Lost Constitution: Senator Mike Lee talks about his new book, Our Lost Constitution: The Willful Subversion of America’s Founding Document. Â He goes over our Constitution, how our government has gotten off their Constitutional tracks, and how “We the people” can get this government back on track.
Air Date:Â 01/09/2017
Guests: Senator Mike Lee (UT), U.S. Senate
- WallBuilders | American historical events, founding fathers, historical documents, books, videos, CDs, tapes, David Barton’s speaking schedule.
- Our Lost Constitution: The Willful Subversion of America’s Founding Document
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Transcription note: Â As a courtesy for our listeners’ enjoyment, we are providing a transcription of this podcast. Â 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. Â Additionally, names may be misspelled because of the difficulty in understanding the speaker at times. We apologize in advance.
Welcome to the intersection of faith and the culture! This is WallBuilders Live! Where we’re discussing today’s hottest topics on policy, faith, and culture all from a Biblical, historical, and Â Constitutional perspective. When you get it from those three angles put together and you’re going to get the right answer to any issue. Â Your hosts are David Barton, America’s premier historian our founder and president here at WallBuilders, Tim Barton, national speaker and pastor, Â and my name is Rick Green, former Texas state representative.
Today we’ve got Senator Mike Lee from Utah coming up a little later in the program. Â Talking about his book on the Constitution. Which fits right with that perspective we’ve been talking about. Even talking about the Constitution and trying to bring back the original intent of the Constitution. Â
Man, when we first started doing this, or David when you founded WallBuilders, nobody was talking about that. And now it’s actually becoming popular. Â Believe it or not.
Indicative Of Good Things For Our Nation
Yeah it is. I’m hoping that it’s kind of indicative of what happened under King Josiah when they had a revival in the nation. And when they found that old scroll, the law of the land. Â And how they used to be governed.
That led to them saying, “Hey we’ve got to get back to this kind of thing.” Hopefully that’s going to happen with the Constitution. Â That we’ll get to the point where we’re saying the same thing.
And I like the title of Mike Lee’s book, “The Lost Constitution.” You know hopefully we’re going to refind that thing and rediscover that thing. Â Pull that out of mothballs. Â We’re going to look at it like it’s a brand new document. Â Like, “Wow! I never knew this! Â I never heard this!”
And we”ll get as excited about it as they did back under King Josiah. So, hopefully we’ll see the same kind of renewal restoration. Â But you’re right. Â I is a change.
I like looking at the fact that over recent years we’ve seen several new York Times best sellers that literally dealt with the Constitution. I mean the original argument, that was the Federalist Papers coming back, of all things.
Prospective Shortlist Supreme Court Justice
People like that? I mean really? So hopefully this is indicative of something good going on in the nation. Â Nobody better to talk about it than Mike Lee. By the way, I”ve got to ask you Rick. Â How many times have you been able to interview a prospective shortlist Supreme Court Justice?
Wow! Â Yeah. Â No kidding. Â None. Â No, never. *Laughter. Â This will be my first one!
So for those that don’t know, Mike is on the short list that President Trump compiled as to who he would place on the U.S. Supreme Court. Mike would be my number one choice, hands down.
What a great guy. Â He talks at our pastors” conferences. Â He”s just such a really class act. Â A quality guy in so many ways. Â I love being with him.
The Public Is More Aware Than Ever
Well, Tim, I know David’s been doing this a lot longer than you and I have been doing it but.
Thanks, Rick. Thanks a lot. Bro. Â *Laughter. Â What gave it away? Was it the hair?
Well, it was supposed to be a compliment! But you know there is wisdom in that. Â Gray hair is a sign of wisdom.
I’m just not used to compliments coming from you. Â *Laughter. Â So I wasn’t quite prepared for that.
People Are More Interested In The Constitution
Well, I was actually thinking about. Â Even in the few years that Tim and I’ve been doing this, I’ve noticed a change in the audiences. Â In their questions and how much they respect and know about the Constitution. Tim, have you noticed that too?
