Smoky Mountains Sunrise
Showing posts with label US Constitution. Show all posts
Showing posts with label US Constitution. Show all posts

Friday, April 20, 2012

Virginia Will Not Cooperate with NDAA Detention

Sic Semper Tyrannis!
On Wednesday, the Virginia legislature overwhelmingly passed a law that forbids state agencies from cooperating with any federal attempt to exercise the indefinite detention without due process provisions written into sections 1021 and 1022 of the National Defense Authorization Act.  We hope South Carolina and other states will soon join the Old Dominion in standing up for freedom and the protection of her people from a tyrannical President and federal government.

HB1160 “Prevents any agency, political subdivision, employee, or member of the military of Virginia from assisting an agency of the armed forces of the United States in the conduct of the investigation, prosecution, or detention of a United States citizen in violation of the United States Constitution, Constitution of Virginia, or any Virginia law or regulation.”

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Dr. Larry Arnn - "The Founders' Key"

A lecture delivered by Dr. Larry P. Arnn at The Allan P. Kirby, Jr. Center for Constitutional Studies and Citizenship of Hillsdale College. This lecture took place on December 2, 2011 at The Allan P. Kirby, Jr. Center in Washington D.C.

"Historians today commonly claim that the Constitution of 1787 marked a break with the Declaration of Independence of 1776, even speaking of two foundings. This is both false and destructive of liberty. In fact, the principles of the Declaration command the arrangements of the Constitution, and the arrangements of the Constitution embody the principles of the Declaration. It is critical today to regain an understanding and love of the unity of these two grand documents."

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Lindsey Graham: Obama's Useful Idiot or Partner in Treason?

Gives Obama the Right to Ignore Sixth Amendment, Jail American Citizens Without Trial

By Joe Wolverton, II

President Barack Obama signed a law on New Year's Eve granting himself absolute power to indefinitely detain American citizens suspected (by him) of being "belligerents." He promises he won't use it, however. 

On December 31, 2011, with the President's signing of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the writ of habeas corpus — a civil right so fundamental to Anglo-American common law history that it predates the Magna Carta — is voidable upon the command of the President of the United States. The Sixth Amendment right to counsel is also revocable at his will.

The United States, as Senator Lindsey Graham declared during floor debate in the Senate, is now a theatre in the War on Terror and Americans "can be detained indefinitely ... and when you say to the interrogator, 'I want my lawyer,' the interrogator will say, 'You don't have a right to a lawyer because you're a military threat.'"

Don't worry, though. Although the President now wields this enormous power, he adamantly denies that he will ever "authorize the indefinite military detention without trial of American citizens." That guarantee is all that stands between American citizens and life in prison on arbitrary charges of conspiring to commit or committing acts belligerent to the homeland.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Civility and Citizenship in Washington's America and Ours

Charles R. Kesler, a professor of government and director of the Henry Salvatori Center at Claremont McKenna College, received his A.B. in Social Studies and his A.M. and Ph.D. in Government at Harvard University. He is editor of and contributor to Saving the Revolution: The Federalist Papers and the American Founding, and co-editor, with William F. Buckley, Jr., of Keeping the Tablets: Modern American Conservative Thought. Dr. Kesler has published widely in newspapers and periodicals such as the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Times, National Review, and the Weekly Standard, and is editor-in-chief of the Claremont Review of Books.

On November 12-16, 2000, Hillsdale College's Center for Constructive Alternatives held a seminar on "The Morality of Civility." Participants discussed the decline of manners and civility since the 1960s, and suggested ways that they might be revived. In the following presentation, Dr. Kesler addressed the connection of civility and citizenship as understood by George Washington and other Founding Fathers, against the backdrop of the uncivil controversy in the aftermath of the recent presidential election.

As we meet here to consider the connection between civility and citizenship, that connection seems to have become weakened, at least in certain select Florida counties. As shocking as some of the shenanigans in those counties might seem, perhaps they should not come as a complete surprise. After all, the same people who now seem to love Election Day to the point of wanting it to go on forever, have for years been markedly unenthusiastic about Constitution Day. Perhaps this is because they understand the Constitution to "evolve" or change from year to year—or at least from election to election, depending on who wins. This changeability is what today's liberals mean when they say we have a "living Constitution." It does not represent constitutionalism in the older sense of the word. Nor, I would argue, is it a formula for good government, because it undermines the constitutional morality that is essential to the connection between citizenship and civility in democratic or popular governments.

The Constitution as Teacher

Consider the moral problem faced by our Founding Fathers in the late eighteenth century. Looking back over the history of previous popular governments—which James Madison, for one, did extensively—they discovered a generic problem. This problem arises from the basic idea of democracy—the idea that the people ought to be the source of all law. The problem is this: If the people are the source of the law, why should they respect it? Why should they not simply look on the law as a tool or a convenience with which to achieve their private ends? Most republics had failed precisely because they had not solved this moral conundrum. The people, being the source of the law, had failed to distinguish their rights from their desires, and had come to believe that whatever they wanted passionately enough was their right. This is the path down which democracies descend—the path of tyranny of the majority, which Madison presents in The Federalist Papers as the characteristic fault of republican regimes.

The genius of the American Constitution is shown in nothing more than in its ability to tutor the American people in a way to overcome this fault and make them law-abiding. Don't we all today look up to the Constitution as an authority for us, even though, technically speaking, its only legal and moral authority comes from the fact that it was ratified over 200 years ago by a generation that is dead and gone? Of course, as each state enters the Union, it must agree to abide by the Constitution. And whenever we amend the Constitution, we in a sense endorse it. But in fact, the American people have legislated themselves a Constitution only once, in 1787 and 1788, and since then we have looked on it as authoritative. Thus for Americans, the oldest law is the highest law. This is not a normal or an automatic outcome of popular government. Most of the time, republics and the people who move their politics tend to think that if they make a law "A" one day, and a law "B" that contradicts "A" the next day, the newer law supersedes the old. What is unusual about the Constitution is that this rule is completely reversed in respect of it. The oldest law is the most authoritative, and is indeed the only law that "the people" as such have ever passed. Other law is statute law, law made by representatives of the people. Thus every other law needs to be adjudged in light of the only law that is genuinely ours, the Constitution.

