Bill of rightsgreenspun.com : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread
Given recent discussion regarding the Constitution and the Bill of rights, I have decided to sit down and share my study of each individual article and the abuses thereof. I begin with the Bill of rights. First I will the history surrounding it's inception. First of all here is where you can go to see a high resolution picture of the actual bill of rights. Please take a look as I will be covering parts of this later. http://www.nara.gov/exhall/charters/billrights/bill.jpg . The following is quote from the National Archives and records Administration web site. "During the debates on the adoption of the Constitution, its opponents repeatedly charged that the Constitution as drafted would open the way to tyranny by the central government. Fresh in their minds was the memory of the British violation of civil rights before and during the Revolution. They demanded a "bill of rights" that would spell out the immunities of individual citizens. Several state conventions in their formal ratification of the Constitution asked for such amendments; others ratified the Constitution with the understanding that the amendments would be offered. " Here is some history from the same source. The Bill of Rights The call for a bill of rights had been the anti-Federalists' most powerful weapon. Attacking the proposed Constitution for its vagueness and lack of specific protection against tyranny, Patrick Henry asked the Virginia convention, "What can avail your specious, imaginary balances, your rope-dancing, chain-rattling, ridiculous ideal checks and contrivances." The anti-Federalists, demanding a more concise, unequivocal Constitution, one that laid out for all to see the right of the people and limitations of the power of government, claimed that the brevity of the document only revealed its inferior nature. Richard Henry Lee despaired at the lack of provisions to protect "those essential rights of mankind without which liberty cannot exist." Trading the old government for the new without such a bill of rights, Lee argued, would be trading Scylla for Charybdis.
A bill of rights had been barely mentioned in the Philadelphia convention, most delegates holding that the fundamental rights of individuals had been secured in the state constitutions. James Wilson maintained that a bill of rights was superfluous because all power not expressly delegated to the new government was reserved to the people. It was clear, however, that in this argument the anti-Federalists held the upper hand. Even Thomas Jefferson, generally in favor of the new government, wrote to Madison that a bill of rights was "what the people are entitled to against every government on earth."
By the fall of 1788 Madison had been convinced that not only was a bill of rights necessary to ensure acceptance of the Constitution but that it would have positive effects. He wrote, on October 17, that such "fundamental maxims of free Government" would be "a good ground for an appeal to the sense of community" against potential oppression and would "counteract the impulses of interest and passion."
Madison's support of the bill of rights was of critical significance. One of the new representatives from Virginia to the First Federal Congress, as established by the new Constitution, he worked tirelessly to persuade the House to enact amendments. Defusing the anti-Federalists' objections to the Constitution, Madison was able to shepherd through 17 amendments in the early months of the Congress, a list that was later trimmed to 12 in the Senate. On October 2, 1789, President Washington sent to each of the states a copy of the 12 amendments adopted by the Congress in September. By December 15, 1791, three-fourths of the states had ratified the 10 amendments now so familiar to Americans as the "Bill of Rights."
Benjamin Franklin told a French correspondent in 1788 that the formation of the new government had been like a game of dice, with many players of diverse prejudices and interests unable to make any uncontested moves. Madison wrote to Jefferson that the welding of these clashing interests was "a task more difficult than can be well conceived by those who were not concerned in the execution of it." When the delegates left Philadelphia after the convention, few, if any, were convinced that the Constitution they had approved outlined the ideal form of government for the country. But late in his life James Madison scrawled out another letter, one never addressed. In it he declared that no government can be perfect, and "that which is the least imperfect is therefore the best government."
I think it interesting to note that when "James Wilson maintained that a bill of rights was superfluous because all power not expressly delegated to the new government was reserved to the people." he had no idea how very important the Bill of rights would become in the future. The problem has been that Congress has continually ignored that little phrase in the Constitution along with the phrase that says that there are other rights besides those which the Bill of rights speaks of. But How can we expect to maintain the rights not inumerated when we cannot even maintain those inumerated. It should also be noted that anything allowed at the time the Constitution and the Bill of rights was written, was in fact essentially a right, in that there was no law against it. The Bill of rights specifically addresses those rights in amendment 9. But we will cover that in detail later.
