The Bill of Rights - limits enumerated
Let's learn about our Bill of Rights, perhaps the most important part of the U.S. Constitution for the overwhelming majority of citizens. It's been praised and scorned even before it's ratification, and has been the subject of many a court case.
Libertarian minded folks by their very nature will interpret these enumerated rights in a literal manner. Most politicians and enemies of freedom don't like what they say and often turn a blind eye to them, conveniently interpret them out of context, or claim that they don't apply anymore. That's pure rubbish!
It's really the only part of the Constitution where there is a clear tone of what the government can't do. It was conceived as a form of protection for citizens, and a way of recording and reminding us all of the limits of government when it comes to liberty of the individual.
What is often referred to as the Bill of Rights is really the first ten amendments to the constitution. These amendments were necessary to gain approval of the Constitution from state legislatures that were wary of what government was capable of.
Remember, the country had just fought a war for independence, so many of the reasons for revolt were fresh on the minds of the founders. The reasons cited in the Declaration of Independence are addressed in many parts of the Bill of Rights. After all, they didn't want a repeat of the abuses of power from which they had just freed themselves.
Many think, incorrectly, that our rights come from these first ten amendments. This is not true at all. Our rights are not granted by government, but rather guaranteed by government.
These first ten amendments enumerate what many consider to be natural rights, and the Constitution is used as a means of making the government guarantee these rights for all citizens.
Despite this guarantee, members of government have found a way to violate each of these rights through laws, regulation and misinterpretation of some sort. That's why it's very important that we fight for our rights.
With elected and appointed "officials" in government constantly trying to reshape America to be what they think it should be, the only rights we'll enjoy are the rights we're willing to constantly fight for.
Here is the Bill of Rights that appear as the first ten amendments to the Constitution of the United States of America.
- Congress shall make no laws 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.
- A well regulated militia, the necessary to the security of the free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.
- No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
- The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable clause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
- No person shall be held to answer for any capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of the Grand Jury, excepting cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or lamb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, 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.
- In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.
- In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any court of the United States, other than according to the rules of the common law.
- Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
- The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
- The powers not delegated to United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.
There you have it, the Bill of Rights from the U.S. Constitution. These are part of your birthright as an American. If you love freedom, you'll become familiar with what these words say and mean.
The Bill of Rights will serve us well as a free people, only so long as we fight all attempts to misinterpret, ignore and override their clear meaning. That means we need to be familiar with the context in which the founders wrote the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights.
As a Libertarian, I am a strong defender of our Bill of Rights, and I exercise them regularly. It's often a use it or lose it proposition, so get to know these enumerated rights so you can use them wisely and preserve this birthright for future generations.
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