBuildersLive.com as well as Facebook. Get on Facebook and look for us, Rick Green, David Barton, WallBuilders, you’ll find our pages there. We’d love to engage in conversation there as well.
If you’re tuning in today for the first time this week, you’re actually joining us in part four of a four part series on the Constitution.
But don’t worry.
You can enjoy today’s program without having heard the first three, but if you’d like to hear the entire series, then visit us online at WallBuildersLive.com. Click on that archive button in the top right hand section, and then you’ll find yesterday, the day before, and the day before that, the first three parts to this four part series.
Now, before we jump back in where we left off yesterday, let’s just catch you up on where we are.
What is Constitution Alive?
This program is called Constitution Alive with David Barton and Rick Green. It’s about a 12 hour program where we take you to the WallBuilders library. We bring those books off the shelf.
There are documents from the Founding Fathers, and we show them to you, we share them with you, and we show what the original intent of the founders was in regard to our Constitution. Then, in each segment, we take you out to Philadelphia, in the room where the Constitution was framed, in the very place where the Declaration of Independence was signed. In that room, we actually teach you on the Constitution and actually walk through every article, every clause, and every section.
So it’s a great way to walk through the entire Constitution. Obviously, we can’t share that entire 12 hour program in just a couple of radio programs, but we’re giving you a little taste of it in a four part series this week, which is is coming from Segment 1 of Constitution Alive.
So let’s pick up right where we left off yesterday. We’ve already covered three parts of this four part series, we’re going to take you right back to Constitution Alive with David Barton and Rick Green.
A Quick Start Guide
How many times have you tried to get people to study the Constitution? Even if you just give them a pocket Constitution, they never open it.
What we’ve got to do is put some tools in their hands so that they can quickly access how this country works, and they can quickly access how to be a part of it. So just keep that in mind.
I really encourage you to dig deeper. Let this be the quick start guide, and then go back home and do the more extended classes. Hillsdale College does a great program. The National Center for Constitutional Studies has some fantastic programs. 5,000 Year Leap, I’ve got up here, The Making of America. I’ll tell you a great source, my favorite of all, Ed Meese’s A Commentary on the Constitution.
He goes line by line in this thing.
Check that out at Heritage Foundation, put that down as another great tool. There’s so many great tools out there. So our goal is not to replace any of them. Our goal is just to try to get people interested in going and doing those things. So that’s kind of the concept tonight, we’re gonna do the quick start guide to the Constitution, if you will.
So remember our goal: to identify our rights, and then know how to protect and preserve them.
That’s our our approach number one.
Approach number two is: we’re not going to focus on judicial interpretation. We’re going to focus on original intent.
There’s another analogy for this, my mom actually gave this one to me, she was a bank teller when she was younger.
Work With the Real Thing Until You Can Recognise the Fakes
She said, “As a bank teller, I went through all this training and I handled all this money. They never gave me a counterfeit bill. They never showed me a counterfeit so I could feel it and know what it felt like. No, what they did was they had me handle the real deal, the genuine article. So much so that when that counterfeit bill came through my fingers, I knew something’s not right. Because I had worked with the genuine article so much I recognized the counterfeit immediately.”
Same thing for us. We’re going to study the real deal, the Constitution itself. We’re going to study the founders and what they said and did, and how they acted when they were putting the Constitution in place, and we’re going to study the actual words of our founding documents, not on what some judge says that he thinks or she thinks that they meant.
I think that’s what’s gotten us off course, is we’ve allowed judge after judge to pontificate on what some other judge said, about what some other judge said, about what some—and we’ve gotten so far off course.
Think about the freedom of religion now.
We got so many tests on what the freedom of religion is, or when you violate that, or what the establishment clause is about. Sandra Day O’Connor had her three part test, then her four part test, and a five part. Everybody’s got all their tests, and it’s just confusing. Why? Because we’ve gotten away from studying the original itself, and what the founders did.
So our goal is original intent. Let me give a couple of quotes from the founders on this.
They said, “On every question of construction, carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted.”
What Did This Mean When it was Written?
How about back to the room? I don’t usually get to say that in a class. Let’s carry ourselves back to the time. Here we are in the actual room where the Constitution was adopted. Recollect the spirit manifested in the debate.
So what these guys were actually saying right here when they adopted the Constitution, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, in other words, instead of taking the words and, “Oh, well today that word means X Y and Z. So this must be what the founders meant…”
Or trying to invent some meaning into the Constitution to try to get an outcome on the judicial decision instead of doing that. Jefferson says we should go back to the time and study what these guys were actually saying.
