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The Defending the Constitution Project
Electoral College
Eligibility
The U.S. Constitution was established to protect the rights of U.S. citizens. It does not grant us rights, it protects our natural rights. This is important because those selected to hold office are sworn to uphold the U.S. Constitution, thereby acknowledging that whatever their office, the U.S. Constitution’s law is fundamental and no other bill or ruling can alter this fact.

The Framers created a constitutional republic. They took great pains not to create a democracy, which they feared. Checks and balances are intended to slow the process of creating legislation and moderate the extreme views of factions which otherwise impose on minority rights instead of creating law for the common welfare of society.

To help prevent those selected to office from abusing the power of their office and imposing tyrannical rule, authority was divided between the federal and state governments, and within each of these governments, between the branches. A bicameral legislature was created, further separating the representatives of the people from those representing the states.

James Madison wrote,

“In a society under the forms of which the stronger faction can readily unite and oppress the weaker, anarchy may as truly be said to reign as in a state of nature, where the weaker individual is not secured against the violence of the stronger; and as, in the latter state, even the stronger individuals are prompted, by the uncertainty of their condition, to submit to a government which may protect the weak as well as themselves; so, in the former state, will the more powerful factions or parties be gradnally [sic] induced, by a like motive, to wish for a government which will protect all parties, the weaker as well as the more powerful.”

Our Constitution was designed to protect majority and minority rights by preventing any one faction from having too much power and undermining the people’s sovereignty. This is achieved by holding citizen and representative to the same law.

When the Framers deliberated over the qualifications of the president, they made natural born citizenship a qualification to protect against foreign influences and “the electoral college mechanism was a compromise primarily about how to allocate the votes for president, rather than the source of legitimacy of those votes… popular election was unacceptable to the small (less populous) states and states where slavery was practiced. The electoral college mechanism met the separation of powers concerns of Madison and at the same time solved the representation problem of the small states and the south.” (The Electoral College and the Framers’ Distrust of Democracy)

Regrettably, there are serious encroachments on the checks and balances meant to protect our states rights, such as the 17th Amendment, which changed the election of our senators by their state legislatures to their election by the popular vote. Currently, there is a movement which would abolish the Electoral College and replace it with direct election of the president, based on popular vote. This would eliminate the current power of the 50 states to elect our president and have the effect of eliminating a national constituency.

BasicsProject.org has initiated The Defending the Constitution Project to educate people on legislative initiatives which are designed to protect the Constitution or would have the effect of encroaching on the Constitution and undermining the fundamental law. It is our hope that after reading more about the importance of the Constitutional design, activists will advocate to protect the Constitution by working to defeat or support such initiatives.

Peace out!
Electoral College
States with Proposals to
Eliminate the Electoral College

In Federalist 51, James Madison writes,

“In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.”

Madison’s concern is that, even though the people are sovereign, hold the ultimate authority over the government, there need be additional mechanisms to assist in preventing the possibility of power becoming consolidated within a particular faction of those charged with governing on our behalf. Should power become consolidated under one entity, and the faction abuse its authority, the people would be ruled through tyranny, denying them their ultimate sovereignty unless they take drastic measures to remove the authority from power.

Perhaps what Madison is saying here is better understood through an analogy of what can happen when those charged with looking after our best interests give greater concern to selfish motives. Until a child grows into an adult, he or she cannot make all the decisions associated with being grown up. In such a case, all power is vested in one or two parents who are expected to make decisions in the best interest of the child. Sometimes one or both parents make really bad decisions that can cause irreparable damage to a child. This might require a drastic measure, such as a child protective services agency stepping in to remove the child from the situation. James Madison feared that those in a position of power may not always put our rights first. This problem would become much worse, and more drastic measures would need to be taken, when all authority is vested in one entity that is in charge of all decision making, as in the situation of a child with abusive parents.

Read more...
Eligibility
States with Proposed Eligibility Legislation

Over the course of the 2008 presidential cycle BasicsProject.org researchers came to the startling conclusion that while the prerequisites for holding the office of President of the United States are set forth in Article II, Section 1 of the United States Constitution there is no mechanism for enforcing or verifying a candidate's satisfaction of those requirements.

Article II, Section 1 specifically states:

"No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States."

Yet, nowhere in the US Constitution is there authorization for a mechanism to assure that Article II, Section 1 is satisfied; there is no constitutional mechanism in place -- either in the original document of in any of the amendments -- that requires a candidate for the office of President of the United States to file documents proving his eligibility to hold office.

Read more...

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