Within the last week, the United States Supreme Court dealt severe blows to two pillars of American Constitutional order, property rights and religion. The Court majority in both cases reached its desired result by partly ignoring and by partly twisting the clear meaning of the Constitution. These cases should be a clarion call to restore the authority of the Constitution to our laws and our government.
But the Constitution's authority arises from the authority of the principles of the American Founding. Their fates are inseparable. Abraham Lincoln once remarked that while the Constitution is and should remain the supreme law of the land, it is not "the primary cause of our great prosperity." There is something more fundamental, Lincoln explained, "entwining itself more closely about the human heart." "That something is the principle of 'Liberty to all'—the principle that clears the path for all—gives hope to all—and by consequence, enterprise and industry to all."
"Liberty to all" is the principle correlate of "all men are created equal," the sheet anchor of the American Declaration of Independence. After a lifetime of reflection, Lincoln offered perhaps the most beautiful account of the relationship between the Declaration and Constitution, employing Biblical imagery that would have been immediately recognizable by every American of his day:
The assertion of that principle, at that time, was the word "fitly spoken" which has proved an "apple of gold" to us. The Union and the Constitution are the picture of silver, subsequently framed around it. The picture was made, not to conceal or destroy the apple; but to adorn and preserve it. The picture was made for the apple—not the apple for the picture.
Lincoln advised Americans to "study and understand the points of danger" so that "neither picture nor apple shall ever be blurred, or bruised or broken." We employ Lincoln's advice in the Claremont Institute's Abraham Lincoln Fellowship program, a week-long intensive seminar in American politics. Selected from the rising stars of the conservative movement, Lincoln Fellows study the principles upon which constitutional government rests as well as the "points of danger." This study includes but is not limited to robed jurists who believe that they, not the Constitution, are the supreme law of the land.
The 2005 Abraham Lincoln Fellows are:
Scott Fischer is a senior legislative assistant for Congressman John J. Duncan, Jr. Before coming to work on the Hill, he taught American government at Mary Washington College in Virginia. He has written for the Encyclopedia of American Business History and Biography and the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History. A graduate of Hillsdale College, he holds two Master's degrees and a Ph.D. from the University of Virginia.
Mark Giga is director of outreach at the Taxpayers League of Minnesota. A graduate of the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities with a degree in political science, he is a lobbyist for limited government and lower taxes in Minnesota and he writes a weekly newsletter.
Krista Kafer was a senior policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation where she wrote extensively, testified before Congress, and made numerous radio and television appearances on issues relating to education policy. Previously she worked in the offices of Congressmen David McIntosh and Bob Schaffer. She recently returned to her home state of Colorado where she plans on running for public office. She continues to write and she will be teaching at the University of Colorado at Denver, where she graduated with a degree in history.
Jeff Katz hosts a daily talk radio show on KNEW-AM in San Francisco. He has received numerous awards for his broadcasting, including being named among the 100 Best Talk Show Hosts in the United States by Talkers magazine, and he has made many television appearances including FOX News's The O'Reilly Factor, CNN's American Morning, and CNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews.
Carol Platt Liebau is a political analyst, writer, and commentator living in Southern California. She has been published by online journals and newspapers across the country and she sits on TheOneRepublic/CaliforniaRepublic editorial board. Previously she worked for U.S. Senator Christopher "Kit" Bond. She graduated from Harvard Law School, where she was the first female managing editor of the Harvard Law Review.
Michael McClellan is a lawyer and writer. He has been published by the Wall Street Journal and Weekly Standard, as well as TechCentral.com, RealClearPolitics.com, and TownHall.com. He also produces a daily web log (www.portmcclellan.com). He has interned for the U.S. Secretary of Commerce, the Cato Institute, and Congressman Chris Cox. He holds a law degree from Georgetown University Law School and a B.A. in history from Yale University.
Mitchell Muncy is executive vice president and editor-in-chief of Spence Publishing Company. He has also held editorial and administrative positions at Texas Republic magazine, the University of Dallas, and Intercollegiate Studies Institute. Muncy graduated from Princeton University with a B.A. in romance languages and literature and he holds a Master's degree in philosophy from the University of Dallas.
Joseph Phillips is a professional actor and writer with a B.F.A. degree from New York University. He had starring roles in the Broadway production of Six Degrees of Separation and the Kennedy Center and American Playhouse productions of A Raisin in the Sun as well as starring roles in the feature films Strictly Business, Let's Talk About Sex, and Midnight Blue. He has also starred on television series including The Cosby Show and General Hospital. His articles have been published in newspapers and magazines and he offers regular political commentary on National Public Radio. He has spoken before many political organizations, and in 2004 he was national co-chair of the African-American Steering Committee for the Bush-Cheney campaign. His ambition is to run for public office.
April Ponnuru is a policy advisor for Majority Whip Roy Blunt in the U.S. House of Representatives. Previously she worked for Congressman Todd Akin and the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington DC. In 1998 she was a Witherspoon Fellow at the Family Research Council. She holds a Master's degree in legal and political theory from the University of London.
Thomas Prichard is president of the Minnesota Family Council. He has written a handbook for state legislators and policy makers, and he writes a regular column. He has received the Family, Faith, and Freedom Award by the Family Research Council. He holds a Master's degree from the University of Michigan and a law degree from the University of Iowa College of Law.
Tommy Ross is vice president of public affairs for the Sacramento region for Southern California Edison. A graduate of Claremont McKenna College, he has been engaged in California politics and policy for more than thirty years. He has experience in national, statewide, and local political campaigns. He founded and was formerly chairman of the California African American Political Action Committee and he currently is chairman and president of the Research and Policy Institute of California.
Paul Teller is the deputy director of the U.S. House Republican Study Committee, a caucus of more than one hundred conservative members of Congress. He has also worked for the Committee on House Administration, the Washington Times, National Center for Public Policy Research, the College Republican National Committee, and the American Enterprise Institute. He holds a B.A. in political science from Duke University and a Ph.D. from American University.