An Overview Of The Constitution! Constitution Alive Part Two: 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 second part of our three-part series!
Air Date: 04/23/2019
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 speaker and President of WallBuilders, and my name is Rick Green, I’m a former Texas state legislator, national speaker, and author.
Visit Us Online
You can find out more about us at our two websites. We’ve got WallBuildersLive.com, our radio site. And, then, go over to WallBuilders.com, our main site.
At the radio site, you’ll get a list of all our stations. You’ll be able to get into the archives of the program over the last few weeks.
Good News Friday
You can listen several weeks back and hear different programs that maybe you hadn’t had a chance to listen to, like Good News Friday. I know for me, I like Good News Friday because it gives a pick-me-up and lets me know what we’re doing can make a difference. We often say here, “Duty is ours; results are God’s.”
So, even when you don’t get the results, you still do your duty. But, when we are getting the results, I like to hear about it and know that we’re having victories out there. So, that’s what our Friday program typically here on WallBuilders Live is all about.
We call it “Good News Friday,” and you can grab several of those programs over the past few months and get some of that good news.
We’re in the middle of a special series from Constitutional Alive! We’re actually doing a 30,000-feet overview of the Constitution where we step back and look at the whole thing all at once, all seven articles and 27 amendments. So, we get a quick glance, if you will, at the entire Constitution. This allows us to identify the different sections, so we know where our freedom-of-religion right is, there in the First Amendment.
Or, so that we know where the Constitution guarantees it will be a republic, not a democracy. So, some of these basic things, we know where to look. And, then we can dive further into that specific area.
So, the way we’re doing this, we’re actually sharing with you–yesterday, today, and tomorrow here on WallBuilders Live–we’re sharing with you segment three out of Constitution Alive! Now, Constitution Alive is the program where David and I walk you through the entire Constitution, piece by piece. About half of the program is taking place in Independence Hall.
So, it’s in the room where the Constitution was framed, where the Declaration of Independence was done. We stand and walk in the footsteps of the Founding Fathers. It’s really cool stuff.
Then, the other half of the program is in David Barton’s library; and, he’s actually pulling things off the shelf and sharing with us those original documents. We’re holding the originals, which is really cool. So, all of that’s available on Constitution Alive! on the DVD, the audio, and the workbook. That’s all available at WallBuilders.com.
A 30,000’ Overview
But, here are WallBuilders Live, we’re actually bringing you one of those segments, a chapter if you will, from Constitution Alive! It’s segment 3, where we do this 30,000-feet overview. So, we started on this yesterday.
If you missed WallBuilders Live yesterday, you can go to the website right now, as I was talking about, WallBuildersLive.com. Click on that archive section and just pick up yesterday’s program. It’s okay, though; if you missed yesterday, you can still dive right in and listen along.
Today we’re going to pick up right where we left off yesterday with Constitution Alive! We’ll get as far as we can today before we run out of time; and then, tomorrow we’ll get the conclusions. So, you put all three together: yesterday, today, and tomorrow; and then, you send those out as e-mails to your friends and family to get them educated on the Constitution as well.
It’s the only way we’re going to save the Republic, folks. We’ve got to know what our freedoms are. As John Jay said, “Know when and how to properly assert and defend those rights.”
Let’s pick up where we left off yesterday with Constitutional Alive!
The District of Columbia
The District of Columbia has according to the Constitution, a very special place in our land. It was not intended to be a state. They did not want it to be within a state.
So, if you had the seat of the federal government in Texas, for instance, or in your home state, then you would either have favors for that particular state or could potentially have problems where there was too much conflict; and, you didn’t want that.
So, what the Founding Fathers did was they set aside D.C., no more than 10 miles square. They said, “That’s going to be the seat of federal government, not a state, not within a state.” Well, now that it’s become such a populous area and there’s so many people there, the American people said, “Those people should have a voice in the presidency, at least one branch of our three branches of government.
The 23 Amendment
“We’re going to let them have electoral-college votes.” So, We the People again amended the Constitution; it wasn’t something Congress did on their own. We the People said, “We want them to have electoral-college votes.”
So, now the people in the District of Columbia get to vote for president, and they get three electoral college votes. No problem; that’s the 23rd Amendment. Now statehood for D.C. is a totally different issue because if you give D.C. statehood, now you’ve actually got a constitutional problem.