Absolutely. It seems like we’ve kind of moved from where we were trying to help people understand that our history was important. Â To now the place where people are asking questions about the application of history. Â But more specifically the Constitution.
There’s no doubt we’ve seen the growth and an evolution in where people have come. And certainly where the interest has been. Â And it is very promising for potentially where we could be in the future. Â Knowing that if you ask the right kind of question, you can come up with the right kind of answers.
People are certainly starting to ask the right kind of questions such as. “What does this mean? How does that apply? What was the original intent behind this?”
And so it really is something that is very encouraging from our standpoint. Certainly, we’re not at all where we want to be or need to be. Â But it’s the first time that I can think of where there’s been a really good indication that we could be moving in the right direction.
Immersing Yourself In Biographies
Well, part of the reason that I think people are getting encouraged when they listen to WallBuilders Live and the reason David’s book, “Original Intent.” It was titled that. Â I mean, it’s nice to have someone that was there at the Constitutional Convention and a colleague with the Founding Fathers. Â So, David you’re the only one on the program that was old enough to be there and experience it. Â You can tell us a little bit about what they were actually thinking. Â *Laughter.
Yeah, yeah. I was there with Ronald Reagan when Thomas Jefferson told him, too. Exactly.
But seriously. Â You have probably immersed yourself more in their writings. Â And it’s almost like you were there. Â Because you’ve read so much of what they wrote. Â Not just the stuff that people typically have heard of or gets mentioned in a text book. Â But the original writings, and correspondence to each other, private letters. You have been able to immerse yourself back in that day. Â So that you you do know what they were thinking and why they did what they did.
Understanding The Who the Founders Are
Yeah. Â It’s fun to do that! That’s why biographies are so cool! That’s why the history in the Bible is built biographically. Â You tell the stories of folks.
When you go back and you read biographies about George Washington. Â And then you start reading some of his letters. Â You go, “Oh yeah. Oh, that was really cool. Boy, I would have felt the same way.”
You find out there’s only one known time that he ever cussed, ever. That was a big deal back then. Â And then you find out what happened. Â You go, “Ooh, I think there might have been more than one if I had been involved.” Â Because of what happened and what cause it.
So just you start learning who the guys are. Â Learning the characters, and you say, “Really? You went through all this other stuff and you never cussed when that happened? Wow. You got a lot of character.”
And so you get a feel for the guys by studying who they are. Â Studying their biographies. Â Then you get to see what they lived through and what they did. Then after you do that you say, “Now I understand why they’re doing that. Oh boy, that really works for today. We have the same problems they had back then. You know, different technology but the same issues.”
And so as you kind of get to know those guys you really do find really good applications of what they did and why.
History Is Applicable Today
It’s amazing to me how much of their perspective back then. Â And we think man, you know, 220-240 years ago. Â But how much their perspective still does apply? You would think that the things they were dealing with were so different from us.
But you listen to their warnings. Â To their comments about the nature of man and how people are going to respond. Â And the power of government and all those things. Â And it’s all just as applicable today as it was 200 years ago.
10 Commandments Still Applicable Today
Well, but see. Â You act like that’s unusual. Â But I would ask you, the Ten Commandments are 3,500 years old. Â Are they still relevant today? Of course they are.
And you know God has done a great job of helping us have timeless principles that transcend all generations and technologies. I don’t care what your technology is. Â Don’t steal. I don’t care what your technology is. Â Don’t murder. I don’t care how much more advanced you think you are than previous generations. Â Don’t perjure yourself. That’s timeless.
They Even Dealt With Evolution Back Then
But Â see, it’s built in human character. Â And once you understand human character, which the Founding Fathers did. Â They had a very good Biblical view of human character. Â That it did not evolve.
And don’t think that they didn’t deal with evolution back then. Â They did. Was it Daniel Webster? His 1801 oration that he did as a senior in college about evolution/creation. And you go, “Really? That could be Ken Ham taking on Bill Nye.” Â But it was back in 1801. Â So they understood all that.
