Our Outmoded Constitution: No Claim Could be More False

Called Unto Liberty, Bruce R. McConkie

From time to time an idea gets out into the political field to the effect that the Constitution of the United States is an anachronism, a mass of dry bones, an instrument of government adapted to a horse and buggy age.

Some of our politicians and would-be politicians are preaching that our form of government, is obsolete and that it should be replaced by a planned economy, and that the restraints of the Constitution are not practical in a modern industrial and complex civilization. They profess to admit that this form of government may have sufficed for thirteen sparsely settled colonies on the Atlantic coast but claim that it is entirely out of step with the progress of an enlightened industrial age.

In recent years recurring attempts have been made to override many of the time tested constitutional restraints with what seemed to be the will of the people for the moment. To accomplish this end. demagogues have affirmed that this basic law of the land is no longer so wholly essential as it has previously been in guaranteeing our rights and that humanitarianism and social betterment require the disregarding of some of its precepts.

To champion principles more divergent from fundamental political truth and verity would be difficult to do. To disregard the constitutional rights guaranteed in that document is to trample under foot the cumulative experience of over 900 years of the development of the common law. It is to suppose that the rights and freedoms for which Englishmen have been fighting and dying since the days of William the Conqueror have not been worth the sacrifice.

The Constitution is the very foundation and substance of the freedom of all men of this nation, and it is as needful, or more needful that its precepts be kept alive today than at any other time in the history of man’s struggle for freedom. Freedom is dearly bought, but easily sold.

The study of the Constitution is the study of the rights of free men, and of the development of the liberties of the people. The Constitution is a code of the people’s liberties; it came into existence by the sovereign will of the people, and is so ordered that it cannot go out of existence except by the will of the people, or at least as a result of their indifference and acquiescence.

These rights did not spring spontaneously into existence in 1787 when the Founding Fathers sat in convention in Philadelphia; they had been brought and paid for by the blood of one revolution in the colonies, and several in the mother country. If they are to be lost in our time, it will be because the descendants of the free no longer hear the cry of the blood spilled in freedom’s cause crying from the ground. But they need not be lost if the valor which gained them can be found to defend them. If our freedoms should be lost the lesson of history is that to regain them would require again the blood and toil and struggle by which they were made secure by our fathers.


Source and brief bio: Bruce R. McConkie. Excerpt from “Know Your Constitution,” a series featured in The Deseret News 19 March 1945 through 10 April 1945. Bruce R. McConkie (1915 – 1985) was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1972 until his death. McConkie was previously a member of the First Council of the Seventy of the Church from 1946 until his calling to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Previous to this he received his Juris Docto from the University of Utah Law School, worked as an assistant city attorney in Salt Lake City, served in Army Intelligence in World War II as a Lieutenant Colonel (being one of the youngest in army intelligence to hold that rank), and was serving as a reporter for the Deseret News at the time of his call into the Church’s Seventy. Elder McConkie became one of the most prolific and articulate writers in the history of the Church, an ardent defender of the faith, and a humble yet powerful witness for Jesus Christ. He is one of my heroes. He and his wife Amelia were the parents of nine children. Steve Farrell


The Moral Liberal recommends Bruce R. McConkie’s most excellent and final work: New Witness for the Articles of Faith