The U.S. Constitution: 220 years old and it still matters.

By Grant Remington of Portland, Oregon. Grant is the President Emeritus of Veterans For Peace Chapter 72.

On September 17, 1787, the US Constitution was ratified. From Wikipedia:

Constitution Day is an American federal holiday that recognizes the ratification of the United States Constitution. It is observed on September 17, the day the U.S. Constitutional Convention signed the Constitution in 1787. The law establishing the holiday was created in 2004 with the passage of an amendment by Senator Robert Byrd to the Omnibus spending bill of 2004. Before this law was enacted, the holiday was known as "Citizenship Day".

As part of our "Support and Defend the Constitution" actions, Veterans For Peace Chapter 72 has been giving away copies of the pocket edition of the Constitution at all of our events. We started this back in February when the National office initiated the campaign, with some purchased copies.

Last month I talked to one of Senator Wyden's staff and asked if we could get a bundle of them. It didn't hurt that she is a neighbor! She brought me 50 copies which we soon ran out of. I then went to Representative Blumenauer's office during our weekly impeachment stand outside his office and said "Senator Wyden gave us 50 copies of the Pocket Edition, can you beat that?" They gave us 75! I left a message for my neighbor at Wyden's office that we need more copies, she dropped off another 75 that night.

Today (September 17th) I had to go downtown to fix a computer glitch and since I was there I thought I'd visit Senator Smith's office and challenge them for 100, then to Rep. Wu's office for even more.

Wu's office gave me half their stash (about 45), they had just given away over a hundred to the The Northwest Constitutional Rights Center, which has an office in the same building. They take them into schools.

Senator Smith's office, after making me wait in the building lobby, (have to have an appointment don't ya know) gave me ten!

On a side note, in the elevator on the way up to correct the computer glitch, I asked the gentleman who was in the car, "Do you know what day it is?" He replied, "Constitution day." He now has his own pocket edition.

Happy birthday to our "citizen's handbook."

To quote Sheriff Bart in Blazing Saddles,"Excuse me while I whip this out."

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    That's beautiful. I always remember Law Day (May 1) but I never knew September 17 was Constitution Day. Thank you.

  • BOHICA (unverified)

    Stopped at New Seasons for some dinner fixings and the young lady bagging my purchase saw my Pocket Edition in my breast pocket. See said, "Oh you've been reading the Constitution?" I asked her if she knew what day it was and she answered the "Anniversary of the signing of the Constitution?" She got her copy!

    Its a great conversation starter.

    I am Grant Remington, BOHICA seemed to fit after the 2004 election.

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    I know this is a stretch as far as being on topic but I'll use civil liberties per the Constitution as my excuse.:)

    Blumenauer's office sent this email to me regarding some upcoming events he is doing around Iraq and holding the administration accountable for its abuses of power.

    What: Telephone Town Hall When: Wednesday, September 19 7-8pm PDT How: Dial 1-866-447-5147 (toll free) to join Enter the following pin: 13156.

    What: E Town Hall When: Thursday, September 20 10am PDT How: Submit questions here

    What: Town Hall When: Sunday, September 23 1pm PDT Where: Hollywood Theater 4122 NE Sandy Blvd Portland, OR 97212 Accessible by TriMet Bus #12 and MAX

    I'm sorry I suck at putting in links..but the address for the second one can be pasted..thanks.

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    It's nice someone passes those out to people to read as a reminder how what our country is really about. Maybe your actions will help people become more active in our democracy and oppose the anti-constitutional measures the Bush Administration has suceeded in passing.

  • A true progressive (unverified)

    Make sure you read that part that says: "nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation."

  • Publius (unverified)

    Actually, True Progressive, that quip applies only to the federal government. The due processes guaranteed in the Bill of Rights weren't applied to the state governments until ratification of the 14th amendment and even then not all guarantees were so applied. Restricting deprivation of "life, liberty, or property, without due process of law" was indeed applied to the state governments, but there is no mention of "just compensation" from a state government.

    Regardless of how you or I feel about the issue, the Constitution simply doesn't take a stand on Measure 37.

  • Chuck Butcher (unverified)

    Bake County Democrats are a financial sponsor here.

  • A True Progressive (unverified)


    Are you trying to tell us that the 14th Amendment does not extend to the 5th Amendment? How about the 1st? Is there explicit mention in the 14th Amendment that it extends the guarantees of the 1st Amendment to state governments?

  • Urban Planning Overlord (unverified)

    Publius, are you actually asserting that the entire fifth amendment property "just compensation" clause has not been incorporated to apply to the states via the 14th amendment? That's not my understanding.

    Additionally, I believe every state constitution contains a similar statement. Section 18 of the Oregon Constitution reads:

    Private property shall not be taken for public use, nor the particular services of any man be demanded, without just compensation; nor except in the case of the state, without such compensation first assessed and tendered; provided, that the use of all roads, ways and waterways necessary to promote the transportation of the raw products of mine or farm or forest or water for beneficial use or drainage is necessary to the development and welfare of the state and is declared a public use.

    Now don't get me wrong, this isn't a justification for Measure 37, which goes way beyond the private property rights jurisprudence. But, on the other hand, don't start arguing that the State of Oregon can come in and condemn my property for open space, not even allowing farming or timber cutting, without paying me for the property.

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    don't start arguing that the State of Oregon can come in and condemn my property for open space, not even allowing farming or timber cutting, without paying me for the property.

    Is anyone saying that?

  • Urban Planning Overlord (unverified)

    Stephanie V: Publius' comment above says that, by stating that the State of Oregon doesn't have to pay just compensation if it condemns someone's land.

  • Publius (John Jay) (unverified)

    Publius' comment above says that

    No... I said that the U.S. Constitution didn't weigh in on that issue. Urban Planning Overlord correctly notes that the issue is further refined in the Oregon Constitution.

    This post seems to be about the relevance of the U.S. Constitution, and that was the extent of my comment. That's why I said "Regardless of how you or I feel about the issue, the Constitution simply doesn't take a stand on Measure 37."

    That's not my understanding.

    Well, my comment would be ridiculously long to outline case history... but look at the Dred Scott case for an example of a pre-14th amendment due process with regards to federally-endowed rights. Then, look at Griswold and Casey for examples of how "substantive due process" matured through case law. The liberties guaranteed in the 1st, 3rd, 6th amendments, etc, become accepted as "substantive due process" and applied to the states as pat of the larger "due process" if not mentioned explicitly in #14. (Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes begins to rail against what he saw as judicial activism in his Baldwin v. Missouri dissent, but tough luck for him.)

    However, property rights are clearly discussed in the 14th amendment, to the exclusion of any mention of compensation. Which is why many states see fit to include a compensation clause in their own statutes or constitutions.

    (PS: It has come to my attention that someone else has, in the past, posted as Publius. Not me. So I'll put a little 'John Jay' after the name from now on.)

  • Zarathustra (unverified)

    Until it's updated, like every subsequent democracy has, to use proportional representation instead of "I got one more vote you all can go to hell", it will continue to creak and crack and show its age.

    Ralph Nader (the Nader Nation, not him personally) could have taken 6 seats in the House for the last 25 years. I bet he'd change positions if someone offered a juicy contribution. Right. Can you imagine the difference? All you "money is the mother's milk of politics" types, he could have taken 6 seats and held them a quarter century, without spending a dime! Integrity is really, really cheap.

    Americans don't understand how their government works, because it doesn't.

    It's like basketball. Quintessentially American. It's a "non-contact sport". Except it isn't. Without accounting for the non-existent dimesnsion, you can't even play! That's why we have a lawyer vs. sceintist ratio problem. People don't grow up seeing systems that are logical and do what they purport to accomplish. They learn that the loudest, most obnoxious voice gets heard, it's easier to lie and ask forgiveness than to be honest, and that you have to watch out for #1 because no one else will.

    That's what you get when you tell people that every vote counts, then give 100 million Americans zero satisfaction in the result and tell them it's the freest, most dedicated to democracy, country in the world. Does anyone remember the grade school versions of "how we're different than the Soviets", from the Cold War? Just exactly what was in those simplistic characterisations of the Soviets attempt to paint a veneer of democracy over a totalitarian state that is not a pefect description of life in America today?

    If you have ANY doubts, look at Israel. Much more mature governmental process, until the voters decided they were being left out by not being able to vote directly for a President, instread of a party and their choosing the individual. Most of the banality in their politics, since the assisination, can be traced directly to this change.

    Zoe Baird, best SG nominee ever, laid out multitudinous dimension to the problem and its effects in her meisterwerk, "The Tyrany of the Majority". "Life", AND a breathe of fresh air!

    If Hillary promised to nominate her again for SG (or AG or SOD or ANYTHING) I would vote for her, and I did not think that was possible. Bottom line, yeah, it matters. Good values. Give 'em a chance by updating the engine to 21st century technology.

  • East Bank Thom (unverified)

    Ok, a day late but... It's my day with our godson. (He just turned 7.)

    After exposing him to some vintage Beatles i pulled out my four page facsimile of We the People... He said it was cool! What more could a wonky uncle ask for? :)

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    Publius' comment above says that, by stating that the State of Oregon doesn't have to pay just compensation if it condemns someone's land.

    I guess what I was getting at is that there is a difference between out-and-out condemnation and lesser takings (that might not be takings at all in some cases), and that in my mind the M37 battles mostly seem to be about lesser takings.

  • Urban Planning Overlord (unverified)

    Zarathustra: There is nothing in the Constitution that would prevent individual states from instituting a "proportional representation" scheme, whether it be for the Presidential Electoral College votes in that state, or for House of Representatives positions, or for State Legislatures. For that matter there is nothing preventing a state from eliminating its Governor position and having a "Prime Minister" elected by the legislature just as is done in Great Britain and many other countries.

  • Urban Planning Overlord (unverified)
    <h2>Stephanie V: Yes, there is quite a bit of contention as to what constitutes a "taking" of one's property. Suffice it to say that the opinion of the Oregonians in Action gang is at one extreme of the spectrum, and is not backed up by any significant recent constitutional rulings.</h2>
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