Happy birthday, Bill of Rights

Several years ago I penned this for the Review-Journal.

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.

48 comments on “Happy birthday, Bill of Rights

  1. Athos says:

    Wow. Can we change this around, Tom? At least go back to State’s rights (knock down Roe v Wade) and let the States decide? Drain the swamp? If we can’t get rid of these pesky departments, at least get them out of the Capitol and into the fly over country.

    Just putting my list for Santa, together.

  2. Bill says:

    Nice essay Tom and one that should be required reading for all public officer holders and all school officials. But, in a proper world there is little “mandatory” anything and that is as it should be. What we are seeing today is frightening mandatory edicts and prohibitions emanating from the Federal Executive Branch that seek to change our Country from a democratic federation of states to an all powerful socialistic federal central government.

    It has always been distressing to look back and see the erosion of our rights but today it is frightening because hose rights are now being stripped from us by edict. .

  3. NYPete says:

    “A democratic federation of states ….”

  4. NYPete says:

    You mean, like Confederacy?

  5. Reuters: “The U.S. House of Representatives voted on Tuesday to approve a Democratic proposal for a U.S. State Department office to address anti-Muslim bias, after a Republican congresswoman used an Islamophobic slur against a Democratic colleague.” https://www.reuters.com/world/us/democratic-proposal-state-dept-anti-islamophobia-office-get-house-committee-vote-2021-12-14/ Fist Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion …”

  6. NYPete says:

    I guess you similarly believe that the State Department Office to Monitor & Combat Anti-Semitism, which was established under a Republican President and Republican Congress pursuant to 22 U.S.C. 2731, is also unconstitutional.

  7. Yep, though the definition is “hostility to or prejudice against Jewish people,” not Judaism.

  8. Anonymous says:

    The examples, particularly coming from the right, regarding respecting the Establishment of the Christian religion anyway are so numerous as to be impossible to list but from todays news here’s the latest anyway:

    “New evidence released Friday showed the Trump White House intentionally “softened” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s public health guidance for faith communities.

    Jay Butler, the deputy director for infectious diseases, told the panel in an interview he was pressured by the White House to publish guidance for faith communities that “softened some very important public health recommendations,” such as removing all references to face coverings, a suggestion to suspend choirs and language related to virtual services.”


  9. NYPete says:

    Oh, OK, I guess it just slipped the collective libertarian mind for 17 years that Congress had passed a law violating the First Amendment’s prohibition legislation respecting the establishment of a religion. Good thing someone proposed similar legislation regarding bigotry against Muslims. Otherwise we would ignored it for another 17 years.

  10. Athos says:

    Leave to “good old hell in a hand basket petey” to put things in their proper place. Wish I could understand why Democrats and Leftists are so eager to put our country into a tyranny. I remember thinking (in my childhood) how could the Soviet Union enact a law banning God? Are they for real??

    As it that could ever work!!

    and then, BOOM!, along comes the Democrat wing to do away with God. At least Trump made it OK to wish people a “Merry Christmas!” again. Although the Nativity Scenes are still not displayed in the public square (tell me who’s country this is, again???)

  11. Anonymous says:

    “F*ck Christmas, who gives a f*ck about Christmas”
    -Melanie “Trump”

  12. Rincon says:

    I guess it’s hard for me to worry about whether the federal government can pick up the tab for say, a Christmas tree when the Republican Party is busy trying to undermine the foundation of our country, i.e., our voting system. Conspiracy to discredit our elections without meaningful evidence comes close to meeting the definition of treason. Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping couldn’t have crippled our country any more with a thousand spies.

  13. Athos says:

    Wow. How wrong you are, Rinny. So your contention is that the Republican party is “busy trying to undermine the foundation of our country” is it? It’s obvious you haven’t read the latest Victor Davis Hanson article in Sunday’s View section of the RJ. Too bad you don’t subscribe, but you could google it. But here’s a few tidbits to refute your distortion of reality….

    it’s the Democrats that want to “dismantle the US Constitution by junking the 233 year old Electoral College” and do away with “the pre-eminence of the states in establishing ballot laws in national elections” (HB#1, remember?)

    The Dems are “not worried that in 2020, a record 64 percent of the electorate did not cast their ballots on Election Day.
    Nor are they worried that the usual rejection rate in most states of non-Election Day ballots plunged- even as an unprecedented 101 million ballots were cast by mail or early voting.”

    And there is the matter of questionable Executive Branch changes in vote casting (instead of the legally required legislative action) that happened in many states in 2020. The Constitution provides that state legislatures—not federal judges, not state judges, not state governors, not other state officials—bear primary responsibility for setting election rules. Art. I, §4, cl. 1.

    Victor then sums up your misgivings in the final 2 paragraphs quite succinctly:

    “When a party is hijacked by radicals and uses almost any means necessary to gain and use power for agendas that few Americans support, then average voters express their disapproval.
    That reality apparently terrifies an elite. It then claims any system that allows the people to vote against the Left is not people power at all.”

    Hmmmm. Does that ring a bell, Rin?

    And to petey’s pithy commentary…..no one will ever confuse you with George Bailey, petey!

