Constitution Day was formally established by federal law in 2004, but schools, colleges, and civic organizations have been recognizing this special day for decades. Constitution Day is a great opportunity to highlight America’s most important and oldest living document. Our Constitution has always been a symbol of freedom for the United States, as well as people around the world.
I decided to use Constitution Day as a way to hold a conversation with a number of students from Southwest Alabama about the importance and applicability of our nation’s governing document. Through innovative technology, I had the opportunity to hold a video conversation from Washington, DC, with six schools from my home district in Alabama.
I made sure that the students understood how our Constitution came to be and the importance of respecting the rule of law. No matter how far apart political differences may seem today, it is nowhere near what our founders experienced in the 1700s. There were major disagreements that required very difficult decisions. In fact, there was a time when James Madison thought the Constitutional Convention had failed.
Ultimately, the group came up with a governing document that has endured the test of time. If our Constitution is not working, the founders included clear instructions for amending the Constitution. In fact, it was the original ten amendments, known as the Bill of Rights, which helped secure final ratification of the Constitution. Throughout history, the amendment process has been used a number of times on dire issues like ending slavery, expanding voting rights, and setting electoral procedures.
It worries me when elected officials today try to ignore or disregard the Constitution in order to advance certain political goals. The Founders included a clear system of checks and balances to make sure no one part of the government becomes too powerful. When that system is broken or compromised, it runs in the face of our Founding Fathers.
From birth we have been a nation that guarantees our citizens’ very basic rights. And our government, as its very core function, is supposed to keep these rights secure. Our government does not create its own powers. Our government only gets its powers from the citizens’ consent. That is why our Constitution is so important.
— Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL)