Welcome to Liberrants, a blog dedicated to editorials, discussions, and studies of all things libertarian. Don't let the title mislead you; it's merely my attempt to be creative in describing myself as a "hopeful curmudgeon" who embraces the goal of the free, peaceful, economically vibrant society envisioned by America's founding fathers. Jump in! Contribute! Enjoy!

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A critically thinking curmudgeon whose goal, in addition to creatively venting about the imperfect world in which we live, is to induce critical thinking in others. The ultimate goal is to help bring about a peaceful world in which we can all live in freedom.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

The Amended Preamble to the Constitution of the United States

The original text reads:

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.

I propose that the amended text read:

“We the People of the United States, in Order to establish Justice, provide for the common defence, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Note that three changes have been made here, all of them deletions. These are the deletions of the phrases “to form a more perfect Union”, “insure domestic tranquility” and the dreadful “general welfare” clause, that much-abused two-word phrase that has abetted the issuance of so many destructive amendments to the document.

From a purely libertarian perspective I can see no benefit in “forming a more perfect union.” This is exactly what “Honest [sic] Abe” Lincoln was so sure he was doing by invading the southern states after they exercised their absolutely legal and constitutional right to secede from a union that was more than a little oppressive and unjust. The union of states has so far, in this libertarian’s mind, brought about nothing other than increased centralization and oppression. In all honesty, the nation as it existed under the Articles of the Confederation was "the more perfect union."

Next I ask: How the heck does one define “domestic tranquility?” Even in eighteenth-century prose this was an ill-defined and vague term. Again, we’ve seen what ill-defined and vague language has wrought in our legal system and this is no exception. “Domestic tranquility” can be construed to mean whatever a conniving politician wants it to mean (or, more ominously, an entire body of conniving politicians). “Insuring domestic tranquility” is apparently what the Smirking Chimp now occupying the oval office had in mind when he urged congress and the courts to pass and uphold the USA Patriot [sic] act that is slowly but steadily stripping away our unalienable rights. Get vague drivel such as this phrase out of our governing document!

Finally, there is the dreaded “general welfare” clause that Thomas Jefferson so vociferously complained about before the ink on the original document was even dry. I won’t waste time explaining why I think this abomination needs to be removed. Refer to The Federalist Papers for more details.

Well, that concludes installment one of the rewrite. Much more to follow, comments and criticisms are most welcome.


Blogger Adam said...

The premble is just for show, right? I don't think that it has any legal meaning.

In that case, ammending it wouldn't mean much. If a person wanted to appeal to "general welfare", he would just have to appeal to "the founder's intent", and would still score most of the rhetorical points of appealing to the preamble.

Even worse, the Constitution is generally written with the original text followed by ammendment. In that case, school children would read the original preamble first, and then read the modified preamble as a footnote.

10:06 AM, October 23, 2005  
Blogger liberranter said...

I have to disagree that the preamble of the Constitution is just "for show." Indeed, it sets forth the purpose of all of the remaining text that follows. For this reason I would say that it is arguable the most important part of the document, giving it as much legal meaning as the articles that set forth specific duties, obligations and prohibitions.

The questions of "general welfare" and "founders' intent" have caused no end of controversy over the last two hundred and eighteen years precisely because these terms are so vague and ill-defined. As I said in my initial posting, my intent is to eliminate as much ambiguity from the document as possible, perhaps even "updating" some of the language to preserve the founders' intent while using contemporary language that retains the same meaning in context. More on this to follow.

3:59 PM, October 23, 2005  
Blogger Convoluted Muse said...


Forgive my ignorance but could you perhaps post an article on why the "tranquility phrase" and the "general welfare" phrase were added in the first place? It certainly would be helpful to me and, I suspect, others too.


4:39 PM, October 27, 2005  
Blogger liberranter said...

You've peaked my curiosity too. Let me see if I can find some source material on the constitutional convention and the framers' discussions. Perhaps the phrases "domestic tranquility" and "general welfare" had more specific implications in the context of the time than they do now. If so, it's definitely important to know what they are. Let me see what I can find out (needless to say, readers of this blog will be the first to know).

11:51 AM, October 29, 2005  

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