Grover Norquist, Enemy of the State?

AlterNet [1] / By Thom Hartmann [2]  November 26, 2012

Excerpt

Is it possible that Grover Norquist, the multi-millionaire K-Street lobbyist long funded by billionaires, is an enemy of the state?…he has connived over the years to get hundreds of members of Congress to violate their own oath of office by pledging a higher oath to keep billionaires’ taxes low than their pledge to the Constitution itself….

And the Constitution, to which they take the Modern Oath, explicitly says that Congress has the explicit power to impose taxes, both to pay for our defense and to provide for the General Welfare of the nation…So, how is it possible that, when the Constitution explicitly says that one of the specific jobs of Congress is to “lay and collect taxes,” and the oath they take explicitly says that they take will do so “without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion,” that a member of Congress could possibly swear an oath to a multimillionaire K-Street lobbyist to refuse to perform one of their Constitutional duties?

…Is not a man who essentially uses threats – blackmail – that billionaire money will be used to politically destroy members of Congress who refuse to sign his pledge an enemy of the state itself – or at least an enemy of the very Constitution that lawmakers have sworn to uphold without mental reservation or evasion?

Grover Norquist has led hundreds of Republican lawmakers to the brink of treason, swearing to him that they will carry into office mental reservations about the taxation power the Constitution gives them.  It’s high time to de-throne Grover, and let Congress go back to doing its Constitutionally-mandated  job of taking care of the nation’s defense and general welfare, instead of just looking out for the nation’s defense contractors and cranky billionaires.

Full text

Is it possible that Grover Norquist, the multi-millionaire K-Street lobbyist long funded by billionaires, is an enemy of the state?

Pretty strong language, but consider that he has connived over the years to get hundreds of members of Congress to violate their own oath of office by pledging a higher oath to keep billionaires’ taxes low than their pledge to the Constitution itself. 

The requirement for Members of Congress to swear an oath to our country is in the Constitution itself, in Article Six:  “The Senators and Representatives … shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution…”

So, starting with the first Congress, in 1789, members were sworn in by saying, “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support the Constitution of the United States.”

But during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln supported, and Congress passed on July 2nd, 1862, legislation requiring an oath that added that members of Congress had not previously engaged in any “criminal or disloyal conduct,” which would have included pledging loyalty to the Confederacy.  It was called the “Ironclad Test Oath,” and was designed to keep Confederate sympathizers out of Congress.  If a member swore it, and it was discovered he’d previously violated it by swearing an oath to the Confederacy, he would be prosecuted for perjury.

After the Civil War, that oath was replaced with one that didn’t specifically exclude former members of the Confederacy, but still required members to pledge an oath, first and foremost, to the Constitution.  Now called the “Modern Oath,” it was enacted in 1884 and is used to this day.  Its first sentence says:  “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion;…”

And the Constitution, to which they take the Modern Oath, explicitly says that Congress has the explicit power to impose taxes, both to pay for our defense and to provide for the General Welfare of the nation.  The very first sentence of Article One, Section Eight, says: “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;…”

So, how is it possible that, when the Constitution explicitly says that one of the specific jobs of Congress is to “lay and collect taxes,” and the oath they take explicitly says that they take will do so “without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion,” that a member of Congress could possibly swear an oath to a multimillionaire K-Street lobbyist to refuse to perform one of their Constitutional duties?

And what sort of member of Congress would willingly swear an oath to a front man for a small group of billionaires, that that member of Congress would violate the oath he or she swore to follow the Constitution without “mental reservations” or “purpose of evasion”?  Is not a man who essentially uses threats – blackmail – that billionaire money will be used to politically destroy members of Congress who refuse to sign his pledge an enemy of the state itself – or at least an enemy of the very Constitution that lawmakers have sworn to upholdwithout mental reservation or evasion?

Grover Norquist has led hundreds of Republican lawmakers to the brink of treason, swearing to him that they will carry into office mental reservations about the taxation power the Constitution gives them.  It’s high time to de-throne Grover, and let Congress go back to doing its Constitutionally-mandated  job of taking care of the nation’s defense and general welfare, instead of just looking out for the nation’s defense contractors and cranky billionaires.

Source URL: http://www.alternet.org/grover-norquist-enemy-state

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[3] http://www.alternet.org/tags/taxes-0
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[5] http://www.alternet.org/%2Bnew_src%2B

The Constitution of the United States

 (Note: The following text is a transcription of the Constitution in its original form.
Items that are underlined have since been amended or superseded. Amendments follow the Constitution. The First 10 amendments are The Bill of Rights.)

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.
Article. I. 

Section. 1. 

All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of theUnited States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives. 

Section. 2. 

The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States, and the Electors in each State shall have the Qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous Branch of the State Legislature. 

No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the Age of twenty five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of theUnited States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen. 

Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons. The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of theUnited States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct. The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand, but each State shall have at Least one Representative; and until such enumeration shall be made, the State of New Hampshire shall be entitled to chuse three, Massachusetts eight, Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations one, Connecticut five, New-York six, New Jersey four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one, Maryland six, Virginia ten, North Carolina five, South Carolina five, and Georgia three.

 

When vacancies happen in the Representation from any State, the Executive Authority thereof shall issue Writs of Election to fill such Vacancies.

 

The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.

 

Section. 3.

 

The Senate of the United Statesshall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote.

 

Immediately after they shall be assembled in Consequence of the first Election, they shall be divided as equally as may be into three Classes. The Seats of the Senators of the first Class shall be vacated at the Expiration of the second Year, of the second Class at the Expiration of the fourth Year, and of the third Class at the Expiration of the sixth Year, so that one third may be chosen every second Year; and if Vacancies happen by Resignation, or otherwise, during the Recess of the Legislature of any State, the Executive thereof may make temporary Appointments until the next Meeting of the Legislature, which shall then fill such Vacancies.

 

No Person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty Years, and been nine Years a Citizen of theUnited States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State for which he shall be chosen.

 

The Vice President of theUnited Statesshall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided.

 

The Senate shall chuse their other Officers, and also a President pro tempore, in the Absence of the Vice President, or when he shall exercise the Office of President of theUnited States.

 

The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of theUnited Statesis tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.

 

Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under theUnited States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.

 

Section. 4.

 

The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing Senators.

 

The Congress shall assemble at least once in every Year, and such Meeting shall be on the first Monday in December, unless they shall by Law appoint a different Day.

 

Section. 5.

 

Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections, Returns and Qualifications of its own Members, and a Majority of each shall constitute a Quorum to do Business; but a smaller Number may adjourn from day to day, and may be authorized to compel the Attendance of absent Members, in such Manner, and under such Penalties as each House may provide.

 

Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly Behaviour, and, with the Concurrence of two thirds, expel a Member.

 

Each House shall keep a Journal of its Proceedings, and from time to time publish the same, excepting such Parts as may in their Judgment require Secrecy; and the Yeas and Nays of the Members of either House on any question shall, at the Desire of one fifth of those Present, be entered on the Journal.

 

Neither House, during the Session of Congress, shall, without the Consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days, nor to any other Place than that in which the two Houses shall be sitting.

 

Section. 6.

 

The Senators and Representatives shall receive a Compensation for their Services, to be ascertained by Law, and paid out of the Treasury of theUnited States. They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.

 

No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been encreased during such time; and no Person holding any Office under the United States, shall be a Member of either House during his Continuance in Office.

 

Section. 7.

 

All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.

 

Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States: If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it.If after such Reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the Bill, it shall be sent, together with the Objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a Law. But in all such Cases the Votes of both Houses shall be determined by yeas and Nays, and the Names of the Persons voting for and against the Bill shall be entered on the Journal of each House respectively. If any Bill shall not be returned by the President within ten Days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the Same shall be a Law, in like Manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their Adjournment prevent its Return, in which Case it shall not be a Law.

 

Every Order, Resolution, or Vote to which the Concurrence of the Senate and House of Representatives may be necessary (except on a question of Adjournment) shall be presented to the President of the United States; and before the Same shall take Effect, shall be approved by him, or being disapproved by him, shall be repassed by two thirds of the Senate and House of Representatives, according to the Rules and Limitations prescribed in the Case of a Bill.

 

Section. 8.

 

The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence 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 theUnited States;

 

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

 

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

 

To establish Post Offices and post Roads;

 

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing 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 theUnion, 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 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;–And

 

To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution 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.

 

Section. 9.

 

The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.

 

The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.

 

No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.

 

No Capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in Proportion to the Census or enumeration herein before directed to be taken.

 

No Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported from any State.

 

No Preference shall be given by any Regulation of Commerce or Revenue to the Ports of one State over those of another; nor shall Vessels bound to, or from, one State, be obliged to enter, clear, or pay Duties in another.

 

No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time.

 

No Title of Nobility shall be granted by theUnited States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.

 

Section. 10.

 

No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility.

 

No State shall, without the Consent of the Congress, lay any Imposts or Duties on Imports or Exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing it’s inspection Laws: and the net Produce of all Duties and Imposts, laid by any State on Imports or Exports, shall be for the Use of the Treasury of the United States; and all such Laws shall be subject to the Revision and Controul of the Congress.

No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, lay any Duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power, or engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.
Article. II.

 

Section. 1.

 

The executive Power shall be vested in a President of theUnited States of America. He shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years, and, together with the Vice President, chosen for the same Term, be elected, as follows:

 

Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under theUnited States, shall be appointed an Elector.

