Category: Government

America’s Christian Heritage – The Miraculous Constitution

It was 1777.  The Second Continental Congress had successfully passed the Declaration of Independence a year ago, and the War for Independence was still ongoing.  Unity was critical; it had made the passage of the aforementioned document possible, even while many within the different states objected to its approval.

But now that unity was needed more than ever.  A select committee had been assigned a year earlier to determine the form of government the colonies would adopt.  Now their proposal lay before Congress; indeed, this was the key moment which would determine the fate of the Articles of Confederation.

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Locke: What Thou Sows Is What Thou Reaps

For one of my courses that focuses on major issues in western political thought, my professor posed this question to the class as a prompt for which we were to analyze in a research paper:

“Locke is right that an individual’s primary motivation in life is to accumulate property.  Furthermore, I should have every right to accumulate as much property as I want, and I shouldn’t have to care that other people are less successful than me.  The rich are rich because they work hard and it is right for the government to look out for those of us who have property.  If people are poor, it is because they don’t work hard enough.  In fact, they are not living up to their potential as rational beings.  As such, neither I, nor the government, should have any obligation to provide for them.”  Comment.

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Printz v. United States (1997): Scalia, Madison and the Original Intent of Federalism’s Paradigm

The enumerated objects over which the federal government was given its jurisdiction during the ratification debates in 1787-89 have been heavily disputed within the court system to this day, with such disagreements frequently appearing before the jurisprudence of the Supreme Court itself.  The debate over the separation of the sovereignty of the states from the sovereignty of the national government itself still remains unresolved today (see Federalist No. 39).  In Printz v. United States, specifically, the issue at hand involved whether the federal government could issue directives to state law enforcement officers in Montana and Arizona to uphold and enforce federal background checks as required under The Brady Handgun Prevention Act passed by Congress in 1993, which created a National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) in order to track the potential criminal histories of consumers wishing to purchase firearms.  Upon a writ of certiorari, the Supreme Court agreed to review the issue in greater depth.

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Madison’s Formula

Separation of Powers and the Prevention of the Spawning of Tyrannical Government 

James Madison, having gone through numerous arguments in his essays compiled into the Federalist Papers regarding the need for a centralization of power into a national government, also takes care to efficiently explain how such power is to be delegated and split amongst the new government’s branches.  In Federalist No. 47, Madison finds himself in agreement with some of the principal objections of his opponents to the new Constitution.  Specifically, regarding the departments of the new government (of which the objectors argued needed to be separate and distinct), Madison concedes that “The accumulation of all powers legislative, executive and judiciary in the same hands, whether of one, a few or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.” His arguments provide perhaps one of the most brilliant cases for why liberty can only be truly protected from tyranny if power is divided amongst those who have the authority to exercise it.

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