The Constitutional Amendment Process Part Two: Our Constitution is still alive and applicable today! As citizens, we all have a duty to study the Constitution, to understand where our rights and our freedoms are laid out in that document, and how our government structure should work. The reason our government continues to overstep its boundaries is that “we the people” don’t know what those boundaries are! Tune in now for the last part of our two-part series!
Air Date: 08/21/2019
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. David and I are going to share our special series with you today. It’s a two part series, and we’re picking up on part two today. It’s out of Constitutional Alive with David Barton and Rick Green, a DVD series that we did teaching on the Constitution cover to cover. We go through the whole thing, every amendment, every article, and we talk about all those issues of today and how to look at them from a constitutional perspective and what the Founding Fathers intended in that program.
We actually covered something that’s a hot topic today, and that is the amendment process for the Constitution. A lot of states are considering a convention of the states so that the states can amend the constitution to restore the proper balance between the federal government and the state governments, and put the feds back in to their proper jurisdiction. How would that work? What did the Founders intend? All those questions, we cover them in Constitution Alive.
So we’re going to pick up where we left off yesterday, taking you to that segment in Constitution Alive where we cover the amendment process, so we’ll go to David Barton and myself, Rick Green, in Constitution Alive.
An Amendment for Congressional Recess?
The document these guys put together was pretty amazing, but it can be improved upon.
We’ve done some pretty good improvements over the years. Some bad ones too, but we’ve done some good ones. Any ideas?
All right. This one’s from Sabrina, in Michigan, and she asks, “So how do we work to fix this problem of recess appointments as we the people?”
How do we work to fix the problem of recess appointments as we the people… we have to—I hate to sound like a broken record—but we have to know how they work, what the document says, and then we’ve got to communicate with our members of Congress. We’ve got to communicate with the candidates for Congress to find out where they stand on this issue and say, “We want this fixed. We want language agreed upon by the members of Congress where they’ll tighten it up and they’ll say, “We’re not going to approve this!””
The Senate really is the one you got to work on here. We’ve got to have senators that are willing to say, “We’re going to filibuster every appointment of a president that uses recess appointments inappropriately and unconstitutionally.”
The Senate has to be the one to stand up, which means we the people have to choose senators that are willing and we have to push the Senate to do that. The only other option would be constitutional amendment, so you could add that to our list of constitutional amendments here to to clarify the language in the recess appointment there, and maybe you could just pick a time. I’m just brainstorming with you here. Maybe actually define a recess, and say that a recess has to be for more than 60 days, or 90 days, or whatever it might be.
A Balanced Budget Amendment?
We need an amendment that there should be a constitution course taught to everybody that goes in Congress, Senate and the House, before they take their oaths.
Every member of Congress has to go through the constitution class before and pass.
They’ve got to pass.
We need a good test! Alright, you guys can help me come up with a test when this is all said and done. I like that. That’s really good. If we have a convention of the states in the future, I really hope the four of you are delegates. Alright, one more. You had another one? You go ahead.
I’m not quite sure about this but what can be done and by who to demand balanced budget we long has it been since we had.
Oh I don’t know how long it’s been, but what do we need to do to get a balanced budget?
That’s a good question. She asked what can be done to to demand a balanced budget. We’ve got to pass the amendment. Remember what we said last night? One vote. We came within one vote of having a balanced budget amendment. That was nineteen ninety nine. I think the momentum is there right now, I really do. I think that Senate votes will be there. The people want it. I think it makes sense. I forget the last polling numbers, like 75 or 80%, both sides agree that we need to rein in these numbers is just untenable.
Can Executive Orders Be Reversed by a New President?
So it’s either we either have to get enough members of Congress to just do it on their own or we’ve got to pass a constitutional amendment. I think it’s going to have to be an amendment. I don’t think Congress is going to rein themselves in on this.
I was thinking about impeachment if they didn’t get it done.
I wouldn’t. I would not agree with impeachment for the deficits, just because the Constitution specifically says that they can borrow money on the credit United States, so I don’t think it’s an impeachable offense. But I’m all for throwing them out of office. You don’t have to impeach them, you can throw him out of office at the ballot box. If you defeat him at the ballot box and get somebody else in there that says, “I’m willing to do what it takes to balance the budget.”
