The Constitutional Amendment Process: 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 that “we the people” don’t know what those boundaries are! Tune in now for the first part of our two-part series!
Air Date: 08/20/2019
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 The Amendment Process
You can find out more about us at our two websites: WallBuildersLive.com, our radio site. And then, go over to WallBuilders.com, our main site, where we have some great resources. You can take a constitution class or find all kinds of curriculum for your family to study, get into your Sunday school class, or even just for your own learning.
At the radio site, WallBuildersLive.com, 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, where you’ll find interesting interviews, Good News Friday programs, and more. And, you can also make a donation there.
So, be sure to click on that donate button if you like what you hear today and you want more of this education and want to help equip and inspire folks all over the nation to get involved and be a part of the solution for preserving freedom. Donate to WallBuilders Live! It’s what makes this possible.
The Amendment Process
Today we’re going to be jumping into a two-part series on Constitution Alive! The Amendment Process. So, as many of you know, we have a Constitution program that David and I did. I’m Rick Green, and David Barton and I did a Constitution program at Independence Hall where the Constitution was framed and in David’s library with the original documents.
And, we take you through every part of the Constitution. For more information on that DVD series, visit our website there WallBuilders.com. But, we have shared parts of it here on the radio program over the course of the last few months, as these topics came up that we needed to dive a little deeper into: how to amend the Constitution, proper ways to amend the Constitution.
Should the states do it; or, should it always go through Congress? Well, what we do here WallBuilders and what we did it in recording Constitution Alive!, is we said, “Let’s go to the Founders and see what they said about these things and look at what has happened throughout history on this particular process.”
So, we’re going to share with you today and tomorrow, one of the chapters in Constitution Alive! It’s a fairly short segments that will only to take us two days to do. But, it covers the amendment process: how it’s happened in the past, what the Founding Fathers set up, why they set it up the way that they did.
We Need to Save Our Constitution
And, we’ll do part of that in the library there with David Barton and WallBuilders, and part of it will be there in Independence Hall at the Constitution class that we held there. So, that’s going to take place today and tomorrow. Then, after it’s over, you can take both of those links and share it with your friends and family to let them learn about the amendment process as well.
There’s no question that we need to save our Constitution. The only way we’re going to save it is by getting us back to the original intent of what the Constitution was intended to do and get rid of these court-created concoctions, these interpretations by the court that have completely distorted the Constitution and, frankly, given Congress the cover it needs to do things it was never intended to do, because they can get away with that as long as the American people believe that the Constitution says it’s okay for them to do that.
And, that’s what the courts have said, because the courts have created a new Constitution never amended by the American people in the way that they’ve done it. And, certainly given that the federal government powers that We the People never gave them. So, for more on that, we’re going to dive into Constitution Alive! and talk about the amendment process.
Thanks for listening. We’re going to jump right over now to David Barton and myself, Rick Green, at the WallBuilders’ library, for Constitutional Alive!
Welcome back to Constitutional Alive! with David Barton and Rick Green. It is time to talk about How do you actually change the Constitution? David, is there a proper time to amend the Constitution?
Obviously, because we’ve done it 27 times.
Well, the cool thing about Article 5 is, this is the way to evolve the Constitution. You know, the progressive folks say, “It needs to be a living, breathing, evolving document.” I agree, as long as the people are doing it, but not as some unelected judges or someone else.
Or the president by him or herself. I mean it’s got to be the people doing it.
It’s We the People, and the amendment process, the way it is required, sets a high-enough bar that it has to be the people really behind it. It can’t just be an interest group over here; or, you get people stirred up for a while. This is really a pretty cool book that lists and covers all the Constitutional amendments that have proposed to the Constitution.
And, it goes from 1789, all the way up until this book is, 1995.
You said “proposed;” so, in other words, these are all the amendments that any member of Congress or a state has said should be done.
That’s right. These are the ones that have officially been entered into Congress to look at action. So, they’ve been written up, drafted, introduced, or had some action. And, either the people weren’t enough behind it or whatever else.
Do you know how many have been proposed during that time?
Front Sight Training Course
Rick Greens here, from WallBuilders Live. What do Dennis Prager, Larry Elder, Ben Shapiro, Rick Green, Tim Barton, David Barton, have in common other than the fact that they’re conservative commentators that defend the Constitution?
