Thursday, October 13, 2016

An Inspired Constitution

In his address The Doctrine of and Inspired Constitution, Gary Marshall argues that it is easier to defend the inspired nature of the Constitution if we understand its supporting principles. I was asked to answer this question:

How does your understanding of the supporting principles enhance your ability to explain the "just and holy principles" embodied in the Constitution?

I have listed the six supporting principles which he discussed and a brief outline of what is included in each principle. My responses are in blue.

1.       The Supreme Law of the Land must be set forth in a Written Constitution
a.       The Rule of Law must be the underlying premise of the entire constitutional system.
b.       The power of government must be limited and constrained by a written constitution.
c.       Civil governments are ordained of God and instituted by Him for the benefit of all the people and for the protection of their basic, inalienable rights.
d.       The content of the Constitution must be subject to change by an amendment process.

If laws weren’t written, they would be unfixed and changeable based on people’s memory. They must be written to remain stable. If it is to be written, there must be guidelines detailed. This is what the supporting principles do—detail guidelines for the written law of the land. It must give power but limit it. It must be stable, but have the ability to be changed. It must protect freedoms and rights, so the rule of law is the only way that it will work.

2.       The power to make law and to govern in a civil society must arise from the popular will and sovereign power of the people. (popular sovereignty)
a.       A true understanding of man’s nature – of both man’s capacity for virtue and man’s natural propensity to vice and corruption – must be the foundation of a government which derives its power from the people.
b.       Popular government must generally follow the will of the majority.
c.       A republic is the best form of popular government.
d.       The people have the right to choose those who govern in open and fair elections.
e.       The terms of office for those who govern must be fixed and reasonable for the purposes of their offices.

People have the right to make and execute the laws to which they are subject. If you give the power to the people, you must understand their nature and plan for both virtue and vice. Allowing the people to elect those who will govern, with limitations on service, will keep the power with the people, but not so completely that their lesser natures will take over.

3.       Governments must secure and protect the basic, inalienable rights of the people.
a.       Freedom of conscience must be protected as the most inherent and inalienable right of man.
b.       The great rights of free speech, freedom of the press, and of assembling and petitioning the government must be secured and protected.
c.       Prosecutions, accusations of wrongdoing, and judgments against the people must be based on principles of fairness, equity, justice, and due process of law.

If the people vote leaders to govern them, the governance must protect the rights of the people. There are certain rights which are endowed to us by God and no government has the right to limit them.

4.       The legislative power (to make the law), the executive power (to administer and enforce the law), and the judicial power (to apply and interpret the law) must reside in separate branches or departments of the government.
a.       Each of the three branches of government must have some check on the power of the other branches.
b.       The legislative power, which tends to predominate in a republic, must be further divided.

To “help control the corrupting influence of power and the tendency to tyranny,” each of the three branches must be able to check the power of the other two. This way the government can still survive if the people and leaders don’t remain virtuous and it lessens the negative effect of “immediate passions and shortsighted interests of the people.”

5.       The powers to govern ought to be further divided by national and local interests.
a.       The powers given to any level of government should be based in moderation and justice, and should engender confidence and trust in the people.
b.       The powers given to the national government should be specifically delegated, enumerated, and limited.
c.       The state governments should exercise the powers to regulate the health, welfare, safety, education, and moral behavior of the people.

The governance of the people should stay close to the people. The national government should be limited in scope and handle higher level issues such as national security and defense. Things more related to individuals should stay at the local level.

6.       The principles of economic freedom should be preserved and protected.

Government should encourage hard work, commerce, frugality and virtue; promote science and the arts and invention. This will help preserve and protect the economic future of the people.

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These are my opinion, viewpoints, and beliefs. If you do not agree, please be kind. If you cannot be kind, please do not comment.