    Merry Christmas!!

  14. Anonymous says:

    “The electoral college is a disaster for a democracy,” wrote Trump as part of a tweetstorm on election night 2012.

    The electoral college is a disaster for a democracy.

    — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 7, 2012

  15. Trump has no core political values. He does and says whatever he thinks is good for Trump. https://4thst8.wordpress.com/2015/07/30/trump-is-not-a-republican/

  16. Anonymous says:

    And yet there is no question that Trump is the unquestioned leader of the republican party which can only mean that the party has no values either.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Polls and such but I can’t believe there is much disagreement about which republican holds sway over the plurality at least of the republican party and if there were a vote, its pretty clear that Trump would be the overwhelming republican nominee. And sadly, his words have become republican policy which makes him the leader even while, as you say, he has no principles, and as I said, this means that the republican party has no principles.

    “Republicans are standing by former President Trump for a 2024 presidential run, while most Democrats want President Biden to run again, according to a new Politico-Morning Consult poll.

    The poll found 60 percent of Democrats want Biden to run for reelection, while 69 percent of Republicans want Trump to take another shot at the presidency.


  18. Athos says:

    oh, poor pitiful petey. Boo hoo! Orange man bad still rules peteyville, even though Joe Brandon is now the President! (the year is 2021, petey, not 2012!) Did you catch his awe inspiring speech today? How we’re all gonna die? Such inspiration! (Actually, we should never have a fearful, cowardly leader for America. The last time that happened was Jimmy Carter! Maybe that’s why Manchin won’t go along with BBB, and Brandon’s poll numbers are WORSE THAN TRUMPS!)

    Merry Christmas petey!! And Happy New Year (2022!)

  19. Anonymous says:

    “Maybe you should drink bleach and shove a UV light up your rectum”.

  20. Anonymous says:

    “And one more thing; we have an emergency at the border where “caravans” of thousands of women and children are coming to get you, so we may need those space lasers I’ve been hearing so much about lately to protect us.”

  21. Athos says:

    so you still wanna believe 81million people voted for Brandon?

  22. Anonymous says:

    The reason why America voted as it did come down to this:

    American hates Trump.

    I told everyone with two ears that it didn’t matter who ran against Trump because, as it was with Hillary, they couldn’t beat a vomit and COVID sandwich, laid on the tarmac at Harry Reid International Airport in July for more than a week, after being urinated on by the TKE fraternity after a tailgate party if it ran against them for president.

  23. Athos says:

    If there had been no Covid-19, who would be president, today?

  24. Anonymous says:

    America hated Trump long before “the hoax”, or the “one guy who had it” or the summer when it would disappear like magic. That was just what the far right wing would point to as the reason why a 78 year old man who never had the support of even the entire democratic party would trounce the orange stain and make him the first “president” since Bush Sr. to get thrown out of office after only one term.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Thomas I hope you had a very Merry Christmas and I thought of you while I read this article and I wonder what your take is about the reasons why some (many) ranchers are leaving the “business”.

  26. Sorry, haven’t yet subscribed to NYT, paying too much for WSJ already.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Yeah I hear that. I think NYT allows some free viewing but nevertheless the story more or less says that ranchers are being driven out by packers and that the ranchers have no pricing power that its all in the packers hands because there are only about 4 big ones that dominate the market.

    Very sad really to see these guys in that situation.

  28. Athos says:

    Ah petey, you know the answer to my question. Without Covid 19, Donald Trump would be serving his 2nd term of office. And if the election were to be held today, what chance would Brandon have in being re-elected?

    As to your rancher dilemma, Canadian producers of beef sell their cows to the American packers and then buy it back from us! (Although it doesn’t hurt to have a freezer and the ability to buy half a cow for around $3.50/lb)

  29. Anonymous says:

    the only demographic Trump won were uneducated, white, males.

    I wonder why that is?

  30. Athos says:

    that’s not true and you know it! Why are you lying, petey? Is it just a default position?

  31. Athos says:

    Here I thought you’d be boo-ba-hoing the passing of Pinky Greid. Guess he’s not such a big deal now that he’s not useful, huh?

  32. Anonymous says:

    Athos you are correct

    Trump also won uneducated, white, females.

    I wonder why that is?

  33. Anonymous says:

    Wow – not a single comment on the death of the most consequential Nevada political leader of at least the past half-century.

  34. Athos says:

    He was a corrupt, greedy, egomaniac. Which makes him a typical politician. And a typical human being.

  35. NYPete says:

    Lovely sentiments from Athos. Reflects an inspiring philosophy of life.

  36. Athos says:

    Unlike leftist, we tend to look at the world as it is (it’s called reality, petey!)

    ” ……..absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Lord Acton

    And, unfortunately, it applies to Harry Greid. And what’s with Prez Brandon going all totalitarian on us? What happened to “the unifier”? Of all people, Mitch McConnell gave an excellent rebuttal to Sleepy Joe’s diatribe in Georgia the other day.

    Who are these “domestic terrorist” that the DOJ are so worried about? BLM? ANTIFA? Was there a mass shooting that I missed?

