I remember the first time I heard “litmus test” used in a sentence. The reason I remember it is that my all-time favorite school teacher, Mrs. Schwartzwalter, used it in a fifth grade history class on our American Constitution. First, she read the words of the preamble. Her reading was slow, and deliberate, as if to imply that this was her most treasured teaching. “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” After a few minutes of interpreting, and explaining word meanings, she asked if we understood the basic purpose of those particular words, as related to the whole of the Constitution, and to our form of government.
When we could not answer, she gave us the most positive use of the term “litmus test,” that I can imagine. She stated, simply: “The preamble is intended as a litmus test for just laws.”
In my considered opinion, the best proof of her teaching is the 1973 Supreme Court legislation “Roe v. Wade.” Perhaps if the Supreme Court justices had understood the preamble, as she did, America would not have been saddled with this abomination. Can any reasonably sane person, with a modicum of intelligence, and with a straight face, use any of the words “justice,” or “domestic tranquility,” or “promote the general welfare” in definition or defense of Roe?
The first and most important of these “blessings of liberty” has to be LIFE, an unalienable right, creator endowed, and a self-evident truth. Without this blessing, the rest is meaningless, purposeless babble. Can we secure these blessings of liberty to ourselves, and not to our posterity, and still call ourselves free? If these blessings of liberty are not secured for our “posterity”, neither are they secure for any of us!