This may seem counter-intuitive, at least at first, but it is true. Under Natural Law, a government has a duty to support, preserve and defend the world view upon which it was founded. But why? Wouldn’t this mean the government would be at odds with the will of the People if and when the People change their world view? The answer is no, and the reason is found in the concept of the Social Contract.
The founders saw The U.S. Constitution as a Social Contract. This is because they adhered to a world view generally known as Natural Law. What’s more, they understood the Principles of Natural Law as defined by John Locke and other like-minded political thinkers, not as Thomas Hobbs and his allies understood it. The clearest expression of this world view was laid out in The Declaration of Independence. What this means is that the Constitution is linked to and draws its authority from the ideals and principles asserted in the Declaration of Independence. This, then, means that the world view upon which The U.S. Constitution is founded is as much a part of the Constitution as its language and the parchment upon which it was written. The same is true for all of the State Constitutions, as they are likewise based upon the founders understanding of Natural Law. Therefore, an attack upon that world view is an attack upon the Social Contract of the Union, as well as the several States and, thus, an attack on their respective Constitutions.
Now, before the reader dismisses my assertion, I’d like to remind the reader that The U.S. Constitution actually makes reference to a Constitutional requirement that is very similar in spirit to what I am asserting. I present the following from the U.S. Constitution:
The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened), against domestic Violence.
The Constitution places a duty on the Federal government. That duty is to insure that all of the Several States maintain a republican — or representative — form of government. The founders rejected the notion of ‘democracy.’ They not only saw democracy for what it is: as a form of tyranny, but they also noted that ‘democracies’ are not republican (i.e. representative). In order to be ‘representative,’ a government must provide for the voices of any minorities within the body of the governed, as well as protections for those minorities rights and property. Any honest study of the Constitution will reveal that the founders repeatedly discussed this issue and wrote many forms of minority protections into the Constitution. So, the Federal government has a duty to protect the voice and rights of minority groups in the several States by insuring the several States maintain a republican form of government. But where did the founders get this notion of republicanism, especially as it pertains to the equal protections of minority voices, rights and property? They got it from their Natural Law world view.
Now, cementing this claim — that the founders got the notion of a republican government that protects the voice, rights and property of minorities — will take another, dedicated post. But for the purpose at hand, it should be sufficient to remind the reader that the founders based the American system off the notion of individual rights and liberty, and there is no smaller minority than the individual. Therefore, for the sake of this post, I am going to assume that there is sufficient reason to accept my assertion that the founders notion of republican government was born of their Natural Law world view. I continue.
Now, the Federal government has a duty to maintain a republican form of government within each of the several States. By this, we mean ‘republican’ as the founders understood and defined it. Unless and until the Constitution is legally amended to change this duty, or the Constitution is legally replaced (see my previous post), that understanding of ‘republican’ also remains set in place. It cannot be changed by ‘interpretation.’ This then requires that the Federal government (not to mention the State governments) has a duty to support, preserve and defend the world view upon which this understanding of ‘republican government’ is based. But why?
Well, consider, if you will, what would happen to our legal system if we were to allow our understanding of the law to change. Under the Constitution, people are to be considered (and treated) as though they are innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt. But what if the People were to switch to the European understanding of the law, where the accused is guilty until proven innocent? How then would we justly apply the laws that were written under the authority of The U.S. Constitution? The answer is, we could not, which would mean our legal system would effectively cease to exist. But the Federal government has a duty to protect and preserve itself and the republican form of government in each of the several States. How can the federal government do this is the People are allowed to just change their world view without legally changing or replacing the Constitution to reflect the changes in their world view? Again, it cannot. Therefore, it follows that the Federal government can only assure its ability to perform the duties with which it is charged if it supports, protects and defends the world view upon which it is based and from which it draws its authority.
Now, we must remember that The U.S. Constitution is a Social Contract. This means that there are rights, responsibilities and privileges on the part of all Parties subject to the authority of the Constitution. These rights, privileges and responsibilities are primarily, but not solely concerned with the States. They also involve every individual citizen within the several States. Furthermore, contracts are two-way agreements. If one Party assumes the benefits of the contract, they are also bound by the terms of that contract. Therefore, in this case, the individual is as bound to support, protect and defend the world view upon which the Constitution is built as the State and Federal governments, themselves. This is where things start to get complicated.
The founders asserted that the people have a right to alter or replace their government. However, they stipulated requirements that must be present before such a change can be pursued. Namely, the government must be thought to have become tyrannical or destructive to individual rights and liberties. But doesn’t the notion of liberty suggest that people have the right to change their minds about things, even about things such as their world view and notion of just government? The answer is yes. But do they have a right to just ignore the world view and the government it created and proceed to affect the changes they desire? The answer is an emphatic NO! They are free to change their minds, but they must go about making the changes that result from changing their minds according to the system provided by whatever system that is already in place. In our case, that would be the U.S. Constitution. Unless and until the People legally complete the process, the Federal government, as well as the several State government, are bound to support, preserve and protect the world view which created them. This is because, until the Constitution is legally changed or replaced, it is a contract that is still in effect, and that contract places duties on the Federal (and State) government that can only be performed by supporting and defending the world view which created them.
This immediately brings up two important questions. First: how does the government support, preserve and defend the world view upon which it is founded without violating the principles of Natural Law to which it must conform? Second: if the citizens of the united States are as bound to preserve the founding world view as the Federal and State government, how can they ever exercise their Natural Rights to change their minds regarding society’s world view and to change the system of government to reflect that change of mind? Both of these are subjects for separate posts, and I will address these issues — in order — in my next two posts.