legislative act contrary to the Constitution can be valid. To deny this
would be to affirm that the deputy (agent) is greater than his
principal; that the servant is above the master; that the
representatives of the people are superior to the people; that men,
acting by virtue of powers may do not only what their powers do not
authorize, but what they forbid. .. A Constitution is,
in fact, and must be regarded by judges as fundamental law. If there
should happen to be a irreconcilable variance between the two, the
Constitution is to be preferred to the statute."
basis of our political
systems is the right of the
people to make and to alter their Constitutions of Government. But the
Constitution, which at any time exists, ‘till changed by an explicit
authentic act of the whole People, is sacredly obligatory upon all."
"Like psychoanalysis, constitutional jurisprudence has become a game without rules. By defying the plain meaning of words, ignoring context and history, and using a little ingenuity, you can make the Constitution mean anything you like." — Joseph Sobran
"If the representatives of the people betray their constituents, there is then no recourse left but in the exertion of that original right of self-defense which is paramount to all positive forms of government." —Alexander Hamilton, in the Federalist Papers #28
|Take the Constitution Test
25 questions you should be able to answer
about our founding document
Take this 5 question quiz prepared by Hillsdale College and
find out how much you know about the U.S. Constitution
Republic v. A Democracy
Understanding why the United States of America
is not and never was a democracy (10-minute video)
Guide to the Constitution
The Heritage Guide to the Constitution is intended to provide a brief and accurate explanation of each clause of the Constitution as envisioned by the Framers and as applied in contemporary law.
Select any Article or Section from the left side and the Original Text appears in the main, center, area. Hover your cursor over text in the main body. Areas with an associated Essay will highlight and, upon a left-click, that Essay will appear. Essays are also listed on the right for direct selection.
Teacher's Companion Lessons are also available in PDF format.
|The Meaning of The
And the Concept of Federalism
Edwin Meese III
The Constitution of the United States has endured for over two centuries. It remains the object of reverence for nearly all Americans and an object of admiration by peoples around the world. William Gladstone was right in 1878 when he described the U.S. Constitution as "the most wonderful work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man."
CONCEPTS OF “GOVERNMENT”
Think NOT that you must have a law degree to understand the Constitution of the United States; or that the lawyers, law professors and black robed judges are the ones who understand it best.They are the ones who perverted it. To restore constitutional government, We the People must learn the basic concepts of “government”; and we must learn the Constitution, elect representatives who will honor their oaths to support it (Art VI, clause 3), and remove from office those who don’t.
|What the Constitution Really Says
About Race and Slavery
The argument that the Constitution is racist suffers from one fatal flaw: the concept of race does not exist in the Constitution. Nowhere in the Constitution – or in the Declaration of Independence, for that matter – are human beings classified according to race, skin color, or ethnicity (nor, one should add, sex, religion, or any other of the left’s favored groupings).
United States of America vs European Union
|Be sure to also look in
|28jun19||The Danger of the Attacks on the Electoral College|
Once upon a time, the Electoral College was not controversial. During the debates over ratifying the Constitution, Anti-Federalist opponents of ratification barely mentioned it. But by the mid-twentieth century, opponents of the Electoral College nearly convinced Congress to propose an amendment to scrap it. And today, more than a dozen states have joined in an attempt to hijack the Electoral College as a way to force a national popular vote for president. What changed along the way? And does it matter?
|31dec15||Property Rights and Religious
Larry P. Arnn
Many Christians, while they cherish religious liberty, seem to believe that property rights, and the commerce that arises from the establishment of property rights, are somehow un-Christian. At the same time, a lot of free marketers seem to think that all we need are property rights and the rest will take care of itself. Neither of these views is correct, and I will explain why with reference to both James Madison and Winston Churchill.
|20mar15||A Little-Noted Masterpiece of
by Justice Thomas
Mark J. Fitzgibbons
Justice Thomas has provided us a masterpiece of constitutional thinking, explaining why “administrative law” – the practice of delegating to bureaucrats the making and enforcement of rules with the force of law – is so profoundly unconstitutional. You could spend years reading history books, the Federalist Papers, and case law, but you won’t find a better explanation of the essence of our Constitution. If you understand what’s in these few pages, you understand why we have the Constitution, why it is structured the way it is, and why it is essential to the American experiment.
|7dec14||Is It Time for an Anti-Federalist
No wise and serious American, whatever his notional ideology, trusts the federal government. This fact is often lost in the dust and wind from that gaggle of pundits whose relevance depends upon every issue of life being controlled by an all-powerful central government. In American politics and government, the problem, of course, is Washington, and most Americans find Washington as arrogant and stupid as American colonists found London in 1776.
