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To the Republic: Rediscovering the Constitution

About the project

In her nearly 250 years of independence, America has endured brutal wars, catastrophic natural disasters and ravaging economic depressions. Through every challenge, she has survived because of a singular focus on the founding principles that launched one of the greatest experiments in human history and that tested the very boundaries of the capabilities of man.

Can a free people govern themselves?

Today, America faces a crisis unprecedented in her history. Not that we are more hopeless than we were during the frozen winters of the Revolution. Not that we are more riven than during the Civil War. Not that we live with a greater injustice than slavery. Not that we are more frightened and hungry than we were during the Great Depression. Not that we are more outraged than we were after 9/11.

What makes this troubling time unlike any other is the full-scale assault — from the criminal class to the highest levels of governmental power — on the very principles of our Founding. The simple yet powerful ideas of equal justice under law, of self-governance, of rights given by a Creator, not a man or a king, and of freedom of speech and religion have come under open attack from every level of society.

So the time now is ripe to revisit those principles. Remind ourselves how the Founders grappled with every question. Test their answers. Reevaluate their thinking for a modern world that, at least on the surface, looks different from the ink-quilled days when those principles were set to parchment and made into history.

The Washington Times has laid that challenge at the feet of some of the country’s pivotal thinkers. Each week in the coming months, we will present their findings and arguments to you as we rediscover the Constitution.

Recent Stories

Free speech under assault by government's new disinformation board

The Bill of Rights, now in many ways the core of the relationship between American citizens and their government, was a happy accident of political necessity, brought about finally by the voters in a congressional race in the Commonwealth of Virginia in 1788.

How a dead French aristocrat helped the Framers create the Constitution

In considering the Constitution, it is essential to remember that there were two factions involved in the discussion -- the Federalists, who prioritized liberalism, and Anti-Federalists who prioritized democracy -- and one dead French aristocrat and political philosopher who helped them both find their way.

Respecting separation of powers key to restoring Congress

In a March 1789 letter to James Madison, Thomas Jefferson wrote: "The tyranny of the legislatures is the most formidable dread at present, and will be for long years. That of the executive will come in its turn, but it will be at a remote period."

Alexander Hamilton indispensable to America's success

Alexander Hamilton's relentless insistence on a set of national institutions - a commercial economy, a navy of respectable weight and a central bank -- laid the foundation for modern American global hegemony.

Freedom comes from God, not men

No text is more celebrated as a guide to the genius of our nation's founders than The Federalist, and no single essay from The Federalist is more celebrated than James Madison's No. 10. In it, Madison offers the promise of the "well-constructed union" that tends "to break and control the violence of faction."

Constitution's preamble explains America's mission statement

The preamble to our Constitution was a last-minute addition to the document that, according to the courts, has no substantive legal meaning. Yet it contains the noblest articulation of the mission statement for our country.

The Lame Mule Act is today's Flat Earth Society

When thinking about the Constitution, we often focus on what has gone sideways or just plain wrong. It is useful, from time to time, to reflect on how our constitutional processes and limits have resulted and can result in a government that is better, more responsive, more adaptable, and more likely to be able to repair itself if something is broken.

Think less of judges and rely more on democratic processes

The Constitution gives me as a federal judge the power to preside over certain cases and controversies. This isn't much, as federal cases make up only a tiny fraction of the millions of cases filed in American courts each year, with the overwhelming majority presided over by state and local judges.

Government's power to seize private property must be reined in

Despite the deep polarization of American politics right now and the concurrent divides on a wide range of constitutional issues, there is at least one issue on which there is considerable cross-ideological agreement: limiting the power of eminent domain.

State legislatures have the power to fix election processes

State sovereignty is at the heart of the election system. The Constitution places responsibility for success squarely on the shoulders of state legislators. The Founders' decision to place elections in the hands of states followed months of debate about the proper balance of power between the states and the national government.

We risk losing our republic without active participation

Elizabeth Powell was a leading woman in Philadelphia and a political thinker who hosted salons during sessions of the Continental Congress. It did not surprise Benjamin Franklin, then, when Powell approached him at the end of the Constitutional Convention and asked: "What have we got, a republic or a monarchy?" Franklin's answer: "A republic, if you can keep it."

War Powers Resolution should be repealed

With the possibility of a more interventionist foreign policy approach looming, questions will inevitably resume over which branch of government actually is responsible for sending U.S. troops abroad.

Illegal immigrants shouldn't be included in congressional count

The House of Representatives, otherwise known as the "People's House," was designed by the Framers to be the body of the federal government most sensitive and receptive to voter opinion. That's why almost all members represent fewer voters than senators do, and it's why each member represents as equal a number of constituents as is possible and practical.

Give power back to the states, as Founders envisioned

With the Democrats holding a slimmer-than-expected majority in the House and a 50-50 split in the Senate, the next two years will represent an almost equal tug of war between Republicans and Democrats in Congress.

What is the purpose of a Senate impeachment trial?

The Senate is starting a most unusual impeachment trial. For only the second time in its history, it is likely to proceed to trial to consider articles of impeachment against a former government official.

States must stand up to feds to stop poaching of their power

The word "federalism" does not appear in the Constitution, yet it is the guiding principle that preserves the United States from the defects of unitary governments, like Great Britain, in which all power flows from one central government, and the defects of confederation, in which power is dispersed and consequently attenuated beyond usefulness.

Invoking 25th Amendment would set dangerous precedent

The "To the Republic" series has primarily addressed the original Constitution rather than the subsequent amendments. However, there has been much discussion of the suddenly popular 25th Amendment during the Trump administration, particularly since last week's riot at the Capitol.

Biden should renegotiate Iran nuclear deal as a treaty

Most Americans believe that the Senate ratifies treaties, but that is the president's function and is one of many brilliant checks and balances in our system of government, as noted by Alexander Hamilton in the Federalist Papers.

American republic in danger as power seeps out of Congress

Before republics fall -- from ancient Rome to modern America -- their legislatures show signs of dysfunction. They avoid tackling the tough challenges facing their societies, defer to other branches of government, and fail in their basic obligation to represent the popular will.

Vanishing Congress cedes too much power to regulators

If the Founders came to Congress tomorrow and saw the diminished role the legislative branch plays in the function of the federal government -- the degree to which the legislature really is vanishing -- it would be a mystery to them.

Far-left threatens minority rights

The Constitution, as solid as it is, ultimately relies on those who make and execute the laws to do so faithfully and with good intention.

Founders gambled on virtue prevailing over passions

In his renowned 1785 pamphlet "Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments," James Madison described religious liberty as not only "a right towards men" but also "a duty towards the Creator," and a "duty ... precedent both in order of time and degree of obligation, to the claims of Civil Society."