Constitution of the United States

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The Bill of Rights: Violated

BillOfRightsThe Constitution of the United States, which includes the Bill of Rights, is one of the most abused documents in American history. It was designed to provide a solid foundation for liberty by limiting the size and scope of the federal government in a way that has never been seen in the history of mankind, but it is the Bill of Rights which makes it especially unique. Contrary to what many may think, the Bill of Rights “is not a declaration of rights at all. It is a declaration of prohibitions against the federal government,” setting clear boundaries that were not to be crossed (Skousen 674). However, as you will see, these delineations have been sullied. The following essay presents each amendment in the Bill of Rights, provides a summary of each amendment, and shows how they have been violated by the federal government.

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 peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Summary of “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”: Congress cannot legally show favoritism toward one religion over another and cannot prohibit anyone or any group of people from freely practicing their faith.

Examples of how the Founders’ original intention of this provision has been violated by the federal government:

  1. “In the case of Gitlow v. New York [1925], the Supreme Court used certain provisions in the federal Bill of Rights and applied them to the states. The court justified this action on the basis of the Fourteenth Amendment, which provides that ‘no State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.’ The opponents of traditional theistic religion and morality saw the Gitlow case as an opportunity to invoke the power of the federal courts to build a wall between each of the states and any form of religious encouragement, even though it was provided indirectly. In other words they would reverse the Founders’ original policy” (Skousen 685). The first provision of the First Amendment prohibits the federal government from interfering in religious matters, leaving this jurisdiction to the states; yet, in the case, the Supreme Court violated this prohibition.
  2. “The case of Cantwell v. Connecticut [1940] was the first ruling of the Supreme Court in which the “Gitlow doctrine” was applied to religious liberty…” (Skousen 685), followed by McCollum v. Board of Education [1948] where the Supreme Court “…used the Gitlow doctrine to tell a state board of education that it would not allow children, even with their parents’ consent, to take religion classes in school” (Skousen 686).
  3. “…Everson v. Board of Education [1947] was the first time the Supreme Court applied the ‘due process’ clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to make the federal wall of separation apply to religious matters among the individual states. What this amounted to was the actual breaking down of the federal wall set up by the First Amendment so that the Supreme Court actually usurped jurisdiction over religious matters in the states and began dictating what the states could or could not do with reference to religious questions” (Skousen 685). Moreover, in this case, “…the Supreme Court made it clear that neither the federal government nor the state government could encourage religion in any way. Justice Hugo L. Black spoke for the court and declared in his opinion, ‘Neither a State nor the Federal government…can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another. The Founders would have heartily endorsed Justice Black’s ‘no preference’ doctrine, but they would, no doubt, have objected vigorously to outlawing indirect aid for, and encouragement to, ‘all religions’…it was ‘all religions’ the Founders had said they were relying upon to undergird society with those moral teachings which are ‘necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind. No doubt they would have further objected to the court’s presumptive usurpation in taking jurisdiction over a religious question, which had been specifically reserved, by the First and Tenth Amendments, to the states themselves” (Skousen 686). “Without a doubt, there has been a severe wrenching of the Constitution from its original First Amendment moorings ever since this new trend began,” starting with the Gitlow case (Skousen 685).
  4. In Zorach v. Clauson [1952], “…the Supreme Court took its newly acquired jurisdiction over religious questions in state schools to announce…that it was very solicitous of religion and would approve classes in religion during the regular school day, providing the classes were held separate from any tax-supported property” (Skousen 686).
  5. In Engel v. Vitale [1962], the Supreme Court overruled the New York Court of Appeals’ approval of a prepared, nondenominational prayer for use in the public schools, thereby intermeddling in a religious state question (Skousen 687).
  6. In Abington School District v. Schemp [1963], the Supreme Court intruded upon the religious liberty of a high school which had opening ceremonies that included reciting the Lord’s Prayer and reading Bible verses, declaring such conduct as unconstitutional. “It was pointed out to the court that ‘unless these religious exercises are permitted, a “religion of secularism” is established in the schools,’ but the Court rejected this argument” (Skousen 687).

Summary of “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech…”: The federal government cannot limit the freedom of speech.

Examples of how the Founders’ original intention of this provision has been violated by the federal government:

  1. Catherine Engelbrecht, who is the chairwoman of the election integrity group True the Vote and is the founder and leader of King Street Patriots (a Tea Party group) and is the president of Engelbrecht Manufacturing, became a target of the federal government. As Mrs. Engelbrecht testified on February 6, 2014, before the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform, “Shortly after filing IRS forms to establish 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) tax-exempt organizations, an assortment of federal entities – including law enforcement agencies and a Congressman from Maryland, Elijah Cummings – came knocking at my door. In nearly two decades of running our small business, my husband and I never dealt with any government agency, outside of filing our annual tax returns. We had never been audited, we had never been investigated, but all that changed upon submitting applications for the non-profit statuses of True the Vote and King Street Patriots. Since that filing in 2010, my private businesses, my nonprofit organizations, and family have been subjected to more than 15 instances of audit or inquiry by federal agencies [i.e. IRS, OSHA, ATF, FBI]… All of these incursions into my affairs began after filing applications for tax-exemption. There is no other remarkable event, no other reason, to explain away how for decades I went unnoticed, but now find myself on the receiving end of interagency coordination into and against all facets of my life, both public and private… these events were occurring while the IRS was subjecting me to multiple rounds of abusive inquiries, with requests to provide every Facebook and Twitter entry I’d every posted, questions about my political aspirations, and demands to know the names of every group I’d ever made presentations to, the content of what I’d said, and where I intended to speak for the coming year. The answers to these sorts of questions are not of interest to the typical IRS analyst, but they are of great interest to a political machine that puts its own survival above the civil liberties of any private citizen” (“Testimony” 2-4). This kind of testimony has been shared before Congress by Becky Gerritson (President of Wetumpka Tea Party in Alabama), Karen Kenney (Leader of the San Fernando Valley Patriots), Kevin Kookegey (President and Founder of Linchpins of Liberty), Susan Martinek (President of the Coalition for Life of Iowa), and many others, and has resulted in what has become known as the IRS Scandal (Pavlich).
  2. On February 17, 2014, it was reported that “IRS Regulation-134417-13, ‘Guidance for Tax-Exempt Social Welfare Organizations on Candidate-Related Political Activities,’ is a proposed new regulation that is an outrageously brazen attempt by the IRS to silence the speech of 501(c)(4) organizations before the upcoming election. If implemented, the regulation would prohibit a 501(c)(4) from speaking to matters of public concern during the 2014 election cycle” (Staver).

