Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Quote of the Day - George Washington on amending the Constitution

People call our Constitution a living document, saying we must 'interpret' it in today's environment. What they really mean is that the Constitution should justify what they want the government to do, regardless of the limitations placed upon it by the Constitution.

George Washington, and our founding fathers, recognized the danger of such a perspective, but anticipated a potential need for modifying the Constitution, so they built into the document the ability to modify it, should we desire to. To modify the powers of government in any other way was considered usurpation - the wrongful seizure or exercise of authority.

"If in the opinion of the people the distribution or modification of the constitutional powers be in any particular wrong, let it be corrected by an amendment in the way which the Constitution designates. But let there be no change by usurpation; for though this in one instance may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed. The precedent must always greatly overbalance in permanent evil any partial or transient benefit which the use can at any time yield." ~ Pres. George Washington in his Farewell Address of 1796

Sadly, too many abuses of the legitimate powers and too many violations of the limitations specified in the Constitution have resulted in a federal government more like the one the United States fought a war to escape from than the 'more perfect union' our founders left us.

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