There was a law piece that I did for a waw Review at one time on the seventy fifth anniversary of the Scopes Trial. And one of the things I pointed out in that law review was every single major item associated with evolution today was already documented and printed and written and talked about 500 years B.C.
Darwin Didn”t Come Up With Anything New
I mean, Darwin didn’t come up with anything new. What he did was synthesize 2,500 years of evolutionary thinking into a single book, “Origin of Species.” Â But it’s nothing new.
And so you really do find out that God has really figured this out. Â He made us. Â He knows how we respond. Â He knows that we don’t change across time any more than gravity changes across time. Â Any more than sun coming up in the east going down in the west changes across time. Â And that’s why it’s so good.
Constitution Was Written To Be Timeless
That’s why the Constitution is such a cool document. Because it was built on that understanding of timeless principles. Â The timeless character of man. Â The timeless good, the timeless bad. Â The timeless right, the timeless wrong. I mean, it’s built on those eternal truths. And that’s why it’s such a cool document today
When you get to find out what’s in there you go, “Man. They were writing for today. They weren”t writing for 200 years ago. They were writing for today.”
That’s where Mike is really good about taking those principles and bringing out the principle. Â So, the book that he’s done on “The Lost Constitution” it really is going back to first things. Â Getting first things first.
“Our Lost Constitution,” U.S. Senator Mike Lee
U.S. Senator Mike Lee. Â Potentially Supreme Court Justice Mike Lee, depending on how things turn out over the next year!
I’m hoping! I”m hoping! Â What a great replacement for Scalia that would be! That would be really cool.
Absolutely! He’ll be with us when we return from our break. Â So stay with us right here on WallBuilders Live.
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. Â And it’s actually a teaching done on the Constitution at Independence Hall in the very room where the Constitution was framed. We take you both to Philadelphia, the Cradle of Liberty and Independence Hall and to the WallBuilders” library where David Barton brings the history to life to teach the original intent of our Founding Fathers.
We call it the 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. Â 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.
Senator Mike Lee
Welcome back! Â Thanks for staying with us here on WallBuilders Live. With us is the Senator from Utah, Mike Lee. Â Good to have you on, Sir.
Thank you! It’s good to be with you.
Senator, thanks for doing the book, “Our Lost Constitution” and bringing attention to actually some clauses people aren”t very familiar with. Â But most of all, just the fact that we need a restoration of our Constitution. How important is this to the future of our republic?
It’s very important! Our republican form of government depends on our willingness to read the Constitution and to vote in a way that makes sure that we are following it.
The Constitution isn’t self executing, just as freedom can’t be inherited. Â It can’t be passed through the bloodstream to our children. Our Constitution doesn’t survive unless each generation takes the steps necessary to learn it, to understand it, and to make sure that it’s followed. We can’t wait for the courts to do it. The courts won’t always do it.
Ultimately, the Constitution is in effect, only in so far as, the people are willing to enforce it in the way that they vote. So one of the reasons why I wrote “Our Lost Constitution” to tell the stories behind various provisions that have been neglected or lost. Â As I explained them in the book.
Federalism and Separation of Powers.
Why did you pick these particular six? So many areas of the Constitution you could cover, obviously. Â Did you see these as not just important areas but areas that the public if they knew about this, could seek change in a restoration of these particular areas?
Yes. You know, the short answer is that two of the chapters deal with federalism and separation of powers. Those are sort of watershed Constitutional issues. The issues that if we grasped more completely as a society, we would all benefit as a result.
Federalism and separation of powers are the two structural protections in the Constitution. Federalism disrupts power and limits power on a vertical axis. Â Federalism (separation of powers) limits on a horizontal axis. In other words, federalism is what tells us that most of our power and government is supposed to be exercised at the state and local level. Only a few powers are supposed to be held by the federal government.
Separation of powers tells us that we’re supposed to have one branch that makes the laws. Â And another branch that enforces the laws. Â And yet another branch that interprets the laws. Â When each branch stays in its lane. Â When we respect this horizontal separation of powers and also the vertical separation of powers that we call federalism. Â We’re all protected as a result.
Some of the other things we talked about in the book are essential. In that we also talked about the First Amendment. We talk about the Fourth Amendment. Â And we talk about how each of these Constitutional provisions at issue has been neglected or weakened over time. And I explained in the book how we can restore them
Judicial Branch Has Overstepped The Bounds Of The Constitution
On the separation of powers issue, Hamilton said in the Federalist Papers, we wouldn’t have to worry about the courts. Â That would never have our freedoms taken from them if they stayed. Â And this obviously paraphrasing. Â Stayed in their box. Â They did only the thing that they were designed to do and they never got over in the legislative and executive.
Obviously, that has happened. Â And it seems like now if five lawyers on the court can make law for 330 million people that were outside the bounds of the original vision of the Constitution.
Yeah. Â That’s exactly right. I explain in the book that this occurs at several levels of the government. Sometimes that occurs because five lawyers wearing black robes on the Supreme Court just decide they want to make law. And that’s bad.
Sometimes it occurs because members of Congress, and I’m talking Republicans and Democrats. I’m talking senators and members of the House Representatives alike will decide in many instances that it’s too hard to go through the tedious and politically risky process of actually making law.
And so in many instances Congress will just outsource the task of lawmaking to someone else. Rather than pass a law, for instance, that decides how we’re going to clean up the air. Â Congress will pass a law that says, “We shall have clean air and we delegate to the EPA the task of deciding what clean air is. Â What limitations should be placed on polluters. Â What penalties will await those who pollute in violation of the law.”
The problem with this is that regardless of what effects it might have. Regardless of the fact that laws like this in many cases do clean up the environment. Â They do so in a way that insulates lawmakers from political accountability. So it’s one of the reasons why I explain in chapter three of the book that we need to restore separation of powers. Â We need Congress to make its laws rather than outsourcing to third parties in the executive branch, the bureaucracies, the power to make laws. Â So that members of Congress can blame someone else when laws prove difficult to comply with or burdensome.
The Core Constitutional Questions
Did it surprise you when you got to Washington how few members of Congress really cared much about this separation? Â Â Really the jurisdictional lines? Â Not only as you were describing but between the federal departments. Also between the federal and the state. And that people don’t ask the question anymore. Â When a good idea gets brought up, they don’t ask the question, “Well do I have authority to do this based on the position I’ve been elected to?” They just say, “Oh yeah that’s a good idea let’s go do it.” Was that surprising to you?
Yes, very much so. Â And I describe some of this in the book. When I got there, I knew that there would be some of that. But I think I was surprised at the extent to which many members of Congress choose not really to wrestle with core constitutional questions.
It is far easier simply to defer to lawyers on staff who will say, “Look the Supreme Court is not going to invalidate this or that exercise of Congress” power under the Commerce Clause, for example.” And then members of Congress, far too many of them, are far too willing to equate that with the conclusion that it is, in fact, constitutional.
I explain in the book why those are necessarily two different questions. What the courts are willing to enforce in the Constitution isn’t necessarily the same question as what is the letter and spirit of the Constitution require of us. Â What should we do? How do we ourselves read the Constitution?
Vote According To The Constitution
So that’s why I explain in several parts of the book what voters can look for in deciding how to cast their votes in elections for federal offices. But there are House and Senate or for the White House. And questions that people should ask candidates for office before giving them their vote. Â Questions designed to elicit statements by candidates about things. Â
Such as how they view the separation of powers. How narrowly or how broadly each candidate might be willing to view Congress” lawmaking power relative to the states. Â And I explain in the book that the more we as voters can do to promote these kinds of discussions. Â To ask these kinds of questions to candidates for federal office, the better off we’re going to be. Â Because we’ll have more people actually voting according to their actual genuine reading of the Constitution.
Part of what I love about the book is that it”s not just pointing out where we’ve gone wrong. Saying, “Here’s how we get back and here’s what you as a citizen can do about it even if you’re not a public servant.” What you can do about it and the questions you can ask of those public servants.
