Celebrated Scholar and Author Rob Natelson on Constitution Day
Tuesday, September 17 will be Constitution Day, celebrating the ratification of our U.S. Constitution in 1787, when delegates to the Constitutional Convention met for the final time to sign the historic document they had created.
Author, KGVO contributor and monthly guest Dr. Rob Natelson, former UM law professor and now the Constitutional Fellow at the Independence Institute in Denver, Colorado, spoke with KGVO News about the importance of Constitution Day.
“The Constitution laid down the rules by which America grew and America flourished,” said Natelson. “We were fortunate to have some very wise people who drafted a very wise document that enabled America to flourish.”
Natelson said the framers of the Constitution were forward thinkers, knowing that America would grow and that the founding document would have to grow along with it.
“They were very far sighted,” he said. “They were able to see a country with several hundred million people in the future and they wanted the Constitution to last a very long time, and that’s why they included an amendment process. The combination of a good initial structure and an amendment process has vindicated the founders because the document has worked for hundreds of years.”
Natelson said extensive research has proven that the founders had no intention of allowing the federal government to have such sweeping powers as are called for by some today.
“For years, some claimed that the government programs and the political agenda they had were consistent with the Constitution, however the work by scholars like myself and others in explaining what the Constitution actually means as the founders understood it has made it really clear that there really is not room in the Constitution for an agenda that makes the government all powerful,” he said. “Now those same people are spreading disinformation about the Constitution, such as that it was adopted mostly by slaveholders, which is not true, or the claim that it’s a racist, sexist document, which is also not true.”
Natelson sees trouble ahead for the U.S. Constitution due to the lack of focus on the founding documents, and civics in general, in America’s public schools.
“I became really aware when my three daughters were attending school in Missoula, that the public education system was not doing a very good job in informing the students what the Constitution was all about,” he said. “They might or might not read the Constitution, but that’s not enough. Fortunately, since about 2009, we’ve had resurgence in interest in the Constitution. We need to ensure that that interest continues. We also need to consider the Convention of States process whereby we can adopt Constitutional amendments that will restore some of the checks and balances that have eroded in our Constitution.”