 

The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by Ballot for two Persons, of whom one at least shall not be an Inhabitant of the same State with themselves. And they shall make a List of all the Persons voted for, and of the Number of Votes for each; which List they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the Seat of the Government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate. The President of the Senate shall, in the Presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the Certificates, and the Votes shall then be counted. The Person having the greatest Number of Votes shall be the President, if such Number be a Majority of the whole Number of Electors appointed; and if there be more than one who have such Majority, and have an equal Number of Votes, then the House of Representatives shall immediately chuse by Ballot one of them for President; and if no Person have a Majority, then from the five highest on the List the said House shall in like Manner chuse the President. But in chusing the President, the Votes shall be taken by States, the Representation from each State having one Vote; A quorum for this purpose shall consist of a Member or Members from two thirds of the States, and a Majority of all the States shall be necessary to a Choice. In every Case, after the Choice of the President, the Person having the greatest Number of Votes of the Electors shall be the Vice President. But if there should remain two or more who have equal Votes, the Senate shall chuse from them by Ballot the Vice President.

 

The Congress may determine the Time of chusing the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same throughout theUnited States.

 

No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.

 

In Case of the Removal of the President from Office, or of his Death, Resignation, or Inability to discharge the Powers and Duties of the said Office, the Same shall devolve on the Vice President, and the Congress may by Law provide for the Case of Removal, Death, Resignation or Inability, both of the President and Vice President, declaring what Officer shall then act as President, and such Officer shall act accordingly, until the Disability be removed, or a President shall be elected.

 

The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his Services, a Compensation, which shall neither be increased nor diminished during the Period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from theUnited States, or any of them.

 

Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:–”I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

 

Section. 2.

 

The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.

 

He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

 

The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.

 

Section. 3.

 

He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States.

 

Section. 4.

 

The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of theUnited States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.
Article III.

 

Section. 1.

 

The judicial Power of theUnited Statesshall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services a Compensation, which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office.

 

Section. 2.

 

The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority;–to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls;–to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction;–to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party;–to Controversies between two or more States;– between a State and Citizens of another State;–between Citizens of different States;–between Citizens of the same State claiming Lands under Grants of different States, and between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects.

 

In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party, the supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction. In all the other Cases before mentioned, the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.

 

The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by Jury; and such Trial shall be held in the State where the said Crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any State, the Trial shall be at such Place or Places as the Congress may by Law have directed.

 

Section. 3.

 

Treason against theUnited States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

 

The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.
Article. IV.

 

Section. 1.

 

Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof.

 

Section. 2.

 

The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States.

 

A Person charged in any State with Treason, Felony, or other Crime, who shall flee from Justice, and be found in another State, shall on Demand of the executive Authority of the State from which he fled, be delivered up, to be removed to the State having Jurisdiction of the Crime.

 

No Person held to Service or Labour in one State, under the Laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in Consequence of any Law or Regulation therein, be discharged from such Service or Labour, but shall be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labour may be due.

 

Section. 3.

 

New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new State shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or Parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress.

 

The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to theUnited States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to Prejudice any Claims of theUnited States, or of any particular State.

 

Section. 4.

 

The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened), against domestic Violence.
Article. V.

 

The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.
Article. VI.

 

All Debts contracted and Engagements entered into, before the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be as valid against theUnited Statesunder this Constitution, as under the Confederation.

 

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

 

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.
Article. VII.

 

The Ratification of the Conventions of nine States, shall be sufficient for the Establishment of this Constitution between the States so ratifying the Same.

 

The Word, “the,” being interlined between the seventh and eighth Lines of the first Page, the Word “Thirty” being partly written on an Erazure in the fifteenth Line of the first Page, The Words “is tried” being interlined between the thirty second and thirty third Lines of the first Page and the Word “the” being interlined between the forty third and forty fourth Lines of the second Page.

 

Attest William Jackson Secretary

 

Done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven and of the Independence of the United States of America the Twelfth In witness whereof We have hereunto subscribed our Names,

G. Washington
Presidt and deputy from Virginia

 

Delaware
Geo: Read
Gunning Bedford jun
John Dickinson
Richard Bassett
Jaco: Broom

 

Maryland
James McHenry
Dan of St Thos. Jenifer
Danl. Carroll

 

Virginia
John Blair
James Madison Jr.

 

North Carolina
Wm. Blount
Richd. Dobbs Spaight
Hu Williamson

 

South Carolina
J. Rutledge
Charles Cotesworth Pinckney
Charles Pinckney
PierceButler

 

Georgia
William Few
Abr Baldwin

 

New Hampshire
John Langdon
Nicholas Gilman

 

Massachusetts
Nathaniel Gorham
Rufus King

 

Connecticut
Wm. Saml. Johnson
Roger Sherman

 

New York
Alexander Hamilton

 

New Jersey
Wil: Livingston
David Brearley
Wm. Paterson
Jona:Dayton

 

Pennsylvania
B Franklin
Thomas Mifflin
Robt. Morris
Geo. Clymer
Thos. FitzSimons
Jared Ingersoll
James Wilson
Gouv Morris

 

Congress of the United States begun and held at the City of New York, on Wednesday
the Fourth of March, one thousand seven hundred and eighty nine.

