Senator Mike Lee – Our Lost Constitution

Lost ConstitutionIf there is one thing that many American citizens are missing today, it is a appreciation for the constitution. Not just as a document, but as something greater that was created for a specific purpose. What is missing is an understanding of the reasons behind the different provisions that purport to limit government intervention into certain affairs and provide other requirements that are supposed to be met in the course of government practice and procedure.

 

As an author, Senator Lee is unusually qualified for the role he takes on in this work. What many people are unaware of is that his father was the founding Dean of Brigham Young University Law School and former Solicitor General of the United States; a man whose primary duty was arguing cases in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. The Senator, as a youth, attended his father’s arguments in the high court and was also required, on occasion, to present “legal” arguments during discussions about family decisions. The exact details, he does not divulge, but one can imagine him making a case for why he should be able to get a driver’s license at the earliest legal age in Utah, whatever that might have been at the time.  He also served as a law clerk on the  court as well

 

Lee’s thesis is that the U.S. Constitution is being removed from authority a bit at a time, as its rules are being ignored or forgotten. His first chapter is entitled “Ducking And Dodging The Constitution” and his subtitle to the book refers to the “willful subversion” of the document. He contends that there are reasons for each constitutional provision, and that those reasons are as valid today as they were in 1787 when the document was being written in Philadelphia.

 

His approach is simple and well organized, relying on the history of the Constitutional Convention and the experiences of the participants. Using historical sources he projects the reader to the time and place to provide an understanding of what prompted the actions of the convention and why such actions were important, not only in the sense of the times, but to today’s circumstances as well. He also delves into less well known history, such as Justice Hugo Black’s membership in the Ku Klux Klan and its role in his opinions that set the stage for the effective elimination of religious freedom of conscience protections in modern times.

 

The topics Senator Lee chose to discuss are:

 

The Origination Clause, which requires that all bills involving taxation originate in the House of Representatives;

 

The Legislative Powers Clause, vesting the power to create law in the legislature and no in executive branch administrative agencies, which Lee contends is improper;

 

The Establishment Clause, which, in the First Amendment prohibits federal establishment of a state religion, but has been confused since then;

 

The Fourth Amendment safeguarding our persons and possessions against unreasonable searches and seizures; and

 

The Tenth Amendment reserving all non-federal powers to the states along with the commerce clause of Article 2.

 

The concluding chapters of the book deal with “reclaiming the Constitution” through the courts, through legislations, through legislative control of spending and finally by popular action including education and awareness of the nature and purpose of the Constitution which, presumably, would motivate the public to elect constitutionalists to office and enabling a restoration of first principles to the government.

 

This last portion of the book is the weakest, in that Lee’s ideas are not presented in the form if an actual “blueprint” for turning things around, governmentally. One might say that his ideas are good, but they lack sufficient substance to be practical. On the other hand, he might be waiting for someone else to flesh out the ideas with the details. After all, taking back the Constitution via the courts will, in some instances, require the reversal of decades of court decisions that are now, “settled law.”

 

This is a large part of a problem that Senator Lee does not address; court decisions, including the opinions of Justice Black, which color the legal and political landscape today, and which have caused horrendous amounts of havoc with the system and have permitted the Constitution to be misinterpreted in increasing increments until protections guaranteed in the original Bill of Rights may now be considered void by court decision, or even operating in a manner opposite of the original intent.

 

Thus, the Senator has and excellent approach to diagnosing major parts of the problem and providing the historical context. His analysis of how we got in this mess is superb; but his ability at fashioning a cure appears quite limited. This is unfortunate as it prevents the book from being achieving its full potential.

 

Our Lost Constitution is published by Penguin – Sentinel and is available from Amazon.com.

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