Constitution V.S. Federal Gov, Are States Allowed To do As They Will: It’s Foundations of Freedom Thursday, a special day of the week where we get to answer questions from you, the listeners! Always answering your questions from constitutional principles! Tune in today as we answer your questions such as do we as Americans have any right to be safe in public? Can a judge have life tenure as long as they behave inside their guidelines? Are the states free to do as they choose or not?” And so much more, right here on WallBuilders Live!
Air Date: 05/03/2018
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Faith And The Culture
President Thomas Jefferson said, “I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society, but the people themselves. And if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.”
Welcome to the intersection of faith and the culture. This is WallBuilders Live! Where we talk about the day’s hottest topics on policy, faith, and the culture. Always from a biblical, historical, and constitutional perspective.
You can find out more about us at WallBuildersLive.com. We’re here with David Barton, America’s premier historian and the founder of WallBuilders. Also, Tim Barton, national speaker, pastor, and president of WallBuilders. My name is Rick Green, I’m a former Texas legislator.
WallBuildersLive com is one of the websites that’s got the list of all the stations and you can get archives of the program. And then WallBuilders.com, that’s our main website where you can get all kinds of tools to equip yourself and your family. You can make contributions there to help us get this radio program spread all over the nation, and frankly, throughout the world. We have a lot of listeners actually that listen in other countries to find out about these great principles that our nation was founded upon. All of that information is at WallBuilders.com and WallBuildersLive.com.
It happens to be Thursday, so that’s Foundations of Freedom Thursday for us here at WallBuilders. That’s the day you get to ask the questions that will drive our conversation as we dive into these founding principles. So, please send those in to [email protected], [email protected]
David, Tim, we’ve got a whole list of questions, you guys ready to jump in?
Let’s do it!
Lifetime Appointments on Good Behavior?
Alright, Robert Rivera is up first. He’s got a question about the judiciary branch. He said, “In the series God and Country which I find exciting to listen to over and over again because there’s too much for me to grasp in one listening, you state that judges are not appointed for life. In Article 3 it states that only good behavior can be a barrier to continued service. With such a phrase it can certainly mean life tenure as long as they don’t behave outside their guidelines. So, can you please show me or explain how it is you don’t get life judicial appointments according to the Constitution?”
Roberts says God and Country material. So, we’ve got a lot of things that are kind of all around there. I’m guessing maybe Foundations of Freedom the television program, I know we cover this topic. And then Constitution Alive we cover this topic, and Building on the American Heritage series. So, I’m not sure which series he was watching, but definitely we’ve said, even here on the program, that the Constitution does not give lifetime appointments. It allows for judges to be appointed for good behavior. And I think what Roberts really asking is, “What is good behavior?” How do we– what do we look for outside of good behavior to say, “No, that judge needs to go”?
Well, also when you look at the last part of this question, can you show me or explain how it is you don’t get life judgeship according to constitution? If you did get a life judgeship, and as Robert Riley acknowledges, the Constitution says you get to serve for the duration of good behavior. And if you behave yourself that can be a lifetime. If you’re a good judge, and do what you’re supposed to, and stay within the bounds of the Constitution, you can be there until you retire.
But the reason it is not lifetime appointments even with the possibility you might be there a lifetime is if it was lifetime appointments then you could not remove a bad judge. They would be there for a lifetime. They would go on with the assumption that, “I can do what I want because I’m here with a lifetime appointment.”
A Philosophical Psychological Approach
So, this is really kind of a philosophical psychological approach where you go in saying, “I’m not going to be here forever. I have to act right to be here. And if I’m going in to usurp the Constitution, they’re going to get rid of me.”
Well, let me point out several things too. The Constitution obviously talks a lot about impeachment as well. And impeachment, I think, right, in the Constitution there’s a section where you can impeach a judge? And–
“No, no, no, no, no, not a section. I’m sorry, Tim. It’s not a section.
Oh, see, I need to read the Constitution. I should study it more.
