An Overview Of The Constitution! Constitution Alive Part One: Our Constitution is still alive and applicable today! As citizens, we all have a duty to study the Constitution, to understand where our rights and our freedoms are laid out in that document, and how our government structure should work. The reason our government continues to overstep its boundaries is because “we the people” don’t know what those boundaries are! Tune in now for the first part of our three-part series!
Air Date: 04/22/2019
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
You find your way to the intersection of faith and the culture. This is WallBuilders Live! Thanks so much for joining us today. You can visit our websites at WallBuilders.com and also WallBuildersLive.com.
At WallBuildersLive.com you can get a list of all of our stations across the country where the program is heard. You can also get archives of the program for the last few months if you’ve missed some of those. Maybe you want to catch up on some of the Good News we share on Fridays or the Foundations Of Freedom that we share on Thursday. You can get that at our website right here WallBuildersLive.com.
We also love to entertain your questions about history about the foundations and the application of those things to today’s culture. You can send those questions into [email protected]
Segment-Three From Constitution Alive
We’re going to have a very cool segment today, tomorrow and the next day from Constitution Alive. We’re going to be sharing an overview of the entire Constitution. Now if you haven’t listened to any of our Constitution Alive programs. It’s where we walk you through the entire Constitution following the advice of first Chief Justice John Jay.
He told us that every citizen ought to read and study the Constitution. And he had a really good reason for it. He said if we read it if we know our rights then we’ll know when our rights have been violated, and we’ll be the better prepared to defend and assert them.
We As Citizens Have A Responsibility And Duty To Study The Constitution
So we as citizens have a responsibility and duty to study the Constitution; to understand not just what does it say in other words don’t just read through it but study what those words meant to the people that put those words in the Constitution.
In other words, what’s the actual intent; not what some judges today twisted it to mean or apply some new meaning or create some meaning between the words that were never even there in the first place. That’s what Jefferson warned us about. Madison warned us about that. What we try to do is give you the original intent, the real intent of what the Founding Fathers gave us there in the Constitution.
So Constitutional Alive takes you through all of that. You can find out more about it on our website WallBuilders.com.
We’re going to give you a taste of it today tomorrow and the next day. So this will be a three-part series. We’re going to be sharing with you segment three out of Constitutional Alive.
In Constitutional Alive, we go to Independence Hall we stand in the room where the constitution was framed, where the Declaration was done. And in that very room, we teach through the Constitution, and then we also go into David Barton’s library.
David pulls all these cool documents off the shelves and actually takes us back in time to the things that were done at the time of the Constitution. All of that information is there throughout Constitutional Alive.
But this particular segment we’re going to share with you this week, we haven’t done this before on WallBuilders Live. We shared some other segments from Constitutional Alive dealing with the Presidency or with the powers of Congress so or the role of the judiciary. Those types of things you can find some of that in our archives of past radio programs.
But this is the first time we’ve shared segment three which is what we call a 30,000 feet overview. In other words, it’s kind of stepping back and looking at the entire Constitution all at once.
You can look at all seven articles and all 27 Amendments and just kind of a quick overview of what’s in each of those so that you can identify where these important topics are. Then you can dive in specifically to the particular area of interest at the time.
So the way we did this is we just did a quick overview of the entire Constitution, and then throughout the rest of the program, we dive into those specific Articles or specific Amendments. So today we’re going to do that 30,000 feet overview. Tomorrow and the next day as well, and we’ll start there in the library with David Barton.
Here’s Constitutional Alive with David Barton and Rick Green.
Constitutional Alive – 30,000-Foot View
Welcome back to Constitutional Alive with David Martin and Rick Green. We’ve laid a foundation. We’ve talked about our purpose and approach. We’ve learned a lot about the seeds of liberty that came from our founding fathers, and actually from one hundred years before that to give us that foundation. Now, let’s jump into the Constitution but let’s do it from a little bit of a distance first to see the big picture.
Well, as you said about this lesson, this is the 30,000-foot view, and that is really important. And I was thinking about that from the aspect of with all the documents we have here. I recently had the opportunity to acquire some of the battle maps used by three-star Generals who ran the Allied Forces from World War II over Italy.
