Kopp Column: Our Government Is Operating As Though It Has No Constitution


Do you believe in a literal interpretation? Of what, you ask. Your grocery list? Your bank account? Your instructions to your children? The Bible? The Constitution?

Division in the world’s big three faiths (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) can be traced to how members of each division view their holy writ (The Torah, The Bible, The Koran). The same is true of Americans and the people they elect – how literally is the Constitution to be interpreted? Divisions can be traced to less-than-literal interpretations.

Before applying it to modern life, it first must be determined what was meant when the words were penned. In other words, what is the historical, cultural and grammatical context of the Constitution? If one does not believe in the literal historical, cultural and grammatical context of the Constitution, then whatever was written could mean a variety of things. The meanings could be endless because there are an infinite variety of shadings, colorings, twists and bents one could make the words that were written. “Originalism” is the most reliable means of reading the document. It prevents divisiveness caused by different schools of Constitutional Interpretation.

Some of the most intense debates I’ve ever witnessed or participated in were not in debate classes, but in Constitutional Law classes. Set up to divide the class between different schools of Constitutional interpretation (Originalism, pragmatism, natural law, strict constructionism), the debate became very divisive with divisions spilling in to other coursework. A literal strict interpretation of the Constitution prevents and avoids contention, confusion and chaos.

Some who do not believe in a strict literal interpretation of the Constriction are those who also say it is not relevant to this day and age. An example of someone who believes the Constitution is not relevant to today’s America is then-Senator Barack Obama. In a 2001 radio interview, U.S. Senator Barack Obama seemed to downplay the validity of the U.S. Constitution by describing it as incomplete:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GtG2YZ0ZJYQ&w=480&h=360]

Another group believes the Constitution is not a living document. To make the Constitution a living document is to make it a document of will and not law. It says what the reader wills it to say.

One reason some do not like to interpret the Constitution literally is it is a limiting document, not a granting document. It limits what the government can or cannot do and then leaves it up to the states to make it applicable to the local culture of each state.

It seems that those people who believe the Constitution can be interpreted in a variety of ways, or that it is a living document or that it does not apply to modern times are people who do not seek a union, but rather a division, and they use the framework of the U.S. Government to attempt to divide the country. The results of their division are noted: A house divided will not stand.

We are becoming very close to what Thomas Paine wrote,

“A constitution is not the act of a government, but of a people constituting a government and a government without a constitution is power without right.”

Our government today is acting as though it has no Constitution. If every law passed and every edict written by a president who tosses around executive orders like confetti were to cite their basis in the Constitution, we’d have fewer laws, more responsible citizens and a more sure form of government. We would have less division between political parties.

What is an example of something in the Constitution you believe should not be interpreted literally?

Mike Kopp has exercised his political muscle as a media director to two statewide campaigns, a television political reporter, a lobbyist, and staff assistant to the Senate Majority Leader. He is currently a communications contractor working from his home in Wilton, ND.

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  • Captjohn

    In an upcoming column I write on North Dakota’s constitution as it relates to the appropriation process. I like Mike believe the framers of the state and federal constitution meant what they wrote.

  • Neiman

    If the founding fathers were not able to write exactly what they meant, we cannot trust a single word to mean what they say and that means we cannot plan our lives and live under the sure protection of the Constitution, as we never know from one minute to the next what is lawful. The Supreme Court and the other two branches do no believe the words have exact meanings, or they would find their work very limiting. In fact, at first no one wanted to be on the Supreme Court, they saw it as a nothing to do job, until they decided they could interpret every word based on their partisan leanings.

    The Constitution is a living document, that is a true statement; but, not to be changed on a whim, arbitrarily to meet to new circumstances or understandings, it lives because it can be amended by “the people” and only “the people.” The Supreme Court has bastardized the Constitution and liberals believe they are free to change its meanings when it is convenient to them. Obama and Biden believe that!