Can executive orders be reversed by a new president?
Yes, absolutely. The question was, “Can an executive order be reversed by a new president?”
Absolutely can. In fact, it’s a great article if you want to Google or just go to Heritage Foundation’s website and Google executive orders. He wrote it in 2001, actually, and he went through a lot of President Clinton’s executive orders and said the new president absolutely should have a commission review every single one of these executive orders and overturned them just by writing a new executive order that says, “We’re no longer going to implement that.”
So they could. Congress can do it too. But a new president absolutely could review every one of those executive orders.
This is David Barton with another moment from America’s history. Joseph Story is one of the most important names in American jurisprudence. Not only was he placed on the U.S. Supreme Court but President James Madison but he also founded Harvard Law School and authored numerous legal works on the Constitution. While today’s revisionist claim that the goal of the First Amendment was absolute religious pluralism. Justice Joseph Story vehemently disagreed.
He declared, “The real object of the First Amendment was not to encourage, much less to advance Mohammedanism, or Judaism, or infidelity, by prostrating Christianity, but to exclude all rivalry among Christian denominations.”
According to Founder Joseph Story, Christianity, not pluralism, was the goal of the Founding Fathers in the First Amendment for only a Christian nation is tolerant and thus is truly pluralistic. For more information on God’s hand in American history contact WallBuilders at 1 800 8 REBUILD.
How to Fix the Courts
As you mentioned earlier. We’ve got eighty some light years of. Abuse in the judicial system. Judges and legislating making decisions well outside their bounds, and it’s become the norm, the accepted thought process. How do we turn that around?
That is its generational answer. That one will not happen overnight.
Yeah, it’s been a long time of a judicial mindset that that is unconstitutional, and how do you turn it around? It will not happen overnight, and it takes it takes both pieces. I talked about earlier, it takes us we the people looking for senators that will only approve judges that are strict constructionist, voting for presidents that will only nominate judges that are strict constructionist, but it also takes an education change and a cultural change.
That’s these law schools that are coming along and the philosophy in the law schools going back to original intent, and not having this judicial high handedness, and this high priest of the law mentality. That’s going to take a while, because you’ve got to think about all the guys my age that went through law school 20-25 years ago.
Most all of them were taught that philosophy. It’s going to take a while for that to change.
The Tides are Turning
Not that it will ever be all of one or the other. It’s just like anything else in a free society. It’s going to be a matter of which side is is is winning those particular battles at that time. There’s always gonna be a difference of opinion, and it’s in the beauty of our system is if you can win the day on the arguments and you can convince enough other people to move the direction of the culture that way then it’ll go that way. And there are swings—and unfortunately for a long time we’ve gone away from what these guys clearly said that they believed.
I really believe that that tide is turning, I think there’s some really great things happening in our country right now, and I don’t think it’s short term. I think we’re not even close to seeing the crest of the We the People getting back engaged in their government and saying, “We want to go back to what these guys gave us in terms of those basic principles of freedom, and we’re willing! We’re willing to do the hard work, we’re willing to do the homework.”
You’ve got traveled here from all over the country to study the Constitution. It blows my mind.
If you’d told me two years ago that I was going to be spending virtually every Saturday somewhere in the country teaching the Constitution for eight hours all day—on Saturday. That most weeknights I’m going to be doing an abbreviated three hour class. Not in the buckle of the bible belt. In places like Washington, in Delaware, all over the nation.
I would have just said you’re nuts.
There is no way people are gonna sit down and walk through the Constitution. I just didn’t believe it would happen.
Leaving with a Burden
Fortunately there was a guy in Austin, Texas, that convinced me to do a class in Austin. He said, “You just put it together, I’ll get the people there.”
About 50 people showed up there, and I said, “You know, this was kind of fun.”
When it was done, I was posting on Facebook and saying, “Hey, we were talking about this the First Amendment, we were doing this on the Judiciary, and this was fun.”
All these people started posting on Facebook saying, “Hey, will you come here?”
“Will you come to Michigan?”
“Well, I guess so. Sure.”
Two years later five, thousand people have entered the class.
