Constitution Day, which falls on Monday, is the national observance holiday that most Americans never heard of. Yet this year, it might well be our most important holiday. For the Constitution is threatened more now than at any time since seven Southern states seceded from Union and Civil War broke out on April 12, 1861.
To understand the present peril, it’s important to understand the past. The War of Independence lasted five long years from 1776 to 1781, with the impoverished colonial army being mostly on the defensive. It was a miracle that this small and rather disorganized American militia could defeat Great Britain — then the most formidable military power in the world.
The second miracle in forming the United States was the drafting of the Constitution some years after the final and decisive military victory over the British at Yorktown in 1781. By contemporary standards, it is inconceivable how delegates from 13 extraordinarily disparate states could muster the forbearance and magnanimity to agree on the terms of a new Constitution after only four months of deliberation.
The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were revolutionary political doctrines because they clearly delineated citizens’ rights and established that these rights came from God and not the state. These rights being then sovereign and unalienable, the people are in charge and government is to serve them — not the other way around.
In addition to providing separation of powers, the Constitution called for frequent elections to provide another check to limit government incompetence and corruption. This also meant that the most sacred responsibility of citizenship established by the Constitution was and is the right of the people to vote and decide who shall govern.
This combination of limiting governmental power and maximizing peoples’ rights makes the U.S. Constitution unique and led to the U.S. becoming the longest-running constitutional democratic republic in human history.
The Constitution makes it clear that everyone — whether in the public or private sector — is equal before the law. Additionally, every elected federal government office holder, judicial appointee and executive branch cabinet secretary is required to pledge an oath before assuming office, to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”
So it comes as an unprecedented shock to learn that a significant number of high-ranking U.S. government officials—most appointed during the Obama administration—betrayed their oaths of office and refused to accept the will of the people manifest in Trump’s 304 electoral college votes vs. Clinton’s 227 votes. A new civil war has begun, albeit quite different from the one 157 years ago.
We now know that directors of the CIA and the FBI, along with a number of high-ranking subordinates, and top officials in the Justice Department, took concerted actions to discredit candidate Donald Trump leading up to the November 2016 election. The FBI and the Justice Departments were politically weaponized, and FISA courts were repeatedly deceived in this unprecedented effort to destroy the Trump candidacy and throw the election to Clinton.
When that didn’t happen, and Trump was elected, this same cabal continued undeterred in concerted actions to undermine the duly elected president — only now those actions were tantamount to a coup d’état.
The Constitution was drafted in such a way as to prevent couplike conditions from happening. If voting is the sacred right and responsibility of citizenship, elections and vote counting are the sacrosanct mechanism for establishing the legitimacy of government. Voter fraud or nullifying an election by coup are a betrayal of the Constitution and represent the highest crimes and misdemeanors.
In spite of the inscription “Equal Justice Under Law” carved in stone on the front of the Supreme Court building in Washington D.C., no president in recent memory has taken this ideal very seriously. That is, until Donald Trump became president in 2017.
Without much fanfare, on Dec. 21, Trump signed Executive Order 13818, which authorizes the blocking or freezing of any property of persons involved in serious human rights abuse or corruption. Two months later on March 1, he signed Executive Order 13823, which provides for enhanced judicial proceedings for U.S. officials and civilians involved in high crimes.
Additional accomplishments for which Trump deserves recognition on Constitution Day include his success in appointing a large number of outstanding constitutionalist jurists to the high courts. This also deepens the bench needed to adjudicate the considerable number of cases of people from high places who committed crimes — apparently assuming they were above the law or their actions would never see the light of day after Clinton won.
There is reason to take heart this Constitution Day. The frenzy against President Trump is probably a contrary indicator, with panic getting more animated and louder as the day of legal reckoning gets closer.
Scott Powell is senior fellow at Discovery Institute in Seattle and managing partner of RemingtonRand, a recruiting consultancy for AM Law 100 firms. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.