Constitution Alive, Proper Ways To Amend The Constitution, Part Two: In today’s episode, we’re going to be jumping into a two part series on Constitution Alive, the amendment process.Â 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:Â 08/25/2017
Guests: David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton
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Transcription note: Â As a courtesy for our listeners’ enjoyment, we are providing a transcription of this podcast. Â 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. Â 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. Â We apologize in advance.
Faith And The Culture
Welcome to the intersection of faith and politics, this is WallBuilders Live! I’m Rick Green and I appreciate you joining us today. David Barton and I are going to share a special series with you today, it’s a two part series and we’re picking up on part two today.
It’s out of Constitution Alive with David Barton and Rick Green. It”s a DVD series that we did teaching on the Constitution cover to cover. We go through the whole thing. Every amendment, every article, and we talk about all of those issues of today and how to look at them from a constitutional perspective and what the Founding Fathers intended.
In that program, we actually covered something that’s a hot topic today and that is the amendment process for the Constitution. A lot of states are considering a convention of states so that the states can amend the Constitution to restore the proper balance between the federal government, and state governments, and put the feds back into their proper jurisdiction.
How would that work? What did the Founders intend? All those questions we cover them in Constitution Alive. We’re going to pick up where we left off yesterday, taking you to that segment in Constitution Alive where we cover the amendment process. We’ll go to David Barton and myself, Rick Green on Constitution Alive.
How To Fix Recess Appointments
The document these guys put together was was pretty amazing. But it can be improved upon. We’ve done some pretty good improvements over the years. Some bad ones too, but we’ve done some good ones. Any ideas?
Alright, this one’s from Sabrina in Michigan and she asks, “So, how do we work to fix this problem of recess appointments as “we the people?”
How do we work to fix the problem of recess appointments as we the people? We have to– I hate to sound like a broken record, but we have to know how they work, what the document says, and then we’ve got to communicate with our members of Congress. Â We’ve got to communicate with the candidates for Congress to find out where they stand on this issue and say that we want this fixed. We want language agreed upon by the members of Congress where they’ll tighten it up.
They’ll say, “We’re not going to approve, the Senate is the one you”ve really got to work on here. We’ve got to have senators that are willing to say, “We’re going to filibuster every appointment of a president that uses recess appointments inappropriately and unconstitutionally.” Â So the Senate has to be the one to stand up, which means we the people have to choose senators that are willing and we have to push the Senate to do that.
The only other option would be a constitutional amendment. So you could add that to our list of constitutional amendments here to clarify the language in the recess appointment there. Maybe you could just pick a time. I’m just brainstorming with you here, maybe actually define a recess and say that a recess has to be for more than 60 days, or 90 days, or whatever it might be.
How To Get A Balanced Budget
We need an amendment that there should be a constitution course taught to everybody that goes in Congress, Senate, and the House and before they take their oath.
Every member of Congress has to go through the Constitution class before-
And pass, they got to pass. We need a good test. You guys can help me come up with a test when this is all said and done. I like it. That’s really good. If we have a convention of the states in the future I really hope the four of you are delegates.
Alright, one more.
I’m not quite sure about this, but what can be done, and by whom, to demand a balanced budget, and how long has it been since we had one?
I don’t know the answer to how long it’s been, that’s a good question. She asked what can be done to demand a balanced budget. It’s got to be that we’ve got to pass the amendment. Remember what we said last night? One vote, we came within one vote of having a balanced budget amendment, that was 1999.
I think the momentum is there right now, I really do. I think the Senate, the votes will be there. I think the people want it, I think it makes sense. I forget the last polling numbers, I think it was like 75 or 80 percent. It doesn’t matter if you’re left or right on this one. Both sides agree that we need to rein in these numbers, it”s just untenable.
So, we either have to get enough members of Congress to just do it on their own or we’ve got to pass a constitutional amendment. I think it’s going to be an amendment. I don’t think Congress is going to rein themselves in on this.
I was thinking about impeachment if they didn’t get it done.
I wouldn’t agree with impeachment for the deficits just because the Constitution specifically says that they can borrow money on the credit of the United States so I don’t think it’s an impeachable offense. But I’m all for throwing him out of office.
You don’t have to impeach them but you can you can throw them out of office at the ballot box. If you defeat him at the ballot box and get somebody else in there that says, “I’m willing to do what it takes to balance the budget.”
Can executive orders be reversed by a new president?
Yes, absolutely. The question was, “Can an executive order be reversed by a new president?” Absolutely can. In fact, a great article if you want to google or just go to Heritage Foundation’s Website and Google, “Executive Orders.”
He wrote it in 2001 actually. He went through a lot of President Clinton’s executive orders and said, “The new president absolutely should have a commission review every single one of these executive orders and overturn them just by writing a new executive order that says, “We’re no longer going to implement that.” So they could. Congress can do it too. But a new president absolutely could review every one of those executive orders.
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How To Fix The Judicial System
As you mentioned earlier, we”ve got 80 some odd years of abuse in the judicial system. And judges legislating, making decisions well outside their bounds, and it’s become the norm, the accepted thought process. How do we turn that around?
That’s a generational answer. That one will not happen overnight. What he was saying was, “It’s been a long time of a judicial mindset that is unconstitutional, how do you turn it around?”
It will not happen overnight, takes it takes both pieces I talked about earlier, it takes us, we the people, looking for Senators that will only approve judges that are strict constructionists.
Voting for presidents that will only nominate judges that are strict constructionists. But it also takes an education change and a cultural change. These law schools that are coming along and the philosophy in the law schools going back to original intent and not having this judicial high handedness and the high priest of the law mentality.
That’s going to take a while because you’ve got to think about, you know, all the guys my age that went through law school 20 to 25 years ago, most all of them were taught that philosophy. I mean, it’s going to take a while for that to change.
Not that it will ever be all of one or the other. It’s just like anything else in a free society, it”s going to be a matter of which side is winning those particular battles at that time.
There’s always going to be a difference of opinion. The beauty of our system is if you can win the day on the arguments and you can convince enough other people to move the direction of the culture that way, then it will go that way. There are swings, unfortunately for a long time, we’ve gone away from what these guys clearly said that they believed.
I think, actually, I really believe that that tide is turning. I think there are some really great things happening in our country right now and I don’t think it’s short term. We’re not even close to seeing the crest of we the people getting back engaged in their government and saying, “We want to go back to what these guys gave us in terms of those basic principles of freedom and we’re willing to do the hard work. We’re willing to do the homework.”
The Beginnings Of Constitution Alive Classes
You’ve traveled here from all over the country to study the Constitution. It blows my mind. If you’d told me two years ago that I was going to be spending virtually every Saturday somewhere in the country teaching the Constitution for eight hours all day on Saturday, that most weeknights I’m going to be doing an abbreviated three-hour class. Not in the buckle of the Bible Belt, in places like Chehalis, Washington, Newark, Delaware, all over the nation. I would have said, “You’re nuts. There is no way people are going to sit down and walk through the Constitution.” I just didn’t believe it would happen.
Fortunately, there was a guy in Austin, Texas that convinced me to do a class in Austin. He said, “You just put it together, I’ll get the people there.” And he got about 50 people there. And I said, “You know, this was kind of fun.”
When it was done I was posting on Facebook and saying, “We were talking about this, the First Amendment, we were doing this on the judiciary, and this was fun.” And all these people started posting on Facebook saying, “Will you come here?” “Will you come here?” “Come to Michigan?” “Will you come to this?” “Well, I guess so.” And two years later five thousand people have been through the class.
It’s remarkable. And we’re little bitty, I’m a blip on the radar. There are hundreds of classes taking place all over the country studying the Constitution. It is exciting to me that it’s happening. I think we’re getting back on track. When we come back that’s what we’re going to close with tonight is doing our duty. How do we do our duty under the Constitution?
Remember when we started? I wanted you to leave here with a burden, a burden to say, “It’s my responsibility to save this document, to save this country, to save what these men put in place.”
I hope that as we’ve gone through the Constitution, that you haven’t just thought of how to hold the public servants accountable with this, I hope that as we’ve done this you’ve constantly been saying, “Oh, that’s my job. Oh, I see myself in there. That’s a responsibility for me.” It’s not all about them, it’s about us. What are we supposed to do as citizens? How do we be good citizens? What do we do to uphold the Constitutional principles? That’s what we’re going to close out with tonight. We’ll take a quick break. We’ll be back with Constitutional Alive.
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How Would A Convention Of States Work
Ok, so we talk about a few possible amendments to the Constitution. Most of these that we discussed there at Independence Hall are really, again, back to this idea of restoring the original intent of the Constitution. It”s not really changing the system. It’s restoring what the Founders intended.
One of those two ways to amend the Constitution is a convention of states. So this is an idea that the Founders gave us. They clearly thought this would be a good thing to do when it was necessary. But some people have questions about how it would work if we had a convention of states.
Even beyond that, some peoples don’t even get in the question and say, “No, this is a terrible thing.” So it’s apocalyptic type of language. “Man, if we have this they will take over the election. We’ve got all these guys out there who hate the Constitution. If they take it over they”ll abolish the Constitution.”
Wait a minute, the Founders raised the bar so high that it’s not only going to take 38 states to ratify abolishing the Constitution. You don’t have to have 38 states, you can just have one body and one state. If you split legislature you can have a conservative House and a liberal Senate, and a conservative House says, “We ain”t doing it.” It doesn’t take 38 states it just takes 38 bodies out of the 99 bodies.
That’s right. So even I was thinking, even when I said in Philadelphia that 13 states kills a bad amendment. Well, like you’re saying, it”s less than that, it’s half of those 13 states. So it’s just one legislative body out of each of those 13 states.
I have to admit, I used to be on a little bit of the other side. I was like, “I’m kind of worried about letting a bunch of people get together and possibly change the Constitution.” It’s not just those people in that convention that are “changing and amending the Constitution,” it’s all of us. It’s got to come back to us and get our approval.
What Would We Have To Lose
One of the things that got my thinking- because I was the same way. I”d listen to all the apocalyptic type of language, “I don’t want to lose the Constitution.” Number one, we’ve already lost it, we’re not using it now.
That’s exactly right.
What if we lose it? And that’s assuming that the worst.
If we keep going the way we’re going we’re going to lose it.
We’re going to lose it. So we’ve got to do something.
These are all the “mights.” We are in Texas and we might have a blizzard on o the Fourth of July, we might have a meteor come through and hit us while we’re sitting here, and we might have- but the one thing they got me was that it does not endanger the Constitution to use the Constitution.
“Oh, I so appreciate the right to trial by jury and the Seventh Amendment. I’ve got a trial coming, I’m not going to use the trial by jury because I think it’s too valuable to use it.” “I support free speech but I’m not going to use it because I’m not endangering the First Amendment, it is so precious, I can”t.” “I’m a big defender of the Second Amendment but I’m not going to use it.”
How can it destroy the Constitution to use the Constitution? That’s a great way to look at it.
If they gave you that tool, they said, “There are two ways you can amend it. You can do that through Congress, where we’ve done it so many times. Or if the states get ticked off at the federal government and they want to say, “Guys, we’re pushing back.” If we’re going to use this tenth amendment approach as applied by article 5 of the Constitution. It can’t hurt the Constitution to uphold the Constitution by using the Constitution.
If I take an oath to uphold the Constitution, it also includes Article 5 which includes a convention of states. I can’t say, “I’m taking an oath to uphold the Constitution except Article 5, I liked the part about amendments to Congress, I don’t like that part of convention.” I can’t do that. Â
I remember in an earlier section you were talking about the fact that not only do we have that horizontal separation of powers and those checks and balances, but that vertical one as well. Isn’t this a way for the states to push back against the encroachment from the feds?
The Federalist Papers talked about that every one of those bodies had constitutional arms of self-defense. States, they had senators appointed. But they have the 10th Amendment to defend them. And they also have a conviction that states, Article 5 to defend them. Those are all tools that were given them by the Founding Fathers so that the states could push back against federal overreach.
Those are all potential uses. Quite frankly, the debate will go on, it”s gone on for a long time, it went on back then, that’s why they included that. It was not a novel idea that they just came up with out of thin air. It’s because there were discussions already going on this topic back then. It’s just new in and our generation, it”s being resurrected in our generation.
Some did this by calling for a Balanced Budget Amendment back a couple of decades ago. There are still some calls for that and that’s fine. Whatever it is, we’re having to look at the Constitution fresh and new. But my position is, you do not endanger the Constitution by using the Constitution.
A Convention Of States Will Only Bring Benefits
You said also before when we went to Philadelphia, this idea of because it’s drawn out and there’s a lot of debate, a lot of logic and a lot of reason, that’s a good thing. If you think about it, this would cause- it’d be on the news, everybody would be learning about the Constitution, each state is going to be debating this in their state legislatures. I can’t see how that’s bad. That’s good for us to get more educated about the Constitution.
And on the side that we might wipe out the government, wait a minute, this is going to a process of years to get down. And by the time we have debates in the legislatures of all 50 states, and by the time you have a House and Senate debate, and by the time you see if he can get 38 states to come together on this, this is going to be thoroughly vetted through the people. We will have had discussions extensively on this.
By the way, the notion of being able to wipe out the Constitution in such a convention, it doesn’t exist. Remember the current polling is right now nearly three-quarters of the nation respects the Constitution. They don’t think we’ve been using it right. But they respect it. So they’re not going to be willing to wipe this thing out.
Specifically to that, I’ve heard people say, “Well, what if you had a convention of states and they do the same thing that they did in the first-
Yeah. That’s not possible, because again, it’s still whatever they do has to come back to the people, it”s gotta come back to us, and you’ve got to have 38 states approved.
And it’s interesting, Article 5 actually limits that by saying, “Amendments to this Constitution.” It doesn’t say to come out with the new constitution. “Well, the original Constitutional Convention, they just met there to revise the Articles of Confederation, they came up with a whole new document.” No, because had that violated what the states sent them there for, the states would not have ratified it.
The states knew that they probably could not revise the Articles of Confederation. You go try, but you know what, get us a document that gets us into a nation. And that’s what they did.