It’s remarkable, and we’re just … we’re a little bitty blip on the radar. There are hundreds of classes taking place all over the country studying the Constitution. It is exciting to me that it’s happening. I think we’re getting back on track, and when we come back, that’s what we’re going to close with tonight, is doing our duty. How do we do our duty under the Constitution? Remember when we start? I wanted you to leave here with a burden.
This is Our Responsibility
A burden to say, “It’s my responsibility to save this document, to save this country, to save what these men put in place.”
I hope that, as we’ve gone through the Constitution, you haven’t thought about how to hold public servants accountable with this. I hope that, as we’ve done this, you’ve constantly been saying, “Oh, that’s my job.”
“Oh I see myself there.”
“That’s that’s a responsibility for me.”
It’s not all about them. It’s about us.
What are we supposed to do as citizens? How do we be good citizens? What do we do to uphold the constitutional principles? That’s what we’re going to close out with tonight. We’ll take a quick break right now. We’ll be back with Constitution Alive.
Hi friends! This is Tim Barton of WallBuilders.This is a time when most Americans don’t know much about American history or even heroes of the faith. I know, oftentimes as parents, we’re trying to find good content for our kids to read.
If you remember back in the Bible, the Book of Hebrews it has the Faith Hall of Fame, where they outlined the leaders of faith that had gone before them. Well, this is something that as Americans we really want to go back and outline some of these heroes not just of American history, but heroes of Christianity and our faith as well.
I wanted to let you know about some biographical sketches we have available on our website. One is called, “The Courageous Leaders Collection” and this collection includes people like Abigail Adams, Abraham Lincoln, Francis Scott Key, George Washington Carver, Susanna Wesley, even the Wright brothers.
There’s a second collection called, “Heroes of History” in this collection you read about people like Benjamin Franklin, Christopher Columbus, Daniel Boone, George Washington, Harriet Tubman, the list goes on and on.
This is a great collection for your young person to have and read. And, it’s a providential view of American and Christian history. This is available at WallBuilders.com.
Would a Constitutional Convention be a Bad Thing?
OK, so we talked about a few possible amendments to the Constitution. Most of these that we discussed there at Independence Hall are really—again—back to this idea of restoring the original intent of the Constitution is not really changing the system. It’s restoring what the founders intended.
And one of those two ways to amend the Constitution a convention of the states so this is an idea that the Founders gave us. They clearly thought this would be a good thing to do when it was necessary. But some people have questions about how would work if we had a convention?
Even beyond that.
Some people don’t even get to the question and say, “No! This is a terrible thing!”
It’s a pooste apocalyptic type of language.
“If we have this, they’ll take over the convention! We’ve got all these guys out there who hate the Constitution, and they want to take it over the abolish the Constitution.”
The Founders raised the bar so high that it’s not only going to take 38 states to ratify abolishing the Constitution, you don’t have to have 38 states, you can only have one body and one state. If you get legislatures, you can have a conservative House, and a liberal Senate and a conservative House, as we do it.
It didn’t take 38 states, it just takes thirty eight bodies out of the ninety nine bodies.
So even though I was thinking even when I said in Philadelphia, 13 states kills about Amendment. Like you’re saying actually it’s less than that. It’s half of those 13 states. So it’s just one legislative body out of each of those 13 states.
It Does Not Endanger the Constitution to Use the Constitution
I have to admit, I used to be on a little bit of that side. I was like, “I’m kind of worried about letting a bunch of people get together and possibly change the Constitution.”
It’s not just those people in that convention that are, quote, “Changing and amending the Constitution,” it’s all of us.
It’s got to come back to us and get our approval.
One of the things that got my thinking—because I was in the same way—and all the apocalyptic type of language, and I don’t want to lose the Constitution.
Number one: we’ve already lost it. We’re not using now. What if we lose? And that’s assuming that the worst. If we keep going the way we’re going we’re going to lose it. So we’ve got to do something.
And you know, these are all the minds you know and we are in Texas, and we might have a blizzard of the Fourth of July, we might have a meteor come through and hit us while we’re sitting there.
But the one thing that got me was it does not endanger the Constitution to use the Constitution.
