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.

14 comments on “Happy birthday, Bill of Rights

  1. Athos says:

    Hmmm. Happy Birthday BofR. I have no recollection of Mitchells v. Henderson Police et al. From what I can google, all but one party settled out of court. Any idea how much and what happened to the one that didn’t settle?

  2. I tried to find details of that, but the 9th Circuit did rule that cops are not soldiers, so probably nothing for the Mitchells.

  3. Rincon says:

    Seems to me that while the 1st Amendment grants the right to say or broadcast anything about a candidate, it does not guarantee anonymity nor the passing of money directly into the hands of a political candidate. Citizens United presumes that it does so far as I can tell.

    Only a few radicals want to violate the 2nd Amendment in my view. If we can agree that the 2nd Amendment doesn’t grant the right to buying shoulder fired missiles, then it would also allow a ban on assault weapons.

    Generally, I believe the 4th Amendment is given priority. To rag about isolated incidents is kosher, but claiming that the 4th is dead because of a small number of incidents would be over the top.

    Since the 5th Amendment reads, “…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.”, it is arguable that it allows all kinds of seizures. It merely requires compensation and due process of law. That being said, I’m still trying to figure out how the cops that beat up Rodney King could have been tried twice without violating the 5th.

    The 6th Amendment is constantly violated every day with horrendous consequences, yet America is generally silent. Conservatives, except for Thomas, are shirking their duty in this regard, especially if and when they insist on unreasonable budget cuts for the courts.

    Trial by jury is an odd one. The only way to grant trial by jury for every dispute over 350 dollars or so would be to streamline trial procedures radically. I’m game! Conservatives should talk more about this also.

    We can agree that some punishments for drug violations are ridiculous and Unconstitutional.

    I think you’re right about drinking and voting ages plus speed limits, although following the drinking age state by state would necessarily require businesses to refuse selling alcohol to underage customers with an ID from another state.

  4. Athos says:

    Rinny! You know those “few radicals” that want to violate the 2nd are known as the Democrat Party, don’t you?

    All that have their property stolen by an overzealous Police Department are still trying to figure out what happened to their due process. Having the IRS seize your bank account without a trial is another head scratcher for me. And with 87,000 new Brandon IRS agents, more people may soon agree, eh? And who ever thought giving a secret court the power to wiretap American citizens should retire all FISA courts.
    Just saying!

    Agreed about the 6th. Especially when it applies to the Jan 6th kerfuffle with people still languishing in jail (no bail for you!) and no trial date set. And the COSTS of a trial is obscene.

    What did Shakespeares say about lawyers??

  5. Rincon says:

    I don’t like those radicals either, but labeling all Democrats based on the words of outliers is just fake news.

    Languishing in jail? How many do you think were held without bail? And expense? Those guys are poster children for the conservative cause. Like Kyle Rittenhouse, they will be well taken care of.

    Not sure I can or should defend the actions or the laws regarding the IRS, but I know dozens of people who cheat on their taxes. I wouldn’t mind seeing a few of then caught. Tax cheats have had it easy for twenty years or more, mainly due to minimal IRS funding. I pay my taxes happily, partly from gratitude. The government aided my education, which provided a career path. They also arguably kept me healthy by funding the research that kept me from trying tobacco and led me to take good care of the body over the past 50 years or more. I know several people who didn’t heed that research and are now obese or diabetic, have cancer, etc. Thanks, Uncle Sam.

  6. Athos says:

    Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelousy are radicals, Rin? Last I checked, Joe Brandon is against citizens having guns. Is the President an outlier?

    We will soon find out how many have been held without bail, once the Rep majority congress has REAL investigations into the Jan 6 affair. And Pelousy has some explaining to do about her emails pertaining to Jan 5/6, that just became public. Kyle Rittenhouse was well taken care of, eh? News to me (unless having your world explode at 18 years old being falsely accused and acquitted is “being taken care of”)

    Your comments about the IRS are Stalinist, Rin. No freedom loving person wants a government agency with the power of the IRS to exist. But then, you probably feel that if you have nothing to hide, why not make everything you do public? What are you afraid of the government agents finding??

    Why do you need a right to privacy? The State knows all, and sees all, right?

    Now drop and give me 20 pushups, Rin!

  7. Rincon says:

    Any quotes from Biden and Pelosi proposing radical legislation or is this all about vague perceptions?

    OK, OK, my bad. I didn’t bother backing up my statement, but belatedly, here’s the evidence about the recent boost to Kyle Rittenhouse’s career options: https://www.thedailybeast.com/kyle-rittenhouse-is-acquitted-republican-lawmakers-fall-over-each-other-to-offer-him-a-job

    I have a compromise for you about taxes. 1) Whereas the vast majority of Americans are certain to cheat on their tax forms if the IRS is stripped of its powers to enforce the proper collection of taxes and 2) Whereas the government cannot realistically run with zero income tax dollars coming in, then I propose that 3) We get rid of income tax and replace it with a combination of a value added tax and/or a fossil fuel tax.

  8. Athos says:

    Vague perceptions? April 9, 2021 Biden’s comment about the 2nd amendment was “No amendment is absolute” Remember that little ditty? Or how about “There has always been the ability to limit — rationally limit the type of weapon that can be owned and who can own it.” Guess who does the limiting? And why do gun free cities like Chicago have the most gun deaths?

    The Daily Beast, eh? No axes to grind there, is there? But the last I checked, Kyle was worth about $50K and attending an online college. But I do think he’s planning on suing the networks for libel. (caveat: I’m not in his inner circle!!)

    Soooo, you remember Herman Cain and the Fair Tax proposal?? There was another strong proponent of that movement (10 years ago or so…maybe 20years!) but his name escapes me (he had a radio show and a blog post) But it was absolutely imperative to repeal the 16th amendment. Otherwise these $1.7 trillion spending omnibus (crap sandwich) bill “representatives” would have us paying BOTH income and VAT tax.

    I’d settle for bills no more than 10 pages long and one subject at a time, debated and voted on separately. (4,000+ page spending bill???? Who read that before passing it, eh? – not that it would have mattered, would it have?)

    That’s why you dutifully pay your taxes and never cheat, Rin? Going for Sainthood, are we???

  9. Rincon says:

    Yes, he said no Amendment is absolute and then gave the example of falsely shouting fire in a crowded theater. Are you saying that free speech should be absolute?

  10. Rincon says:

    OK, Thomas, what’s going on here? This will not allow my comment either. Have I been purged? I hope not!

  11. Rincon, I have no idea why your posts did not post. I sometimes gets msgs asking me to moderate, but nothing of late.

  12. Shouting fire? Schenck v. U.S. was largely overturned by Brandenburg v. Ohio. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schenck_v._United_States

  13. Athos says:

    Yes Rinny. I’ll put up with free speech as an absolute. In order to have Liberty, we might have to suffer baseness. (how I WISH I could ban all rap crap – ’cause it is about the lowest form of ‘music’ there is!)

    We need to be free to find virtue thru Godliness (which has been the prevalent path to happiness since the Greek philosophers of old). I’m pretty sure that’s what our Founding Fathers were after when they decided to break away from the Super Power of the 18th and 19th Century.

    And Happy New Year!

    And my profound thanks for giving us this forum, Thomas. God Bless you, sir!

  14. Happy New Year, y’all!

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