Summary of “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom…of the press…”: The federal government cannot limit the freedom of the press.

Examples of how the Founders’ original intention of this provision has been violated by the federal government:

  1. On May 13, 2013, the Associated Press announced that the telephone records for 20 of their reporters had been subpoenaed by the Justice Department for a two-month period in 2012; the subpoenas were not issued to the AP but to the AP’s telephone providers and Verizon Wireless (Ingram).
  2. On May 19, 2013, the Washington Post reported that the U.S. Justice Department seized the email and telephone records of Fox News reporters, including chief Washington correspondent, James Rosen, and obtained a search warrant for the content of Rosen’s private and work emails and telephone records (as well as his parent’s phone records) in connection with Stephen Kim, a former State Department contractor who was charged with disclosing classified information about North Korea to Rosen (Marimow & Howerton). The warrants were obtained on the accusation that Rosen was a possible “criminal co-conspirator” with Kim.
  3. Thomas Drake, who worked as a senior technical director with the NSA for 32 years but is now a prominent NSA whistleblower, recently “…warned that journalists are being increasingly frozen out of government sources.” He went on to say, “In our post-9/11 world, the government is increasingly in the ‘First Un-amendment’ business, engaged in a direct assault on free speech and the very foundation of our democracy.” He also said, “How…will the press report the real news when their sources dry up and the government becomes a primary purveyor of its own news?” (Lyngass)

Summary of “Congress shall make no law…abridging…the right of the people peaceably to assemble…”: The federal government cannot keep the American people from peaceful assembly.

Examples of how the Founders’ original intention of this provision has been violated by the federal government:

  1. On October 1, 2013, National Park Service employees erected a barricade around the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., prohibiting World War II veterans from gathering there; according to the National Park Service and the U.S. Department of the Interior, access to the memorial was blocked due to the federal government shutdown (Spakovsky).
  2. In the Spring and Summer of 1932, Washington D.C. was flooded by over 20,000 unemployed World War I veterans from all over America who needed the federal government to pay them for their service based on the bonus certificates they had been given after the war, which promised a cash bonus sometime in the future; they needed the money and would not leave until they received it. When the Senate rejected their demands, President Hoover was left to deal with the marchers, who eventually started camping out with their families in central Washington, refusing to move until they were paid. The camping site, made up of huts and tents, became known as Bonus City. In response, Hoover ordered General Douglas MacArthur (including Major George S. Patton and Major Dwight Eisenhower) to clear out Bonus City, using “cavalry, infantry, tank troops and a mounted machine gun squadron” to complete their mission. The Veterans and their families were dispersed with bayonets and tear gas. Hoover’s overreaction and overreach of power became known as the greatest tragedies in American history. (“The Bonus March…” and “The Bonus Army March”)

Summary of “Congress shall make no law…abridging…the right of the people…to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”: The federal government cannot prevent the American people from complaining to the government regarding their grievances.

Examples of how the Founders’ original intention of this provision has been violated by the federal government:

  1. In 2013, after the petition entitled “Immediate Action Requested for Romeikes — Grant Permanent Legal Status to Persecuted German Homeschool Family” garnered well over 100,000 signatures in the time-span required to receive an official response from the administration, the White House essentially provided an elongated “no comment” (Hallowell).
  2. “President Van Buren’s administration was marked by a struggle to prevent the receipt and consideration by Congress of numerous petitions for the abolition of slavery. Senator John S. Calhoun even declared such petitions to be ‘a violation of the Constitution’” (Skousen 689 and “Martin…”).

Second Amendment

“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.”

Summary: Since freedom cannot be maintained unless the American people remain armed, the federal government cannot prevent the people from keeping and using guns.

Examples of how the Founders’ original intention of this provision has been violated by the federal government:

