The Constitution was a creation of the 13 sovereign states of the Confederation. It was an agreement between them to form a federal government to perform specific delegated duties. It is a compact. The term compact in this instance means a contract between sovereign powers. This idea has been relegated to the scrap heap of history and needs to be revived. It is an important idea that needs to be known to properly defend the Constitution from attack.
Because the United States Constitution is a compact then contract law applies. One of the biggest attacks today on constitutional protections has been the United States Supreme Court. The prevailing idea in Washington DC is that the Constitution is an old document and new interpretations need to be read into it. This is exactly opposite what contract law tells us.
Contract law tells us, rightfully and logically so, that when there is a question about a contract that a “meeting of the minds” is evaluated. This “meeting” represents the intent of the original writers of the contract. It has nothing to do with expanding or diminishing the contract. When the Founders created the Supreme Court they envisioned it going back to original principles to make decisions. The ideas of state sovereignty, enumerated powers, the people’s rights and the primary function of government being instituted to protect those rights would be reflected in every decision they make.
Another important aspect of contract interpretation is to read the document as a whole and not to evaluate specific ideas out of the context of the contract. One example: In our Constitution it states that Congress shall be the originator of all laws and in Article 1 Section 8 their is a specific list of enumerated powers that has been delegated to Congress. To think that a clause such as “general welfare” is an expansion of that delegated power is ludicrous and disingenuous. Why list any enumerated powers at all? It is because the “general welfare” clause has nothing to do with what we consider “welfare” today and was never intended to be an expansion of power, but a direction for the Congress to adhere to when making decisions.
The Founders wrote prolifically. They knew that later generations could benefit from their wisdom and their vision for what they had created. They also knew that these writings could be useful for future courts to interpret the ideas contained in the words of the Constitution. The writings of Madison, Jefferson, and Hamilton are integral to the understanding of the document. They explained the exact meanings found in the Constitution including the “necessary and proper” clause, the “supremacy” clause and what “general welfare” meant. What these ideas have morphed into would have the founders picking up arms again to combat the tyranny on their doorstep.
When interpretations of interpretations of court cases takes us away from the original and clear meaning of the Constitution then they must be fought. Being a creation of the Constitution, the Supreme Court is not the final arbiter of the Constitution. There is a reason they issue “opinions”. The Constitution has a clear and plain meaning. It was written to create a federal government of specific enumerated duties that would help the states collectively to prosper. Whenever the court makes interpretations that expand the powers of the federal government it is doing so in spite of what is written.
Among other things, it is high time that the 9th and 10th Amendment are dusted off and the proper relationship between the states and the federal government is once again realized. This must happen for our republic to survive and for prosperity and liberty to once again be part of our national lexicon.