Convention? Caveat Emptor –
The Law of Unintended Consequences
20th-century sociologist Robert Merton noted three primary factors contributing to unanticipated consequences: First, incomplete analysis because it is impossible to anticipate all variables; second, errors in analysis of what is known about the problem; third, immediate interests overriding long-term interests.
|7jul13||Religion and Public Life in America
Religious liberty is being redefined in America, or at least many would like it to be. Our secular establishment wants to reduce the autonomy of religious institutions and limit the influence of faith in the public square. The reason is not hard to grasp. In America, “religion” largely means Christianity, and today our secular culture views orthodox Christian churches as troublesome, retrograde, and reactionary forces.
|14apr13||The Second Amendment as an
Expression of First Principles
Edward J. Erler
The shooters in Arizona, Colorado, and Newtown were mentally ill persons who, by all accounts, should have been incarcerated. Even the Los Angeles Times admits that "there is a connection between mental illness and mass murder." But the same progressives who advocate gun control also oppose the involuntary incarceration of mentally ill people who, in the case of these mass shootings, posed obvious dangers to society before they committed their horrendous acts of violence.
|7apr13||Christian Origins of Essential
In midst of the modern, mindless battle to drive religion completely from American life, a small and inconvenient fact has been ignored: Virtually every important, original American idea is a product of Christianity. Further, had these doctrines never been developed, the US would arguably not been nearly as productive, free or happy. These ideas involve property, liberty, and the rule of law.
|2dec12||How to Think About Religious Freedom
Matthew J. Franck
There is a growing awareness among Americans that religious freedom in our country has come under sustained pressures. In the public square where freedom of religion meets public policy, it becomes clearer all the time that there is a high price to be paid for being true to one’s conscience.
|23dec11||The Unity and Beauty of the
Declaration and the Constitution
An Interview with Larry P. Arnn, President, Hillsdale College
Peter Robinson: Larry, I am quoting from you: “You can read the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution in a few minutes. They are simple. They are beautiful. They can be understood and retained.” Place the documents in their historical context. Why did they matter?
Rulemaking by Executive Agencies & Executive Orders
No one in Congress seems to know that it is our Constitution which sets the “agenda” for the federal government. The agenda the Constitution sets restricts the federal government to war, international relations & commerce; and domestically, the establishment of an uniform commercial system: a monetary system based on gold & silver, weights & measures, patents & copyrights, a bankruptcy code, and mail delivery (Art. I, Sec. 8, cls.1-16).
Herbert E. Meyer
During the last 30 years we Americans have been so politically divided that some of us have called this left-right, liberal-conservative split a "culture war" or even a "second Civil War." These descriptions are no longer accurate. The precise, technical word for what is happening in the United States today is revolution.
|8mar09||The America Republic
-vs- Socialist America
J. D. Longstreet
The difference between Conservative Government and a Socialist Government (that of the American Left) when shaken down to its raw essentials will make, or break, the United States of America.
Americans Ignorant of Basic Civics, Government;
Elected Officials Fair Even Worse! (pdf)
Are most people, including college graduates, civically illiterate? Do elected officials know even less than most citizens about civic topics such as history, government, and economics? The answer is yes on both counts according to a new study by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI).