Creating this new category of law, the Constitution, which is created by "we the people" and yet ascends above us, was a great breakthrough in political science and a great achievement of the American Founders.

The Importance of Washington

The theory of the Constitution is contained in The Federalist Papers, but the moral authority which backs up this theory is George Washington—our first president, and the only president elected unanimously by the Electoral College. There is a real sense in which the prestige of the Constitution depends on the fact that Washington stands behind it. Certainly he had an enormous amount to do with its original success. We can see how and why this is by considering the connection of civility and citizenship. The problem of this connection can be stated succinctly: Many countries have citizenship without the restraints of civility; nor is it unusual for non-fellow citizens to be civil. But how is it possible to combine civility and citizenship in healthy and mutually reinforcing ways?

To be "civil," in ordinary usage, means to be polite, respectful, decent. It is a quality implying, in particular, the restraint of anger directed toward others. In this sense, civility is not the same thing as warmth and indeed implies a certain coolness: civility helps to cool the too hot passions of citizenship. When citizens are civil to one another despite their political disagreements, they reveal that these disagreements are less important than their resolution to remain fellow citizens. They agree on the fundamental political questions, even if they differ on secondary issues. Without this fundamental agreement, citizenship would be self-contradictory and finally self-destructive. The French Revolution remains the unforgettable modern example of citizenship's self-destruction in the absence of civility. Citizen Brissot, Citizen Danton, Citizen Robespierre—one by one they fell victim to ever more radical and exclusive definitions of the good citizen. Tyranny itself is this process of exclusion carried to its logical extreme.

Still, it would be a great mistake to believe that the opposite of tyranny is simply a concord of opinion. Political friendship can be based on better or worse opinions. The criteria for evaluating them must therefore be extrinsic to the opinions themselves. In other words, even as citizenship requires civility, so civility points beyond itself to permanent and objective moral standards—to the nature of "civil government" and, higher still, to the moral and theoretical concerns of what is rightly called civilization. Here the example of Washington is invaluable.

Civility in the first place is a matter of shaping young people's character. The tools of this art include precepts, examples, exhortation, and shame. It is not surprising, then, to find that one of the earliest writings of the young Washington, laboriously entered into his copybook, is a set of 110 "Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation." For the most part these are useful lessons for reducing any adolescent to a civilized state: e.g., "Shake not the head, feet, or legs; roll not the eyes; lift not one eyebrow higher than the other, wry not the mouth, and bedew no man's face with your spittle by [approaching too near] him [when] you speak." These rules are a playful (though serious) reminder that civility consists first of all in good manners. "Every action done in company," reads the first rule, "ought to be with some sign of respect to those that are present."

Civility in this sense stands athwart the contemporary ethic of self-expression. Nevertheless, good manners aim not to crush but to form individual character. Washington's list begins with what might be dismissed today as mere social conformity; but it ends, "Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience." Conformity to social custom is a part of good manners, but it is justified because it frees us to cultivate the distinctions that matter. Civility allows for, and at its best is, the fanning of that "spark of celestial fire" in man to produce a steady blaze of moral seriousness.

Washington's civility is thus a species of honor or of concern with honor. Explaining to his wife why he had had to accept the command of the Continental army, he wrote:

"It was utterly out of my power to refuse this appointment, without exposing my character to such censures, as would have reflected dishonor upon myself, and given pain to my friends. This, I am sure, could not, and ought not, to be pleasing to you, and must have lessened me considerably in my own esteem."

Washington's consciousness of his own honor, reflected in and reflecting the honorableness of his friends, provided the touchstone of his conduct. At the highest level, his civility was thus a form of magnanimity. As Aristotle explains, the magnanimous man accepts external honors as the highest tribute that can be paid him, but regards all such popular offerings as vastly inferior to its own sense of dignity and propriety.

One of the most instructive displays of Washington's magnanimity was his response to Colonel Lewis Nicola's letter, on May 22, 1782, proposing that Washington be made King. At this time the Continental Army was still assembled, and its soldiers were deeply aggrieved due to the fact that they had not been paid what they had been promised by Congress for their service. Washington might well have led this justly disgruntled army to Philadelphia to assume the role of king or dictator. Instead he replied to Nicola's proposal as follows:

"With a mixture of great surprise and astonishment I have read with attention the Sentiments you have submitted to my perusal… I am much at a loss to conceive what part of my conduct could have given encouragement to an address which to me seems big with the greatest mischiefs that can befall my Country. If I am not deceived in the knowledge of myself, you could not have found a person to whom your schemes are more disagreeable…Let me conjure you then, if you have any regard for your Country, concern for yourself or posterity, or respect for me, to banish these thoughts from your Mind, and never communicate, as from yourself, or any one else, a sentiment of the like nature."

What is remarkable here is the letter's tone: not outraged or accusatory, it was calculated to shame. And indeed, Nicola was so ashamed that he wrote three apologies in as many days.

In this short letter, Washington refused the honor of being king on the remarkable grounds that it was beneath him! Honor without principle would be infamy; true honor lay in performing just and noble deeds for their own sake, not for the sake of extrinsic rewards. And in the most fundamental sense, the letter's tone was "civil"; it was not the voice of a commander upbraiding his inferior officer, but of one civilian to another. The foundation of civilian control of the military was the civility of the commanding general—his reasonable control of his militant passions.

Thus did Washington's civility lay the basis and set the standard for republican citizenship in America. His virtues may be considered the final cause of the new regime, even as they played an indispensable role in its efficient causation—the victories won by the Continental army. Be that as it may, the formal cause of the new order was something different. This was the great principle, proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence, "that all men are created equal." It is a matter of some academic and political dispute today how this was understood at the time. Certainly, however, there should not be any dispute over how Washington understood it.

In his General Orders to the Army on March 1, 1778, Washington wrote that the fortitude of "the virtuous officers and soldiery of this Army…not only under the common hardships incident to a military life, but also under the additional sufferings to which the peculiar situation of these States have exposed them, clearly proves them worthy of the enviable privilege of contending for the rights of human nature, the Freedom and Independence of their Country."