Yeah, it’s the most frequently mentioned topic in the Constitution.
See, I was under the impression in the section of the Constitution where it covers the judicial that it actually talked about– So, I better read that again.
Yeah. It actually not only talks about it there, it talks about it other places, Article 2, as well. It talks about it more than any other topic about removing judges through impeachment. That must have been a pretty big deal to the founding fathers.
It sounds like they expected us to use it.
We Have Lost the Idea of What Good Behavior Is
Well. Right. So, if you can impeach a bad judge then there has to be a standard wherewith you would use the impeachment, right? So, the standard they used was bad behavior. The problem is if you back up to Bill Clinton and his famous quote, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.” Well, it depends on what the definition of “is” is. We have lost this idea of what good behavior is and what good behavior isn’t. In a world of moral relativism where everybody is able to determine what’s right and wrong for themselves, we no longer understand or even acknowledge good and bad behavior. And therefore it looks like they can be there for their lifetime.
Now not only is impeachment a really good reason we know it wasn’t a lifetime appointment. We can even go further and point out that the founding fathers did not think government to be a high position of honor in the sense of this is somewhere you want to be the rest of your life. They considered it a duty that they were obligated to do when requested by their community, “Hey, will you serve us.” “Okay, I’ll serve you.” But really, right.
Patrick Henry is such a fun example when he says, “Guys, stop electing me Governor. I just want to go home and be with my family, my kids, and my grandkids. Let me be a grandpa. Stop making me be the governor.” This was not something that they were trying to seek this high office for their own political gain, or power, or recognition. They didn’t think it was a big deal. Which even, dad, wasn’t it John Jay who left the Supreme Court ultimately going back to New York saying, “The Supreme Court is never really going to mount anything I shouldn’t really even stay here because I’m wasting my time.”? Wasn’t it Jay who took that position?
Yeah, it was when John Adams asked John Jay to stay on because Adams was the second president. John Jay stayed all the way through George Washington and so John Adams says, “Well, will you go ahead and stay on for me as well?” And he said, “No, I’m back to New York. Supreme Court doesn’t amount to much. There’s nothing really to do so. So, I’m out of here.” So, it is that sense of it was not supposed to be a big deal.
It Changes from the Quality to Quantity
And the idea of impeachment is something the founding fathers like James Iredell said, “You have to do this because if you don’t the judges will think they are not accountable.” If you don’t make sure they know they’re accountable– and see, the deal about lifetime appointments, what it does is that changes from the quality of service to the quantity of service. In other words, “I’m here for a lifetime” as opposed to, “As long as my quality of service is really good I’ll get to stay here.” So, it becomes an entitlement almost when you have a lifetime appointment, “I’m entitled–”
And quite frankly, this is what goes on in Poland. Tim and I were just in Poland with the congressional delegation over there. And what we saw over there was when Poland became free from the Soviet Union they created a new electoral system, they created a new governing system, they have their own prime minister etc.. But they didn’t know what to do with judges. And not knowing what to do with judges, they just went ahead and kept the old Soviet system.
So, to this day Poland has the Soviet system of judges which was that each judge gets to choose his own replacement. He’s there for as long as he wants to serve and then when he steps aside he’ll choose who replaces him. So the prime–
Wait a minute, he gets to choose his replacement?
He gets to choose his replacement. So, it’s not only a lifetime appointment, there’s no input from the outside, there’s no accountability. The Prime Minister or the Parliament can’t do a single thing. And by the way, the people had it fed up with that. The judicial system of Poland is the most expensive, the least efficient, in all of the European nations. And so there was an 80 percent support rate in there to be able to change this.
An Entitlement Mindset
So, when the people got ready to change it and Obama ambassador stepped up and said, “Oh no, if you do that America is going to take your funds away and you can’t do this. And this shows how backward Poland is.” And etc.. So, the support just fell apart because they didn’t want to make America mad because Poland really does love America and wanted to please us. And so here’s this Obama ambassador. The good news is he’s now been replaced. He was one of those guys that was a holdover. So, now there’s a new ambassador going in. But that’s the kind of system you get where I’m entitled to this position and you can’t tell me what I can and can’t do.
