To celebrate Constitution Day this month, I traveled across Oklahoma to visit with elementary and middle school students in Woodward, Mustang, Yukon and Tahlequah about the importance of our founding document. Each year on September 17, we take time to remember the document that has bound us together for 226 years as a people and a nation.
I appreciate the teachers and administrators at each school who allowed me to visit with their students. The students were bright and engaged. With anticipation, I looked forward to the Q&A sessions with the kids to see just what kinds of questions they would have about the Constitution. There were a variety of questions asked, from how many amendments there were to whether the Constitution would survive a “zombie apocalypse.” The students also posed a thoughtful question that many of us ask today - “Why is the Constitution still important?”
It’s an important question and particularly relevant today. In the late 1990s, I visited Romania as part of a mission program. After a meeting at which I spoke, an elderly woman came up to me and with tears in her eyes told me of her great love for America. This is a woman who had lived under a repressive communist regime. She had never visited our country, but admired our nation and the freedoms our citizens enjoyed. There are many others around the world who similarly admire our nation and the rights we have from a distance. Our Constitution protects our freedoms – the same freedoms that are envied around the world by people like that elderly woman in Romania.
At the time the U.S. Constitution was written, the Founding Fathers had just fought a war against an oppressive English monarch. They were fearful that a centralized government would grow too powerful and abuse the rights of the individual. The Founders knew liberty and freedom would suffer if the government’s power was left unchecked. The result was a system of checks and balances that allowed the three branches of government to counterbalance each other. That constraint of government power ensured the rights of the individual would be protected from an abusive government. It also created the framework of liberty that provided Americans with the opportunity to maximize their own “pursuit of happiness.”
Today, many of us are concerned with the federal government and Washington bureaucrats who increasingly pursue misguided policies that hamper our own “pursuit of happiness.” That is why my office is engaged in multiple legal challenges – from the Affordable Care Act to the EPA to overreaching financial regulations – in an effort to push back against the federal government’s unconstitutional attempts to expand its authority. It’s my job as Attorney General to defend the Constitution and protect the interests of Oklahomans; it’s a responsibility and honor that I cherish.
Our Constitution has endured for 226 years because generations of great Americans have accepted the responsibility to protect and defend it. It is an example to the rest of the world of a document that respects the rule of law and the rights of the individual. As Attorney General, I am grateful for the opportunity to serve the citizens of Oklahoma, and I welcome the opportunity each day to defend the Constitution. As Americans, we should never tire in our quest to ensure our nation prospers and remains a shining beacon of freedom for the rest of the world.