The Home School Court Report
Vol. XXVII
No. 4
Cover
July/August
2011

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The Last Word Previous Page Next Page
by J. Michael Smith
- disclaimer -
Guarding Freedom through Studying Our Constitution

This fall, HSLDA is excited to partner in the launch of a new resource to address what may be America’s greatest educational need today—a civics course for adults. Michael Farris, founder of HSLDA and chancellor of Patrick Henry College, has authored a seven-and-a-half-hour DVD course titled Constitutional Literacy with Michael Farris, now available for preordering. Mike draws on his vast experience in litigating numerous constitutional law cases and teaching constitutional law to literally thousands of students for over 20 years.

© HSLDA
J. Michael Smith, president of Home School Legal Defense Association, speaks at the evening banquet of HSLDA’s 2010 Summit.
...

AS OUR GOVERNMENT
GROWS BIGGER AND
STRONGER, OUR
INDIVIDUAL
FREEDOMS GROW
SMALLER AND
WEAKER.
...

You may be asking, why do adults need to take a constitutional law course? Unfortunately, most of us have never really done an in-depth study of our Constitution. Today’s civics courses spend very little time on the Constitution and do not properly emphasize the key principles that protect our freedom from an overreaching federal government.

America began an experiment in liberty over 200 years ago when our Founders hammered out a Constitution that required intense negotiations over a significant period of time. When it was all over, Founding Father John Adams said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” In short, our Constitution set up a government that weakened rulers by empowering the people.

A driving principle of our Constitution came from the Declaration of Independence. In that document, these key words set out the vision that our Founders had for America: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed ...”

The hallmark and guiding principle of both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution is the concept of freedom. This was a bold concept in light of the principles that permeated Europe prior to the establishment of the United States of America. At that time, countries in Europe were controlled by monarchies, based on the principle that the people derived their rights from the king.

To avoid the weaknesses inherent in that form of government, our Founding Fathers set in place a covenant with the people of America that provided the indispensible foundation of individual rights. A “right” is defined as a “just and proper claim.” A right implies not only freedom of action and the total absence of coercion, but also freedom of action in the presence of coercion.

Under our Constitution, we the people are free to follow our personal paths to success, so long as we behave responsibly. As a result of this freedom, we have great national wealth and strength. The issue will be, “Can we preserve our freedom?”

Today, we the people are losing our freedom and liberty guaranteed by our Constitution. As our government grows bigger and stronger, our individual freedoms grow smaller and weaker.

The late U.S. President Ronald Reagan warned, “Freedom is a fragile thing. It is never more than one generation away from extinction. It is not ours by inheritance; it must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation for it comes only once to a people. Those who have known freedom and then lost it have never known it again.”

How do we preserve our freedom? First, we have to develop an appreciation for the high price our ancestors paid to gain it and the terrible price that our young service men and women continue to pay to preserve it. Second, we must never forget the principles that our ancestors struggled to preserve. We do that by studying America’s historical founding documents, especially our Constitution.

As we see government expand its power today, it is more critical than ever that we understand and insist upon the limited power of government as contained in our founding documents.

Consider a classic example of how the Constitution is violated to our nation’s detriment: Article II, Section 1, of the Constitution declares that “the President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States ...” But Article I gives Congress—not the president—the authority to declare war. However, since World War II, every major military action has been considered a U.S. military operation or a UN police action, and therefore has been undertaken without a declaration of war.

What’s the remedy? We the people need to demand that our elected representatives require the president to wait until Congress has properly debated national involvement in war before he puts our military at risk. This is just one example of how we need to know what the Constitution says so we can act to require our elected officials to follow it.

I truly believe that every family would benefit from going through Constitutional Literacy with Michael Farris. HSLDA is providing this at a discount to our member families for only $75.00. To preorder your copy visit our online bookstore.

Our liberty will only be maintained through sacrifice. Let’s take the time to study our Constitution so our God-given freedoms can never be taken away by government.