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Constitution Alive: Part One, Day Four – A Citizen Guide To The Constitution:How should the Constitution be interpreted? Is the Constitution too hard for “normal” people to understand? What about children? Tune in to hear the surprising answers to these questions and more on the next inspiring segment of Constitution Alive! Tune in now for more!

Air Date: 03/06/2020

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.

 

Rick:

You found your way to the intersection of faith and politics. This is WallBuilders Live with David Barton and Rick Green, we appreciate you joining us today. You can also join us online at wallbuilders.com and wallbuilderslive.com, as well as Facebook. Get on Facebook and look for Rick Green, David Barton, WallBuilders, you’ll find our pages there. We’d love to engage in conversation there as well.

If you’re tuning in today for the first time this week, you’re actually joining us in part four of a four part series on the Constitution. But don’t worry, you can enjoy today’s program without having heard the first three. But if you’d like to hear the entire series, then visit us online at wsallbuilderslive.com. Click on that archive button in the top right hand section and then you’ll find yesterday, the day before and the day before that, the first three parts to this four part series.

Now before we jump back in where we left off yesterday, just to catch you up on where we are. This program is called Constitution Alive with David Barton and Rick Green. It’s about a 12 hour program where we take you to the WallBuilders library, we bring those books off the shelf, these documents from the Founding Fathers, we show them to you, we share them with you and we show that original intent of the founders with regard to our Constitution.

And then in each segment, we take you out to Philadelphia and in the room where the constitution was framed, in the very place where the Declaration of Independence was signed, in that room, we actually teach you on the Constitution. We actually walk through every article, every clause, every section and we share with you the original intent of what the founders intended for that to do in that particular area of the Constitution. So it’s a great way to walk through the entire Constitution. Obviously, we can’t share that entire 12 hour program in just a couple of radio programs. But we’re giving you a little taste of it in a four part series this week, which is coming from segment one of Constitution Alive.

So let’s pick up right where we left off yesterday. We’ve already covered three parts of this four part series. We’re going to take you right back to Constitution Alive with David Barton and Rick Green.

Constitution Alive Session

Rick:

I mean, how many times do you try to get people to study the Constitution and even if you just give them a pocket Constitution, they never open it? What we’ve got to do is we’ve got to put some tools in their hands that they can quickly access how this country works and they can quickly access how to be a part of it. So just keep that in mind, I really encourage you actually to dig deeper. Let this be the Quick Start Guide and then go back home and do the more extended classes. Hillsdale College does a great program. The National Center for Constitutional Studies has some fantastic programs. In fact, 5000 year leap, I’ve got up here the making of America. I tell you a great source. My favorite of all is Ed Meese, a commentary on the Constitution. He goes line by line in this thing. Check that at Heritage Foundation, put that out and it’s another great tool. There’s so many great tools out there.

So our goal is not to replace any of them. Our goal is just to try to get people interested in going and doing those things. So that’s kind of the concept and we’re going to do the Quick Start Guide to the Constitution, if you will. So remember our goal: is to identify our rights and then know how to protect and preserve them, how to properly do that. So that’s our approach number one.

Approach number two is, we’re not going to focus on judicial interpretation. We’re going to focus on original intent. There’s another one analogy for this. When my mom actually gave this one to me, she was a bank teller when she was younger. And she said, as a bank teller, I went through all this training and I handled all this money. And she said, Rick, they never gave me a counterfeit bill, they never showed me a counterfeit, so I could feel it and know what it felt like.

She said, no, no, what they did was they had me handle the real deal, the genuine article, so much, so that when that counterfeit bill came through my fingers, I knew something is not right. Because I had worked with the genuine article so much, I recognize the counterfeit immediately. Same thing for us, we’re going to study the real deal. We’re going to study the Constitution itself. We’re going to study the Founders and what they said and did and how they acted when they were putting the Constitution in place. We’re going to study the actual words of our founding documents, not on what some judge says that he thinks or she thinks that they meant.

I think that’s what’s gotten us off course, as we’ve allowed judge after judge to pontificate on what some other judge said, about what some other judge said, about what some”€¦ and we’ve gotten so far off course. We got, you know, you think about the freedom of religion now. We get so many tests on what the freedom of religion is or when you violate that or when the establishment clause is. But I mean, Sandra Day O’Connor header three part tests, no, no, four part test and a five part. I mean, everybody is got all their tests, right and it’s just confusing. Why? Because we’ve gotten away from studying the original itself and what the Founders did.

So our goal is original intent. Let me give me a couple of quotes from the Founders on this. They said, “€œOn every question of construction carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted.”€ And how about back to the room? I don’t usually get to say that in the class. Let’s carry ourselves back to the time. Here we are in the actual room where the Constitution was adopted. Recollect the spirit manifested in the debate.

So what these guys were actually saying, right here when they adopted the Constitution and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text or invented against it, in other words, instead of taking the words and oh, well, today, that word means X Y&Z, so this must be what the Founders mean or trying to invent some meaning into the Constitution to try to get an outcome on the judicial decision. Instead of doing that, Jefferson says we should go back to the time, study what these guys were actually saying and he said, then conform to the probable one in which it was passed.

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This is David Barton with another moment from America’s history. The teachings of God’s word are the best friends civil government has because these teachings deal with the heart. Only by dealing with the heart can crime be prevented. For as Jesus explained in Matthew 5, all crime comes from the heart. Understanding this, Daniel Webster, the great defender of the Constitution, once declared, “€œThe cultivation of the religious sentiment represses licentiousness. It inspires respect for law and order and give strength to the whole social fabric.”€ Whatever makes men good Christians makes them good citizens. Indeed, it is not the good Christians who police arrest for armed robbery, gang activity or other such crimes. Understanding this, the Founding Fathers encouraged religious instruction. For as Daniel Webster so accurately noted, “€œGood Christians make good citizens.”€

For more information on God’s hand in American history, contact WallBuilders at 1808REBUILD.

Rick:

So these guys are going to speak to us tonight. They’re going to tell us what they actually said about these different areas of the Constitution so that we can follow Jefferson’s suggestion there. And then Madison, of course, the father of the Constitution, we”€™ll hear a lot from him tonight. He said, I entirely concur in the propriety of resorting to the sense in which the constitution was accepted and ratified by the nation. So in other words, you’re going to figure out what it says. He says, you go back to what these guys say when they adopted and then what happened in those individual States when they had the ratification debate. In that sense alone, it is the legitimate Constitution. So you want the legitimate Constitution, you go back to the beginning of what these guys did.

If that be not the guide, so if you go the other direction, if that be not the guide and expanding it, there can be no security for consistent and stable Constitution more than for a faithful exercise of its power. So what do you get? Instead of having a stable Constitution and a clear understanding that stays true throughout time and if you don’t like it, you use Article 5 and you amend it. But instead of having that stable Constitution, what do we get? Three part test on this. A four part test on this. Total confusion about what is or is not constitutional.

Madison said come back to the original if you really want to know. He said, what a metamorphosis would be produced in the code of law if all its ancient phraseology were to be taken in the modern sense? So when we think about phrases like “€˜general welfare”€™, what did it mean back then? What did it mean in this room? Not what does it mean to us today. Not what does it mean when a politician tells us what it means. What does it mean to these guys? We’re going to talk about that too.

The first thing governing”€¦ this is James Wilson, by the way. Now, this guy, he was in the room both times. He signed both the Declaration and the Constitution. He actually went on to be a Supreme Court Justice: one of the first guys George Washington nominated to serve on the Supreme Court. So he’s actually an original Supreme Court Justice.

He said, “€œThe first and governing maximum in the interpretation of a statute is to discover the meaning of those who made it.”€ Well, who made the Constitution? Guys that were in this room. Right? The ones that ratified it back home, those are the ones we got. If you will kind of crack open their heads, get inside their mind, figure out what they were thinking, what was the intent?

And the last guy I’ll give you on this is Joseph’s story, Supreme Court Justice, he wrote about 94% of the opinions when he’s on the court. He’s actually called the Father of American jurisprudence. He said, “€œThe first fundamental rule and the interpretation of all documents is to construe them according to the sense of the terms of the intentions of the parties. These are the parties, folks. We’re here, welcome to the party. We’re here with the parties that actually gave us the documents. And we’re going to hear from these guys and find out the original intent, not judicial interpretation.

So number one, it’s not exhaustive. Number two, we’re going to use original intent, not judicial interpretation. Third thing in terms of our approaches, we’re going to do something that we don’t normally get to do with the Constitution. We’re going to take it as amended. Those of you that have studied it a lot, you probably had some of those frustrating days like I did. When I first tried to study the Constitution, I opened up my pocket constitution. And I said, you know, first thing I was curious about, I said, I want to know about this Electoral College. I want to know where this school is in the northeast that all candidates go to.

I was hoping for a little laughter there. No laughter. Can we dump in some laughter there, camera guys? Okay. A lot of people really think that. They think the Electoral College is some campus over, you know, out here in the northeast that all the candidates come to. No. It’s the way we elect the president.

