Happy belated Bill of Rights Day

Several years ago I penned this for the Review-Journal. OK, I missed Dec. 15 by a couple of days this year.

On this day in 1791 the Bill of Rights were ratified by three-fourths of the states. At the insistence of the Anti-Federalists led by Thomas Jefferson the first 10 amendments were added to the new Constitution.

They might more properly be called a Bill of Prohibitions, since they are not so much a delineation of rights as a list of things the federal government may not take away from individuals and the states and local governments.

Bill of Rights

This is our day to celebrate the First Amendment prohibition against establishing a state religion, despite odd rulings about nativity scenes and posting the Ten Commandments, and the right of free speech and press, despite McCain-Feingold limits on campaign spending and advertising. (Since somewhat overturned by Citizens United.)

This is our day to celebrate the Second Amendment, despite requirements to register handguns and other laws.

We celebrate the Fourth Amendment prohibition against unlawful search and seizure, despite the Hiibel case in which Larry Hiibel was arrested for not giving his name to a Humbolt County deputy. (Not to mention civil asset forfeitures.)

There’s the Fifth’s protection against taking of property except for public purposes that was bounced by the Kelo decision that let government take property for private development.

As for the Sixth’s right to speedy and public trial? Forget it. No explanation needed.

The right to trial by jury according to the Seventh? Try that in traffic court, buddy.

No cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth’s prohibition. Lifetime sentences for possession of pot belie that one.

The Ninth’s and 10th’s guarantees that rights not delineated are prohibited to feds? Let’s see the states try to set the drinking age or voting age or speed limits.

There’s still the Third’s prohibition against housing troops in private homes. (Right?)

Happy birthday, Bill of Rights, long may you be respected.

A couple of years ago I ran across the Cato video below. As my ol’ Pappy used to say: Great minds travel in the same plane, while fools just think alike.

Actually, the Third is also suspect as I reported here. The courts have since ruled that cops are not soldiers. They sure look alike and are armed alike.




3 comments on “Happy belated Bill of Rights Day

  1. agent provocateur says:

    Reblogged this on Nevada State Personnel Watch.

  2. Rincon says:

    As interpreted by a Conservative fundamentalist:

    First amendment: Allows suicide bombings by Islamic terrorists. After all, murder isn’t unconstitutional. Prohibiting religious practices is. Free speech also allows con men to say whatever they want. In addition, there must be no punishment for perjury.

    Second amendment: All citizens will be allowed to own machine guns, howitzers, etc.

    Fourth amendment: All searches shall be considered unlawful to provide maximum freedom.

    Fifth amendment: Confessions shall be inadmissible in all cases, since that is testimony against oneself.

    Sixth Amendment: All prisoners shall be released because none had a speedy trial.

    Seventh amendment: Jury trials are to be allowed, but the loser pays all costs

    Eighth amendment: Few punishments are more cruel than taking someone’s life, so capital punishment is out.

  3. Winston Smith says:

    Constitutionalists know that post “civil war” incorporation muddied the Bill of Rights.

    And, on another subject (or is it?)

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