In addition to Washington's own honor, then, there is an honor due to human nature, which honor may be called the rights of man. It is an "enviable privilege" to contend for them because they are something special: they are based on what is special to man—his rank in Creation. Man's possession of reason distinguishes him from the beasts, but his imperfect possession of reason—above all the fact that his passions may cloud his reason—distinguishes him from the divine being, the kind of being whose rationality is perfect and unaffected by desire. As the in-between being, man's dignity derives from his place in this ordered universe.

Civility and Citizenship in the Founding

Washington expressed the whole purpose of the Revolution—in words that would be echoed, I might note, in the Hillsdale College Articles of Incorporation—as follows: "The establishment of Civil and Religious Liberty was the Motive which induced me to the Field…" In the Christian West prior to the American founding, citizenship and civility were both endangered. Christianity, when established by temporal authorities, had the distressing if somewhat paradoxical tendency both to sap obedience to civil laws and to invite civil coercion in matters of faith. By virtue of the first tendency, citizenship became peculiarly problematic. By virtue of the second, civility became swamped by fanaticism and hypocrisy. Restoring the foundations of civility and citizenship under these conditions was the great accomplishment of the American Founding. It did this in the name of civil and religious liberty, not explicitly of virtue, for the deepest cause of the civil war within the Christian West had really been the dispute over the meaning of virtue—not only between competing religions, but between the rational and revealed accounts of virtue, skeptical reason and faithful obedience. But this was a debate that had to be carried on at the highest intellectual and spiritual levels. It could not be conducted politically, and any attempt to do so was bound to be tyrannical. This had been the cause of the holocausts of the Old World. In America, people would have the liberty to carry on this transpolitical debate while cultivating the civic and religious friendship that was its precondition and product.

Two principles were required: a ground of citizenship and a ground for separating citizenship from church membership. Both were found in the doctrine of the rights of man. In the first place, the basis of political obligation was found in the consent of each individual, premised on the grounds of their natural freedom and equality. At the same time, religious liberty is secured by virtue of the limited nature of the social contract. "Civil government" and "civil liberties" are made possible by excluding questions of revealed truth from determination by political majorities. Majority rule and minority rights can be made consistent only on this basis. Limited government is thus essential to the rule of law. But the justice of limited or moderate government for all times and places depends upon the limits of human knowledge, whether viewed in terms of Socratic ignorance or man's inferiority to God. In light of these limits, the separation of church and state means that revelation is not forced to overrule the protests of human reason, nor reason compelled to pass judgment on the claims of revelation. The limits of human wisdom from every point of view thus affirm the justice of limited government and of citizenship governed by civility. Both are embodied in the Constitution of 1787.

Civility and Citizenship Today

The principle that binds our political parties together—as it binds American citizens together—is allegiance to the Constitution and constitutional morality. And as I recently observed in the Claremont Review of Books, the disturbing thing about the election of 2000 was how thin that allegiance sometimes seemed. In the days after November 7, it was widely and repeatedly suggested that because the Vice President appeared to have won a plurality of the nationwide popular vote, he somehow must have won Florida's popular vote, whether or not the election tally confirmed it. Furthermore, it was suggested, his national plurality meant that he somehow deserved Florida's electoral votes and thus the presidency. Those proposing these arguments seemed to be saying that it was not how Americans actually voted but how they meant to—or should have—voted that counts. This is a theory that hitherto has been at home only in banana republics and the phony "people's republics" of the Communist world. In any event, they never backed away from the notion that the moral high ground was held by the popular vote, not by the Electoral College. So it was not surprising to hear that Senator-elect Hillary Rodham Clinton promises as her first official act to support an amendment to abolish the Electoral College.

The Electoral College is a crucial part of the Framers' machinery for combining democracy with constitutionalism and the rule of law. It ensures that the president will be chosen not by a plebiscitary majority but by a constitutional one, distributed by states and moderated by the need to accommodate a variety of interests and viewpoints. Without the Electoral College, our political party system would fragment, smaller and more extremist parties would proliferate, and election fraud would multiply enormously. To abolish the Electoral College would be to strike at the heart of the Constitution.

The constitutional majority is, in fact, the only majority that has ever governed the United States as a free country. We don't determine which party controls the Senate or the House of Representatives by pointing to the raw national vote totals rung up by each party. We count the votes by state or by congressional district, and control of the House or Senate goes to whichever party has won more of the individual races. The same principle applies to the presidency. Whoever wins the majority of the electoral votes cast by the states is thereby elected President. This is not really a question of democracy. The principles of one man, one vote, majority-rule democracy apply scrupulously in every state. Rather the issue is democracy with federalism (the Electoral College) versus democracy without federalism (a national popular vote).

In any case, one prays that these events do not portend many such attempts in the future to break the customary, unwritten rules of our constitutional democracy. These habitual rules are fostered by the Constitution, and nourish it in turn. We undermine and weaken them at the peril of our country.

In conclusion, the Founding Fathers were hopeful but not sanguine about the prospects of the American experiment in free government. In his famous Circular Letter of June 14, 1783, Washington wrote:

"The foundation of our empire was not laid in the gloomy age of Ignorance and Superstition, but at an Epocha when the rights of mankind were better understood and more clearly defined, than at any former period; the researches of the human mind, after social happiness, have been carried to a great extent; the Treasures of knowledge, acquired through a long succession of years, by the labours of Philosophers, Sages and Legislatures, are laid open for our use, and their collected wisdom may be happily applied in the Establishment of our forms of Government; the free cultivation of Letters, the unbounded extension of Commerce, the progressive refinement of manners, the growing liberality of sentiment, and above all, the pure and benign light of Revelation, have had a meliorating influence on mankind and increased the blessings of Society. At this auspicious period, the United States came into being as a Nation, and if their Citizens should not be completely free and happy, the fault will be entirely their own."

The auspices could not have been more favorable, but the political lesson was that the freedom and happiness of the American people, and the destiny of the civilization they represent, depend on their conduct. As shown in their list of grievances against the British king in the Declaration of Independence, the Founders were well aware that "cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages" could be committed by "the Head of a civilized nation"—were aware more generally that ages of science and commerce could be just as barbarous, in some respects more barbarous, than ages of "Ignorance and Superstition."

