The Three Constitutional Views

A SHINING CITY ON A HILL is a vision of God's will for Good, Just, and Righteous government done in Wisdom, and it is not a Liberal or utopian ideal for government attempting to a leftist Social Justice, but rather it is a practical, moral vision based on common sense and “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God” of Thomas Jefferson and the American founders and as seen in the Judeo-Christian worldview. A SHINING CITY ON A HILL is best summed up as “One nation, under God, indivisible with Liberty and Justice for all.”

Part of the UNDERSTANDING Series:

UNDERSTANDING The Three Constitutional Views

In America today there are essentially three major, different and opposing views of the Constitution. These three views are 1.) the original meaning-and-intent view of the Constitution, 2.) the strict enumerated powers view of Article 1, Section 8, and 3.) the Liberal postmodern view that the Constitution “lives” to mean virtually anything one wants.

  The original meaning-and-intent view of the Constitution

For those who do not follow all of the current controversies surrounding the Constitution and the Supreme Court it is almost impossible to believe how irrational and just plain crazy the debates have become and especially the debates surrounding the three major and opposing views we will look at here. Common sense tells you that the Constitution says what it means and means what it says. However, there can be valid and legitimate issues of interpretation that deal with the limits and application of things like the Bill of Rights.

For example, what are the limits to free speech? Clearly free speech is not the right to say anything anywhere any time one wants, and this means at times the courts have to decide if free speech applies in any given case or controversial case. And the same sort of thing can be held with other provisions of the Bill of Rights and the Constitution more generally. In fact the Preamble tells us what the purpose of the Constitution and the federal government is, namely, ”to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity…”

And the particular applications of these provisions are what any given Congress has to sort through in order to deal Wisely with the problems and conditions of the day. Issues of “Justice,” “domestic Tranquility,” and “general Welfare” are going to differ according to the times, and it is the duty and responsibility of the Wise legislator to make good laws accordingly. This means both judges and legislators have to do serious work and interpretation even given the original and plain meaning of the text.  This could even be called the Wise application of Constitutional principles for law and litigation. But, more generally, the traditional view of original intent and plain meaning of the text is very straightforward and unambiguous, and it is based on common sense and ordinary language and historical meanings of words.

The strict enumerated powers view

 A second Constitutional view that is popular with many conservatives is called the strict enumerated powers view of Article 1, Section 8. In this view Congress supposedly cannot do anything not specifically listed in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution, such as, “borrow money,” “declare war,” “establish post offices,” etc. While this view has some adherents throughout American history, it is technically not very practical, and it must ignore, indeed eliminate, others parts of the Constitution dealing with “general Welfare” and establishing “Justice” as the larger purpose of the federal government and Constitution.

 The practical effect of this view is that there will and can be no national projects of any sort, such as, roads, dams, bridges, etc. And there will be no social services of any sort and no involvement at all in education. And there will be no legitimate civil rights, and there will no busting up of corrupt and market-ruining monopolies. The strict enumerated powers view is almost essentially a “no federal government” view. However, in truth the Constitution is clearly asserting a “limited federal government.” 

 The strict enumerated powers advocates often want in fact “limited government,” and they think they can get to limited-government by advocating a virtual no-government of the strict enumerated powers of Article 1, Section 8, but this is a bad idea. If one wants “limited federal government” argue for “limited federal government” and not for virtually “no federal government” at all because if one argues for virtually “no federal government” one will make one’s self irrelevant for the national conversation on good government, and further people will generally dismiss you as something of a crackpot. 

 The Constitution “lives” to mean virtually anything one wants

If conservatives often get carried away with virtually a “no federal government” at all view of strict enumerated powers of Article 1, Section 8, Liberals generally go completely irrational and so-called postmodern or, that is, openly absurd. Postmodernism holds to the ridiculous idea that words can mean virtually anything one wants, and the same is true for the Constitution. The Left comes up with a radical Liberal political agenda that is actually the opposite of the actual Constitution, and they then read their opposite Liberal agenda into the Constitution when it is clearly not there.

 This is done with a supposed Constitutional advocacy for things like abortion, homosexuality, obscenity, pornography, and so forth, but the larger issue of rewriting the Constitution to mean its opposite is done in terms of changing the Preamble’s “establish Justice” to mean its opposite “establish Social Justice.” For the Left the main purpose of government is to do Social Justice, which is wealth redistribution of one sort or another.

 The classical Justice of the Constitution says one deserves the fruits of one’s own labor. Social Justice says one does not deserve the fruits of one’s own labor, and it is the job of a massive Leviathan state to hand out the wealth of the nation and the fruits of one’s labors to others. This as a general principle is the height of injustice, and though the state in some limited cases may redistribute some wealth, this is clearly not the general purpose of government in classical political theory, the Bible, or the Constitution. The entire Democrat Party holds to this absurd notion that the Constitution can live to mean anything, even the exact opposite of what it actually means given the plain meaning of the text.

 Quite simply, today’s truly absurd Democrat Party has no Constitutional, historical, or political validity whatsoever, and presumably the Party will cease to exist as a viable political entity in American life for all but the most uninformed of voters.

 The only hope for America…

 The only hope for America is to return to the original intent and plain meaning of the Constitution with issues of interpretation and application to be decided by Wise legislators and judges. The Liberals and Left’s postmodern efforts to change the clear meaning of the Constitution to fit their misguided moral and political agenda is flatly absurd, and it will destroy the republic, and it  by definition renders one totally unqualified to sit on the bench. However, the Constitution can only be said to “live” in order to have different areas of application for general principles, but it cannot “live” to mean virtually anything, especially the opposite of the clearly stated original principles.

The underlying problem here is the Left, Democrats, and Liberals have rejected the underlying Judeo-Christian worldview of the Constitution and “the Law of Nature and of Nature’s God” of Jefferson and the American founders, and this means without re-establishing a Judeo-Christian worldview, presumably by a Great Awakening to the truth and reality of the Gospel in the churches, there is probably no hope for America or for restoring the republic as founded and the Constitution as clearly written.