Happy Bill of Rights Day

Several years ago I penned this for the Review-Journal to mark Bill of Rights Day, which falls on Dec. 15:

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. (Ask the folks who own a church retreat in a wildlife refuge whose property has been devastated by flooding due to a federal land agency diverting a stream.)

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 Bill of Rights Day

  1. Athos says:

    With censorship on the rise (did they really create a department of Truth?), our 1st amendment right to freedom of speech may also be on the ropes.

  2. Rincon says:

    It’s all about interpretation, Thomas. The Constitution also says, “He(the President) shall have the Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two-thirds of the Senators present concur and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for…” It says President, not future President, but of course, if we use the proper interpretation, there is no time frame given, therefore, the Senate may delay for times up to and including infinity for any nominations made by the President, including those for the Supreme Court.

    Using this interpretation, a hostile Senate has the power to block any and all nominations indefinitely. That’s a great weapon. Funny that no one thought of using it the way the Republicans recently did for the SCOTUS. Probably like airline hijackings though. As soon as it occurs the first time, others will follow and it will become a regular occurrence.

  3. deleted says:

    Not exactly part of the Bill of Rights (ok not at all) but it’s odd that liberals are the ones trying to save our beloved republic and do what the “Constitutionalists” ought to have been doing all along.

    I wonder if Nevqdas own bastard will take part in this lawsuit to carry out what our believed founding fathers wrote so many years ago?

    Think of the Tea Party “outrage”. Over the president immediately violating our Constitution.

    “A liberal watchdog group says it plans to file a lawsuit against President Trump in federal court on Monday alleging that he is in violation of a little-known constitutional provision that bars him from taking gifts or payments from foreign governments.

    The group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said that because Trump-owned buildings take in rent, room rentals and other payments from foreign governments, the president has breached the Emoluments Clause. That clause in the Constitution says that “no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under [the United States], shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.” It was written out of fear that the young republic’s leaders or ambassadors could be bought off by a richer European power.”


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