If you give them statehood without amending the Constitution, then the Constitution says that D.C. will be governed by Congress. But, now you make a mistake. Who’s going to govern them: Congress or does the state govern?
Now, if We the People amend the Constitution and make D.C. a state–hey, if I lose that battle, I lose; that’s fine. I won’t be for it, because I like the idea of it being a special place that is not a state. But, if I lose that battle fine–f it’s done constitutionally.
The Congress is the one that decides whether or not to add a state; so, they could do it. It wouldn’t be a violation of the Constitution for them to give D.C. statehood; but, it creates that problem in the Constitution. But, D.C. statehood is a different issue; the 23 Amendment simply dealt with giving D.C. residents the right to vote for president.
The 25th Amendment
And then, the 25th Amendment is of course when the president is incapacitated. That’s one of the ones we’ll come back to. A lot of these amendments I’m going to fly through on our 30000-feet fly over; we’re not going to come back to.
You’ll find that in our QuickStart Guide for the Constitution, I tend to like to stay on the on the really noncontroversial issues like abortion, guns, and that sort of thing. So, we’ll stay away from the boring stuff, and we’ll stick with the–I like the controversial stuff.
So, anyway, we’ll come to some of the fun, controversial stuff; but, the boring things about dates, like the 20th Amendment, we’re done with that and won’t look at it again. Here’s one we’re not going to come back to; it’s another bucket of amendments.
The Bucket of Judicial Amendments
It’s the bucket of judicial amendments, and there’s only one. The 11th Amendment dealt with a very specific kind of suit, when a citizen outside of a state was suing that state. And so, initially they had given original jurisdiction to the federal courts.
It happened very quickly after the Constitution was adopted. Georgia got sued by a noncitizen, and the states all said, “Whoa, we don’t like this idea of the feds having original jurisdiction.” So, that 11th Amendment was adopted.
It is another boring issue. We’re not going to come back to it. Okay, there are three amendments in our next bucket.
The Congressional Amendments
This is the congressional amendments. So, we have three of them actually affecting Congress: the 17th–the 20th we already talked about. It affected Congress and the president; so, it’s in both those buckets. So, 17 the 27.
The 17th is in my humble opinion, the second worst amendment to the Constitution. And, the reason I say that is because what it did was it changed the way we choose our senators. What these guys put in place was supposed to be a very special form of a republic.
This system of federalism is going to be different than what anybody else had because what we want is representation at the federal level for the people, and that’s our House of Representatives; every two years they run. We want representation for the states, and that’s our Senate. And, those senators should be chosen by the states, by the state legislatures.
This is David Barton with another moment from America’s history. Often today it seems that the federal government has become too intrusive in the local matters. And federal micro-management has now unfortunately become the norm in education, law enforcement, religious expressions, and even on what is and is not moral.
Strikingly, the Founding Fathers had intended that the federal government never intrude into any of these issues. As Thomas Jefferson explained, “Taking from the states the moral rule of their citizens and subordinating it to the federal government would break up the foundations of the Union. I believe the states can best govern our home concerns and the federal government our foreign ones.” ,
According to Thomas Jefferson, the original plan was for the federal government to direct foreign affairs but for the states and local communities the domestic and the moral ones. For more information on God’s hand in American history contact WallBuilders at 1 800 8 REBUILD.
The Original Purpose of the Senate
And so, you can imagine if the state legislature is choosing the U.S. senators, then the Senate is going to be the place that keeps the federal government from encroaching on the states because those U.S. senators answer to the state legislators. As a former legislator I’ll tell you, if the feds are considering a bill that’s going to take away some of my turf or power as a state legislator or is trying to keep my state from being able to run something the way it wants to run it, and the feds are considering that, I going be on the phone that U.S. senator.
And, if that U.S. senator is elected by this handful of legislators, that U.S. senator is going to respond and stop the feds from encroaching upon the states. The 17th Amendment in 1913, changes that; and, no longer are those senators chosen by the legislature. They’re elected by the people at large, direct-election of senators.
What happened was, after that, you can look at the hockey-stick growth of the federal government, not just in terms of size, but in terms of jurisdiction, because now you’ve got the US senators coming home and saying, “Oh, I’m going to take care of you and bring your individual welfare from the federal level.” And, there’s nobody to stop them. There’s no longer that buffer of the state saying “no” through the U.S. Senate.
So, now the House and the Senate are essentially doing the same thing. So, it’s been a very bad thing in terms of jurisdictional government and moving so much of our stuff to Washington D.C. It was slow.