He said, “Then conform to the probable one in which it was passed.”
Moment From America’s History
This is David Barton with another moment from America’s history. The teachings of God’s Word are the best friend civil government has. Because these teachings deal with the heart. Only by dealing with the heart can crime be prevented. For as Jesus explained in Matthew 5 all crime comes from the heart.
Understanding this, Daniel Webster, the great defender of the Constitution once declared, “The cultivation of the religious sentiment represses licentiousness. It inspires respect for law and order and gives strength to the whole social fabric.Whatever makes men good Christians makes them good citizens.”
Indeed, it is not the good Christians whom the police arrest for armed robbery, gang activity, or other such crimes. Understanding this, the Founding Fathers encouraged religious instruction. For as Daniel Webster so accurately noted, “Good Christians make good citizens.” For more information on God’s hand in American history. Contact WallBuilders at 1-800-8 -REBUILD.
Look at the Constitution as it was Ratified
So these guys are gonna speak to us tonight. They’re going to tell us what they actually said about these different areas in the Constitution, so that we can follow Jefferson’s suggestion there.
Madison, the father of the Constitution—we’ll hear a lot from him tonight—said, “I entirely concur in the proper propriety of resorting to the sense in which the Constitution was accepted and ratified by the nation.”
So in other words, you gotta figure out what it says. He says you go back to what these guys said when they adopted it, then what happened in those individual states when they had the ratification debate.
In that sense alone it is the legitimate Constitution. So you want a legitimate Constitution? You go back to the beginning of what these guys did.
“If that be not the guide,” So if you go the other direction, “If that be not the guide there can be no security for a consistent and stable Constitution more than for a faithful exercise of power.”
So what do you get? Instead of having a stable constitution and a clear understanding that stays true throughout time, and if you don’t like it, you use Article 5 and you amend it. But instead of having that stable constitution, what do we get?
Three part test on this. A four part test on this. Total confusion about what is or is not constitutional.
Ancient Phraseology in a Modern Sense
Madison said come back to the original if you really want to know.
He said, “What a metamorphosis would be produced in the code of law if all its ancient phraseology were to be taken in the modern sense.”
So when we think about phrases like General Welfare, what did it mean back then? What did it mean in this room?
Not, “What does it mean to us today?”
Not, “What does it mean when a politician tells us what it means?”
What did it mean to these guys? We’re going to talk about that too.
The first thing governing this is James Wilson, by the way. Now, this guy, he was in the room both times. He signed both the Declaration and the Constitution. He actually went on to be a Supreme Court Justice.
He’s one of the first guys George Washington nominated to serve on the Supreme Court—so he’s actually an original Supreme Court Justice—he said, “The first and governing maxim in the interpretation of a statute is to discover the meaning of those who made it.”
Well, who made the Constitution? Guys that were in this room. The ones that ratified it back home.
Those are the ones we got, if you will kind of crack open their heads, get inside their minds, figure out what they were thinking. What was the intent?
The last guy I’ll give you on this is Joseph Story, Supreme Court Justice, that wrote about ninety four percent of the opinions when he’s on the court. He’s actually called the father of American jurisprudence.
The Fundamental Rule
He said, “The first and fundamental rule in the interpretation of all documents is to construe them according to the sense of the terms of the intentions of the parties.”
These are the parties, folks. Welcome to the party. We’re here with the parties that actually gave us the documents, and we’re going to hear from these guys and find out the original intent, not judicial interpretation.
So number one’s not exhausted. Number two we’re going to use original intent, not judicial interpretation.
Third thing in terms of our approach is we’re gonna do something that we don’t normally get to do with the Constitution, we’re gonna take it as amended. Those of you that have studied it a lot, you probably had some of those frustrating days like I did when I first tried to study the Constitution.
I opened up my pocket Constitution, and I said, “I want to know about this electoral college, and I want to know where this school is in the Northeast that all candidates go to.”
I was hoping for a little laughter there. No laughter? Can we… can we dub in some laughter there, camera guys?
- A lot of people really think that.
“I think the electoral college is some campus over out here in the Northeast that all the candidates come from.”
No, it’s the way we elect the president.
So I said, “I want to figure out how this thing works.”
I was always confused by it, so I open up the article to start reading about the presidency. Three paragraphs in, guess what? It’s been amended by the 12th Amendment.
Constitution Made Easy
What your pocket Constitutions do, is just underlines what’s been changed, but it doesn’t tell you how it’s been changed.
You’ve got to flip over to the 12th Amendment, and try to look at both them, and figure out, “OK… what actually changed? What does it mean?”
Then three paragraphs into the 12th Amendment, that’s been amended by the 20th amend!
So I got the article to open, I got the 12th Amendment open, I got the 20th open, and I’m having trouble holding onto my pocket Constitution.
Guess what? Article 2 is also amended by the 22nd and the 23rd, and the 25th amendments!
So, I’ve got five amendments affecting Article 2, and I’m supposed to… I just went crazy. I am so thankful for my buddy Mike Holler. He did meticulous work to put together this Constitution Made Easy, the tool we’re gonna use tonight.
As the night goes on, you’re going to think, “This Green guy is really simple minded.”
I am. I need things to be explained. OK, so Mike really helped me with this. He laid out the Constitution as amended! What a novel concept!
So the tool in your hands tonight, what you’re going to be able to do is flip that thing open, and on the left hand side of the page we get the original cause. I’m an originalist, I’m not for replacing that language, but we get the original on the left hand side of the page, and then on the right hand side of the page we get the Constitution as amended, so the blue is all the amendments incorporated into the original, and it’s in modern language!
Just SIt Down and Read the Constitution
So that’s the fourth thing we get, is some plain language that makes it easy for people that haven’t made a big study out of this to actually go and read through the Constitution very quickly.
Part of what I love about that Constitution Made Easy is you can actually sit down and read the blue part in the plain language in about 15 minutes.
So people who have never been exposed before, you can hand that to them and say, “Hey, just sit down and read the Constitution. Just read through it real quick, and you’ll find some things you never even knew were in there. You’re gonna be able to clarify some things you may not have been aware of before.”
So that’s our approach. We got a lot to cover in a short period of time, and you’ll find people say that, David and I both, we talk 90 words a minute, with gusts up to 350.
I’m going to try not to gust on up to 350 too often with our echo chamber here, I’ll do my best to keep the speed down, but we don’t have a lot of time to cover everything, but we’re going to cover as much as we possibly possibly can.
So that’s sort of our introduction to the process and what we’re gonna do a little bit about our approach. We’re going to talk about the seeds that were planted here, what the the concepts were. I find it interesting that if you just read the documents, and you don’t really go back to the philosophy that undergirds them, the philosophy that was put in place, you can get off track very quickly.
So we’ll be back to talk about the seeds of liberty when we return.
Hey, all your patriots out there that would like to see more Americans study the Constitution and understand the source of their freedom. How do you get people to pay attention to patriotism, the Constitution, the importance of being good citizens. Well, the answer is two words: Brad Stine. You make it fun, you make it fun to learn.
My friends, this is Rick Green from WallBuilders live, and Brad and I are bringing the comedy and constitution tour to you. We’re doing a live stream across the nation on March 23rd, 2019. Visit ConstitutionCoach.com, and you can sign up to bring this program to your church. You can stream it into your home or your local club. However you’d like to bring it. It’s an opportunity for you to bring the Comedy Constitution to your community, which will fire people up to study the Constitution. It’ll educate, entertain, equip, and inspire folks to accept protect and purposely pass the torch of freedom. Check it out today at ConstitutionCoach.com.
Why is Original Intent so Important?
David, I was a little excited to be in that cradle of liberty. You’ve recorded there several times, there’s just something about being where it happened.
I just always love looking back at George Washington’s chair, and that was it? The rising sun? Was it the setting sun on that chair? That’s such a cool story. But it’s cool to be in that room.
I love it. So one of the things we talked about a lot, and what we’ll talk about a lot more throughout this course is original intent. Now, you wrote an entire book on this, bestselling book on original intent, where you took all these documents in this room and really shared with us what was inside the minds of our Founding Fathers. Why is it so important to get that original intent?
Because that’s where you get the most effectiveness. It’s really hard to use a screwdriver as a shovel, because it was not designed for that. So you can work all day long with a screwdriver and not dig something out. You have to know original intent, have to know how it’s designed.
It’s like using the owner’s manual. If you want the most out of your car, your TV, anything else.
Death on the Toilet
You’re not saying that people would misuse the Constitution for something it wasn’t intended to be used for?
You know how we talked in the beginning about human nature and principles? That’s why the Constitution works, because it’s based on certain principles. One of those principles is human nature. It absolutely can be, and we’ll cover this in future lessons.
But that’s why we have checks and balances, and separation of powers, and the Founding Fathers told us about human nature, and because of that they put principles in there to keep people from taking abuse, and this it won’t stop it if we don’t apply those principles. They gave us some tools by which we can stop that.
I liked that analogy, because now not just original intent, but original intended use.
