The U.S. Constitution is a specification for the design of a republic. It establishes specific powers and duties for governments on the Federal and State level as well as restrictions upon those powers. It defines the basic framework of a self-sustaining form of democratic governance, with the assumption that future needs would be addressed through future legislation, crafted through the mechanism defined in this founding document.
In my first draft of this introduction, I revealed my acceptance of a common misconception. I stated confidently that the Constitution was all about governance and that its restrictions were against the Federal and State governments and not much else. After hearing the Constitution read over and over by ordinary citizens at our Voice the Constitution© sessions, I've finally come to my own conclusions. The Constitution specifies fairly clearly to what each paragraph refers. There are parts that specifically apply to the Federal government, parts that specifically apply to State governmments and parts that identify Universals. Those Universals represent rights that no one can take from you.
The first amendment, for example, restricts only the Congress. Congress may not restrict your freedom of speech. It does not forbid your State legislature from restricting your speech. The fourth amendment is worded differently — no one may search you or invade your privacy without a warrant. That is why I do not work for IBM, HP, EMC, or LSI Logic here in the Boulder, Colorado area. Those companies require a pre-employment drug screen. They require me to suspend my fourth amendment rights in order to work for them. This is why we must diligently study our Constitution and take action to see it preserved and protected.
The Constitution is a beautiful and nuanced document. It provides a precisely engineered framework in support of personal liberty — a framework within which citizens may act and which the citizens ultimately control. The framework endures or fails depending upon the diligence with which the citizens act to maintain it. With this recitation, we clang a hammer against this edifice. We ring it like a gong. We bring it to the forefront of our attention and remind ourselves of its architectural grandeur and of the dutiful efforts required toward its preservation.
National Public Radio has posted a very nice reading of The Declaration of Independence. It is well executed and an excellent preparation for a listen to the Constitution.
The Declaration of Independence is a multimedia presentation and requires RealPlayer. The Constitution is in mp3 format and will play on any competent mp3 player.
|The U.S. Constitution||22 MB||63 min. approx.|