No Inadaquacy in the Constitution

Called Unto Liberty, 20th Century Sermons, J. Reuben Clark Jr.

Having in mind the loudness with which some few cry out against the inadequacy of our system, I may observe that the mere seeming existence of an exigency not apparently covered by our fundamental instrument, or the appearance of an inconvenience of mere administration under it, cannot justify any branch of government in a violation of the Constitution. Nothing but such a necessity in extremis as the compelling force of a conquering foe could justify any branch of government in assuming that the people had willed a violation of their fundamental charter of government. Moreover, it is to be said of the past that no necessity has thus far arisen in our history which could not have been ultimately and adequately met by constitutional methods. And history justifies the further statement that the cry sometimes raised for amendment of our great fundamental charter to meet transitory and pseudo- emergencies, the charge that we are governed by an antiquated instrument embodying obsolete principles unsuited and irresponsive to the needs of modern life, this cry and charge almost always come from those who, from want of … capacity, are incapable of understanding or appreciating the fundamentals of, or to think practically and creatively about, the problems of free self-government.

There is every reason to believe that those who understand the spirit as well as the word of the Constitution will be able in the future as in the past to find a way under it to meet all national emergencies and yet preserve its great principles and the republican form of government for which it provides.


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Source: J. Reuben Clark Jr., Church News (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), November 29, 1952. J. Reuben Clark Jr. (1871–1961), served as a mem­ber of the First Pres­i­dency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1931–1961. Prior to his full-time church ser­vice he served as assis­tant solic­i­tor to the State Depart­ment, served in the Attor­ney General’s office, served as Under Sec­re­tary of State, was the author of the clas­sic study the “Clark Mem­o­ran­dum on the Mon­roe Doc­trine,” and served as U.S. Ambas­sador to Mex­ico. Among those who knew his work best, J. Reuben Clark was rec­og­nized as the fore­most con­sti­tu­tional scholar of the 20th Century.