The swords are drawn, the line in the sand is defined, and the Constitution and the very spirit of America hang in the balance. The twenty first century will see the next step in our growth as a free republic. And whether it is a step taken back or a step taken forward is yet to be determined. While passionate feelings and thoughts will be considered, in the United States it is ultimately the law of the land, embodied in our Constitution that must be the final setting for a conclusion. We must find in our law the answer and to do so requires a study of the Constitution, its meaning, its intent, and the spirit from which it springs.
At the core of our republic are the ideas of liberty, equality, and justice. As a nation we have held these three fundamentals as the pillars of our very society. Our Bill of Rights itself embodies these core beliefs. It has been the paramount struggle of this country to interpret these rights, and to apply them to "the people." But who are "the people." Who was speaking when our preamble opened, "We the People ?".
In the first half of the nineteenth century, "We the People- were white males, most of whom owned property. In the latter part of the nineteenth century, "the People" was extended to African-American males, though not successfully until the mid-twentieth century. With the Nineteenth Amendment, women were finally included as members of our "Club-Americana." There is no question that equality has been an uphill climb even in the land of the free.
The first few battles have been won in the name of liberty. Four million slaves were freed, African Americans were "guaranteed" equality under the Fourteenth Amendment, women gained suffrage, and even Native Americans seem to have gained favor with Lady Liberty. These battles have been fought, and in their aftermath our nation has found progress. It has been the later part of the twentieth century on into the twenty-first that has opened a new debate of the utmost significance to our Constitutional history.