Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Constitution Doesn't Grant You Rights

The phrase "inalienable rights" doesn't appear in the Constitution. It's in the Declaration of Independence. Nevertheless, the concept was well-accepted by the Founding Fathers. So much so that they didn't bother to list these rights in the Constitution. The first 10 Amendments were added in as the "Bill of Rights" under a bit of controversy.

How could there be controversy?

For one, the enumeration of certain rights may be taken to imply that other rights do not exist. This conclusion would be in error, which was addressed by the Ninth Amendment, which has since been largely forgotten and marginalized.

But also, the enumeration of certain rights may be taken to men that those rights are granted by the Constitution. This interpretation is as wrong as it possibly could be. Let's make it clear

The Constitution Doesn't Grant You Rights

Rather, it enumerates rights that you already have. These are the ones alluded to in this passage of the Declaration of Independence:
"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"
Not only does the Constitution not grant you rights, but no man is empowered to do so, for that would violate the principle of equality. Your rights came to you from God, or Divine Providence, or they are Natural Rights, or however it is you choose to phrase such things. But one thing is certain: they are not made by superior men, to be granted or revoked at their pleasure.

Note the following carefully:
"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."
That's the First Amendment. It doesn't grant freedom of religion, or of speech, or of the press, or assembly, or petition. It doesn't . It merely takes for granted the fact that you have those rights, and they may not be abridged by the government. That last bit is important, too. It says nothing about how people privately behave, but specifically and pointedly limits itself to what Congress does.

Likewise, the Second Amendment is commonly mangled:
"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."
A common argument is that this right is "connected" to the Militia. That is bullshit (to put it mildly). At no point does this Amendment grant you the right to bear arms. Rather it acknowledges that the right you already have shall not be infringed. It does state a reason that the State should support that right, but that is in no way, shape or form a stated purpose for the 'grant' of a right.

The plain fact of the the matter is that every human being has an absolute right to self-defense. By absolute, I mean it trumps literally everything. Self-defense is a reason to kill another human being with legal impunity. And there is zero restriction on the weaponry I am "allowed" to bring to bear to further that aim. That's not to say I can employ that weaponry in any way I want. If I'm a danger to others, then they can take me out for the same reason. But the mere ownership of a weapon does not make me a danger.

The Third through Eighth Amendments deal with legalities:
My home is to be free from invasion and usurpation; especially, so is my person, and my stuff. I have a right to due process in the courts. Once acquitted of a crime I have the right to consider the matter settled: I need not fear the same charges again.. I have a right to my property. I have the right to refuse to testify against myself. I have a right to a speedy trial. I have a right to be judged by a jury of my peers. I have the right to know the charges against me. I have a right to face my accuser. I have the right to compel witnesses in my defense. I have a right to legal counsel. I have a right to expect bail and fines to be reasonable, and I have a right to be free from torture.

The Ninth (mentioned above) makes clear that it is not this Constitution that grants your rights, and that you are not limited to the ones above:
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
 And the Tenth reminds us that it is not "the State" that owns the Government of the United States. There is no "Crown" here:
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
ALL powers exercised by our government are delegated to it, by the people, via the Constitution. To the extent that a government exercises powers that are not enumerated in the Constitution, that government action is illegal. "The United States" as mentioned here consists of all branches, Legislative, Executive, and Judicial. When a Judge legislates from the bench, it's illegal. When a President ignores laws by selectively enforcing them, that's illegal. When Congress passes laws that infringe our rights, that's illegal. It does not matter whether a branch of government does so in collusion with another branch. The Tenth Amendment is there for a reason.

There is also a reason the Tenth Amendment has been marginalized and ignored by Progressives. It's damned inconvenient to tyrants to be shown up as the tyrants and usurpers that they are. Your knowledge and understanding of the limits of government makes it ever so much more difficult for bureaucrats to stifle your rights and exercise control over things that are flatly none of their business, ever.

When our government gets to the point where they do all of these things, it is the right and duty of its citizens to recall that government. This becomes problematic when the government has been given the privilege of educating our youth, and have abused that privilege to strip a generation of the knowledge of their sovereignty, ownership, and individual power.

It's starts with this: Your rights are yours. The government is yours.

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