June 21, 2010 – Federalist No. 39 – Cathy Gillespie

Monday, June 21st, 2010

There are still two weeks left for young people to enter the We The People 9.17 Contest!

How is the Constitution Relevant Today?

Entries due July 4th!

High School Students: We need more short film, PSA and song entries!! We are accepting essays from high school students as well.  Prizes including $2,000 per category; trip to Philadelphia; possible TV appearance!!

Middle School students: write a cool song, or an essay! Prizes include gift cards, and national exposure!

Elementary School students: draw a picture, or write a poem!  Prizes include gift cards and national exposure!

Details and exact topics for each category on this link: http://constitutingamerica.org/downloads.php

Now for Federalist No. 39:

Thomas Jefferson called the Federalist Papers “the best commentary on the principles of government … ever written.”  Federalist No. 39 certainly lives up to this quote!

This paper reads like a textbook, and wouldn’t it be wonderful if it were a part of our childrens’ textbooks! I am betting it is not often included.

First the definition of a Republic:

“a government which derives all its powers directly or indirectly from the great body of the people, and is administered by persons holding their offices during pleasure, for a limited period, or during good behavior,”

Next, a careful analysis of the national vs. federal qualities of the components that make up the “real character of the government”:

(1)” the foundation on which it is to be established” – (ratification is a federal act)

(2) “the sources from which its ordinary powers are to be drawn” – the sources of power are national (U.S. House); federal (U.S. Senate); and a combination of national and federal (Executive Branch/Election of the President).

(3) “the operation of those powers” (national)

(4) “to the extent of them” (federal)

(5)  “the authority by which future changes in the government are to be introduced” (neither “wholly national nor wholly federal”)

Federalist 39 makes clear the depth and breadth of the system of checks and balances the founders so carefully constructed.  The three branches of government, and the enumerated powers of the national government are some of the more obvious checks and balances of our Republic. But the fact that the elements which make up the character of our government (foundation; sources, operation and extent of power; and authority by which changes are made) are so well balanced between federal and national qualities is amazing!  It is like cutting into a beautifully decorated cake, and finding intricate designs within, and on the various layers.

It is the depth with which these checks and balances are etched into the structure of our government that gives me hope that our Constitution and our Republic will survive. Though we may drift from time to time, there are systems built into the Constitution that allow “we the people” to bring our country back onto the intended path when we stray too far outside the Constitutional framework.

The Constitution is our roadmap.  We must look at it, read it, understand it, and respect it.  It must stay in our national consciousness.  How else will we know when we have taken a wrong turn?

Our liberty hangs in a delicate balance.  When the balance is disrupted, we lose our freedom!

Thank you to all of you who are blogging and adding to the debate, and our collective understanding! And a big thank you to Professor Baker for your enlightening essay!

Good night and God Bless!

Cathy Gillespie

 

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