In some ways I blame the folks in 1913 for adopting the amendment; but, it was already slowly happening. Several of the states had already chosen through their state legislatures to no longer choose their U.S. senators through the legislature. They were putting it on the ballot and then choosing; but, they were just rubber stamping what happened at the ballot box; so, it was sort of happening over time.
But, in 1913, that’s when that amendment was adopted. I don’t think that’s going to change any time soon. I mean, if you think about it, the other side’s argument is a lot easier.
A Tough Argument to Make
If I’m on the other side, I can get up and say, “I don’t want the politicians at the state capital choosing my U.S. Senator; I want to choose my U.S. senator.” That takes about 20 seconds to say. All that stuff I just explained about why it’s better to have the U.S. Senate–took me about five minutes.
I mean, we lose that battle. It is just not not going to happen. Maybe if we get a million people to go through this class, we’ll finally be able to reverse that and get back to having our senators chosen by the legislatures.
Okay, the 27th Amendment is actually the last one to be in the Constitution. Now you’re really going to say, “This Rick Green’s brain really works weird,” because we’re gonna start at the back of the book. The very first thing we’re actually going to read out of the Constitution is the 27th Amendment.
So, at the very end, the last amended to the Constitution, we’re going to start at the back of the book. So, everybody open up their Constitution Made Easy and turn with me to page 62 and 63. Sixty-three is the Constitution Made Easy version, and 62 is the original version.
The 27th Amendment
This this amendment is quite interesting to me for a reason other than the language in the amendment itself, which says, “No law varying the compensation for the services the senators and representatives shall take effect until an election of representatives shall intervene.” So, pretty simple, right? I mean, all we’re talking about is we’re saying that if Congress votes themselves a pay raise, that’s fine; but, they can’t take the money, they don’t get the pay raise, until they come home for re-election. Then, in the next session of Congress, the pay raise can kick in.
So, if they did it today. If Congress passed an increase in their salary, right now today, they would have to come home and get elected in November. Then, next January that salary increase can kick in.
Now, they’ve sort of figured out a work around here, because they passed the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) law years ago. So, that law automatically gives them an increase in salary every year without them having to come home and have a new law. Which is what the amendment prevents, is that there would be another law that would vary their compensation, and they haven’t had to stand for re-election because they stood for re-election after the time of the COLA.
So anyway, they’re getting their pay raise every year, in my opinion, violating the spirit of the Constitution. But, they’re not violating the letter of the Constitution; that’s how they’re getting away with it. But, that’s not why that amendment is interesting to me.
The reason I jumped into the 27th first is because it’s interesting to me because of what it says right above that. “Originally proposed September 25th, 1789, ratified May 7th, 1992.” There’s a few weeks in between those two dates, right?
Proposed in 1789, Not Ratified Until 1992
Wait a minute. “Proposed in 1789, not ratified till 1992;” I think this story is so interesting because if you think about it, when the Bill of Rights was first adopted by Congress, there were actually 12 amendments, not ten. So, the Bill of Rights becomes 10 amendments; but, it started off as 12 amendments.
But, number one and number two didn’t get ratified by enough states. So, number three through 12 became one through 10, which means that our current Second Amendment was originally the Fourth Amendment. Which means if one and two had passed, then all of my NRA patches would be no good because they all say “Second Amendment.” I’d have to redo it.
So, the First and Second Amendments didn’t get ratified. So, the original Second Amendment sits dormant for all these years.
Hey, guys, this is Tim Barton with WallBuilders. I know you hear my dad and Rick talk a lot about our Founding Fathers about the original intent of our nation, a constitutional heritage that we have. And really we’ve seen how far we slipped away from that. And I know a lot of us as we hear my dad and Rick talk think, “I wish there was a place that I could go where I could see these documents and I could read and learn about the Founding Fathers firsthand. See the things they did.”
I want to give you some websites today that can help you accomplish that very thing. If you get online you can go to places like Library of Congress and you can look under their century of lawmaking or historical documents. You can go to the Avalon Project, to the Founders Constitution, Google Books, or even the internet archives.
Or you can just go to WallBuilders.com. We have a section for our WallBuilders Library. And under that section we have different subgroups for historical documents, historical writings, even a place where you can get helpful links to find out more information about other websites. Where you can do research for yourself and find the truth for yourself. Friends, this is the time that we need to know who we are and where we came from. WallBuilders.com is a great place to go.
