THE CONSTITUTION REFRESHER
We, The People
What is a “Constitution?”
Thomas Paine told the People in the States, as the nation was figuring out how to organize and manage the new nation:
“A constitution is not the act of a government, but of a people constituting a government; and government without a constitution is power without a right. All power exercised over a nation, must have some beginning. It must be either delegated, or assumed. There are not other sources. All delegated power is trust, and all assumed power is usurpation. Time does not alter the nature and quality of either.”
Thomas Paine, Rights of Man [1791-1792]
But – What is our Constitution? What does it say? How did we come up with it? Who said this was the way to go? What does it allow, and what does it prohibit? Why? Is it in good health? Is it “living,” or is it somehow obsolete?
The Constitution Refresher is a seminar that has been created to give you an insight to The Constitution of the United States of America that you cannot get anywhere else.
The Constitution Refresher is a one-day seminar, presented in a Power-Point format. Each participant gets a copy of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America. This copy is one of those convenient booklets that you can carry around, or leave on the end table as you watch the news.
History and Purpose of the Course
In 2009, discussions among Hal, his wife Micki, and Tennessee State Senator Dolores Gresham about long-term and recent radical changes in the way the United States has been led from Washington concluded that most of the concerns could be clarified if the People of Tennessee – and of the United States – had a better understanding of the Constitution of the United States.
This led further to the conclusion that, with the background and interest available, Senator Gresham should sponsor a seminar, to be led by Hal, that would refresh and deepen the understanding of local constituents about the United States Constitution. The first session was held in the hallway outside Senator Gresham’s office in August of 2009.
The sense that this session was very successful, and should be shared with more citizens has led to many more sessions, which have been held from Coast to coast, including the Reagan Ranch Center in Santa Barbara, California. Many people who have attended one have returned to participate again, stating that there is so much information, and that it is so useful, and so fun, that they feel the time is well spent.
SEMINAR AGENDA - Times vary depending on audience participation.
HOUR 1 - WHO, WHEN, WHERE AND WHY –
A New World Beckoned
Why Englishmen Went There, The Perils They Faced – And Overcame
New Philosophies Began to Form A New Culture
The Old Country Tried to Keep – and Increase – Control
And It Became A War
HOUR 2 – INDEPENDENCE AND BEGINNING FROM SCRATCH –
Declaring Independence – Philosophy and Motivation
Beginning From Scratch – Articles Of A Plan
Wise Men Seeing A Changing World
Putting Hope In A Runaway Convention
HOUR 3 - THE ORIGINAL CONSTITUTION
The New Plan
What Was It?
Who Said So – By What Authority?
How Was It To Be Organized?
How Would It Govern?
How To Prevent Overreach?
Who Makes the Rules, And How?
(Meal break is typically between hours 2 & 3 or 3 & 4.)
HOUR 4 – STRUCTURE AND RESPONSIBILITIES
Congress- Powers And Original Restraints
Executive branch –
The Electoral College
Powers And Duties
Judicial branch –
The Weakest Branch - Originally
Rules for governing,
Ratification – Converting It From A “Legal Zoom” To Something Real
The Promise That Got It Done – Mostly, But Leaving A Hole
HOUR 5 - GETTING STARTED AND KEEPING THAT PROMISE – AND FILLING THAT HOLE
Convening For The First Time
Filling the Offices
Passing the First Laws and Creating Departments
Proposing A BILL OF RIGHTS
HOUR 6 - THE FOLLOWING AMENDMENTS - THE AMAZING RESULTS
17 More Amendments
Courts Tinkering with Perfection - Precedents And Consequences
THE CHALLENGE FOR THE FUTURE
What can we do about it? – What should we do?
That is up to you…