Over the years, many concerned Americans have asked me, “What can we do to restore the Constitution?” It is an apt question that deserves a meaningful response. But in my experience, most of the suggestions generally proffered as the key to “restoring the Constitution,” however noble and well-intentioned, simply do not have the power to achieve the goal.
For instance, some insist that we do a better job of educating Americans about the Constitution. The sad truth is that today’s citizens woefully lack understanding of even the most basic features of their federal government. A large segment of our population—including many federal officeholders—seem to have missed the fact that powers not specifically given to the national government in the Constitution are forbidden to it. So providing instruction on our nation’s founding charter is a good start, but is only a start.
Others emphasize the cultivation of personal habits that promote liberty, including temperance, frugality, courage, and reverence for God. Those are all crucial components of the foundation that made America great. They are the characteristics that define statesmen and good citizens. But, as important as personal virtue is to the welfare of the nation, personal virtue alone will not “restore the Constitution.”To restore the Constitution requires specific, concrete action to overturn the specific, concrete actions and decisions by past presidents, Congresses, and Supreme Courts that have undermined it by fundamentally redefining many of its terms. The only way to achieve this is by proposing and ratifying constitutional amendments that will explicitly reinstate the original meaning of those constitutional provisions.
Has Congress delegated much of its lawmaking function to agencies of unelected bureaucrats? Consider an amendment to clarify that agencies may not independently adopt rules and regulations.
Please enjoy the rest of this article in The Federalist.
Tom Coburn, M.D., represented Oklahoma in the United States Senate from 2005 to 2015 and in the House of Representatives from 1995 to 2001.