  1. In 2009, under the leadership of President Obama and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, “…the United States joined 152 other countries in endorsing a U.N.  Arms Trade Treaty [ATT] Resolution” (“No Compromise…”). On July 22, 2011, the National Rifle Association (NRA) announced that it had secured a partnership with 58 members of the U.S. Senate – acquiring a bipartisan majority in the Senate – to oppose the ATT; all 58 Senators signed strongly-worded letters addressed to the White House, cautioning the President and the Secretary of State to keep their oath in upholding and defending the Constitution of the United States (“U.S. Senate Stands with NRA…”). Then, on July 27, 2012, the NRA reported that 130 members of the U.S. House of Representatives joined the Senate in opposing the ATT after being urged by NRA members all over America to oppose the treaty; it also stated that the U.N. tried to draft another version of the ATT, hoping to salvage the failure of their prior attempt, but was unable to produce a draft that met the United States’ Constitutional standards (“NRA Stops…”). Finally, Secretary of State John Kerry, on September 25, 2013, in defiance of the American people, signed the ATT; however, the treaty cannot be ratified in the United States without a majority vote in the Senate (Nichols).
  2. On July 21, 2014, Senator John McCain “…went on record Sunday saying “stand your ground” laws need review…because it’s very controversial legislation” (Morgenstern).
  3. On July 29, 2014, the Associated Press reported that “A federal judge has rejected a push by gun rights advocates to let Illinois residents immediately tote firearms in public instead of waiting months for the state to outline the permitting process under its new concealed carry law” (Seidl).
  4. On January 3, 2014, the Obama Administration announced pending executive action on who can buy a gun, “…focused mainly on mental health issues that would allow the government to get around certain privacy laws on the books in order to obtain more information” (Lucas).
  5. On January 28, during the 2014 State of the Union Address, President Barack Obama promised to increase gun control when he said, “…I intend to keep trying, with or without Congress, to help stop more tragedies from visiting innocent Americans in our movie theaters, shopping malls, or schools like Sandy Hook” (Obama).

Third Amendment

“No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.”

Summary: Soldiers cannot force a home-owner to harbor them in their homes, in wartime or peacetime, without the owner’s consent.

Examples of how the Founders’ original intention of this provision has been violated by the federal government:

  1. “In 1942…inhabitants of the Aleutian Islands were forced out of their homes, and in some cases troops were actually quartered there…” (Reynolds).
  2. “…In a 1982 case in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, prison guards evicted from their quarters and replaced with National Guard troops during a strike sued, and the Court of Appeals found that this action implicated their rights under the Third Amendment, which it characterized as ‘designed to assure a fundamental right of privacy’” (Reynolds).
  3. On July 10, 2011, “a Henderson, Nev., family…claimed that their Third Amendment rights were violated…when police officers commandeered their homes and arrested two family members for ‘obstruction’”; according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, this action by the police, who employed military weapons and tactics, violated “…the spirit of the Third Amendment of the U.S. Constitution…” (Adams).

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.”

Summary: This amendment “…guarantees the American people the right to the privacy of their homes, their businesses, and all their private papers and effects…the right of the people to be protected from unreasonable searches and seizures…[and] the right to be free from arrest except on the basis of a warrant which has been properly issued” (Skousen 701-703).

Examples of how the Founders’ original intention of this provision has been violated by the federal government:

  1. The Sixteenth Amendment is a direct violation of the Fourth Amendment. According to T. Coleman Andrews, former Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, “Congress [in implementing the Sixteenth Amendment]…repealed Article IV of the Bill of Rights, by empowering the tax collector to do the very things from which that Article says we were to be secure. It opened up our homes, our papers and our effects to the prying eyes of government agents and set the stage for searches of our books and vaults and for inquiries into our private affairs whenever the tax men might decide, even though there might not be any justification beyond mere cynical suspicion. The income tax is bad because it has robbed you and me of the guarantee of privacy and the respect for our property that were given to us in Article IV of the Bill of Rights. This invasion is absolute and complete as far as the amount of tax that can be assessed is concerned…under the Sixteenth Amendment Congress can take 100 percent of our income anytime it wants to…The income tax is fulfilling the Marxist prophecy that the surest way to destroy a capitalist society is by ‘steeply graduated’ taxes on income and heavy levies upon the estates of people when they die. As matters now stand, if our children make the most of their capabilities and training they will have to give most of it to the tax collector. People cannot pull themselves up by their own bootstraps anymore because the tax collector gets the boots and the straps as well” (Skousen 742). Moreover, according to Judge Andrew Napolitano, the Sixteenth Amendment “…is a terrifying presumption. It presumes that we don’t really own our property. It accepts the Marxist notion that the state owns all the property and the state permits us to keep and use whatever it needs us to have so we won’t riot in the streets. And then it steals and uses whatever it can politically get away with” (“Taxation…”).
  2. In 2013, Americans were informed that the National Security Agency (NSA) hacked into the enormous computer servers of Google and Yahoo and engaged in massive telephone and internet surveillance, accessing an unlimited amount of consumer data and metadata (Associated Press). What is even more concerning is that the NSA has been “secretly” spying on American citizens for the past 60 years and now has a $1.9 billion Utah Data Center that collects a “staggering” amount of data on Americans (including elected and non-elected government officials) and non-Americans alike (Klimas).
  3. On May 16, 2013, it was reported that IRS was being taken to court for stealing more than 60 million medical records of more than 10 million Americans (“IRS Accused…”).
  4. In December 2012, President Obama signed “…an extension of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, a George W. Bush-era legislation that has allowed the government expansive spy powers that has been considered by some to be dragnet surveillance… FISA, or the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, was first signed into law in the 1970s in order to put into place rules regarding domestic spying within the United States. Upon the passing of the FAA in 2008, however, the online and over-the-phone activities of Americans became subject to sweeping, warrantless wiretapping…” (RT).

Fifth Amendment

“No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

Summary: This amendment grants Americans the “…right to trial by Grand Jury for certain crimes, the right not to be tried or punished more than once for the same crime, the right to be tried only with due process of law and the right to be paid fair compensation for any property taken by the government for public use” (“The 5th…”).

