Greg Hull: Securing the Blessings of LibertyOver the years, I’ve had a question I’ve asked attorneys about their legal training.
By: Greg Hull, Lake County News Chronicle
Over the years, I’ve had a question I’ve asked attorneys about their legal training. I’ve posed the same question to nearly every attorney I’ve chance to meet who would allow me to ask a quasi-legal question without sending me a bill.
The question? “While in Law School, were you ever required to read the Constitution of the United States in its entirety? — Did you ever have a professor just say ‘Read the Constitution?’”
To date, not a single attorney has answered “yes.” One, who served in the military after law school, did have a commanding officer order him to read it.
Kudos to that leatherneck officer.
This has made me wonder how many of our elected officials have read the Constitution recently. Or how many of our “czars” (an ironic title for a position within a democracy) or agency administrators have read it.
I was fortunate to go to a rural public school for my elementary education in an era where we began each day with the Pledge of Allegiance and sang a song such as “America the Beautiful” or “My Country ’Tis of Thee.” I was gratified to recently learn that each day the principal at that school still leads the students in the pledge each day, and then plays some patriotic music. Constitution Day is acknowledged every year, and older students are challenged to memorize the Preamble:
“We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
Those are lofty goals indeed. Establish justice. Insure domestic tranquility. Promote the general welfare. Secure the blessings of liberty not only for us, but for our children and grandchildren.
I have mused that should I ever find myself elected to higher office, I would introduce a bill that would require all elected officials, from dog catcher and above, to attend an annual public reading of the Constitution. Maybe at the time the oath of office is administered, the Constitution would also be read. Then a quiz could be given, to make sure they had listened. If they didn’t pass with at least 80 percent, they would either: a)read it again, or b)be removed from office.
Of course, friends have observed that I must have a rich fantasy life, to think either that I would be elected to higher office, or that elected officials would ever willingly impose such a responsibility upon themselves.
It would be interesting to see how some of our elected leaders would explain the concept of securing liberty alongside the idea of appointing czars within the government. The Czars of Russia were notably un-democratic, and Russia has never been perceived as the land of personal freedom and liberty. The word itself is derived from Caesar, which means Emperor. The Caesars of Rome were rarely concerned about the general welfare of the population, or the securing of people’s rights. They were known for their ability to secure their own position and welfare, and those of the Roman Senate.
History can be a disconcerting thing to read.
I once sat in a class during my days at the university, and listened to a citizen of a Central American country give his perspective on the inherent goodness and significance of America as compared to the (then) Soviet Empire. Both were, he explained to us, essentially the same. There was no real difference between them. Both were superpowers who bullied the leaders of small countries around the world into giving up their own resources for the good of their respective Empires. “One is a white bear, one is a black bear, but both are bears. Neither one is better than the other”.
His opinion seemed to be that the act of pushing someone out of the path of an oncoming bus was the same as pushing someone into the path of an oncoming bus, because both acts involved shoving helpless people around.
After he finished his presentation, I asked him a simple question. “If there is no difference between the Soviet Union and the U.S., why did you decide to come here to live and get an education? Why not Moscow?”
He stared at me blankly. He didn’t have an answer.
His actions stood in stark contrast to his words.
The truth is the society that is formed by our Constitution is, in a literal sense, a marvelous thing. Many around the world understandably want the blessings and bounty of our liberty. To the extent we wander from the foundational principles laid down in the Constitution, we risk the loss of liberty that we all cherish.
Which is why we should require our elected officials and career bureaucrats to do the same homework as elementary students at a country school.
Greg Hull is owner and operator of Hull’s Sawmill. He has never been a czar of anything, although was once nominated to be dogcatcher in a small town. His email is email@example.com.