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Jun 14, 2017

 Show 1839 Part 4 of 10. The Meaning and History of the Constitution.

 This show was originally published as ACU Show 827 and is here republished.

 For this free online course with video lectures, reading materials, study guide, quiz and Certificate of Completion visit-

https://online.hillsdale.edu/course/con101/schedule

 

 Welcome to Week 4

“The Separation of Powers: Preventing Tyranny”

  Overview-

Separation of powers is the central structural feature of the United States Constitution. The division of power among the three branches—legislative, executive, and judicial—is necessitated because human beings are imperfect. The imperfection of human nature means that well-structured government is necessary, though not sufficient, to prevent tyranny.

The United States Constitution is structurally designed in part to prevent tyranny. Separation of powers is the means by which power is divided and its accumulation in the hands of any single entity denied.

 During the 1780s, most states had constitutions that formally divided the government’s power, yet in practice the legislatures dominated. The state constitutions required separation of powers in theory, but failed to deliver it in reality. As a result, the constitutions were little more than what Publius called “parchment barriers.”

 In order for separation of powers to work, each branch of government must have the “constitutional means” to resist the encroachment of the other branches. This is what today we call “checks and balances.”

 In addition to institutional checks and balances, there exist also the “personal motives” of people that will lead them to resist the encroachment of the other branches. Human nature is constant across the ages, according to Publius, and human beings are naturally ambitious. Instead of ignoring or attempting to suppress ambition, the Framers sought to channel it through the Constitution, so that it might serve the cause of liberty and justice rather than threaten it.

 The Framers understood that human nature has noble characteristics that are essential to self-government, but also that it contains baser features, for which government must account. The Constitution’s structural separation of powers recognizes this truth, and in preventing tyranny makes self-government possible.

 

About the Lecturer- 

Kevin Portteus is assistant professor of politics at Hillsdale College, where he has taught since 2008. Dr. Portteus is faculty advisor for the Washington-Hillsdale Internship Program, and teaches courses in American political thought and American political institutions.

 A visiting graduate faculty member in the American History and Government program at Ashland University, Dr. Portteus formerly taught at Belmont Abbey College and Mountain View College, in Dallas. Having published online through the Washington Times, Human Events, and BigGovernment.com, his book, Executive Details: Public Administration and American Constitutionalism, is under review for publication. He received his B.A., summa cum laude, from Ashland University, and his M.A. and Ph.D. in politics from the University of Dallas.

 

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 Hillsdale College Free Online Courses-

https://www.hillsdale.edu/academics/free-online-courses/

 

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 Related ACU Shows-

Show 821 Part 1 and 2 of 5. Introduction to the Constitution Lecture Series

https://acu.libsyn.com/show-introduction-to-the-constitution-lecture-series-

 

Show 822 Part 3 and 4 of 5. Introduction to the Constitution Lecture Series

https://acu.libsyn.com/show-part-3-and-4-of-5-introduction-to-the-constitution-lecture-series-

 

Show 823 Part 5 of 5. Introduction to the Constitution Lecture Series

https://acu.libsyn.com/show-part-5-of-5-introduction-to-the-constitution-lecture-series-

 

Related Hillsdale Course- Constitution 201

https://soundcloud.com/hillsdale-college/sets/constitution-201

 

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 Hillsdale College Course Catalog

https://online.hillsdale.edu/dashboard/courses

 

Course Catalog

Questions about the Courses? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions page.

 

Introduction to the ConstitutionAvailable Now!

This twelve-lesson course explains the principles underlying the American founding as set forth in the Declaration of Independence and secured by the Constitution. The Founders believed that the principles in these documents were not simply preferences for their own day, but were truths that the sovereign and moral people of America could always rely on as guides in their pursuit of happiness through ordered liberty.

 

Theology 101: The Western Theological Tradition

The Western theological tradition stretches back thousands of years to the time of the ancient Hebrews. This tradition has had a profound impact on the development of Western Civilization as a whole. This course will consider the origins and development of Western religious theology from the Old Testament through the twentieth century.

American Heritage—From Colonial Settlement to the Current Day

On July 4, 1776, America—acting under the authority of “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God”—declared its independence from Great Britain. The new nation, founded on the principle that “all Men are created equal,” eventually grew to become the most prosperous and powerful nation in the world. This course will consider the history of America from the colonial era to the present, including major challenges to the Founders’ principles.

 

The U.S. Supreme Court

Article III of the U.S. Constitution vests the judicial power “in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish.” According to Federalist 78, the judicial branch “will always be the least dangerous” to the liberty of the American people. Yet, judicial decisions have done much to advance a Progressive agenda that poses a fundamental threat to liberty. This course will consider several landmark Supreme Court cases in relation to the Founders’ Constitution.

 

Shakespeare: Hamlet and The Tempest

One of the world’s greatest poets, William Shakespeare is the author of plays that have been read and performed for more than 400 years. A close study of his works reveals timeless lessons about human nature, which offer a mirror for examining one’s own character. In Hamlet and The Tempest, Shakespeare considers those virtues and vices that make self-government and statesmanship possible or impossible to achieve.