Examples of how the Founders’ original intention of this provision has been violated by the federal government:

  1. On September 27, 2012, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, an American citizen and Coptic filmmaker, was arrested in the middle of the night from his home in the Los Angeles area for eight probation violations (Turner). At the same time, he was being demonized for creating an allegedly anti-Muslim YouTube movie entitled “Innocence of Muslims” that was “…initially and incorrectly blamed for inciting the terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi that killed the American Ambassador [J. Christopher Stevens] and three other Americans [Sean Smith, Glen Doherty, and Tyrone S. Woods]…” (Turner). On November 7, during his hearing, Nakoula “…admitted to lying to his probation officer and three allegations of using false identities…” (Turner). It is suspicious that Nakoula was charged in November 2012 with the 2010 violations and slapped with a two-year imprisonment recommendation by his probation officers after being disclosed as someone involved in making the film; what is more, his probation process after his highly-publicized arrest and perp walk and the judge’s ruling were extremely peculiar, providing strong evidence that his case was processed to appease those who opposed his alleged anti-Muslim speech (Turner). Nakoula was repeatedly and publicly charged by the White House and the media “without due process of law” for the death of four Americans and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton promised to bring him, not the Islamic terrorists who actually killed them, to justice (Turner). But, in the aftermath, it is now common knowledge that the film had nothing to do with the terrorist attack (Darcy).
  2. “…In 1923 a minimum wage law which required an employer to pay a certain wage, regardless of the earning ability of the employee, was held to be unconstitutional under this [Fifth Amendment] provision, since it took private property for the public welfare in violation of this clause [known as the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment]. It was reversed in 1937 by the Supreme Court under the influence of New Deal policies” (Skousen 707); the Supreme Court decision was made on March 29, 1937 in West Coast Hotel Company v. Parrish (Grossman).
  3. The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, which was part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, was signed into law on October 24, 1938, setting minimum wages for most categories of workers (Grossman).
  4. On June 23, 2005, “…the Supreme Court ruled that the “public use” requirement of the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment permitted the City of New London to exercise its eminent domain power in taking property from homeowners and transferring it to another private owner as part of an economic development plan” (“Kelo V. City…”). In their dissenting vote on this case, Justice O’Connor, along with the Chief Justice and Justices Scalia and Thomas, stated that “the Court has ‘effectively…delete[d] the words ‘for public use’ from the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment’ and thereby ‘refuse[d] to enforce properly the Federal Constitution’” (“Sens. Rand Paul…”).

Sixth Amendment

“In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.”

Summary: Americans have a right to a speedy trial, to a public trial, to be judged by an impartial jury, to be notified of the nature and circumstances of the alleged crime, to confront witnesses who will testify against them, to find witnesses who will testify in their favor, and to have a lawyer.

Examples of how the Founders’ original intention of this provision has been violated by the federal government:

  1. “Pfc. Bradley Manning made headlines in 2010 when he was arrested for the leak of around 250,000 private documents concerning operations in Iraq and Afghanistan to the website WikiLeaks, known for its mission of transparency in government. Manning was arrested on May 26, 2010,” and was held in pretrial confinement for 845 days, thereby violating Manning’s right to a “speedy trial” (Bell).
  2. “In December 2011, President Obama signed the 2012 NDAA, codifying indefinite military detention without charge or trial into law for the first time in American history. The NDAA’s dangerous detention provisions would authorize the president — and all future presidents — to order the military to pick up and indefinitely imprison people captured anywhere in the world [including American citizens], far from any battlefield” (“NDAA”) “The controversial components of the bill can be broken down into two parts. The first questionable portion of the bill (section 1031) explicitly exempts U.S. citizens, and…states that the government would be mandated to place into military custody: ‘any suspected member of Al Qaeda or one of its allies connected to a plot against the United States or its allies.. [and] would otherwise extend to arrests on United States soil. The executive branch could issue a waiver and keep such a prisoner in the civilian system.’ The second provision (section 1032), however, does not include an exemption for U.S. citizens, and would give the government “the legal authority to keep people suspected of terrorism in military custody, indefinitely and without trial” (Sexton).

Seventh Amendment

“In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.”

Summary: Americans, in a civil case, possess “…the right to have a jury just as in criminal cases (provided, of course, that the suit involves a sum of $20 of more)” and “…the right to have its facts ‘as found’ remain unmolested during the appeal process” (Skousen 710)

Examples of how the Founders’ original intention of this provision has been violated by the federal government:

  1. In Tull v. United States, “…The United States (P) filed a civil suit against Tull (D) for discharging fill material into wetlands in violation of the Clean Water Act. P sought over $22 million and injunctive relief. The district court denied Tull’s motion for a jury trial and entered judgment for P for $325,000. The court of appeals affirmed the denial of a jury trial and the Supreme Court granted cert” (“Tull V…”).
  2. “Many modern courts use a legal theory known as the “complexity exception,” whereby a judge may take a civil lawsuit out of the hands of a jury because the issues are supposedly too complicated for the jurors to understand. This is most common in patent disputes, which often involve complex scientific principles. But this is in direct contravention of the Seventh Amendment. What gives the government the authority to determine that something is too complicated for a jury to understand?” (“Amendment VII…”)

Eighth Amendment

“Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”

Summary: This amendment protects Americans from excessive bail and fines and from cruel and unusual punishment.

Examples of how the Founders’ original intention of this provision has been violated by the federal government:

  1. In 1910, in the case of Weems v. United States, the court overturned the conviction against Paul Weems, a U.S. officer, who was found guilty of falsifying a document and was cruelly and unusually punished with “a 15-year prison term, hard labor, lifetime surveillance, and loss of his civil rights” (“A Progressive…”).
  2. In 1992, in Hudson v. McMillian, the U.S Supreme Court “…found a violation of the Eighth Amendment when prison officials punched and kicked a prisoner, leaving him with minor bruises, swelling of his face and mouth, and loose teeth. The Court held that a guard’s use of force violates the Eighth Amendment when it is not applied “in a good faith effort to maintain or restore discipline” but instead is used to “maliciously and sadistically cause harm” (“Your Right…”).

Ninth Amendment

“The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

Summary: This amendment says that “…any right not enumerated, or listed, in the Constitution is still retained by the people” (“9th…”).

Examples of how the Founders’ original intention of this provision has been violated by the federal government:

  1. “Who determines which unlisted rights are to be protected by the government? According to the 10th Amendment and Article 1, Section 1 of the Constitution, this power is reserved to the States, not to the Courts. There is nowhere in the Constitution that says the Courts have the power to determine which rights not listed are to be protected. The Constitution does say that powers not given to the federal government are given to the States and since the power to determine which unlisted rights are to be protected is nowhere delegated to the Federal government, this right is therefore given to the States (“9th…”). In 1973, in the Roe vs. Wade abortion decision, the Supreme Court made all state laws banning abortions illegal. “The people of Texas had passed a law banning abortions. They believed that having an abortion should not be a protected right. The Supreme Court said otherwise, ignoring the 9th Amendment, and declared the law unconstitutional. So, a handful of judges defiantly overruled the vote of the people of Texas, and other states that also had anti-abortion rules” (“9th…”).
  2. In the Declaration of Independence, it says, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life…” (“The Declaration…”). Life is a God-given, unalienable right that springs from our humanity. Therefore, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of abortion in Roe v. Wade, it denied and disparaged the fundamental right of the unborn to live their lives.

Tenth Amendment

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

Summary: This Amendment states that “…the federal government only has powers over the things that are specifically given to it in the Constitution. All other powers are reserved to the States” or to the people (“The 10th…”).

Examples of how the Founders’ original intention of this provision has been violated by the federal government:

  1. “The National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984 required all states to raise their minimum purchase and public possession of alcohol age to 21. States that did not comply faced a reduction in highway funds under the Federal Highway Aid Act” (Hansen).
  2. “In Wickard v. Filburn (1942), the Supreme Court held that a farmer who grew wheat just for the consumption of his own family violated federal agricultural guidelines enacted pursuant to the Commerce Clause. Though the wheat did not move across state lines—indeed, it never left his farm—the Court held that if other similarly situated farmers were permitted to do the same it, might have an aggregate effect on interstate commerce” (Napolitano).
  3. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) of 2010 is, at its core, unconstitutional. As a strategy, Congress used “The Commerce Clause” (Article I Section 8 Clause 3) of the Constitution to justify the regulation of the entire health care industry through this law – The Commerce Clause says that “[The Congress shall have power] To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian Tribes.” According to the Framers, to regulate something meant to keep it “regular,” and, in the case of PPACA, this clause limits Congress to the regulation of interstate commerce between states (not to be confused with intrastate commerce, which is within state lines). With this in mind, consider the following: “The practice of medicine consists of the delivery of intimate services to the human body. In almost all instances, the delivery of medical services occurs in one place and does not move across interstate lines. One goes to a physician not to engage in commercial activity, as the Framers of the Constitution understood, but to improve one’s health. And the practice of medicine, much like public school safety, has been regulated by states for the past century” (Napolitano).
  4. “In…Printz vs. United States, 1997, the Supreme Court ruled that the Congress could not force the States to conduct criminal background checks on gun purchasers. This would have forced the state to use its own resources to accomplish the Federal mandate. This was also barred by the 10th Amendment” (“The 10th…”).

In conclusion, according to the preamble to the Bill of Rights, the Framers provided us with these ten amendments in order to insure public confidence in the government. Yet, as you have seen, all three branches of our national government have failed, on numerous occasions – certainly more numerous than the examples used above – to trample upon the rights of “We the People,” which the Declaration of Independence says are unalienable and God-endowed. Good government possesses only the power derived from the consent of the governed so that it can fulfill its purpose in securing the rights and liberties of the people. But, more and more have seen and are seeing good government replaced by that which is oppressive and tyrannical. Why? Because “We the People” have allowed it. We have failed to be students of history and of current events and have relinquished our sovereign control of these United States by casting unwise votes for greedy and corrupt politicians who do not regard our Constitution or our freedoms. However, if we will pray, become extreme in our defense of liberty, work hard to educate our neighbors, and vote for adamant constitutionalists, America will be restored.


Works Cited

“The 5th Amendment.” Revolutionary War & Beyond. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2014. <http://www.revolutionary-war-and-beyond.com/5th-amendment.html&gt;.

“9th Amendment to the US Constitution.” Revolutionary War and Beyond. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Mar. 2014. <http://www.revolutionary-war-and-beyond.com/9th-amendment.html&gt;.

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Our Ageless Constitution

“The structure has been erected by architects of consummate skill and fidelity; its foundations are solid; its components are beautiful, as well as useful; its arrangements are full of wisdom and order…” Justice Joseph Story

The United States Constitution

The United States Constitution

Justice Story’s words pay tribute to the United States Constitution and its Framers. Shortly before the 100th year of the Constitution, in his History of the United States of America, written in 1886 historian George Bancroft said:

“The Constitution is to the American people a possession for the ages.”

He went on to say:

“In America, a new people had risen up without king, or princes, or nobles….By calm meditation and friendly councils they had prepared a constitution which, in the union of freedom with strength and order, excelled every one known before; and which secured itself against violence and revolution by providing a peaceful method for every needed reform. In the happy morning of their existence as one of the powers of the world, they had chosen Justice as their guide.”

And two hundred years after the adoption of this singularly-important document, praised by justice Story in one century and Historian Bancroft in the next and said by Sir William Gladstone to be “the most wonderful work ever struck off at a given moment by the brain and purpose of man,” the Constitution of 1787 – with its Bill of Rights – ­remains, yet another century later, a bulwark for liberty, an ageless formula for the government of a free people.

In what sense can any document prepared by human hands be said to be ageless? What are the qualities or attributes which give it permanence?

The Qualities of Agelessness

America’s Constitution had its roots in the nature, experience, and habits of humankind, in the experience of the American people themselves – their beliefs, customs, and traditions, and in the practical aspects of politics and government. It was based on the experience of the ages. Its provisions were designed in recognition of principles which do not change with time and circumstance, because they are inherent in human nature.

“The foundation of every government,” said John Adams, “is some principle or passion in the minds of the people.” The founding generation, aware of its unique place in the ongoing human struggle for liberty, were willing to risk everything for its attainment. Roger Sherman stated that as government is “instituted for those who live under it … it ought, therefore, to be so constituted as not to be dangerous to liberty.” And the American government was structured with that primary purpose in mind – the protection of the peoples liberty.

Of their historic role, in framing a government to secure liberty, the Framers believed that the degree of wisdom and foresight brought to the task at hand might well determine whether future generations would live in liberty or tyranny. As President Washington so aptly put it, “the sacred fire of liberty” might depend “on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people” That experiment, they hoped, would serve as a beacon of liberty throughout the world.

The Framers of America’s Constitution were guided by the wisdom of previous generations and the lessons of history for guidance in structuring a government to secure for untold millions in the future the unalienable rights of individuals. As Jefferson wisely observed:

“History, by apprising the people of the past, will enable them to judge of the future; it will avail them of the experience of other times and other nations; it will qualify them as judges of the actions and designs of men; it will enable them to know ambition under every disguise it may assume; and knowing it, to defeat its views.”

The Constitution, it has been said, was “not formed upon abstraction,” but upon practicality. Its philosophy and principles, among others, incorporated these practical aspects:

  • Recognition that love of liberty is inherent in the human spirit.
  • Recognition of Creator-endowed, unalienable, individual rights.
  • Recognition that meaningful liberty is possible only in the company of order and justice. In the words of Burke: “Liberty must be limited to be possessed.”
  • Recognition that in order for a people to be free, they must be governed by fixed laws that apply alike to the governed and the government.
  • Recognition that the Creator has not preferred one person or group of persons as rulers over the others and that any government, in order to be just, must be from among the great body of the people and by their consent – that the people have a right to self-government.
  • Recognition of human weakness and the human tendency to abuse power; therefore, of the need to divide and to separate the power granted to government; to provide a system of checks and balances; and to make government accountable to people at frequent intervals.
  • Recognition that laws, to be valid, must have their basis and limit in natural law – that law which, as Cicero wrote, “is the highest reason, implanted in Nature, which commands what ought to be done and forbids the opposite.”
  • Recognition of the need for structuring a government of laws, not of men, based on enduring principles and suitable not only to the age in which it is formed, but amendable to different circumstances and times, without sacrificing any of the three great concepts of Order, justice, or Liberty.
  • Recognition that the right to ownership of property is a right so compelling as to provide a primary reason for individuals to form a government for securing that right.
  • Recognition of the need for protecting the individual rights of each citizen, rich or poor, majority or minority, and of not allowing the coercive power of government to be used to do collectively that which the individual could not do without committing a crime.
  • Recognition of necessity for incentive and reward as impetus for achievement and growth.
  • Recognition of the need for a “Supreme Law of the land” a written constitutionwhich, consistent with its idea of the sovereignty of the people, would provide its own prescribed amendment process, thereby circumventing any potential unconstitutional changes by any of the branches of government without the people’s consent.

The Constitution of the United States of America structured a government for what the Founders called a “virtuous people – that is, a people who would be able, as Burke put it, to “put chains on their own appetites” and, without the coercive hand of government, to live peaceably without violating the rights of others. Such a society would need no standing armies to insure internal order, for the moral beliefs, customs, and love for liberty motivating the actions of the people and their representatives in government – the “unwritten” constitution – would be in keeping with their written constitution.

George Washington, in a speech to the State Governors, shared his own sense of the deep roots and foundations of the new nation:

“The foundation of our empire was not laid in the gloomy age of ignorance and superstition; but at an epoch when the rights of mankind were better understood and more clear­ly defined, than at any former period…. the treasures of knowledge, acquired by the labors of philosophers, sages, and legislators, through a long succession of years, are laid open for our use, and their collective wisdom may be happily applied in the establishment of our forms of government.”

And Abraham Lincoln, in the mid-1800’s, in celebrating the blessings of liberty, challenged Americans to transmit the “political edifice of liberty and equal rights” of their constitutional government to future generations:

“In the great journal of things happening under the sun, we, the American people, find our account running … We find ourselves in the peaceful possession, of the fairest portion of the earth….We find ourselves under the government of a system of political institutions, conducing more essentially to the ends of civil and religious liberty, than any of which the history of former times tells us. We found ourselves the legal inheritors of these fundamental blessings. We toiled not in the acquirement or establishment of them – They are a legacy bequeathed us, by a once hardy, brave, and patriotic…race of ancestors. Theirs was the task (and nobly they performed it) to possess themselves, and through themselves, us, of this goodly land; and to uprear upon its hills and its valleys, a political edifice of liberty and equal rights, ’tis ours only, to transmit these…to the latest generation that fate shall permit the world to know….”

