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To the Republic: Rediscovering the Constitution

To the Republic: Rediscovering the Constitution

About the project

In her nearly 250 years of independence, America has endured brutal wars, catastrophic natural disasters and ravaging economic depressions. Through every challenge, she has survived because of a singular focus on the founding principles that launched one of the greatest experiments in human history and that tested the very boundaries of the capabilities of man.

Can a free people govern themselves?

Today, America faces a crisis unprecedented in her history. Not that we are more hopeless than we were during the frozen winters of the Revolution. Not that we are more riven than during the Civil War. Not that we live with a greater injustice than slavery. Not that we are more frightened and hungry than we were during the Great Depression. Not that we are more outraged than we were after 9/11.

What makes this troubling time unlike any other is the full-scale assault — from the criminal class to the highest levels of governmental power — on the very principles of our Founding. The simple yet powerful ideas of equal justice under law, of self-governance, of rights given by a Creator, not a man or a king, and of freedom of speech and religion have come under open attack from every level of society.

So the time now is ripe to revisit those principles. Remind ourselves how the Founders grappled with every question. Test their answers. Reevaluate their thinking for a modern world that, at least on the surface, looks different from the ink-quilled days when those principles were set to parchment and made into history.

The Washington Times has laid that challenge at the feet of some of the country’s pivotal thinkers. Each week in the coming months, we will present their findings and arguments to you as we rediscover the Constitution.

Recent Stories

In this March 23, 2016, photo, the U.S. Constitution is held by a member of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington. President Donald Trump says he wants to order the end of the constitutional right to citizenship for babies of non-citizens and unauthorized immigrants born in the United States. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The Lame Mule Act is today's Flat Earth Society

When thinking about the Constitution, we often focus on what has gone sideways or just plain wrong. It is useful, from time to time, to reflect on how our constitutional processes and limits have resulted and can result in a government that is better, more responsive, more adaptable, and more likely to be able to repair itself if something is broken.

In this June 21, 2008, file photo, Susette Kelo, left, former owner of the controversial little pink house, stands in front of her old home at its new location in New London, Conn. Susette Kelo took on the city of New London, which was trying to take her house through eminent domain. She ultimately lost in a 5-4 decision by the Supreme Court. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill, File)  **FILE**

Government's power to seize private property must be reined in

Despite the deep polarization of American politics right now and the concurrent divides on a wide range of constitutional issues, there is at least one issue on which there is considerable cross-ideological agreement: limiting the power of eminent domain.

Poll worker Phil Dingus cleans one of the voting machines at the Virginia High School precinct during the Virginia Democratic Primary Election, on Tuesday, June 8, 2021, in Bristol, Va. (David Crigger/Bristol Herald Courier via AP) ** FILE **

State legislatures have the power to fix election processes

State sovereignty is at the heart of the election system. The Constitution places responsibility for success squarely on the shoulders of state legislators. The Founders' decision to place elections in the hands of states followed months of debate about the proper balance of power between the states and the national government.

“Without serious engagement in the issues of the day and participation by citizens in the elections, we risk losing our republic. We risk giving up our role as sovereigns and instead become subjects,” writes Anthony T. Caso, a clinical professor of law at the Dale E. Fowler School of Law. (Associated Press)

Anthony Caso: We risk losing our republic without active participation

Elizabeth Powell was a leading woman in Philadelphia and a political thinker who hosted salons during sessions of the Continental Congress. It did not surprise Benjamin Franklin, then, when Powell approached him at the end of the Constitutional Convention and asked: "What have we got, a republic or a monarchy?" Franklin's answer: "A republic, if you can keep it."

Immigrants who have entered the United States illegally are giving more congressional representation to districts where they live while taking it from citizens elsewhere. (Associated Press)

Jim Banks: Illegal immigrants should be omitted in congressional count

The House of Representatives, otherwise known as the "People's House," was designed by the Framers to be the body of the federal government most sensitive and receptive to voter opinion. That's why almost all members represent fewer voters than senators do, and it's why each member represents as equal a number of constituents as is possible and practical.

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence in an undated file photo. (Associated Press photograph)  **FILE**

David Jonas: Invoking 25th Amendment would set dangerous precedent

The "To the Republic" series has primarily addressed the original Constitution rather than the subsequent amendments. However, there has been much discussion of the suddenly popular 25th Amendment during the Trump administration, particularly since last week's riot at the Capitol.

"Today, it is clear to us that Congress has ceded many of its powers and responsibilities to unelected bureaucrats in regulatory agencies," writes Andrew R. Wheeler, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. (Associated Press)

Vanishing Congress cedes too much power to regulators

If the Founders came to Congress tomorrow and saw the diminished role the legislative branch plays in the function of the federal government -- the degree to which the legislature really is vanishing -- it would be a mystery to them.

Men are subject to powerful passions and appetites and, if unrestrained, are capable of ruthlessly riding roughshod over their neighbors and the community at large. (Robert Franklin/South Bend Tribune via AP)

William Barr: Founders gambled on virtue prevailing over passions

In his renowned 1785 pamphlet "Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments," James Madison described religious liberty as not only "a right towards men" but also "a duty towards the Creator," and a "duty ... precedent both in order of time and degree of obligation, to the claims of Civil Society."