gavel and block

Our Nation’s Foundations – The Constitution Lesson Two: Rule of Law

by Oletta Branstiter

Rule of Law

Once the bedrock is found, a builder will lay a solid foundation.  Our Founders and Framers of the Constitution called it the Rule of Law.  They were sick and tired of the whims of the selfish and power-hungry King George.  

The government of the new United States of America would have laws for everyone to follow- the rich, the poor, the powerful, and the weak.  They insisted on a Constitutional Republic – one that had written laws that guaranteed justice for all.

Democracy vs. Republic

A Democracy relies on the vote of every person because it is ruled by the majority opinion. A Constitutional Republic is rule by Law, through representatives elected by citizens who choose to vote. The United States is a Constitutional Republic, not a Democracy.

Limited Federal Power

Originally, the Framers of our Constitution established 17 Federal laws, represented in our graphic by bricks set solidly upon the bedrock of the Natural Law of our Unalienable Rights. These 17 laws were considered to be the limited responsibilities of a national government formed to protect our rights and the safety of our country.

Add 17 bricks above the Bedrock layer, with the following words added, written in bold below.

Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution defines the duties of Congress, which were the first federal laws:

The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts, and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts, and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

To borrow Money on the credit of the United States;

To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian Tribes;

To establish a uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;

To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;

To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;

To establish Post Offices and post Roads;

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing [copyright and patents] for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;

To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations;

To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

To provide and maintain a Navy;

To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;

To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the [establish the] Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings;

To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution [federal laws and powers] the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

That’s it, according to our Constitution. But, before long, there was an argument between the Founders.  James Madison, who wrote most of the Constitution, insisted that the power of the Federal government should be severely limited by these 17 responsibilities.  Alexander Hamilton, who became the first Secretary of the Treasury, wanted a stronger, more powerful central government, and thought the representatives should be able to pass any law they thought would help the people.

Too Many Laws!

You would be shocked by how many Federal Laws we have now – how many things our government is supposed to do, and laws we are expected to obey as citizens of the United States. That answer can be found on an official government website of the Library of Congress – According to this website, we now have too many federal laws to count.  And every one of them requires taxpayer money to enforce them, while they limit our freedom.

Who do you agree with more: James Madison, who wanted fewer federal laws and more individual freedom, or Alexander Hamilton, who wanted more federal laws to govern the people?  Think of it this way: as you get older, would you like your parents to give you more rules to follow, or fewer rules?  Would you like someone else to rule you, or would you prefer to rule yourself?   

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