Conservative Spotlight: Institute on the Constitution

“The most effectual means of securing the continuance of our civil and religious liberties is, always to remember with reverence and gratitude the source from which they flow.” If Founding Father John Jay, first chief justice of the United States, was referring to God rather than the federal judiciary when he said that in 1826, he would be banned from the courtroom today. For the past 40 years, the federal courts have been on a jihad to extirpate the acknowledgement of God from every public setting—the most infamous recent case being the removal of Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore’s Ten Commandments monument. The Institute on the Constitution (IOTC) teaches people “to think like Americans,” said Michael Peroutka, chairman and co-founder of the group with his brother Stephen. “Here is an analogy. . . . If limited government is land, Americans are like people in a lifeboat that has been drifting further and further out to sea. They can no longer even see the land. Some people who have been born in the lifeboat since land was last seen don’t even know what land is like anymore.” IOTC teaches people about the principles and beliefs behind the Founding of this country. In fact, said Peroutka, one-third of the authoritative references that the 55 Framers of the U.S. Constitution made for supporting their arguments came from the Bible. Says IOTC literature, “Today, many Americans are surprised but delighted to learn that we were founded as a Constitutional Republic of sovereign states with a central government of purposely limited powers based on biblical principles. The recovery and application of these principles is necessary for the reclamation of the Republic.” “Our Founding Fathers understood that if we did not put godly men into office, we could not preserve this form of government that we have,” said Pastor David Whitney, who works with IOTC and will be broadcasting lessons about the American Founding on radio station WABA in the Washington, D.C. area. Peroutka and Whitney argued against the compromising approach that many conservatives have taken to the unconstitutionally overweening federal government of today. For example, “the federal government has no role with what they’re attempting to do with the faith-based initiative,” said Whitney. Instead of trying to direct federal dollars to faith-based programs over inferior secular ones, they argued, constitutionalist Americans should be striving to deny the federal government those dollars in the first place. Said Peroutka, “Once you sacrifice the principle, you have no firm place to stand.” Eventually, with government money, those faith-based programs “will be corrupted,” he said. “Much the same argument can be made on educational vouchers.” “The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government—lest it come to dominate our lives and interests,” said Patrick Henry in one of the quotations from Founding Fathers that dot IOTC’s materials. Said Peroutka, “We want to lay out the foundations, the pre-suppositions if you will, so that Americans see the danger in pragmatic approaches and go back to first principles.” IOTC, begun in January 2000, has three programs to educate Americans. Twice a year, it offers a series of 12 weekly courses at its Maryland office featuring videos and written material that can be ordered and used by others. “We have about 75 to 80 people who have held some kind of a class across the country,” said Peroutka. The group holds monthly Friday lectures, and the one held October 3 featured Chief Justice Moore. “We had 900 people come,” said Peroutka. “It has really increased interest in our group.” And soon, IOTC will hold a “special class for legislators,” he said. Nine Maryland state legislators have promised to come so far, he said. State Del. Don Dwyer is actually “director of our program,” said Peroutka. Today’s judges do not pretend to adhere to the founding principles of our country or even to the meaning of the legal documents that they are supposed to enforce. IOTC’s October 2003 newsletter mentions one very telling example: Wrote retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice William Brennan in an April 28, 1996 op-ed in the New York Times: “Our Constitution is a charter of human rights, dignity and self-determination. I approached my responsibility of interpreting it as a 20th-century American, for the genius of the Constitution rests not in any static meaning it may have had in a world dead and gone but in its evolving character.” IOTC may be reached at 8028 Ritchie Hwy., Suite 303, Pasadena, Md. 21122 (410-760-9068; fax: 410-760-5985; e-mail:; website: