COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., Aug. 11, 2016 — When naturalized citizen and immigration lawyer Khizr Khan held up a copy of the U.S. Constitution at the Democratic National Convention, he created quite a stir. Not exactly the kind of thing you’d expect from a convention that didn’t even display one American flag until the media pointed it out.
Also not what you’d expect from a man who founded a journal dedicated to sharia law and wrote that the U.S. Constitution should be read and interpreted in light of sharia.
Following that event, Democratic “protesters” appeared at a Trump rally silently holding up pocket Constitutions.
It’s a very strange election year indeed.
The party that has said for a century that the Constitution has no fixed meaning but that believes in the idea of a “living Constitution” has discovered a printed version and is waving it around. What printing Mr. Khan held up is not certain. No one has been able to identify it by its blue-and-white cover.
But the incident has sparked a run on pocket Constitutions.
You don’t really need a printed version.
Today the text of the Constitution can be found online at the National Archives or downloaded in PDF format from the Government Printing Office. The latter version, authorized by the 110th Congress on July 25, 2007, also contains six unratified amendments. There is even an app for that.
A printed version is handy, though, and many organizations produce them: Hillsdale College, Heritage Foundation, Wall Builders, Cato Institute, Young Americans for Liberty, the Federalist Society, the Essential Liberty Project and Liberty Counsel, to name a few.
Besides the Constitution itself and all the amendments, these guides often include the Declaration of Independence. A few have the Articles of Confederation. Hillsdale includes an outline of its Constitutional study course.
But for simplicity, low cost and the sheer number in circulation, nothing beats the pocket Constitution published by the National Center for Constitutional Studies. At just $1, it’s the No. 1 best seller in Constitutions at Amazon; for a short time last week, Amazon even sold out. Dan Sheridan, spokesman for NCCS, said they ship to Amazon every week, and they have plenty in stock at their own store as well.
It contains the Constitution and Amendments, helpfully noting within the text of the Constitution those words and phrases that have been modified by amendments. The Declaration is there as well, along with a few quotations from the founding generation focusing on the importance of educating the people, preserving principles and guarding virtue and freedom.
The book itself was first designed by the Commission on the Bicentennial of the United States Constitution, created by act of Congress on Sept. 29, 1983. The current printing is 2014; since 2004, the NCCS has sold 16 million copies.
Such a pedigree doesn’t impress the left.
The Los Angeles Times published a piece critical of this popular edition, writing “Some constitutional scholars say that a number of quotations in the NCCS version are either deliberate alterations or taken out of context.” Who those “some” are, and what the alterations are, must be left to the imagination.
And their imagination is fertile: we are also told that this booklet is unreliable because Cliven and Ammon Bundy were photographed with it. As the trendy know, what you read isn’t nearly as important as who else is reading it.
Particularly at issue for secular progressives is John Adams’ statement: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” This supposedly means that, according to the Times, ”The underlying message is that the U.S. is a Christian nation not intended to be ruled by a single government.”
Where that came from is not divulged. Adams made that statement while addressing the military in 1798, also saying, “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion…”
In other words, Adams is saying that our federal government was not designed to enforce morality, as many atheists and secularists today claim, but rather the Constitution works only because we have a people who restrain themselves.
When the people do not voluntarily submit to the rule of law, a republic does not work. Our recent attempts at nation-building attest to this fact.
By calling attention to the Constitution right before the election, progressives are playing a dangerous game. NCCS is there to help. They are planning to print four million more copies soon, with a longer-term vision of distributing 100 million copies.