The Declaration of Independence was a magnificent presentation of the grievances of the American Colonies against an overreaching and overbearing government. It also laid out in spectacular wording for the first time the basic principles of freedom and liberty.
The preamble says in part “…to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed—That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to affect their Safety and Happiness.”
Later, when our forefathers created the U.S. Constitution, they referred to these principles in the opening line, which is “We the People of the United States . . . do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” Understanding the principles set forth in The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution they provided had within it the means by which the people could change, alter, and amend the Constitution as they saw the need. In fact, in order to get the document passed by the two-thirds majority of states required to adopt the Constitution, the Federalists had to promise the Anti-Federalists that they would immediately amend a Bill of Rights to the Constitution. Without this promise, it is doubtful that the Constitution would have ever received the votes necessary to become the law of the land. These first ten amendments are our cherished “Bill of Rights.”
All state constitutions within the United States likewise present, for legal purposes, how the government will function and the limits on that government. Constitutions are enacted to limit the powers of government; laws are enacted to direct the actions of people. Each state constitution contains within it the means by which the people of that state may amend their constitution. The idea that constitutions are “living documents” rather than a legal document stems from Europe; it is based on the idea of “rule of men” rather than “rule of law.”
Every successful businessman knows that without clear and firm laws that can be counted upon, it would be impossible to conduct successful business. If the laws to do business were subject to the whim of a judge or magistrate, it would not be possible to make clear plans and investments, and therefore, the businesses and economy would suffer. This system always leads to corruption, confusion, and the advancement of poverty rather than the increase of prosperity for the majority of people. Our system is a legal system, not an evolving so-called “living” system based upon the whims and biases of judges and magistrates.
However, we are experiencing dangerous encroachments upon the rights of the people and their right to self government, including the right to choose their own form of governance and the ability to amend or abolish such laws and government.
The most dangerous threat against all Americans is currently in play in the State of California over the right to define marriage and dictate what the Government may and may not do to the people of that state. The people of California seem to know instinctively the dangers of redefining and destroying traditional marriage. They also know that they have the right, according to their constitution and the U.S. Constitution, to change laws and amend their constitution. In short, they know they have the right to choose their own government—or do they?
A short review of events is in order. In the year 2000, California voters overwhelmingly approved (61% of the voters to 39%) the passage of Proposition 22, which defined legal marriage in the State of California as between one man and one woman. This was done in response to judicial activism which was, and is, currently promoting marriage as between two people regardless of gender. While this strong showing of the electorate surprised many, it meant nothing to the courts of California who overruled the change to the California Family Code saying it was unconstitutional.
So the good citizens of California complied with the ruling of the courts and passed an amendment to their constitution through the passage of Proposition 8 in 2008. This amended the California Constitution to read “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” This also passed by a strong margin of the electorate. However, in a double jeopardy ruling, United States District Court Judge Vaughn R. Walker overturned the amendment on grounds that it would be unconstitutional with a scathing anti-Christian rant as a ruling. His ruling has been upheld by a Federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals panel. The panel also affirmed that they believed Judge Walker was not obligated to recuse himself from the case because he is a practicing homosexual. This decision is being appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States.
The Supreme Court case Marbury vs. Madison (1803) is considered by many jurists and legal scholars to be the most important ruling ever from the U.S. Supreme Court. In part, the ruling stated, “That the people have an original right to establish, for their future government, such principles as, in their opinion, shall most conduce to their own happiness, is the basis, on which the whole American fabric has been erected . . . The principles, therefore, so established, are deemed fundamental.
And as the authority, from which they proceed, is supreme . . . they are designed to be permanent . . . The powers of the legislature are defined, and limited; and that those limits may not be mistaken, or forgotten, the constitution is written.”
To sum it up, due to concern over judicial activism, the citizens of California acted to clarify for their state that marriage is between one man and one woman. Once legally placed into the family code, it was ruled unconstitutional by activist judges. Therefore, the citizens of California amended their constitution to constitutionally define marriage as between one man and one woman. This amendment to their constitution has now also been ruled unconstitutional. Is there any irony in a ruling that says an amendment to a constitution is unconstitutional?
The actions of the judges have made this issue one much greater than simply the right of the people to define legal marriage in their state. It has now become an issue of the right of the people to choose, to alter, or to abolish their form of government. In legal fact, no powers within the U.S. Constitution grants any judge or court the power to rule a constitution unconstitutional. This is a usurpation of power and the rule of man over law. Our founders were no strangers to the abuse of a ruling class when they detailed the right of the people to choose their government in the Deceleration of Independence.
In a democracy, the majority rules. In a republic, the majority rules under a constitution and through representatives elected by rules set forth in that constitution. If a small group of judges is allowed to overrule the will of the people expressed through their votes and enshrined in their constitution, then there is no longer a republic but an oligarchy—a small group of people, not laws, ruling (not governing) over the majority.
Concerning this issue, Thomas Jefferson wrote: “To consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions [is] a very dangerous doctrine indeed and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy. . . The constitution has erected no such single tribunal, knowing that to whatever hands confided, with the corruptions of time and party, its members would become despots.”
Jefferson’s warning has become frighteningly prophetic. The foundations of the Republic and the people’s right to choose and change their government are at stake. When the vote of seven million citizens is considered null by one judge—self government has been dealt a blow from which she must at all costs recover. If a citizenry has been robbed of its God-given right to amend its constitution, then liberty by law is in grave peril.
Jefferson also warned of the Federal Judiciary overruling the state constitutions as we see occurring in this case, “the Federal Judiciary . . . working like gravity by night and by day, gaining a little today and a little tomorrow, and advancing its noiseless step like a thief, over the field of jurisdiction, until all shall be usurped from the States, and the government of all be consolidated into one. When all government… in little as in great things, shall be drawn to Washington as the center of all power, it will render powerless the checks provided of one government on another and will become as venal and oppressive as the government from which we separated.”
Ours is a unique nation. The only nation in history to declare in its laws—beginning with its foundational documents—that man is sovereign over government and God is sovereign over man. These rulings are no less than a clear attack upon all freedom, and Christianity in particular, as well as the fundamental right of the people to choose their government. What is at stake is liberty itself and the right to choose our government. It matters not what your opinion is on redefining marriage—there is something much more fundamental at stake here—freedom. If these rulings are allowed to remain, all citizens, regardless of sexual preference, will have been placed under a judicial tyranny which our forefathers would never have accepted. It needs to be corrected at any cost.
If I may paraphrase John F. Kennedy—those who make peaceful change impossible will make change by other means inevitable. In my mind, I can see the patriot’s flag of 1776 with the liberty tree upon it and these words emblazoned across it, “Appeal to God.”
IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
The 56 signatures on the Declaration appear in the positions indicated:
Thomas Heyward, Jr.
Thomas Lynch, Jr.
Charles Carroll of Carrollton
Richard Henry Lee
Thomas Nelson, Jr.
Francis Lightfoot Lee
Robert Treat Paine