They’re raving about Front Sight Firearms Training Institute. Go to my website right now at RickGreen.com. You can watch the video of Dennis Prager training at Front Sight, or Larry Elder, or Tim Barton and myself out there. It’s an opportunity for you to learn how to defend yourself and your family. It is a fantastic place to train. They train 30 to 40,000 people a year, and they’re just wonderful to work with. You can go with us. We’re headed back out.
We’re going to have a great time out there, and if you’re a supporter of WallBuilders, we’re going to treat you. If you’re a donor of WallBuilders, you’ll be able to go to this Front Sight class for free. It normally cost a thousand dollars, go to FrontSight.com right now. You’ll see that it’s a thousand dollars to attend their two-day class. You are going to be able to go for free, if you’re a supporter of WallBuilders Live.
So, check out that information at RickGreen.com and join us. We are going once a month for the next three months. You can pick one of those classes. All of our previous classes have filled up. Make sure that you get online today and get signed up. Whether you’ve never shot before, or you’ve shot your whole life, you will enjoy this class. You’ll enjoy the fellowship. We’ll be training on the range during the day and studying the Constitution at night. What a great combination. Check it out today at RickGreen.com.
Do you know how many have been proposed in that period of time? We’re talking 206 years there.
I would say, “A bunch.” I would think a lot.
In that period time, 10,900 amendments.
That’s more than I would’ve thought. In the hundreds would have been my guess.
The answer: 10,900. And, how many of them have actually been added the Constitution? Twenty-seven.
Which meant those were 27 that the people wanted added. So, when they get added, the people get behind them because it has the support of the people.
We Want the Bar to Be High
Well, you said the bar’s high. We want it to be high and for it to be a vast majority.
See, the Founding Fathers, at the Constitutional Convention, talked about If you let judges make policy, they start striking down stuff and implement stuff, resulting in the people will losing respect for their government. And, if you get a Supreme Court saying, “Here’s national policy,” and it dumps what 25 or 30 states and passed by their law, they’ve lost respect for it.
We the People Know What Our Needs Are.
When it comes from the people– and the Constitution, in Article 5, sets the bar high enough that for the people to make the change, you’ve got support for it; then they respect it. And so, Article 5 of the Constitution is really the answer to what they tell our kids today in schools and universities, what we hear from media pundits and law professors, “Well, we need a Constitution that keeps up with our needs today.” Great. We the People know what our needs are. We’ll tell you what our needs are. Don’t you tell us what our needs are.
And so, this really is We the People. And, this is a fun book just to see all the things that have been proposed. Some of them were really hot at the time; you would’ve thought they might have passed.
But, this is the other thing about our Constitution: It requires your feelings to slow down over time.
A Democracy Runs on Passion; A Republic Runs on Reason
And, you can’t just do it merely on passion. That’s a democracy that runs on passion. A republic has to run on reason.
And so, by the time you have debates, get the states involved, and it goes through; sometimes you say, “You know, it’s not the big issue it was a year-and-a-half ago. I don’t think I support it anymore,” because all the passion was there. So, it really is a fun book to look through.
That means there was a lot of wisdom that went into designing, even this one article in the Constitution. I mean, they really made sure that if you’re going to change this, that’s fine. If times change and you need to make an amendment to the Constitution, we’ve got the high bar; it’s going to take time. They really thought through this, and that’s why it’s been so rare that it got amended.
But, there might be some amendments that we need to consider, going into the future.
That’s right. And, that’ll be up to We the People.
And, if there are some things we feel passionate about– right now, people do feel passionate about the government being a threat to their liberties.
I mean, national polling is overwhelming that the greatest danger they see to their liberties is the government. Well, maybe it’s time to restrain some of those things that, through things like the misinterpretation of the General Welfare Clause and Necessary and Proper Clause and others, maybe we say, “No, guys, you should have been reading the original books at the beginning. We the People still support the original beliefs. Let’s—”
Restoring What Was Intended
That, then, is not really a change, but reasserting or clarifying what the original intent was. We’re not changing how the system would work in those cases but are really restoring what was intended.
I’ve been part of several attempted Constitutional amendments in Congress. And, one of them was what was called “The Community Life Amendment.” It resulted because there was such a big push from the people because the courts were so squeezing down how we could express our faith, that people were outraged. And, they still are, polling wise.
So, the speaker of the house at that time, took a member of Congress and said, “All right, let’s come up with a Constitutional amendment that restores the First Amendment and free exercise of religion.” And so, he chose about a dozen of us who worked on the language of the amendment, held hearings across the country, congressional travel hearings. And, the whole deal was Let’s look at all the court cases out there that have restricted what the Founding Fathers gave us with freedom of religion, that has now become freedom from religion.