Can Congress Appoint Delegates
It’s interesting that you have examples through that process, even back in the Continental Congress, that the states were explicit with their delegates. For example, when we signed the Declaration, originally when we were * the Declaration, Pennsylvania told us, “Delegates, you do not sign the separation of Great Britain.”
The debates went on they changed positions so they sent word to their delegates, “Sign, separate from Great Britain.” Well, half the delegates refused to sign individually.
So the state legislature popped them all out of there and sent new ones back. That’s how Benjamin Rush became a signer of the declaration. He replaced one of the guys who refused to separate like the state legislature told them to do. So the question of, “Well, what kind of delegates might Congress appoint?” Congress doesn”t appoint the delegates. The state’s control delegates. If the delegates start doing something the state didn’t send them there to do, just call them back, real easy.
So the history is there, history answers all this. Again, we need to have open debates on this because it is a big issue. But I’m not scared to use the Constitution.
You use the Constitution to save the Constitution. It’s not going to destroy it by any stretch of the imagination.
Reversing Executive Orders
You know, we had a question back in Independence Hall about executive and a new administration coming in. What are your thoughts on that? If you come in as a new president and the previous president has done a bunch of executive orders, do you not have the opportunity to reverse some of that?
I love what you said because the proposal from Heritage about having a commission review, every president- that is a great idea, it”s a thing that ought to be done. But let me let me give you some examples historically.
Take executive orders. Here’s the president signing an executive order, let me just give you three presidents for a moment. Executive orders are oftentimes associated with activist presidents who are trying to get around Congress or trying to do things the Constitution doesn’t allow so they do it through executive orders. Executive orders, as you said, completely legitimate. George Washington had executive orders, but it”s whether you’re trying to circumvent the Constitution.
If you’re implementing a law that was passed by Congress, that’s one thing, that’s fine. If you’re creating law, or reversing law without Congress’s approval, that’s where we have a real problem.
Look at three high numbers. Woodrow Wilson 18 hundred, he really decimated the-
Ignored the Constitution.
It”s like, we were talking earlier about the 16th and the 17th Amendment. Now, remember, you showed me that poster, 1913, a really bad year. Worst year ever.
Woodrow Wilson, look how high the numbers are there. Just out of curiosity, do you think the papers reported 18 hundred and three executive orders? I doubt it. Which is why you need the commission coming to look at all of that because even the ones we hear about- take any president that you want, you may have heard of a dozen executive orders. No, there is going to be more than that.
Here’s another president, look at this, Calvin Coolidge, 1,203. Then look at Frank Roosevelt, Â 3,522. This is kind of mystifying because I will tell you, quite frankly, I consider Calvin Coolidge to be one of the most sound presence in American history. I consider him to be one of the greatest constitutional guys, he knew the Founding Fathers as well as anybody I’ve ever read from the Founding Fathers.
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. Â 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.
What We Need To Do To Save Our Constitution
He quoted them, he cited them, and you go, “Wow, issued- you know what, most of his orders were trying to kill Woodrow Wilson’s.
He”s reversing them.
So it can absolutely be done. That’s something any president can do. But the idea of finding out exactly, “What did that last president sign?” Most folks don’t even think of that when they come into office. They start getting busy with nominations, they start getting busy with hearings on foreign policy, and cabinet appointments, and executive orders are really big stuff.
Alright, so we’ve covered the amendment process, we talked about every branch of government, we talk about every article, all the amendments. When we come back we’re going to talk about you. We’re going to talk about us, what we as citizens need to do to save our Constitution. Our very last section of Constitution Alive with David Barton and Rick Green.
Constitution Alive, Proper Ways To Amend The Constitution
Well, folks, that was Constitution Alive with David Barton and Rick Green. It’s our program walking through the Constitution. Yesterday and today we shared just a small segment out of that full program.
That particular segment was on the amendment process. If you just tuned in today and you missed yesterday be sure and visit our Website at WallBuildersLive.com. You can get yesterday’s program and today’s, just click on that archived section.
By the way, you can share them with folks, we encourage you to do that. Take these programs, email them out to your friends and family, link to them on Facebook, get others to learn about our Constitution.
This particular series that we did yesterday and today, again, just one segment out of the entire Constitution Alive program, but very important, this amendment process. We’ve got to get this down, folks. If we’re going to save the republic, we’ve got to put the federal government back into its proper jurisdiction. The only way we can do that is through amendments to the Constitution to correct what the court has deviated from in terms of original intent.
They have created a court created concoction of a constitution. That’s what we’re living under today instead of the actual Constitution. We the people through our states are going to have to amend the Constitution and get it back to its proper place.
Be sure and check all of that at WallBuilders.com and get the full Constitution Alive right there. Find out more about it there but find out what’s happened in your state. Visit ConventionOfStates.com to find out what you can do to help restore our Republic. Thanks for listening today, to WallBuilders Live!