The question is why did some of the framers feel that a lack of a bill of rights would lead to tyranny. They knew that centralized power would always lead to tyranny, that's why. And as we shall see in the coming days, they weren't far wrong. Even with a bill of rights our congress and our judicial system have found as many ways as possible to circumvent the Constitution. Many of you may be saying to yourself why is this woman going through all the trouble to do this. I'll tell you why, because I believe in freedom and I believe in America. I sit with some frustration at the lack of realization of what we have lost as a people. How can we go on to build a better future as JD Belanger was trying to express last year if in fact we have no knowledge of how we came to be where we are. Tomorrow we will discuss Article 3 Amendment1 to the Constitution. Have a great day.
Little bit Farm
-- Little bit Farm (email@example.com), June 20, 2000
I thought I'd add for everyones sake the remaining instalments won't begin to be this long. Very sorry about the length.
Little Bit Farm
-- Little bit Farm (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 20, 2000.
Thank you, Little Bit, for the thought and the work you have put into this.
-- Kathleen Sanderson (email@example.com), June 20, 2000.
Litle Bit, I'm impressed that you would take the time to do this! This is very interesting and I probably wouldn't do the research myself right now(4 kids, dog rescue, all kinds of new homestead projects). Thanks for doing this. I really appreciate it. I'll look forward to more ! Denise
-- Denise (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 20, 2000.
is there going to be a quiz! great stuff and food for thought
-- shaun&terri (email@example.com), June 20, 2000.
Little bit, thanks so much for your time and effort. Without the Constitution AND the Bill of Rights, we "common folks" would be up the creek. Every citizen should be ready to jump right in the middle of anyone who messes with, tries to water down, an/or change either document. Folks like you help to preserve the few freedoms that we have left in our great nation (still, by far, the best nation on the earth). Thank You. Eagle
-- eagle (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 21, 2000.
I'll swear: You write one little letter called "The Founding Fathers" and pooof, out of the wood work they come ! Screaming all kind of words like liberty,freedom, RIGHTS, and God Given. Words that make your heart swell up, beat faster, and leave a lump in your throat. Well, you must be doing something right. You got the self called moderates complaining that talk of liking tyranny and compliance with tyranny is shouted down.( I do admit blasting some Federal Agent for trying to bait me).I truly hope that they realize that my freedom is intertwined with their freedom. I set out to make people look--I feel this part of my job is done. The students have become the teachers and that my friends is the hope for a free society. Study these things, moreover, ponder them. These words written over 200 years ago meant something and They Still Mean Something ! Don't be swayed by apathy--Don't let Hell bent hearts leave you bitter. Embrace the words, live them and hold your head up high when you talk about them." THEY CAN TAKE YOUR LIFE, BUT THEY CAN NEVER TAKE YOUR FREEDOM"! A big Thank You to LBF ! Someday I would like to meet each and everyone of you so I could feel that indominent spirit that you possess.
-- Joel Rosen (Joel681@webtv.net), June 22, 2000.
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.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;
This little portion of the 1st amendment has created more controversy than, as my father says, "you can shake a stick at". In order to understand it, you must understand the history surrounding it. The founders of the Constitution had mostly come from England where the King had pronounced himself to be the pope and established a single church and ordered everyone to attend. When the founders say "an establishment of religion" they meant that in America no state church would be established. There was good reason for this because most of these men believed differently than one another. The question before the courts on many occasions has been what constitutes an "establishment of religion". Often what has been bandied about though has had more to with the second part of this phrase than the first. That is "or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; ". Some of the most prevalent arguments regarding this part of the first amendment has been "prayer in the schools", "religious objectors to war", and various other related issues. As a Christian, who does not believe in state mandated and controlled prayer in the schools, the problems and abuses by the government here have been by stretching this part of the first amendment so far as to invade the rights of religious persons with regard to the second part, which is of course free speech. It is interesting that the framers included all of this in one amendment together. I think that they did it, because each one of these issues balance the others, even as the checks and balances did to the government. A good link to go to which covers religion and the 1st Amendment is here: http://www.fac.org/publicat/crossrds/crossrds.htm#Experiment. This is basically a transcript from a conference held on religious liberty in 1993 at the Freedom Forum world center. I don't agree with all the views expressed, but I do think it is a balanced discussion of the issues involved. The problem I have with the way our government has handled my religious liberty, is that there is a growing trend to disallow free speech, in order to keep from establishing religion. While I don't agree with State mandated prayer or religious expression, I also do not believe that christians or for that matter any other religious child should ever be asked to leave their 1st amendment rights or any rights at the door. To deny a child the right to express his or her religion is an establishment of religion of sorts. It establishes atheism. I should also say here, that I personally am not in favor of public schooling at all. My children are homeschooled and partly for the very reason that when they walk onto a campus they become property of the state. Unacceptable!
