Constitution Alive, Proper Ways To Amend The Constitution, Part One: In today’s episode, we’re going to be jumping into a two part series on Constitution Alive, the amendment process. Join David Barton and Rick Green, Constitutional experts, and advocates for the original intent of our founding documents, in this one-of-a-kind course on the meaning and purpose of the Constitution! You’ll learn how the proper ways to amend the Constitution, if the states should do it, or if it should always go through Congress. Tune in now to learn more.
Air Date: 08/24/2017
Guests: 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. 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 politics, this is WallBuilders Live with David Barton and Rick Green. Thank you for joining us today. Be sure and visit online at WallBuilders.come and also WallBuildersLive.com. We encourage you to check out those Websites for a lot of reasons one of which is there’s just great information there.
You can check out all kinds of topics on the Founding Fathers on our founding principles and on cultural issues of the day.
Everything we do here, we’re looking at things from both a Biblical and a historical point of view. Whatever you might be hearing about in the news we’re going to talk about it here on this program and look at it from what the Founding Fathers of America had to say about it and certainly what the Bible has to say about it.
You can get all that information at our Websites and also email us if you’ve got some questions about things you’d like us to cover. Our Foundations of Freedom Thursday programs is a great opportunity to do that and sometimes on our Good News Friday programs. Send us those emails at [email protected].
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Two Part Series On Constitution Alive
We’re going to be jumping into a two part series on Constitution Alive, the amendment process. As many of you know we have a Constitution program that David and I did. I’m Rick Green. David Barton and I did a constitution program at Independence Hall where the Constitution was framed and in David’s library with the original documents.
We take you through every part of the Constitution. That DVD series for more information, you can learn more about that at our Website at WallBuilders.com.
We have shared parts of it as this topic came up that we needed to dive a little deeper into. One of those topics that right now is being discussed all across the country, there’s about 30 states right now that are considering applying for an Article 5 Convention of States.
They want to see some amendments to the Constitution to rein in the federal government, to put them back in their proper jurisdiction. Some of those things have been considered by members of Congress but nothing’s actually gained the momentum to be amended by Congress.
This is a big topic right now. How to amend the Constitution, proper ways to amend the Constitution, should the states do it, or should it always go through Congress? Well, what we do here at WallBuilders and what we did in recording Constitution Alive is we said, “Let’s go to the Founders. Let’s go see what they said about these things. Let’s look at that. Let’s look at what has happened throughout history on this particular process.”
So we’re going to share with you today and tomorrow one of the chapters in Constitution Alive. It’s a short segment. It’s only going to take us two days to do this. It covers the amendment process, how it’s happened in the past, what the Founding Fathers set up, why they set it up the way that they did.
We’ll do part of that in the library there with David Barton and WallBuilders and part of it will be there in Independence Hall at the Constitution class that we held there. So that’s going to take place today and tomorrow.
Then after it’s over you can take both of those links and share it with your friends and family and let them learn about the amendment process as well. There’s no question that we need to save our Constitution. The only way we’re going to save it is by getting us back to the original intent of what the Constitution was intended to do and get rid of these court created concoctions, these interpretations by the court that have completely distorted the Constitution, and frankly, given Congress the cover it needs to do things it was never intended to do.
They can get away with that as long as the American people believe that the Constitution says that it’s ok for them to do that. And that’s what the courts have said because the courts have created a new constitution, never amended by the American people in the way that they’ve done it, and certainly given the federal government powers that we the people never gave them.
For more on that, we’re going to dive into Constitution Alive and talk about the amendment process. Thanks for listening, we’re going to jump right over now to David Barton and myself, Rick Green at the WallBuilders Library for Constitutional Alive.
Is There A Proper Time To Amend The Constitution
Welcome back to Constitution Alive with David Barton and Rick Green. It’s time to talk about how you actually change the Constitution. David, is there a proper time to amend the Constitution? Obviously so, we’ve done it 27 times.
Well, the cool thing about Article 5 is that this is the way to evolve the Constitution. The progressive folks say, “Oh, it needs to be a living, breathing, evolving document. I agree, as long as the people are doing it not as some unelected judges or someone else.
The president by him or herself, it’s we the people doing it.
