The US Constitution with its liberties was the first written constitution in the world. Many countries have been inspired by it and used it as a model for their own written constitutions. The coming forth of the constitution was fulfillment of ancient prophecy.

Harold B. Lee:

I have often wondered what the expression meant, that out of Zion shall go forth the law. Years ago I went with the brethren to the Idaho Falls Temple, and I heard in that inspired prayer of the First Presidency a definition of the meaning of the term ‘out of Zion shall go forth the law.’ Note what they said: ‘We thank thee that thou has revealed to us that those who gave us our constitutional form of government were men wise in thy sight and that thou didst raise them up for the very purpose of putting forth that sacred document the Constitution of the United States. – (See D&C 101:80) .. ‘We pray that kings and rulers and the peoples of all nations under heaven may be persuaded of the blessings enjoyed by the people of this land by reason of their freedom under thy guidance and be constrained to adopt similar governmental systems, thus to fulfill the ancient prophecy of Isaiah that “out of Zion shall go forth the law and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.”’ (Isaiah 2:3).

Ensign, Nov. 1971, p. 15. Improvement Era, Oct. 1945, p. 564..

Gordon B. Hinckley:

The Constitution under which we live, and which has not only blessed us but has become a model for other constitutions, is our God-inspired national safeguard ensuring freedom and liberty, justice and equality before the law.

Ensign, Nov. 2001. The Times in Which We Live.

According to Elder Dallin H. Oaks, all nations in the world, except 6, had written constitutions in 1992. (See Dallin H. Oaks, The Divinely Inspired Constitution).

The Lord has said that the liberties of the constitution is for “all flesh” (D&C 101:77). He further confirmed that the founders of the United States were wise men, whom he raised up:

And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose.

D&C 101:80.

Several leaders of the Church have also testified of the divine origin of the Constitution (See The Constitution – A Heavenly Banner). Several have also testified that the liberties of the constitution are inalienable rights that are for all mankind. (See The Constitution – For All Mankind).

Not Everything in the Constitution is Inspired

Not all parts of the Constitution should be considered scripture. Elder Dallin H. Oaks said:

Reverence for the United States Constitution is so great that sometimes individuals speak as if its every word and phrase had the same standing as scripture. Personally, I have never considered it necessary to defend every line of the Constitution as scriptural. For example, I find nothing scriptural in the compromise on slavery or the minimum age or years of citizenship for congressmen, senators, or the president. President J. Reuben Clark, who referred to the Constitution as “part of my religion,” also said that it was not part of his belief or the doctrine of the Church that the Constitution was a “fully grown document.” “On the contrary,” he said, “We believe it must grow and develop to meet the changing needs of an advancing world.”

Ensign, Feb. 1992. The Divinely Inspired Constitution.

In his career as a lawyer and a professor of law, Elder Dallin H. Oaks has studied the Constitution for more than twenty years. This, in combination with his lifelong study of the scriptures and the words of the living prophets, does that his words carries some weight. He also emphasizes that what he said didn’t represent a statement on behalf of the church.

Five Inspired Fundamentals

Elder Oaks sees inspiration in these five fundamentals of the Constitution:

  1. The Separation of Powers in Three Branches of Government.
  2. A Written Bill of Rights.
  3. The Division of Powers Between the States and the Federal Government.
  4. The Application of Popular Sovereignty.
  5. The Rule of Law and Not of Men.

1. THE SEPARATION OF POWERS IN THREE BRANCHES OF GOVERNMENT

The separation of state powers into three branches – The legislative branch, the executive branch and the judicial branch is also called check and balances. The purpose of this system is to prevent abuse of power. The separation was introduced in order that a majority shouldn’t be able to rule with an iron fist. Due to check and balances no individual or group can assume all power. Each branch has limited powers. The three departments of government should be kept separated in order to preserve liberty. Decisions taken will therefore be of greater benefit to the nation as a whole and not only to those who make the decisions.

James Madison:

The accumulation of all powers. legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.

Federalist Papers, No. 47, p. 301.

The Legislative Branch

The legislative branch is at congress, which consists of two chambers, the Senate and the House of Representatives. Legislative proposals can be made both in the Senate and in the House of Representatives. They may decide that legislative proposals should be binding. However, the president may veto proposed legislations from congress, which in turn can be overridden by the two chambers if there is a 2/3 majority in both chambers.

The Executive Branch

The executive power lies with the president and his government. He is therefore independent of the legislative power. The president is elected indirectly by the people, as he is nominated by an electoral body of 50 delegated – one from each state. In addition to being the head of government, the president is also head of the armed forces. He has extensive foreign policy powers as well, so that he may negotiate and ratify treaties. However, this requires that 2/3 of the Senate approves the treaty.

The Judicial Branch

The Supreme Court, which consists of nine judges, has the judicial power. It has the power to try federal cases and interpret the laws of the nation in those cases. The Supreme Court may also reject legislative proposals from Congress if they are considered unconstitutional.

The separation of powers was at least a century old

The idea of separation of powers came long before the U.S. Constitutional Convention. It didn’t begin with the founders of the United States. It started long before the United States constitution was written. The English parliament, for instance, introduced an initial separation of the legislative and executive authority when it wrested certain powers from the king in the revolution of 1688. The separation of powers had also been introduced in American colonies.
(Elder Dallin H. Oaks. The Divinely Inspired Constitution).

The inspiration came by the remarkable adaptation of the idea of separation of powers

Elder Dallin H. Oaks:

The inspiration in the convention was in its original and remarkably successful adaptation of the idea of separation of powers to the practical needs of a national government. The delegates found just the right combination to assure the integrity of each branch, appropriately checked and balanced with the others.

Ensign, Feb. 1992. The Divinely Inspired Constitution.

J. Reuben Clark Jr.:

It is this union of independence and dependence of these branches – legislative, executive and judicial – and of the governmental functions possessed by each of them, that constitutes the marvelous genius of this unrivalled document .. As I see it, it was here that the divine inspiration came. It was truly a miracle

Church News, Nov- 29, 1952, p. 12.

Ezra Taft Benson:

The powers the people granted to the three branches of government were specifically limited. The Founding Fathers well understood human nature and its tendency to exercise unrighteous dominion when given authority. A Constitution was therefore designed to limit government to certain enumerated functions, beyond which was tyranny.

The Constitution—A Heavenly Banner. BYU, Sep. 16, 1986.

2. A WRITTEN BILL OF RIGHTS

This basic fundamental came by amendment. The 10 first amendments of the Bill of Rights, are considered a part of the founder’s inspired work. Again, the idea of a bill of rights was not new. Certain rights was previously written by King John, King of England from 1199 -to 1216. His Magna Charta contained a written guarantee of some rights for certain of his subjects. Individual rights were also written in the English Bill of Rights in 1689. Elder Oaks said that the inspiration once again was “In the brilliant, practical implementation of preexisting principles.” (Ensign, Feb. 1992. The Divinely Inspired Constitution).

Elder Dallin H. Oaks:

I have always felt that the United States Constitution’s closest approach to scriptural stature is in the phrasing of our Bill of Rights. Without the free exercise of religion, America could not have served as the host nation for the restoration of the gospel, which began just three decades after the Bill of Rights was ratified. I also see scriptural stature in the concept and wording of the freedoms of speech and press, the right to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures, the requirements that there must be probable cause for an arrest and that accused persons must have a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury, and the guarantee that a person will not be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.

The Divinely Inspired Constitution, Ensign February, 1992.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights .. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men.

Declaration of Independence, 4 juli, 1776.

According to the laws and constitution of the people, which I have suffered to be established, and should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles

D&C 101:77

Ezra Taft Benson:

Reason, necessity, tradition, and religious conviction all lead me to accept the divine origin of these rights.

The Constitution, a Heavenly Banner, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1986, p. 6.

Elder Oaks said that the language implementing that godly objective is scriptural to him.

3. THE DIVISION OF POWERS BETWEEN THE STATES AND THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Bill of Rights, 10th Amendment.

The United States is a federation of 50 independent states with a shared constitution. Each of the 50 states have their own constitutions that describes how power is to be divided and handled locally. The shared constitution describes how power is to be divided and taken care of between the federal government and the states. The separation of the power to rule, between the federal government and the states was introduced to strengthen the principle of limited government. The founders introduced the system to prevent that the federal government on the one hand, or the states on the other hand, would gradually become dominant so that their interdependence would weaken, which in turn could affect the security of the individual citizen and put an end to the local self-government.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks:

This principle of limited national powers, with all residuary powers reserved to the people or to the state and local governments, which are most responsive to the people, is one of the great fundamentals of the U.S. Constitution. The particular powers that are reserved to the states are part of the inspiration.

Ensign, February 1992. The Divinely Inspired Constitution.

4. THE APPLICATION OF POPULAR SOVEREIGNTY

By popular sovereignty, the country’s leadership reflects the will of the people or the interests that all citizens have in common. The people are the source of the government power. The sovereignty of the society is with the people, not with the government. A government thus based on popular sovereignty is responsive to the people.

