Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the Revolution, never to violate in the least particular, the laws of the country; and never to tolerate their violation by others.

As the patriots of seventy-six did to the support of the Declaration of Independence, so to the support of the Constitution and Laws, let every American pledge his life, his property, and his sacred honor; let every man remember that to violate the law, is to trample on the blood of his father, and to tear the charter of his own, and his children's liberty.

Let reverence for the laws, be breathed by every American mother, to the lisping babe, that prattles on her lap; let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges; let it be written in Primers, spelling books, and in Almanacs; let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation; and Let the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the grave and the gay, of all sexes and tongues, and colors and conditions, sacrifice unceasingly upon its altars.

While ever a state of feeling, such as this, shall universally, or even, very generally prevail throughout the nation, vain will be every effort, and fruitless every attempt, to subvert our national freedom.

- Abraham Lincoln, January 27, 1838
  Address Before the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Russ Feingold: Statement on Constitution Day 2008

Statement of U.S. Senator Russ Feingold On Constitution Day 2008

September 17, 2008

On this day in 1787, our founding fathers signed the Constitution, making us a nation of laws, not of men. The basic concepts of justice, liberty, and inherent human rights outlined in that founding document, are at the very foundation of our strength as a nation.

But 221 years later, the United States is facing one of the darkest chapters in its Constitutional history. The Bush Administration has treated the Constitution and rule of law with disrespect unparalleled in our nation’s history. The list of this administration’s assaults on the Constitution is breathtaking: it includes the warrantless wiretapping program, its interrogation policy and justifications for the use of torture, its extreme positions on the legal status of detainees that have been repeatedly rejected by the Supreme Court, and its refusal to recognize and cooperate with Congress' constitutional responsibility to conduct oversight. This is a shameful legacy that must be undone in the years to come.

On Constitution Day, we should also recognize that supporting the rule of law here at home can help to strengthen democratic institutions around the world that are critical to peace and stability – and, in turn, to our own national security. Right now, countries like Pakistan and Zimbabwe are grappling with their own constitutional crises. But we cannot be a credible example for nations like these if we allow our own Constitution to erode. The disparity between our words and our actions undermines our ability to defend the rights and freedoms of peoples around the world.

Our next president will face a difficult challenge. He must repair the wreckage the current administration has left, which means renouncing some of the powers the current President tried to amass as he turned a blind eye to the rule of law and separation of powers. No president will want to limit his own power. But if we are to be the nation our founders envisioned when they gathered in Philadelphia more than two centuries ago, we must work together – across party lines and at all levels of government – to protect and defend our Constitution and restore the rule of law.

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