Friday, January 19, 2007

Required Read: The Supreme Law

As seen in:January 19th, 2007 Record Herald

The United States of America's Constitution sets forth the duties and limitations of the government over the people and is the oldest constitution for a federal system still in use.

Do you know the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights? Do you really? Not many Americans can honestly say that we do. This is a document that's going on its 220 th birthday and is over 7,000 words long, including the Amendments (Bill of Rights). I'm sure even those who study it for a living would have a hard time honestly saying they "know" the Constitution, yet we always hear people's description of it; and, oh, how they love to quote their "First Amendment Rights", especially when they perceive them as being violated.

The First Amendment reads:

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.

Now, how many times did you read the word "from"? None? Really? Now that's odd, because what I hear more often than not in the news is people wanting freedom "from" religion, not "of" it. We hear the battle cry each year around Christmas, and how there's no Christ in Christmas anymore, blah, blah. I tune it out every time I hear it now, because I'm just so tired of the same argument that we are guaranteed each December. I do take notice, however, when I hear atheists saying that our money, our pledge, and therefore our Constitution are all un-Constitutional because they all reference God.

Well, it doesn't say that you have to reference God. In fact, I interpret the First Amendment as saying they can't keep me from referencing God. That is freedom OF religion on my part. If they are atheists, they are using their freedom OF religion by being atheists; but the Constitution doesn't protect them from hearing the words "Jesus" or "Church" or "God" anymore than it protects me from hearing their rants against religion. If they must be shielded from my religion, I should be shielded from theirs. (Even if they don't admit atheism is a religion).

Who can read from memory the 9th Amendment?

"The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."

Wouldn't that protect my freedoms in the first Amendment?

Okay, now lets move on to anther: Amendment II, who can name it? Any takers?

Right to Bear Arms; A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

The Second Amendment was birthed from the anti-federalists who feared that a government-controlled military was a sure path to tyranny. What is now the Second Amendment was proposed by James Madison, the leading Federalist, as an insertion to the Constitution itself as a compromise between the anti-federalists and the federalists. You'd never know that by just reading the words of the Constitution, you'd have to know the history of it, and that is a very important history lesson! The anti-federalist wanted the right to bear arms to keep the government from getting too big. They wanted to make sure that when, not if, the government became more of a tyrant than a democratic-republic, We the People could take it back, and put it back the way it was. See if you hear that the next time you see someone pushing for more gun control.

“Being necessary to the security of a free state” That sounds pretty clear to me. I hear it like this; Take away our guns, and the government is free to do as it pleases.

I like how Robert Heinlein put it: “An armed society is a polite society”

The Constitution should be thought of as a living document that changes with the times, just as people do. This is very evident in the 18th Amendment abolishing liquor, later repealed by Amendment 21.

Who wants to take a jab at the 10th Amendment, the last in the Bill of Rights?

"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

That's right, folks. It's not the government's Constitution; it's ours.

Now, to keep you interested enough to go look up something: How many Amendments are there to the US Constitution?