The [U.S.] Constitution is a limitation on the government, not on private individuals … It does not prescribe the conduct of private individuals, only the conduct of the government … It is not a charter for government power, but a charter of the citizen’s protection against the government.
The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation and foreign commerce.
If the Constitution is adopted the Union will be in fact and in theory an association of States of a Confederacy.
With respect to the words general welfare, I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers (enumerated in the Constitution) connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators.
If the provisions of the Constitution can be set aside by an Act of Congress, where is the course of usurpation to end? The present assault upon capital is but the beginning. It will be but the stepping-stone to others, larger and more sweeping, till our political contests will become a war of the poor against the rich; a war growing in intensity and bitterness.
The Constitution is not neutral. It was designed to take the government off the backs of people.
The Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions.
The attributes of the federal government were carefully defined [in the Constitution], and all that was not included among them was declared to remain to the governments of the individual states. Thus the government of the states remained the rule, and that of the federal government the exception.
I call the present system ‘Post-Constitutional America.’ As I sometimes put it, the U.S. Constitution poses no serious threat to our form of government.
A Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.