This fella out of Austin, Texas by the name of Greg Watson, in 1982, is writing his research paper in college on the Equal Rights Amendment. And, in his research he finds this unratified amendment. So, he says, “Well, wait it was adopted by Congress, and there’s no limit on the time.
“Some states ratified it. If we get enough other states to ratify it, it’s got to go in the Constitution.” So, he changed his paper, and writes his paper on this unratified amendment.
Greg says, “We can get this thing in the Constitution,” and turns it into his professor. His professor says, “That’s a crazy idea,” gives him a “C,” then says, “It’ll never happen.” Which, of course, just motivated Greg Watson to say, “I’ll show you.”
He starts writing letters to legislators and all these other states. Ten years later, Greg Watson got enough states to ratify to where that amendment, originally the second, was in the Constitution and became the 27th Amendment. I say that for two reasons.
Number one–and, by the way, I know Greg. He used to office in the office next to me at the state capitol in Austin; that’s how I originally heard the story. Of course, I went to research it to make sure he was telling me the truth.
One Person Can Make a Difference
But, I tell you that for two reasons. Number one: one person can make a difference. I think is a great example.
Everybody says, “It’s impossible to get amendment in the Constitution.” One guy did. He made a huge difference.
And, the second reason is just a little more evidence for you that all great things come from Texas. That’s the reason I told you that story.
So, that’s the 27th Amendment. You’ve got three amendments affecting Congress. So, we’ve gone through several of our buckets.
Civil Rights Amendments
Now our next bucket are the civil rights amendments and amendments that end slavery: the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments. Well, we could spend all night just on these three. The 13th ends slavery.
The 14th Amendment was specifically put in, because if you think about it, you had a lot of states in the South that, even though slavery had ended, they were not protecting the rights of former slaves. They weren’t letting them vote. I mean, you name it; whatever the issue was, they weren’t given equal protection, if you will.
The Debate Over the 14th Amendment
So, the 14th Amendment was designed to say, “Hey, we’re going to make sure that the rights that one citizen has in a state are protected and guaranteed to every other citizen in the state.” And, here’s the deal with the 14th, folks. We could spend–oh, I don’t know–a year on the 14th Amendment.
It’s a major area of jurisprudence. In legal communities, there is a split over what the 14th Amendment actually does. And, this is the furthest in the weeds I’m going to go; so, stay with me for just like the next three minutes.
There’s a debate over whether the 14th Amendment incorporates, or if you will, applies the Constitution to the states. And, what that means is, if you think about it, the Founders designed the Constitution and even the Bill of Rights itself, not to affect the states, but to affect the federal government. So, take the Second Amendment, for instance, you’re right to keep and bear arms.
What these guys originally believed was that the Constitution and the Second Amendment would protect you from the federal government, not allowing your Second Amendment rights to be affected, not allowing you to not be able to keep and bear arms. But, it didn’t protect you from your state, which is why in Texas we have our own Second Amendment in our state constitution. Whichever state you’re from, I know from Arizona and most states–Colorado has a Second Amendment in their constitution; I think it’s the 44th or 50th but forget the exact number.
The Debate Over the 14th
So, all of us had our own Second Amendment protecting us from our state and local government, while these guys have given us a Second Amendment protecting us from the feds. The 14th Amendment, depending on which side of this debate you’re on, actually did take the Second Amendment and the Constitution itself and applied to the states; so that if your state didn’t have a second amendment or got rid of its second amendment, you could claim a constitutional right to keep and bear arms and the Constitution would protect you from your local city or from your state.
Up until the 14th Amendment, that wasn’t even possible. After the 14th Amendment, for years everybody’s debated over whether or not that really happened with the 14th. And, what the court has done–I know I said I wasn’t going to get much into the courts–but, what the court has done is little by little, it has applied the Constitution to the states. Not all at once, but piece by piece, things like grand jury they still have–some states don’t have a guarantee to a grand jury, and the courts have not yet given that guaranteed right in the Constitution.
The McDonald Case
But, the Second Amendment, you might remember just a few years ago, the McDonald case. And, in the McDonald case that was the question: Could a city government prevent you from keeping a bearing arms? Could the city government infringe upon your constitutional right to keep and bear arms?
And so, for the first time since the 14th Amendment had been ratified what 150 ago, this issue went before the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court said, “Yes, your Second Amendment right is protected even against cities and states.” And so, it incorporated or applied that part of the Constitution to the states.