It’s we the people. The amendment process, the way it requires, it’s a high enough bar that it has to be the people behind it. It can’t just be an interest group over here, you people serve for a while.
This is a pretty cool book that lists and covers all the constitutional amendments that have been proposed to the Constitution. And it goes from 1789 all the way up until this book is 1995.
You said proposed. In other words, these are all the amendments that any member of Congress or a state has said anybody should be done.
That’s right. These are the ones that the officially been entered into Congress to look at action. So they’ve been written up, they’ve been drafted, they’ve been introduced, they had some action, and either the people had won enough behind it or whatever else.
Do you know how many have been proposed in that period of time?
Moment From American History
This is David Barton with another moment from America’s history. The key to a self-governing nation is self-governing people. And the key to personal self-government is to live by the standards in God’s word. If someone cannot control himself by those standards then our Constitution certainly will be unable to restrain him.
Understanding this, John Adams declared, “We have no government armed with power, capable of continuing with human passions, unbridled morality, and religion. Greed, ambition, revenge, or seduction would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is holy and adequate to the government, of any other.”
John Adams believed that successful government rested not upon our great Constitution but rather upon moral and religious people. For more information on God’s hand in American history contact WallBuilders at 1-800-8-REBUILD.
Setting The Bar High
Do you know how many have been proposed in that period of time? We’re talking 206 years there.
I would say a bunch. I would think a lot.
In that period time, 10,900 amendments.
That’s more than I would have thought. I would have in the hundreds, but it has been thousands.
And how many of them have actually been added to the Constitution? Twenty-seven.
Those are 27 that people wanted added. And so when they get added the people get behind them because it has the support of the people.
You said the bar is high and we want it to be high.
We want we it to be high. The Founding Fathers in the Constitutional Convention talked about if you let judges make policy then they start striking down stuff that people will lose respect for their government.
If you get if you get a Supreme Court saying, “here’s national policy” and it dumps 25 or 30 states and passed by their law, they’ve lost respect for it. When it comes from the people and the Constitution, Article 5 sets the bar high enough that for the people to make the change you get support then they then they respect it.
Article 5 of the Constitution is really the answer to what they tell our kids today in schools and universities, what we hear from media pundits, and law professors, “We need a constitution that keeps up the needs of today.” Great. We the People know what our needs are. We’ll tell you what our needs are, don’t tell us what our needs are.
This really is “We the people.”
The Biggest Threat To Liberty
This is a fun book, just to see all the things that have been proposed. Some of them were really hot at the time, you would have thought they might have passed. But this is the thing about our Constitution, it requires your feelings to slow down over time. You can’t just do it merely on passion, that’s a democracy that runs on passion.
A republic has to run on reason. So by the time you have debates, by the time you get the states involved, by the time it goes through, sometimes you say, “You know, that’s not the big issue it was a year and a half ago. I don’t think I support it anymore.” So it really is a fun book.
That means there was a lot of wisdom that went into designing even this one article in the Constitution. They really made sure, “If you’re going to change this, that’s fine, if times change and you need to make an amendment to the Constitution that’s fine, but we got the high bar, it’s going to take time.They really fought through this and that’s why it’s been so rare that it got amended. But there might be some amendments that we need to consider going into the future.
And that’ll be up to we the people. If there are some we feel passionate about right now, people do feel passionate about the government being a threat to their liberties. The national polling is overwhelming that the greatest danger they see to the liberties is the government.
Well, maybe it’s time to restrain some of those things, that through things like the misinterpretation of the general welfare clause and all that, maybe we say, “No guys, you should have been reading the original books at the beginning. We the people still support the original beliefs. Let’s squeeze it back.”
That then is not really a change. That’s a re-asserting or clarifying what the original intent. We’re not changing how the system would work in those cases. We’re just restoring what was intended.
The People Themselves Must Support It
I’ve been part of several attempted constitutional amendments of Congress. One of them was what was called, “The Commuted Life Amendment.” It was because there was such a big push from the people because the courts were so squeezing down how we could express our faith, the people were outraged and they still are polling wise.
So the Speaker of the House at that time took a member of Congress and said, “All right, let’s come up with a constitutional amendment that restores the First Amendment, the free exercise of religion.”