or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; - Freedom of speech is being assaulted continually in this country. It sometimes seems we are only free to say what others agree with. Here is a link to a library of U.S. court decisions affecting free speech: http://www.bc.edu/bc_org/avp/cas/comm/free_speech/decisions.html Amazingly enough when I began studying Abuses of the freedom of speech, the Sedition act of 1798 came up.the wording of this act is an almost verbatim copy of the law I sent in to the New Civil war thread. There was a huge uproar over this act being against the first amendment. It is amazing how history repeats iself. here is a quote, "Twenty-five Republican editors and printers were prosecuted under the Sedition Act (1798) for "criticizing federalist policies." The law, initiated by president John Adams "..made it a crime, for example, to publish any "false, scandalous and malicious" writing against the government, the Congress, or the President "with intent to defame" them or bring them "into contempt or disrepute" or to stir up sedition." The crime carried a penalty of $2,000 fine and two years in jail." (The First Freedom Today, R. Downs, ALA,Chicago, 1984 Pg.5 ) "even drunks who were overheard condemning (President) Adams were duly charged and fined." (The Encyclopedia of Censorship, Jonathon Green, Facts on File, N.Y.C., Pg. 275) " you can see a copy of the original Sedition Act of 1798 at: http://www.law.ou.edu/hist/sedact.html Please check the New Civil War thread for the other statute as it is lengthy. The freedom of the press was meant to ensure that all veiwpoints were readily available at all times. If you notice above the people that were prosecuted under the Sedition Act were newspapermen. Unfortunately, in the press today there is a kind of soceo-economic monopoly with regard to the press. The press is controlled in the majority, by a single perspective and News is skewed to that perspective. It is difficult to know how much government controls the press in America Today. There is certainly a bias to the mainstream media that seems almost too coincidental. It is certain however that when it comes to televised communications there is almost no variance in thought. The money is where the money is and whoever is holding the purse strings, has a strangle hold on what is presented. The major reason most of this is a mystery is it would take one person a lifetime to follow the dollars in this case. I mean given the variance in thought even on this forum, wouldn't you think there would be that kind of variance in a truly free press? It is an interesting question to ponder. So, although I'd like to show each and every one of you how the government is controlling the mainstream media, I really can't. Nor can I show you how they are not, which really bothers me.
"or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. " I would truly like the opportunity to redress the government for it's grievances. The question is where is the avenue to do so. Standing on the floor of Congress? If so, where can I redress the president? Where can I redress the Supreme Court? From where I am standing those who have tried, ended up in jail or worse. What a concept.
Here are just a few 1st Amendment questions occurring now:
http://www.washtimes.com/national/default-2000620223615.htm http://www.washtimes.com/national/default-2000622222948.htm http://www.usatoday.com/life/cyber/ccarch/cc0325.htm http://www.usatoday.com/life/cyber/tech/review/crh036.htm http://www.usatoday.com/news/comment/ncextra2.htm
Thanks to all who take the time to read this.
Little Bit farm
-- Little bit Farm (email@example.com), June 22, 2000.
Excellent, Lil Bit. I have a chart somewhere that delineates all of the media in this country and who it is that ultimately owns it...there is also a small booklet with a chart of all of the high politicos and their affilitions with the CFR, Tri-Laterals, and Bilderbergers. hat is also very enlightening. I will see if I can get that posted as well. Keep the faith!
-- Doreen (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 22, 2000.
Little Bit, I dont normally respond to this type of discussion for being at risk of seeming naive. I really want to learn ,so here it goes. What you are saying makes sense to me and is the way I would also interpret it. but my experience has been that I could see the very same thing as another person and our interpretation might be completely different. Is that how things have gotten the way it is? Do the powers that be interpret this differently? People in general might complain about some things but it really isn't that bad for them or too inconvenient to try to make a change or just dont know how tomake a change(ie. no place to address grievances). I'm concerned but really dont know what to do. I've called reps. before ( mostly on homeschool issues) to deaf ears. I think something really bad will have to happen before most people get concerned and then it may be too late. I guess my main question is how do they get around something so clearly stated? Denise
-- Denise (email@example.com), June 23, 2000.