Mike Lee’s Father: Constitution Not Scripture

An RD reader from Book-of-Mormon belt Arizona recently wrote in to respond to my recent post on Utah Senator Mike Lee, his father the former US Solicitor General Rex Lee, and the impact of Cleon Skousen on contemporary LDS conservative thought.

He included an excerpt from a 1991 address delivered by Rex Lee when he was president of Brigham Young University:

“From the general label ‘divinely inspired,’ some assume that the Constitution is tantamount to scripture, and therefore perfect in every respect, reflecting in every provision and every sentence the will of our Heavenly Father, just as is true of the Book of Mormon or the Doctrine and Covenants. That view cannot withstand analysis. Our Constitution has some provisions that are not only not divine, they are positively repulsive. The classic example is contained in Article V, which guaranteed as a matter of constitutional right that the slave trade would continue through at least the year 1808. There are other provisions that are not as offensive as the slavery guarantee, but they were quite clearly bad policy, and certainly were not divinely inspired in the same sense as are the scriptures. Moreover, regarding the Constitution as tantamount to scripture is difficult to square with the fact that our republic has functioned very well, probably even better, after at least one of its original provisions (requiring United States senators to be elected by their respective state legislatures rather than by the people at large) was amended out of existence by the Seventeenth Amendment.”

“Can someone send Mike Lee this excerpt from his father’s talk,” our Arizona reader plaintively asked.

Find, read, and share the entire address, which is available here.

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