Quelling the Clamor Over the Constitution

COMMENTARY: The calamitous situation that currently grips the United States is in no way attributable to the country’s founding document.

The framers of the Constitution found a way to agree on the basic principles of the Constitution as expressed in its Preamble.
The framers of the Constitution found a way to agree on the basic principles of the Constitution as expressed in its Preamble. (photo: Onur Ersin / Shutterstock)

The 2022 overturning of Roe v. Wade, a ruling that had been in effect for nearly 50 years, has not been accepted by many abortion advocates. Many of them feel that if the Constitution does not allow for abortion, it needs to be scrapped. The New York Times carried an article entitled, “A Campus Crusade Against the Constitution,” which raises the question, “Is the Constitution no longer relevant for American society?”

Louis Michael Seidman has written On Constitutional Disobedience, in which he argues that the present Constitution is both misguided and long out of date. Why should men who have been dead for 200 years, he asks, tell people in the 21st century what kind of country they should have? They lived in a world that had nothing in common with modern manufacturing and communication. 

He argues that scrapping the Constitution would improve American political discourse and would free people from what he describes as an “intergenerational power grab” by the Founding Fathers. He contends that the absence of the Constitution would enable people to deliberate more seriously about the various issues that divide America. 

Seidman, a Georgetown law professor, questions whether a group of men could set down the law for the people of succeeding generations. He suggests that it might be a good idea to have an elite body that is somewhat isolated from political majorities making judgments on political morality that bind the political branches.

Jefferson, Madison, Franklin and others had a philosophical vision that rested on their understanding of man. Whether a person travels by horse, by car or by jet plane does not alter the nature of the human being. Nor does his dress, mode of communication, or job, change who he is in his essence. The mind of the Founding Fathers was united in the truth that all men are created equal and that they are endowed with the right to life and liberty.

It is highly doubted that the authors of the Constitution could have been any wiser than they were. At the same time, it is also highly doubted that a current “elite body” could do any better. The framers of the Constitution had a clear sense of the nature of the human being. They also had a belief on God, a regard for truth, and an uncompromisable respect for reason. Thomas Jefferson had this to say concerning the University of Virginia, which he founded: 

“This institution will be based on the illimitable freedom of the human mind. For here we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate error so long as reason is left to combat it.”

The present situation in America is decidedly unprepared to deal with the verities that inspired the Founding Fathers. There is no consensus concerning the reality of God. Atheism and agnosticism reign. Truth has been replaced by political correctness. Reason yields to rhetoric. Freedom becomes license. That an “elite body” could agree on anything is unlikely.

Considering the abortion issue, the division is unbridgeable. Abortion is not the killing of an innocent human being. It is now part of “women’s reproductive health care.”

Journalist William Murchison, in the Spring 2023 issue of The Human Life Review states that the signal affirmation of the women’s rights movement is “My right to control my body.” Would that control of one’s body prevent sickness, disease and death! Here, rhetoric has replaced reason by a light year. Such a position, writes Murchison, “entails closing hearts and minds to biological truth ... look, lady, what do you think you’ve got there, a platter of spaghetti? Have you heard of pregnancy, meaning the production of life in the immemorial way every one of us got here originally?”

Darkness has settled over America. Its citizens, anxious to be progressive and heedless of the past, cannot determine what a woman is or how many sexes there are. A fruitful discussion cannot take place in the absence of truth, and reason. It is laughable to think that a coterie of contemporary thinkers could emulate the wisdom of the Founding Fathers. 

William Marnell, author of two highly acclaimed books, The First Amendment and Man-Made Morals, pays tribute to the American Founders in saying: 

“It may be soberly questioned if any nation in history has ever had at one time the dedicated and unselfish service the incipient United States was given by Washington, Franklin, Adams, Madison, Jay, Hamilton, and the rest.” 

America was divinely blessed.

The Constitution has served America very well for more than 200 years. It has been the backbone of what was been regarded as the greatest country in the world. The calamitous situation that currently grips the United States is in no way attributable to the Constitution. Before we dare to scrap something, we should first understand what we are scrapping and why it was in place. The Constitution is irreplaceable. A new manifesto put together by an “elite body” would reflect the madness that is now raging. It would prove to be a disaster.

The framers of the Constitution found a way to agree on the basic principles of the Constitution as expressed in its Preamble: 

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

This is what we must live up to, not tear down.   

Gilbert Stuart, “Portrait of Commodore John Barry,” 1801

Catholics in the American Revolution and an Update on Bishop Strickland (July 1)

Happy Fourth of July! As we prepare for Independence Day, let’s do some trivia on Catholic connections in the American Revolution. Register writer Joseph Pronechen has the facts about some of the unsung Catholic heroes who made their mark at our nation’s beginnings. But first we look at important Church news in the U.S. this week: Register Editor-in-Chief Shannon Mullen discusses the Vatican’s apostolic visitation of Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas.