The Constitution was officially accepted and ratified September 17, 1787 by twelve states, Vermont being the only of the original 13 colonies not to ratify at this time. That would be 230 years ago. I have been pondering this document, and what it really means to me.
It established our government in it current form, with prescribed checks and balances. However the part that is most referred to are the Bill of Rights. The first amendment: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceable to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
The second: A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
Third amendment: No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent to the Owner, nor in time of war but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
Fourth amendment: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Sixth amendment: In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial...
Seventh: Right of trial by jury
Eighth amendment no cruel or unusual punishments.
These are our basic rights. Then it says those thing not enumerated here are reserved to the states or the individual.
These are the right outlined in the constitution. It is interesting to me that the Bill of Rights starts with freedom of religion--freedom to worship. This is the first basic right, and must be respected. People do not need to worship the same of us, but we need to respect the right of others to worship how they please. Joseph Smith put this very succinctly: We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may." Being civil with each other is what the Bill of Rights is about, but also about putting a check on government. Many specifically target this check, which comes from the people, from the states, and from the different branches of government.
Joseph Smith once prophesied that the Constitution would hang by a thread. This is not some future event. This is a struggle today. We must struggle to preserve our freedoms and our rights on an almost daily basis. May we pray for our government, our leaders. If they are lead by the constitution then we can stay on course. However we as a people have a role as a balance for government. We have to be involved and active to make the constitution work the way it is intended.