  37. NYPete says:

    Yeah, good point. We haven’t had a Second Amendment Moment all week.

  38. Athos says:

    The New York Times USED to be a paper. “Punch” just flushed it all the way down the drain. The old grey lady is a hopeless, godless liar.

    Funny how the NY Times says nothing bad about Brandon’s anti Constitutional wet dreams?

  39. Anonymous says:

  40. Athos says:

    Wow. From the NYTimes (which USED to be a newspaper) you jump right into WaPo, still living off their grand coup of 50 years ago bringing down Nixon. And just exactly how many times did Prez Trump use Article 2 of the Constitution to subvert the Nation, petey?

    I’ll give you a hint…..it’s the same as the number of guns confiscated on the rioters on 1/6/2021! .

    And how does that excuse that vile creature (the great uniter of our Republic) Joe Brandon calling half the country racist?

    And where is the news article about ANYONE being denied a vote (other than Republicans in Philly at the poling place the Black Panthers were guarding in ’08)?? And you wonder why people get mad when we are being constantly lied to by our elected officials, media masters, Hollywood, sports stars and academia.

    Your side really needs to stop lying, petey!!

  41. Anonymous says:

    This is why I’ve said repeatedly that discussions with members of the far right wing (that’s you athos) can’t be continued and that the adults in the room (that’s us althos) need to just tell the children (that’s you again athos) to go into the other room when the adults are talking about adult things.

    See what happened here was you started “talking” about how “authoritarian” President Biden was and so, to show you examples of how a REAL authoritarian speaks I posted an article from the single most respected newspaper in the world but that just wasn’t enough for you, and so, as a further effort to educate you (as it is the responsibility I feel for adults to do with children) I posted a video of the orange stain actually saying that he had full power to do anything he wanted to in this country (which if there is a better definition of authoritarianism I don’t know what it could be) and yet your response isn’t “yeah, that was wrong, or that was bad, or thank God he never actually fomented a Constitutional crisis to take over the country…” or wait, nevermind with that last thing cause well, you know.

    Go sit in the other room and let the adults talk.

  42. Athos says:

    And you wonder why your leftist ideas can’t win the hearts and minds of enough American citizens to be implemented! Your dismissive attitude (because you can’t persuade anyone to believe your totalitarian horse manure) is the reason Joe Brandon – the man that received 81 million votes in an election 14 months ago – is polling in the toilet.

    You see, petey, whether you like it or not, there is a moral order to this world that can be bent, but it always snaps back. And the real tragedy is you, Adult petey, can’t see it.

    Biden is actually DOING the very thing you accuse Trump of SAYING. You really should reflect on the path you’re traveling. It’s pitiable.

    And only in the delusional minds of secluded leftist is the NY Times still considered a “news” paper. They are merely another arm of the Democrat Party (and more for the far left of the Democrat party)

    I believe the term is “useful idiots”. Khrushchev put it “The press is our chief ideological weapon”

  43. Anonymous says:

    Just blather.

    Say it with me:

    No president should ever THINK OR SAY that the Constitution says that he gets to do whatever he wants.

    And, as a special added bonus, say that no individual, who ever THINKS such a thing should ever BE president.

    Cause I’m saying it right now.

  44. Athos says:

    Thank God you’re not in charge of our country, petey. Your logic is typical leftist. Ignore the ACTIONS and use the Vulcan Mind Meld to determine motives.

    Biden has enacted mandates (and ordered OSHA) to force drugs into American working citizens(which was correctly struck down as UNCONSTITUTIONAL by a 6-3 Supreme Court decision)

    Biden bureaucrats are forcing medical professionals to put drugs into their bodies or forfeit their chosen professions in the medical community. Wouldn’t nurses and doctors be the better judges for what shots they take??

    Under Biden’s tutelage more Americans have died with/from Covid than under Trump (and Biden has the vaccines!!) According to lying Biden, in his own words, Harris should be President right now, right?

    Biden gifted the Taliban billions of dollars worth of military equipment and left Americans TRAPPED in Afghanistan (till this very day!)

    Biden’s son is selling artwork to undisclosed buyers for million$. Wonder if the “big guy” is still getting his 10%?

    Biden shut down the Keystone pipeline his first day in office, causing America to become oil dependent once again. This action, plus his hopelessly inept Dept of Transportation Secretary, has caused shortages in our supply chain AND inflation not seen since Jimmy Carter.

    Biden also shut down the 1776 Project that would have gone to restore American Pride in our nation (as opposed to the hate America CRT 1619 project)

    Etc, Etc, Etc. Why aren’t you enraged about things in the present, petey? How can you overlook the destruction Brandon has brought on this country (and constantly obsess on Orange Man Bad)??

    Do you not love your country? Do you revel in the suffering of your fellow Americans?

    And have you yet seen a “Build Back Better” ball cap being worn, anywhere??

  45. Anonymous says:

    Go sit in the other room while the adults talk Athos.

  46. Athos says:

    Let’s go Brandon, petey! I’m sure his 2hour lie-fest was orgasmic for you, huh?

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