“100 Syrians, 50 Iranians Cross Biden’s Open Border in October, Says Source”
“The source says, absent any significant intelligence indicting [sic - indicating] a Special Interest migrant may pose a known threat to the United States, they are generally released into the U.S. to pursue asylum claims.” Read the article.
“More than 10 million people have been reported illegally entering the United States since President Joe Biden took office in January 2021, the largest number in American history.” Read more here.
“Federal Judge Orders Biden Administration To Stop Cutting Razor Wire In Texas”
Border agents not only have been cutting the concertina wire at the border but are attaching the wire to rope and pulling it out with their trucks. Thousands more illegals poured through the border as a result of those actions. Read more here.
“David Harsanyi: ‘Canceling’ People Who Celebrate the Wanton Murder of Women and Children Is Also Free Expression”
“’Canceling’ people who disagree with you over ordinary political issues is bad for civil society.... [but] Exercising your First Amendment right to free speech and free association to shun and call out people who spread odious ideas in public life is a moral imperative.” Read the article.
“Supreme Court to Hear NRA Free Speech Case”
“The U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether an official violated the First Amendment when she encouraged companies to stop doing business with the National Rifle Association.” Read the article.
“America’s Crisis of Faith: Poll Reveals More Americans Are Rejecting the Constitution and Embracing Violence”
“We are now in an existential struggle to preserve the values that founded the most successful constitutional system in the history of the world.” Read more here.
“Independent News Publisher Sues US Gov, NewsGuard Over Alleged First Amendment Violations”
“Consortium for Independent Journalism filed the lawsuit against NewsGuard Technologies, Inc. and the U.S. government in the Southern District of New York, accusing the organization of defaming Consortium News and conspiring with the government to violate the First Amendment.” Read the article.
“Millennials Are Starting to Shift to the Right”
“Liberalism is not what it used to be before the 2000s. Being liberal in today's society does not mean walking around barefoot, selling flowers along the highway, and burning your bra.” “According to data from Nate Cohn with the New York Times, millennials are shifting towards the Republican Party.” Read the article.
“Victor Davis Hanson: This is a full-fledged cultural revolution against traditional America”
“Hoover Institution senior fellow Victor Davis Hanson takes a deep dive into the Left's war on American values on 'Hannity.'” Watch the video here.
“Michigan county declares itself a sanctuary for ‘constitutional rights’”
“A county in western Michigan has declared itself to be a "constitutional county" in an attempt to shield its residents from government overreach at the state and federal level.” Read article here.
“Hillsdale history professor Paul Moreno in his new book How the Court Became Supreme: The Origins of American Juristocracy. He provides readers with a comprehensive history of the concept of judicial review, beginning in England in the 17th century and through to the latest developments in the US Supreme Court. Moreno’s conclusion is that judicial review was a good idea but has gone terribly awry.” Read more here.
“Law schools hate the Constitution because it limits them and empowers you. That is why “constitutional law” often involves finding ways to get around the Constitution. It was otherwise designed to maintain a wall between your private life and government. Law schools profit by breaching that wall in any way they can, even (or especially) if it means designing rules or legislation that break it. Read more here.
“As patriots, we may feel that the situation is hopeless. To avoid catastrophe, we need to work to share the news of the excesses of the current administration and support all efforts of the Republicans in the House of Representatives to bring the corruption, unfairness, and dishonesty of the Executive Branch to light.” Read more here.
"Ultimately, "the overall agenda in expanding power beyond the Constitutional Authorization – the end result is to make the American people beg for communism." Read "The Tyranny in America" at the American Thinker, by Eileen F. Toplansky
The 15th of December was National Bill of Rights Day, based on the fact that on that day in 1791, proposed amendments 3 through 12 received the required ratification of 3⁄4 of the states. I hope you didn’t celebrate by arguing with your spouse that the long shopping lines at this time of year constitute cruel and unusual punishment. There is typically a whole day of activities at the National Constitution Center in Washington – exhibits, seminars and presentations galore. If you didn’t get there --maybe next year.
Last week we explored the idea of an America without the Bill of Rights. I argued that under the view of the Founders prevailing at the time the Constitution was drafted, our Bill of Rights could be entirely repealed without jeopardy because the federal government had been provided no power that would impinge on our rights. Thomas Jefferson stipulated in 1776 that our natural rights were unalienable, irrevocable.
Unfortunately, both the view of rights as unalienable gifts of God as well as the view of a government of limited enumerated powers no longer hold sway with either the ruling elite in Washington nor even many Americans. Many Americans seem to want a powerful central government, even if that power occasionally steps on the liberties of some of our less empowered citizens. We’ve subscribed to Mr. Spock’s philosophy that “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” This of course is the central tenant of democracy; a political system the Founders soundly rejected.
I also mentioned last week that had the Bill of Rights not been adopted, the State Constitutions would have still provided their citizens many protections, but these protections varied from state to state. There used to be a comparison of the rights contained in the various state declarations of rights. But the old link onhttp://teachingamericanhistory.org no longer seems to work. Pity, it was a good comparison.
Virginia’s original Declaration of Rights, while superior to the Bill of Rights in many respects, had no protections for free speech, peaceable assembly, defense against double jeopardy or use of a Grand Jury. These deficiencies were ultimately corrected in later Constitutions, and the Virginia Supreme Court is on record as stating that Virginia’s statement protecting free speech is now even stronger than that of the U.S. Bill of Rights.
But assuming that the Bill of Rights had never been adopted, and neither did state constitutions have rights protections, what could life be like in America?
Without a Sixth Amendment, criminal trials, if you got one at all, would not have to be conducted in public or be speedy, and a jury, again, if you got one, would have no requirement to be impartial (did you know there is no Constitutional requirement for “a jury of your peers?”). You could be tried
anywhere, even outside the jurisdiction where the crime was committed. You would have no right to be informed of the charges against you, no right to confront witnesses against you, nor any ability to compel witnesses in your behalf. If you could afford an attorney you’d probably have one, otherwise you’d go without -- echoes of England’s infamous Star Chamber.
Without the Seventh Amendment there would be no requirement for a jury trial in common law matters, and if the prosecutor didn’t like the innocent verdict you received he could try you again in another venue until he obtained the verdict he was looking for.
Without the Eighth Amendment, bail could be set way above any amount you could afford or borrow, thus ensuring your confinement until your trial date (remember, the trial needn’t be “speedy,” so you could be in jail quite a while). It would be interesting to see whether we the people would vote to resume drawing and quartering people for certain particularly heinous crimes. Probably not, but hangings, firing squads, maybe even the guillotine, all quick and cheap means of dispatching the condemned could certainly return.
Without the Ninth Amendment, we might easily forget that we have other unalienable rights that have not been heretofore specified. But here there is also danger. Under our Constitution, who has the authority to identify and define unenumerated rights – the people or the government? I answer: Whose document is it? Does it begin with “We the people” or “We the government?” If the people forsake their authority over the Constitution, government will gladly step in.
Take the case of Griswold v. Connecticut. Here the Supreme Court identified and defined a right of privacy that had thus far been unknown to the Constitution. The Court did not ask the American people whether a general right to privacy was to be protected or how it was to be defined, the Justices went ahead and defined it themselves.
From Griswold came Roe v. Wade. Did a majority of the American people want to have the Constitution protect an essentially unrestrained right to kill unborn babies? Clearly no, but that is what we now have thanks to the Supreme Court. Without the Court’s usurpation of the people’s authority there would likely be 50 million more wage earners in the workplace today, enough to keep Social Security solvent, for instance. I firmly believe in a natural right to privacy and that this privacy should be secured by our Constitution, but I also believe that the people have the sole power to determine how that right is to be defined and secured.
Without the Tenth Amendment, the idea of nullification would itself be nullified and states would be left without a basis for resisting the unlimited power of the federal government. All governmental power would clearly reside at the federal level; none would be retained by the states or the people.
I think you can see that without the Bill of Rights, government’s power would grow unrestrained (Oh wait, that’s happening already). We would still have a republic, but it would be anyone’s guess as to what rights would be protected. On the plus side, we would certainly not be experiencing a flood of illegal immigrants coursing across our southern border to live “La Dolce Vita” -- there’d be little “dolce” in our “vita.”
Perhaps if they had not ratified the Bill of Rights in 1791 the American people would have gradually seen the need for its protections and demanded amendments be added, one by one. Maybe we’d have ended up with something similar, perhaps something very different. But the fact remains: we do have the Bill of Rights, and it is incumbent upon all Americans to understand what it secures: unalienable rights.
© 2014 This essay first appeared in the Fairfax Free Citizen on 18 Dec 2014. Reproduction for non-profit purposes is hereby given.
Prepared by: Gary R. Porter, Executive Director, Constitution Leadership Initiative, Inc. for The Breakfast Club.
I’ll wager few Americans realize that we owe our Bill of Rights to a mere 336 votes. That was the margin that sent James Madison to the first Congress instead of his friend, and rival James Monroe. Without Madison’s dogged persistence in that first Congress it is likely the idea of rights-based amendments to the Constitution would have “died on the vine.”
What would life in America be like without the Bill of Rights? Downright terrifying!
