Diary

“We the People” is an Everyday Celebration of Liberty

Scene_at_the_Signing_of_the_Constitution_of_the_United_States

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

No one sentence could better sum up the American spirit than the opening line of our Constitution.  For 227 years these words have served not just as a set of guiding principles for our nation, but as the building blocks for the greatest democracy the world has ever known.

America’s Constitution is far more than just a blueprint for good government; that one piece of paper has served as the strongest barricade against tyranny and the most secure protector of freedom and individual liberty in the history of the world.

Yesterday, Constitution Day, marked the 227th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution.  Bold and innovative in its restrictions of the power of government at the time, it remains a beacon of freedom to this day.

In short, no one has done it better.

For all the political ills, the dangers of international terrorism, and legal battles we face in America today, it is right that we take a step back, not just on this one day a year, and remember the “Blessings of Liberty” that we as the “Posterity” ascribed in the document itself enjoy today.

No nation in the world has secured religious liberty for so many as America.  It would be impossible without the strict protections of the Constitution.  The same can be said for the freedom of speech and the press and so many other liberties as well.

At the ACLJ, we’re in court (many times at the Supreme Court), walking the halls of Congress, and speaking out in the court of public opinion, fighting to protect these freedoms.  But none of it would be possible without the Constitution.

I could spend all day talking about the intricacies of federalism and how paring the states’ interests against that of the federal government provides each of us more security (I’ll spare you) or how the separation of power is so historically unique and effective for the preservation of liberty (again I’ll spare you).  But without these constitutional principles, we would be subjected to tyranny, whether it be on the whim of the majority or at the hand of a dictator.

Unfortunately, many of our children never read much less understand the basic concepts of freedom embedded in the Constitution.

Let me ask you a simple question.  Have you ever read the Constitution?

It’s not written in Greek (though it contains a few archaic phrases).  In fact it’s shorter than reading a few of the New York Times editorials that seek to complicate and misconstrue it.

If you haven’t ever read it cover to cover, read it.  Every patriotic American young or old should read this profound document at least once in your life (including all 27 Amendments and not just the Bill of Rights).

The security and protection of liberty embedded in the words of the Constitution cannot be preserved for another 227 years and beyond if we don’t, as a nation, understand their importance.  It impacts our culture.  It impacts our sense of civic duty.  It even can impact who we vote for.

For me, I love to study and defend the Constitution; it’s what I do for a living.  But you don’t have to be an attorney to respect and cherish the principles of the Constitution.

In fact it was written by patriotic Americans who wanted you to be free to live your life, not having to worry about whether your property would be stripped away or whether you would be prevented from speaking your mind or worshiping God.  So much or our day-to-day existence is made possible because of the Constitution.  Without it we wouldn’t be America.

Sure, we face legal challenges that seek to strip meaning from it’s words, and at the ACLJ we’ll continue fighting to preserve the Constitution, but on the whole, our freedoms are boundless because it exists.

And that deserves to be celebrated every day.

Matthew Clark is Associate Counsel for Government Affairs and Media Advocacy with the ACLJ. A lifelong citizen of the Commonwealth of Virginia, he lives with his wife and three boys in Northern Virginia. Follow Matthew Clark: @_MatthewClark.