Getting to Know the Constitution
By Loyal to the Word

 

 

        

         The Latter-day Saints accept the Constitution as an inspired document, since their scriptures teach that God “suffered [the Constitution] to be established, and [that it] should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles” (D&C 101:77). The Lord also said that He “established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose” (D&C 101:80). The Lord also said, “And that law of the land which is constitutional, supporting that principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges, belongs to all mankind, and is justifiable before me” (D&C 98:5, emphasis added). Therefore, this inspired document should be highly regarded by every Latter-day Saint, no matter what country they may hail from. Not only that, but since the document is tantamount to a revelation from heaven regarding proper government, the principles and contents of the Constitution should be of considerable interest to all Latter-day Saints. Unfortunately, there is seemingly widespread ignorance regarding the Constitution. In order to help remedy this problem, this article will present a brief rundown of what is in the Constitution, along with some commentary interjected, in order to familiarize readers who are not acquainted with this amazing document of freedom. 

 

Study the Constitution

 

         The prophets have long counseled us to study and uphold the Constitution. The Prophet Joseph Smith declared, “the Constitution of the United States is a glorious standard; it is founded in the wisdom of God. It is a heavenly banner” (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 3: 304). President J. Reuben Clark declared of the Constitution: “The Constitution of the United States is a great and treasured part of my religion....The overturning, or the material changing, or the distortion of any fundamental principle of our constitutional government would thus do violence to my religion.... the constitutional ‘principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges, belongs to all mankind, and is justifiable before’ the Lord….[The Constitution] is His plan for the government of free men” (President J. Reuben Clark, Stand Fast by Our Constitution, p. 7, 172). President David O. McKay, after lamenting the existence of “progressives” who claim that the principles of the Constitution are out of date, said, “the underlying principles of the Constitution… like eternal truths, never get out of date, and which are applicable at all times to liberty-loving peoples.” He then declared that the Constitution was “framed by patriotic, freedom-loving men, who Latter-day Saints declare were inspired by the Lord” (David O. McKay, Gospel Ideals, p. 319). President McKay further declared, “there is nothing in this world upon which this Church should be more united than in upholding and defending the Constitution of the United States” (ibid), as well as, “I repeat that no greater immediate responsibility rests upon members of the Church…than to protect the freedom vouchsafed by the Constitution of the United States” (ibid, p. 320). How can we stand up and defend the Constitution unless we understand what is in it and what freedoms it guarantees? Ezra Taft Benson taught, “To protect [America] we must protect the soul of America - we must return to a love and respect for the basic spiritual concepts upon which this nation has been established. We must study the Constitution and the writings of the Founding Fathers.” (Ezra Taft Benson, Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 572).

 

Unalienable Rights

 

         The rights reserved for the people in the marvelous Constitution were not considered by the Founders to be granted by any government. The government did not grant the people their rights, neither may it take them from them. But as the Declaration of Independence reads: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” (Declaration of Independence). This is the foundation of the concept of rights in the Constitution. Our rights come from God, not the government, and no government can rightfully take them away. Ezra Taft Benson taught,

 

                                                                    Rights are either God-given, as part of the divine plan, or they are
                                                                    granted by government, as part of the political plan. Reason,
                                                                    necessity, tradition, and religious convictions all lead me to accept
                                                                    the Divine origin of these rights. If we accept the premise that
                                                                    human rights are granted by government, then we must be willing
                                                                    to accept the corollary: that they can be denied by government. I
                                                                    shall never accept that premise. 
                                                                    (Ezra Taft Benson, “The Proper Role of Government”, BYU
                                                                    Speeches of the Year
, 1968)

 

         The Constitution also lists many of the God-given rights that are guaranteed to individuals, most notably in the Bill of Rights (the first ten Amendments).

 

The People Delegate Their Powers to Government

 

         Many people are under the impression that the government is supposed to have all power over the people. But this is not the philosophy of freedom. The Founding Fathers declared: “That to secure these [unalienable] rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed” (Declaration of Independence). In a free society, it is the people who are the ultimate source of power (hence, the phrase found at the beginning of the Constitution, “We the People…”), and the people merely delegate their powers to the government. The resultant elected representatives in government are then supposed to act in the capacity of servants to the people, not overlords. Thomas Jefferson stated, “I consider the people who constitute a society or nation as the source of all authority in that nation,” and, “All authority belongs to the people” (as quoted in W. Cleon Skousen, The Making of America, p. 233).

         Basic to the Constitutional understanding of freedom is the fact that the power inherently belongs to the people themselves, and not any government body. The government should only be an organized manifestation of the will of the people, and not the source of power or will for the nation. And since the government is only acting at the delegation of the people, it follows that it cannot act in any capacity or power that the people do not inherently possess themselves. Speaking of the redistribution of wealth found in socialistic government policies, Ezra Taft Benson confirmed, “[The people] cannot delegate a power they themselves do not have” (Ezra Taft Benson, “The Proper Role of Government”, BYU Speeches of the Year, 1968). That is, since a person does not have the inherent right to take by force their neighbor’s property, neither can the government assume that right.

 

The Constitutional Convention

 

         In 1787, after the Revolutionary War was won, delegates from each of the existing thirteen states met to concoct a Constitution that would unify the new-born nation. These delegates were some of the most talented men of each respective state (W. Cleon Skousen, The Making of America, p. 136). They were what we now refer to as the Founding Fathers, or the “wise men whom [God] raised up” to establish the Constitution (D&C 101:80). In past times and in other parts of the world, after a revolution, the victor would become the new despotic ruler. One should have expected that after George Washington’s miraculous victory against the British, that he would assume absolute control over America as its next dictator. But in George Washington America had a much nobler leader. It was George Washington’s aim, along with others, to help establish freedom in America, and it was George Washington who presided at the Constitutional Convention. Here the Founders had an opportunity unique in all the world – the chance to set up a free government without the oppression of tyrannical monarchs or despots, a government founded on principles of freedom for the individual, rather than exploitation of the individual. It was at this convention, over the process of months and much debate, that a grand and glorious standard was erected for the freedom of all mankind – the Constitution of the United States of America.

 

 

What Type of Government? 

 

         Among the debate at the Constitutional Convention was the central question – what type of government should the Founders set up in order to best secure freedom for the individual? What the Founders settled on is called a Democratic Republic. “Democratic” is, of course, derived from “democracy,” and is government by the people in which each citizen votes their will on each issue. However, a pure democracy does not work well in practical application, since the citizens must all band together and vote their will on each and every government decision. A “Republic” is a form of government in which the people have representatives who work in government for them in the day-to-day business of government affairs, alleviating the people of this time-consuming burden. The Founders therefore merged the desirable aspects of these forms of government, and invented a grand and new form of efficient government: a Democratic Republic (W. Cleon Skousen, The Making of America, p. 264-265).

 

Limited Government

 

         Within the Constitution, rather than giving government a great abundance of power, as one might expect, is found instead many limitations on what government may do. In fact, the Constitution is marked more for its limitations on what government is allowed to exercise authority in than for its granting of authority to government. The reason for this is that the Founders understood that government with too much power would usurp authority that does not properly belong to it. Limited government, therefore, is the basic underpinning of the Founders’ idea of government. As Thomas Jefferson wrote,

 

 

“[F]ree government is founded in jealousy, and not in confidence; it is jealousy, and not confidence which prescribes limited constitutions to bind down those whom we are obliged to trust with power; that our Constitution has accordingly fixed the limits to which, and no farther, our confidence may go…In questions of power, then, let no more be said of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.”
(Thomas Jefferson as quoted in W. Cleon Skousen, The Making of America, p. 570

 

Decentralization of Authority 

 

         Basic to the theory behind the Constitution and woven throughout its paragraphs and clauses is the idea of not centralizing too much authority in one level of government, particularly the federal government. As W. Cleon Skousen noted, “The Founders emphasized repeatedly that the design of the Constitution was to distribute authority of governmental service to that level where a particular function could be most efficiently administered and at the least expense” (W. Cleon Skousen, The Making of America, p. 177). Thomas Jefferson put the idea into words very effectively in this way:

 