So he chose about a dozen of us, we worked on the language, and then held hearings across the country, congressional travel hearings. The whole deal was, “Let’s look at all the court cases out there that have restricted what the Founding Fathers gave us with freedom of religion and that’s become freedom from religion.” So we did that.
We got 269 co-sponsors on the amendment, it was a huge massive thing but we didn’t get it passed. You can get through one body sometimes not the other. So to have both bodies do something you, it can’t be a red amendment or a blue Amendment. You’re going to have to have red and blue come together and say, “This isn’t the change we want for the country.” And that makes it much safer.
When it’s just red or blue the other feel like they get to retaliate. “You did this to me so I’m going to cram this down your throat.” The Founding Fathers were very wise in putting this together in such a way that once it gets done it’s because the people themselves supported it.
All right, we’re going to go back to Philly and we’re going to learn how to amend the Constitution, the specifics in how the process takes place. We’ll even talk about some of those possible amendments going into the future. Let’s head back to Independence Hall.
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Two Ways You Can Amend The Constitution
The amendment process is actually an important part that we want to cover as well. It’s just another one of those things we want to know where to plug in. That hasn’t happened in a while. We talked last night about the Twenty-Seventh Amendment and the fact that that’s the last one that’s been put in the Constitution, but it was actually adopted by Congress more than 200 years ago.
But just for our own knowledge of how an amendment would take place. If we wanted to amend the Constitution, if there was something in the Constitution that we wanted to change, and there are a few things I’d like to see change in the Constitution. It’s not perfect.
As we’ve said, it’s becoming a more perfect union. So there are a few things in there I’d like to change as well. But here’s how you’ve got to do it. Two ways you can amend the Constitution. This is all right out of Article 5. We’re not going to read through the whole thing but let’s just look at how it works.
First option, this is the way that all 27 have been done. Congress adopts the amendment first. So if Congress passes by two-thirds, in both the House and the Senate, an amendment to the Constitution, then it goes to the States. And then the states will either have a ratification by their state legislatures or by Constitutional Convention.
Most all of the 27 were done by state legislatures. If my recollection is right there’s two that were done by conventions and that’s it. Everything else by the state legislatures.
The second option is a convention of states as outlined in Article 5. The best way to learn about this is to go to a Website, ConventionOfStates.com. I also recommend that you read the book by Mark Levin called Liberty Amendments.
This is done essentially without Congress. The only thing Congress does in this process is set the date and the location. So this is going to be something that the states want to do. It takes 34 states to call for the Convention of States, then they would gather.
There’s already a major movement taking place on this. Several states have called. I urge you to go to that Website ConventionOfStates.com because it really lays it out and answers all of the objections. There’s a lot of questions that people have about how this would work. Everything is answered at that Website. It’s extremely effective in the way that they do it.
Mike Perez, he’s from Homeschool Legal Defense. He has argued a case before the Supreme Court, he is brilliant on this subject. Mike has an incredible Constitution class that I highly recommend and he is heading up the organizational side of this. Then, Mark Meckler, big Tea Party guy has teamed up with him to do this.
I encourage you to check that out, ConventionOfStates.com. Then I really do encourage you to read Liberty Amendments by Mark Levine. I truly do believe it’s the most important book on the constitution of our day. Even more important than my book, ok, that tells you how much I am a big fan of it.
How Possible Is It To Have A Convention Of States
I used to think, “Dangerous and bad idea.” But now I’m beginning to see the wisdom of the Founding Fathers that it’s actually a good opportunity for we the people to get some amendments to the Constitution that need to be done. Then let the states decide whether it’s a good or a bad idea.
With 13 states having the veto power, frankly, from my perspective, and the way I lean on this thing, and the momentum of the country right now, to come back to constitutional governance, if we want to once again have a Constitutional Republic that reflects what these guys wanted, there are some good amendments that we could get done. And the momentum is with us.
Most states, the number of states side with us. Though the more, progressive if you will, living breathing constitution kind of folks. They have a fewer number of states. Now, we’re about split in terms of numbers of people in the country. But when you break down a number of states, we have the advantage.