First, remember that in 1787, one of the primary arguments against a Bill of Rights was that it was unnecessary; government was not being given any power that would infringe upon the liberties of the people. In Federalist 84, Alexander Hamilton wrote: "I ... affirm that bills of rights ... are not only unnecessary in the proposed Constitution, but would even be dangerous. ... For why declare that things shall not be done which there is no power to do?" Under this logic, if the entire Bill of Rights was repealed tomorrow nothing would change regarding our rights. They would be equally present and secure with or without the first ten amendments. How wrong the Founders were on this point. Given that over the years the courts have granted Congress nearly unrestrained power to legislate in whatever way it wishes; the argument that a Bill of Rights was unnecessary now looks ridiculous. Today, the Bill of Rights may be the only thing holding back “Leviathan’s” desire to control our liberty. That doesn’t make it right, just a reflection of reality. Former Representative Peter Stark’s (D-CA) view that “The federal government, yes, can do most anything in this country” is much closer to the truth today than Madison’s view of limited and enumerated powers.
In addition to the threat from a government unrestrained by enumerated powers, loss of the Bill of Rights would be worsened by the fact that we have also abandoned the concept of natural rights. Jefferson’s idea that “certain unalienable rights” had been “endowed by their Creator” is today viewed by many as a quaint relic of a by-gone era. Our “enlightened” intelligentsia has risen above this “infantile” attachment to an omniscient Creator. Unfortunately for the intelligentsia, unalienable rights and the God who created them don’t disappear just because you click your heels three times and wish real hard. We obtain our unalienable rights (Virginia’s Declaration called them “inherent” rights) at conception. They are irrevocable and non-transferable (some can of course be forfeited by breaking certain laws).
At law schools, natural rights theory was replaced by “legal positivism,” the theory that all laws (and thus the rights that laws protect) are the creation of man. The effect of this stark: take away the law and you’ve taken away the right. This view is why you can find on today’s White House website a sentence claiming “The 2nd Amendment grants us the right to bear arms.” The Amendment, of course, does no such thing, but such is the thinking of today’s progressives. In their view, to provide government an unrestrained power to control guns we need only get rid of the 2nd Amendment.
Although natural rights have fallen out of favor, they have not completely disappeared, just as the God who created those rights has not “left the building,” as Elvis famously did. The rights are still there, waiting to be invoked. So what would America be like without the Bill of Rights?
Government would have full sway in determining what verbal and symbolic speech would be prohibited. Our government has attempted to limit speech many times, of course, and has usually been rebuked by the Court, based on the First Amendment. Without the Amendment, expressions allowed today could easily be prohibited tomorrow.
Without the First Amendment a national religion might have been declared; New England’s Congregationalists were all for it and their Federalist party dominated the first Congress. Such a national religion might have even persisted for a time before the waves of Virginia’s Statute for Religious Freedom washed over the rest of the country.
Attempts by the citizens to assemble and petition their government would be greatly restricted if not outright prohibited. Governments hate criticism. The press would likely have to obtain permission to publish on certain topics, particularly anything critical of the current administration.
Guns, since they are clearly “dangerous,” would be limited to the military, the police, and the bodyguards of the rich and powerful. Of course, the lawless element in society would still obtain them, and use them, as folks in Britain and Australia from time to time discover. Personal self-defense would probably be limited to pepper spray and baseball bats (sharp knives would even be controlled, as is now being attempted in Britain).
Government could lodge troops in your home at any time, for any reason.
Governments at all levels would search your person, vehicle and home at any time, for any reason, without the need to obtain consent of a judge. Store security would be able to pat you down leaving their store if you even looked suspicious. Any police traffic stop could result in a search of your car, with or without “probable cause.” Based on phone calls from jealous neighbors, homes would be raided and searched at all hours of the day and night. People would live in fear of a knock on their door. “We’re here to search your home, Sir; we observed you were staying up past the mandatory curfew hour and just want to see what you were up to. Won’t take long; could you and the misses please step outside while we take a look around?” (Notice they said “please.”)
Your testimony in court (or even before you are charged with a crime) could be compelled, including through torture if necessary. “We can’t have the guilty remaining free now, can we?”
Whew! This only covers the first five articles of the Bill of Rights, and then only superficially, but you can see where this is going. Read Amendments 6-10 yourself and imagine life without them. Life in America would be a very bad experience, for everyone. Think about it. (To be continued)
Gary Porter is Executive Director of the Constitution Leadership Initiative, Inc., a project to inform Americans about the Founder’s view of their Constitution. Comments on this essay and ideas for future essays should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. This essay first appeared in the Fairfax Free Citizen on 11 December 2014 and in the Yorktown Crier-Poquoson Post on 18 December 2014.
To download any previous Constitutional Minute essay in .pdf format click here.
Prepared by: Gary R. Porter, Executive Director, Constitution Leadership Initiative, Inc., for The Breakfast Club.
"A bill of rights is what the people are entitled to against every government on earth." — Thomas Jefferson
It’s interesting to notice which historical events we celebrate and which we largely ignore. Sometimes on radio shows you’ll hear a commentator groping for content do a piece on “This Day in History.” “On this day in 1952, Elmer Jenkins rolled a peanut 2 miles using only his nose to earn donations for the Red Cross.” (Note: full disclosure here, I made that up; don’t go looking it up on Wikipedia!)