So I said, I want to figure out how this thing works. I was always confused by it. So open up Article 2, start reading about the presidency. Three paragraphs and guess what? It’s been amended by the 12th Amendment. And what your pocket constitution do? It just underlines what’s been changed, but it doesn’t tell you what’s been changed. So you got to flip over to the 12th Amendment and try to look at both them. And figure out, okay, what actually changed, what does it mean? And then three paragraphs into the 12th Amendment, it’s been amended by the 20th Amendment. So I got Article 2 open, I got the 12th Amendment open, I got the 20th open and I’m having trouble holding on to my pocket Constitution. Guess what? Article 2 is also amended by the 22nd and the 23rd and the 25th Amendment. So I got five amendments affecting Article 2 and I’m supposed to”€¦ I just went crazy.

I am so thankful for my buddy, my colleague. Mike put this thing together. He did meticulous work to put together this Constitution Made Easy, the tool we’re going to use tonight. I know you’re going to as the night goes on, you’re going to think this Green guy is really simple minded because I am. I need things to be explained. Okay. So Mike really helped me with this. And he laid out the Constitution as amended. What a novel concept!

So the tool in your hands tonight, what you’re going to be able to do is flip that thing open. And on the left hand side of the page, we get the original, because I’m going originalist, I’m not for replacing that language. But we get the original on the left hand side of the page. And then on the right hand side of the page, we get the Constitution as amended. So the blue is all the amendments incorporated into the original and it’s in modern language. So that’s the fourth thing we get is, is some plain language that makes it easy for people that haven’t made a big study out of this to actually go and read through the Constitution very quickly.

And part of what I love about that Constitution Made Easy is, you can actually sit down and read the blue part, the plain language and about 15 minutes. So people that have never been exposed before, you can hand that to them and say, hey, just sit down and read the Constitution. Just read through it real quick and you’ll find some things you never even knew were in there. You’re going to be able to clarify some things you may not have been aware of before.

So that’s our approach. That’s how we’re going to do this. We got a lot to cover in a short period of time and you’ll find people say that David and I both we talked about 90 words a minute with gusts up to about 350. I’m going to try not to gust on up to 350 too often. In our echo chamber here, I’ll do my best to keep the speed down. When we’ve got a lot of time together, we’re going to cover as much as we possibly can. So that’s sort of our introduction to the process.

And what we’re going to do a little bit about our approach, we’re going to talk about the seeds that were planted here, what the concepts were. Because, you know, I find it interesting that if you just read the documents and you don’t really go back to the philosophy that undergirds them, the philosophy that was put in place, you can get off track very quickly. So we’ll be back to talk about the seeds of liberty when we return, to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity. 

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Hey, this is Tim Barton with WallBuilders. And as you’ve had the opportunity to listen to WallBuilders Live, you’ve probably heard the wealth of information about our nation, about our spiritual heritage, about the religious liberties, about all the things that makes America exceptional. And you might be thinking as incredible as this information is, I wish there was a way that I could get one of the WallBuilders guys to come to my area and share with my group, whether it be a church, whether it be a Christian school or public school or some political event or activity.

If you’re interested in having a WallBuilders speaker come to your area, you can get on our website at www.wallbuilders.com and there’s a tab for scheduling. And if you’ll click on that tab, you’ll notice there’s a list of information from speakers BIOS, to events that are already going on. And there’s a section where you can request an event to bring this information about who we are, where we came from, our religious liberties and freedoms. Go to the WallBuilders website and bring a speaker to your area. 

Rick:

I don”€™t know if you could tell, David, I was a little excited to be in that cradle of liberty in that very room.

David:

Such a cool place to be. It is such a cool place. It”€™s cool place.

Rick:

And you”€™ve recorded there several times, it’s just something about being where it happened.

David:

And you know, I just always love looking back at George Washington’s chair and that, you know, was the rising sun, with setting set on that chair and I, boy, you know, Franklin, that’s such a cool story with it. But it’s cool to be in that room.

Rick:

I love it. So one of the things we talked about a lot and we’ll talk about a lot more throughout this course is original intent. You wrote an entire book on this, bestselling book on original intent, where you took all these documents in this room and really shared with us what was inside the minds of our Founding Fathers. Why is it so important to get that original intent?

 

 

David:

Because, that’s where you get the most effectiveness. It’s really hard to use a screwdriver as a shovel because it was not designed for that. So you can work all day long with screwdriver, not dig something out. You have to know original intent, have to know how to design just like using the owner’s manual. If you want the most out of your car, your TV, anything else, you have to do it. 

Rick:

And you have same people would misuse the Constitution for something it wasn’t intended to be used for.

David:

You know how we talked the beginning about human nature and principles and that’s what the constitution works, because it’s based on certain principles. One of those principles is human nature and absolutely can be. And we’ll cover this in future lessons. But that’s why we have checks and balances and separation of powers. And the Founding Fathers told us about human nature. And because of that, they put principles in there to keep people from taking in business. It won’t stop it if we don’t apply those principles. But they gave us some tools by which we can stop some of these.

Rick:

I like that analogy, because now it’s not just original intent, but original intended use. It”€™s a good way to think of it.

David:

It is. It is. And one of the things that this kind of a good example that you talked about, if we don’t do that, right then you’re talking about how we get off track and you”€™re exactly right. Here’s a great example. This is one of the bestselling books in American history. It”€™s one of the McGuffey readers. It came out 1830s and 40s and went through 120 million copies to this date. So I mean, they have sold like crazy. So here is a fourth grade reader. And I just opened up here to lesson number nine. “€œDeath at the toilet.”€Â 

Rick:

I’m not even”€¦ I have no idea.

David:

Why would they use such crude bathroom humor back in that day? Because back in that day, toilet is where we get the word toiletries, which is like your shaving stuff and your hair stuff. And well, toilet was really your vanity table. And that’s why we call it vanity. So “€œDeath at the toilet”€ is death at the vanity table. And it deals with a young girl who’s really cocky and proud and arrogance about how beautiful she was and it turned in her demise.

Rick:

Wow.

David:

Well, we look death at 12 and say, I can’t believe that you’re such crude humor. No. No. You have to go back to understand what they were trying to do. Now once we understand that, the principle is the same. The arrogance and the cockiness and the kind of stuff that they talked about with that girl, but it’s not death at the toilet, is death at the vanity table. Her vanity is what destroyed her.

So that’s the kind of stuff that still works and it does have an impact. And that’s why you want to go back and no original intent. We”€™ll just go back where we started at the beginning with John J. These are the six things that we want every single citizen to be able to do.

When you read the side of the Constitution, number one is read the Constitution. Doesn’t take 20 minutes, is an easy thing to do. Number two is study the Constitution. Once you’ve read it, you kind of get the overview. Now, go back and look at the things and start making the list”€¦

Rick:

And that’s where we really are. Getting into the minds of the Founders, we”€™re studying what those words actually mean, not just reading.

David:

We are. And as we go through these next lessons, these other lessons, we’re going to be studying what that meant and why they put that there, why that clause is there and what are they trying to do. So”€¦

Rick:

Is that all of these books are important, not just the words of the Constitution. But when you pull a book off the shelf, that is someone that one of these guys in this picture that help, give us the document and it gives you a chance to really find out what they were thinking when they did.

David:

It helps set the tone of the times, if you understand. You know, people accuse the pilgrims all the time, being so bloodthirsty, because they had the death penalty. So they had 15 crimes that had the death penalty. But let’s set the tone with the time. When they came to America from Great Britain, the country they left had the death penalty for over 230 crimes. So they’ve taken it from 230 death penalty crimes down to 15, I don’t think they’re bloodthirsty.

Rick:

So that puts it in context.

David:

Puts it in context.

Rick:

If you just look at it by itself, you can get way off. But if you step back and see the big picture”€¦

David:

And that is the thing. You can get fixated on a particular issue and you see so much to the trees, you missed the forest. And that’s why you read it to see the forest. Now let’s go back, study some of the trees that are in the forest. And that’s the second part. Third part is be able to teach it. Once you see what’s in there, teach especially the rising generation. But in this culture with our poor educators, teach all of us.

I love, there’s a Bible verse in Song of Solomon 8:13. It says your friends listen to your voice. So speak, exactly. In this day and time, with what we have a social media, there’s nobody who doesn’t have a platform. There are people who will listen to you. There are people who hear what you say on Facebook or Twitter, whatever you get. Speak.

Rick:

Might be 5 people, might 5,000, but all of us have some folks we can influence.

David:

Whatever you got, you talk to your friends and that makes a difference. Then what you want to be able to do is know those constitutional rights. Now that you’ve read and studied, you started teaching them. You now recognize when somebody has crossed the line, wait a minute, he can’t do that. That’s not constitutional. And then at that point, you can defend those rights if they’re coming after you. Or if they come after somebody else, you can assert those rights. So you stand up. And those are the six things that everybody needs to be able to do with the Constitution.

Rick:

So you can’t have that perception, you won’t know that those rights have been violated if you haven’t done these first steps, so you got to study and know.

David:

See, I mean, you talked in there about how your mom when they train her as a bank teller, they didn’t show her counterfeit stuff. They just let her handle the real stuff so much that she instantly recognized it.

