The Jackson County Republican women have an ongoing
project to place a copy of the United States
Constitution in the hands of all Jackson County public
and private school students. This year they invited
Senator Alan Bates and me to participate in more than
two hours of conversation concerning the Constitution
with senior students and faculty at the Eagle Point High
told the students that what I admired most about the
Framers and their efforts to create a Constitution was
their foresight. The Framers thoughtfully developed a
document that has endured for nearly 225 years. It is
still just as relevant today as it was when ratified by
the states in 1788.
The Constitution is a wonderful example of how much the
selection and use of words matter. The Framers carefully
developed language that delineated the core principles
of exactly the government that they wished to establish.
The entire document, including the first ten amendments,
can easily be printed on twelve pages. Yet it is so
complete, and so concise, that the people have found it
necessary to functionally change the document only
fifteen times. The first ten of the twenty seven
amendments were included in the original document. The
eighteenth amendment establishing prohibition and the
twenty first amendment abolishing prohibition cancel one
discussed at length how the Constitution describes the
proper role of government. It provides that public laws
and federal policies will be enacted only by elected
representatives. Those representatives must have been
selected by the voting citizens of the states and
districts they are to represent. It limits the authority
of the federal government to only those powers that the
people being governed have consented to give to the
federal government. It is designed to insure those
limitations by a system of checks and balances in the
delegation of government authority between the
Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of
debated at length what we consider to be the most
precious right described in the Bill of Rights. I
believe that the Second Amendment right to keep and bear
arms is critical. Freedom of religion, freedom of
speech, freedom to assemble and seek redress of
grievances, protections against unreasonable search and
seizures, the right to a trial by a jury of our peers,
the right to own and use private property as well as
many other reserved rights are also vital.
From my perspective, the Fifth Amendment right to own
and use private property is essential because it
provides the financial means for the citizens to
maintain and defend all the other rights reserved to the
people. Our reserved rights cannot be maintained against
an oppressive central government without the financial
means to access the courts and to carry out a strong
defense of those constitutional rights.
The students asked what I think are the most important
change to the Constitution by the amendment process.
There have certainly been several critically important
The thirteenth amendment abolished slavery, the
Fourteenth Amendment provided all citizens equal
protection under the law and the fifteenth amendment
provided that no citizen of the United States can have
the right to vote denied on account of race, color or
condition of previous servitude.
Incredibly, it required another half century to ratify
the nineteenth amendment that gave women the right to
vote in 1920. That change essentially doubled the number
of people allowed to participate in government. It
rightfully elevated women to an equal status with men in
establishing and carrying out policies that govern all
men and women.
discussed how the seventeenth amendment functionally
changed our government from a representative republic to
a democracy. Previous to that 1913 change, U. S.
Senators were elected by the legislatures of the states
they were to represent. The purpose was to have
legislators that were elected by the people select the
most qualified person to represent the state in the
congressional upper chamber. The amendment bypassed this
constitutional provision of a republic by creating the
election of U.S. Senators by popular vote.
What I hoped to help the students clearly understand was
that the Framers’ primary purpose was to create a
government that the people to be governed could control.
To that end, their first concern was to limit the
authority of government and the rule that it was to have
over our lives. While the Constitution they wrote does
confer certain powers to the federal government, it
specifically reserves to the people and to the states
ALL powers not specifically conveyed to the federal
Congress and the Courts have unquestionably used the
“commerce” and “necessary and proper” clauses found in
Article I to circumvent those constitutional limits.
Broad interpretation of those two clauses has resulted
in the expansion of federal government authority and
powers far beyond what I believe the Framers had in
Our government of the people and by the people was
designed by the Framers to serve the people. Their
greatest fear was to establish a government that ruled
the people and that the people had cause to fear. From
my perspective, their fears were well founded.
Please remember, if we do not stand up for rural Oregon
no one will.