Take the Test Yourself (html)
and Dual Citizenship:
Harbingers of Administrative Tyranny
Edward J. Erler
Birthright citizenship – the policy whereby the children of illegal aliens born within the geographical limits of the United States are entitled to American citizenship – is a great magnet for illegal immigration.
|17aug08||Voters Should Pass a Minimal Civics
I have never been an advocate of the popular notion that "everyone should vote." Some people look at me as if I am somehow un-American when I say that I am not in favor of encouraging people to vote who would otherwise never darken the door of a polling place.
the State in America
Only a willful disregard for the clear meaning of the 1st Amendment would lead one to believe that God and religion were to be excised from any and all matters related to the state. Should you doubt this – or wish to have further proof – consider the Preambles to all of the 50 United States’ constitutions.
|23sep07||Originalism: A Primer
Originalism rose to prominence in the Reagan era because, as Edwin Meese put it in an uncharacteristic moment of candor, it promised to remake the Court in a way that would halt the slide toward "the radical egalitarianism and expansive civil libertarianism of the Warren Court."
|13jun05|| The Future of
Nine justices on the Supreme Court writing a new Constitution as they see fit, and then mandating that the entire nation obey, is a decidedly undemocratic process which results in meanings that were never adopted or ratified by the people, but which are imposed upon them without their consent.
|5apr05|| Judicial Supremacy and The
Justice must be about more than just process – to be respected, a system of justice not only has to do justice, but has to be seen and believed by the people to be doing justice.
|6dec04|| Judicial Despotism
“To consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions; a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy.” – Thomas Jefferson (1820)
|6nov04|| The Election Monitoring Circus Leaves
Our electoral system is a certified thing of beauty. It places accountability at the local level, thereby empowering citizens to effectively police themselves and solve any unique problems that only they can diagnose.
|26jul04|| How Treaties Trump the Constitution
Nothing in the U.S. Constitution authorizes the federal government to regulate private property. Nothing in the U.S. Constitution authorizes the federal government to manage wildlife or prescribe land use regulations within the various states.
|3mar04|| Almighty Judges
Are the decisions of federal judges The Final Answers to any issue? Would we accept an Executive who could dictate policy that is final, incontrovertible, and could not be challenged? That would make the president into a king, would it not?
|28jan04|| No Constitution Remains
Viewed in the cold light of the reality that our Constitution is no longer a barrier to what our government does, why is anyone surprised that our elections have degenerated into a contest to see which politician can promise to give us more?
|13jan04|| Why Not Term Limits?
George M. Haddad
It is conventional wisdom that incumbents are in a better position to prepare and amass massive mailing lists, develop political machines, make invaluable political contacts and continue with year 'round fund raising. In term limit states this has changed dramatically.
|13apr03|| The Declaration of Independence,
In a Convention of Sovereign States, July 4, 2003
The unanimous Declaration of the fifty united States of America
|23mar03|| The Declaration, the Constitution,
and the Brilliance of the Founders
Lawrence W. Reed
So many functions within both major parties are devoid of principles that sometimes you have to wonder if the membership believes in anything besides beating the other side at election time.
|20nov02||National Death by the Pharisees
Paul E. Scates
The similarity between the impact of the Pharisees on established Judaism and the impact our own political Pharisees on American Founding principles is striking, and informative.
|21jul02||Are we to Live Under
the ICC or the Bill of Rights?
The philosophy of the ICC (and the U.N.) is that governments are superior to the people, granting or withholding rights as they see fit. This is the European model, but it is not America's.
We Too Stupid to Understand?
The Liberty Committee
Apparently members of the US Senate believe that we are and cannot grasp the challenges to the US Constitution presented by the "reforms" proposed under the guise of campaign finance reform.
|17nov01||G-d And Liberty; Liberals And Lies
The awareness of G-d as the source of our liberty, in turn, hampers the efforts of liberals/socialists who need to change the founding documents, in interpretation and even in fact, in order to implement their big government agenda.
Open Letter to Statists Everywhere
"If you’re among those many people who spend most of their time and energies advocating a litany of proposals for expanded government action, and little or no time recommending offsetting reductions in state power, then this letter has indeed found its mark."
|18jun01||Our Flaw? We're Just Not Liberals
Suddenly, the Federalist Society is the talk of the town. But what exactly is this society? Is it some secret fraternity? Does it — heaven forbid — have "an agenda"?
|20mar01||The Price Of Indolence
Are we citizens of our States, protected by the Constitution and Bill of Rights, or have we unknowingly forfeited our original relationship with government, for a federal citizenship with dubious benefits and dangerous concessions of our liberty?
|13mar01||Are We Citizens Of Our States?
