LETTER TO THE EDITOR: The people legitimize government

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With one exception, I agree with Andrew Napolitano’s eloquent defense of states’ rights and the Second Amendment (“Shooting up the Constitution,” Commentary, Thursday). That exception is his claim that the states created the federal government. He writes that there is a “serious typographical error” in the Preamble to the Constitution, because it reads, “We the People,” not “We the States.”

I disagree. One reason the Founders created special constitutional conventions to ratify the Constitution, as opposed to the usual practice of having state legislatures ratify it, was because they wanted to make clear the Constitution was something separate from the states, and they wanted “the people” to ratify it to give it its own identity and legitimacy.

Also, the Constitution includes language that makes the new national government “the supreme Law of the Land.” If the Founders had considered the Constitution, the government and country it created to be simply the result of a compact among the states, it is hard to see why they would have included those six words.

Finally, at the Constitutional Convention, the original language developed by the convention’s Committee of Detail read, “We the people of the States .” However, the Committee of Style, which was charged with the document’s final language, deliberately changed that to “We the People .” That was no typographical error.


Alexandria, Va.

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