A Sampling of Some Quotes about the U.S. Constitution from History

Originally Written & Posted Online by CDR Kerchner @ Puzo1.BlogSpot.com:  Sunday, October 10, 2010 @ 9:52 AM

A Sampling of Some Quotes about the U.S. Constitution from History

A Sampling of Some
Quotes about the U.S.
Constitution from History

Quotes Source: http://www.constitution.org/cons/const_quotes.htm

The following is a sampling of some quotes from history which make some very important points about the principles of constitutional republican government:

1. The Constitution was written to be understood by the voters; its words and phrases were used in their normal and ordinary, as distinguished from technical meaning; where the intention is clear, there is no room for construction, and no excuse for interpolation or addition. — Martin v. Hunter’s Lessee, 1 Wheat 304; Gibbons v. Ogden, 9 Wheat 419; Brown v. Maryland, 12 Wheat 419; Craig v. Missouri, 4 Pet 10; Tennessee v. Whitworth, 117 U.S. 139; Lake County v. Rollins, 130 U.S. 662; Hodges v. United States, 203 U.S. 1; Edwards v. Cuba R. Co., 268 U.S. 628; The Pocket Veto Case, 279 U.S. 655; (Justice) Story on the Constitution, 5th ed., Sec 451; Cooley’s Constitutional Limitations, 2nd ed., p. 61, 70.

2. It cannot be presumed that any clause in the constitution is intended to be without effect;… — Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 137, 174 (1803).

3. The Constitution is a written instrument. As such, its meaning does not alter. That which it meant when it was adopted, it means now. — South Carolina v. United States, 199 U.S. 437, 448 (1905).

4. In the United States, Sovereignty resides in the people, who act through the organs established by the Constitution. — Chisholm v. Georgia, 2 Dall 419, 471; Penhallow v. Doane’s Administrators, 3 Dall 54, 93; McCullock v. Maryland, 4 Wheat 316, 404, 405; Yick Yo Hopkins, 118 U.S. 356, 370.5. The necessities which gave birth to the constitution, the controversies which precede its formation and the conflicts of opinion which were settled by its adoption, may properly be taken into view for the purposes of tracing to its source, any particular provision of the constitution, in order thereby, to be enabled to correctly interpret its meaning. — Pollock v. Farmers’ Loan & Trust Co., 157 U.S. 429, 558.

6. The values of the Framers of the Constitution must be applied in any case construing the Constitution. Inferences from the text and history of the Constitution should be given great weight in discerning the original understanding and in determining the intentions of those who ratified the constitution. The precedential value of cases and commentators tends to increase, therefore, in proportion to their proximity to the adoption of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, or any other amendments. — Powell v. McCormack, 395 U.S. 486, 547 (1969).

7. To disregard such a deliberate choice of words and their natural meaning, would be a departure from the first principle of constitutional interpretation. “In expounding the Constitution of the United States,” said Chief Justice Taney in Holmes v. Jennison, 14 U.S. 540, 570-1, “every word must have its due force and appropriate meaning; for it is evident from the whole instrument, that, no word was unnecessarily used, or needlessly added. The many discussions which have taken place upon the construction of the Constitution, have proved the correctness of this proposition; and shown the high talent, the caution and the foresight of the illustrious men who framed it. Every word appears to have been weighed with the utmost deliberation and its force and effect to have been fully understood. — Wright v. United States, 302 U.S. 583 (1938).

8. The courts are not bound by mere forms, nor are they to be misled by mere pretences. They are at liberty — indeed, are under a solemn duty — to look at the substance of things, whenever they enter upon the inquiry whether the legislature has transcended the limits of its authority. If therefore, a statute purporting to have been enacted to protect the public health, the public morals, or the public safety, has no real or substantial relation to those objects, or is a palpable invasion of rights secured by the fundamental law, it is the duty of thye courts to so adjudge, and thereby give effect to the Constitution. — Mugler v. Kansas, 123 U.S. 623, 661.9. Constitutional provisions for the security of person and property should be liberally construed. It is the duty of the courts to be watchful of constitutional rights against any stealthy encroachments thereon. — Boyd v. U.S., 116 U.S. 635.

