Memorial Day 2011 should call to our attention the real state of America today — a nation engulfed in the flames of a Culture War. This is a battle war that many of America’s Constitutionalists are fighting poorly. But we cannot learn to fight until we learn to think.
This Culture War is, so far, a war of words, but words inciting action – words expressing bitterly opposed philosophies, intellectual values, and policy goals. And as columnist Joseph Sobran observed in the first days of the Reagan Presidency, Americans [then and now] are “philosophically incompetent and intellectually unsophisticated.”
Whatever insult some Constitutionalists might see in this observation should be overridden by the challenge of Sobran’s words. Memorial Day 2011 can be celebrated in no more fitting manner than by our THINKING ABOUT some of America’s most precious foundational principles, how they have been charred almost beyond recognition in the flames of the Culture War, and what we Constitutionalists can do about it — how we can learn more in order to fight better.
We shall think about:
(1) the principles themselves,
(2) the policy areas in which these principles have been the most brutally attacked, and
(3) theparties in American society — societal institutions — directly victimized by these attacks.
We MUST think about and understand — far better than we do — these pivotal aspects of the Culture War.
Four primary principles expressed in four words in the Constitution have been the most badly battered in the Culture War. They are listed below by Constitutional term and philosophical foundation:
- “Person“/The dignity of the individual;
- “Life“/The sanctity of human life;
- “Liberty“/The “blessings of liberty”;
- “Law“/The rule of law.
These principles have been victimized by Reconstructionist (activist/liberal) judges bent on morphing our Judeo-Christian Constitution and culture into a Humanist and Reconstructionist Constitution and culture. The principles are guaranteed primarily by Amendments 1, 5, and 14.
Collectively, these provisions protect the right of every “person” to “life, liberty,” and “due process [the rule of] law.” Key components of “liberty” include freedom from establishment of religion and the right to free exercise of religion. Also specifically expressed are freedoms of speech, press, peaceable assembly, and the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances. The courts have now created from this specific list a generalized “freedom of expression” not intended by the document but allowing current judges to protect all kinds of mischievous actions from flag-burning to nude dancing.
The Declaration of Independence amplifies the meanings of these principles in expressing a number of vital truths. Let’s examine each of these primary principles.
- “Person”/The “dignity of the individual” is assumed in the Amendments’ unequivocal assertion that governments cannot deprive “persons” — not any other creature or thing — of precious fundamental rights. Clearly, the individual receives these rights from his Creator God and is equal in this waybefore God to every other individual. Every individual as an individual is of great value — “dignity.” His value does NOT proceed from his birth into a particular family or class, his membership in the “proletariat,” or some other pagan source.
- “Life”/The “sanctity of human life” principle is closely related to yet separable from personhood. Human life is of the greatest value — “sanctity” — because each human life is created by God as a special — unique — creation. Man is also created with certain precious, inalienable rights which are granted to no one or anything else in the universe, thus elevating man to the highest position in God’s created order.
“Liberty”/The “blessings of liberty” phraseology appears in the Preamble to the Constitution. The term “liberty” (or “freedom”) alone is used in both the Declaration and Amendments 1, 5, and 14. “Liberty” is obviously one of the “inalienable rights” with which men are endowed by God. The Preamble’s addition of the phrase “blessings of liberty” clearly connotes that true liberty generates outcomes beyond itself — “blessings” “to ourselves and our posterity.”
These phrasings of “liberty” clearly connote the fact that liberty is not unbridled license — the right of an individual to do whatever he please whenever and wherever. Rather, liberty is to be exercised (1) within the order prescribed by the God who is the author of liberty and (2) is to be exercised consistently with other rights and the interests of others in mind.
- “Law”/The “rule of law” occurs numerous times in the Constitution (and the Declaration) and reveals complementary truths about the meaning and application of “law.” One truth is that the Constitution is “the Supreme Law of the land.”A second truth we learn in examining the Constitution is that the rule of law encompasses two types of law — “substantive” and “mechanical”; and the rule of law requires that both types flow from the Constitution.
In later Court Watch Briefings, we shall continue thinking about the primary principles of America’s Constitution and culture.
May we now, on Memorial Day 2011, remember with renewed understanding and gratitude the sacrifices made by past and present Americans to protect and promote the primary principles of our grand and glorious Constitution.
For more information and insight, order our
- “Basic Blackstone” — our premier printed piece which analyzes and refutes courts’ worst decisions concerning the principles discussed above;
- “Courting Justice Blitz” — our multi-media online study amplifying this information and offering a “Reviving the Constitution Plan.”