“I so appreciate the right to trial but you’re in the Seventh Amendment that I’ve got a trial coming up, I’m not going to use the trial by jury because I think it’s too valuable to use it.”
“I support free speech, but I’m not going to use it because I might endanger the First Amendment.”
“I’m a big defender of the Second Amendment, but I’m not going to use it.”
How can it destroy the Constitution to to use the Constitution?
How We Fight Back
Because that’s a good thing. They gave you that tool that they said, “There’s two ways you can amend it. You can do it through Congress,” like we’ve done it so many times, or if the states get ticked off at the federal government and they want to say, “Guys, we’re pushing back.”
If we’re going to use this Tenth Amendment approach as applied by Article 5 of the Constitution.
It can’t hurt the Constitution to uphold the Constitution by using the Constitution. And if I take an oath to uphold the Constitution, which also includes article 5, which includes a convention of the states.
I can’t say, “I’m taking an oath to uphold the Constitution, except article 4, I like the part about the members of Congress, I don’t like the part about convention.”
I can’t do it.
And I remember in an earlier section you were talking about the fact that not only do we have that that horizontal separation of powers and checks and balances, but that vertical one as well.
Isn’t this a way for the states to actually push back against the encroachment from the feds? Isn’t this the proper way?
The federalist papers talked about that every one of those bodies had constitutional arms or self-defense of the states. They had senators appointed first off, we lost that with the 17th Amendment, but they have the 10th Amendment to defend them and they also have a convention of states after Article 5 to defend them. Those are all the tools that were given them by the Founding Fathers so the states can push back against federal overreach.
So those are all potential uses, and quite frankly that debate will go on, and it’s gone on for a long time.
This Isn’t a Novelty
That’s why they did that.
It was not a novel idea that they just came up with out of thin air. It’s because there were discussions already going on this topic back then, it’s just new in our generation, it’s been resurrected in our generation. Someone did this by calling for a balanced budget amendment back a couple of decades ago, and there’s still some calls for that, and that’s fine. Whatever it is, we’re having to look at the Constitution of fresh and new.
But my position is you do not endanger the Constitution by using the Constitution.
You said before we went to Philadelphia, this idea, because it’s drawn out, and there’s a lot of debate, and a lot of logic, and a lot of reason, that’s a good thing. If you think about it, this would cause—it’d be in the news, everybody would be learning about the Constitution. Each state is gonna be debating this in their state legislatures. I can’t see how that’s bad. That’s good for us to get more educated about the Constitution.
This is gonna years to get done. By the time we have debates in the legislatures of all 50 states, and by the time we have a house and senate debate, and by the time you see if you can get 38 states to come together on this, this is going to be thoroughly vetted through the people. We will have had discussions extensively on this.
By the way, the notion of being able to wipe out the Constitution in such a convention, it doesn’t exist. That’s a totally false premise.
How This Works
Remember, the current polling is right now nearly three quarters of the nation respects the Constitution. They don’t don’t think it’s being used right, but they respect it. So they’re not gonna be willing to wipe this thing out.
Well, and specifically to that I’ve heard people say, “Well, what if you had a convention of states, and they do the same thing that they did in the first round of the convention.” That’s not possible because, again, it’s still whatever they do has to come back back to the people.
And it’s interesting article 5 actually limits that by saying amendments to this constitution.
It doesn’t say you come out with the new constitution. It says this one. The original Constitution Convention, they didn’t just meet to revise the Articles of Confederation, they came up with a whole new document.
Had that violated what the states sent them there for, the states would not have ratified it. The states knew that they probably could not revise the Articles of Confederation.
“You go try, but you know what? Get us a document that gets us into a nation.”
And that’s what they did.
It’s interesting that you have examples through that process, even back in the Continental Congress, that the states were explicit with their delegates. For example, when they signed the Declaration.
Originally, when we were writing the Declaration, Pennsylvania told their delegates, “You do not sign to separate from Great Britain.”
They went on, they changed positions, so they sent word to the delegates to sign to separate from Great Britain.
Well, half the delegates refused to sign individually, so the state legislature popped them all out of there and sent some new ones back.
The States Send the Delegates, Not Congress
That’s how Benjamin Rush became a sign of the declaration. He replaced one of the guys who refused to separate like the state legislature and told them to do.
