Welcome to Read The Constitution, Stupid and, no, the title of the website isn't aimed at you personally. The original idea was to orient the site to members of the federal government as a sort of put-on. However, over the recent past it has become clear that the problem is not simply one of poorly educated politicians, but rather includes the general body politic. This seems to be a result of an educational system that ignores the role of the Founders and the documents and discussion associated with the establishment of the Republic. Accordingly, Aristotle's fourth century BC admonition that the least initial deviation from the truth is multiplied later a thousandfold is precisely what Jefferson was warning against. In order to understand our Founding documents, we must understand their meaning as originally intended and not what we, with a considerably different grammar and dictionary, believe them to mean. And the only way to attain that end is to familiarize oneself with their arguments, in their words, and with the meanings intended at the time. Absent such an understanding we will have lost our government of laws and replaced it with a government of wants and desires.
If men, therefore, of good character, and held in universal estimation for integrity, can be tempted when a great object is in view, to violate the strict duties of morality, what may be expected from others who have neither character nor virtue, but stand ready to yield to temptations of any kind?"
James Iredell, 9 Fed. Cas. 826, no. 5,126 C.C.D.Pa. 1799
When it came time for the states to ratify the Constitution, the lack of any bill of rights was the primary sticking point, thereby placing ratification at risk.
In the government of this Commonwealth, the legislative department shall never exercise the executive and judicial powers, or either of them; the executive shall never exercise the legislative or judicial powers, or either of them; the judicial shall never exercise the legislative and executive powers, or either of them; to the end that it may be a government of laws and not of men.
Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, A.D. 1780