By Laurence M. Vance
A recent article on MSN is headlined: “10 Myths About the U.S. Constitution Most Americans Believe.” Here are the ten myths:
- The Constitution is on hemp paper.
- The Constitution has 39 signatures.
- Thomas Jefferson and John Adams signed the Constitution.
- The same signatures are on both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
- The Constitution established an American democracy.
- All 13 states participated in writing the Constitution.
- The President can veto a proposed amendment to the Constitution.
- The Constitution gives the Supreme Court the power to declare laws unconstitutional.
- The Constitution explicitly states there is a separation of Church and State.
- The Constitution ensures your right to vote.
Each of these myths is adequately corrected by the author in the article.
There is no question that Americans are ignorant of the Constitution. But there are members of one elite group of Americans that I want to single out who are some of the worst offenders.
The ignorance that Americans have of the Constitution is exceeded by the ignorance of the Constitution that most congressmen have. Members of Congress swear to uphold the Constitution. Article VI, clause 3, of the Constitution requires that senators and representatives “be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution.” U.S. law requires that members of Congress be sworn in before they can take their seats. The language of the congressional oath has changed (it is set by statute) several times since it was first administered in 1789. It now reads:
I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.
Regardless of any flaws or problems that the Constitution has, it is the supreme law of the land. One would think that members of Congress—most of whom have at least a bachelor’s degree and many of whom are lawyers—would have a good grasp of what the Constitution says. Yet, their constitutional ignorance is appalling.
Here are 10 myths about the U.S. Constitution that most congressmen believe.
- The Constitution authorizes the federal government to have a DEA, destroy marijuana plants, and wage war on drugs.
- The Constitution authorizes the federal government to have a retirement and disability program.
- The Constitution authorizes the federal government to take money from Americans and give it to foreigners, foreign governments, and NGOs in the form of foreign aid or disaster relief.
- The Constitution authorizes the federal government to have a Department of Education, issue student loans and grants, make bilingual-education mandates, accredit schools, have school breakfast and lunch programs, have math and science initiatives, and give states money to help operate their public schools.
- The Constitution authorizes the federal government to have welfare programs like food stamps, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), and Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).
- The Constitution authorizes the federal government to issue gun regulations, license gun dealers, have a National Instant Criminal Background Check System and a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), and make gun-control laws.
- The Constitution authorizes the federal government to have a Department of Labor, job training programs, minimum-wage laws, overtime pay requirements, an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and a National Labor Relations Board.
- The Constitution authorizes the federal government to have a Department of Housing and Urban Development and a Federal Housing Administration, issue Section 8 housing vouchers, and insure mortgages.
- The Constitution authorizes the federal government to have a Department of Agriculture, give away cheese, subsidize farmers, and issue dietary guidelines.
- The Constitution authorizes the federal government to pay for the health care of some Americans, issue grants for medical research, have federal laboratories, have HIV/AIDS-prevention initiatives, regulate medical schools, regulate organ donations, issue medical-records mandates, and have a Department of Health and Human Services.
Americans are certainly ignorant of the Constitution. But members of Congress, who should know better, are just as ignorant. America could be “made great again” if the members of Congress simply followed the Constitution when it came to spending the taxpayers’ money.