The Peoples’ Constitution: Due Process, Privacy and Abortion

Recently I was fortunate to visit the ancient Temple Church in London, built in the 12th century by the Knights Templar. The church is relevant here because it was the location of one of the earliest demands for due process of law. In January 1215, a group of English barons confronted King John and asked that he recognize certain fundamental rights. Among those was the great right of due process: the barons demanded that the crown not imprison them or take their property without first following the customary legal procedures that were “due” to them. Six month later, at Runnymede, the King agreed to the Barons’ demands and signed the Magna Carta.

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The Peoples Constitution: Presidential Power and Its Limits

Patriots fought the America Revolution for many reasons, not least of which was an intense desire to escape the rule of a distant king—George III. In fact, Americans were so opposed to the idea of a king that they didn’t include an independent president in the government created under our first constitution—the Articles of Confederation. However, it soon became apparent that a government without a president or comparable leader was insufficient for the needs of the new and growing America. Many, including James Madison and Alexander Hamilton (see for example the Federalist Papers #70) came to believe that a strong president was needed to “take the reins of government,” enforce the laws, and help steer the country forward. With its many flaws, the Articles of Confederation lasted less than 10 years before being replaced by our current Constitution.

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The People’s Constitution: The Secret Sauce

America is an exceptional country. While we still have important problems to overcome, America remains the leader of the free world, and immigrants continue to risk everything for a chance to create a new life in America. Why? What is the “secret sauce” of America’s stunning success over the centuries? While there are many factors, the Constitution plays a central role in America’s well-being. Throughout our history three key features of the Constitution, working together, have served as guardrails on the road to prosperity: democracy, individual rights and the rule of law.

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The Peoples Constitution: Free Speech in America

Freedom of Speech: No right is more fundamental to the very idea of what it means to be an American. Liberty is at the heart of the Constitution, and freedom of speech is at the heart of liberty. The right to “speak your mind”—even if that means strongly criticizing our political leaders or their policies—is more entrenched and protected in the U.S. than in most other countries. This article looks at the history of free speech and where we stand today.

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