Let me give you three good examples. Right now, Judge Richard Posner on the seventh Federal Circuit Court of Appeals. Right now, Justice Breyer with a book he’s just written on the U.S. Supreme Court. And Justice Ginsburg with what she does in the summer. They all say the Constitution is a really bad deal. We need to get rid of it, we need to stop studying it, we need to stop following it. You’re going to tell me that those guys have lifetime appointments when they’re trying to destroy the system we have?
See, that’s why a judge does not have lifetime– Now, they can be a lifetime appointment if they do the right thing. But when you start doing that kind of stuff. See, today we think they do have lifetime appointments so we go, “Oh my gosh, wouldn’t it be really nice if we could replace Ginsburg and Breyer and if we could replace Posner?” Well, we can. We don’t have to wait for all this.
If the American people knew what bad behavior was number one. And if Number two, if the American people knew that we have the ability to hold accountable all the officials that represent us. The judicial branch is not an unaccountable branch. We just have not been taught how to hold them accountable. And then again, I would argue we don’t even know what bad behavior anymore.
So, when we see a federal, or even many cases U.S. Supreme Court, justices doing things that are unconstitutional we don’t hold them accountable because we don’t think that’s bad behavior. We think, “Oh, they’re there for a lifetime.” If we knew what bad behavior was and if we knew the process the Constitution gives us to hold them accountable. American judicial system would look very different.
Alright, guys, we’ve got another question coming up after the break. Stay with us folks. Quick break, we’ll be right back. It’s Foundations of Freedom Thursday here on WallBuilders Live.
Abraham Lincoln said, “We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts. Not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.”
Leadership Training Program
Hey, friends! We’ve got a great program to share with you today. It’s the WallBuilders Leadership Training Program and it’s an opportunity for 18 to 25 year olds to come spend two weeks diving into the original documents we’re always talking about here on WallBuilders Live.
Tim, you’ve already been doing this a couple of summers and seen the results of young people coming to this program. We’re going to see more of them coming this year.
Yeah, Rick, it’s something that’s been cool to see the transformation with young people coming in. The emphasis, for us, largely is a pursuit of truth. We have a culture that doesn’t know what truth is. We don’t know what biblical truth is, or constitutional truth, or the American heritage that we have. And so we really dive into original documents and say, “Well, what did they actually write? What did they actually do? Not just what did somebody say, what is actually true, and the truth is what’s transformational.
Yeah, guys. This really is a remarkable opportunity. And for those who want to spend time with us and spend time in the original documents, this is a great program. So, if you’re from 18 to 25, or you know someone who’s 18 to 25, send them to sign up for one of our three sessions this summer at WallBuilders.com/leadershiptraining.
Thomas Jefferson said, “The constitutions of most of our states, and of the United States, assert that all power is inherent in the people that they may exercise it by themselves that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed. That they are entitled to freedom of person, freedom of religion, freedom of property, and freedom of press.”
Welcome back. Thanks for staying with us here on WallBuilders Live. It’s Foundations of Freedom Thursday which means we’re asking your questions. Well, I’m asking your questions for you and David and Tim Barton are answering those questions. You can actually send those into [email protected], [email protected]
And if you’d like to hear more of these Foundations of Freedom Thursday programs, they are available on that website WallBuildersLive.com. Going back several weeks and months so you can get some of that foundational experience and education. And that’s what I love about Foundations of Freedom Thursday is we dive into these questions. Sometimes really tough ones, sometimes basic civics questions that, frankly, we as Americans need to be reviewing.
And actually, let me just share with you a couple of quick comments that we get from people. These come in from not just all over the country, but frankly, all over the world. And they’re constantly saying, “Guys, thanks for the program.” Here’s one, “My co-workers and I download and listen to your radio program everyday on the way to work. We’re really blessed to have learned so much. Keep on doing what you’re doing and we’ll continue to spread the word.” So, many others like that. And I love it when we get them from other countries, from military folks that are serving in the military, all over the world that download the WallBuilders podcast to learn more about what they’re actually defending.