“Our Lost Constitution.” You get it on Amazon, bookstores, everywhere. Get it on audible. Â If you’re like our family and travel a lot and listen to a lot of books. Â Even get the whispersync so you can have it on your Kindle. Â Listen to Senator Lee read some of the book as well.
Last thing, Senator, before I let you go. Â So in the 6 years you’ve been there have you found in the last few elections at least a couple more or a few more? Â Both in the House and the Senate that have come to Washington that share your desire to see this restoration of our Constitution? Â And specifically of jurisdictions and separation of powers?
Asking The Right Questions
Yes. In the last few years since I was first elected to the Senate in 2010 I’ve seen a number of people elected the first time to the Senate and into the House. Â Who have come with a new approach that focuses back on the people. Â Focuses on the fact that America’s poor and middle classes have suffered as a result of our departure from the Constitution.
So even though we are still perhaps the exception rather than the rule. There are more members of Congress today who are willing to wrestle with these questions. Â Wrestle with whether or not something is an appropriate exercise of federal power. Â Regardless of whether a particular law is a good idea in the abstract. Â Regardless of whether some government ought to be doing a particular thing.
Is this the appropriate place for the federal government to be acting? We’ve got more people asking that question. Â Whether we’re doing our job as lawmakers rather than just outsourcing it to the executive branch bureaucrats.
I’m encouraged by that. Â But we need more people to join the cops because there are still aren’t enough of us. It’s one of the reasons why I wrote this book. Â And one of the reasons why I hope your listeners will read it. Â And you know, find a friend or neighbor who has read it. Â You can go to a library and check it out. Worse comes to worse, you can even buy it out on paperback.
Finally Hope For The Future
Well, we share your same desire. Not only that they read the book but the more Americans ask these very questions. Â And the fact that there’s at least a handful more and hopefully more coming that represent us there in Washington D.C. asking those questions. Â Tells me that there are more citizens asking those questions. Â
So we”ve got to Â just get more and more people to do their duty under the Constitution and want to be good citizens. Â I see a lot of optimism out there. I think that just the fact that people are talking about these things when they didn’t Â 6-10 years ago is a big plus. Â And it’s in big part thanks to guys like you. So Senator Mike Lee, thanks so much for joining us today.
Thank you, Sir.
It’s called “Our Lost Constitution.” Â We will have links today at the website WallBuildersLive.com.
Stay with us. Â We’ll be right back with David and Tim Barton.
Truth Be Told With Tim Barton and David Pate
Hi, this is Tim Barton from WallBuilders and we are battling culture and attack on truth. Â In fact, the majority of Americans now no longer believe that there are absolutes and that absolute truth does not exist. Well, we are being bombarded from an existentialist, a postmodern, a humanistic, and a secular worldview that tells us the truth is how we define it. Truth is what we imagine, truth is what we believe.
Well friends, I can tell you that’s not the way it works. In fact, God defined truth in the Word of God and laid out very clearly what it is. And we have great examples from history. They show us some things work and some things don’t work. What we’ve done a while ago is to try to help combat this attack against truth. Â
We started a conference called Truth Be Told. Â One of the other speakers, David Pate, and myself team up and we go around from city to city talking about cultural issues but looking at it from a Biblical perspective and from American history seeing the examples. And so if you want to learn more about how we can apply truth to various issues of culture you can go visit our website, WallBuilders.com Â and look for information on Truth Be Told. Friends, in a time when truth is being attacked, it’s time for truth to be told.
Mike Knows How to Make Good Progress
Welcome back. Â Thanks for staying with us here on WallBuilders Live. We’re back now with David and Tim Barton. Â Thanks to U.S. Senator Mike Lee for joining us today as well. We’ll have links where you can get a copy of his book.
David, Tim, you just listen to him talk about original intent and you go, “That’s the guy I want on the Supreme Court.”
