Date: December 1, 2003
Subject: America's Divorce Document

Liberals have signaled where one of the battle lines for the Social Studies standards will be drawn: the Declaration of Independence. Expect the talking points to portray the Declaration as nothing more than a "separation document" or "divorce decree," while the U.S. Constitution is portrayed as the "true" foundational document of our country.

Is there more at stake here than an esoteric, scholarly debate?

The Declaration technically has "no legal standing," as state Senator Steve Kelley declared in the Senate chamber last spring. Unfortunately for liberals, this also means that the Declaration is not open to "interpretation" by the courts, and therefore cannot "evolve" or be changed by judicial activism or amendment.

The Declaration of Independence contains the foundational principles of the United States. These principles are included in the current draft of the Government and Civics standards. Those who disagree with these principles have a strong interest in deemphasizing the Declaration in favor of the Constitution.

As with memorization and higher order thinking skills, Western culture and world cultures, the greatness of America and her warts, the Declaration of Independence and Constitution are obviously not mutually exclusive. Students need to know and understand both documents, and they both belong in the Government and Civics standards.