Why We Need Balanced Budget And Parental Rights Amendment
I’ll throw out a couple of my favorite. I’ve got the microphone so I get to go for my amendments for the moment then we’ll open it up for you guys. Here’s a couple of mine.
Balanced Budget Amendment. I think we need one. I just think we’ve got to rein them in and we’ve got to put some sort of limits on these trillion dollar deficits that we’re passing on to our kids. We just can’t withstand this anymore.
We’ve got Parental Rights Amendment. That’s my second top priority on an amendment to the Constitution. Two reasons for this. The first one is the U.N. Treaty on the rights of the child. Really bad deal. Put your 12-year-old in charge your house, I mean it sounds great when you first look at the first- and then it goes downhill from there. It’s a bad idea. And we don’t need to allow it to happen.
If you read the language in Article 6 treaties are equal to the Constitution. The Constitution, the laws in the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof and all treaties made or which shall be made under the authority of the United States shall be the supreme law of the land.
So what happens when you allow that treaty to be adopted? It’s equal to the Constitution and it’s above your state law. So if the UN treaty on the rights of the child is adopted then family law in America and in your individual state will be trumped by this international family law.
It specifically says, “Shall be the supreme law of the land and the judges in every State shall be bound thereby any thing in the Constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.” So no matter what your state family law says, this new treaty is going to trump that. It’s a bad deal.
I don’t want to spend a lot of time on it. I encourage you to go to ParentalRights.org. That’s the movement to get the parental rights amendment into the Constitution. It just basically says, “Parents are the ones that are supposed to raise their children and have the final say with their children.”
The first reason, the second reason I want this amendment is because a lot of our state CPS organizations are overstepping their bounds. I used to deal with this a lot in the legislature. I had friends that had their children taken when there was not abuse going on in the home. But because of an anonymous tip, or because a social worker didn’t like that family, or somebody complained because they didn’t like the politics of that family.
Look, I’m telling you, I’m a pro-life, constitutional guy, I homeschool my children, I am on the Janet Napolitano domestic terrorist watch list probably for the things that I believe, right? Because I’m on that side of the political debates of our day.
I’m also on the CPS doesn’t like me list because I push legislation through in Texas that gives parents the final say on immunization choices. I’m not anti immunization. There’s just some of them that I don’t want my kids to get, some that I do, some that I don’t.
I don’t want the state to tell me. If I can research and figure out which one, which ones I think my kids are most susceptible to and do those and not the others, that’s my choice. I push legislation to do that.
So CPS doesn’t like me, let me just tell you right now. They think I’m a bad parent. So, I’m one of those guys that is susceptible to a social worker showing up and saying, “Hey, we’ve got a complaint you’re abusing your kids. We’ve got to take them out and we’ll let you have them back out after our investigation.
That’s a bad situation. I’ve had families crying in my office before. Took months to get their kids back when there was no abuse taken. I mean it’s a bad deal. ParentalRights.org.
Parental Rights Amendment of the Constitution will put an end to that. I am all for getting the kid out of an abusive situation. I will help get that done. But if you want to take somebody out of the home while you’re investigating. Get me out of the house, or let my kids stay with my wife, or let my kids go to grandparents house, or uncle, or aunts.
Another part the problem is a lot of times you get a 22-year-old social worker walking in on a situation that hasn’t raised kids. Let me tell you, my kids had a bump on their head most of their time between 0 and 10, right? Because we live out in the country, we’re rowdy, they do crazy stuff. There wasn’t abuse going on, but the kids were having fun and things happen.
If a social worker came in my house I guarantee you they would have been like, “Oh, somebody is beating these kids.” No, nobody is beating the kids, they’re beating themselves. That’s what happens when you jump off the trampoline onto the house or whatever they were doing. Anyway, check it out, ParentalRights.org.
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.
Why We Need Human Life Amendment
Human Life Amendment, another one we need. It’s something that would be done at the federal level because we have a federal need for this. If you just leave it up to the States it will be just like the slavery mistake that these guys made.
