Constitution Day

Obama marks Constitution Day by referring to our constitutional rights as “privileges”

Today, September 17, is Constitution Day. Spearheaded by the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV), Congress passed a resolution in 2004 as rider to an omnibus spending bill setting aside this particular day to celebrate the ratification of the Constitution, the document that provides the framework of the federal government and the rights protected under the Bill of Rights.

The Constitution has experienced somewhat of a resurgence in the last several years, perhaps because of the polarization of political opinions in the United States as well as attempts by presidents from both parties attempts consume more power for the executive branch. The revelations about the National Security Agency, efforts to censor speech, expand gun control laws are just the tip of the iceberg of attempts to trample the rights guaranteed by the Bill of Rights.

In his presidential proclamation marking Constitution Day, President Barack Obama offered some insight into how he views the Bill of Rights. “Our Constitution reflects the values we cherish as a people and the ideals we strive for as a society,” Obama said in the release. “It secures the privileges we enjoy as citizens, but also demands participation, responsibility, and service to our country and to one another.”

Given that this White House is known for its expansive view of executive power, the fact that President Obama views these fundamental liberties to be “privileges” isn’t too terribly surprising. After all, President Obama treats the legislative branch — which is supposed to be a co-equal branch of the federal government — as an afterthought as it arbitrarily changes statues and even refuses to enforce laws.

There is reason to feel optimistic on this Constitution Day

Back in 2004, Congress passed an amendment offered by the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) to an omnibus spending bill to commemorate the signing of the Constitution and declare September 17, the day on which the document was signed by its framers, to be “Constitution Day.”

It’s ironic that a legislative body that frequently steps outside it’s limitations would pass a measure recognizing a document for which they have little regard. In the years preceding the creation of Constitution Day, Congress passed a number of measures that fly in the face of the intent and spirit of the Constitution and the rights protected therein.

But Constitution Day means a little more this year than in the past, given the renaissance the document has seen, particularly in just the past few months.

There are several examples from which we could choose to highlight the rebirth of the Constitution, such as Sen. Rand Paul’s filibuster back in March or the defeat of onerous gun control measures, including expanded background checks and a ban on so-called “assault weapons,” that would have further infringed upon Second Amendment rights. But recent developments concerning the NSA and Syria are, arguably, in the back of most Americans’ minds.

Happy Constitution Day from United Liberty

By Constitutional Convention [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

In Federalist No. 51, a Virginia farmer named James Madison mused:

But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.

Today — September 17 — is the day we celebrate the 225th anniversary of the signing of the United States Constitution by the U.S. Constitutional Convention. This document, which sought to protect man from himself by placing limits on the powers that a representative government would try to wield, is a watershed triumph in the history of human freedom movements, despite some of the gross violations of human rights that have been perpetrated against African-Americans, women, Asian-Americans and other groups since the founding. As written constitutions go, the United States is something of an anomaly: since 1789, constitutions have lasted an average of only seventeen years. That statistic makes the U.S. Constitution a pretty special document.

We hope you’ll join us in celebrating by taking the Bill of Rights Institute’s Constitution quiz to see how well you know the document that framed the United States government!

College student wins free speech fight against school

Robert Van Tuinen

Robert Van Tuinen, a veteran and college student, has settled a lawsuit against Modesto Junior College months after the school prohibited him from passing out copies of the United States Constitution on Constitution Day except in designated “free speech zones”:

Modesto Junior College student has prevailed in his lawsuit against the administration, meaning that students will now be permitted to exercise their constitutional rights to distribute copies of the Constitution anywhere on campus
[…]
As part of Van Tuinen’s settlement with Modesto, the college will now permit students to hand out flyers wherever and whenever they wish. Van Tuinen was also paid $50,000.

“I am thrilled with this outcome and I am grateful to my attorneys and FIRE for securing this agreement,” said Van Tuinen in a statement to The Daily Caller. “Now the Modesto Junior College community and I will be able to engage in free discussion on campus. I encourage students at other schools with restrictive free speech policies to stand up for their rights.”

FIRE President Greg Lukianoff applauded the outcome, but said that nearly 60 percent of colleges across the country still employ unconstitutional restrictions on the First Amendment.

“There’s much more work to be done,” he said in a statement.

College student sues over violation of First Amendment rights

Robert Van Tuinen

A student is suing Modesto Junior College for infringing upon his First Amendment rights in an appalling incident that occurred last month as he tried to pass out copies of the United States Constitution on Constitution Day.

Robert Van Tuinen, an Army veteran and student at the school, and at least two other students were passing out copies of the Constitution on school grounds when he was told by a school police officer and school officials that he couldn’t pass out literature outside of a designated “free speech zone,” which was unavailable that day as it was already in use.

Van Tuinen, who vigorously defended his rights despite being denied the ability to exercise them by school officials, is now taking direct aim at the school’s unconstitutionally restrictive codes:

The lawsuit, filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Fresno, challenges the school’s policies both in terms of how it was applied to Van Tuinen and on its face as violating students’ First Amendment free speech rights. The suit seeks injunctive relief, monetary damages and legal fees.

Learn Liberty: Does the NSA Violate Your Constitutional Rights?

See Video

In this new video from Learn Liberty, Professor James Otteson discusses the importance of the Fourth Amendment: “Many people don’t know what their constitutional freedoms are or why they have them in the first place. They’ve gotten so used to the freedoms they’ve enjoyed as Americans that they haven’t noticed just how rare and fragile they really are.”

Happy Constitution Day!

The Constitution of most of our states (and of the United States) assert that all power is inherent in the people; that they may exercise it by themselves; that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed and that they are entitled to freedom of person, freedom of religion, freedom of property, and freedom of press.” - Thomas Jefferson

Today is Constitution Day, a day set aside by Congress, a body that largely ignores our nation’s founding document. What were once viewed to be basic natural rights, the concepts of life, liberty and property are subject to the will of the mob for the benefit of the “common good.”

This isn’t something that happened when Barack Obama or when Democrats took office, it has been going on for some time (more on that in a second). Not only are Democrats and Republicans to blame, but “We the People” also deserve a share of the blame,

While testifying before the House Judiciary Committee in 2008, Bob Barr warned, “Every administration that comes in takes the powers that it inherits from its predecessor as a floor, not a ceiling.” During his campaign for the presidency, Barack Obama promised to reign in the power of the executive, including some of the expansions claimed by his predecessor. However, we seen a further erosion of esstential liberties and limitations placed on our government by the Constitution.

Constitution Day

“The Constitution of most of our states (and of the United States) assert that all power is inherent in the people; that they may exercise it by themselves; that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed and that they are entitled to freedom of person, freedom of religion, freedom of property, and freedom of press.” - Thomas Jefferson

United States ConstitutionToday is Constitution Day. I suppose I should wish you a “Happy Constitution Day,” but there is nothing to really be thrilled about the current state of our government and our constitutionally-protected liberties.

Promising Polling Numbers for B J Lawson

Happy Constitution Day!

Here’s a quick reminder about the Lawson Liberty Fund- today is the day to donate- and I encourage you to give generously.  Dr. Lawson may not be running to be your Congressman, but he will represent your interests and be a voice for liberty in Congress.  With your support, we could have two “Dr. No”s in the House.

B J released some exciting results from the poll he took, which encouraged me to give even more than I’d planned.

How We’re Doing: First Polling Numbers

By: BJ Lawson

As you know, I’m a big believer in transparency in government. That translates into transparency in campaigns, as well — especially since our campaign is supported by so many people. Many have asked for insight into how we’re doing, and tonight we received results from our first poll.

We called a sample of 1,105 households across the district, stratified by precinct. Before we hit the results, let’s review our district’s demographics:

Democrats: 46%
Republicans: 28%
Unaffiliated: 26%

As you can see, while Democrats far outnumber Republicans, Unaffiliated voters and any swing Democrats can provide a margin of victory.

Here is the sample that we polled:

Democrats: 57%
Republicans: 26%
Unaffiliated: 17%

So our sample had significantly more Democrats than the overall district, with slightly fewer Republicans, and significantly fewer Unaffiliateds.

Here are our results:

Price: 56%
Lawson: 31%
Undecided: 13%

Considering that our ten-term incumbent typically wins this district with 65% of the vote, he’s off from his typical pace. Furthermore, the presence of 13% undecided is not exactly bullish for a ten-term incumbent who advertises liberally with taxpayer-financed mailings.

At this point, it appears we have reason to redouble our efforts towards this election. Not only are we maintaining our base, but we picked up five percent from Unaffiliated and Democratic voters — only 26% of our sample was Republican, and we’re polling at 31%. While our incumbent is polling at 56%, the sample was 57% Democratic — and the overall district is only 46% Democratic.

We know it’s time for change. I wouldn’t want to run against change this year. Nor would I want to run against a federal government that follows the Constitution.

Today is Constitution Day — please donate to fund our mail and media campaign, and help us win this election.


The views and opinions expressed by individual authors are not necessarily those of other authors, advertisers, developers or editors at United Liberty.