    The Constitution is DEAD and while not exclusively, it was mostly killed by liberals. If the Bill of Rights say Congress shall make no laws infringing on these rights, as an example, how do they or any branch of government, from the federal to local communities dare legislate registration, types of guns, trigger locks, no carrying them wherever we go, etc? Surely those things are making laws and surely those laws are infringing on that basic right. I do not own any guns, so I am not arguing about my gun ownership and use; I am arguing that the Bill of Rights permit no such laws and if the country thinks such laws are good and necessary only they, “the people” are able by amendment to say such laws can be enacted – no one else.

    Once we permitted the smallest breach in any of our basic rights, we lost the Constitution and we will never get it back absent some sort of people revolution demanding a return to the rule of Law.

    • http://realitybasedbob.sayanythingblog.com/ realitybasedbob

      Is the same sentiment true about your writings, Old Pal?
      If you don’t write exactly what you mean, can we trust anything you write?

  • $8194357

    Do some research of the incorperation of the Federal Government..
    They haven’t been using the Framers version for a very long time…
    Their version gives DC corperate ownership rights the Founders
    called tyrany. Crony capitalism and elitist olagarchy has been the rule of
    the day since before the Federal Reserve usurpt the Treasury back in 13…

    We went from Constitutional ‘common law’ to being under ‘corperate ownership’
    law a very long time ago…Polar opposites as the Framers gaurenteed personal
    liberty and freedoms and the other communist rule by central planning
    elitist international olagarchy..

    Why ya think the POTUS swears in twice?
    The public one is the dog and pony show for the sheople.
    The other the international progressive soviet.
    The corperate federal government declared chapter 11 in 1993
    and we are in recivership to the debtors everysince…..

    You betcha….
    Made for mass consumption propaganda since Woodrow sold the US farm..

  • Roy_Bean

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,….”
    In democrat-speak this very clearly means no Nativity Scenes in public.

    “….the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
    In democrat-speak this is really not very clear at all.

  • $8194357

    Jerry Kirk, a student at the University of Chicago, who was active in the Communist Party up to 1969, told the House and Senate Internal Security Committees:

    “Young people have no conception of the conspiracy’s strategy of pressure from above and pressure from below, so well outlined in Jan Kozak’s And Not A Shot Is Fired. They have no idea they are playing into the hands of the Establishment they claim to hate. The radicals think they are fighting the forces of the super-rich, like Rockefeller and Ford, and don’t realize that it is precisely such forces which are behind their own revolution, financing it, and using it for their own purposes.”

    End quote
    Olagrchy of ineternationalis progressive elites…
    Rule of men above the rule of law…

    These Bill Ayers anarchist types are in control of the Democratic Party
    and the elitist money folks run both parties….

    This ain’t your daddys America.

  • Thresherman

    The term “living Constitution” has been bastardized by the left, as they do with so many things, to make it mean something other than what was originally intended by the phrase.The founders gave us an amendment process that allowed us to address future issues such as slavery and giving women the right to vote. They knew that it was an unfinished document when the wrote it and the amendment process addressed that, giving meaning to the idea of the living Constitution. But the left hates the amendment process as does not allow the minority view to dictate to the majority and so they began to use the courts to gain what they could not otherwise.

    Now the words of the Constitution are clear in their meaning and what’s more, the founding fathers left us the Federalist Papers to augment that meaning. But the left wants lawyers, who will debate how many angels can dance on the point of a pin, to challenge the meaning of the words and this process of undermining the word and intent of the document is what liberals refer to a the living Constitution.

    To call this despicable would be akin to referring to a gang rape as a mild social deviation, but the left recognizes no restraints in their quest for power. Make no mistake about this, the left does not want to merely govern, they want to rule, which is why they need to undercut the Constitution as it is the law that ensures government of, for and by the people.

    • Neiman

      Excellent response. It captures the matter precisely.

      Democrats fear the Amendment process, because they fear “the people” are not with them, and with the liberal MSM (DNC Propaganda Ministry) they can mold opinion to their liking.

    • $8194357

      Yes sir..
      What you said…

  • $8194357

    The second coming of Barak?


    “Barak is of Hebrew origin and its meaning is ‘flash of lightning,” the poster notes, referencing a passage in in the Old Testament book of Judges.

    Hussein, they allege, is a Biblical word meaning “good and handsome.”