                                                                    The way to have good and safe government is not to trust it all to
                                                                    one, but to divide it among the many, distributing to everyone 
                                                                    exactly the functions he is competent to. Let the national
                                                                    government be entrusted with the defense of the nation, and its
                                                                    foreign and federal relations; the state governments with the civil
                                                                    rights, laws, police, and administration of what concerns the state
                                                                    generally; the counties with the local concerns of the counties; and
                                                                    each ward direct the interests within itself. It is by dividing and 
                                                                    subdividing these republics from the great national one down through
                                                                    all its subordinations until it ends in the administration of every
                                                                    man's farm by himself, by placing under everyone what his own eye may
                                                                    superintend, that all will be done for the best.
                                                                    (Thomas Jefferson as quoted in W. Cleon Skousen,
The Making of
                                                                    America
, p. 178)

 

         Unfortunately, the trend today is the centralization of authority in the federal government, with that level of government undertaking all kinds of powers and responsibilities that do not rightly belong to it. This is not the philosophy of the Founding Fathers, nor is it conducive to the proper interpretation of the Constitution, but rather centralization of government is the mark of tyranny. It is no coincidence that a basic tenet of freedom-destroying socialism/communism is the deliberate centralization of government authority. It is also no coincidence that liberals are doing their part to push the trend toward centralization of government, for liberals are the unofficial allies of the socialists. Thomas Jefferson gravely warned of these hazards that would destroy freedom. He said:

 

                                                                     When all government, domestic and foreign, in little as in great
                                                                     things, shall be drawn to Washington as the center of all power, it
                                                                     will render powerless the checks provided of one government on
                                                                     another and will become as venal and oppressive as the government
                                                                     from which we separated.
                                                                     (Thomas Jefferson as quoted in W. Cleon Skousen,
The Making of
                                                                     America
, p. 187)

 

The Constitution – A Formula for Freedom and Prosperity 

 

         The Constitution is a grand heavenly formula for freedom and prosperity. And as such, the Constitution is based on the principles of a free market economy as established in Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations, published in the blessed year of 1776. As W. Cleon Skousen noted,

 

                                                                    By the end of the nineteenth century, [the Founders’] formula was
                                                                    beginning to give Americans the highest standard of living in the
                                                                    world. With less than 6 percent of the earth’s population, they were 
                                                                    producing more than half of just about everything. This was all made
                                                                    possible because Americans had a Constitution which allowed them
                                                                    to be the first nation to practice the free-market principles set forth in
                                                                    a famous book by Adam Smith entitled The Wealth of Nations.
                                                                    (W. Cleon Skousen, The Making of America, p. 203)

 

         The Constitution was not only based on a free market economy with a minimum of government restrictions, regulations, and controls, but it was also very explicit on the matter of money, a subject integral to economic prosperity. The Founders were eager that only a system of sound money would prevail in the nation that they had created, because of their personal experience with unsound currency. Author and researcher G. Edward Griffin explained,

 

                                                                    The monetary plan laid down by the Founding Fathers was the product of
                                                                    collective genius. Nowhere in history can one find so many men in one
                                                                    legislative body who understood the fraud inherent in fiat [i.e. merely paper]
                                                                    money and the hidden-taxation nature of inflation. There was never such an
                                                                    assembly of scholars and statesmen determined to set a safe course for the
                                                                    nation of their own creation. Literally, they handed us a treasure map. All
                                                                    we had to do was follow it to economic security and national prosperity. But
                                                                    …that map was discarded when the lessons of history died out with those who
                                                                    had lived it.
                                                                    (G. Edward Griffin, The Creature from Jekyll Island, 2010, p. 324)

 

The Three Branches of Government

 

         Before a discussion about the contents of the Constitution should begin, it is helpful to understand the theory behind one of its most ingenious aspects, which is separation of powers. The three branches of government are: Legislative (Congress, consisting of the House of Representatives and the Senate), Executive (the Presidency), and Judicial (federal courts, including the Supreme Court). By separating these aspects of government and making them independent of each other, the Constitution seeks to preserve the freedom of the individual by not allowing excessive power or domination to the government. The Constitution deliberately limits the government by separating it into three branches, and which creates a check and balance system between these roles in government, deliberately seeking to not concentrate power in any one branch of government.

 

 

The Structure of the Constitution

 

         The Constitution is broken up into seven Articles. Within each Article are Sections, and within the sections are Paragraphs. After the Articles appear the Amendments, or authorized changes made to the Constitution as needs may arise. The Founders intentionally left the door open for Constitutional Amendments in case a need ever arose for one. But they deliberately made the process of amending the Constitution a tedious and painstaking process, in order to protect citizens from having their Constitution ravaged by power-hungry politicians. The first 10 Amendments were added in the days of the Founding Fathers, and are known as the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights outlines some of the most fundamental rights of man, which are secured by the Constitution.

 

A SYNOPSIS OF THE CONSTITUTION

 

ARTICLE 1
THE LEGISLATIVE BRANCH: CONGRESS

 

         Article 1 of the Constitution concerns itself with the Legislative (i.e. lawmaking) branch of the federal government. It grants ALL lawmaking power to the legislative branch of government, called Congress. Congress itself consists of a House of Representatives and the Senate.

House of Representatives: The House was meant to be a body of elected officials, elected by the people and to represent the people in the legislative process.

Senate: The Senate was originally meant to be appointed representatives of the state governments, to represent the interests of the states in the federal lawmaking process. Unfortunately, the misguided 17th Amendment, passed in 1913, has made it so that Senators are elected by popular vote of the people, thus making Senators represent the people as do the House Representatives. As a result, there is no representation for the state governments in Congress, and this check and balance has been crassly eliminated.

 

The House of Representatives

 

         Article 1, Section 2 concerns itself with the management, formation, and powers extended to the House of Representatives. It outlines:

  • The election of House Representatives is to be done every 2 years by the people.
  • If a citizen of a state can vote for their state legislature, they are qualified to vote for a Representative in the House on the federal level.
  • Qualifications to be a Representative of the House, which are: at least 25 years old, a U.S. citizen for at least 7 years, and an inhabitant of the state they are elected to represent.
  • Representatives are apportioned according to the population of the states. Here we run into the much-misunderstood and maligned Three-Fifths Clause, which mandated that slaves were only to be counted as 3/5 of a person when determining the population to be represented. The status of slaves under the law then existing made them both persons and property by the nature of their position, and so the Three-Fifths Clause was a compromise. The Three-Fifths Clause is misunderstood by many, and misrepresented by enemies of the Constitution, as a built-in racist policy to the Constitution, meant to demean the value of blacks by considering them only 3/5 of a human being. In actuality, however, the Three-Fifths Clause was meant as no disprespect and was to the benefit of the slaves, because it meant that their presence would not bring into Congress a disproportionately greater number of pro-slavery Representatives from the South.
  • Representatives should represent at least 30,000 citizens, to see that there are not too many members of Congress, making the lawmaking process unmanageable.
  • Each state should have at least 1 Representative in Congress. The Founders understood that this ratio might be subject to change as population increased in the nation (W. Cleon Skousen, The Making of America, p. 279).
  • Direct taxes (taxes levied directly against a person, his property, or income, and cannot be passed on to others), should be apportioned among the states according to the population of each state. This allows for each state to not tax its citizens more, in proportion to its population, than other states.
  • A census shall be taken every ten years to ensure that the people are represented adequately in Congress.
  • On the occasion that a vacancy occurs in the House of Representatives, the Governor of the respective state shall call an election to fill it. The right to fill the vacancy thus belongs with the states, and not the federal government.
  • The House of Representatives shall choose its own Speaker (presiding officer) and other officers. Therefore, the House of Representatives has power to manage its own affairs without meddling from other parts of government.
  • The House of Representatives, as the representatives of the people, has the sole power to bring charges of impeachment against officers in the Executive or Judicial branches of government.

