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Friday, October 07, 2005

 

The Constitution is Not a NFL Playbook

The U.S. Constitution, signed in 1787, starts with these words: “We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

In its most general sense, a constitution is the fundamental, underlying framework of government for a nation or state. The United States has a constitution, which incorporates the ideas on which America was founded — commitment to the rule of law, limited government and the ideals of liberty, equality and justice. The United States’ Constitution requires everyone, regardless of position or office, to abide by higher law. The ultimate strength of the U.S. constitution, according to the U.S. Courts Web site, “is that it not only lets people know the limits of the government’s power, but the system of checks and balances that it has created ensures that these limits will be obeyed.”

Before ratifying the Constitution, several states, remembering how the British violated civil rights before and during the Revolutionary War, demanded the addition of sections which would protect individual citizens from government abuses. Since Article V of the Constitution allowed for changes, Congress in 1789 approved the first 10 amendments to our constitution. These are known as the Bill of Rights and list specific rights of the people.

In the wake of Katrina and Rita, many are calling for immediate direction and assistance from the federal government. However, this is not the responsibility of the President or Congress. The 10th Amendment “grants residual power to the states and to the people. The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” The first responders to a calamity should be the local government through law enforcement and emergency services, not the U.S. Military. Funds to initiate full recovery should be from state and city bonds, not 62 billion dollars of the U.S. Treasury. The local mayor and state governor should be directing from the front lines as a good commander should, not wait on the President to give orders or the FEMA director to advise on proper courses of action.

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