Most patriotic Americans remember “Constitution Day,” September 17th, the day in 1787 when the Constitution was signed; but I don’t know anyone who even remembers, let along celebrates “Ratification Day,” June 21st, the day in 1788 when New Hampshire’s ratification put the Constitution in operation. On September 17, 1787, the Constitution was just a piece of paper (actually four pieces of parchment), just like any other draft document. As opposed to most legal documents which are put into effect with signatures, signing the Constitution had no legal effect whatsoever. Ratification did, at least when nine states had done so. So why don’t we celebrate Ratification Day with fireworks and concerts the way we do Independence Day? Asking for a friend.
Another day we should celebrate, and don’t, is December 15th, especially here in Virginia. On that day in 1791, Virginia’s ratification of ten of the twelve articles proposed by Congress to “amend” the Constitution, put what we now call the Bill of Rights into effect (it wasn’t routinely called the Bill of Rights until after the Civil War, when Amendments 13-15 were added).
The debate over the idea of adding a “Bill of Rights” to the Constitution didn’t even come up until 5 days before the convention adjourned. George Mason thought it a good idea (“It would give great quiet to the people”); others saw no need for it, most of the state constitutions in effect at the time had declarations of rights, a federal one would be redundant. Mason’s motion to form a committee to draft a Bill of Rights (BoR) was defeated and its absence became the primary reason Mason and two other gentlemen refused to sign the finished document. At the Virginia Ratification Convention in 1788, Partick Henry chided the Federalists over the omission: “Would it consume too much paper?”
Massachusetts is the state that actually started the ball rolling on a BoR. In exchange for the Anti-Federalists votes to ratify the Constitution, the Federalists at Massachusetts’s convention promised them they would be allowed to submit recommendations for both amendments to the Constitution and articles for a new Bill of Rights. After Massachusetts “broke the ice,” most other states followed Massachusetts’s example and submitted their ideas along with their ratification certificate.
James Madison, “Father of the Constitution” (a title he argued was inappropriate) is in fact solely responsible for creation of the Bill of Rights. Had he lost the election to the First Congress, I’m certain a Bill of Rights would today not exist. Congress was busy building a government from the ground up and had no interest in adding a Bill of Rights, but Madison’s dogged determination to fulfill a campaign promise he made to the Baptists of Orange County, Virginia met with success. Wikipedia has a very comprehensive page on the Bill of Rights, showing the various iterations the articles went through as they worked their way through Congress; it is worth the read.
As a testament to the success of the Bill of Rights we now have myriad copycats: “Patient’s Bill of Rights,” “Passenger Bill of Rights,” “Cell Phone Bill of Rights,” “Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights.” Might there be a “Ferret-owners Bill of Rights” being drafted as I write this?
Franklin Delano Roosevelt famously proposed adding a Second Bill of Rights in 1944. Americans, he thought, had a “right” to a decent job, an adequate income, freedom from unfair competition and monopolies, a decent house, adequate medical care, social security (of course) and a right to an education. If people had trouble providing these accoutrements for themselves, government would provide them. Congress didn’t take the bait (thank goodness) and propose the various amendments necessary to bring FDR’s idea to fruition and the proposal died. But you’ll occasionally encounter people today trying to resurrect it.
I think I’ve mentioned that from 2013 to 2017 I was writing a weekly column called “Constitutional Corner” and sending these at times lengthy essays (sometimes they would run to 8 pages or more) to an extensive subscriber list. I’m going to put my “pen” down for the remainder of December and enjoy the holidays, but I can’t countenance any of my faithful readers suffering from Constitutional Minute “withdrawal,” so, in keeping with our Bill of Rights Day theme I will send you on or before 20 and 27 December, essays I wrote on 18 and 21 December 2014 entitled: “Life Without the Bill of Right” Parts 1 and 2. I hope you enjoy them (warning, there might be some dated material therein).
I think we can all agree that the contention of the Federalists in 1787 that a Bill of Rights was unnecessary (“Why declare that things shall not be done which there is no power to do”[i]), have turned out to be shockingly wrong. Without the Bill of Rights, America would today be a far different place in terms of individual freedom. The Supreme Court has given the federal government powers it created out of thin air or through expansive interpretations of ambiguous language; and without the Bill of Rights.…. Well, you’ll see in the next two essays.
Have a very Merry Christmas and don’t forget the “Reason for the Season.” See you next year.
[i] Alexander Hamilton writing in Federalist 84
To download any previous Constitutional Minute essay in .pdf format click here.
Prepared by: Gary R. Porter, Executive Director, Constitution Leadership Initiative, Inc., for The Breakfast Club.
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