So the question of, “What kind of delegates might Congress appoint?”
Congress didn’t appoint the delegates. The states do.
The states control the delegates. If the delegates start doing something the state didn’t send there to do, the states call them back.
So the history is there, and the history answers all this. So, again, we need to have open debates on this because it is a big issue. But this is I’m not scared to use the Constitution to save the Constitution.
Not going to destroy it by any stretch of the imagination. We had a question back at Independence Hall about executive orders. A new administration’s coming in, what are your thoughts on that in terms of, “If you come in as a new president and the previous president has done a bunch of executive orders”?
Do you not have the opportunity to reverse some of that?
I love what you said, because the proposal from Heritage about having a commission to review every presidential executive order, that is a great idea and it ought to be done. But let me let me give you some examples historically.
Take executive orders, and here’s Presidents signing an executive order. But let me just give you three presidents for a moment. An executive order is oftentimes associated with activist presidents who are trying to get around Congress are trying to do things the Constitution doesn’t allow. So they do it through Executive Orders. So executive orders, as you said, completely legitimate.
George Washington had executive orders. But it’s whether you’re trying to circumvent the Constitution.
How Executive Orders Work
If you’re implementing a law that was passed by Congress, that’s one thing, and that’s fine. That’s right. If you’re creating law or reversing law without Congress approval, that’s another thing.
That’s what we had a look at three high numbers here. Woodrow Wilson: 1,803.
Now, Woodrow Wilson really decimated things. Major progressive, ignored the things that we were talking earlier about 16th and 17th Amendments.
Now, remember you showed me that poster 1913 really bad. Worst year ever. Woodrow Wilson was proud.
Woodrow Wilson’s look how high the numbers are, they’re now just out of curiosity, do you think the papers reported 1,803? I doubt it. Which is why you need a commission coming to look at all of them, because even the ones we hear about—take any president you want—you may have heard of a dozen executive orders. There’s going to be more than that.
Here’s another President, Calvin Coolidge: 1,203, and the look at Frank La Rosa:3,522.
Now this is kind of mystifying, because I will tell you quite frankly, I consider Calvin Coolidge to be one of the most sound presence in American history.
I consider him to be one of the greatest constitutional guys. He knew the Founding Fathers as well as anybody I’ve ever read on the founding fathers.
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.
Using Executive Orders to Cancel Executive Orders
He quoted them. He cited them.
And you go, “Wow. He did how many?”
Calvin Coolidge, most of his orders were trying to repeal Woodrow Wilson’s, so he’s reversing his orders.
So it can absolutely be done. That’s something any president can do. But the idea of finding out exactly what did that last president sign, and does that comport with cost. Most folks don’t even think that when they come into office. They start getting busy with nominations, they start getting busy with hearings, and foreign policy, and cabinet appointments, and executive orders, really big stuff.
Alright, so we’ve covered the amendment process. We talked about every area, every branch of government, we talked about every article, all the amendments, we come back we’re going to talk about what we as citizens need to do to save our Constitution in our very last section of Constitution Alive with David Barton and Rick Green.
Well, folks, that was Constitution Alive with David Barton and Rick Green. It’s our program walking through the Constitution, yesterday and today we share just a small segment out of that full program.
That particular segment was on the amendment process. If you just tuned in today and you missed yesterday, be sure and visit our website at WallBuildersLive.com. You can get yesterday’s program and today’s, just click on that archive section.
By the way, you can share them with folks, we encourage you to do that. Take these programs email them out to your friends and family, link to them on Facebook, get others to learn about our Constitution.
This particular series that we did yesterday and today again just one segment out of the entire Constitution Alive program, but very important if we want to save the republic.
Learn More About the Constitutional Amendment Process With Constitution Alive
The only way we can do that is through amendments to the Constitution to correct what the court has deviated from in terms of original intent.
They’ve created a court created concoction of a constitution. That’s what we’re living under today instead of the actual Constitution, and we the people, through our states, are going to have to amend the Constitution and get it back to its proper place.
So be sure and check all of that out at WallBuilders.com, and get the full Constitution Alive class.
Thanks for listening today to WallBuilders Live.