 

 The Senate

 

         Article 1, Section 3 concerns itself with the management, formation, and powers extended to the Senate. It outlines:

  • The Senate shall have 2 Senators from each state who serve for 6 years.
  • The Senators in Congress are to be chosen by the state legislatures to represent the interests of the state government in Congress. (This check and balance was destroyed with the 17th Amendment).
  • Each Senator shall have 1 vote in the senate, and may vote independently of the other Senator from the same state.
  • 1/3 of the Senate is elected every 2 years.
  • On the occasion that a vacancy occurs in the Senate, the legislature of the respective state shall appoint a replacement Senator to fill it, or if the legislature is not active or in session, the state Governor may act to make the appointment. The right to fill the vacancy thus belongs with the states, and not the federal government.
  • Senators must be at least 30 years old, a U.S. citizen for at least 9 years, and an inhabitant of the state they are appointed to represent.
  • The Vice President of the United States (from the Executive branch of government) is the President of the Senate (being head of the state representatives, or Senators), however the Vice President cannot vote on legislation except to break a tie.
  • The Senate shall choose its own officers. Therefore, the Senate has power to manage its own affairs without meddling from other parts of government.
  • If the Vice President is not available, the Senate has power to choose a president pro tempore from among its numbers.
  • The Senate has the sole power to perform the actual trial for the impeachment process of officers in the Executive or Judicial branches of government. As the House has the power to lay the charges but not conduct the trial, and the Senate does not have the power to lay charges but is responsible for the trial itself, this system creates a check and a balance between the Congress with respect to impeachment.
  • In a trial of impeachment, the accused shall not be convicted without 2/3 concurrence of the members present.
  • With respect to impeachment, the Senate only has power to remove the convicted officer from office, and disqualify them from future government offices. However, the convicted officer may also be subject to criminal indictment.

 

Elections and Meetings of Congress 

 

         Article 1, Section 4 concerns itself with the regulation of the elections and meetings for both the House of Representatives and the Senate. It outlines:

  • The state legislatures are responsible for the details of the elections of Senators and Representatives, but Congress can make laws to alter the state regulations (except for the place of choosing Senators, which is the state legislature). Of course, the cursed 17th Amendment flies in the face of this provision as laid out by the Founders, since it changed to selection of Senators by state legislature to popular vote by the people.
  • Congress is obligated to meet at least once a year. This was a reaction to the British habit of kings neglecting to call parliament for several years, thus negating any power that body may have had (W. Cleon Skousen, The Making of America, p. 328).
     

 

Rules of Congress 

 

         Article 1, Section 5 concerns itself with the rules and regulations each of the House of Representatives and the Senate. It outlines:

  • The Senate and the House of Representatives are responsible to determine whether its members were elected legally and properly, and whether the members meet the Constitutional requirements.
  • Majorities are required in order for the House of Representatives and Senate to each constitute a “quorum” and to conduct business. This provision protects against a rule by the few.
  • If their numbers are not sufficient to form a quorum, the members present may compel the absent members to come at the punishment of penalties. This provision stops any plans to cancel or permanently postpone the review of a certain item of legislation by absenteeism.
  • The House of Representatives and Senate have the prerogative to determine their own rules of proceedings and misconduct. They may expel a member with a concurrence of 2/3.
  • The House of Representatives and the Senate are obligated to keep records of their proceedings and make these records available publicly for the American people. This rule stands except for when the discussion is a confidential matter of national security (which is left to the discretion of each house of Congress). Records of who voted which way are to be made public.
  • Votes are settled by majority.
  • Both the House or Representatives and the Senate may not adjourn for more than 3 days without the other’s consent, and they may not meet in any place other than the Congressional Building without the consent of the other body of Congress. This allows each part of Congress to have a significant check on the other and avoid efforts to bypass the proper lawmaking process.
 

 

Rights and Duties of Congress

Article 1, Section 6 concerns itself with the rights and duties of Congressmen (House Representatives and Senators). It outlines:
  • Congressmen receive monetary compensation according to law, and are paid for from the Treasury of the United States.
  • Congressmen are immune from arrest while their house is in session, or when they are traveling to and from session, except for the crimes of treason, a felony, or breach of the peace. This provision destroys the possibility of preventing a Congressman from conducting business in Congress by arresting him on false charges.
  • No House Representative or Senator may take a position in or receive any benefits or compensation from a civil office in the United States that was created or had its salary increased at the time the Congressman was serving in Congress. This prevents members of Congress from creating government positions for themselves that they would find desirable.
  • No House Representative or Senator may work in the employ of the other branches of the United States government (the Executive and Judicial) while at the same time being a Congressman in the Legislative branch. This reinforces the principle of “separation of powers” within the government. 

Procedure for Making Federal Laws 

 

         Article 1, Section 7 concerns itself with the Congressional procedure for making federal laws in the United States. It outlines:

  • Bills that increase the taxes of the people must originate in the House of Representatives, which are the people’s representatives in Congress.
  • Bills become law by passing through both houses of Congress and finally being signed into law by the President of the United States. The President may refuse to sign the bill (veto), or he may send it back to the house of Congress which originated the bill, with objections for them to change. When these objections are considered and approved by 2/3 of the respective house, it is sent to the other house there to be likewise passed at 2/3 concurrence. If that occurs, the bill becomes law. If a bill is presented to the President and he neither signs it nor returns it to Congress, it automatically becomes law. This prevents the President/Executive branch from halting the progress of Congress’ legislation through inaction. This makes for a check and a balance between the Legislative and Executive branches of government, with the President as a guardian against tyranny of the Legislative branch, and the Legislature not a slave to the will of the Executive.

 

The Enumerated Powers 

 

         Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution is one of the most important of the entire document. It concerns itself with the “enumerated powers,” or in other words, the limited aspects of authority which the federal government may exercise in society. Whenever the federal government steps outside of the bounds of these enumerated powers, it is usurping authority which does not belong to it and is acting unconstitutionally at the expense of the freedom of the people. Section 8 outlines the enumerated powers which the American people have delegated to Congress:

  • Congress may collect taxes, duties (taxes on imports, exports, or manufactured goods), imposts (taxes on imports similar to duties), and excises (a federal sales tax). But all of these taxes must be uniform throughout the United States. These taxes are then lawfully used to pay the debts of the nation, provide for national defense, and provide for the general welfare of the nation in the capacity that is hereafter enumerated (Note that this clause is for the general welfare of Americans, and not for focus on specific or preferred welfare of certain groups, such as socialism seeks to do for the groups of the less wealthy).

1. Congress may tax. This was already discussed in the paragraph above.
2. Congress may spend money on the enumerated areas of jurisdiction.
3. Congress may borrow money. This is perhaps one of the most abused of all the powers of government, as it was Thomas Jefferson’s wise view that public debt should not be passed from one generation to another (W. Cleon Skousen, The Making of America, p. 393).
4. Congress may regulate commerce when it occurs across state boundaries. The purpose of this clause was to see that “a common market of free trade between all of the states” existed (W. Cleon Skousen, The Making of America, p. 400-407), and was originally not meant to allow the federal government to dictate means of transportation or communication, fix prices, wages, working and health conditions, etc. (ibid). Congress is also responsible for regulating commerce with foreign nations.
5. Congress is responsible for establishing rules for naturalization (citizenship).
6. Congress is responsible for establishing bankruptcy laws.
7. Congress is responsible for coining and regulating the value of money. Unfortunately, in 1913 Congress gave up this power to the Federal Reserve, which is not really “federal,” but is owned by private bankers. It is now the Federal Reserve, or select private bankers, who regulate the value of money. By using the power to issue money to its exclusive advantage and profit, the Federal Reserve creates inflation and forces government debt to spiral out of control. This has had disastrous consequences for the American people, and diminished the purchasing power and standard of living of the average American. (see Aaron Russo’s America: Freedom to Fascism documentary).
8. Congress is responsible for standardizing weights and measures.
9. Congress is responsible for punishing counterfeiting of currency. This is the domain of the Secret Service, which is a branch of the Treasury Department (W. Cleon Skousen, The Making of America, p. 428).
10. Congress is responsible for establishing a postal system.
11. Congress is responsible for establishing copyright and patent laws. In order to protect the free market and encourage fair play, copyrights and patents may be secured for inventors so that they may profit from their inventions without fear of their ideas being stolen, for a specified period of time.
12. Congress is responsible for establishing federal courts. These federal courts are the Supreme Court and courts that are inferior to the Supreme Court, but not state courts. These courts are meant to solve issues that come under federal jurisdiction.
13. Congress is responsible for punishing crimes on the high seas.
14. The permission of Congress is necessary to declare war. The President of the United States, according to Constitution, has no authority to declare war. Only Congress may do this. In times past, however, the President has usurped this authority and went to war without the consent of Congress, circumventing this requirement by simply fighting an “undeclared war.” Such is the case with “the Korean War (1950-1953), the Vietnam War (1957-1975), and the Gulf Wars (1991, 2003)” [1]
15. Congress has power to raise and finance the armed forces.
16. Congress is responsible for establishing rules for the armed forces.
17. Congress may call up state militias (conscription). This has reference to the institution of a military draft, or conscription. The state militias are simply the citizens of the states. Conscription may only occur in the case of 1) in order to execute federal law, or 2) to suppress insurrection, or 3) to repel invasion.
18. Congress may administer the seat of government. This has reference to Congress having the exclusive jurisdiction over the law-making of the District of Columbia, the seat of government for the United States.
19. Congress may administer federal lands. Congress may use lands when purchased at the consent of state legislatures for the “erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, dock yards, and other needful buildings.”
20. Congress may pass laws to implement the foregoing enumerated powers