 

Public Policy from a Constitutional Viewpoint

The American Founders wrote a Constitution that established a government limited in size and scope, whose central purpose was to secure the natural rights of all Americans. By contrast, early Progressives rejected the notion of fixed limits on government, and their political descendants continue today to seek an ever-larger role for the federal bureaucracy in American life. In light of this fundamental and ongoing disagreement over the purpose of government, this course will consider contemporary public policy issues from a constitutional viewpoint.

 

Athens and Sparta

A study of the ancient Greek cities of Athens and Sparta is essential for understanding the beginning of the story of Western Civilization. Moreover, such a study reveals timeless truths about the human condition that are applicable in any age. This course will consider life and government in Athens and Sparta, examine their respective roles in the Persian and Peloponnesian Wars, and offer some conclusions regarding their continuing relevance.

 

An Introduction to C.S. Lewis: Writings and Significance

C.S. Lewis was the greatest Christian apologist of the twentieth century. He was also the author of works of fiction, including the Chronicles of Narnia, and of philosophy, including The Abolition of Man. This course will consider Lewis’s apologetics and his fiction, as well as his philosophical and literary writings, and their continuing significance today.

Winston Churchill and Statesmanship

Winston Churchill was the greatest statesman of the 20th century, and one of the greatest in all of history. From a young age, Churchill understood the unique dangers of modern warfare, and he worked to respond to them. Though best known for his leadership during World War II, he was also a great defender of constitutionalism. A close study of Churchill’s words and deeds offers timeless lessons about the virtues, especially prudence, required for great statesmanship.

 

The Federalist Papers

Written between October 1787 and August 1788, The Federalist Papers is a collection of newspaper essays written in defense of the Constitution. Writing under the penname Publius, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay explain the merits of the proposed Constitution, while confronting objections raised by its opponents. Thomas Jefferson described the work as “the best commentary on the principles of government, which ever was written.” This course will explore major themes of The Federalist Papers, such as the problem of majority faction, separation of powers, and the three branches of government.

 

A Proper Understanding of K-12 Education: Theory and Practice

The American Founders recognized the central importance of education for the inculcation of the kind of knowledge and character that is essential to the maintenance of free government. For example, the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 states, “Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.” This course will consider the older understanding of the purpose of education, the more recent Progressive approach that has become dominant today, and some essential elements of K-12 education.

The Presidency and the Constitution

This free, 10-week, not-for-credit course, taught by the Hillsdale College politics faculty, will help you understand the structure and function of executive power in the American constitutional order. The course begins with the place of the president in the constitutionalism of the Founding Fathers and examines how that role has changed with the rise of the modern Progressive administrative state.

Great Books 102: Renaissance to Modern

This 11-week, not-for-credit course, taught by Hillsdale College faculty, will introduce you to great books from the Renaissance through the modern era. You will explore the writings of Shakespeare, Dostoevsky, Austen, Twain, and more. This course will challenge you to seek timeless lessons regarding human nature, virtue, self-government, and liberty in the pages of the great books. 

Constitution 101: The Meaning & History of the Constitution

Taught by the Hillsdale College Politics faculty, this course will introduce you to the meaning and history of the United States Constitution. The course will examine a number of original source documents from the Founding period, including especially the Declaration of Independence and The Federalist Papers. The course will also consider two significant challenges to the Founders’ Constitution: the institution of slavery and the rise of Progressivism.

Great Books 101: Ancient to Medieval

This 11-week, not-for-credit course, taught by Hillsdale College faculty, will introduce you to great books from antiquity to the medieval period. You will explore the writings of Homer, St. Augustine, Dante, and more. This course will challenge you to seek timeless lessons regarding human nature, virtue, self-government, and liberty in the pages of the great books. 

Economics 101: The Principles of Free Market Economics

 

This is a free, ten-week, not-for-credit online course offered by Hillsdale College. With introductory and concluding lectures by Hillsdale College President Larry P. Arnn, the eight lectures at its core—taught by Gary Wolfram, the William E. Simon Professor of Economics and Public Policy at Hillsdale College—will focus on the foundational principles of the free market. Topics will include the relationship of supply and demand, the “information problem” behind the failure of central planning, the rise of macroeconomics under the influence of John Maynard Keynes, and the 2008 financial crisis.

History 101: Western Heritage, From the Book of Genesis to John Locke

This is a free, ten-week, not-for-credit online course offered by Hillsdale College. With an introductory lecture by Hillsdale College President Larry P. Arnn, the nine lectures—by members of Hillsdale College's history department faculty—will focus on key aspects of the beginning of Western civilization and its Greco-Roman, Judeo-Christian heritage.

Constitution 201: The Progressive Rejection of the Founding & the Rise of Bureaucratic Despotism

This is a free, ten-week, not-for-credit online course offered by Hillsdale College. With introductory and concluding lectures by Hillsdale College President Larry P. Arnn, the nine lectures—taught by members of Hillsdale College's politics department faculty—are a continuation of Constitution 101 (2012): The Meaning & History of the Constitution. These lectures will focus on the importance of the principles of the American Founding and the current assault on them by the Progressives.

Other Lectures and Programs

Hillsdale Dialogues: A Survey of Great Books, Great Men, and Great Ideas
Weekly series featuring Hillsdale President Larry Arnn, national radio host Hugh Hewitt, and members of the Hillsdale College faculty.

Kirby Center Lectures Archive
Hillsdale College's Allan P. Kirby, Jr. Center for Constitutional Studies and Citizenship in Washington, D.C.

Hillsdale College on YouTube

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