BREAK

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. And 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 Quick Start 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.

David:

And we did the same thing in World War Two. If you want it to be able to recognize the enemy, you studied those enemy identification trust. So you studied all the enemy planes, all the enemy tanks. So when you saw, oh, that’s the enemy. Now, we can defend and assert ourselves, we”€™re going offense. You want to make sure you didn’t get one of the allied tanks, you know, you didn’t want one of the British tanks. So you studied and once you study, you could recognize when there was something wrong and that’s what it takes.

Rick:

But as we study, you know, sometimes people today, I mean, if we’re not doing a good job of this in our schools, then that means we need more tools. We’ve got to have the tools to be able to study all those things.

David:

And by the way, just so nobody gets intimidated over this thing. Studying the constitution and understand it is not a hard deal. This notion that we get from law school said only the nine people in the Supreme Court really know the Constitution”€¦

Rick:

Yeah, these high priest of the law.

David:

I have been to several legislators where that I have”€¦ and it just tears me up. Legislators say, let’s just go ahead and pass it in the Supreme Court to tell us where this is constitutional. No, you took an oath to uphold it and you don’t have to be a brain child, do this. And great example of that is this little book right here. This is a book, an elementary book back in 1828. And elementary kids studied this Constitution… I mean”€¦

Rick:

So they’re teaching the constitution to elementary kids”€¦

David:

You know what you get in law school, you know what those post graduate stuff and the kind of stuff that they were having these elementary kids study, the questions they asked?

Rick:

1828, I had to”€¦ going all the way back. Though this is only”€¦

David:

I”€™ll ask them some of the elementary questions.

Rick:

Okay, so these are”€¦

David:

But you”€™re attorney. You”€™re a legislator.

Rick:

Now, what if I can’t answer it, this is going to be bad, which I’m probably not going to be able to. So these are elementary school kids and they’re asking them, can the Congress punish piracy? That is robbery committed. See, because we have some of that today. So absolutely, a good question for today. You know, you get smaller [crosstalk 23:48] movie about the captain”€¦

 

David:

That’s international law. So can we in America do anything to punish other nations under our Constitution?

Rick:

Yeah. How many people, I don’t know the answer to that question on the top of my head. So what does the elementary catechism? Yes. And all other crimes committed there, it can also punish offenses against the laws of nations. So there’s another question and in fact, goes to next question. What do you mean by the law of nations? This is great. So this is done in a catechism way where you ask one question and it raises the next question.

David:

That’s right. That’s elementary kids. And I’ll bet if you sit down in a law school and take third year law students that are about to take the bar exam and run those questions through, they want to”€¦

Rick:

Yeah, it talks about marque and reprisal, all of these things.

David:

Nobody knows what that is anymore. And that actually is a very current thing that still goes on, because it deals with restitution, is a form of recitation. So there’s a lot and there’s [inaudible 24:36], so do not get intimidated saying, you know I’m not that smart. You don’t have to be smart. The Founding Fathers, remember these were average guys. They were farmers. They were ship builders. You know, one of these guys, he was a shoeshine guy. He made leather shoes and kept shoes and they’re common folks. And they did this for the common average everyday [crosstalk 24:57].

Rick:

So if they could do it, we can do it today. And if kids of yesterday in 1828, little kids could, so it was intended as an elementary catechism, but we need it for all of our [crosstalk 24:57].

David:

Absolutely. Absolutely.

Rick:

Well, that’s the whole idea of Constitution Alive. So when we come back, we’re going to actually talk about the seeds of liberty. We’re going to dive into some of these materials and talk about what was planted to give us like a successful formula here on Constitution Alive with David Barton and Rick Green.

Rick:

Well, that’s the conclusion of segment one in Constitution Alive with David Barton and Rick Green. There’s so much more there. And if you’d like to find out more about that program, it’s available on our website right now at wallbuilders.com. It’s called Constitution Alive with David Barton and Rick Green. Lots of other wealth of information available there on the website, articles and things you can download. So we hope you’ll check out wallbuilders.com today and also at wallbuilderslive.com. You can get this entire four part series that we’ve done this week. It says segment one out of Constitution Alive with David Barton and Rick Green. So it’s just about 10% of the entire program.

But we wanted to give you as much of it as we could here on the radio and share that with our listeners. So if you missed those first three parts and just tuned in today to part four of this four part series, then visit our website at wallbuilderslive.com. Click on the archives and you can now get all four parts to this series that we shared with you this week.

We encourage you to email it out to your friends and family, send them those links and get them educated on the original intent of our Constitution so that together we can save our constitutional republic.

You’ve been listening to WallBuilders Live.