Because it rests on sound philosophical foundations and is rooted in enduring principles, the United States Constitution can, indeed, properly be described as “ageless,” for it provides the formula for securing the blessings of liberty, establishing justice, insuring domestic tranquility, promoting the general welfare, and providing for the common defense of a free people who understand its philosophy and principles and who will, with dedication, see that its integrity and vigor are preserved.

Justice Joseph Story was quoted in the caption of this essay as attesting to the skill and fidelity of the architects of the Constitution, its solid foundations, the practical aspects of its features, and its wisdom and order. The closing words of his statement, however, were reserved for use here; for in his 1789 remarks, he recognized the “ageless” quality of the magnificent document, and at the same time, issued a grave warning for Americans of all centuries. He concluded his statement with these words:

“…And its defenses are impregnable from without. It has been reared for immortality, if the work of man may justly aspire to such a title. It may, nevertheless, perish in an hour by the folly, or corruption, or negligence of its only keepers, THE PEOPLE. Republics are created by virtue, public spirit, and intelligence of the citizens.”

Our ageless constitution can be shared with the world and passed on to generations far distant if its formula is not altered in violation of principle through the neglect of its keepers – WE, THE PEOPLE.


Our Ageless Constitution, W. David Stedman & La Vaughn G. Lewis, Editors (Asheboro, NC, W. David Stedman Associates, 1987) Part VII:  ISBN 0-937047-01-5

This article was taken from www.nccs.net/our-ageless-constitution.php.

Davy Crockett & the “General Welfare”

Davy Crockett fighting at the Alamo in 1836. (Click on picture to enlarge)

Davy Crockett fighting at the Alamo in 1836. (Click on picture to enlarge)

“Davy Crockett was killed at the Alamo in 1836 fighting for the independence of Texas. Earlier, however, he had served nine years in Congress. During one of these years a fire broke out in Georgetown, a suburb of Washington, and many of the Congressman, including Crockett, helped fight the blaze. The next morning the Congress voted $20,000 to assist those whose homes were destroyed. Crockett voted for it. However, when he went home he found himself in deep trouble with one of his constituents named Horatio Bunce. Bunce commended him for the anxiety to help the victims of the fire but scolded him for using other people’s money as ‘charity.’ He challenged Crockett to find where the Constitution allowed Congress to spend one penny of other people’s money for charity. Crockett couldn’t think of any such provision. Bunce told him he had a right to help with his own money, but not other people’s money.


Congressman David “Davy” Crockett served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1826 to 1828 (21st Congress), from 1829 to 1831 (21st Congress, and from 1833 to 1835 (23rd Congress). (Click on picture to enlarge

“Crockett returned to Congress and ran into a similar situation. Congress wanted to give a substantial sum to the widow of a distinguished naval officer who had just died. Crockett took the floor and said:

“‘Mr. Speaker, I have as much . . . sympathy as . . . any man in the House, but . . . Congress has no power to appropriate this money as an act of charity. Every member upon this floor knows it. We have the right, as individuals, to give away as much of our own money as we please in charity; but as members of Congress we have no right to appropriate a dollar of the public money . . . Mr. Speaker, I have said we have the right to give as much money of our own as we please. I am the poorest man on this floor. I cannot vote for this bill, but I give one week’s pay to the object, and if every member of Congress will do the same, it will among to more than the bill asks.’

“Crockett took his seat. This bill was defeated, but even though some of the congressmen were very wealthy, not one of them came forward to take up Crockett’s offer to donate a week’s salary to the widow as a gesture of private charity.”

Taken from pages 391-392 of “The Making of America” by W. Cleon Skousen (of The National Center for Constitutional Studies), who retrieved this story from pages 138-139 of “The Life of Colonel David Crockett”, published in 1884, by Edward S. Ellis. To read Crockett’s full speech, CLICK HERE.

What Is a Right? – Judge Andrew P. Napolitano

Judge Andrew P. Napolitano

Judge Andrew P. Napolitano

In the continually harsh public discourse over the President’s proposals for federally-managed healthcare, the Big Government progressives in both the Democratic and the Republican parties have been trying to trick us. These folks, who really want the government to care for us from cradle to grave, have been promoting the idea that health care is a right. In promoting that false premise, they have succeeded in moving the debate from WHETHER the feds should micro-manage health care to HOW the feds should micro-manage health care. This is a false premise, and we should reject it. Health care is not a right; it is a good, like food, like shelter, and like clothing.

What is a right? A right is a gift from God that extends from our humanity. Thinkers from St. Thomas Aquinas, to Thomas Jefferson, to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to Pope John Paul II have all argued that our rights are a natural part of our humanity. We own our bodies, thus we own the gifts that emanate from our bodies. So, our right to life, our right to develop our personalities, our right to think as we wish, to say what we think, to publish what we say, our right to worship or not worship, our right to travel, to defend ourselves, to use our own property as we see fit, our right to due process — fairness — from the government, and our right to be left alone, are all rights that stem from our humanity. These are natural rights that we are born with. The government doesn’t give them to us and the government doesn’t pay for them and the government can’t take them away, unless a jury finds that we have violated someone else’s rights.

What is a good? A good is something we want or need. In a sense, it is the opposite of a right. We have our rights from birth, but we need our parents when we are children and we need ourselves as adults to purchase the goods we require for existence. So, food is a good, shelter is a good, clothing is a good, education is a good, a car is a good, legal representation is a good, working out at a gym is a good, and access to health care is a good. Does the government give us goods? Well, sometimes it takes money from some of us and gives that money to others. You can call that taxation or you can call it theft; but you cannot call it a right.

A right stems from our humanity. A good is something you buy or someone else buys for you.