 

THE Conventions of a number of the States having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best insure the beneficent ends of its institution

 

RESOLVED by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, two thirds of both Houses concurring, that the following Articles be proposed to the Legislatures of the several States, as Amendments to the Constitution of the United States, all or any of which Articles, when ratified by three fourths of the said Legislatures, to be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of the said Constitution; viz.:

 

ARTICLES in addition to, and Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, proposed by Congress, and ratified by the Legislatures of the several States, pursuant to the fifth Article of the original Constitution.

 

Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

 

Amendment II
A well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of afree State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.

 

Amendment III
No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

 

Amendment IV
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

 

Amendment V
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

 

Amendment VI
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

 

Amendment VII
In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any Court of theUnited States, than according to the rules of the common law.

 

Amendment VIII
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

 

Amendment IX
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

 

Amendment X
The powers not delegated to theUnited States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

 

AMENDMENT XI
Passed by Congress March 4, 1794. Ratified February 7, 1795.

Note: Article III, section 2, of the Constitution was modified by amendment 11.

The Judicial power of theUnited Statesshall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of theUnited Statesby Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of anyForeignState.
AMENDMENT XII
Passed by Congress December 9, 1803. Ratified June 15, 1804.

Note: A portion of Article II, section 1 of the Constitution was superseded by the 12th amendment.

The Electors shall meet in their respective states and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves; they shall name in their ballots the person voted for as President, and in distinct ballots the person voted for as Vice-President, and they shall make distinct lists of all persons voted for as President, and of all persons voted for as Vice-President, and of the number of votes for each, which lists they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate; — the President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted; — The person having the greatest number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed; and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice. [And if the House of Representatives shall not choose a President whenever the right of choice shall devolve upon them, before the fourth day of March next following, then the Vice-President shall act as President, as in case of the death or other constitutional disability of the President. --]* The person having the greatest number of votes as Vice-President, shall be the Vice-President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed, and if no person have a majority, then from the two highest numbers on the list, the Senate shall choose the Vice-President; a quorum for the purpose shall consist of two-thirds of the whole number of Senators, and a majority of the whole number shall be necessary to a choice. But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of theUnited States.

*Superseded by section 3 of the 20th amendment.
AMENDMENT XIII
Passed by Congress January 31, 1865. Ratified December 6, 1865.

Note: A portion of Article IV, section 2, of the Constitution was superseded by the 13th amendment.

Section 1.
Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within theUnited States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Section 2.
Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
AMENDMENT XIV
Passed by Congress June 13, 1866. Ratified July 9, 1868.

Note: Article I, section 2, of the Constitution was modified by section 2 of the 14th amendment.

Section 1.
All persons born or naturalized in theUnited States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of theUnited States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of theUnited States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Section 2.
Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice-President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age,* and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.

Section 3.
No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

Section 4.
The validity of the public debt of theUnited States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither theUnited States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against theUnited States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.

Section 5.
The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

*Changed by section 1 of the 26th amendment.
AMENDMENT XV
Passed by Congress February 26, 1869. Ratified February 3, 1870.

Section 1.
The right of citizens of theUnited States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by theUnited States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude–

Section 2.
The Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
AMENDMENT XVI
Passed by Congress July 2, 1909. Ratified February 3, 1913.

Note: Article I, section 9, of the Constitution was modified by amendment 16.

The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.
AMENDMENT XVII
Passed by Congress May 13, 1912. Ratified April 8, 1913.

Note: Article I, section 3, of the Constitution was modified by the 17th amendment.

The Senate of theUnited Statesshall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote. The electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislatures.

When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, That the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.

This amendment shall not be so construed as to affect the election or term of any Senator chosen before it becomes valid as part of the Constitution.

 

AMENDMENT XVIII
Passed by Congress December 18, 1917. Ratified January 16, 1919. Repealed by amendment 21.

Section 1.
After one year from the ratification of this article the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from theUnited States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited.

Section 2.
The Congress and the several States shall have concurrent power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Section 3.
This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of the several States, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the States by the Congress.

 

AMENDMENT XIX
Passed by Congress June 4, 1919. Ratified August 18, 1920.

The right of citizens of theUnited Statesto vote shall not be denied or abridged by theUnited Statesor by any State on account of sex.

Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
AMENDMENT XX
Passed by Congress March 2, 1932. Ratified January 23, 1933.

Note: Article I, section 4, of the Constitution was modified by section 2 of this amendment. In addition, a portion of the 12th amendment was superseded by section 3.

Section 1.
The terms of the President and the Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January, and the terms of Senators and Representatives at noon on the 3d day of January, of the years in which such terms would have ended if this article had not been ratified; and the terms of their successors shall then begin.

Section 2.
The Congress shall assemble at least once in every year, and such meeting shall begin at noon on the 3d day of January, unless they shall by law appoint a different day.