That’s a great point in terms of your library; not just books in here. You’ve got all these proclamations we talked about in the last chapter. Even maps. Battle maps.
Even battle maps and so in looking at that I was struck with the fact that this three-star General is looking at all of Italy – now you get a lot of battles in Italy. But he’s looking at the overview of it. And if you’re in that battle, Anzio, that’s the most important thing in the world to you. That’s all you see. That’s what you’re focused on.
But sometimes you need to be that three-star general or a four-star general, and back say wait a minute I’m looking at all of North Africa here, and I’ve got about 20 battles going on. I’ve got about these many divisions, and these men and I’ve got to move them all.
Step Back and See the Whole Battle Map
And so thinking at that level is what we’re going to do today. So I thought a good way to do that is to look at an old battle map plan just to show a good example. Let’s go back in history for a bit to American history. You have the French and Indian war. George Washington’s a 23-year-old Colonel here, and this is a battle and a time that shaped his life militarily. A lot of – the only official defeat he ever had in his entire military career was right here in this battle.
Is this, by the way, the bulletproof George Washington? We’ve got a book on that. Dean Jones is the audio on the audiobook. This is what happened.
The only defeat he suffered is on the 4th of July of 1754. The only official defeat he ever suffered. So this shaped a lot. When you look here, it all happens right in here, and that’s significant. There are several things that are very important.
Alexandra here where all the ships in the British land and they march, and Washington takes these guys up in here to a place called Fort Necessity in Great Meadows. Then they have this massive battle over here at Fort Duquesne, but it was all being done up here Lake Erie. And then after the battle, they have to go back to Fort Cumberland and so there are five big areas here.
But if you’re a General like Edward Braddock or if you’re an officer like Washington, you see all of those things
You’d want to see all of that at once.
You want to see it. But what happened was – this is the battle map of what happened when they got to Fort Duquesne. Now the British and American troops are strung out over four miles. Over Four miles long is this battle that they’re in and so they’re scattered out. And the French and the Indians all around here. And here’s the Americans and the British here. And so what happens is: if you’re this guy right back here, the most important thing in the world to you is what’s happening right there. Yeah.
You get to see the overall thing here.
Here’s where the real threat. Yeah, you’re getting shot at back here, but we’ve got to deal with these guys up here. But you know it’s not just these guys they are –
A Moment From America’s History
This is David Barton with another moment from America’s history. Shortly after the American Revolution America had become the envy of the world. It still remains a wonder of the modern world as 219 years later America has become the longest ongoing constitutional republic in the history of the world. What was the foundation upon which our Founding Fathers established this great nation? According to John Adams, the foundation was Christianity.
John Adams declared, “The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity. Now I will avow that I then believed and now believe that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God.”
According to Founding Father John Adams, it was the principles of Christianity which formed the foundation for the American government. For more information on God’s hand in American history contact WallBuilders at 1 800 8 REBUILD.
You start getting back, and you start saying you know it’s easy to get focused on where I am and miss the big picture of this. So that’s why battle maps help you understand the big picture. The battle map for what we’re going to do is the Constitution. And so we want to understand the Constitution, and as you say it’s 30,000-foot view.
The Three Big Articles – Article 1, Article 2, Article 3
So let me give a simple view of the Constitution. The three big articles are Article 1, Article 2, Article 3.
Article 1 defines and tells Congress what it can do. Article 2 defines and tells the President what he can do. Article 3 defines and tells the courts what they can do. Real simple. Notice how this works: Article 1 is two thousand two hundred, and sixty-eight words and 111 lines in the Constitution telling Congress here’s what you can do. Nothing else and this stuff right here. Article 2 is the President. It’s less than half. Thousand twenty-five words and forty-eight lines. So he gets a little lo. Constitution only lets him do so much and as a whole lot less than Congress. Then you look at Judiciary. My gosh, the total scope of what judiciary is allowed to do is 377 words only 18 lines in the Constitution. Now if I look at –
It’s a small percentage of the Congress. But that’s the battle map. If I’m looking at the whole thing at once, where’s your most important
When somebody tells me that the three branches are equal, I’m going to look at that and say wait a minute. Not hardly. It seems to me like all the weight is up in Congress and there ain’t no weight down here. Forgive me for speaking Texan there.
That’s OK. We want a lot of Texan in it. If you’re zoomed in here on just the courts and you’re reading what the court says and then you forget it. You don’t have the perspective to compare.
The Federalist Papers
This is the Federalist Papers. And so this was done after they had written the Constitution but before they ratify. This is trying to convince everybody in America, particularly in New York that you need to ratify the Constitution. So done by James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and so they’re saying here’s why you ratify. And in here it says what we see on the battle map. It says in here, and I can read him off, I’ve got a mark. But in the Federalist Papers, it tells us that the legislative authority necessarily predominates. They’re saying it’s strong within the other branches yeah. And when you get over here –
Maybe they’re saying necessarily because they are looking at the big picture.
If they were only looking at the legislature and they’re not comparing it to the other battles that are taking place if we stick to the battle map.
Well, Article 1. You can get at those people every two years. Yeah. Article 2 you can get at that person every four years. Article 3 it’s a little harder to get those people so we make sure they can’t do much because we can’t get at them as often and we get at him every four years, so we’ll make sure he doesn’t have as much. But the guys we can get at every two years –
So these guys necessarily predominate because we can get to them
We can get to them, and we’ll get to them regularly. That’s why all the powers vested in Congress. Not in the courts and not in the President. And that’s why all this also tells us it says: the judicial branch is by far, by comparison, the weakest of three branches.
But even there it’s almost four times.
They even tell you that the judiciary is so weak, it says the liberty of the people can never be endangered from that branch. Really? I don’t think we’ve read the battle plan in a while. I don’t think we’ve gone back –
So that’s why looking, and that’s why what you enter this 30,000-foot view is so significant because you need to see how all the battle plan looks like.
If you’re over here fighting the judge as you think that’s the most important part of the Constitution. But if you get the overall view, if you’re the General. Article 4 is really important too. The Republicans clause, Article 5 is really important on amending the Constitution. Article 6 the supremacy clause really important stuff and we don’t think about that because we’re in battles on other places.
You wouldn’t even know how to win that particular battle?
You Won’t See The Other Tools That These Other Branches Have In Them
I mean if you’re totally focused in on just the judiciary, and you don’t step back and see the full battle plan, you don’t see the tools that these other branches have in them. You don’t see the tools that we have in Article 5 to admit. I mean, if you just focus on the one battle you’re going to lose the war.
You’ve got the General saying, I’m getting attacked over here but I’ve got a whole division I can bring down here, and you’re exactly right. You have to know the other tools that are there that you can call in to be a resource. But if you’re fixated on that one battle, in the battle of Monongahela with George Washington, you don’t know about Fort Cumberland, and you don’t know about Prescott, and you don’t know about Alexandra –
that’s why we look at this from 30,000 feet
And we will dive into each of those areas. So first, we’re gonna get that big picture view. We’ll dive in later but let’s head back to Independence Hall for 30,00-feet view the entire Constitution.
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 the 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 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.
Welcome back to Constitution Alive. We’re finally ready to dive into the actual Constitution. First, we’re going to step back and look at it from what I call a 30,000-feet view. I don’t know about you guys, but I have a hard time just opening page one.
As a kid, I always went to the back of the book you know to see what was happening at the end.
I like to look at the whole thing I want to look at the cover. I want to see the big picture first. Then I’m ready to dive into those specific areas.
So for the next few minutes, we’re going to fly through the entire constitution and get a big picture of those seven articles and those 27 amendments so we kind of know where the pieces are.
Then we’ll zero in – most of our time will be on Article 1 Section 8 because we’re going to talk about the enumerated powers of Congress. What Congress can do or what Congress is supposed to be doing. So, first we’re gonna step back and look at the whole thing, and of course, you can’t look at the whole thing without starting with that preamble.