It is. One of the things that this—a good example, you talked about if we don’t do that, then we get off track. You’re exactly right.
Here’s a great example. This is one of the best selling books in American history. One of the McGuffey readers, they came out the 1830s and 40s, and went through one hundred and twenty million copies to this date. So they have sold like crazy. Here is a fourth grade reader.
I’ll just open up here to lesson number nine, “Death at the Toilet.”
I have no idea.
Crude Humor or Different Meaning?
Why would they use such crude bathroom humor back in that day? Because back in that day, toilet is where we get the word toilet trees, which is like your shaving stuff and your hair stuff. Well, toilet was really your vanity table, and that’s why we call it vanity table.
So Death at the Toilet is death at the vanity table, and it deals with the young girl who is really cocky, and prideful, and arrogant about how beautiful she was, and it turned into her demise.
Well, we look at Death at the Toilet and say, “I can’t believe they have such crude humor.”
Now, you have to go back to understand what they were trying to do. Once we understand that the principal sustained the arrogance, and the cockiness, and that kind of stuff that they talk about with that girl, but it’s not Death at the Toilet, it’s death at the vanity table. Her vanity is what destroyed her.
So that’s the kind of stuff that still works, and it does have an impact, and that’s why you want to go back and know original intent.
We’ll just go back to where we started to begin with, John J.
These are the six things that we want every single citizen to be able to do when you read the Constitution.
First off, read the Constitution. Doesn’t take 20 minutes, this is an easy thing to do. Number two is study the Constitution. Once you’ve read it, you kind of get the overview, now go back and look at the things in it and start making the list.
Taking Things in Context
That’s where we really are getting into the minds of the founders, where we’re studying what those words actually mean. We all just read, and as we go through these next lessons, these other lessons, we’re gonna be studying what that meant, and what they did, and why they put that there, what are they trying to do?
So does that mean we—all of these books are important, not just the words of the Constitution, but when you pull a book off the shelf that is someone that—one of these guys in this picture that helped give us the document, it gives you a chance to really find out what they were thinking when they did it.
It helps set the tone of the times if you understand. People accuse the Pilgrims all the time of being so bloodthirsty because they had the death penalty. They did, they had 15 crimes that had the death penalty. But let’s look at the tone of the times. When they came to America from Great Britain, the country they left had the death penalty for over 230. So they’ve taken it from 230 death penalty crimes down to 15. I don’t think they’re bloodthirsty.
So that puts it in context. But if you just look at it by itself, you could get way off. If you step back you can see the big picture.
That is when you can get fixated on a particular issue and you see so much of the trees you miss the forest.
“Your Friends Listen to Your Voice, so Speak”
That’s why you read it to see the forest, now go back to study some of the trees that are in the forest.
That’s the second part. Third part is to be able to teach it once you see what’s in there. Teach it especially to the rising generation.
But in this culture, with our poor education, teach all of us.
There’s a Bible verse in Song of Solomon 8:13, it says, “Your friends listen to your voice, so speak.”
In this day and time, with what we have as social media, there’s nobody who doesn’t have a platform. It’s good. There are people who will listen to you, there are people who hear what you say on Facebook, or Twitter, whatever you get to speak from, might be five people, might be hundreds.
You talk to your friends, and that makes the difference. Then what you want to be able to do is know those constitutional rights that you’ve read and studied, and you start teaching them, you now recognize when somebody has crossed the line.
“Wait a minute. He can’t do that. That’s not constitutional.”
Then at that point you can defend those rights that they’re coming after, or if they come after somebody else, you can assert those rights to stand up. So those are the six things that everybody needs to be able to do with the Constitution.
Know your Rights so you Know When they’re Violated
So you can’t have that perception. You won’t know that those rights have been violated if you haven’t done these precedents, right? You’ve got to study them to know them.
You talked in there about how your mom, when they trained as a bank teller, they didn’t show counterfeit stuff. They just let her handle the real stuff so much that she initially recognized it.
Have you ever wanted to learn more about the United States Constitution but just felt like, man, the classes are boring or it’s just that old language from 200 years ago or I don’t know where to start? People want to know. But it gets frustrating because you don’t know where to look for truth about the Constitution either.
Well, we’ve got a special program for you available now called Constitution Alive with David Barton and Rick Green. It’s actually a teaching done on the Constitution at Independence Hall in the very room where the Constitution was framed. We take you both to Philadelphia, the Cradle of Liberty and Independence Hall and to the WallBuilders’ library where David Barton brings the history to life to teach the original intent of our Founding Fathers.
