"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."
These words offer a powerful opening to one of the most important documents in the history of the world. For over 200 years, the Constitution of the United States of America has been the envy of the world. It's the guiding force behind the most enduring democratic system of government ever; it helped create the environment that produced the greatest economic engine in history; it's been used as a model for better government around the world.
That's not to say that the Constitution makes governing easy. If anything, the Constitution makes it harder, because it requires that the majority respect the minority. It sure feels harder to get things done when you can't make all decisions unilaterally! Yet when the Constitution works as it should, and opposing sides must come together to find an effective solution, it's amazing what can be accomplished.
Today is Constitution Day. Here are quotes to help remind you of the wisdom and enduring power of this incredible document:
1. "The Constitution is the guide which I will never abandon." - George Washington
2. "The happy Union of these States is a wonder; their Constitution a miracle; their example the hope of Liberty throughout the world." James Madison
3. "The glory of justice and the majesty of law are created not just by the Constitution - nor by the courts - nor by the officers of the law - nor by the lawyers - but by the men and women who constitute our society - who are the protectors of the law as they are themselves protected by the law." - Robert F. Kennedy
4. "If there is any principle of the Constitution that more imperatively calls for attachment than any other it is the principle of free thought, not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate." - Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
5. "As a member of this court I am not justified in writing my private notions of policy into the Constitution, no matter how deeply I may cherish them or how mischievous I may deem their disregard." - Felix Frankfurter
6. "The U. S. Constitution doesn't guarantee happiness, only the pursuit of it. You have to catch up with it yourself." - Benjamin Franklin
7. "We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution." - Abraham Lincoln
8. "To live under the American Constitution is the greatest political privilege that was ever accorded to the human race." - Calvin Coolidge
9. "The Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, the constitutions of the several states, and the organic laws of the territories all alike propose to protect the people in the exercise of their God-given rights. Not one of them pretends to bestow rights." - Susan B. Anthony
10. "Our Constitution works; our great republic is a government of laws and not of men. Here, the people rule." - Gerald R. Ford
11. "We have the oldest written constitution still in force in the world, and it starts out with three words: 'We, the people.'" - Ruth Bader Ginsburg
12. "Every act of a delegated authority, contrary to the tenor of the commission under which it is exercised, is void. No legislative act, therefore, contrary to the Constitution, can be valid. To deny this, would be to affirm, that the deputy is greater than his principal; that the servant is above his master; that the representatives of the people are superior to the people themselves; that men acting by virtue of powers, may do not only what their powers do not authorize, but what they forbid." - Alexander Hamilton
13. "The liberties of our country, the freedom of our civil constitution, are worth defending against all hazards. And it is our duty to defend them against all attacks." - Samuel Adams
14. "The American dream comes from opportunity. The opportunity comes from our founding principles, our core values that's held together and protected by the Constitution. Those ideas are neither Republican, Democrat, conservative, liberal, white, or black. Those are American ideologies." - Ted Yoho
15. "Honest conviction is my courage; the Constitution is my guide." - Andrew Johnson
16. "As the Constitution endures, persons in every generation can invoke its principles in their own search for greater freedom." - Anthony Kennedy
17. "The Constitution of the United States was made not merely for the generation that then existed, but for posterity- unlimited, undefined, endless, perpetual posterity." - Henry Clay