So I’m going to ask my daughter Cameron to come forward and join us. She’s been wanting to get across that rail into this sacred room. You’ll welcome Cameron. Cameron Green. Join us.
Right there. All right. Share those first words that Governor Morris wrote for us.
We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the Blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Great job baby. Way to go. All right. Okay.
If I were a smarter man, I’d have her teach the rest of the class. Would be a lot better off.
So there you have the preamble. Morris wrote this one entirely himself.
Now the preamble, of course, doesn’t have the force of law. So I kind of think of it in terms of like a business letter where you got your re colon, and this is what the letter is about. Then you get into the meeting letter. That’s the way I think of the preamble.
It sort of sets the stage for us, of here’s what the Constitution is going to be all about.
I do want to point out though, and we are not going to spend a lot of time on it, but I do want to point out two very quick things out of the preamble.
First of all, it’s the first place we see this phrase, ‘general welfare.’ So we see ‘promote the general welfare’ in the preamble. We’re going to talk more about that when we get to Article 1 Section 8. But if you go back and you look at the Articles of Confederation, it helps us to understand general welfare in the Constitution itself.
And the first thing I’ll show you right here before we get into Article 1, Section 8 is the Webster’s Dictionary of general welfare. 1828 is the closest Webster to the time and here’s what it said, its exemption for many unusual evil or calamity, the enjoyment of peace and prosperity or the ordinary blessings of society and civil government. And then there are three really important words.
What are they?
Applied to the states.
Applied to the states. So General Welfare is not individual welfare. It’s not the right of Congress to take something from you to give to someone else for their individual welfare. General welfare was for the states. It was for the system itself to keep freedom for all of the states and for the system in general. Not for individual welfare. We’ll come back to that one a little later.
The Blessings of Liberty
Then the last thing in the preamble I’d point out is ‘the blessings of liberty.’ For those who say it’s a godless Constitution, I’m just wondering where those blessings are supposed to flow from. I like blessings of liberty being in there.
Constitution At A Glance
OK, let’s take a look at the Constitution at a glance. In your study guide, you’ve got a one-pager there of the whole Constitution on one page, and I do that so that I can see it at a glance and quickly figure out OK where was that issue of grandeur? Where was that particular issue? And I can find it very quickly.
But let’s take a look at the whole thing. First, we got seven articles. Article 1 is the legislative branch. So here’s where we learn about Congress Article 2 is the presidency. So that’s our executive branch we’ll spend a little more time on that later. Article 3 of the judicial branch. We’re going to spend a lot of time on the judiciary. That’s become a very, probably the most dangerous branch in terms of taking the Constitution and turning it into something it was never intended to be.
Article 4 is about interstate relations we’re not going to come back to that much except to point out that there in Article 4, Section 4 is where we’re guaranteed to be a republic, not a democracy. Article 5 is the amendment process which we’ll spend a little bit of time on that. Article 6 is where you get the supremacy clause. They’ve validated the debts from the Confederacy, no religious test sorts of things like that. Article 7 is ratification. We won’t spend any time on that in our class. So that’s the seven articles.
Big Picture Of The 27 Amendments
Now let’s just run through real quick get a big picture of the 27 amendments. So twenty-seven times we’ve amended what these guys in this room initially did. So they put the constitution in place, the states ratify it becomes the law of the land. Twenty-seven times we’ve made changes, tweaks if you will sometimes big changes to that original Constitution.
I’m going to give these to you not necessarily in numerical order, but I call it buckets. I put them in buckets of what they do. It’s not what number they are but what part of the Constitution do they amend. Of course the Bill of Rights. That’s our first ten amendments. We’re going to come back to that later and spend more specific time on it, but that’s our first bucket.
Let’s just set those aside for right now we’ll come back.
The 12th Amendment
The second bucket is the amendments that affect the presidency. So I mentioned earlier that five amendments are affecting the presidency. Now the 12th was simply correcting somewhat was potentially a real problem in the Electoral College in choosing the President.