Section 3.
If, at the time fixed for the beginning of the term of the President, the President elect shall have died, the Vice President elect shall become President. If a President shall not have been chosen before the time fixed for the beginning of his term, or if the President elect shall have failed to qualify, then the Vice President elect shall act as President until a President shall have qualified; and the Congress may by law provide for the case wherein neither a President elect nor a Vice President shall have qualified, declaring who shall then act as President, or the manner in which one who is to act shall be selected, and such person shall act accordingly until a President or Vice President shall have qualified.

Section 4.
The Congress may by law provide for the case of the death of any of the persons from whom the House of Representatives may choose a President whenever the right of choice shall have devolved upon them, and for the case of the death of any of the persons from whom the Senate may choose a Vice President whenever the right of choice shall have devolved upon them.

Section 5.
Sections 1 and 2 shall take effect on the 15th day of October following the ratification of this article.

Section 6.
This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years from the date of its submission.
AMENDMENT XXI
Passed by Congress February 20, 1933. Ratified December 5, 1933.

Section 1.
The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of theUnited States is hereby repealed.

Section 2.
The transportation or importation into any State, Territory, or Possession of theUnited States for delivery or use therein of intoxicating liquors, in violation of the laws thereof, is hereby prohibited.

Section 3.
This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by conventions in the several States, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the States by the Congress.
AMENDMENT XXII
Passed by Congress March 21, 1947. Ratified February 27, 1951.

Section 1.
No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of President more than once. But this Article shall not apply to any person holding the office of President when this Article was proposed by Congress, and shall not prevent any person who may be holding the office of President, or acting as President, during the term within which this Article becomes operative from holding the office of President or acting as President during the remainder of such term.

Section 2.
This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years from the date of its submission to the States by the Congress.
AMENDMENT XXIII
Passed by Congress June 16, 1960. Ratified March 29, 1961.

Section 1.
The District constituting the seat of Government of theUnited States shall appoint in such manner as Congress may direct:

A number of electors of President and Vice President equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives in Congress to which the District would be entitled if it were a State, but in no event more than the least populous State; they shall be in addition to those appointed by the States, but they shall be considered, for the purposes of the election of President and Vice President, to be electors appointed by a State; and they shall meet in the District and perform such duties as provided by the twelfth article of amendment.

Section 2.
The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

 

AMENDMENT XXIV
Passed by Congress August 27, 1962. Ratified January 23, 1964.

Section 1.
The right of citizens of theUnited States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by theUnited States or any State by reason of failure to pay poll tax or other tax.

Section 2.
The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
AMENDMENT XXV
Passed by Congress July 6, 1965. Ratified February 10, 1967.

Note: Article II, section 1, of the Constitution was affected by the 25th amendment.

Section 1.
In case of the removal of the President from office or of his death or resignation, the Vice President shall become President.

Section 2.
Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress.

Section 3.
Whenever the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, such powers and duties shall be discharged by the Vice President as Acting President.

Section 4.
Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.

Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.
AMENDMENT XXVI
Passed by Congress March 23, 1971. Ratified July 1, 1971.

Note: Amendment 14, section 2, of the Constitution was modified by section 1 of the 26th amendment.

Section 1.
The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age.

Section 2.
The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
AMENDMENT XXVII
Originally proposed Sept. 25, 1789. Ratified May 7, 1992.

No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of representatives shall have intervened.

The Constitution is inherently progressive by John Podesta and John Halpin

Politico.com October 10, 2011 

Excerpt
…Progressives disagree strongly with tea party views on government, taxation, public spending, regulations and social welfare policies…As progressives, we believe in using the ingenuity of the private sector and the positive power of government to advance common purposes and increase freedom and opportunity…Coupled with basic beliefs in fair play, openness, cooperation and human dignity, it is this progressive vision that in the past century helped build the strongest economy in history and allowed millions to move out of poverty and into the middle class. It is the basis for American peace and prosperity as well as greater global cooperation in the postwar era…Our original Constitution was not perfect. It wrote women and minorities out and condoned an abhorrent system of slavery. But the story of America has also been the story of a good nation, conceived in liberty and equality, eventually welcoming every American into the arms of democracy, protecting their freedoms and expanding their economic opportunities… The Constitution is inherently progressive by John Podesta and John Halpin

Full text

Progressives disagree strongly with tea party views on government, taxation, public spending, regulations and social welfare policies. But we credit the movement for focusing public debate on our nation’s history, the Constitution and the core beliefs that shape American life.

This conversation is long overdue — and too often dominated by narrow interpretations of what makes America great.

Since our nation’s founding, progressives have drawn on the Declaration of Independence’s inspirational values of human liberty and equality in their own search for social justice and freedom. They take to heart the constitutional promise that “We the People” are the ultimate source of political power and legitimacy and that a strong national government is necessary to “establish justice, … provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty.”

Successive generations of progressives worked to turn these values into practice and give meaning to the American dream, by creating full equality and citizenship under law and expanding the right to vote. We sought to ensure that our national government has the power and resources necessary to protect our people, develop our economy and secure a better life for all Americans.

