Contitution 101 – The Bill of Rights

Posted By on July 28, 2010

I am aware that I am skipping ahead, somewhat, in the series of bringing understanding to the Constitution, but this subject has come to the forefront of my thoughts recently and I thought it necessary.

How often have we heard someone mention things like, “Our First Amendment right of religious freedom,” or “Our Second Amendment right to bear arms,” or “The Amendment Right to freedom of the press,” or even “Our Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination”? These statements are made in such a manner as to give the appearance that it was, or is the US Constitution which grants these rights. It is my contention, and I believe it would be the contention of the Founding Fathers that this is a flawed and inadequate perspective of the Bill of Rights.

We must ask ourselves, “what was the original purpose of the Bill of Rights?” If you don’t know the answer to this question, maybe we should ask, “can we possibly know that purpose, and if so, how?” This becomes the crux of the subject of our discussion in this article.

In an earlier article I stated the importance of understanding the Constitution from the perspective that it is built upon another document, the Declaration of Independence. (see Constitution 101, Lesson 2 – Is The Constitution A Foundation?) As we consider the Bill of Rights we must remember these words:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Declaration of Independence, 1776 (Emphasis added)

To the Founding Fathers there were certain truths which were “self-evident.” I don’t want to assume anything, so, what does “self-evident” mean?

Evident without proof or reasoning; that produces certainty or clear conviction upon a bare presentation to the mind; as a self-evident  proposition or truth. That two and three make five, is self-evident.1

In other words, these truths require no reasoning, no proof and are clear to all. Among the “self-evident” truths mentioned is that “all men…are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights…” So, again we are confronted by a question, “what did Thomas Jefferson and the Founding Fathers mean by this?” The Creator, God, has granted to all men certain rights simply by the fact of their existence. The Creator, God, has given me rights which precede and supersede any rights, or privileges any government may grant me. In fact the primary purpose of government, according to the Declaration of Independence, is “That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” Governments are established for the primary purpose of securing these unalienable rights for their citizens. The government cannot grant these rights, nor can a legitimate government take them away.

So, just what are some of these unalienable rights that our Founding Fathers adhered to so firmly?

  • The right to free speech.
  • The right to a free press.
  • The right to bear arms, for self-defense.
  • The right to assemble.
  • The right to petition.
  • The right to a fair trial2 (See The 5000 Year Leap for a more detailed listing and explanation.)

Isn’t this amazing? This sounds vaguely familiar, oh yes, these are contained within the Bill of Rights to the US Constitution. The Founding Fathers would never have held these rights to be guaranteed by the Constitution, or its first ten amendments. Why? Simply stated, these rights were given by “The Creator” and therefore the government couldn’t touch them.  The government, i.e. the Constitution, didn’t give us these rights, and the government cannot take them away.

Do you now see how important it is to keep the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution together in the same context?

Okay, so now what about the Bill of Rights?

We can clearly determine the purpose of the Bill of Rights if we read the first paragraph of its Preamble:

THE Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution. (The Preamble to The Bill of Rights, 1789) (Emphases added)

The purpose of the Bill of Rights is to “prevent misconstruction or abuse of its (the Constitution’s) powers” by providing “further declaratory and restrictive clauses.” The Bill of Rights was not intended to grant rights to the citizens, rather its purpose was to further restrict the federal government. The First Amendment does not grant the freedom of religion, speech, the press or to peaceably assemble or to petition government. NO! The First Amendment forbids the government from enacting laws which would restrict these unalienable rights! The Second Amendment does not guarantee the “right to bear arms,” NO! rather it restricts the government from infringing on that unalienable right! The Fourth Amendment does not grant us the right to be secure in our persons, etc. from unreasonable search and seizure, NO! it forbids the government from violating this unalienable right! Should I go on, or do you get the picture? (I hope you get the picture, because I am moving on, anyway. If you haven’t got it make a comment below and I’ll respond.)

Are you beginning to see how the modern education system, the media and the politicians have twisted the Constitution around, thus diluting its message, its intent, its purpose and its meanings? Do you see that in order to regain proper control of our government, the government by the people and for the people, we must readjust our thinking on almost everything we think we know about the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, self-government and, most importantly, the republican form of government? Do you see how the elitists have tried to distract our attention by inaccurate teachings, false assumptions and just plain wrong statements? All we have to do is research, read and study the Founding Fathers and the original documents to gain a more perfect knowledge, which will lead to a reestablishment of a “more perfect union.”

So, we must readjust our thinking and our conversation in regards to the Bill of Rights. These ten amendments do not grant, give or guarantee us, the citizens, anything. Rather they were intended to provide more strict limitations against the power of government, against the progress of tyranny, against un-Constitutional usurpations of power by the Federal government. It is high time that we made this amendments truly restrictive, and concrete statements not subject tot he arbitrary interpretations by some liberal, free-thinking IDIOT judges, justices, politicians and educators. It is time we stand up for “Truth, Justice and the American way! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist that.)

_______________

1 “self-evident”, American Dictionary of the English Language, Noah Webster, 1828, retrieved 07-28-2010 from http://1828.mshaffer.com/d/search/word,self-evident

2 The 5000 Year Leap, W. Cleon Skousen, National Center for Constitutional Studies, 2006, pp125-126

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5 Responses to “Contitution 101 – The Bill of Rights”

  1. David Bozarth says:

    Roy from Charleston wrote via email:

    David, the right to keep and bear arms is not subject to the restriction “for self-defense”. I don’t know where you picked up this misunderstanding, but I wish you would retract it and make it clear that there is no restriction on the purpose to keep and bear arms.
    Roy

  2. David Bozarth says:

    Roy,

    That quote came from The 5000 Year Leap as cited in the post. This also came from John Locke, William Blackstone and others and is based on Nature’s Law. This was the basis for the Second Amendment. This can also be found in Tucker’s Blackstone, published in 1803 by St. George Tucker, Professor of Law at the University of William and Mary, and a judge in the General Court of Virginia. He writes:

    “8. 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. Amendments to C. U. S. Art. 4.

    This may be considered as the true palladium of liberty …. The right of self defence is the first law of nature: in most governments it has been the study of rulers to confine this right within the narrowest limits possible. Wherever standing armies are kept up, and the right of the people to keep and bear arms is, under any colour or pretext whatsoever, prohibited, liberty, if not already annihilated, is on the brink of destruction. In England, the people have been disarmed, generally, under the specious pretext of preserving the game: a never failing lure to bring over the landed aristocracy to support any measure, under that mask, though calculated for very different purposes. True it is, their bill of rights seems at first view to counteract this policy: but the right of bearing arms is confined to protestants, and the words suitable to their condition and degree, have been interpreted to authorise the prohibition of keeping a gun or other engine for the destruction of game, to any farmer, or inferior tradesman, or other person not qualified to kill game. So that not one man in five hundred can keep a gun in his house without being subject to a penalty.” (Emphases added)

    The Founding Fathers held local militia’s to be the first line of “self-defense” against 1) threats to the community, 2) threats to the individual and 3) threats of tyranny by the government.

    If you read the Second Amendment, quoted by Tucker above, it states:

    “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.” (Emphasis added)

    It should be noted there are two distinct rights utilized in the amendment, 1) the right of the people to keep and bear arms, and 2) the right to organize and maintain militias.

    It also must be remembered that this government was initially intended to be “self-government.” Within this, “self-government”, ultimately the responsibility for protecting the individual from tyrannical usurpations of any government rests in the individual. I have the ultimate right to defend my natural God given rights, not the federal government, not the state, not the local municipality and not even the militia.

    My natural right to bear arms is founded upon “self-defense”, but it is not limited to “self-defense.”

    So, I cannot retract that statement as it is exactly what the Founding Fathers held, and is the basis for the Second Amendment. If you can provide other source documentation stating differently I will consider your information.

    Regards,

    David

  3. David Bozarth says:

    From Lou in Denver via email:

    You write:
    “First, the protests and armed revolt initially began NOT to seek independence from Britain, it began as a movement of British citizens seeking to defend and secure their constitutionally guaranteed rights as stated within the constitution of Great Britain. As I read more and more from that period, this one truth becomes more and more obvious. The cries and protests against the Stamp Act were cries of a basic violation of the British constitution. “No taxation without representation” was guaranteed by that constitution to all British citizens.”

    Where, in the British constitution is no taxation without representation guaranteed?
    Where is the British constitution?

  4. David Bozarth says:

    Lou,

    Thank you for the comment, and the questions.

    I have posted your questions as a comment to the “Bill of Rights” article, and will be posting my answer shortly.

    Since receiving you message I have been diligently searching for the Constitution of Great Britain for the period in question. I found the Magna Carta (1215), no mention; the Constitution of Clarendon (1164), no mention; The Petition of Right (1628, no mention; the English Bill of Rights (1689), no mention. I only found an allusion to this concept in The English Constitution, a commentary by John Louise De Lolme (1771). Then this morning I discovered the English Constitution of the time was an unwritten constitution.

    This is what made the US Constitution so unique in its day, it was written. Jefferson stated, “Our peculiar security is in the possession of a written Constitution. Let us not make it a blank paper by construction.” (Emphases added)

    Regards,

    David

  5. David Bozarth says:

    Received via Facebook:

    “Well put, sir,” Greg, South Carolina

    “If I read it, then I can’t make the first amendment whatever I want.” Ben, Idaho

    “I agree Dear David Thank You for writing.” Craig, Idaho

    “Wow. I also get tired of this, and I read your blog. I could so totally almost hear you saying it!” Mary, Nebraska

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