Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why should I learn about the Constitution? Answer: The Constitution is the supreme law of the land and the foundation for all other federal law (and through the Supreme Court’s incorporation decree, much of State law as well). Every federal legislator and officer takes an oath to “preserve, protect and defend” the Constitution. Yet how do “We the People” judge whether our representatives in Congress (or any other federal officer) are being true to the Constitution and worthy of re-election unless we know what it says and means? The privilege of voting carries with it a responsibility to do so intelligently and thoughtfully. As Samuel Adams viewed it: “Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote that he is not making a present or a compliment to please an individual – or at least that he ought not so to do; but that he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God and his country.
 
2. How do I form a Constitution Club? Answer: It is easy and you don’t have to be a constitutional scholar to form a club, or to lead one. Contact the CLI National Director for the details.
 
3. Does a Constitution Club have to use your courseware? Answer: We encourage intelligent study of the Constitution, which can best come after first learning the fundamentals of how the document came to be and how the Framers and Ratifiers intended it to operate. There are several available courses that will provide this foundation, and as we become aware of others and have a chance to study them we will offer additional endorsements.
 
4. I already know quite a bit about the Constitution, how else can I help? Answer: One can never know enough about this foundational document. The more I study it the more I discover there is still more to learn. The more you know the better you will be able to put in proper context the current workings of our government. Check out some of the websites on our Resources page; you could never read all the original documents these sites make available. But if you are really finished with group study, we need event coordinators and public advocates, as well as financial supporters.
 
5. Why do you have an “Originalism Blog” RSS Feed on your homepage? Answer: We believe, as have most (but certainly not all) Supreme Court Justices over the years, that the Constitution operates best when understood as the Framers understood it: a plan of government incorporating limited, enumerated powers, with built-in checks and balances. The Originalism Blog, provided by the Center for the Study of Constitutional Originalism at the University of San Diego School of Law provides useful articles and commentary from this perspective.
 
6. How do I become a State or Local Coordinator? Answer: Fill out our “Join Us” form, and follow-up with a phone call or email directly to the National Director.
 
7. Do you really hope to change the trajectory of our country through Constitution Study Clubs? Answer: Yes, next question?
 
8. Shouldn’t we be able to trust our representatives to follow the Constitution?  Answer:  Yes, we should; but famous mis-quotes of the Constitution by several Congressmen and women provide cause for concern that they do not understand the document as well as they should.  Congressman Dennis Kucinich famously cited the preamble’s goal of “ensure(ing) domestic tranquility” as authority for his proposed “Department of Peace” legislation (Note: the Constitution’s preamble grants no power or authority.) Perhaps James Madison’s warning should guide us: “Since the general civilization of mankind, I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.”
 
9. Is there a cost to use your courseware? Answer: We hope to be able to offer our courseware for free.
 
10.  The Constitution was written in 1787, this is 2013; it is no longer relevant, so why bother?  Answer: The Framers understood quite well that they were writing a document for their time as well as for posterity.  They knew from their study of republics of old that there was no guarantee of longevity, that all forms of government are capable of deteriorating into tyranny (“A republic, if you can keep it” – Franklin).  But they believed they had built enough checks and balances into the system to prevent the accumulation and inevitable abuse of power.  The principles of government they imbedded in the Constitution are timeless, and will work to provide a stable government “for posterity” if we leave them in place to work as they were designed.  But what are those principles?  And how can we see they are retained if we are ignorant of them?