When Loughner wrote of the “second United States constitution,” he very probably meant the second US constitution, the one following the Articles of Confederation

One issue that has arisen about Jared Loughner’s politics is his reference to the “second United States constitution.” In his YouTube video, “Introduction: Jared Loughner,” he wrote:

The majority of citizens in the United States of America have never read the United States of America’s Constitution.

You don’t have to accept the federalist laws.

Nonetheless, read the United States of America’s Constitution to apprehend all of the current treasonous laws.

Two screens later, he returns to the same territory by way of summary:

In conclusion, reading the second United States constitution I can’t trust the current government because of the ratifications: the government is implying mind control and brainwash on the people by controlling grammar.

Some commentators have feverishly concocted an elaborate argument involving white supremacists, all without the slightest of evidence to support their speculations. To be fair, in trying to understand much of Loughner’s semi-incoherent writings, speculations are often needed (for example, I wonder if he often substituted one word for a similar sounding one that would be more idiomatic, such as “ratifications” for “ramifications”).

In this case, however, we don’t need to assume that when Loughner refers to “the second United States constitution” he means anything more than the second constitution of the United States — the 1787 Constitution that is now in force.

In traditional parlance, the first constitution of the United States was “The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union.” The second US constitution is the 1787 “Constitution for the United States” or “United States Constitution.”

There is an academic debate about whether the founding document of a confederation is a true constitution or more like a treaty, but as the title to the Articles suggests, that document was intended to create an unusually strong confederation, a “Perpetual Union.” In any event, one very standard view is to see the Articles as the first constitution of the United States and the current 1787 Constitution as the second constitution of the United States.

If you Google the phrase “what was the first constitution of the United States,” I think you will quickly see what Loughner was talking about.

Note also that when Loughner refers to “the United States of America’s Constitution,” he capitalizes it, but when he refers to “the second United States constitution,” he doesn’t capitalize constitution. That’s exactly what online pedants suggest:

Q142. “What was the first constitution of the United States?”

A. . . . If the question says “What was the first Constitution of the United States?” (note the capital C), then the answer is that there has been one and only one Constitution of the United States, and it is the same one currently in effect.

If, however, the question is posed as above, with “constitution” spelled with a lowercase C, then the answer is more tricky. The Articles of Confederation would qualify as the first constitution of the United States, where a constitution is defined as the most basic document of the law.

Moreover, Loughner’s reference to reading the “second constitution” seems to be a summary of his earlier account of reading the “United States of America’s Constitution,” another hint that he is talking about reading the same document, the current 1787 Constitution.

Further, Loughner’s reading of that current Constitution causes him to think that many of the current federal laws are treasonous and reflect government mind control, which are extreme versions of the views of some of those who most influenced his political views.

Stay tuned for more on who Loughner’s major intellectual influences are.

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