November 20, 2017
Over the past 100 years, progressives have shifted America’s focus off of individual rights and liberties, maintaining priorities belong on the collective. Social Justice warriors champion minority groups, insisting individuals must abandon their rights for the good of societal categories. However, as Ayn Rand points out: “The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities.” Even the Founders had this figured out, which is why they wrote the Bill of Rights over 240 years ago.
Following the Articles of Confederation in 1781, states constructed their own Bill of Rights, along with their constitutions. The first state to adopt such documents was Virginia, passing George Mason’s Virginia Declaration of Rights in 1776. Not only did other states use Mason’s document as a template, so did the founders at the 1787 Constitutional Convention along with the Magna Carta (1215) and the English Bill of Rights (1689). In fact, France also referred to Virginia’s document when preparing their own Declaration of Rights of Man and the Citizen at the beginning of the French Revolution in 1789. (see Reign of Terror)
As delegates debated the new United States Constitution in 1787 (see Constitution Day), Federalists rejected the call for a federal Bill of Rights, believing the national and state constitutions were strong enough to ensure individual rights. Nevertheless, Anti-Federalists insisted more restraints be placed on the federal government and its powers before agreeing to sign. The Anti-Federalists won out.
James Madison, known as the “Father of the Bill of Rights,” is the principle author and sponsor. However, George Mason and Thomas Jefferson both contributed to the Amendments. He began drafting the document following the adoption of the U.S. Constitution. The House of Representatives passed seventeen of Madison’s original twenty articles, sending them to the Senate, who made additional revisions. Condensing the articles down to twelve, they removed provisions applying parts of the new amendments to the states, leaving them at federal level. This understanding remained until the 14th Amendment, (see America’s Voting Rights) which specifically put restrictions on states and opened the door to exerting all the Bill of Rights on states.
Congress submitted the twelve approved amendments to the states on September 25, 1789 for ratification. New Jersey was the first to ratify all but one on November 20, 1789. Of the original twelve, the last ten were approved by the three-fourths margin, officially becoming our Bill of Rights on December 15, 1791. Article Two was ratified May 5, 1992, becoming the 27th Amendment, and the remaining original Article One is still pending approval from the needed number of states.
Until the 1920’s, Americans accepted that the Bill of Rights applied to the federal government, specifically limiting their power. However, in 1925 the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) broadened the 1st Amendment using the Incorporation Doctrine, which selectively applies parts of the Bill of Rights to the states via the 14th Amendment. While this seems logical, it began a slippery slope of the SCOTUS interfering in state laws, threatening to nullify the 10th Amendment, which states that issues not addressed in the Constitution were to be left to the states and their citizens.
However, as the founders feared, progressive justices have overreached their power, reversing states’ decisions on such issues as abortion and same-sex marriage, claiming they violate the 14th Amendment. Yet to do this they applied property status to a fetus, just as they did to Africans in the Dred Scott decision, denying its right to life which should have been protected by the 14th Amendment. (see Dreadful Scott Decision) Likewise, the SCOTUS changed the centuries-old description of marriage, forcing states to accept their new definition. (see Marriage Is What Brings Us Together Today)
According to Justice Anthony Scalia, “The Constitution that I interpret and apply is not living but dead, or as I prefer to call it, enduring. It means today not what current society, much less the court, thinks it ought to mean, but what it meant when it was adopted.” Since the Constitution does not address either abortion or same-sex marriage, Constitutionally the federal government has no right to interfere, changing definitions of a fetus and marriage to suit current culture. Until new Amendments are passed, these issues belong at the state level.
Per the Constitution, the purpose of the federal government is to protect individuals’ rights. Progressives, however, are doing everything they can to take them away. They are succeeding partly because schools have stopped teaching them. It is very easy to take something away from people when they don’t even know what they possess.
Millennials have convinced themselves “freedom of speech” means they have a right not to be offended. America is experiencing a time where people are demanding “safe spaces” because trigger words threaten their ability to function as a logical human being. They claim to believe in free speech, as long as it is speech they agree with. Any other should be forcefully forbidden. (see There’s Nothing Right About The Alt-Right) However, as the founders well knew, accepted speech is not what needs protecting. The very speech that offends is that which is sheltered under the 1st Amendment.
Others are attacking those of faith, demanding when entering a government building, you must leave your religion outside. However, no where in the Bill of Rights is there an establishment of “separation of Church and State.” This was a phrase used in a letter from President Jefferson to the Danbury Baptist Association assuring the federal government is restricted from establishing a uniform religion or regulating people’s right to practice their faith. (see Separation of Church and State) In no manner are individuals limited from expressing and practicing their faith, even in a government position. In fact, the founders were extremely clear that only a religious and moral people would be able to survive such a self-governing republic as America had established. As John Adams stated, “Human passions unbridled by morality and religion…would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net.”
With every mass shooting, gun control advocates demand the federal government pass laws limiting gun rights. Some even call for the abolishment of the 2nd Amendment, declaring it is outdated. Another argument proclaims the founders could not have foreseen the weapons of today when they wrote the 2nd Amendment. However, this argument ignorantly assumes inventors such as Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and others would have failed to envision and understand advancement. Insisting the 2nd Amendment applies only to six-shooters and rifles since semi-automatic weapons didn’t exist in 1789, would be like restricting the 1st Amendment’s freedom of the press to newspapers and pamphlets as they could not have foreseen TV, radio, or the internet. Then again, as social media outlets continue to restrict conservative sites such as PragerU.com while leaving ISIS recruiting sites alone, they may very well be okay with this analogy.
Over the past several decades, federal agencies have greatly increased their number of armed agents, therefore making the federal government the largest gun carrying organization in the country without even including the U.S. Armed Forces. (see Gun Control: The First Steps Of Tyranny) This is exactly why George Washington stated, “A free people ought not only to be armed, but disciplined; to which end a uniform and well-digested plan is requisite; and their safety and interest require that they should promote such manufactories as tend to render them independent of others for essential, particularly military, supplies.” Understanding that a militia is “a military force that is raised from the civil population to supplement a regular army in an emergency,” the founders clearly understood it was imperative the people were armed, especially with the weaponry of the time.
Even though the SCOTUS applies the Incorporation Doctrine to some Amendments, they have left others to federal restrictions only. This allows cities like Chicago, New York and Washington D.C. to implement highly restrictive gun laws, as was intended by the founders. It is up then to the voters to realize these laws have only increased gun violence in these areas, allowing them to correct the issue in their local ballot boxes.
Liberty, John Adams once said, “Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people.” As these letters are meant to help you restore and preserve liberty, they are filled with the knowledge to help you do so. However, if you don’t know what your rights are, how are you going to fight for them. Therefore, the best place to start is at the beginning, with the Declaration of Independence, (see Happy Independence Day), the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, as they are the foundation of all our freedoms and liberties. Read them, study them, learn them, and then fight with everything you have to preserve them.
That’s my 2 cents.