Red and Blue Together
Let’s go back to there. And so, we did that and got, I think, 269 co-sponsors on the amendment. I mean, it was a huge, massive thing; but, we didn’t get it passed. You can get through one body sometimes and not the other.
So, to have both bodies do something, you really got to have this. It can’t be a red amendment or a blue amendment. You’re going to have to have red and blue come together and say, “This isn’t change we want for the country.”
And, that makes it much safer, because when it’s just red or blue, the other feels like they’ve got to retaliate: “You did this to me, so I’m going to cram this down your throat.” No, the Founding Fathers were very wise in putting this together in such a way, that once it gets done, it’s because the people themselves supported it.
We’re to go back to Philly to learn how to amend the Constitution, the specifics of how the process takes place. We’ll even talk about some of those possible amendments going into the future. Let’s head back to Independence Hall.
This Precarious Moment Book
This is David Barton. I want to let about a brand new book we have called This Precarious Moment: Six Urgent Steps That Will Save You, Your family, and Our Country. Jim Garlow and I have co-authored this book and we take six issues that are hot in the culture right now.
Issues that we’re dealing with, issues such as immigration, race relations, our relationship with Israel, the rising generation Millennials, and the absence of the church in the culture wars, and where American heritage is, our godly heritage. We look at all six of those issues right now that are under attack and we give you both Biblical and historical perspective on those issues that provide solutions on what each of us can do right now to make a difference.
These are all problems that are solvable if we’ll get involved. So, you can grab the book This Precarious Moment and find out what you can do to make a difference. This Precarious Moment is available at WallBuilders.com.
The amendment process is actually an important part that we want to cover as well. It’s just another one of those things we want to know where to plug in. It hasn’t happened in a while.
We talked last night about the 27th Amendment and the fact that that’s the last one that’s been put in the Constitution. Also, it was actually adopted by Congress more than 200 years ago. But, just for our own knowledge of how an amendment would take place, if we wanted to amend the Constitution, if there was in the it that we wanted to change.
Two Ways to Amend the Constitution
There are a few things I’d like to see change in the Constitution; it’s not perfect. As we said, “We’re becoming a more perfect union.” So, there’s a few things in there I’d like to change as well. But, here’s how you got to do it.
There are two ways you can amend the Constitution. This is all right out of Article 5. We’re not going to read through the whole thing. But, let’s just look at how it works.
First option–and this is the way that they’ve, all 27, been done–is Congress adopts the amendment first. So, if Congress passes by two-thirds, in both the House and the Senate, an amendment to the Constitution, then it goes to the states. And then, the states would either have ratification by their state legislatures or by Constitutional convention.
Most all of the 27 were done by state legislatures. If my recollection’s right, there are two that were done by conventions, and that’s it. Everything else was by the state legislatures.
Convention of States
The second option is a convention of states, as outlined in Article 5. And, the best way to learn about this is to go to a website, ConventionOfStates.com. And, I also recommend that you read the book by Mark Levin called Liberty Amendments.
Now, this is done, essentially, without Congress. The only thing Congress does in this process is set the date and the location. So, this is gonna be something that the states want to do.
It takes 34 states to call for the convention of states. Then, they would gather. And, there’s already a major movement taking place on this.
Several states have called. And, I urge you to go to that website ConventionOfStates.com because it really lays it out and answers all of the objections. There are a lot of questions that people have about how this would work, and everything is answered at that website.
I mean, it’s extremely effective in the way that they do it. Mike Farris, who’s from Home School Legal Defense and has argued cases before the Supreme Court, is brilliant on this subject. He has an incredible Constitution class I highly recommend.
He is heading up the organizational side of this. And then, Mark Meckler, a big Tea Party guy, has teamed up with him to do this. I encourage you to check that out: ConventionOfStates.com.
Then, I really do encourage you to read Liberty Amendments by Mark Levin. I truly do believe it’s the most important book on the Constitution of our day, even more important than my book. That tells you how much I’m a big fan of him.
I used to think it was a dangerous, bad idea. But now I’m beginning to see the wisdom of the Founding Fathers, that it’s actually a good opportunity for We the People to get some amendments to the Constitution that need to be done, and then let the states decide whether it’s a good or bad idea. And, with 13 states having the veto power—frankly, look.
From my perspective and the way I lean on this thing and the momentum of the country right now to come back to Constitutional governance, if we want to once again have a constitutional republic that reflects what these guys wanted, there’s some good amendments that we could get done, and the momentum is with us.