It was precisely such a threat from within that faced the United States less than 75 years later in the Civil War, when civility and citizenship were rent in two by the controversy over slavery. It was in the midst of this crisis that Abraham Lincoln, leaving Springfield for the nation's capital, declared somberly that he went "with a task before me greater than that which rested upon Washington." In contemplating the future of American citizenship and civility, we ought to remember how he bore that task; and what he may have learned to help him bear it, as an avid student of the life of Washington, and of the constitutional morality it embodied and upheld.

Reprinted by permission from Imprimis, a publication of Hillsdale College.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Ed Meese: The Moral Foundations of Republican Government

Edwin Meese, III became the 75th attorney general of the United States on February 25, 1985. For four years prior to that, he held the cabinet-level position of counselor to the president and during Reagan's years as governor of California, Mr. Meese served as his executive assistant and chief of staff (1969-74), and as his secretary of legal affairs (1967-68). He has also been a deputy district attorney in Alameda, California, a professor of law at the University of San Diego, a director of the Center for Criminal Justice Policy and Management, and a vice president for Rohr Industries, an aerospace and transportation company.

Editor's Preview: Two hundred twenty-three years old and counting, the Constitution is one of the most important documents in American history. Yet in the past decades the Constitution has been relegated to the status of a museum piece rather than a practical and valid tool of law. Critics of the Supreme Court charge that Justices increasingly render decisions, not according to the constitutional merits of a case, but in light of their own agendas. Several of the Justices, most notably William Brennan, do not dispute this. They agree with the school of legal realism, dominant today in the nation's law schools, that the Constitution is outdated and the original intentions of its framers irrelevant, that only the Supreme Court can say what the law is, and that its definitions must keep up with the times.

In this 1986 essay, Attorney General Edwin Meese takes issue with the legal realists. He carefully recounts the reasons why the Constitution was written and offers an explanation for its enduring importance in our history. His remarks imply that the authority of the Constitution ought to be restored, and that amendments ought to be put before the states according to the provisions of Article V, not simply enacted in the form of judicial decisions.

Taking the opportunity to pause and reflect on the roots of our freedom is always an important thing for us to do. But it is especially important now, as we prepare to celebrate the bicentennial of our Constitution. For our Constitution remains, as William Gladstone, the great British statesman once described it, "the most wonderful work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man."

Too frequently we view our Constitution primarily from the standpoint of litigation, as little more than a lawyer's brief or a judge's opinion. But it is, as you know, far more than that. Not only is the Constitution fundamental law, it is also the institutional expression of the philosophical foundation of our political order, the basis of our very way of life. George Roche has explained why this is so as clearly as anyone. "The Founding Fathers," he has written,

derived their principles of limiting government and protecting individual rights from a belief in Natural Law; that is, a belief that God had ordained a framework of human dignity and responsibility that was to serve as the basis for all human law and as the root assumption behind a written constitution.

During this bicentennial period especially it is crucial that we cast aside the notion that the Constitution is only a litigator's brief or a judge's opinion. Our task is to reawaken public opinion to the fact that our substantive constitutional values have a shape and content that transcend the crucible of litigation.

In order to successfully effect this reawakening, it is necessary to move beyond the current legal debate over jurisprudence. It is, in fact, necessary to move beyond current legal cases and controversies to the political and social milieu of the era in which our Constitution was written. We need to understand that generation of founders not simply as a historical curiosity. Our obligation is to understand the Founders as they understood themselves.

Now this is no small task. And, obviously, my remarks are merely an introduction to what is, by any measure, an area of inquiry as intellectually complex as it is politically rich. I would like to offer a few general observations about the moral foundations of the government the Founders designed. In particular, I will argue that the ideas of natural rights and the consent of the governed are essential to understanding the moral character of our civil society. Further, I will discuss the institutional forms of the Founders' politics that facilitated the cultivation of virtue in our people—virtues upon which our form of government still depend.

In approaching this subject, we first need to remember that our founders lived in a time of nearly unparalleled intellectual excitement. They were the true children of the Enlightenment. They sought to bring the new found faith in human reason to bear on practical politics. Hobbes and Locke, Harrington and Machiavelli, Smith and Montesquieu—these were the teachers of our Founders. These were the authors of celebrated works that had called into question long-prevailing views of human nature and thus of politics. Our nation was created in the light cast by these towering figures. That is what Alexander Hamilton meant in The Federalist when he argued that the "science of politics …like most other sciences, has received great improvement. The efficacy of various principles is now well understood, which were either not known at all, or imperfectly known to the ancients." Our Founders, in many ways, sought to give practical effect to David Hume's desire "that politics may be reduced to a science."

What, then, are the moral foundations of our republican form of government? Much of the answer, I believe, can be found in our charter of fundamental principles, the Declaration of Independence. I think it is worth recalling Thomas Jefferson's famous formulation of these first principles. "We hold these truths," he said, "to be self-evident,"

That all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Now these rights were neither the result of legal privilege nor the benevolence of some ruling class. They were rights that existed in nature before governments or laws were ever formed. As the physical world is governed by natural laws such as gravity so the political world is governed by other natural laws in the form of natural rights that belong to each individual. These rights, like the laws of gravity, antedate even mankind's recognition of them.

But because these rights were left unsecured by nature, as Jefferson said, governments are instituted among men. Thus there exists in the nature of things a natural standard for judging whether governments are legitimate or not. That standard is whether or not the government rests, in the phrase of the Declaration, upon the consent of the governed. Any political powers not derived from the consent of the governed are, by the laws of nature, illegitimate and hence unjust. Only by such a natural standard can arbitrary power be checked.

"Consent of the governed" is a political concept that is the reciprocal of the idea of equality. Because all men are created equal, nature does not single out who is to govern and who is to be governed. There is no divine right of kings, for example. Consent is the means whereby man's natural equality is made politically operable.

In this theory of government, this philosophy of natural rights and the consent of the governed, we find the most fundamental moral foundation of republican government. For it presupposes a universal moral equality that makes popular government not only politically possible but morally necessary. However accustomed we have become to ideas of natural rights and the consent of the governed, we should never forget that these were, two centuries ago, morally revolutionary ideas. During this bicentennial period we should refresh ourselves as to the truth of these ideas.

Of course, it is one thing to argue that the only legitimate foundation of government is the consent of the governed, but is is quite another matter to put this theory into practice. The key here is the Declaration's maxim that in order to secure rights "governments are instituted among men." It is then, by the act of choosing, by the political act of constituting a government, that the moral standard of the consent of the governed is given definite shape and formidable weight. But such an act of creation is not easy.

That is what Alexander Hamilton had in mind when he introduced the first essay in The Federalist by asking "whether societies of men are really capable or not, of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend, for their political constitutions, on accident and force." For after all was said and done, after the Revolution had been won, it remained to be seen whether the glowing rhetoric of the Declaration could actually be made the standard of political practice.

One thing their recent experience with England had taught the Americans was the necessity of a constitution. And not just any sort of constitution would do. The celebrated English Constitution, after all, had allowed what they saw as a gross abuse of political power. That, we must remember, is what most of the Declaration of Independence is about: the long catalogue of abuses the Americans had suffered. This experience with the all-too-malleable English Constitution bolstered their own earlier inclinations—from the Mayflower Compact on—toward a written constitution. The one best way to hedge against arbitrary political power was to clearly stake out the lines and limits of the institutions that would wield power. Thus the purpose of our written Constitution was, as Walter Berns has said, to get it in writing.

This belief in a written constitution was the fulfillment of the more basic belief in the moral authority of the consent of the governed. A written constitution, when duly ratified, would stand as the concrete and tangible expression of that fundamental consent. This document would stand as testimony to the Founders' unfaltering faith in (to borrow the late scholar Alexander Bickel's term) the "morality of consent."

The question facing the Americans then became how to devise such a constitution that would, in the language of the Declaration, be "most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness." Indeed, as James Madison would bluntly put it later in The Federalist: "A good government implies two things; first, fidelity to the object of government, which is the happiness of the people; second, a knowledge of the means by which that object can be best attained."

After the War for Independence was won, the Americans set about to secure their revolution. The states began to draft their constitutions and the confederation of the states sought to draft a constitution for its purposes. By 1787, one thing had become clear. Popular government was not simply good government. The state governments, had in many instances, proved tyrannical. The national authority under the Articles of Confederation had proved inept. The period between 1776 and 1787 had shown many Americans that they did not yet possess that "knowledge of the means" by which the happiness of the people could best be secured.

By the time the Federal Convention came together in Philadelphia in May 1787, however, there was a collection of men who had thought through the causes of their present difficulties. They were convinced that the mechanics of republican government could be adjusted in order to defend against charges that it was "inconsistent with the order of society." What was at issue was the very question of the moral basis of the republican form: Could a republic be saved from its own excesses? A sufficient number of Americans believed it could. And they set about to do just that.

The new science of politics, Hamilton confidently argued, provided the "powerful means by which the excellencies of republican government may be retained and its imperfections lessened or avoided."

Now one of the basic problems of the old political order was what many began to see as an unhealthy reliance on the virtue of the people. In many ways, the earlier republicans in America, those historian Pauline Maier has dubbed the "Old Revolutionaries," had created their constitutions in light of their belief that somehow the Americans were a new breed of man, self-reliant, commonsensical and, above all, civically virtuous. They had thought themselves uniquely capable of continuing self-denial and unfaltering devotion to the public good. As a result, the constitutional order they had created depended to a great degree on "Spartan habits" and "Roman patriotism." By the mid-1780s it was clear to many that to love the public and to sacrifice personally for it was proving more easily said than done. Americans, too, it seemed, were corruptible. And this unhappy fact called into question the old assumption that Americans were somehow blessed with exceptional character.

Hamilton's perspicacious collaborator, Madison, was even more succinct. "If the impulse and opportunity be suffered to coincide," he wrote in the famous tenth Federalist Paper, "we well know that neither moral nor religious motives can be relied on as an adequate controul." In what is arguably one of the most famous passages in American political writing, Madison laid the theoretical foundation for the Framers' "novel experiment" in popular government. Reflecting on the institutional contrivances of the new Constitution, Madison, in The Federalist, No. 51 neatly captured his new theory of republican government. His theory, at its deepest level, relied on a certain understanding of human nature. Thus, he wrote, "What is government itself but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controuls would be necessary." However, he concluded, "In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this; you must first enable the government to controul the governed; and in the next place, oblige it to controul itself." According to Madison the purpose of the Constitution's mechanics—separation of powers, bicameralism, representation, and so forth—was to hedge against an all too predictable human nature. The object was to offset "the defect of better motives." Good intentions were to be replaced by good institutions.

To many, the most shocking feature of the Framers' new science of politics was its bold and nearly unqualified reliance on the power of commerce to make civil society orderly. This was a truly radical step. Commerce, you see, had long been thought to be the primary cause of corruption of the manners and the morals of free people. And private vice, the prevailing belief held, could never produce public virtue.

We take commerce so much for granted that this idea is puzzling to our generation. But to many of the founding generation, commerce produced greed and venality—it brought forth, as its critics said, the worst impulses of mankind. One Anti-Federalist critic of the proposed Constitution summed it up by arguing that such a reliance on commerce would encourage an "excessive fondness for riches and luxury" that would, if left untempered, and unchecked by a concern for public virtue, "totally subvert the government and erect a system of aristocratical or monarchaic tyranny," thereby losing "perhaps forever" the liberties of the people.

The new science of politics of the Constitution was as bold as those Founders who pushed the hardest for it. They were, as one historian has described them, young men of a continental vision. This was the time of Madison and Hamilton and Morris; the day of Adams and Franklin and Lee was quickly passing. They saw more in America than just America. They saw in the founding a great example for all the world. And they believed that commerce was an essential part of this vision.

So it was that these young nationalists rejected the cautious confederalism of the older generation of founders. Their object was not to secure a confederacy of small and virtuous republics of public spirited citizens. Their object was—in the words of one of their guiding lights, Adam Smith—to establish a "great mercantile republic." Indeed, they sought to establish nothing less than a great republican empire of commerce.

Unleashed, these nationalists believed, the commercial power of self-interest that the Anti-Federalists feared could be turned to republican advantage. By drawing people together, by making them work together for their private gain, commerce could help to tame human nature. Brutish greed would become a prudent concern for profits. A nation of shopkeepers would not be characterized by crude self-interest but by what Alexis de Tocqueville would later celebrate as "enlightened self-interest." While commerce would surely depend upon human passions, it would also serve to moderate them. Commerce and constitutionalism together would make Americans free and prosperous at home and secure among the nations of the world. America would be, they believed, a new kind of republic in a world itself quite new.