10. It cannot be assumed that the framers of the constitution and the people who adopted it, did not intend that which is the plain import of the language used. When the language of the constitution is positive and free of all ambiguity, all courts are not at liberty, by a resort to the refinements of legal learning, to restrict its obvious meaning to avoid the hardships of particular cases. We must accept the constitution as it reads when its language is unambiguous, for it is the mandate of the sovereign power. — Cook vs. Iverson, 122, N.M. 251.

11. Where the words of a constitution are unambiguous and in their commonly received sense lead to a reasonable conclusion, it should be read according to the natural and most obvious import of the framers, without resorting to subtle and forced construction for the purpose of limiting or extending its operation. — A State Ex Rel. Torryson v. Grey, 21 Nev. 378, 32 P. 190.

12. If the legislature clearly misinterprets a constitutional provision, the frequent repitition of the wrong will not create a right. — Amos v. Mosley, 74 Fla. 555; 77 So. 619.

13. A long and uniform sanction by law revisers and lawmakers, of a legislative assertion and exercise of power, is entitled to a great weight in construing an ambiguous or doubtful provision, but is entitled to no weight if the statute in question is in conflict with the plain meaning of the constitutional provision. — Kingsley v. Merril, 122 Wis. 185; 99 NW 1044.

14. Economic necessity cannot justify a disregard of cardinal constitutional guarantee. — Riley v. Carter, 165 Okal. 262; 25 P. 2d 666; 79 ALR 1018.

15. Disobedience or evasion of a constitutional mandate may not be tolerated, even though such disobedience may, at least temporarily, promote in some respects the best interests of the public. — State v. Board of Examiners, 274 N.Y. 367; 9 NE 2d 12; 112 ALR 660.

16. When any court violates the clean and unambiguous language of the Constitution, a fraud is perpetrated and no one is bound to obey it. — (See 16 Ma. Jur. 2d 177, 178) State v. Sutton, 63 Minn. 147, 65 NW 262, 30 L.R.A. 630 Am. St. 459.

17. I cannot subscribe to the omnipotence of a state legislature, or that it is absolute and without control; although its authority should not be expressly restrained by the Constitution, or fundamental law, of the state. The nature, and ends of legislative power will limit the exercise of it. This fundamental principle flows from the very nature of our free Republican governments, that no man should be compelled to do what the laws do not require, nor to refrain from acts which the laws permit. There are acts which the Federal, or State, Legislature cannot do, without exceeding their authority. There are certain vital principles in our free Republican governments, which will determine and overrule an apparent and flagrant abuse of legislative power; as to authorize manifest injustice by positive law; or to take away that security for personal liberty, or private property, for the protection whereof the government was established. An Act of the legislature (for I cannot call it a law) contrary to the great first principles of the social compact, cannot be considered a rightful exercise of legislative authority. The obligation of a law in governments established on express compact, and on republican principles, must be determined by the nature of the power, on which it is founded. A few instances will suffice to explain what I mean. A law that punishes a citizen for an innocent action, or, in other words, for an act, which, when done, was in violation of no existing law; a law that destroys, or impairs, the lawful private contracts of citizens; a law that makes a man a judge in his own cause; or a law that takes property from A and gives it to B. It is against all reason and justice for a people to intrust a Legislature with such powers; and, therefore, it cannot be presumed that they have done it. The genius, the nature and the spirit, of our State Government, amount to a prohibition of such acts of legislation; and the general principles of law and reason forbid them. The legislature may enjoin, permit, forbid, and punish; they may declare new crimes, and establish rules of conduct for all its citizens in future cases; they may command what is right, and prohibit what is wrong; but they cannot change innocence into guilt; or punish innocence as a crime; or violate the right of an antecedent lawful private contract; or the right of private property. To maintain that our Federal, or State, Legislature possesses such powers, if they had not been expressly restrained, would, in my opinion, be a political heresy altogether inadmissible in our free republican governments. — Opinion of Justice Chase in Calder v. Bull, 3 Dallas 386-389 (1798).

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Posted by:
CDR Charles Kerchner (Ret)
Pennsylvania USA
Lead Plaintiff
Kerchner et al v Obama/Congress/Pelosi et al
http://www.protectourliberty.org
http://puzo1.blogspot.com
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Benjamin Franklin in 1775 thanks Charles Dumas of the Netherlands for sending him 3 more copies of the newest edition of Vattel’s Law of Nations

Originally Written & Posted Online by CDR Kerchner @ Puzo1.BlogSpot.com:  Monday, April 26, 2010 @ 8:37 PM

Benjamin Franklin in 1775 thanks Charles Dumas of the Netherlands for sending him 3 more copies of the newest edition of Vattel’s Law of Nations

Another founder of our nation and framer of our Constitution, Benjamin Franklin, was also quite familiar and well versed with the writings of Vattel as early as 1775 when he wrote to Charles Dumas in the Netherlands and thanked him for sending Franklin 3 copies of the newest edition of Vattel (in French). Franklin commented to Dumas that his personal copy was in heavy demand by the other delegates to the Continental Congress meeting in 1775. Dumas had recently edited and published a new addition of Vattel (in the original French) in the Netherlands. Franklin and most of the founders were fluent in French which was the diplomatic language of that time. Dumas also made comments in his writings to Franklin about Vattel’s enlightened writings and vision for a new form of government for a nation where the people were sovereign and the unique opportunity for its application to the affairs in America in the colonies splitting from Great Britain. The words found in our Declaration of Independence mentioning the “Laws of Nature” and the phrase mentioning unalienable rights such as “life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness” are right out of Volume 1 of Vattel. As are the words of seeking a more perfect union in the Preamble of our Constitution were also inspired by the teachings and writings of Vattel. Thus it is quite evident that the founders read and used Vattel extensively. Here is a reprint of the letter from Franklin to Dumas thanking him for sending the books.

Benjamin Franklin to: Charles William Frederic Dumas

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Dear Sir,
Philadelphia, 9 December, 1775.

I received your several favors, of May 18th, June 30th, and July 8th, by Messrs. Vaillant and Pochard;(1) whom if I could serve upon your recommendation, it would give me great pleasure. Their total want of English is at present an obstruction to their getting any employment among us; but I hope they will soon obtain some knowledge of it. This is a good country for artificers or farmers; but gentlemen of mere science in les belles lettres cannot so easily subsist here, there being little demand for their assistance among an industrious people, who, as yet, have not much leisure for studies of that kind.

I am much obliged by the kind present you have made us of your edition of Vattel. It came to us in good season, when the circumstances of a rising state make it necessary frequently to consult the law of nations. Accordingly that copy, which I kept, (after depositing one in our own public library here, and sending the other to the College of Massachusetts Bay, as you directed,) has been continually in the hands of the members of our Congress, now sitting, who are much pleased with your notes and preface, and have entertained a high and just esteem for their author. Your manuscript “Idee sur le Gouvernement et la Royaute” is also well relished, and may, in time, have its effect. I thank you, likewise, for the other smaller pieces, which accompanied Vattel. “Le court Expose de ce qui s’est passe entre la Cour Britannique et les Colonies,” bc. being a very concise and clear statement of facts, will be reprinted here for the use of our new friends in Canada. The translations of the proceedings of our Congress are very acceptable. I send you herewith what of them has been farther published here, together with a few newspapers, containing accounts of some of the successes Providence has favored us with. We are threatened from England with a very powerful force, to come next year against us.(2) We are making all the provision in our power here to oppose that force, and we hope we shall be able to defend ourselves. But, as the events of war are always uncertain, possibly, after another campaign, we may find it necessary to ask the aid of some foreign power.

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Source: http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/etcbin/toccer-new2?id=DelVol02.xml&images=images/modeng&data=/texts/english/modeng/parsed&tag=public&part=459&division=div1

CDR Charles Kerchner
http://puzo1.blogspot.com
http://www.protectourliberty.org
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P.S. See this prior post I made about President George Washington consulting Vattel as America’s new President in 1789:
http://puzo1.blogspot.com/2010/04/george-washington-consulted-legal.html
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P.S.S.  The legal treatise, The Law of Nations or Principles of Natural Law, known as the Law of Nations for short, defined the term “naturel” or “natural born Citizen” as a person born in the country of parents (plural) who were Citizens of the country:
http://countryfirst.bravehost.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=105&t=1169
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