Clarence Thomas & Original Intent
What happened for me was I was really on the fence on this thing because I had been on the side that said, “No, the 14th only had to do with this specific situation in the South, where you had former slaves not being granted the same protections.” And, in the McDonald case, I read Clarence Thomas’s concurring opinion. It’s about 50 pages long.
But, I mean he took me to school; let me tell you. I learned more in that concurring opinion about the 14th Amendment than anything I’d ever studied. And, he did what we’ve been saying tonight we should always do. He went back to the original intent.
Now, obviously the 14th Amendment wasn’t these guys. So, I couldn’t go to Gouverneur Morris or George Washington or any of those guys to figure out what the 14th Amendment was intended to do. They were all dead and gone long before that.
What Thomas did was, in his concurring opinion, he went through all the debates in the House and the Senate, the debates back home, and he proved to me that the 14th was definitely intended to apply the Constitution to the states.
And so, I’ve actually moved over to this side and now agree that the 14th does guarantee us that due process, guarantees us those equal protections from our states and our cities as well. I’m so sorry for getting in the weeds on that; but, if I had not done that, I’m going to get calls from all these people buying the DVDs, watching that, and saying, “Why didn’t you go into the 14th Amendment?” So, now the call will be, “Why didn’t you go further into the 14th amendment;” but, that’s as far as we’re gonna go with it.
Just know that 14th Amendment jurisprudence is a whole subject in and of itself. And, what we see today is that the 14th Amendment is used to protect us from our state and local governments or anybody else with regard to all those Constitutional limits. It does a lot more; but, that’s all we’re going to cover in our QuickStart Guide.
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.
The 15th Amendment
The 15th Amendment is what’s specific to voting. Now, I know the 14th should have already guaranteed that. But, you still had all these White-only primaries and all these all these problems in the South that were keeping Blacks from being able to vote.
And so, the 15th Amendment was to specifically say, “You have a constitutional right to vote, and it cannot be infringed based on the color of your skin.” That was a very important amendment to get passed.
Amendments that Deal with Voting
And, that actually opens us to our next bucket. There’s four amendments that specifically are a bucket of amendments that deal with voting. So, I’m going to ask my baby girl, Cameron, to come back up. She’s going to explain these four amendments on voting. Please welcome Cameron; she’s going to come back.
All yours, sweetie.
There are four Amendments that protect your right to vote. The 15th Amendment guarantees that we can vote, no matter what the color of our skin. The 26th Amendment says that you must be at least 18 years old vote; that means I’ve still got six more years to go.
Amendment 24 protects our right to vote whether we’re rich or poor. Last is my personal favorite, the 19th Amendment makes sure that we ladies have the same rights as the guys when choosing our leaders. Our right to vote is protected throughout the Constitution; so, don’t waste it.
Every chance you get to vote, let your voice be heard and values counted.
Good job, baby. All right.
Don’t Miss Any of the Overview of Constitution Alive!
Well, we’re about out of time for today, folks. Here on WallBuilders Live, what we’ve been sharing with you today is actually Constitution Alive! with David Barton and Rick Green. We bring it to life and show you how it still applies today.
What we’ve been doing is walking through the Constitution very quickly, showing you all seven articles and all 27 amendments, to get that 30,000-foot overview. Today we’re in the middle of a three-part series; so, if you happen to tune in in the middle of program today, what we’ve been sharing is Segment Three of Constitutional Alive! The entire program is available at our website, WallBuilders.com.
It’s about 12 hours of material. We take you into Independence Hall, where the Constitution was framed. We also take you into David Barton’s library.
It’s all available on DVD there. But, here on the radio program this week, starting yesterday,again today, and then we’ll conclude tomorrow; we’ve been sharing segment three with you. So, if you missed yesterday, it’s available right now on our website at WallBuildersLive.com in the archives section.And then, be sure and tune in tomorrow.
If for some reason you’re going to miss tomorrow, then all three parts: yesterday, today, and tomorrow from WallBuilders Live, will be available on our website. We encourage you to get those links and send them out to your friends and family to helpl get them educated on the Constitution as well.
It’s been exciting having you with us today. Tomorrow we’ll pick up right where we left off with Constitution Alive! with David Barton Rick Green today. Tomorrow we’ll get that conclusion on WallBuilders Live!