But what of civic virtue? Would there be none? Surely there would have to be, because the new science of politics demanded it. As Madison pointed out in the Virginia ratifying convention, a certain degree of virtue was necessary if our form of civil society was to endure.

As we have seen, the political science of the Founding Fathers did not seek to inculcate virtue in its citizens by the terms of the Constitution. But that document, as I have said, is morally praiseworthy because it does protect natural rights and it does rest upon the consent of the governed. Still, the Founders understood the relevance of what I would call the "character question." They knew the oldest question of politics (the question Aristotle asked)—the question of what kind of people does a regime produce, what kind of character do they have—is always important.

Under the new political order of the Constitution, the cultivation of character was left to the states and the private sphere. Through the political principle of federalism, the Framers left to the people in their states sovereignty sufficient to legislate in these areas; state governments could attempt, under this scheme, directly to promote virtue among the people. In addition, family and church and private associations were expected to provide the support for the inculcation of virtue. And, in a curious way, even the thriving commercial republic the Founders envisioned would itself promote a new kind of public virtue. It would, of course, not be virtue in the classical or the Christian sense. Nor would it be the old small republican variety starkly Spartan in its demands. Rather, it would be what the late Martin Diamond accurately described as the "bourgeois virtues"—the virtues of honesty and decency that commerce itself, that business, presupposes.

But the question we must ultimately confront is how well has our Founders' constitutional handiwork in this regard fared? I suspect I will shock no one by suggesting that it fared very well for most of our history. For while not overtly concerned with morality, our Constitution, I submit, has produced the frame of government in which America has thrived as one of the most moral nations in the history of the world.

How is it that in America the moral concerns of republican government and the concomitant demand for individual liberty have been maintained in such a steady balance?

At its deepest level popular government—republican government—means a structure of government that not only rests upon the consent of the governed, but more importantly a structure of government wherein public opinion can be expressed and translated into public law and public policy. This is the deepest level precisely because public opinion over important public issues ultimately is a public debate over justice. It is naive to think that people only base their opinions on their conceptions of their narrow self-interest. Very often public opinion and political debates do reflect deeper concerns—if you will, moral concerns.

It is this venting of the moral concerns of a people that is the very essence of political life. In a popular form of government it is not only legitimate but essential that the people have the opportunity to give full vent to their moral sentiments. Through deliberation, debate, and compromise a public consensus can be formed as to what constitutes the public good. It is this consensus over fundamental values that knits individuals into a community of citizens. And it is this liberty to debate and determine the morality of a community that is an important part of the liberty protected by our Constitution.

The toughest political problems deserve to have full and open public debate. Whether the issue is abortion, school prayer, pornography or aid to parochial schools, the people within their communities within the several states must be allowed to deliberate over them and reach a consensual judgment.

This is not to say, of course, that the people must be allowed to choose any substantive end a majority at any given moment prefers. That is not good republican government; that is a simplistic notion of popular sovereignty. The political theory of our Constitution rejects such a simplistic theory. As one commentator has observed, "There are certain substantive things, such as slavery, that a democratic people may not choose because those substantive ends would be inconsistent with the fundamental premises that give majorities the right to decide."

But to deny the right—the liberty—of the people to choose certain other substantative ends reduces the American Constitution to moral relativism. In that direction lies the danger, to borrow Abraham Lincoln's phrase, of "blowing out the moral lights around us."

During the past several decades an aggressively secular liberalism often driven by an expansive egalitarian impulse has threatened many of the traditional political and social values the great majority of the American people still embrace. The strong gusts of ideology have indeed threatened to blow out the moral lights around us. This has been the result of our knocking down certain institutional barriers to national political power—in particular, the abandonment of an appreciation for the necessity of the separation of powers, and for the continuing political importance of federalism.

I would argue that the demise of these two institutional arrangements has had a disastrous impact on the moral foundations of republican government. I would further argue that these deleterious developments should be abandoned as the dangerous innovations that they are. For they violate our most fundamental political maxim: That in a system of popular government, the people have the liberty and the legitimate power within certain limits to define the moral, political, and legal content of their public lives. When we allow this principle to be transgressed, we risk severing the necessary link between the people and the polity. Indeed, we cut the moral chord that binds us together in our common belief that we have a vital role to play in deciding how we live our collective lives.

We have an obligation today—a moral obligation, if you will—to restore those institutional arrangements that the Founders knew to be essential to the nurturing of public virtue. We have an obligation to restrict the insensitive intrusiveness of the national government in order to allow the most important decisions to be made by the people, not by those Adam Ferguson once called the "clerks and accountants" of a large and distant bureaucracy. We have an obligation to allow the states and communities the maximum freedom possible to structure their politics and infuse them with the moral tone they find most conducive to their happiness. This is the moral obligation of our generation.

We may either reassert our right to govern ourselves or we can surrender to the stultifying leviathan of big government. We must restore those structures that will shore up our sagging moral foundations or we risk losing the liberties which rest upon those foundations.

A decade after the adoption of our Constitution, the Anti-Federalist Mercy Warren, with a good bit of melancholy, expressed her fear that in the end, her countrymen might be remembered as having been "too proud for monarchy,…too poor for nobility, and…too selfish and avaricious for a virtuous republic." While we may not ever be simply a virtuous people, we must surely endeavor to assuage Mercy Warren's fear by recognizing and perpetuating what Madison believed us to have: "sufficient virtue for self-goverment."

Reprinted by permission from Imprimis, a publication of Hillsdale College.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

ObamaCare Congressman Reverses Position on Constitution, Reads Statement Saying He Now Supports It

Representative Phil Hare (ObamaCare Democrat-Illinois) who ignited a firestorm of controversy this week for telling a town hall audience he's "not worried about the Constitution" on the new health care law said his comments were "taken completely out of context."

"I don't care about the Constitution ... it doesn't matter to me."

Hare's New Position on the U. S. Constitution:

Read the rest of this entry >>

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Hillary's Eligibility Challenged in Supreme Court

Can political branch evade 'clear and precise language' of Constitution?