 

Powers Forbidden to Congress 

 

         Article 1, Section 9 concerns itself with the powers which are strictly forbidden to Congress. This Section was included so that there would be no mistake about these important restrictions on the government. It outlines:

  • A compromise on the slave trade was here instituted (in order to satisfy the Southern states and entice them to join the Union). It required that Congress could not stop the importation of slaves until the year 1808, but thereafter Congress could freely end the practice. This was a subtle but deliberate play on the Founders’ part to pave the way for racial equality in America (W. Cleon Skousen, The Making of America, p. 466-470). The importation of slaves ended in 1808, but unfortunately, the slavery itself was not ended until after the Civil War with the 13th Amendment in 1865.
  • Congress shall not suspend a writ of habeas corpus (the right to not be confined in prison without inquiry). Habeas corpus may only be suspended during time of rebellion, invasion, or other like threat of public safety.
  • Congress cannot pass a bill of attainder (i.e. a declaration making a person a criminal without a trial or conviction) upon any person.
  • Congress cannot pass a law ex post facto (meaning to pass a law to punish an act that has occurred in the past, before the law was passed).
  • No direct taxes (i.e. taxes on the individual, his possessions or property, or income, which cannot be passed on to another) can be laid unless it is apportioned according to population. This means that: 1. Congress was to first decide the total amount of tax they wished to collect, and 2. Congress would then divide up the amount of that total tax figure among the states in such a way that each citizen would pay the same dollar amount. It was a power that the Founding Fathers determined should only be used in the rare case of emergency, and as a discrete event only, and not as an ongoing circumstance. “The Supreme Court held that this section prohibits an income tax, but the 16th Amendment set aside the effect of the court’s decision.” [2] When we come to the 16th Amendment, we shall see that it is actually unlawful and we shall discuss the myriad of problems it has caused for Americans.
  • Congress may not tax goods exported from the states, that is, lay a tax that is specific to exports.
  • Congress may not give advantage to the ports of one state over another.
  • Congress may not withdraw money from the Treasury unless it has been specifically authorized by law. Money spent by the government must be approved by the elected representatives of the people, and government expenditures are obligated to be made public to the people, both how much was spent and what it was spent on.
  • Congress cannot grant any title of nobility for, “No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States,” neither shall a person holding office in the government of the United States accept “any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever” from a foreign nation without the consent of Congress.

 

Powers Forbidden to State Governments

 

         Article 1, Section 10 concerns itself with the powers which are forbidden to the state governments. It outlines:

  • States cannot make treaties or alliances with foreign countries, issue letters of marque or reprisal (i.e. authorization to wage war), make bills of attainder, ex post facto laws, or issue titles of nobility.
  • No state shall make anything but gold and silver a tender in payment of debts. This is the provision for the famous gold standard that American money was on until 1933 when Franklin D. Roosevelt, no doubt acting as a lackey for the Federal Reserve, ended this wise practice for the Federal Reserve’s own benefit, and to the detriment of the American people. Roosevelt’s New Deal made it so that the dollar was no longer redeemable in gold to Americans. Then in 1971, Richard Nixon severed the last vestige of sound money by making the dollar no long redeemable in gold to foreign governments (Murray N. Rothbard, The Case Against the Fed, p. 132). Originally the Founders felt it prudent to have America’s currency be honest money with actual value, backed by actual gold (or silver). Of course, they recognized that carrying gold everywhere was very cumbersome, and so the practice was to allow banks to issue paper vouchers that circulated as currency, but were redeemable in gold upon request of the voucher holder. This was the true Constitutional currency system (W. Cleon Skousen, The Making of America, p. 497). Unfortunately, the money power behind the Federal Reserve did away with the gold standard, increasing volatility in the dollar, increasing government spending (since there is no need to borrow against the existing gold), increasing inflation, and reducing the purchasing power of Americans and reducing their standard of living. In reference to this provision in the Constitution, the Prophet Joseph Smith spoke of money not backed by gold as “spurious currency” and said, “The different states, and even Congress itself, have passed many laws diametrically contrary to the Constitution of the United States” (Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 278). There is no Constitutional justification whatsoever for America’s present monetary system.

  • States cannot place duties on imports or exports without the approval of Congress.

  • States cannot place duties on a ship’s tonnage, keep active troops or warships during peacetime, or enter in a confederacy with other states or foreign powers.

  • States may engage in war without the consent of Congress in the event of invasion.

         As has been noted, Congress, which is the Legislative branch of government, is the ONLY federal government body authorized by the Constitution to make laws. Unfortunately, the Executive branch of government (the Presidency) regularly and unlawfully usurps the power held solely in the Legislative branch. This is done in the form of an “Executive Order,” in which the President directly signs an order that has not been reviewed by Congress, and which once signed becomes tantamount to law. Executive Orders are completely and utterly unconstitutional, and eliminate the checks and balances placed on the Executive branch. 

 

ARTICLE 2
THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH: THE PRESIDENCY

 

         Article 2 of the Constitution concerns itself with the Executive branch of the federal government. The Executive branch is President, Vice President, their staff and appointed advisors, as well as a variety of agencies and departments that have sprung up since the days of the Founders.

Presidential Cabinet: The Cabinet is the formal group of the President’s close advisors, being experts in their particular departments and given the titles “Secretary.” Ezra Taft Benson, while serving in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, was the Secretary of Agriculture in the Eisenhower administration, from 1953 to 1961.

 

The Office of the President

 

         Article 2, Section 1 concerns itself with the office of the President. It outlines:

  • The Executive power of the United States is vested in a President of the United States.
  • The President and Vice President shall hold their offices for a term of 4 years.

  • The President should be elected by an Electoral College. In other words, “This section establishes the Electoral College, a group of people chosen in each state in a manner that the state legislature decides. All states now provide that the voters choose these electors. These electors in turn elect the President and Vice President.”[3] Originally it was the states which chose the Electoral College which would then in turn elect the President. The original thought was to have the most enlightened members of society, as chosen by the state legislatures, to make the important selection. Today, when voters vote for their candidate for the Presidency, they are actually voting for certain electors, who in turn make the selection. Each state has electors equal in number to its representation in both houses of Congress. Author and researcher G. Edward Griffin made this comment relative to the Presidency and the Electoral College:

                                                                    At the height of the battle against the Bank [i.e. the 
                                                                    Second Bank of the United States, an unconstitutional
                                                                    organization called a Central Bank, whose aim it was to have 
                                                                    complete control over the nation’s currency], when [Andrew]
                                                                    Jackson was making a direct appeal to the voters for support,
                                                                    He declared, ‘The President is the direct representative of
                                                                    the people.’ To fully comprehend the significance of that
                                                                    statement, it must be remembered that that the plan of the
                                                                    Constitution was for the President to be elected indirectly 
                                                                    by the state legislatures, not by the voters at large. After
                                                                    fighting a war to throw off the rule of King George, III, the
                                                                    Founding Fathers wanted nothing more to do with kings of any
                                                                    kind, and they went out of their way to make sure that the 
                                                                    President of the United States would never be looked upon as
                                                                    such. They realized that an elected ruler, unless his power
                                                                    is carefully limited and diffused, can become just as despotic 
                                                                    as an unelected one. Article 2, Section 1, of the Constitution,
                                                                    therefore, established an electoral college to select the
                                                                    President. Members of the college are to be appointed by the
                                                                    states. Congressmen, Senators, or other officers of the federal
                                                                    government are specifically and wisely excluded. The college is
                                                                    supposed to select a President strictly on the basis of his
                                                                    integrity and executive ability, not his party label, political
                                                                    connections, good looks, charisma, or stirring orations. The
                                                                    people may elect their Congressmen, but the electoral college 
                                                                    chooses the President. Thus, is was intended that the President 
                                                                    would have a different constituency from Congress, and this
                                                                    difference was important to insure the balance of power that the 
                                                                    framers of the Constitution worked so hard to create. As a means
                                                                    of keeping government under control, it was a truly brilliant 
                                                                    piece of political engineering. All of that was changed in the
                                                                    election of 1832 [i.e. when President Jackson took his election
                                                                    campaign directly to the people to combat the Bank’s influence
                                                                    in government].
                                                                    (G. Edward Griffin, The Creature from Jekyll Island, 2010, p.
                                                                    358-359)

  • The electors would vote by ballot for two candidates. Whoever had the largest number of votes became President, and the candidate with the second largest number of votes became Vice President. This system was replaced with the election system given in the 12th Amendment in 1804.

