Today is Constitution Day, commemorating the ratification of the US Constitution. For some background on this, you can consult the essay I wrote on the topic, but for now here's some quotes on the document and its significance in addition to the ones I've been using all week:
“The Constitution does not grant rights, it recognizes them”
“The Constitution of the United States was made not merely for the generation that then existed, but for posterity- unlimited, undefined, endless, perpetual posterity”
"On every question of construction (of the Constitution) let us carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed."
"Do not separate text from historical background. If you do, you will have perverted and subverted the Constitution, which can only end in a distorted, bastardized form of illegitimate government."
"Our ideals of freedom, set forth and realized in our Constitution, are our greatest export to the world."
"If you think aficionados of a living Constitution want to bring you flexibility, think again. You think the death penalty is a good idea? Persuade your fellow citizens to adopt it. You want a right to abortion? Persuade your fellow citizens and enact it. That's flexibility."
"The American Constitution is the greatest governing document, and at some 7,000 words, just about the shortest."
"To live under the American Constitution is the greatest political privilege that was ever accorded to the human race."
"Those who made and endorsed our Constitution knew man's nature, and it is to their ideas, rather than to the temptations of utopia, that we must ask that our judges adhere."
"The basic premise of the Constitution was a separation of powers and a system of checks and balances because man was perceived as a fallen creature and would always yearn for more power."Oh, and for fun, a few idiots:
"Outside of the Constitution we have no legal authority more than private citizens, and within it we have only so much as that instrument gives us. This broad principle limits all our functions and applies to all subjects."
"In matters of Power, let no more be heard of confidence in men, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution."
"The strength of the Constitution, lies in the will of the people to defend it."
"The government was set to protect man from criminals -- and the Constitution was written to protect man from the government. The Bill of Rights was not directed against private citizens, but against the government -- as an explicit declaration that individual rights supersede any public or social power."
"...the American Constitution is, so far as I can see, the most wonderful work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man."
-W. E. Gladstone
"No one can read our Constitution without concluding that the people who wrote it wanted their government severely limited; the words 'no' and 'not' employed in restraint of government power occur 24 times in the first seven articles of the Constitution and 22 more times in the Bill of Rights."
-Edmund A. Opitz
"Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters."
"The Constitution of most of our states (and of the United States) assert that all power is inherent in the people; that they may exercise it by themselves; that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed and that they are entitled to freedom of person, freedom of religion, freedom of property, and freedom of press."
"Just talk to me as a father - not what the Constitution says. What do you feel?"Have a great Constitution Day, and spend a few moments reading it if you haven't before.
"The Constitution of the United States was made by white men, the citizens and representatives of twelve slaveholding and one non-slaveholding State; and it was made for white men."
-John H. Reagan
"The pursuit of happiness is in our Constitution. We're all entitled to have the best we can."
"I think the U.S. is terrifying and it saddens me."