They believed that if we left it up to the states we’d rid slavery within a generation, they got it wrong. They couldn’t have gotten it right because there’s no way if they had ended slavery you wouldn’t have the union, just wouldn’t happen. But their faulty concept was, as Rhett said up here last night, he said out of the Declaration, “That to secure these rights Governments are instituted among men deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
What rights? What did he say they were? Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. So the purpose of government is to secure liberty. And we didn’t do it. We only did it at the state or local level. And so if the state didn’t do it the feds didn’t step until we had a civil war and then the feds stepped in.
The point is, we should have been securing life liberty and the pursuit of happiness at every level of government. Same thing with Human Life Amendment. The reason for it is because the first right listed in the Declaration, the number one priority of our government, that to secure these rights Governments are instituted among men. Why? To secure life.
It’s an important part of what government ought to do. So I support a Human Life Amendment, so we do that at every level not just at one or the other.
Why We Need Marriage Amendment
Marriage Amendment. These guys would have thought, “That’s crazy, why would you ever need that?” Now we’ve got this patchwork. Our family law is so confusing now because if you have marriage defined as one thing in one state and another thing- it’s just a mess.
I think we need a Marriage Amendment to the Constitution.
Why We Need Term Limits Amendment
Term limits. How many of you guys support term limits? I bet we’re squit. How many are against term limits? Wow, I figured you’d be about half and half. I used to be very much against them. The smartest woman in the world got a hold of me. Not Hillary, it was my wife.
Anyway, so what my wife got to hold me, she said, “Look, all these people that we came into office with, they’d been there 15-20 years, they’ve become part of the problem, their furniture, they’re not even motivated anymore, or they’ve become so squishy on everything.” And I started looking at it going, “you’re right.”
Not only is it bad for the system for somebody to serve for 30 years, it’s bad for the person to serve for 30 years. But I had a hard time with what I used to always say which was, “then the lobby is going to run the show because they know that a legislator is only going be there six years, or eight years, or 10 years then they’re going to run the show instead.”
Then I started watching, you know how the Founders talked about the states being the incubators of ideas so you could try it in certain states? I started watching Florida, and I started watching Oklahoma, and these other states that were doing term limits. I was like, “Hey, this is working pretty good in Florida right now.”
If you’re Marco Rubio fan, Marco Rubio would not be in the U.S. Senate right now if it hadn’t been for term limits in Florida because that’s what allowed him to move up in the legislature and become speaker so soon. Then as speaker, he had a statewide profile and was able to move for U.S. Senate.
It’s actually worked very well. The guys instead of saying, “Oh, the lobby is going to run the show.” They’re getting into office they’re saying, “Hey, I only got six years. I really don’t care what you think as a lobbyist, I’m going to get my job done right now and I’m going to go push through,” whatever it is. And they hit the ground running.
So the incubators work pretty well and watching that has caused me to shift. And mostly because my wife says I better shift my position on this. I’m now for term limits and I don’t care what they are, they can be 10 years, they can be 15 years, whatever the number is. At some point, they’re done and they got to go home.
I’m not worried about losing the, I used to always use, “What about the institutional knowledge that we lose?” I kind of want to lose some of that institutional knowledge at this point. I’m kind of thinking we need some new blood, not the folks that have been there for 30-40 years.
So anyway, last one for me I mentioned earlier, defining the term of federal judges. Again, just making sure that it’s not this nebulous for good behavior but it’s now a definite amount of time.
In both those cases let’s not forget, we limited the presidency to two terms because we the people said, “More than that is too much. That’s allowing one person to accumulate too much power because they’re there too long.”
I just think we ought to do that for the other two branches as well and limit them in some way. So that’s my list. Let’s open it up. You can comment on any of those, for or against them, or you might have some other moments that you think we ought to do.
Constitution Alive, Proper Ways To Amend The Constitution
We’re out of time for today folks! We’re in the middle of a two part series on Constitution Alive and that’s what you were just listening to as David Barton, and myself Rick Green were covering this amendment process, as covered in our Constitution Alive series.
For more information about the complete series, walking through the entire Constitution, visit our Website at WallBuilders.com and click on that link for Constitutional Alive.
We’re going to pick up where we left off today, tomorrow. We’re going to cover the rest of this particular section of Constitution Alive on the amendment process. We’ll be doing that tomorrow. So be sure to tune in for WallBuilders Live tomorrow. Thank you for listening today to WallBuilders Live with David Barton and Rick Green.