Dr. Greg Ferro | Constitution Day, Centre Hall Inc. | September 11, 2019
There is something that connects you with every American. It is America’s Rule Book -- The United States Constitution.
Everyone living in America is connected to the Constitution, not only the men and women in the military, or our elected officials who promise to protect and defend it. Every right you have is literally or figuratively contained in the Constitution.
Seven Articles outline the responsibilities for each separate branch of government: legislative, executive, and judicial. Americans focus too much on the presidency. But remember that phrase, “a government of checks and balances.” Only Congress has the power to pass “all laws which shall be necessary and proper” (Article 1, Section 8). Only Congress has the power of the purse to control money to be spent by the federal government.
From 1809 to 1913, no president gave a State of the Union speech. It’s not required (Article 2, Section 3). Presidents don’t have to say “So help me God” at the end of their presidential oath (Article 2, Section 1).
But it is the U.S. Supreme Court that decided abortion was legal, that the 2000 vote recount would stop in Florida, and that corporations and unions could contribute unlimited monies to political campaigns. In 2019, the Constitution reflects whatever five of the nine Supreme Court Justices say it means.
Currently, the 2nd Amendment is making the news, but what about the other 26 Amendments? Did you know that five of the 10 amendments in the Bill of Rights contain rights for those accused of crimes? The Bill of Rights sought to guarantee critical rights of the people, not subject to a king’s whims.
The hallmarks of a strong Constitution are that it distributes power, limits power and allows for the document to be changed. We have changed the Constitution 27 times, with the last amendment in 1992. For the last 232 years, the U.S. Constitution has withstood stormy times, yet evolving to reflect a country different from the 1700s. But many people forget what the Constitution actually says.
Celebrate this most important document by joining us at Constitution Day Centre Celebration on Sunday September 15, from 1-6 pm at Tussey Mountain. Visitors can explore exhibits, hear speakers, and connect with people of all viewpoints. Enjoy live music, food trucks, birthday cake, and a free copy of the Constitution.
The U.S. Constitution is the foundation of our democracy and must endure for all time! Go to constitutiondaycentre.org or follow Constitution Day Centre on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Dr. Ferro teaches American History classes at retirement communities and resorts throughout the Mid Atlantic States. He serves on the board of Constitution Day Centre Celebration.