The still-unfolding story of
• The Origination Clause says that all bills to raise taxes must originate in the House of Representatives, but contempt for the clause ensured the passage of Obamacare.
• The Fourth Amendment protects us against unreasonable searches and seizures, but the NSA now collects our private data without a warrant.
• The Legislative Powers Clause means that only Congress can pass laws, but unelected agencies now produce ninety-nine out of every one hundred pages of legal rules imposed on the American people.
Lee’s cast of characters includes a former Ku Klux Klansman, who hijacked the Establishment Clause to strangle Catholic schools; the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, who called the Second Amendment a fraud; and the revered president who began his first of four terms by threating to shatter the balance of power between Congress and the president, and who began his second term by vowing to do the same to the Supreme Court.
Fortunately, the Constitution has always had its defenders. Senator Lee tells the story of how Andrew Jackson, noted for his courage in duels and politics, stood firm against the unconstitutional expansion of federal powers. He brings to life Ben Franklin’s genius for compromise at a deeply divided constitutional convention. And he tells how in 2008, a couple of unlikely challengers persuaded the Supreme Court to rediscover the Second Amendment’s right to keep and bear arms.
Sections of the Constitution may have been forgotten, but it’s not too late to bring them back—if only we remember why we once demanded them and how we later lost them. Drawing on his experience working in all three branches of government, Senator Lee makes a bold case for resurrecting the Lost Constitution to restore and defend our fundamental liberties.
“Our Lost Constitution is one of the most fascinating and important books on our founding document that I have ever read. From early childhood on, Senator Mike Lee has studied and honored the United States Constitution. In this book he has combined history and law in an exceptional analysis of the dangers that challenge our constitutional system of government today, why the departure from the founders’ vision is so detrimental to every American, and how conscientious public officials and concerned citizens can and must join in in restoring obedience to our national charter, which is essential to protecting our liberty and making our democratic republic work again.”
—Edwin Meese III, former
PART I explains the “lost clauses,” relates how they were subverted, and provides examples of recent consequences.
•The origination clause (tax bills must originate in the House of Representatives) is described as “the compromise that saved the constitutional convention” by persuading the big states to accept a bicameral legislature in which only one house would be selected on the basis of population. Credit the wily elder statesman, Benjamin Franklin, for pulling this rabbit out of his hat. But for the procedural workarounds that have since come into vogue, the controversial GovCare (aka Obamacare) law might not have been enacted
•The legislative powers clause vests the power to make the laws solely in Congress, whereas the president is responsible for executing the laws. Over time, however, it seemed expedient to create government agencies with delegated powers to do most of the actual legislation. The volume of regulations that are adopted by unelected government bureaucrats these days vastly exceeds the volume of legislation passed by Congress. It costs the American public some $2 trillion per year, by some estimates, to comply with all the regulations on the books.
•The First Amendment provides, among other things, that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” Based on a wealth of contemporaneous evidence, the intent was to preclude the federal government from establishing a national religion. Subsequent interpretation of this clause as requiring a wall of separation between governments at all levels and any expression or display of religion would have greatly surprised the founders. Justice Hugo Black, a former member of the Ku Klux Klan with an axe to grind against Catholic schools, played a key role in the change in thinking, as is vividly related.
•The Fourth Amendment provided protection against warrantless or nonspecific search and seizures, which protection was inspired by abuses of the British Crown in both
•The 10th Amendment provides that “powers not delegated to the
PART II offers ideas for restoring the Constitution to some semblance of its original meaning.
•Litigation - The Second Amendment right to bear arms was originally viewed as an individual right (such as had formerly been recognized in
•Legislation - The Supreme Court isn’t about to rollback the administrative state on a wholesale basis, so any widespread changes would require congressional action. The best bet: (1) requiring major regulations to be approved by Congress before going into effect, as provided by the proposed REINS Act, and/or (2) exercising the “power of the purse” to block programs or policies. The writer argues that the 2013 attempt to force a one-year postponement of the employer mandate under the GovCare legislation by defunding – complementing the one-year postponement of the individual mandate, which the administration had already decreed without any lawful authority – was fully justified and in no way represented a “government shutdown.”
•Public opinion – In a general way, Americans can affect what kind of Constitution we are going to have by studying the Constitution, asking questions about political candidates, and letting their views be known. It worked in colonial
Assessment: Senator Lee’s vision of reclaiming the Constitution may or may not be practical, but his scholarship and sincerity are apparent. This is a solid analysis, communicated in an engaging and easy to follow style, which is not overtly partisan. I would recommend it for all Americans who care about the future of this country.