This testament to American freedom is understood as being the framework of our government, but how many Americans can say they know what the Constitution contains other than the Bill of Rights?
This Constitution Quiz is a good test for those of us who think we know a little, or perhaps more than a little, about the Constitution. It was a good test for me.
Question No. 1: Has the Constitution Always Guided the Country?
Answer: No. Originally the nation functioned under the Continental Congress and the Articles of Confederation. But after 11 years under the Articles, the U.S. Constitution was written, agreed to, and ratified by nine states (all eventually ratified but only nine were needed to have it take effect). On September 13, 1788, the Continental Congress proclaimed that the Constitution had been properly ratified and it ordered the new government to convene on March 4, 1789.
Question No. 2: Does the Constitution allow the Supreme Court to make law?
Answer: No. The beginning of Article I states, “All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States.” Any Supreme Court decision is the law of the case and it binds only the plaintiff and the defendant. The meaning of the word “all” has not been changed.
This corrects the popular misconception that the Supreme Court is the law of the land. It is not. It is the law of the case.
Question No. 3: Does the Constitution allow the President to make law?
Answer: No. Executive Orders issued by the President that bind the entire nation are illicit because, as noted above, “All legislative powers” reside in Congress. An Executive Order that binds only the employees of the federal government is proper because the President should be considered to hold power much like the CEO of a corporation who can issue rules to his employees.
But the entire nation is not in the employ of the President. The President does have a role in lawmaking with his possession of a veto. He can veto a measure produced by Congress (which can still be overturned), sign a law produced by Congress, or simply allow a measure to become law by doing nothing within ten days “Sundays excepted.”
This is critical in understanding Executive Orders. King Obama has issued more than 900 of them, many of them draconian and totalitarian in nature. It’s nice to know, at least in theory, that they are “illicit.”
Now if Congress would just grow a backbone and challenge them…
More Q and A on the Constitution tomorrow!