    “So you see, Barak was destined to be a good and handsome man that would rise like a flash of lightning to win victory in a battle against overwhelming odds,” the poster read.

    This week’s cover of Newsweek depicts President Obama as the “Second Coming” – a biblical reference to the return of Christ.

    It’s not the first time that Obama has been deified by his supporters.

    • http://ndgoon.blogspot.com Goon

      I think Obama and Biden are a bunch of buffoons.

      • $8194357

        Puppets for sure…
        Those pulling their strings on the other hand…

  • $8194357

    Third generation communist/muslim social justice anti American POS
    dual citizen POTUS POSER…

  • sbark

    We started down that road when FDR trashed the Constitiution………….
    ……..but now Obama’s Banana Republic has moved us down the road of complete disregard for the simple Rule of Law,
    He made a preemptive move 5 yrs ago when he wiped out the Chrysler Bond Holders, and its been downhill from there.
    We are headed for a 3rd world Banana republic where everything is done with bribes under the table, and knowing who to get on your knees for……

    • $8194357

      ( where everything is done with bribes under the table,
      and knowing who to get on your knees for)
      The PC term is now “stimulus” I beleive to bring it stealthily to the top of the table…
      To big to fail?

      Isaiah 5:20-21
      New King James Version (NKJV)

      20 Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
      Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness;
      Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

      21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes,
      And prudent in their own sight!

  • Thomas

    This whole issue of the US Constitution being anything else besides a Symbol of the Govermnent, has already been decided. Our Nation Does Not Even Try To Live Up To The Constitution. Remember the Constitution was established to clearly state the job of the Federal Government, and then in the bill of rights clearly states what the Government could not do. Thus very strongly limiting the power of the Federal Government can have.

    Since the time of President Rooveselt the leaders of this nation has been slowly destorying parts of the Constitution. The sad part is the people say by and allow it to happen. Now the American People have been brained washed into beleiving so many lies about the Constitution, and the intent of the Founding Fathers.

    There is very little, except some window dressing, left of the Constitution in the Government. Our Founding Fathers established a Republic form of Government and now we have allow this to change to a Tyranny.

  • chris

    Actually the Constitution is full of ambiguities and leaves plenty of room for interpretation. This is why sometimes it’s up to the Supreme Court to formally define the interpretation.

  • Snarkie

    Kopp is a flippin’ moron. ‘Nuff said. Take on the constitution is cute for an uneducated person. Take on differences among Abrahamic religions = holy crap this guy is a moron. Or he just makes s### up instead of turning to some book learning.

    And he is available for hire… need a political strategist… to make you look like a stupid arse?

    Post your fee schedule Kopp. I want to see what this crap is worth. Har har har.

    • Onslaught1066

      Hey buttfuckle, how much do you get paid to be a professor?

      What’s that you say?

      Bounced out on your ear?

      Academic malpractice, you say?

      No reputable university or even mail order diploma mill will touch you with a 10 ft. pole?

      BTW, how’s your wife?

      Still dead, I trust.

  • Snarkie

    So you like literal interpretations? Compare the second amendment in the US constitution to article 16 of the Vermont constitution. One clearly provides for private ownership of firearms for self-defense. If you are being a strict ‘literalist’ then you are gonna run into some problems. See what the dissent in ‘Heller’ says about the wording of the second amendment. Then look again at article 16 of Vermont’s constitution Uh oh.

    What’s the ND constitution say about the right to bear arms? Much more specific than the second amendment.

    Art 1 Sect 1: “…to keep and bear arms for the defense of their person, family, property, and the state, and for lawful hunting, recreational, and other lawful purposes, which shall not be infringed.”

    Cannot state constitutions provide additional protections which the US constitution doesn’t? So why obsess about the federal constitution? I thought you were federalists? What about state’s rights and all that?

    “Oh but we ARE for state’s rights, we just spend all our time and effort and energy concentrating on national law, national admins, national constitutions.”

    F#**ing morons.

    • Onslaught1066

      So, when you killed your wife in Vermont… was she threatening you, hmmmm?

      Mucking buttfuckle.