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Why Constitution Day Matters

September 17, 2010 | By Bethany Murphy
Two hundred and twenty-three years ago, the Framers formally signed the Constitution.
Watch the Constitution Day VideoThis document has formed the basis of our government for more than two centuries. But today, as Heritage legal scholar Ed Meese points out in the Morning Bell, it faces serious challenges:

We are faced today with two different roads, one of which follows the path of liberty set by our Founders in the Constitution, and one of which diverges from that path and leads us down the road to tyranny. There are two different warring camps within our society, and the ongoing battle between those camps has been graphically illustrated in recent primary elections and by the vicious fight over the nationalization of our healthcare system.

Heritage President Ed Feulner explains, “on many issues, this vital document is frequently ignored, even undermined, by some of the very people who have taken a public oath to uphold it.” 
Americans can still choose the path of constitutionalism, writes Meese, who serves as Heritage’s the Ronald Reagan Distinguished Fellow.
There is a growing movement throughout America to reinvigorate the tree of liberty, a tree whose trunk is the Constitution, whose limbs are the Bill of Rights, and whose leaves are the new sons and daughters of liberty who embody the same spirit that infused our Founders. OnConstitution Day, let Americans rededicate themselves to securing “the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity” by actively working to preserve the Constitution of the United States.
» What do you think about the prospects for constitutionalism? Post your comments on The Foundry.

New START: A Step Closer to a Weaker America

By a 14-4 vote, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved the START treatyyesterday, moving it to the full Senate for ratification. According to the Wall Street Journal, ”Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) has said he does not expect a full Senate vote until after the Nov. 2 election when the lame-duck Congress reconvenes.”
Lawmakers are pushing to vote with a minimum of debate, despite its severe national security consequences for the United States. While John Kerry believes the Senate only needs two or three days to debate the treaty before a vote, The Heritage Foundation national security expert James Carafano insists that “there are few issues that require greater scrutiny, serious discussion, informed analysis, and non-partisan debate than the role of nuclear weapons in national security. The Administration and the leadership of the Senate couldn’t have been more cavalier in their treatment of the treaty.”
In a new report, Heritage research fellow Baker Spring spells out the dangers the treaty poses: “The treaty’s most serious impact is the limitations it imposes on the U.S. ballistic missile defense systems. According to the Russian unilateral statement, New START ‘can operate and be viable only if the United States of America refrains from developing its missile-defense capabilities quantitatively or qualitatively.’”
“Unfortunately,” Spring continues, “substantial portions of the draft resolution are only non-binding declarations.” While the United States might hold up its end of the bargain, there is very little that can be done to ensure that Russia does the same.
START’s limitations weaken the defenses of only one of its signatories: the United States. In a new Heritage Foundation video, we take a look at how the future might look if the treaty is passed into law. The future does not look bright.
Inexplicably, the Obama administration believes that acquiescing to the demands of Russia, weakening our stance in the international community and handing over elements of our national security will improve the security of the United States.

Heritage Work of Note

  • The left has been pushing to “green” the United States by reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Their favored mechanism is a “cap and trade” law, which would hurt economic recovery.  As Heritage analyst Nicolas Loris points out in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, “Gasoline prices would rise by 58% (an additional $1.38 per gallon) and average household electric rates would increase by 90% by 2035 if Obama signed the bill into law. The total energy bill for a family of four would be $1,200 higher than it would be without cap and trade in place.” Even liberal think tanks have been showing that this bill will lead to reductions in income and employment.
  • Throughout his presidency, President Obama promoted the benefits of education. But he has also been advocating for nationalized standards and testing. “National standards and tests would be a significant federal overreach into states’ educational decision-making authority,” writes Heritage education expert Lindsey Burke. “But through the administration’s $4.35 million ’Race to the Top‘ competitive grant program … states have already begun adopting national standards.”  Additionally, if successful, the Obama Administration will have extended federal executive power by implementing these programs without congressional approval and without input from parents.
  • California voters will vote this November on a marijuana legalization initiative.  The reform’s supporters argue that cannabis is similar to alcohol and should therefore be treated the same.  Heritage legal scholar Cully Stimson, however, says that “to equate marijuana use with alcohol consumption is, at best, uninformed and, at worst, actively misleading.”  Besides the many toxic effects that cannabis has on human health, its use is linked to criminal behavior.

In Other News

  • The Food and Drug Administration may rule against the use of Avastin, a life-saving drug that been the last hope for many cancer patients.
  • Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has been criticized for playing political games after he added an immigration proposal to the defense bill.
  • Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer does not believe that Koran burning is protected by the First Amendment. He likened it to yelling “fire” in a crowded theater. One wonders, though, whether he believes burning the flag is protected.
  • Some South Carolinians will have their water turned off because they refused to let their property be annexed to the city of Rock Hill.
  • Venezuela has canceled its “Terror Flight,” a regularly scheduled flight to Iran and Syriathat was suspected of smuggling spies and arms.
Bethany Murphy is a writer for MyHeritage.org—a website for members and supporters of The Heritage Foundation. Nathaniel Ward; Amanda Reinecker and Andrew Vitaliti , a Heritage intern, contributed to this report.