Now, when you look at health care for what it is, when you look at the US Constitution, when you look at the history of human freedom, when you accept the American value of the primacy of the individual over the fleeting wishes of the government, it becomes apparent that those who claim that healthcare is a right simply want to extend a form of government welfare.

When I make this argument to my Big Government friends, they come back at me with…well, if people don’t have health insurance, they will just go to hospitals and we will end up paying for them anyway. Why should that be? We don’t let people steal food from a supermarket or an apartment from a landlord or clothing from a local shop. Why do we let them take healthcare from a hospital without paying for it? Well, my Big Government friends contend, that’s charity.

They are wrong again. It is impossible to be charitable with someone else’s money. Charity comes from your own heart, not from the government spending your money. When we pay our taxes to the government and it gives that money away, that’s not charity, that’s welfare. When the government takes more from us than it needs to secure our freedoms, so it can have money to give away, that’s not charity, that’s theft. And when the government forces hospitals to provide free health care to those who can’t or won’t care for themselves, that’s not charity, that’s slavery. That’s why we now have constitutional chaos, because the government steals and enslaves, and we outlawed that a long time ago.

Published on December 19, 2009

Andrew P. Napolitano [send him mail], a former judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, is the senior judicial analyst at the Fox News Channel. His next book is Lies the Government Told You: Myth, Power, and Deception in American History, (Nelson, 2010).

Take from http://archive.lewrockwell.com/napolitano/napolitano12.1.html.


“The rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God.” John F. Kennedy

The Original Intent of the “General Welfare” Clause

The United States Constitution

The United States

There are limited, delegated, and discreet powers of Congress in Article 1, Section 8 of Constitution. Here they are:

The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

To borrow Money on the credit of the United States;

To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian

To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;

To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;

To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;

To establish Post Offices and post Roads;

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;

To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations;

To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

To provide and maintain a Navy;

To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;

To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings;–And

To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

That’s it! These are the limited, delegated, and discreet powers that our Constitution gives to Congress; these eighteen (as listed above) specifically enumerated areas and responsibilities make up what the Founders called the Enumerated Powers Doctrine, which was designed to restrain and limit the power and reach of the Federal government. Where in this section of our Constitution does it say anything about health care? Our communist friends use the “general Welfare” clause mentioned in the Preamble and in Article 1, Section 8, Paragraph 1 of our Constitution as a basis for today’s welfare programs. However, they fail to understand the original intent of the Founders regarding this clause and instead interpret it through their own postmodern lens. Regarding the Preamble reference, the Supreme Court in Jacobsen v. Massachusetts (1905) ruled that the Preamble is a statement of goals and not an authorization to Congress (This is also confirmed on page 75 of the “The Constitution of the United States: Analysis and Interpretation” (1992), provided by the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO)). In relation to the Article 1 reference, the “general Welfare” clause, according to Thomas Jefferson, is “not a grant of power to ‘spend’ for the general welfare of the people, but was intended to ‘limit the power of taxation’ to matters which provided for the welfare of ‘the Union’ or the welfare of the whole nation. In other words, federal taxes could not be levied for states, counties, cities, or special interest groups” such as women, the poor, the middle class, the rich, etc. (Page 387 of “The Making of America” by the National Center for Constitutional Studies (NCCS)). As Jefferson saw it, “Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but only those specifically enumerated.” James Madison affirmed this view in “that this clause restricted the taxing power to matters which provided support for the national government in carrying out its assigned responsibilities” (as listed in Article 1, Section 8)(Page 387 of “The Making of America”). Here is what some other Founders said regarding this clause:

Alexander Hamilton: “The welfare of the community is the only legitimate end for which money can be raised on the community. Congress can be considered as under only one restriction which does not apply to other governments, they cannot rightfully apply the money they raise to any purpose merely or purely local…The constitutional test of a right application must always be, whether it be for a purpose of general or local nature.”

Archibald MacLaine (of North Carolina): “Congress will not lay a single tax when it is not to the advantage of the people at large.”

Edmund Randolph (of Virginia): “the rhetoric of the gentleman has highly colored the dangers of giving the general government an indefinite power of providing for the general welfare. I contend that no such power is given.”

Hamilton: “The United States, in their united or collective capacity, are the objects to which all general
provisions in the Constitution must necessarily be construed to refer.”

Clearly, according to the Founders, Congress cannot grant things to individuals or preferred groups at the expense of another individual or preferred group, thereby harming the “general” populace. So, anyone who claims that the “general Welfare” clause allows the Congress to give away “welfare” has a profound misunderstanding of the history and of the Supreme Court interpretation of both clauses. Madison, who is known as the “Father of the Constitution” and who understands the original intent of the Founders regarding the true meaning of the “general Welfare” clause, delivered a severe warning to the first U.S. Congress regarding the unbridled power of the Federal government should Congress ever violate the original intent of this clause:

If Congress can apply money indefinitely to the general welfare, and are the sole and supreme judges of the general welfare, they may take the care of religion into their own hands; they may establish teachers in every State, county, and parish, and pay them out of the public Treasury; they may take into their own hands the education of children, establishing in like manner schools throughout the Union; they may undertake the regulation of all roads other than post roads. In short, everything from the highest object of State legislation, down to the most minute object of police, would be thrown under the power of Congress; for every object I have mentioned would admit the application of money, and might be called, if Congress pleased, provisions for the general welfare.

Here’s another great quote from Madison on this topic:

With respect to the two words ‘general welfare,’ I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators.

For Further Study

The Constitution of the United States

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, 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…” To read the rest of the United States Constitution, CLICK HERE.

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