Think about it this way, back in their day if you had someone who got the most votes became President in the Electoral College most votes, and their arch-rival becomes Vice- President. So that’s their second in command. Back in the day of duels and assassinations and all, not a good idea. I don’t think so. That didn’t work out so well. Fortunately, they didn’t actually assassinate anybody.
But when Jefferson and Adams when Adams was President, Jefferson his archrival became Vice-President, I think everybody went ding ding ding. This is a problem.
So 12th amendment changes that. Now we get President and Vice-President coming from the same team, and you make sure your second-in-command is of the same philosophy that you are when you’re running and going a backup what you’re doing. So that’s the 12th Amendment.
The 20th Amendment
The 20th amendment had to do with dates, and it essentially was trying to stop a lame duck Congress. Now back then, it was enough to stop a lame duck Congress. Today, of course with our travel being so much easier two months is plenty of time for these guys to wreak a lot of havoc and cause a lot of problems if one party gets voted out in November.
They’ve got two months where they can pass all kinds of stuff before the new Congress comes in January. That might actually be a good place for us to have a new amendment that would tighten up those dates, so you didn’t have as much of an opportunity for a lame duck Congress.
The 20th amendment affects when the president and Congress come into power and are sworn in.
The 22nd Amendment
The 22nd Amendment. The easiest way to remember the 22 Amendment for me, I think two two; two terms. All right? Twenty-second Amendment is when we limited the president to two terms. Think about why we did that. Remember what rep was saying earlier how the only just powers of government come from the consent of the governed.
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The Executive, Our President
When we create a government when we create a document and a way for that government to work, we the People are not giving power we’re loaning power to that government. And if we see something that needs to be tweaked or changed, the beauty of freedom is that we the people can take some of that power back.
So we created a branch of government known as the Executive, our President. We didn’t put a limit on how long someone could be President. Everybody followed Washington example up until FDR. Then you get that fourth term, and anybody goes this is kind of too long.
In fact we kind of started saying you know what’s happening is this person is staying in this branch, is staying in power for so long they’re able to accumulate more and more power, and they’re getting too powerful.
We, The People Limited The Presidency To Two-Terms
We don’t like the idea of a king mentality of somebody being there as long as they ever want to be. And so we the people reigned in that branch if you will. And we limited the presidency to two terms. That was us. We did that with a 22nd amendment.
So we said here’s the Constitution we love it great things in it. But there’s one area that needs to be tweaked. We, the People tweak it.
We took back some of that power and limited the president to two terms. Might be a good idea to consider that for the other branches. I’m just saying all right.
So that’s the 22nd Amendment.
The 23rd Amendment
Then you get the 20 third amendment also affects the president. So we’re still in our bucket of amendments affecting the President. The twenty-third amendment was where we added the electoral college for District of Columbia.
Well, friends were out of time for today. You’ve been listening to Constitution Alive with David Barton and Rick Green. What you’ve been listening to is segment three out of this 12-hour program. You can get the whole thing on DVD and CD, the workbook. The whole package it’s all available here at WallBuilders.com. But if you don’t have that and you’re not doing the full study at home at least by listening to Wall Builders Live you can get a taste of this.
What we’ve been doing is an overview of the entire Constitution. Segment three out of Constitution Alive does that. It’s just a quick overview of all seven articles all 27 amendments. It gives you an idea of what takes place in each of those. Throughout the rest of Constitution Alive, we dive into those specific areas and get very detailed.
So today was the first part in a three-part series bringing you that that segment three out of Constitution Alive. So tomorrow we’re just going to pick up right where we left off today.
Again as I mentioned at the beginning of the program, you can send in your questions to us at [email protected] [email protected] especially if it has to do with the Constitution or the founding fathers, the declaration or maybe the application of the principles they gave us to some of the issues that we face today. If you send in questions on those things then on Thursdays that’s our best chance to get to those questions.
We’ll dive into some of those during our Foundations of Freedom programs on Thursday.
We sure appreciate your listening today. Be sure to visit our Web site today WallBuilders.com and WallBuildersLive.com. This has been WallBuilders Live.