As progressives, we believe in using the ingenuity of the private sector and the positive power of government to advance common purposes and increase freedom and opportunity. This framework of mutually reinforcing public, private and individual actions has served us well for more than two centuries. It is the essence of the constitutional promise of a never-ending search for “a more perfect union.”

Coupled with basic beliefs in fair play, openness, cooperation and human dignity, it is this progressive vision that in the past century helped build the strongest economy in history and allowed millions to move out of poverty and into the middle class. It is the basis for American peace and prosperity as well as greater global cooperation in the postwar era.

So why do conservatives continue to insist that progressives are opposed to constitutional values and American traditions? Primarily because progressives since the late 19th century rejected the conservative interpretation of the Constitution as an unchangeable document that endorses laissez-faire capitalism and prohibits government efforts to provide a better existence for all Americans.

Progressives rightly charge that conservatives often mask social Darwinism and a dog-eat-dog mentality in a cloak of liberty, ignoring the needs of the least well-off and the nation as a whole.

As President Franklin D. Roosevelt said in his 1944 address to Congress, “We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. ‘Necessitous men are not free men.’ People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.”
Yet according to modern conservative constitutional theory, the entire Progressive, New Deal and Great Society eras were aberrations from American norms. Conservatives label the strong measures taken in the 20th century to protect all Americans and expand opportunity — workplace regulations, safe food and drug laws, unemployment insurance, the minimum wage, limits on work hours, the progressive income tax, civil rights legislation, environmental laws, increased public education and other social welfare provisions — as illegitimate.

Leading conservatives, like Texas Gov. Rick Perry, claim that Social Security and Medicare are unconstitutional. Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) even argues that national child labor laws violate the Constitution.

They lash out at democratically enacted laws like the Affordable Care Act and claim prudent regulations, including oversight of polluters and Wall Street banks, violate the rights of business.

This is a profound misreading of U.S. history and a bizarre interpretation of what makes America exceptional.

There are few Americans today who believe America was at its best before the nation reined in the robber barons; created the weekend; banned child labor; established national parks; expanded voting rights; provided assistance to the sick, elderly and poor; and asked the wealthy to pay a small share of their income for national purposes.

A nation committed to human freedom does not stand by idly while its citizens suffer from economic deprivation or lack of opportunity. A great nation like ours puts forth a helping hand to those in need. It offers assistance to those seeking to turn their talents, dreams and ambitions into a meaningful and secure life.

America’s greatest export is our democratic vision of government. Two centuries ago, when our Founding Fathers met in Philadelphia to craft the Constitution, government of the people, by the people and for the people was a radical experiment.

Our original Constitution was not perfect. It wrote women and minorities out and condoned an abhorrent system of slavery. But the story of America has also been the story of a good nation, conceived in liberty and equality, eventually welcoming every American into the arms of democracy, protecting their freedoms and expanding their economic opportunities.

Today, entire continents follow America’s example. Americans are justifiably proud for giving the world the gift of modern democracy and demonstrating how to turn an abstract vision of democracy into reality.

The advancements we made collectively over the years to fulfill these founding promises are essential to a progressive vision of the American idea. The continued search for genuine freedom, equality and opportunity for all people is a foundational goal that everyone — progressives and conservatives alike — should cherish and protect.

John Podesta is the president and chief executive officer of the Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank. John Halpin is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. The Center for American Progress is hosting a two-day conference, “The American Idea: A More Perfect Union,” beginning Tuesday.

© 2012 POLITICO LLC

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The Ungodly Constitution: How the Founders Ensured America Would Not Be a Christian Nation

By Susan Jacoby, Free Inquiry – Posted on Alternet.org, June 19, 2012

When I was growing up in the fifties and sixties, almost no one in politics or everyday life went around proclaiming, “I am a Christian.” If indeed you were a Christian—that is, someone who considers Jesus Christ the Messiah—you identified yourself as a Lutheran, a Methodist, a Baptist, a Catholic, and so on in excelsis in order to let others know where you stood in the vast American religious landscape.

Calling oneself a Christian today, by contrast, has a special, politicized meaning. For most people in public life, this self-identification suggests a particular form of conservative Christianity, a brand of religion that seeks not only to proselytize but to impose its values on others through the machinery of the state. The huge exception to this rule is President Barack Obama, who has been forced by the birther-paranoids to advertise his credentials as a Christian in order to refute the lie that he is a “secret Muslim.”

Once upon a time (until around 1980, actually), the appellation “Christian” used to mean “right-wing Protestant,” as a consequence of the historic animosity between many forms of American Protestantism and the Roman Catholic Church. That is no longer true, as demonstrated by GOP primary hopefuls Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich, the darlings of Protestant fundamentalists, although they personify the cliché “more Catholic than the pope.” (In Gingrich’s case, the relevant pontiffs would be certain medieval and Renaissance vicars of Christ who produced numerous children through extra-pontifical liaisons.) Santorum is in fact a Catholic fundamentalist—unlike the majority of American Catholics, who do not accept either the notion of papal infallibility or the Vatican line on sexual behavior. Liberal Catholics, well aware of the political meaning of Christian in American politics, generally call themselves plain old “Catholics.”