  • The President must be a natural born citizen of the United States, at least 35 years old, and been a resident of the United States for 14 consecutive years prior to election.

  • If the President be removed from office or active duty, the Vice President shall take up his duties in his place. If both offices are vacant, Congress shall appoint a replacement until the President is free to function in his office or a new election is held. The 25th Amendment modified this process.

  • The President’s salary cannot be increased or decreased while he is in office, and he cannot receive any other payment from the United States government or any state government.

  • Before taking office the President must take an oath to faithfully execute his responsibilities and to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.” The President is NOT to be subject to foreign governmental bodies, such as the meddling United Nations, but is duty bound to protect the sovereignty and interests of the United States of America from the usurpation of power by such bodies. Neither are the American people to be subject to any foreign law-making body (especially one they did not elect), but to their Constitution only.

  •  

Presidential Powers 

 

         Article 2, Section 2 and 3 concerns itself with the powers and responsibilities of the Presidential office. It lists specific responsibilities and powers for the President. Unfortunately, Presidents today do not adhere to the Constitutional limits to their powers and are regularly acting outside of their Constitutionally granted powers. This constitutes a usurpation of power in the Executive branch of government. Section 2 outlines that the powers of the President are:

  • The President is the commander in chief over the entire American military force.
  • The President may grant pardons or reprieves (i.e. a delay in criminal sentencing), except for impeachment.

  • The President can make treaties with the consent of 2/3 of the Senate.

  • The President can appoint ambassadors, public ministers, consuls, Supreme Court judges, and other officers not specifically outlined in the Constitution, but his selections are to be made under the scrutiny and approval of the Senate.

  • At the authorization of Congress, the President can appoint lesser officers without an elaborate affirmation process.

  • The President can fill a vacancy in the Senate until the end of its next session.

Presidential Responsibilities 

 

         Article 2, Section 3 outlines that the responsibilities of the office of President are:

  • In special circumstances, the President is required to give Congress information on the state of the Union (this is the State of the Union address), and recommend measures.
  • On extraordinary occasions, the President may convene either or both houses of Congress for a special session.
  • The President can decide the time of adjournment of either house of Congress if there is disagreement in those houses upon the issue.
  • The President shall receive ambassadors and ministers of foreign nations.
  • The President is charged with seeing that the federal laws of the nation are executed faithfully.
  • The President, as commander in chief, can commission the higher military officers.
  • The President and others of the Executive branch are subject to impeachment in the case of “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” Benjamin Franklin observed that this allowed for a peaceful removal of the executive should corruption occur, whereas in the past desperate citizens would resort to assassination and revolt (W. Cleon Skousen, The Making of America, p. 565-566).
     

ARTICLE 3
THE JUDICIAL BRANCH

 

         Article 3 of the Constitution concerns itself with the Judicial branch of government. The Judicial branch exists to settle disputes surrounding the law and to interpret the law and Constitution. Unfortunately, there is a major (and almost unforeseen by the Founders) balance of power in the hands of the Judicial branch, having the power to interpret the meaning of the Constitution (which they are supposed to do using the writings of the Founders, but often do not). This has wreaked havoc on America and brought America far from the true principles of the Constitution instituted by the Founding Fathers. The lack of adequate checks and balances on the Judicial branch of government is the major flaw of the magnificent Constitution (W. Cleon Skousen, The Making of America, p. 571-581).

 

The Supreme Court

 

         Article 3, Section 1 concerns itself with the Supreme Court, which is the highest ruling body of the Judicial branch of government. These federal courts have jurisdiction over matters that concern the federal government. This Section outlines:

  • The Judicial power is vested in one Supreme Court, as well as inferior courts as Congress may establish.
  • Judges of the Supreme Court and inferior courts can hold their position only on condition of “good behavior.”
  • Judges receive a salary which cannot be diminished while they are in office. This was meant to protect the judges from “the English custom of reducing the salaries of judges who displeased the king or his officers” (W. Cleon Skousen, The Making of America, p. 591).
     

Jurisdiction of Courts and Trial by Jury 

 

         Article 3, Section 2 concerns itself with the jurisdiction of the courts and the manner of legal trials. It outlines:

  • All federal cases, whether they involve law or principles of equity, fall under the jurisdiction of federal courts. Alexander Hamilton observed that the federal courts were to act as guardians of the states’ rights against any excesses of Congress (W. Cleon Skousen, The Making of America, p. 593).
  • Federal courts have jurisdiction over cases involving the Constitution and its interpretation.
  • Federal courts have jurisdiction over cases involving treaties and similar agreements, cases involving ambassadors and public ministers, and maritime cases, all cases to which the United States is a party, controversies between two or more states, controversies between a state and citizens of another state (this provision was repealed by the 11th Amendment), controversies between citizens of different states, controversies involving lands or grants in different states than the citizens, between a state or citizen and a foreign nation or person, and cases in which a state is a party.
  • Congress has the right to limit the jurisdiction for appeals involving the Supreme Court, which are not subject to the previous list of jurisdiction. This measure had to intention of trying to alleviate the burden on the Supreme Court with trivial cases (W. Cleon Skousen, The Making of America, p. 612).
  • All crimes, except those tried by impeachment process, are to be tried by jury, in the state where the crimes were committed, or in a place directed by Congress if not committed in any state. This was meant to give the American citizen the right to a trial by examination of his neighbors and peers. “This was a far more powerful instrument of justice than the jury system [as it operates] today. In fact, the Founders considered it the foremost defense in the American legal structure to protect the people against oppressive laws passed by the legislature or abusive judges deliberately misinterpreting the law” (W. Cleon Skousen, The Making of America, p. 614).  
     

Definition of Treason 

 

         Article 3, Section 3 defines the crime of treason, the only crime to be specifically defined in the Constitution. The reason for giving this definition of treason is “the Founders felt that this [crime of treason] might be abused by federal officials as it had been in England” (W. Cleon Skousen, The Making of America, p. 621). And so it was for the protection of the American people that treason is specifically defined in the Constitution. Section 3 outlines:

  • Treason consists “only in levying war against [the United States], or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.” It is interesting to note that Ezra Taft Benson considered trading with Communist nations or sympathy to Communist philosophy as falling under the definition of treason. He said, “I consider ourselves at war with international Communism, which is committed to the destruction of our government, our right of property, and our freedom; that it is treason as defined by the Constitution to give aid and comfort to this implacable enemy” (Ezra Taft Benson, “The Proper Role of Government”, BYU Speeches of the Year, 1968).
  • A testimony of two witnesses or confession in open court is necessary to convict a person of treason.
  • Congress has the authority to declare the punishment for treason.
  • There shall be “no attainder of treason,” that is, the traitor’s family is protected from guilt-by-association, and gives the traitor’s family the right to his lands. This provision is in the Constitution because “The Crown [of England] often indulged itself in plunder by accusing some wealthy landowner of treason and then confiscating his estate” without trial (W. Cleon Skousen, The Making of America, p. 626). 
     

ARTICLE 4
RELATIONS OF THE STATES

 

         Article 4 gives the guidelines to lawful relations between states. It covers a variety of circumstances relating to the states’ relationships to their citizens, the federal government, and each other.

 

Faith and Credit to Each State

 

         Article 4, Section 1 concerns itself with the relationship of the states to each other. It outlines:

  • Each state must give “full faith and credit” to the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of the other states. This means that the states must respect such official acts, proceedings, and documents of other states as lawful and recognize them as such in their own state as well.

Citizens’ Rights, Fugitives from the Law 

 

         Article 4, Section 2 concerns itself with the rights of citizens in each of the states, as well as protocol regarding fugitives from the law. It outlines:

  • Citizens of any state are entitled to the same privileges and rights.
  • Fugitives from the law found in a different state from which the crime occurred, can be forced back to the offended state at the request of the state’s Governor.
  • Fugitive slaves are to be returned to their masters. This provision is, of course, now long obsolete.  
     