Ældste Dallin H. Oaks:

Perhaps the most important of the great fundamentals of the inspired Constitution is the principle of popular sovereignty: The people are the source of government power. Along with many religious people, Latter-day Saints affirm that God gave the power to the people, and the people consented to a constitution that delegated certain powers to the government. Sovereignty is not inherent in a state or nation just because it has the power that comes from force of arms .. The sovereign power is in the people. I believe this is one of the great meanings in the revelation which tells us that God established the Constitution of the United States “That every man may act .. according to the moral agency which I have given unto him, that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment .. Therefore, it is not right that any man should be in bondage one to another. And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land” (D&C 101:78–80). – In other words, the most desirable condition for the effective exercise of God-given moral agency is a condition of maximum freedom and responsibility. In this condition men are accountable for their own sins and cannot blame their political conditions on their bondage to a king or a tyrant. This condition is achieved when the people are sovereign, as they are under the Constitution God established in the United States. From this it follows that the most important words in the United States Constitution are the words in the preamble: “We, the people of the United States .. do ordain and establish this Constitution.”

Ensign, February 1992. The Divinely Inspired Constitution.

President Ezra Taft Benson also talked about the fundamental principle of popular sovereignty when he said, “We [the people] are superior to government and should remain master over it, not the other way around.” (The Constitution, a Heavenly Banner, p. 7).

According to Elder Oaks the Book of Mormon explains the principle of popular sovereignty. Mosiah said that an unjust king:

Pervert the ways of all righteousness .. Therefore, choose you by the voice of this people, judges, that ye may be judged according to the laws .. Now it is not common that the voice of the people desireth anything contrary to that which is right; but it is common for the lesser part of the people to desire that which is not right; therefore this shall ye observe and make it your law – to do your business by the voice of the people.

Mosiah 29:23-26.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks:

Popular sovereignty necessarily implies popular responsibility. Instead of blaming their troubles on a king or other sovereign, all citizens must share the burdens and responsibilities of governing. As the Book of Mormon teaches, “The burden should come upon all the people, that every man might bear his part” (Mosiah 29:34). President Clark’s third great fundamental was the equality of all men before the law. I believe that to be a corollary of popular sovereignty. When power comes from the people, there is no legitimacy in legal castes or classes or in failing to provide all citizens the equal protection of the laws.

Ensign, February 1992. The Divinely Inspired Constitution.

One of the major challenges that the US founders faced was to secure and protect minority rights in a system based on popular sovereignty:

President J. Reuben Clark Jr.:

The Constitution was framed in order to protect minorities. That is the purpose of written constitutions. In order that the minorities might be protected in the matter of amendments under our Constitution, the Lord required that the amendments should be made only through the operation of very large majorities—two-thirds for action in the Senate, and three-fourths as among the states. This is the inspired, prescribed order.”

Selected Papers on Religion, Education, and Youth, ed. David H. Yarn, Jr., Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1984, p. 165.

5. THE RULE OF LAW AND NOT OF MEN

Respect for law is the most fundamental of all social virtues, for the alternative to the rule of law is that of violence and anarchy.

N. Eldon Tanner, Conference Report, Oct. 1975, quoting Case and Comment, March/April 1965, 20.

W. Cleon Skousen:

To be governed by the whims of men is to be subject to the ever-changing capriciousness of those in power. This is ruler’s law at its worst. In such a society nothing is dependable. No rights are secure. Things established in the present are in a constant state of flux. Nothing becomes fixed and predictable for the future.

The 5000 Year Leap. A Miracle That Changed the World, p. 243.

All the blessings enjoyed under the Constitution depends on government by law (Rule of Law). By the separation of powers, each branch of tgovernment must fulfill its own role, and not the role of the other branches. This fundamental in the Constitution is connected to the principle of the rule of law and not of men. And under government by law, the existing laws always apply consistently to all, and their use is foreseeable as well. There is equality under the law, just as every citizen is responsible under the law.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks:

There is divine inspiration in the fundamental underlying premise of this whole constitutional order. All the blessings enjoyed under the United States Constitution are dependent upon the rule of law. That is why President J. Reuben Clark said, “Our allegiance run[s] to the Constitution and to the principles which it embodies, and not to individuals.” The rule of law is the basis of liberty. As the Lord declared in modern revelation, constitutional laws are justifiable before him, “and the law also maketh you free” (D&C 98:5-8). The self-control by which citizens subject themselves to law strengthens the freedom of all citizens and honors the divinely inspired Constitution.

Ensign, February 1992. The Divinely Inspired Constitution.
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