Yeah. Â He is! Â I’ll tell you he really knows some of the rather obscure clauses. Â I remember sitting on a plane with him back after John Boehner had resigned and talking about how to be able to get things changed. Â He said, “Here’s what the House needs to do. Â They need a speaker that understands -“ And he quoted the Constitution. Â
If you remember back at that point in time, there were so many things that the Senate refused to pick up that the House had done. I think there were 282 measures the last time I saw a count. Â That the House had passed that the Senate refused to take up.
Mike and Â I were sitting on a plane talking and said, “You know all the House – the Constitution says that the Senate cannot adjourn without the House’s permission. And every weekend all the House speaker has to do is say, “We’re not given our permission for the Senate to adjourn. They will stay in session until they get this bill passed or this bill addressed.”” Â He said, “The house has the ability to keep the Senate in session.”
The Senate was down to working two days a week because Obama didn’t want to do a budget. Â So everything’s a continuing resolution. What a great insight that the House Speaker itself simply by saying, “I’m not given you permission to adjourn,” instead of just giving it perfunctory permission. He keeps them in session and can actually get the Senate to do something. Â And so little bitty obscure things like that in the Constitution. That’s the kind of stuff that Mike knows about and knows how to apply to make good progress.
Supreme Court And Senate Need To Read The Constitution
What’s interesting you’re also saying obscure. Â Because how obscure can it be in a document that’s only a few pages long?
Well that’s true. That”s a great point. Â
This shouldn”t be complicated.
This is a self-evident document that’s on any website you want to look at.
Right. It’s one of the most of available, accessible documents there are in America. Â And yet nobody knows it. And so to find someone that knows it. Â You’re like, “Oh my goodness! Â How did you find this clause?”
Well, it was pretty easy. Â Â I just read it.
Yeah. Â Great point.
Nobody knows it. Â That’s one of the things that is so fun about Mike Lee. Â He really does know the Constitution. Of course in writing his book and in covering the six different main topics as he gets into. Â Certainly, as you teach something you come to know it even better.
As a high school teacher, I discovered every teacher and every parent, as they’ve tried to instruct someone in something. Â You learned that a you try to teach somebody how something operates, you learn it better.
And so Mike Lee certainly has an incredible grasp of so much of the Constitution as he’s written this book and taught it. But certainly someone that knows it. Â Which would almost be a novelty on the Supreme Court today. Â Much less in the Senate today, someone that actually has a read and knows the document. Â Really cool.
Read The Constitution
See that goes to the statement — I love the statement he made. “The Constitution is not a self executing document.” And it is not. Â It takes people to do that. Â Which means you have to read it.
But I think you’re right. Tim. Â I think a whole lot of the justices on the Supreme Court have no clue about even the major portions of the Constitution. But here’s a guy who knows. Â And you’re right. Â I called it obscure. Â And it’s really not obscure. Â Because it’s out there for anybody who wants to read it.
But here’s a guy who’s actually taken the time to read it and think about it and know how to apply it in situations that we could really use it today. And boy, what a breath of fresh air that would be on the U.S. Supreme Court.
It’s apart of that whole hope and new attitude going into this new year. Of course, we talked about Senator Lee obviously as our guest today. Â But frankly, most of the folks that Trump had on his list that he promised to go from, we’ve heard nothing but good things about them from people that really follow these judges while they’re on the lower court level. Â So there’s there’s a lot to be hopeful about.
You know we were talking the other day off the air about how many appointees Trump’s going to have. Â Something like 110 or 111 vacancies right now. Â So there’s a lot to be hopeful about going into 2017!
80 Percent Optimism Going Into 2017 Says Recent Poll
And the other thing is people think that too. Â Because recent polling shows that only 20 percent of the nation enters the Trump presidency fearful about what might happen. I mean, 80 percent optimism. Â That’s really, really good. So, a lot of people see a possibility of good change coming.
Thanks for listening today, folks. Â Thanks to Senator Mike Lee for joining us as well. Be sure you read his book on the Constitution. Â Also pick up Constitution Alive at WallBuilders.com. Â And other resources out there so that you know those founding documents. You’ve been listening to WallBuilders Live!