We call it the QuickStart guide to the Constitution because in just a few hours through these videos you will learn the Citizen’s Guide to America’s Constitution. You’ll learn what you need to do to help save our Constitutional Republic. It’s fun! It’s entertaining! And it’s going to inspire you to do your part to preserve freedom for future generations. It’s called Constitution Alive with David Barton and Rick Green. You can find out more information on our website now at WallBuilders.com.
We Need the Tools
We did this same thing in the World War II. If you wanted to be able to recognize the enemy, you study those enemy identification charts, you study all the enemy planes, all the enemy tanks so when you saw it, you were like, “That’s the enemy. Now we can defend or start going on offense.”
You want to make sure you didn’t get one of the Allied tanks. You didn’t want the British tanks. So you studied, and what you studied you could recognize when there was something wrong. That’s what it takes.
Well, as we study—sometimes people today—if we’re not doing a good job of this in our schools, then that means we need more tools. We’ve got to have the tools to be able to study.
And by the way, just so nobody is intimidated over this thing, studying the Constitution and understand it is not a hard deal. This notion that we get from law schools that only the nine people in the Supreme Court really know the Constitution—
These high priests of the law.
I have been in several legislatures where I have—and it just tears me up—that legislators say, “Look, let’s just go ahead and pass it, and the Supreme Court tells us if this is constitutional or not.”
No! You took an oath to uphold it, and you don’t have to be a brainchild to do this. A great example is this little book right here. This is a book, an elementary book back in 1828. Elementary kids studied this.
This Was Taught in Elementary School
So they’re teaching the Constitution to elementary kids, a little kid law school.
You don’t wait to go to law school, or for postgraduate stuff, this is the kind of stuff that they were having these elementary kids study in the questions they asked in 1828.
Look. This is only some of the elementary questions.
So these are—you’re an attorney.
These are for your career.
Now what if I can’t answer? This is going to be bad. I’m probably not going to be able to.
So these are elementary school kids, and they’re asking them, “Can the Congress punish piracy? That is, robbery committed at sea.”
Because we have some of that today. So that’s a good question for today. You got Somali Pirates. That’s international law.
So can we in America do anything to punish other nations under our Constitution?
I don’t really know the answer to that question off the top of my head. So what does the elementary catechism say?
“Yes, and all other crimes committed there. It can also punish offenses against the laws of nations.” So there’s another question that gets next question.
“What do you mean by the law of nations?”
This is great. So this is done in a catechism way where you ask one question and it raises the next question.
That’s right. That’s elementary kids. I’ll bet if you set out a law school and take 30 year old your law students that are about to take that bar exam, and run those questions through—
So you talked about mark and reprisal. All of these things.
You Don’t Have to be a Genius to Learn this
Nobody knows what that is anymore. And that actually is a very current thing that still goes on, because it deals with the restitution as a form of restitution. So there’s a lot in those ethical questions in there.
So do not get intimidated saying, “I’m not that smart.”
You don’t have to be smart. The Founding Fathers, remember, these were average guys. They were farmers, they were shipbuilders, they were—one of these guys was a shoeshine guy. He made leather shoes! These are common folks. They did this for the common, average, everyday people.
So we can do it. Kids of yesterday in the 1800s actually—kids, little kids! So it was intended as elementary categories, but we need it for all of us.
Well, that’s the whole idea of Constitution Alive.
So when we come back, we’re gonna actually talk about the seeds of liberty. We’re gonna dive into some of these materials and talk about what was planted to give us such a successful formula here on Constitution Alive with David Barton and Rick Green.
Well, that’s the conclusion of segment 1 in Constitution Alive with David Barton and Rick Green.
Constitution Alive and More at WallBuilders Live!
There’s so much more there, and if you’d like to find out more about that program it’s available on our website right now at WallBuilders.com. It’s called Constitution Alive with David Barton and Rick Green. Lots of other wealths of information available there on the website, articles, and things you can download.
We hope you check out WallBuilders.com today and also WallBuildersLive.com. You can get this entire four part series that we’ve done this week.
It’s segment 1 out of Constitution Alive with David Barton and Rick Green, so it’s just about 10 percent of the entire program.
We wanted to give you as much of it as we could here on the radio, and share that with our listeners. So if you missed those first three parts and just tuned in today to part four of this four part series, then visit our website at WallBuildersLive.com. Click on the archives, and you can now get all four parts to this series that we shared with you this week.
We encourage you to email it out to your friends or family, send them those links, and get them educated on the original intent of our Constitution so that together we can save our constitutional republic. You’ve been listening to WallBuilders Live.