Thus, when Santorum and Gingrich used their dog whistles throughout the Republican primaries to imply that Obama is not the Christian he claims to be, what they really meant is that he is not their kind of Christian. It has also become standard for politicians to offer a nod to “our Judeo-Christian heritage” in an effort to display theocratic inclusiveness. The slippery Gingrich never stumbled over this phrase, but Santorum often did, dragging Judeo out to four syllables so that it came out “Jew-day-ee-oh.” It is clear that this ecumenical platitude was not a part of the sanctimonious Santorum’s upbringing.

Was the United States founded as a Christian nation, meaning that the framers of the Constitution established a government whose laws would not only reflect but also enforce the rules of a particular brand of Christianity? No, period. The answer is as clear as Santorum’s pronunciation of Judeo is slurred, and the explanation can be found in the old (i.e., pre-1980) American practice of identifying oneself by denomination.

Denominational identification is as old as the earliest colonies in the New World, given that the first Puritan theocrats were fleeing persecution by adherents of another denomination—the Church of England. By the revolutionary era, doctrinal and intellectual distinctions separating one Christian denomination from another remained as immense as the gulf between the beliefs of a Jew and any Christian, or between any orthodox religious believer and a deist.

The founders did not want doctrinal differences to wreak civic havoc of the kind then evident throughout Europe. That is why they left not only Jesus but indeed any deity out of the Constitution. That the American population was and is overwhelmingly Christian is a fact. That makes it all the more remarkable that the founders did not establish a Christian government.

The Christian Right cannot point to a single mention of Jesus or Christianity in any of the nation’s founding documents and is forced to rely, for divine antecedents, on the line in the Declaration of Independence that talks about all men being endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights. But even if this were a statement of belief in a specific god rather than a general assertion of the philosophy of natural rights, it is most decidedly not a statement of faith in Jesus Christ.

In any event, it is futile to engage in debate with spokespeople for the Christian Right on this subject, because for them, the Christian origin of the American state is an article of faith that cannot be disproved by facts or plain English. Tell them, for instance, that the godlessness of the Constitution was taken for granted and attacked by conservatives at state ratifying conventions in 1787 and 1788, and they will point to the conventional “Year of Our Lord” dating of the document. This supposedly refutes hundreds of statements by angry ministers complaining about the absence of God from the document that would furnish the young government’s written foundation. As one cleric observed at North Carolina’s state convention, the Constitution’s ban on religious tests for public office in Article VI, Section 3 amounted to “an invitation for Jews and pagans of every kind to come among us.” He was entirely accurate in his description of the potential effects of letting anyone, regardless of religious belief, run for public office. And when it came time to ratify the Constitution, he and his fellow theocrats were voted down in every state.

The ungodliness of the Constitution kept popping up in public discourse throughout the nineteenth century, most notably when a powerful group of Protestant ministers came to Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War and demanded that he support an amendment to declare Jesus Christ, not “We the People,” the source of all governmental power. Lincoln, a canny politician who knew when not to take on another battle in the middle of a bloody civil war, declined to take any action and instead went along with a move to placate the ministers by putting “In God We Trust” on a two-penny coin in 1864. Lincoln presumably viewed the inscription of trust in a deity on a coin as an innocuous action calculated to avoid the trouble that would surely be generated by a Christian amendment to the Constitution. Little did he know that nearly 150 years in the future, right-wing politicians would employ that slogan to attack the much older motto E Pluribus Unum.

Lincoln’s brand of compromise was described by Jon Meacham in Time magazine as “a long-standing covenant between believers and nonbelievers in which secularists live with public religious appeals and images in exchange for self-regulating moderation on the part of the faithful. It’s an ancient and wise accommodation that allows religion and politics to inform each other without promoting an eschatological war between church and state.”

In fairness, Meacham argues that extremists like Santorum had violated this unspoken and unsigned “covenant.” However, “self-regulating moderation on the part of the faithful” is a flimsy altar upon which to base any agreement regarding the separation of church and state. Had the founders believed in the capacity of the faithful for such “self-regulation,” they never would have prohibited religious tests for national office at a time when most state governments still had religious discrimination written into their laws.

One aspect of the imaginary covenant between religious believers and secularists began to break down in the 1960s, long before the rise of the Christian Right. Since the passage of Medicare and Medicaid and the expansion of federal aid to education during Lyndon Johnson’s administration, secularists have rarely objected to the expenditure of federal funds through religious institutions like hospitals and charities. This is hardly a symbolic matter. It is far more important than the symbolic victories won by secularists of that era in the Supreme Court on issues like school prayer.

