L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 251, December 14, 2003
Remember the Bill of Rights
Bill of Rights
Exclusive to TLE
As we approach Bill of Rights Day (15 December) we should pause and reflect on the state of the Republic. Remembering, that if not for the Bill of Rights, there would not be a united States of America. (Not a typo, look at the Constitution) The Federal Constitution was debated and ratified in convention on 25 September 1789. It was another two years, and much wrangling before enough States agreed, and then only with the provision for a Bill of Rights.
So where do we stand?
Amendment I: 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.
Amendment II: 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.
Amendment III: 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.
Amendment IV: 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.
Amendment V: 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 offense 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.
Amendment VI: 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 defense.
Amendment VII: 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 reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
Amendment VIII: Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
Amendment IX: The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
Amendment X: 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.
In general, the Federal Republic the founders envisioned disappeared sometime between 1830 and 1945. Different people might cite different times, but the effect is the same. The only questions remaining boil down to are we better off, or worse? If worse, how much longer do we tolerate it, and how do we attempt to change it? It has been said that three boxes preserve due process and the republic. Those boxes are the ballot box, the jury box, and the cartridge box. I submit to you that through the two "major" parties, and their manipulation of ballot access laws, combined with administrative legislation by fiat, that the ballot box is being taken away from us. With voir dire, and judges instructions that juries may only try the "facts" of a case, and not the law, combined with public education failing in its duty to educate our children adequately in history and civics, we are losing the jury box. More and more, though I regret to say it, I believe we are going down the same road that King George III and the British Parliment dragged the Founders. Unless the government, the parties, and the schools change their ways, it will not be long before this nation is once again torn asunder.
I would recommend to anyone who has not recently read it, to review Patrick Henry's speech to the Second Virginia Convention, 23 March 1775