Creation of New States or Territories 

 

         Article 4, Section 3 concerns itself with the protocol for the expansion of the Union. It outlines:

  • New states may be added to the Union, and are admitted by Congress.
  • No new state may be formed within the jurisdiction of any other state, nor any state formed by the combination of any states, without the consent of all state legislatures involved and Congress.
  • Congress has the power to dispose of or make regulations for land or territory. President Jimmy Carter violated this provision of the Constitution when he gave away the Panama Canal through a treaty in 1977, and not an act of Congress (W. Cleon Skousen, The Making of America, p. 638). 
     

Protection of the States 

 

         Article 4, Section 4 concerns itself with the protection afforded to the states by the federal government. It outlines:

  • A republican form of government (i.e. with representatives of the people) is guaranteed to be preserved in each state of the Union.
  • States are to be protected against invasion and may request special protection in the case of domestic violence.
     

ARTICLE 5
THE AMENDMENT PROCESS 

 

         Article 5 concerns itself with the creation of Constitutional Amendments for improvement of the Constitution and the preservation of freedoms, which the Founders anticipated might be required, and what they did themselves with the creation of the Bill of Rights. Article 5 outlines:

  • Amendments, in order to be valid, must be proposed by at least 2/3 of the House of Representatives and Senate, and ratified by ¾ of state legislatures.
  • If Congress will not permit an Amendment desired by the states, a convention may be convened at the concurrence of 2/3 of state legislatures, which would then have to ratify the proposed Amendment by ¾ of those state legislatures.
  • States cannot be deprived of equal representation in the Senate without consent of the state.
     

ARTICLE 6
DEBTS, SUPREMACY CLAUSE, DUTIES OF OFFICE 

 

         Article 6 contains the final words and finishing touches on the Constitution prior to it being ready for ratification (acceptance) by the states. Article 6 outlines:

  • Public debts incurred under the Articles of Confederation (the previous inadequate Constitution during the Revolutionary War) are to be honored under the new Constitution. This was an honorable declaration of the Founders, when it seemed as though every opportunity was open to ignore the debts under the previous government.
  • The Constitution and laws and contracts made under its regulations shall be the supreme law of the land. This makes the Constitution the supreme governing authority to which the American people must be subject to. The United States of America and its citizens cannot be lawfully bound to any international governmental body, such as the United Nations, nor any foreign law. But only the Constitution reigns supreme. Latter-day Saints therefore, must respect the Constitution as the supreme and ultimate authority for law and government, putting aside all care for either political party when necessary to stand in defense of the Constitution and its principles. Defense of corrupt political parties is not what is needed, but defense of the Constitution. Ezra Taft Benson warned, “Why is it that men in high places in government, regardless of party, have been deceived? I am convinced that a major part of the cause can be justly laid at the door of the Socialist-Communist Conspiracy, which is led by masters of deceit who deceive the very elect.” (Ezra Taft Benson, “Stand Up For Freedom”). He also warned, “With the crass unconstitutional usurpation of powers by the Executive Branch of the federal government, anti-spiritual decisions of the Supreme Court – all apparently approved by a weakly submissive rubber-stamp congress – the days ahead are ominously frightening” (ibid).
  • Public officers are bound by an oath to support the Constitution, and “no religious test shall ever be required” to serve in public office.

ARTICLE 7
RATIFICATION BY THE STATES 

 

         Article 7 concerns itself with the protocol by which the states must ratify the Constitution. That is, it outlines the process by which the U.S. Constitution was to be validated among the states. We do not need to examine Article 7 for the purposes of this paper.

 

THE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS

 

         As has been noted, the Founders anticipated the necessity for Amendments, or flexibility of changes, for the Constitution. The Constitution is set up in such a way that an Amendment or provision that is repealed by a future Amendment is not erased from the text of the Constitution. The new Amendment is simply tacked on to the end of the Constitution with the understanding that the previous provision no longer stands. All this must be done in lawful order, however. The Founding Fathers, sensing that the desire would arise among government officials to change the Constitution to suit their quests for power, made it a difficult and arduous process to make a Constitutional Amendment, requiring the concurrence of an overwhelming majority of representatives.

         As far as the Amendments themselves, some have been helpful to the cause of freedom and some have been a hindrance to it. We will briefly examine each one, discuss their implications, and discuss the merit of each Amendment in the preservation of freedom.

 

THE BILL OF RIGHTS

 

         The first ten Amendments, known as the Bill of Rights, were drafted in the days of the Founding Fathers to secure freedoms for the individual and to see that the federal government did not overstep its rightful bounds. Of the entire Constitution, the Bill of Rights is perhaps the most important and fundamental of the entire document. Each of the rights guaranteed therein are sacred and unquestionable rights belonging to the individual.

 

1ST AMENDMENT
Freedom of Religion, Speech, Press, Assembly, & Petition

 

         The famous 1st Amendment is perhaps the most important of all. It secures the sacred and unquestionable rights to freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and petition to government “for redress of grievances.”

         It states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” and thereby guarantees freedom of religion for all inhabitants of the United States. It is because of this God-favored condition that the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ could occur at the instrumentality of Joseph Smith in the nineteenth century. The 1st Amendment secures what is perhaps the most fundamental and sacred freedom to human beings - the freedom to think and believe what you will, whether concerning the religious, social, or political. It is the unfortunate axiom of history that this freedom, though unalienable to mankind, has throughout history been stolen from them and rarely secured. Of course, basic to the security of this unquestionable right is the understanding that the Creator has endowed man with his freedom of conscience, and that no government therefore has the right to regulate it. The Prophet Joseph Smith said of this sacred fundamental:

 

                                                                    We deem it a just principle, and it is one the force of
                                                                    which we believe ought to be duly considered by every
                                                                    individual, that all men are created equal, and that all
                                                                    have the privilege of thinking for themselves upon all
                                                                    matters relative to conscience. Consequently, then, we are 
                                                                    not disposed, had we the power, to deprive any one of
                                                                    exercising that free independence of mind which heaven has so
                                                                    graciously bestowed upon the human family as one of its
                                                                    choicest gifts
                                                                    (Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 49)

 

         It is interesting to note that when Congress passed its anti-polygamy laws in the nineteenth century, in part of its hateful crusade against Mormonism, it completely went against this sacred right to the free exercise of religion.

         It should be mentioned that there are, of course, natural limits to the 1st Amendment freedom. Your right to believe as you do can never permit you to cause unjust harm to the person or property of another. A violent religious fanatic who murders in the name of a religious ideology is not protected under the 1st Amendment.

         Questions often arise around the “separation of church and state” when discussing religion and the government’s responsibilities. The phrase “separation of church and state” does not appear in the Constitution, but rather in a letter of Thomas Jefferson’s to the Danbury Baptist Association explaining that the Constitution erected “a wall of separation between Church and State [meaning the federal government],” (W. Cleon Skousen, The Making of America, p. 682). However, Jefferson and the other Founding Fathers felt it important that religion be promoted in society for the moral betterment of the people, and even that basic religious morality be taught in public schools (ibid, p. 675-684). Ezra Taft Benson noted, “The Founding Fathers recognized that no people can maintain freedom unless their political institutions are founded on faith in God and belief in the existence of moral law” (Ezra Taft Benson, Freedom and Free Enterprise, 1965). It was never the Founders’ intention to make government Godless. Modern prophets have understood the Founding Fathers’ desire to keep religious fervor in government, necessitating a true interpretation of the doctrine of separation of Church and State, rather than the erroneous, newer popular interpretation. Ezra Taft Benson declared: 

 

                                                                    I support the doctrine of separation of Church and State, as
                                                                    traditionally interpreted, to prohibit the establishment of an
                                                                    official national religion. But this does not mean that we should 
                                                                    divorce government from any formal recognition of God. To do
                                                                    so strikes a potentially fatal blow at the concept of the Divine
                                                                    origin of our rights, and unlocks the door for an easy entry of
                                                                    future tyranny.
                                                                    (Ezra Taft Benson, “The Proper Role of Government”,
BYU
                                                                    Speeches of the Year
, 1968)

 

2ND AMENDMENT
Right to Keep and Bear Arms

 

         This Amendment assures the individual the sacred and unquestionable right to keep and bear arms. This right guarantees not only the right to own firearms, but also to carry them on your person for your personal protection. Not only is it prudent for the people to have experience with arms in the case of military conscription, as this Amendment states, but this makes for a safer society when the honest people are armed (instead of only the thugs), as well as keeps a healthy fear in government of its people.

