The Relevance of the Constitution

The Federal Constitution is the framework of our Republic. My introduction to it came from Roswell Sanger, an American History teacher I still hold in high regard. Drs. Harold Rakov and Owen Stephen Ireland picked up where he left off. I later taught about the Constitution for 34 years.

My mentors made clear that the Legislative branch was intended to be first among ostensible equals; hence Congress was outlined in Article I. The House and Senate, after all, have the power to impeach and remove members of the other two branches, as well as a major role in amending the Constitution.

Before further comment, it perhaps should be noted that the United States Constitution is a masterpiece that holds together brilliantly, has stood the test of time quite well and includes nothing lacking purpose. Its’ language and content are chosen with utmost precision. Context is also crucial.

Article II, section 4 indicates the grounds for impeachment as “treason, bribery and other high crimes and misdemeanors”. Treason is, more, or less, defined in Article III, section 3 and includes, “. . . adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort”. Bribery is fairly straightforward. “High crimes and misdemeanors” is a phrase, like many others in the Constitution, which cannot be strictly defined/constructed and was worded the way it was purposefully to allow for/require interpretation. Otherwise, it has little meaning. The definition of treason, as the authors clearly intended, certainly allows enormous latitude for interpretation.

For another telling example of a section of the Constitution with no clear meaning under the doctrine/notion of “strict construction” one might check Amendment IX. It again makes abundantly clear that the Founders expected much of the Constitution to be loosely constructed. Otherwise, Amendment IX would define no rights whatsoever and there would be no purpose for its inclusion. Such language– as well as Article V– was meant to permit the Constitution to be adaptable to changing circumstances.

A powerful argument can be made that any determined effort to ridicule and devalue institutions whose stature and credibility are vital to our republic provides encouragement to the enemies of the United States. Those who denigrate the validity of our election results, use whatever stature and credibility they may have to question judicial outcomes, seek to undermine respected institutions such as the F.B.I., and regularly impugn the integrity of our free press unwittingly tear the Republic apart from within. As Fran Townsend, George W. Bush’s Homeland Security Advisor, said this week about the current war of words over memo releases, “. . . this public acrimony only benefits our enemies”. Perhaps under Article III, section 3, such political nonsense might qualify as collective treason!

Watching as the United States gets torn apart from within is beyond depressing. It is increasingly clear that patriotism is more than displaying the red, white and blue while simultaneously approximating Sergeant Schultz’ mantra, “I hear nothing; I see nothing; I know nothing”.

Sincerely yours,
Gary Kent
Albion, NY