And folks out there, you can help us do that. You can help us spread the word, you can be a part of our team, by going to WallBuilders.com. Make a contribution, click on the radio program as what you’d like to give to, it helps us spread the word and equip those military veterans and Americans all over our country and get them engaged in the process. David, Tim, I’ve got a few more questions here. Y’all ready for the next one?
How Far Does the 14th Amendment Go?
Alright, this one comes from Joe he said, “Some say the constitution is written to the federal government and the states are free to do what they choose. Others say the 14th Amendment changed all that. So, some states could completely outlaw guns and other states can not make gun laws because of the Second Amendment. So, which is it? Is the Constitution, and are the amendments, strictly to the federal government and are the states free to do as they choose or not?” Great question, Joe. This is actually a hotly debated topic on law school campuses across the country. How far does the 14th Amendment go? David, Tim?
Well, before you get to the 14th Amendment you have to understand the Constitution. And to understand the Constitution you have to understand the Declaration. Founding father after founding father said the principles of the Declaration are what we put into the Constitution. And the principles of the Declaration start with the fact that God gives everyone a certain set of inalienable rights, God given rights, and below that governments can legislate. But governments can’t legislate on inalienable rights.
One of the inalienable rights that was given was the right of self-defence and that right of self-defence was individual. You and I individually can defend ourselves or it’s corporately. I can get with a bunch of other folks and we can all defend our rights together, which is the militia. The militia were units composed at the state levels, and at the local levels, and the county levels, to get together to defend their rights. So, if I am a wolf out in the woods I can defend myself against a bear attack, or I can get a whole pack of wolves to help defend against a bear attack. So, that is a right of nature. That’s a natural right and nothing the government can do is to infringe on that right.
What Led to the 14th Amendment
So, number one the Constitution itself just recognized that right and the 14th Amendment cannot go further than what the Constitution allows. Because the Constitution said, “This is off limits to government, you can’t change that.” Now, the 14th Amendment came about because, particularly, southern states had a really bad view of natural rights. And because they would not recognize the Declaration– nd by the way, throughout the Civil War you’re you’ll find all the Southern leaders talking about how bad the Declaration of Independence is. If it wasn’t for that Declaration–
And so they tried to read the Constitution in a way without the rights of the Declaration which is what led to the 14th Amendment. Which says, “Guys, you in the south can’t ignore natural rights and there are certain natural rights.” So, that’s kind of the overview of the 14th Amendment and the Second Amendment.
Which by the way, part of that thought at that time in southern states, right, was that there wasn’t the notion that all men are created equal. This is something that had long been debated in southern states. And largely they thought, no, for much of the population, “No, we’re created equal, but there are a lesser beings as well.” Which is interesting where even Charles Darwin’s position where the Origin of Species. But it was actually in his Origin of Species he talks about, if you actually read that title, quite interesting because it’s telling.
But he talks about how there is a different level of evolution for humanity. And the lighter your skin the more evolved you are, the darker your skin the less evolved you are. Well, Darwin is not the guy that originated that thought. This is a thought that was around that time and so in some of the southern states they said, “Look, we don’t have to give blacks the same rights that we give to whites.”
And this was something that actually you saw perpetuated in many southern states which is where the 14th Amendment came in and said, “Wait a second, you can’t take away rights from human beings who have all been created equal.” Which is that phrase from the Declaration that they really, many southern states didn’t like. Or at least many leaders in southern states. One of the things we’ve pointed out before is, look, not everybody in the south was pro slavery, not everybody in the south were these racist people.