 

3RD AMENDMENT
Protection against Unwanted Quartering of Troops

 

         This Amendment assures the individual the sacred and unquestionable right to the sanctity of their home being protected against a forceful quartering of military troops. It was the habit of some tyrannical governments to force troops into the homes of its people, forcing them to feed and tend to a king’s unruly military troops. This Amendment protects against this violation of the home.

 

4TH AMENDMENT
Right to Privacy, Protection against Unreasonable Search & Seizure

 

         The 4th Amendment also is meant to protect the sanctity of the home, as well as personal effects and privacy. It secures the sacred and unquestionable right to be secure in one’s own person, home, papers, and effects, “against unreasonable searches and seizures.” Warrants must be issued on probable cause.

         It should be noted that this right is very often trampled upon, and when this happens it is evidence of tyranny. President George W. Bush’s “Patriot Act,” for instance, which he signed into law after September 11th, unlawfully allows the government to monitor private communications and perform searches without knowledge or permission, is in direct violation of the 4th Amendment. So also is the very existence of the IRS (Internal Revenue Service), which takes upon itself exactly the privilege to search a person’s home, papers, and effects (W. Cleon Skousen, The Making of America, p. 702).

 

5TH AMENDMENT
Protection of Life, Liberty, & Private Property

 

         The wonderful 5th Amendment secures the sacred and unquestionable rights to life, liberty, and property, and other rights. It includes:

  • A person must receive an indictment in order to answer for a criminal accusation.
  • No person can be tried for the same offense more than once (this is often referred to as “double jeopardy”).
  • No person can be compelled to testify against themselves (often referred to as “pleading the fifth” or “the right to remain silent”).
  • No person can be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.
  • An individual’s private property cannot be taken for public use without just compensation to the owner.

         This Amendment is a protection against all manner of encroaching vice in society today, if only it were considered so. Since a person cannot be deprived of life without due process of law, this rightly rules out abominations such as abortion and euthanasia (despite what a corrupt Supreme Court judge may say to the contrary). Also, the redistribution of wealth, found in socialism and the welfare programs of liberalism, is a violation against the right to private property secured in this Amendment. Socialists and liberals seek to forcefully take the income (which is private property) of prosperous individuals and give no compensation to the rightful owner. Ezra Taft Benson taught, 

 

                                                                    Once government steps … into the aggressive role of redistributing
                                                                    the wealth and providing so-called ‘benefits’ for some of its
                                                                    citizens, it becomes a means for legalized plunder. It becomes a 
                                                                    lever of unlimited power, which is the sought-after prize of
                                                                    unscrupulous individuals and pressure groups, each seeking to
                                                                    control the machine to fatten his own pockets, or to benefit its
                                                                    favorite charities. All with the other fellow’s money, of
                                                                    course.…the sole function of government is to protect life, liberty, 
                                                                    and property. And anything more than this is usurpation and
                                                                    oppression.
                                                                    (Ezra Taft Benson, “The Proper Role of Government”,
BYU
                                                                    Speeches of the Year
, 1968).

 

6TH AMENDMENT
Rights of an Accused Person

         The 6th Amendment secures the sacred and unquestionable rights of accused persons, which are: the right to a “speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed,” as well as the right to be “informed of the nature and cause of the accusation,” to know who their accusers are and to cross-examine them, and to compel witnesses to testify in their favor.

 

7TH AMENDMENT
Right to Trial by Jury in Civil Suits

 

         The 7th Amendment secures the right to trial by jury (as would be the case in criminal trials) in civil suits of sufficient monetary controversy. It also provides the right to have the facts remain “as found” during the appeal process.

 

8TH AMENDMENT
No Excessive Bail, Fines, or Cruel & Unusual Punishment

 

         The 8th Amendment secures the individual the sacred and unquestionable right to protection under the Constitution against excessive bail or fines, or to be subjected to any “cruel or unusual punishment.”

 

9TH AMENDMENT
People Retain the Rights Not Enumerated in the Constitution

 

         This Amendment recognizes that not all rights belonging to the people are necessarily enumerated in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights, but they still belong to the people despite this fact.

 

10TH AMENDMENT
Powers Not Delegated Are Reserved to States or the People

 

         This very important Amendment recognizes the fact that it is the people who are the ultimate source of power and authority, and that they have merely delegated that authority to government on the basis limited in the Constitution (recall the “enumerated powers”). This Amendment states explicitly that, “The powers not delegated…are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.” This Amendment is meant to protect the rights of the states and also the rights of the individuals. It also reiterates that the government should not be allowed to act in any function or capacity that the people have not specifically delegated to it within this Constitution.

THE REST OF THE AMENDMENTS

 

         The rest of the Amendments after the Bill of Rights are of varying importance and helpfulness to the cause of freedom. They will now be discussed below.

 

11TH AMENDMENT
Protection of State Sovereignty
(Ratified Feb. 7, 1795)

 

         This Amendment allows each state the right to not be sued by citizens of other states, unless it has the consent of the state being sued.

 

12TH AMENDMENT
Election of the President & Vice President
(Ratified Jun. 15, 1804)

         This Amendment modified the way the President and Vice President are elected in “an attempt to correct deficiencies in the electoral college system” (W. Cleon Skousen, The Making of America, p. 714). It involves the electors voting for the President and Vice President separately. The votes are to be counted in the presence of Congress.

 

13TH AMENDMENT
Abolition of Slavery
(Ratified Dec. 6, 1865)

 

         This long-awaited Constitutional Amendment advanced the cause of freedom a great deal by abolishing slavery in the nation. As had been noted earlier, the Founders intentionally planted the seeds of freedom for the slaves in Article 1, Section 9 of the Constitution.

 

14TH AMENDMENT
Protection of Citizenship Rights
(Ratified Jul. 9, 1868)

 

         Concerning the 14th Amendment, W. Cleon Skousen wrote, “Congress, in its anxiety to codify freedom for every person…undertook to pass three Amendments [14th, 15th, & 16th], so that universal freedom would be part of the Constitution. Unfortunately, some aspects of their effort provided more heat than light and still remain the cause of much confusion and litigation – not only over the issue of freedom, but because the Fourteenth Amendment has been used by the federal government to greatly enlarge its jurisdiction over the states” (W. Cleon Skousen, The Making of America, p. 719).

         This Amendment also provides things like guarantees that the states cannot deprive people of life, liberty, and property, or pass laws that abridge their privileges as citizens of the United States.

 

15TH AMENDMENT
Suffrage for All Races
(Ratified Feb. 3, 1870)

 

         This Amendment extends voting rights to people of all races, so long as they are citizens of the United States, whereas some states previously were denying voting rights to blacks, a vestige of the slavery days. This was a freedom-advancing Amendment, done in the spirit of the Founders’ sense of justice and equality of the individual.

 

16TH AMENDMENT
Federal Income Tax
(Supposedly Ratified Feb. 3, 1913, Not Properly Ratified)

 

         The 16th Amendment, the accursed Income Tax Amendment, was made in the days of President Woodrow Wilson in 1913. It is worded that “Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several states…” This Amendment is fraudulent, however, since it was never properly ratified by a sufficient number of states (see Aaron Russo’s America: Freedom to Fascism documentary). Things that have arisen as a result are the violation of the 4th Amendment with the creation of the IRS, in order to enforce this direct tax, and the Federal Reserve, which is owned by private bankers and finances the federal government at the cost of interest payments. None of this is to the benefit of the American people, but only to the bankers who own the Federal Reserve and perhaps politicians that receive kickbacks (ibid).

         What have been the effects of these events? Congress, who according to the Constitution has the right to coin money and regulate its value, has given control of the nation’s currency to the Federal Reserve. The Federal Reserve has abandoned the Constitutional gold standard, printing money recklessly and causing inflation. This inflation reduces the purchasing power for the average American and reduces their standard of living. So also does the payment of the actual Income Tax, which the United States government simply uses to pay its interest debt to the private bankers of the Federal Reserve, and not to provide services to the American people (ibid). Also, government spending has spiraled out of control since the gold standard was abandoned, since there is no longer a finite amount of gold to be borrowed against (now there is no limit to the debt).

         It should be noted that the Founding Fathers rejected the idea of a direct tax (such as Income Tax), unless it was apportioned to each state according to population (see Article 1, Section 9). The 16th Amendment flies in the face of the Founders’ wise consideration of taxes, and is not to the benefit of the American people. In 1893 and 1895, the Supreme Court found Income Tax to be unconstitutional. Unfortunately, there was a change of sentiment by the courts by the Woodrow Wilson era (W. Cleon Skousen, The Making of America, p. 738). If America is to recover from the damage done by this Amendment, the 16th Amendment must be repealed, the Federal Reserve abolished, the dollar placed back on the Constitutional gold standard, and the power to coin money and regulate its value returned to Congress.

 

17TH AMENDMENT
Senators to Be Elected By Popular Vote
(Ratified Apr. 8, 1913)

 

         The 17th Amendment, like the 16th Amendment, has also been a hindrance to the freedom-inspired plan of the Founders, though not quite on the same scale as the horrid 16th Amendment. The 17th Amendment, instead of allowing the state legislatures to select its Senators to represent it in Congress like the Founding Fathers had wisely lain out, made it so that Senators would instead be voted in by the popular vote of the people, just like the House of Representatives. But the difference between the House of Representatives and the Senate was that the Representatives are, by the Constitution, designed to represent the people in Congress, while the Senators were to represent the state governments in Congress. By making the Senators elected by the people, they therefore become accountable to the people, as though the Senate were simply another House of Representatives. As a result of this Amendment, there is now no organization truly representing the state governments in Congress, thus weakening state sovereignty.

 

18TH AMENDMENT
Prohibition on Alcohol
(Ratified Jan. 16, 1919, repealed by 21st Amendment)

 

         For a time, temperance groups in America were able to gain sufficient support to place an Amendment in the Constitution forbidding the consumption of alcoholic beverages. This is what created the famous prohibition of the 1920s and early 30s. It is worthy of note that President Heber J. Grant was a very strong and vocal supporter of this prohibition, and referred to this Amendment as “one of the greatest benefits that has come to the people of the United States” (Richard O. Cowan, The Church in the Twentieth Century, p.129).

 

19TH AMENDMENT
Women’s Suffrage
(Ratified Aug. 18, 1920)

 

         The 19th Amendment is another freedom-advancing Amendment, which granted women in the United States the legal right to vote. “Originally men had voted as the representative of their families and as the owners of property” (W. Cleon Skousen, The Making of America, p. 749). That is, men were considered to be voting in the interests of their entire family. However, the 19th Amendment was an appropriate alteration.

 

20TH AMENDMENT
Presidential and Congressional Terms
(Ratified Jan. 23, 1933)

 

         The 20th Amendment eliminated the practice of waiting 13 long months to replace a Senator or Congressman who had been defeated in an election, by shortening the time to only 2 months before there is a change in personnel. A session in Congress where its members have been voted out but are still technically representing due to the impending personnel change is called a “lame duck” session of Congress (W. Cleon Skousen, The Making of America, p. 750). This Amendment also shortened the space of time between the session of Congress and the inauguration of the President and Vice President. It also establishes that if the President-elect (i.e. President that was voted in but is yet to take office) should die before taking office, the Vice President-elect automatically becomes President.

 

21ST AMENDMENT
Repeal of Prohibition
(Ratified Dec. 5, 1933)

 

         The 21st Amendment repealed the 18th Amendment (the prohibition on alcohol). Therefore, the sale of liquor in the United States was made legal again. It is important to note that the Church publicly opposed the repeal of prohibition under the leadership of Heber J. Grant, and the First Presidency insisted that the issue, “concerns very intimately the personal moral welfare of the men and women and youth of the Nation and of the Church in the Nation” (Richard O. Cowan, The Church in the Twentieth Century, p.130). This should give members of the Church pause to think about what their attitude should be towards the legalization of illicit drugs and addictive substances. In unfortunate irony, the Amendment prohibiting alcohol was repealed on the 100th year since the revelation on the Word of Wisdom was given in 1833.

 

22ND AMENDMENT
President Limited to 2 Terms
(Ratified Feb. 7, 1951)

 

         This Amendment limits the number of terms a President may be in office for to 2 four year terms (a total of eight years). It had been long-standing tradition for Presidents to not run for more than 2 terms, until the time of Franklin D. Roosevelt, famous for his socialistic policies such as the New Deal. Franklin D. Roosevelt served in office for just a little over 12 unfortunate years (having died a few weeks after his fourth inauguration), from 1933 to 1947. Not very long after the death of Roosevelt in 1947, Congress approved this Amendment which was then ratified by the states (W. Cleon Skousen, The Making of America, p. 756).

 

23RD AMENDMENT
President Electors for the District of Columbia
(Ratified Mar. 29, 1961)

 

         This Amendment allowed those who live in the District of Columbia, which is the seat of the federal government, the ability to vote for the President and Vice President (through the medium of electors). Unfortunately, the grand intention of this Amendment was to make the District of Columbia a city state with 2 Senators and a Congressman (W. Cleon Skousen, The Making of America, p. 757). Had things been taken to that level, it would “give substance to the demands of other major cities that would like to become city-states as well” which would have violated Article 5 which indicates that “no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.” (ibid). The repercussions of such a thing could be disastrous: “This means that even if an amendment were passed and ratified by three-fourths of the states, any one of the remaining states could veto the amendment by denying its consent to have a city treated as a state when it had never been organized as a state” (ibid).

 

24TH AMENDMENT
Prohibition of Poll Tax
(Ratified Jan. 23, 1964)

 

         This Amendment gave American citizens the right to vote in elections without being required to pay a “poll tax” before voting. This ensures the power to vote to all, rich or poor.

 

25TH AMENDMENT
Vacancies in Offices of President & Vice President
(Ratified Feb. 10, 1967)

 

         This Amendment not only re-emphasizes that the Vice President becomes President should that office become vacant, but it also allows the President to select another Vice President at the approval of Congress if a vacancy arises in the office of Vice President. Before this, vacancies in the office of Vice President had to wait until the next election. This Amendment also allows the President to hand over his responsibilities to the Vice President if the need arises. Also, if the majority of the Presidential Cabinet agrees that the President is incapable, the Vice President can commandeer his responsibilities (this has potential to be a very dangerous provision). If the President requests the right to regain his responsibilities, Congress is empowered to decide if he is fit to do so.

 

26TH AMENDMENT
Suffrage for Those At Least Age 18
(Ratified Jul. 1, 1971)

 

         This Amendment allows those who are at least 18 years of age the right to vote in elections. Previously, the age requirement was 21. The feeling was that if 18-year olds were old enough to be drafted into military then they were old enough to vote (W. Cleon Skousen, The Making of America, p. 762).

 

27TH AMENDMENT
Salaries of Senators & Representatives
(Ratified May 7, 1992)

 

         This Amendment makes it so that salary changes for members of Congress do not take effect until after the next election. Amazingly, this Amendment was proposed originally along with the first 10 Amendments (the Bill of Rights), but was not ratified for 203 years (W. Cleon Skousen, The Making of America, p. 764).

 

CONCLUSION

 

         Today there are evil forces at work, seeking to destroy the sovereignty of the United States of America and other free lands, in a move toward despotic global socialism. Standing in the way of these progressives and socialists' grab for power is the Constitution of the United States, and so they are seeking its gradual destruction. Ezra Taft Benson often referred to this evil movement as the “socialist-communist conspiracy” (see for instance: Ezra Taft Benson, “Stand Up For Freedom”). The scriptures referred to it as “this secret combination,” which “seeketh to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries” (Ether 8:24-25). The scriptures further warn us, “the Lord commandeth you, when ye shall see these things come among you that ye shall awake to a sense of your awful situation, because of this secret combination which shall be among you” (ibid). How can we hope to stop such a thing? Joseph Smith prophesied in reference to the Constitution, “The time will come when the destiny of the nation will hang upon a single thread. At that critical juncture, this people will step forth and save it from the threatened destruction” (Journal of Discourses 7:15).Therefore people must return to a love for the principles of the Constitution. As Latter-day Saints we are bound by our faith to revere the Constitution of the United States as a God-inspired document. We should consider it the heavenly pattern for good government, and the formula for prosperity and freedom that all nations must mirror if they are to expect such things. Not only that, but the prophets have counseled us to study this document so that in times of need, we may be able to stand up and defend it. Let us take our understanding of the Constitution and seek to increase it by diligent study.

 

[1] http://www.america.gov/st/usg-english/2008/April/20080416203407eaifas0.6335565.html

[2] ibid.

[3] ibid.

 

 
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