From WorldNetDaily
By Bob Unruh

A brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court by Judicial Watch, which investigates and prosecutes government corruption, questions whether members of the "political branches of the government" can "evade the clear and precise language of a provision of the Constitution through the use of a legislative 'fix.'"

The dispute is over former Sen. Hillary Clinton's eligibility to be secretary of state.

Read the rest of this entry >>

Monday, August 3, 2009

Bailing the Capitalists: Our Southern Fathers Told Us What To Expect

From Chronicles
By Clyde N. Wilson

“ . . . and bank-notes will become as plentiful as oak leaves.” —Thomas Jefferson

“They [the people], and not the rich are our dependence for continued freedom. And to preserve their independence, we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must make our election between economy and liberty, or profusion and servitude. If we run into such debts, as that we must be taxed in our meat and drink, in our necessaries and our comforts, in our labours and our amusements . . . our people . . . must come to labour sixteen hours in the twenty-four, give the earnings of fifteen of these to the government for their debts and daily expenses . . . .” —Thomas Jefferson

“But an opinion that it is possible for the present generation to seize and use the property of future generations has produced to both parties concerned, effects of the same complexion with the usual fruits of national errour. The present age is cajoled to tax and enslave itself, by the errour of believing that it taxes and enslaves future ages to enrich itself.” —John Taylor of Caroline

“A crocodile has been worshipped, and its priesthood have asserted that morality required the people to suffer themselves to be eaten by the crocodile.” —John Taylor of Caroline

“We are now making an experiment, which has never yet succeeded in any region or quarter of the earth, at any time, from the deluge to this day. With regard to the antediluvian times, history is not very full; but there is no proof that it has ever succeeded, even before the flood.” —John Randolph of Roanoke

“I said that this Government, if put to the test—a test that it is by no means calculated to endure—as a government for the management of the internal concerns of this country, is one of the worst that can be conceived . . . .” —John Randolph of Roanoke

“Why should the government pay the expenses of one class of men rather than another?” —John C. Calhoun

“A habit of profusion and extravagance has grown up utterly inconsistent with republican simplicity and virtue, and which was rapidly sapping the foundation of our government.” —John C. Calhoun

“It was impossible to force the minds of the public officers to the importance of attendance to the public money, because we had too much of it.” —John C. Calhoun

“It has been justly stated by a British writer that the power to make a small piece of paper, not worth one cent, by the inscribing of a few names, to be worth a thousand dollars, was a power too high to be trusted to the hands of mortal man.” —John C. Calhoun

“The banks have ceased to be mere moneyed incorporations. They have become great political institutions, with vast influence over the welfare of the community . . . .” —John C. Calhoun, 1837

“We must curb the Banking system, or it will certainly ruin the country.” —John C. Calhoun

“Special Privilege, corporate greed, concentrated wealth are divided throughout our Union between those who call themselves Republicans and those who call themselves Democrats, but the difference in name will not forever succeed in hiding from the people the fact that the Democrats of that sort want exactly the same government favors which are demanded by Republicans of that sort . . . . Through cunningly devised tax systems, bond systems, currency systems, bank systems . . . . these modern Highwaymen get boundless booty with minimum risk . . . . Under the Banking and Bonded Systems, all the Roads of Produce lead to the Rome of Imperial Plutocracy . . . . A fight over the offices there may be, and will be; but never a fight over principles.” —Thomas E. Watson, Southern Populist, 1916

“The present corporate economy cannot do other than oppose the private economy; it must by its very nature continue to lessen private opportunity and the security of the individual; and it must very often and finally propose the corporate exploitation of every individual and private right.” —Richard B. Ransom

“The essence of finance/capitalism is not free trade but free money.” —Richard B. Ransom

“The government is the executive committee of great wealth.” —Frank L. Owsley, Southern Agrarian, 1936

From its beginnings, the U.S. government was regarded by Southerners as a matter of liberty, honour, and American mutuality. From its beginnings, the predominant class in the North regarded the government as a source of profits. Southerners saw the Constitution as the people’s control over government power. Northerners saw it as an instrument to be manipulated to their advantage. This difference came to a head in the struggle between Hamilton and Jefferson. Jefferson and his friends (John Randolph, John Taylor, etc.) called Hamilton, Adams, and their friends “monarchists.” By this was meant not only that they favoured kingship, which they did, but that they wanted a strong central government built on patronage to the wealthy (at the expense of the ordinary hard-working producers). The patronage was to be paid through national debt, manipulation of the currency, and various types of business subsidy, which were falsely claimed to be necessary and beneficial to all Americans.

Jefferson and his friends (including a valiant minority of Northerners) managed to hold Hamilton’s schemes in abeyance for two generations, although they were constantly and aggressively put forward. Lincoln’s conquest and near-destruction of the South established the Northern program without any effective check. Yet Jeffersonian ideals continued to wield a certain power long afterward, right up to World War II. It is this Jeffersonianism that is the main theme of Southern history, and not slavery as trendy “scholars” today claim. The regime of the Republican George W. Bush and the Democrat Barack Obama (there is no difference) has now delivered the final death blow to the system of government and to the ideals of freedom established by our forefathers. The Constitution no longer exists except as a collection of minor procedural rules. The distinction between government spending for public purposes and for private profits has been abolished, as has the distinction between federal spending for national purposes and for merely local purposes. The government is now making sure that the economy is frozen so that those who are presently wealthy will remain so and that your and my children and grandchildren will pay the price in a diminished life.

Clyde N. Wilson is a contributing editor to Chronicles. A retired professor of history at the University of South Carolina, he is the author of numerous books, including Carolina Cavalier: The Life and Mind of James Johnston Pettigrew and Defending Dixie: Essays in Southern History and Culture. He is the editor of The Papers of John C. Calhoun.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Restore the 10th Amendment to the US Constitution Now!

We are delighted to learn that Senator Larry Martin, R-Pickens, chairman of the South Carolina Senate Rules Committee, has asked that chamber to give priority status on the Senate calendar to a resolution affirming our state's sovereignty under the 10th Amendment to the United States Constitution.

This resolution is sweeping through the states, and plans are being developed for more concerted action among the states, to ensure that the federal government abides by the Constitution in the future.

As one would expect, Democrats have criticized this legislation as symbolic and having no "weight of law" in Washington.

