OK, so it’s not a holiday, but on this day in 1787, 225 years ago, 55 delegates gathered to vote on whether or not to approve the document they had spent the summer writing. It passed with 42 votes. You can read an interesting account here.
Most amazing to me is this: while part of the document sets up how our government will run, almost all the amendments limit the power of the government over all of us. Because of the Constitution I can criticize the government (in word and print), worship where I want, be assured of due process of law, and many other things. As a matter of fact, the only amendments that restrict my freedom are the 13th (I can’t own slaves) and the 18th (I can’t buy, sell, or transport alcohol). Of course, the 18th amendment was overturned by the 21st.
Before 1787 there had been few limits on government, but virtually all of them were in place with the consent of the ruler (think about the Magna Carta in 1215). Our Constitution is unique in that the document preceded the leaders. When George Washington took his oath of office on April 30, 1789, he submitted his power to this document. Every one of his successors pledged the same thing. Well done George.
By the way, if you think that it doesn’t have much of an impact now, the recent Supreme Court Case on the Affordable Care Act, National Federation of Independent Business et al. vs. Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, et. al turned on interpretations of the government’s ability to collect taxes and regulate interstate commerce (Article 1, Section 8).
Happy Birthday, U.S. Constitution.
PS: Happy Birthday, also, Dad. He was born on the 144th anniversary.