The government recognizes two distinct classes of citizens: a state Citizen and a federal citizen. State Citizens created the states who created the federal government who created federal citizens.
|9feb01||How Many Bills of Rights do we Need?
Everyone from medical patients to airline passengers is demanding their own bill of rights. This trend runs contrary to the ideas behind the genuine article.
|4feb01||Wall Of Separation
The radical left's worst nightmare — a religious, moral, and well-armed population. How could they ever impose their socialist ideology under those conditions?
During last week's confirmation hearings, Sen. Kennedy laid into President Bush's attorney general nominee John Ashcroft about his strong support for the U.S. Constitution's Second Amendment. Kennedy demanded that Ashcroft apologize to the American people.
|26dec00||Genesis of the Civil War
Interesting, isn't it, that today, those who favor banning Confederate symbols and continue to demonize an entire people's history also tend to be partisans of the federal government in all its present political struggles?
Egalitarianism, and Empire
Though the Founding Fathers were committed to the establishment of a Republic of self-governing, sovereign States, they feared that the "dissolution toward empire, which had occurred in Rome, was historically inevitable."
|19nov00||How To Subvert Freedom
Unearthed Secret Memo for radical activists who are
dedicated to subverting a democratic nation's freedom.
review of States Rights and the Union
Famed historian Forrest McDonald concludes that the states were sovereign during the revolution and remained so under the Articles of Confederation and even under the Constitution of 1787.
|3sep00||Constitutional Protections Ignored
Increasingly, we have been ignoring the limits imposed by our Constitution, usually in the name of some "greater good" or "general welfare". We do so at our great peril.
Nothing so enrages "diverse" leftists and "tolerant" democrats as
someone refusing to bow down to their ideology.
|11jul00||Hands Off Government
Once it becomes clear that government schools indoctrinate captive students in the tenets and dogma of humanism to the exclusion of all other religions, it also becomes clear that the government itself is in the business of establishing a state-run, religious monopoly.
|29apr00||New Life for the "One Drop" Rule
It is breath-taking to find old ideas about "blood" now resuscitated in a respectable law review, and by an African-American scholar. Now the fear, apparently, is that some whites will try to "pass" as black.
|25mar00||Post-Constitution America: Night of the
Statists, collectivists and the left need to take heed: when their power and influence are lost and a truly evil form of government arises, there will be no document around in any meaningful form to run to as a last resort.
FDR at the Gates of Hell
This New Deal-era ditty pictured FDR persuading the devil
of his worthiness to enter Hell. (1930s)
for a constitutional culprit in the cancerous growth of federal power?
Look no further than the Commerce Clause
If growing food for your own consumption has a "substantial effect" on interstate commerce and is therefore subject to congressional regulation, it’s hard to see what area of life is beyond federal authority.
|31jan00||Who Judges The Judges?
We are becoming the only people in history to voluntarily throw away our liberty and embrace servitude.
It is remarkable how willing, even eager, some people in this country are to abandon representative government, and to adopt dictatorial solutions to (usually non-existent) problems.
|10dec99||America Must Restore the Foundations of Freedom
Should the people still have the authority to run the country through their elected legislators?
We, the People, have failed miserably to protect our Constitutional heritage
Americans With No Abilities Act
Sweeping new legislation that provides benefits and protection for more than 135 million talentless Americans.
Part I ~~O~~ Part II
Today's central government -- particularly the judiciary branch and the executive branch under Bill Clinton -- bears little resemblance to those branches as envisioned by our Founders and the principal authors of our U.S. Constitution.
|Putting God Back in the Public Square
The 'Ten Commandment' Judge, Roy S. Moore, on his seven-year battle to preserve religious freedom of expression in the courtroom and in the public arena.
by Claire Wolfe
|Why a Constitution?
Our Constitution is under incredible assault today, and many people question why we need such a document at all.
|Bill of No Rights|