We believe that a vote on this legislation will be enormously important in helping South Carolina voters sort out those state legislators who believe in the Constitution, from those who do not. Also, this should be a first step toward collaboration among states in standing up for their sovereign rights. Over twenty-seven states are considering or have enacted the resolution.

When these states unite in refusing the unfunded mandates, the unconstitutional interference in state matters, and refuse the shekels that are invariably followed by shackles, our republic will be restored and renewed in liberty and justice for all.

Those South Carolina legislators unwilling to stand up for the sovereignty of South Carolina should get out of Freedom's way. If they do not, voters will have a grave responsibility to remove them.

In the following video, Governor Rick Perry, a Governor cut from the same cloth as Governor Sanford, endorses the resolution introduced in the Texas legislature.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Sunlit Uplands Declares Itself a "Hate" Website

The following story is a good reflection of how far this nation has strayed from what it was founded to be - a republic of the people, by the people, and for the people, where the Constitution guarantees God-given rights and freedom for all.

We have tragically become a nation where the people are instead the docile workers, supporting an ever larger, more centralized, more powerful, and more arrogant government that serves a small power elite. If criticism of our President and our federal government makes one a "hater," or this a "hate site," then we proudly accept the appellation.

We hate the federal government's arrogance and disregard for the U.S. Constitution. We hate what has become of the U. S. Congress, an overpaid, over-staffed, self-perpetuating institution that appropriates more and more tax dollars for the sake of its own political preservation.

We hate that America's public schools have become instruments of the state, rather than the agents of parents, where values contrary to those of most parents and antithetical to America's Constitution are imposed, and where critical thinking is suppressed.

We agree with Samuel Adams that "While the people are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but once they lose their virtue they will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader." A national government that defends immorality while banishing religious practice and values from our schools and the public square, is a government determined to undermine the moral strength and conviction that flows from those who have well formed consciences and know that truth is objective and real, not relative, and must be proclaimed and defended.

We hate those who would present themselves and their government programs as idols and substitutes for the One True God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth.

We hate a government that defends the deliberate taking of human life and funds abortion and other means of population control here and around the world.

We hate its unconstitutional, undeclared and preemptive wars.

We hate that our national government has suppressed all notion of the United States as a voluntary association of free and independent states, where all but a few, enumerated powers are reserved to the states.

We hate a government that is subservient to major, international corporations, entangling alliances and trade agreements that put ideology and corporate interests above those of American families, small business owners and workers, and have exported American manufacturing and jobs to nations with slave labor wages.

We hate a government intent on imposing socialist principles that are contrary to human nature, natural law, and have always and everywhere failed.

We agree with Thomas Jefferson that "Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God," and that "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

With Jefferson, "I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just."

A story that should concern all liberty loving Americans follows. May it inspire us to restore America's Constitution.

OKC officer pulls man over for anti-Obama sign on vehicle
From The Enid News and Eagle
By Bridget Nash

An Oklahoma City police officer wrongly pulled over a man last week and confiscated an anti-President Barack Obama sign the man had on his vehicle.

The officer misinterpreted the sign as threatening, said Capt. Steve McCool, of the Oklahoma City Police Department, and took the sign, which read “Abort Obama, not the unborn.”

Chip Harrison said he was driving to work when a police car followed him for several miles and then signaled for him to pull over.

“I pulled over, knowing I hadn’t done anything wrong,” Harrison said in a recent phone interview.

When the officer asked Harrison if he knew why he had been pulled over, Harrison said he did not.

“They said, ‘It’s because of the sign in your window,’” Harrison said.

“It’s not meant to be a threat, it’s a statement about abortion,” Harrison said.

He said he disagrees with the president’s position on abortion.

“I asked the officer, ‘Do you know what abort means?’” Harrison said. “He said, ‘Yeah, it means to kill.’ I said, ‘No, it means to remove or terminate.’”

Harrison said his sign was to be interpreted as saying something like: Remove Obama from office, not unborn babies from the womb.

The officers confiscated Harrison’s sign and gave him a slip of paper that stated he was part of an investigation.

Harrison said he later received a call from a person who said he was a lieutenant supervisor for the Internal Investigations Department and wanted to know his location and return his sign to him.

According to Harrison, the supervisor said the Secret Service had been contacted on the matter and had told them the sign was not a threat to the president.

Harrison was asked if he would like to file a complaint. He said he was not sure but would take the paperwork, just in case.

But his run-in with the law wasn’t over yet.

“The Secret Service called and said they were at my house,” Harrison said.

After talking to his attorney, Harrison went home where he met the Secret Service.

“When I was on my way there, the Secret Service called me and said they weren’t going to ransack my house or anything ... they just wanted to (walk through the house) and make sure I wasn’t a part of any hate groups.”

Harrison said he invited the Secret Service agents into the house and they were “very cordial.”

“We walked through the house and my wife and 2-year-old were in the house,” Harrison said.

He said they interviewed him for about 30 minutes and then left, not finding any evidence Harrison was a threat to the president.

“I’m still in contact with a lawyer right now,” Harrison said. “I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

Harrison said he feels his First Amendment rights were violated.

McCool said the officer who pulled over Harrison misinterpreted the sign.

“We had an officer that his interpretation of the sign was different than what was meant,” McCool said. “You’ve got an officer who had a different thought on what the word ‘abort’ meant.”

McCool said the sign basically meant Obama should be impeached and it was not a threat.

“(The officer) shouldn’t have taken the sign,” McCool said. “That was (Harrison’s) First Amendment right to voice his concern.”

McCool said although the sign should not have been confiscated, the situation was made right in the end.

“We always try to do the right thing and in the end we believe we did the right thing by returning the sign,” McCool said.

Enid Police Department Capt. Dean Grassino said such an incident most likely would not have occurred in Enid.

“We wouldn’t pull over anybody for a bumper sticker or a sign like that unless it was a safety issue,” he said.

Grassino said a safety issue would be a sign that obstructs the view of the driver.

“We wouldn’t do it based on the views of the bumper sticker or sign,” Grassino said.

If a sign was undoubtedly a threat to the president, Grassino said it is not within the jurisdiction of the city police to handle that and the FBI or the Secret Service would be called before any action was taken.