COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., June 1, 2016—In a presidential election year in which it seems every Republican governor and senator was running for president, Sen. Mike Lee from Utah was not. Elected to the Senate in 2010, he is running for re-election. But his book, “Our Lost Constitution: the Willful Subversion of America’s Founding Document,” released last summer, is not the typical mishmash written by a politician to advance his career or candidacy. Lee is a serious student of the Constitution and this book is a serious yet very readable book about the “lost clauses” of the Constitution, as he calls them.
Lee’s official biography says he acquired a deep respect for the Constitution early on. His father, Rex Lee, who served as solicitor general under President Ronald Reagan, often discussed aspects of judicial and constitutional doctrine at the kitchen table, ranging from topics like due process to the uses of executive plenary power. Lee attended most of his father’s arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court, giving him a unique, hands-on experience and understanding of government up close. Some of these biographical details, as well as others, are repeated in the book. It’s a perspective that few others have.
The first part of this book is devoted to six clauses in the Constitution that Lee calls “lost”; but perhaps “ignored” would be a better term—or “willfully subverted,” as in the subtitle of the book.
The first of these is the Origination Clause, which states that “All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other bills.” (Article I, Section 7). That should have saved us from Obamacare, Lee writes.
As anyone paying attention at the time knows, the House and Senate bills could not be reconciled and it was the bill originating in the Senate that was passed—unconstitutionally. But while parts of the Obamacare law have been taken to the Supreme Court multiple times, this basic willful misuse of constitutional procedure never has been.
None of those 17 people running for the Republican nomination has even mentioned it. Hence, a lost clause.
But Lee doesn’t just describe what happened in recent memory. Instead, he describes in some detail why that clause was in the Constitution in the first place and its pivotal role in the Constitutional Convention.
That’s the strength of this book. In each of the clauses and amendments Lee reviews, he tells the story of how they came to be, why they are important for protecting our liberty, and the exact circumstances in history when they were first subverted.
Lee is not one to complain without providing solutions. He’s been working in the Senate to curb abuses of the Constitution, and he highlights some of those efforts in the second part of his book.
Lee gives one great example of how a “lost clause” has been saved: the Second Amendment. We have won back our Second Amendment rights because we are willing to stand up for them against the constant onslaught of the left-wing establishment and media.
He also provides us with three general ways we can reclaim our Constitution: through the courts, through legislation and through the power of the purse.
Note that none of those three ways includes the executive branch, and none depends on who gets elected to the White House in November.
The Constitution belongs to We the People, and only the people will save it.
“Our Lost Constitution: The willful subversion of America’s founding document,” by Sen. Mike Lee, Sentinel-Penguin Group, 2015.