The firestorm set off by the Obama administration’s effort to make Catholic institutions offer insurance policies that cover contraception was described by the media as a dispute over religious liberty. Religious liberty meant, to the Catholic bishops, the right to participate in federal programs and receive funds provided by all taxpayers while imposing their religious doctrines on employees and patients alike—whatever their religion or lack thereof. Not every religion wants to have the taxpayers’ cake and eat it too. Mormon charities, for instance, do not accept government money.

The ability of the religious Right to frame this dispute purely as a matter of religious freedom—meaning freedom for the most conservative forms of religion—is a direct result of the long erosion of the separation of church and state at the practical level of taxpayer funding. Throughout these decades of erosion, what was once the religious center has constantly been pulled to the right.

(It should be noted that the furor is also a consequence of the Catholic bishops’ inability to convince their own flock to follow the church’s lead on sexual issues. The bishops are attempting to reassert control over Catholic hospitals—some of them run by uppity nuns—where church doctrine has been violated for years when it comes to such matters as the morning-after pill for rape victims and abortions needed to save a mother’s life. But the split within the Catholic Church is not the subject of this article.)

There is no real answer to be found in the nation’s founding documents about this question, because the founders never envisioned an America in which the federal government would spend billions of dollars on health and education, whether through religious or nonreligious institutions. It is worth noting, however, that Virginia’s 1786 Act for Establishing Religious Freedom—which later served as the template for the Bill of Rights—came into being in opposition to a proposal that would have taxed Virginians for the support of Christian teaching in the public schools. Virginia’s law, not the statutes of states that still had established churches, became the template for Article VI, which was supposed to ban religious preference within the government, and the First Amendment, which prevented government from favoring one religion over another. The issue in Virginia, then, like the national issue over the prerogatives of sectarian hospitals today, encompassed both religious freedom and money.

The bishops are not the least bit concerned about the freedom of non-Catholic (or, for that matter, Catholic) employees whose consciences tell them that contraception is just fine. They are not concerned about rape victims, whatever their religion, who will not only be refused the morning-after pill by their hospitals but also will not even be told about other nonsectarian hospitals that provide such services. They will not be concerned if someday the Vatican decides that living wills are a usurpation of divine and ecclesiastical authority and that everyone has a duty to go on living and suffering until some deity decides to pull the plug.

The question is not whether the United States is a Christian nation: it is whether church authorities adhering to a deeply conservative brand of Christianity (along with some ultra-Orthodox rabbis who do not speak for most American Jews, any more than bishops speak for most American Catholics or the Family Research Council speaks for most American Protestants) get to use taxpayer money to further their parochial agenda.

It is true that most American secularists tolerate a good deal more religious symbolism in public life than we would like, but it is sheer fantasy to suggest that we have signed on to any covenant that tolerates the expenditure of public money according to the prescriptions and proscriptions of canon law or general biblical laws.

Oh, wait. There really weren’t any biblical laws about contraception because there wasn’t any effective contraception. But then, biblical Israel was definitely not a Christian nation. It was, however, a theocracy, like every Christian feudal monarchy and nation-state that succeeded the Roman Empire. The founders made a noble effort to say goodbye to all that in order to secure the blessings of liberty for themselves and their posterity.

Susan Jacoby is the author of Freethinkers: a History of American Secularism (Metropolitan, 2004) and a forthcoming biography of Robert Green Ingersoll, to be published next January by Yale University Press. 

© 2012 Free Inquiry All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/155946/

Constitution

The Constitution of the United States of America

Constitution is inherently progressive by John Podesta and John Halpin, Politico.com, October 10, 2011 - Progressives disagree strongly with tea party views on government, taxation, public spending, regulations and social welfare policies…
…As progressives, we believe in using the ingenuity of the private sector and the positive power of government to advance common purposes and increase freedom and opportunity…
Coupled with basic beliefs in fair play, openness, cooperation and human dignity, it is this progressive vision that in the past century helped build the strongest economy in history and allowed millions to move out of poverty and into the middle class. It is the basis for American peace and prosperity as well as greater global cooperation in the postwar era…
Our original Constitution was not perfect. It wrote women and minorities out and condoned an abhorrent system of slavery. But the story of America has also been the story of a good nation, conceived in liberty and equality, eventually welcoming every American into the arms of democracy, protecting their freedoms and expanding their economic opportunities…

Our Fill-in-the-Blank Con­sti­tu­tion By Geof­frey R. Stone, New York Times, April 13, 2010

The Constitution, the Bible and the Fundamentalist-Modernist Divide by Julie Ingersoll, Religion Dispatches, January 7, 2011

Religion and the Constitution: The Triumph of Practical Politics by Martin E. Marty , The Christian Century March 23-30, l994

The Ungodly Constitution: How the Founders Ensured America Would Not Be a Christian Nation By Susan Jacoby, Progressive Radio Network, June 19, 2012

The Tea Party’s Real Constitutional Philosophy, Drew Courtney/Miranda Blue, People For the American Way, January 5, 2011