Alan Keyes
The Constitution: from reverence to contempt
By Alan Keyes
June 18, 2012

"Wise politicians ... know that every breach of the fundamental laws, though dictated by necessity, impairs that sacred reverence which ought to be maintained in the breast of rulers towards the constitution of a country, and forms a precedent for other breaches where the same plea of necessity does not exist at all, or is less urgent and palpable." (Federalist No. 25)

Over the past several years, I have on numerous occasions dealt with the profoundly important constitutional issue at stake in the controversy over Barack Obama and the Constitution's requirement that the president of the United States be a natural born citizen (e.g., "Obama's eligibility: The true issue," "Obama's eligibility: Will courage or cowardice prevail?", "The eligibility case Obama wants no one to hear," "Natural law knows no party," "Glenn Beck: Sometimes it's better to be silent," "The end of the constitutional republic"). Last Monday, in a case in which I was one of the plaintiffs, the U.S. Supreme Court once again evaded its responsibility to treat with respect all the provisions of the U.S. Constitution. Given the uniform tenor of its prior actions, there was no reason to expect the Court to act differently in this case.

Because I have written so much about this in the past, and because the Court's action came as no surprise, I was tempted to let it pass with the same silent contempt the Court is showing for the Constitution. It occurred to me, though, that this is precisely what the smug destroyers of constitutional government are working to achieve. They mean to spread contempt for the Constitution like a silent contagion until the people's attachment to constitutional self-government atrophies, like limbs benumbed by leprosy.

The Court's now-routinized disrespect for the terms of the Constitution is just a symptom of the pervasive contempt for constitutional self-government undeniably evident amongst the elitist faction seeking permanently to overthrow it. This is a far cry from Alexander Hamilton's concern that any such breaches of respect would diminish the "sacred reverence" toward the Constitution wise statesmanship requires.

Is it only a lack of wisdom we have to fear in our times? Would that it were; but the elitist faction tolerates and moves to enlarge the breach Obama's election represented because they no longer share the commitment of America's founders to "rest all our political experiments on the capacity of mankind for self-government" (Federalist No. 39). Instead, as I point out in the latest posting on my blog, they have "substantiated or fallen prey to a moral and intellectual culture that rejects the idea that lawful government requires a republican form, derived from the general consent of the people."

In place of government of, by, and for the people, the elitist faction seeks to consolidate government of, by, and for the elites. Far from being novel or progressive, this kind of government simply restores the age-old model of arbitrary rule by the powerful few. Because of their self-serving ambition to impose this form of despotism, the strategists of elite domination read texts like the Federalist Papers differently than I, or others who favor liberty, read them. Where I and others see instructions for preserving self-government despite its vulnerabilities, they see a catalogue of weakness to be exploited and exacerbated so that it may be overthrown.

America's founders sought carefully to establish government limited by respect for God-endowed right. Therefore, the strategists of elitist domination aim by all means to redefine right as unlimited choice and unfettered freedom, so that the resulting maelstrom impels people to clamor for a government unconstrained in its power to deal with the awful consequences. America's founders sought to inculcate and encourage "sacred reverence" for the Constitution, so that even a powerful majority would feel constrained to respect the more permanent sense of their own goodwill it represented. Therefore, the strategists of elitist domination encourage the belief that majority votes may cast aside the Constitution's terms, obviating the need even to look as if they are taking them seriously. America's founders observed that liberty requires a moral and religious people. So these strategists of elitist domination debunk morality, assail religion, and seek to criminalize every appearance of public piety.

This latter perversion of statesmanship is surely the most telling — for what becomes of "sacred reverence" when in practice every semblance of reverence, every feeling of holiness is being shamed, outlawed, and discouraged by persecution? Yet a sense of the sacred is in the end just the acknowledgement of the connection that subsists between the part and the whole, the individual and the community, the good of each and the common God of all. Without it, the res publica (what people have in common) loses the ground or basis of its existence, leaving a welter of solitary individuals, cowering before their common fear and ready (even eager) to yield themselves to the manmade but inhuman power that manipulates it.

Is this not, in political terms, the very image of hell? I know that not all the justices on the U.S. Supreme Court mean to consign Americans to its precincts. But if the wise goodwill of America's founders is the measure of statesmanship, it is the meaning and consequence of what they do.

To see more articles by Dr. Keyes, visit his blog at and his commentary at and

© Alan Keyes


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Alan Keyes

Dr. Keyes holds the distinction of being the only person ever to run against Barack Obama in a truly contested election – featuring authentic moral conservatism vs. progressive liberalism – when they challenged each other for the open U.S. Senate seat from Illinois in 2004... (more)


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