Applying the 14th Amendment
But generally when you looked at racist sentiment when it came whites against blacks it was much more in southern states when you look at the U.S.. And this is where you had a lot of leaders in southern states who took this position. So, the 14th Amendment was implemented to essentially try to force some southern leaders to give the same rights to blacks that they had been denying to blacks. Because, wait a second, we are all created under God with certain unalienable rights. And that doesn’t matter what your skin color or what your gender is. And that’s where this application came from saying the 14th Amendment applies when it came to natural rights.
Now, it’s been applied much more beyond natural rights in modern context. We’ve taken it way further than certainly what even the argument of the 14th Amendment was. Which is where when you look at how the Constitution is applied today so much of it is misapplied on so many levels.
When you look at the general welfare clause. Well, this is this is part of the reason we have welfare is because we have a general welfare clause. The general welfare clause is not the foundation, should never be the constitutional foundation, for some of the things that have been applied to the general welfare clause, similar to the 14th Amendment. A lot of things now get applied to the 14th Amendment that have nothing to do with the original intent of the 14th Amendment. But the further away you get from the original intent the easier it is to create it to be whatever you want it to be.
The States Had It First
And what you have, too, with the federal Constitution is, as Tim points out, all of those measures including the 14th Amendment, were to guarantee the natural equal rights that God gave to every individual. So, part of the question that Joe asked here is, “Okay, so if it’s gone, can some states outlaw guns and others can’t?” No because in every state constitution they had the same premise. There are natural rights that come from God that this state will recognize. And that’s why in nearly every state Constitution starts with what’s called a declaration of rights. It is essentially a bill of rights at the state level and it has most of the things that were eventually put in the federal Constitution because the states had it first.
So, the states are the ones who said you cannot regulate the right of self-defence, you cannot infringe that right. Several of the Constitutions say, “This state constitution shall never be interpreted in such a way as to infringe the rights of self-defence.” And so they were even stronger than the federal Constitution. So, the notion that you can somehow at the state level have states that say “yes” and “no” that’s not consistent with state constitutions because all state constitutions are recognized that God gave certain rights and below that level is what states can do.
Now, we have a pretty secular thinking population today and secular thinking leaders. And so they want to regulate guns and take away your right to self-defence etc.. But in original intent you could not do that at the state or at the federal level.
Well, and this is one of those topics if people want to dig a little deeper on this and dive a little deeper, Foundations of Freedom the television series we’ve got available in a box set of DVDs and also Constitution Alive we cover this and go in-depth on this as well. So, both of those box sets you can check out at WallBuilders.com. It’s definitely a hot topic of today and it’s an important one for we as citizens to truly understand.
Got to take a quick break. We’ll be right back. Stay with us. It’s WallBuilders Live on Foundations of Freedom Thursday.
Calvin Coolidge said, “The more I study the Constitution, the more I realize that no other document devised by the hand of man has brought so much progress and happiness to humanity. To live under the American Constitution is the greatest political privilege that was ever accorded to the human race.”
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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.
Thomas Jefferson said, “In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.”
Thanks for staying with us here on WallBuilders Live Foundations of Freedom Thursday today. We’ve got time for one more question, but plenty of time for you to send in an e-mail for questions next week and the week after that. So, send that to [email protected] And by the way, I was mentioning Constitution Alive and Foundations of Freedom the television program on DVDs. I’m old fashioned I still like DVDs. But Tim was pointing out to me on the break a lot of folks today like to listen 0r watch online. So, hey you can get the mp–what is it?
Get Some Phenomenal Content
You can download it on your phone, on your tablet, on your computer. You can have it with you on the go. So, I was telling Rick, “Look, if I can’t watch it on my phone unless it’s on like the big screen of the theater. I’m probably not as likely to watch it.” Maybe if it’s on Netflix or Amazon Prime and I can benge it a little bit maybe.
But certainly we have it in a format available to get on your smartphone, to get on a tablet, to get on the computer. So, there’s lots of ways you can get this information. And, Rick, as you mentioned these were done for TV shows, so very high quality, very well done, well produced. And phenomenal content to help learn the constitution or some of these foundations of freedom.
