Alturas Institute to host Facebook live event tonight on the ‘Future of the Constitution’
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IDAHO FALLS – Two hundred and thirty-three years ago on Sept. 17, 1787, 39 delegates gathered together in Philadelphia for the constitutional convention.
It had been four long, intensive months as each of the men with different backgrounds and beliefs worked tirelessly to form a document establishing fundamental laws, the roles of America’s national government, and guaranteeing certain basic rights for its citizens.
After much debate, a compromise had finally been reached and James Madison, George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Ben Franklin and the rest of the founding fathers signed what we now know as the U.S. Constitution.
Franklin, the oldest and most respected delegate, had been responsible for quelling much of the opposition towards the document and helped the men to recognize it as the best compromise possible.
As the last of delegates were signing the document, he looked at the image of the sun on George Washington’s chair.
“I have often … looked at that sun behind the President without being able to tell whether it was rising or setting,” Franklin is reported to have said. “At length, I have the happiness to know it is a rising and not a setting sun.”
David Adler, a constitutional scholar with The Alturas Institute in Idaho Falls, tells EastIdahoNews.com Franklin’s words were a hopeful statement about America because of what those men had accomplished.
Today, Sept. 17, marks the 233rd anniversary of the signing of the Constitution. The Alturas Institute, a nonpartisan nonprofit devoted to advancing education about the constitution, is hosting a Facebook live event Thursday night to commemorate the occasion. It’s called “The Future of the Constitution,” which will discuss governmental adherence to the Constitution and the role Americans play in preserving that now and for future generations.
“The Constitution was written for the people … and it allows us to hold the government accountable,” Adler says. “If we don’t defend it, we only have ourselves to blame when we lose our freedom.”
Many people do not know the Constitution, Adler says, and that makes it difficult to defend it.
He says there have been persistent threats to the Constitution over the years and one of the biggest ones is people who fail to hold their leaders accountable.
“There are always fears about the growth of presidential power,” says Adler. “Going back to the 1960s, presidents of both parties have claimed broader and broader powers not grounded in the Constitution.”
Adler cites instances where presidents have made decisions about foreign affairs and going to war. The Constitution grants that right exclusively to Congress, he says.
The Constitution obligated President Trump to be more forthcoming about the severity of COVID-19, Adler says, and it granted him the authority to take more aggressive action in protecting people.
“We’ve witnessed a failure on the part of the administration to assert its authority and to organize the country into a position where it could adequately address the pandemic and save lives,” says Adler.
The protection of individual rights should be a priority as Americans head into an election season, Adler says.
Though many Americans revere the Constitution, Adler says it is not a perfect document.
“There were some glaring defects,” he says. “The framers had the opportunity to end slavery and they didn’t. The framers had the opportunity to treat women as equals and they didn’t.”
But that’s why Adler says Article 5 was included — to allow future generations the ability to improve it with amendments.
Despite its flaws, Adler says it was the best the founders could do and the fact that it continues to be praised around the world more than 200 years later is miraculous.
Adler is looking forward to addressing this topic more in-depth Thursday night. “The Future of the Constitution” will be streamed on The Alturas Institute’s Facebook page at 6 p.m.