Inseparable: The Declaration and the Constitution
Written by Bob Ellis
What was that phrase the founders used to describe the source of our liberty and our nation’s political foundation? “The Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.” David Barton and Rick Green recently (Aug. 7) discussed this on Wallbuilders Live, and it was a show every American should hear.
If you’ve ever discussed the legal foundations of our nation with a liberal, you have almost certainly heard them claim that the Declaration of Independence means nothing whatsoever in 2014. Of course, they’d like very much to make the same claim for the U.S. Constitution, but there are still too many people who know too much (however little that “too much” may be) for them to get away with that whopper. But most people don’t know how to deal with the liberal protest that, although the Declaration of Independence clearly states that our rights come from God (not government, not the majority, not poll results, etc.), that doesn’t really mean anything because (in their minds) the Declaration of Independence was written before the U.S. Constitution. What few Americans on either side of the ideological aisle know is that YES, the Declaration of Independence IS a part of our laws. In fact, you will find in the United States Code (our nation’s law database). Our nation’s organic laws are listed first, and the Declaration of Independence is first among them. It doesn’t get much more foundational than that (except perhaps the Bible, which is the document from which the founders gained the understanding that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights”). As important as this fact is, this is not the only proof that if we are under the United States Constitution (and we are, despite the loathing of the Left), we are also under the Declaration of Independence. As Barton and Green discussed on Wallbuilders Live:
1. Article VII of the U.S. Constitution dates itself not only based on the Christian calendar (“in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven“–icky to Leftists dedicated to the fantasy of government divorced from God) but dates itself back to the Declaration of Independence:
“done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven and of the Independence of the United States of America the Twelfth“
Presidential acts (even those signed by President Barack Obama, who loathes our nation’s foundation like no president before him) are still to this day dated “in the Year of our Lord” as well as the year of our nation’s independence.
2. The enabling acts of the states testify to this. Enabling acts are the acts by which territories became states, and they set forth the conditions under which a territory may become a state. States are required constitutionally to implement a republican form of government (sorry, no dictatorships, politburos or oligarchies allowed). Their form of government also “shall not be repugnant to the Constitution of the United States and the principles of the Declaration of Independence.” Notice that the states are required to be in compliance with not only the U.S. Constitution, but the Declaration of Independence. Examples: Arizona, Nevada, South Dakota.
3. The U.S. Constitution cannot be understood without the Declaration of Independence. In other words, many key parts of the U.S. Constitution are corollaries (i.e. they answer) to the grievances or problems brought up in the Declaration of Independence.
Article 1 Section 5 where it says “Neither House, during the Session of Congress, shall, without the Consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days, nor to any other Place than that in which the two Houses shall be sitting,” this cures or answers the fourth problem or grievance raised in the Declaration of Independence which said: “He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.” In other words, why does our constitution do what it does? Because of the problems (or abuses against our God-given rights endowed upon us by the aforementioned Creator) identified in the Declaration. You cannot understand the meaning and intent of the Constitution without the context of the Declaration.
Grievance 5 and 6 of the Declaration are answered by Article 1 Section 4 of the Constitution
Grievance 7 of the Declaration is resolved by Article 1 Section 8 paragraph 4
Grievance 8 of the Declaration is answered by Article 1 Section 8 paragraph 9.
So since the Declaration of Independence is the original source document from which all other U.S. laws (including the Constitution) get their authority, from where does the Declaration get its authority? Remember, it already told us: The Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God (sorry, God-haters).
So what is “natural law”? As Sir William Blackstone said, it is basically God’s moral law for humanity: Man depends absolutely upon his Maker for everything, it is necessary that he should, in all points, conform to his Maker’s will. This will of his Maker is called the law of nature. This law of nature…dictated by God himself, is of course superior in obligation to any other. It is binding over all the globe in all countries, and at all times: no human laws are of any validity, if contrary to this; and such of them as are valid derive all their force and all their authority, mediately or immediately, from this original.