Well, speaking of those mp4s – for all the parents and grandparents out there listening that say, “Man, I wish my kid would watch this.” And when I see “kid” I mean even my 20 year old would would watch this and learn these things. That foundations of freedom television program is a great tool for that because it is so high quality, it’s intriguing, it’s interesting. And I actually got my kids to watch it and they were going, “Wow, this is really– Dad, this is so much better than when we just listen to you.” So, anyway, it’s good stuff. Go check it out and you can use that mp4 to share it with that next generation. It’s much more technological than those of us from the older generation.
Alright, we’ve got time for one more question. It’s going to be a quick one, guys. Here we go from William he said, “Hey guys, I love your work and everything you do. Just had a quick question I’m having trouble finding the answer to, hopefully can help. Do we as Americans have any right to be safe in public? So, a right to be safe in public. Does government guarantee us or should it be protecting our safety in public.
So, if we’re doing it quick then the answer is “no”. So, thanks for your question. That was a great program today–
Thanks for listening today to– okay.
Government Here to Protect
Yes. So, the government is here to try to protect– If you go back to the Declaration, the government exists to protect our God given inalienable rights. So, government exists to protect it, but it’s kind of like a police officer. Police officers are actually here more to clean up after a crime than they oftentimes prevent crime. Which is why we have the Second Amendment. That’s why you have guys in the founding era, I think it was James Wilson, who commented that if you are robbed in your own house don’t blame police officers – it’s your own fault that you got robbed because you are the king of your own castle, this notion of castle doctrine kind of where it comes from. And so–
Which, logically, Tim, makes sense. When you say police are there to clean up after the crime, not necessarily prevent it, people are going away, “Wait, wait, wait.). But you wouldn’t want to police officer stationed on every corner and that’s what you’d have to have if they’re going to prevent every crime.
No, you’d to have a police officer stationed in every home.
In every home too.
Every phone, listening to every conversation–
Every person, right?
Everybody would have to have their own bodyguard in that situation.
Judeo Christian Ethic
But this is where if you live in a moral and a religious society, and religious meaning based on Christianity. Which is when the founding fathers talked about a religion of morality they’re meaning a Judeo Christian ethic is when they were talking about that kind of religion. But when you live in a society that’s built on religion of morality it gives you the ability to walk in safety, to walk in freedom.
And sure, there’s still– if you back up to the founding era there were still people, evil people, doing evil things. Yeah, we would acknowledge– and this is my position as a Christian– I would acknowledge evil does exist. Evil is in the world. And so we have these kinds of problems. But when you have a religious and moral people it minimizes those kind of problems.
And see, one of the things the government is supposed to do according to John Locke– and John Locke was a political philosopher from the 1600s relied on heavily by the Founding Fathers. John Locke points out that one of the purposes of government is to try to create an environment in which you can be safe and that sometimes comes by punishing lawbreakers. We’re told Ecclesiastes 8:11 that if the government does not quickly punish lawbreakers that it encourages other people to do the same. And so they don’t have a right to * thing, but they are supposed to help enforce that.
So, we have certain rights from God that we’re supposed to do as well. And if you are religious moral society, as Tim said, then you don’t need nearly as much government. But there is not a right that’s just sort of a duty government strives for. And hopefully they can help secure. But that’s not a guaranteed right for any individual or by any government.
Constitution V.S. Federal Gov, Are States Allowed To do As They Will
Certainly that right to self-defence is partly because of that. Because government can’t protect you all the time, so you do have a right to defend yourself and government should not take away your right to keep and bear arms and being able to do that.
So, that’s all available, by the way, more detail on all those things in Foundations of Freedom and also Constitutional Alive. All that available at WallBuilders.com. And one more time I want to mention if you want to come alongside us and join us in spreading the truth and spreading the good news, go to WallBuilders.com today and become a financial partner with us. We sure appreciate it. Thanks for listening today to WallBuilders Live.
Samuel Adams said, “The liberties of our Country and the freedom of our civil Constitution are worth defending against hazards. And it is our duty to defend them against all attacks.”