Most states, the number of states side with us. The more progressive, if you will, living-breathing-Constitution-kind-of folks, they have a fewer number of states. Now, we’re about split, in terms of numbers of people, in the country.
But, when you break down the number of states, we have the advantage. I’ll throw out a couple of my favorites. This is this is where, since I have the microphone, I get to go for my amendments for the moment.
Then, we’ll open it up to let you guys do it. Here are a couple of mine: Balanced Budget Amendment. I think we need one and to put some sort of limits on these trillion-dollar deficits that we’re passing on to our kids. We just can’t withstand this anymore.
We’ve got a Parental Rights Amendment; that’s my second top priority for an amendment to the Constitution. There are two reasons for this one.
The first one is the U.N. Treaty on the Rights of the Child, a really bad deal. Put your 12 year-old in charge of your house. I mean, it sounds great when you first look at the first paragraph, and then it goes downhill from there.
It’s a bad idea, and we don’t need to allow it to happen. If you read the language in Article 6, treaties are equal to the Constitution:
“The Constitution and the laws of the United States, which shall be made in pursuance thereof, and all treaties made or which shall be made under the authority United States, shall be the supreme law of the land.”
So, what happens when you allow that treaty to be adopted, it’s equal to the Constitution and above your state law. Therefore, if the U.N. Treaty on the Rights of the Child is adopted, then family law in America and in your individual state, will be trumped by this international family law. It specifically says: “…shall be the supreme law of the land. And, the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.”
So, no matter what your state family law says, this new treaty is going to trump that. It’s a bad deal. I won’t spend a lot of time on it, but encourage you to go to ParentalRights.org.
That’s the movement to get the Parental Rights Amendment to the Constitution. It basically says: “Parents are the ones that are supposed to raise their children and have the final say with their children.” So, the U.N. treaty on the Rights the Child was the first reason.
The second reason I want this amendment is because a lot of our state CPS organizations are overstepping their bounds. I used to deal with this a lot in the legislature and had friends who had their children taken when there was not abuse going on in the home. But, because of an anonymous tip, or because a social worker didn’t like that family, or somebody complained because they didn’t like the politics of that family.
Look: I’m pro-life, Constitutional guy who homeschools his children. I am Janet Napolitano’s “Domestic Terrorist” watch list probably, for the things that I believe, right? Because I’m on that side of the political debates of our day.
I’m also on the “CPS Doesn’t Like Me” list because of pushing legislation through in Texas that gives parents the final say on immunization choices. I’m not anti-immunization. There are just some of them that I don’t want my kids to get.
Some that I do, others I don’t; and, I want the state to tell me. We can research and figure out which ones we think our kids are most susceptible to. Then do those and not the others; that’s our choice.
Parental Rights Amendment
I push legislation to do that. So, CPS doesn’t like me. Let me just tell you right now.
They think I’m a bad parent. So, I’m one of those guys that’s susceptible to a social worker showing up and saying, “Hey we got a complaint you’re abusing your kids and have to take them out. And, we’ll let you have them back out for our investigation.”
That’s a bad situation. I’ve had families crying in my office before when it took months to get their kids back, even though there was no abuse. I mean, it’s a bad deal.
ParentalRights.org. A Parental Rights Amendment the Constitution will put an end to that. I am all for getting a kid out of an abusive situation and will help get that done.
But, if you want to take somebody out of the home while you’re investigating, get me out of the house. All right? Let my kids stay with my wife; or, let my kids go to grandparents’ house, or uncle and aunts.
You know, another part the problem is a lot of times, you get a 22 year-old social worker walking in on a situation that hasn’t raised kids. And, let me tell you, my kids had a bump on their head most of their time between 0 and 10, right? Because we’re well out in the country, we are rowdy; they do crazy stuff.
There wasn’t abuse going on. But, the kids were having fun. And, things happen.
If a social worker came to my house, I guarantee they would’ve been like, “Oh, somebody is beating these kids.” No, nobody is beating the kids; they’ve beaten themselves. That’s what happens when you jump off the trampoline onto the house.
Anyway, check out the Parental Rights Amendment at ParentalRights.org.
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.
Just Like Slavery
The Human Life Amendment is another one we need. It’s something that would be done at the federal level because we have a federal need for this. If you just leave it up to the states, it’ll be just like the slavery mistake that these guys made.
They believed that if we left it up to the states, we’d be rid of slavery within a generation. They got it wrong, right? Now, they couldn’t have gotten it right, because there was no way.
If they had ended slavery, you wouldn’t have the union. It just wouldn’t happen.
But, they’re faulty concept was, as Rhett said up here last night, out of the Declaration, “…that to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” what rights?
What’d he say they were? “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” So, the purpose of government is to secure our liberty, and we didn’t do it.
We only did it at the state or local level. And so, if the state didn’t do it, the feds didn’t step in.
Human Life Amendment
So, we had a Civil War, and then the feds stepped in. The point is, we should have been securing life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness at every level of government. Same thing with the Human Life Amendment.
The reason for it is the first right listed in the Declaration. The number one priority of our government is to secure these rights. “Governments are instituted among men,” why? To secure life.
It’s an important part of what government ought to do; so, I support a Human Life Amendment so that we do that at every level, not just at one or the other.
Marriage Amendment. These guys would’ve thought That’s crazy; why would you ever need that? Now we’ve got this patchwork.
Our family law is so confusing now, because if you have marriage defined as one thing in one state and then another, it’s just a mess. I think we need a Marriage Amendment to the Constitution.
Term limits: how many of you guys support term limits? I bet we’re split. Okay.
How many are against term limits? Wow, I figured it’d be about half-and-half. I used to be very much against them.
The smartest woman in the world got a hold of me. Not Hillary, it was my wife. Anyway, so my wife got a hold of me.
She said, “Look, all these people that we came into office with have been there 15 to 20 years and have become part of the problem. They’re furniture, not even motivated anymore. Or, they become so squishy on everything.”
And, I started looking at it; she was right. Not only is it bad for the system for somebody to serve for 30 years, it’s bad for the person to serve for 30 years. But, I had a hard time with what I used to always say, which was, “But then, the lobby is going to run the show, because if they know that a legislator is only going to be there six, eight, or ten years, then they’re going to run the show instead of—”
A Change of Mind
And then, I started watching how the Founders talked about the states being the “incubators of ideas.” So, you could try it in certain states. I started watching Florida, Oklahoma, and these other states that were doing term limits.
I said, “Wow; this is working pretty good in Florida right now.” If you’re a Marco Rubio fan, Marco Rubio would not be in the US Senate right now if it hadn’t been for term limits in Florida, because that’s what allowed him to move up in the legislature and become speaker so soon. Then, as speaker, he had a statewide profile and was able to move for U.S. Senate.
It’s actually worked very well. The guys, instead of saying, “Oh, the lobby is going to run the show,” they’re getting into office and are saying, “Hey, I only have six years and really don’t care what you think as a lobbyist, but am going to get my job done right now. I’m going to go push through what it is.”
They hit the ground running. So, the incubators have worked pretty well. And, watching that has caused me to shift.
And, mostly because my wife says I better shift my position on this and say that I’m now for term limits, and I don’t care what they are. They can be 10 or 15 years. Whatever the number is, at some point, they’re done and have to go home.
And, I’m not worried about losing the–what’s the phrase I always used to say? “But what about the institutional knowledge that we’d lose?” I kind of want to lose some of that institutional knowledge at this point.
I’m kinda thinking we need some new blood instead of the folks who have been there for 30, 40 years.
Defining the Term of Federal Judges
So, anyway, the last one for me, I mentioned earlier: Defining the Term of Federal Judges. Again, just making sure that it’s not this nebulous “for good behavior,” but it’s now a definite amount of time. And, in both those cases, let’s not forget that we limited the presidency to two terms because We the People said, “More than that is too much.
“That’s allowing one person to accumulate too much power because they are there too long. I just think we ought to do that for the other two branches as well, and limit them in some way.”
So, that’s my list. Let’s open it up. You can comment on any of those, for or against them. Or, you might have some other amendments that you think we ought to do.
Well, we’re out of time for today, folks. That is, we’re in the middle of a two-part series on Constitution Alive! And, that’s what you were just listening to, was David Barton and myself, Rick Green, covering this amendment process, as covered in our Constitution series.
For more information about the complete series where we walk through the entire Constitution, visit our website at WallBuilders.com and click on that link for Constitution Alive! Tomorrow, we’re going to pick up where we left off today and cover the rest of this particular section of Constitution Alive! on the amendment process.
We’ll be doing that tomorrow. So, be sure to tune in for WallBuilders Live! tomorrow. Thank you for listening today to WallBuilders Live! with David Barton and Rick Green.