As many of us watched the health care reform debates over the past year, we likely sat dumbfounded by the disregard of the will of the people and the Constitution by members of Congress. The will of the people has been ignored and the fabric of our already tattered Constitution (metaphorically-speaking) has been torn even further. However, even though our government has effectively ignored its Constitutional limits, that does not mean that we should ignore our Constitutional rights.
The Preamble to our Constitution begins with the words, “We the People”. It is We the People who established this nation, and it is We the People who are prepared to tenaciously do what we must to help to restore it. The Founding Fathers, in crafting our Bill of Rights, first highlighted several of our freedoms:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
What does this mean for us? It means that we can continue to speak and to educate our fellow Americans. Although Jefferson Smith in the movie “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” was a fictional character, his words speak volumes to us today. “Liberty is too precious a thing to be buried in books.” Liberty is too precious for us not to share it with our families, our friends, and even our elected officials! Let us exercise our freedom of speech to share the liberty that we have vested in both our inalienable and vested rights. Our Constitution also grants us the right to “petition the Government for a redress of grievances” . What does this mean? We have the right to express our grievances to our elected officials, some of whom have perhaps acted like self-servants rather than public servants.
What is the next step? The President still has to sign this bill, and the Senate will have to vote on the reconciliation bill that was also passed on Sunday. Additionally, thirty-seven states have passed legislation or are in the process of passing legislation that will enable them to sue the federal government on the grounds that federally mandated insurance coverage oversteps the bounds of the federal government and usurps the power of the states. Additionally, the executive order that President Obama has promised to sign in order to, in essence, repeal federally funded abortion is being challenged by claims that an executive order cannot trump the law.
While this bill has cleared the majority of the necessary hurdles, it is not yet over. While perhaps our country and our government have transformed into a nearly unrecognizable shadow of what our Founding Fathers intended for it to be, it is not over yet. Upon leaving the Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin was asked what kind of government the men at the convention had crafted for the American people. His reply was, “a republic – if you can keep it.” Let us remember it was We the People who founded this country, and it is We the People who will peacefully, yet boldly, do all that we can to keep our republic.