“What Jefferson was saying was, Hey! You know, we left this England place ’cause it was bogus; so if we don’t get some cool rules ourselves – pronto – we’ll just be bogus too! Get it?” – Jeff Spicoli, in Fast Times at Ridgemont High
Well, almost Jeff. The “Cool Rules” you refer to came in the form of the US Constitution. At the time it was being written, Thomas Jefferson was living in Paris, France while communicating his thoughts and directions through correspondence with his fellow Virginian and protégé James Madison. It was James Madison who is credited with authoring the Constitution.
The Bill of Right’s came into existence three years after the US constitution was adopted by Congress. There was a reason for its purpose. Prior to the Constitution the United States of America was living under the Articles of Confederation, which loosely bound all of the states into one country. For matters of commerce, trade and international treaties, the Articles of Confederation was not strong enough to allow our new nation to perform the basic duties a country needs to in order to maintain its own existence. Thus, the US Constitution was adopted to grant a stronger central authority in these matters.
This left our Founding Fathers with a dilemma. How to place the limitations on this new government and protect the individual rights and liberties to the citizenry as established in the Declaration of Independence without restricting its ability to exist. The answer came in the form of out Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights puts into law the principle of our founding that “All men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
The Bill of Rights to the US Constitution came about as all Amendments do. Through Article V. Go read it! Its purpose was to specifically restrict the encroaching nature of Government upon the lives of its people. This cannot be emphasized enough. Our Government was constructed to be the least intrusive as could be yet still function as a nation among the world’s population.
Our Founding Father’s new that at its best, Government was incompetent, and at its worst destructive. Though there are basic functions and powers our Government must possess, the Framers of the Constitution new there had to be strict limits to ensure the basic rights of the American people.
Where do our rights come from? Who gives them to us? Why do we have them? This is where the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights converge. We are “endowed by our creator”. Few words can mean so much. It is stated that our rights are something we are born with because we were born human beings.
The Bill of Rights goes further and explains what rights our Government has a duty to protect and not infringe upon. We enjoy the freedoms that are stated in the Declaration of Independence and codified in the Bill of Rights, not because the Government decided to give them to us, but because we were born Human Beings. We are not Americans because we are free people. We are free people because we are Americans.
Through time, we have claimed for ourselves rights that do not exist in the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights allows us to do so through Amendment IX stating;
“The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people”. Say what?!?!?
In other words, just because there is a right not stated here in the Constitution doesn’t mean that right does not exist. How we exercise these rights it provided for us in the following Amendment X, or as I like to call it; the most forgotten and least utilized Amendment, which makes clear to us how to practice the rights we wish to claim as ours.
Amendment X: 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.
The United States of America functions best when we operate on the foundation of the U.S. Constitution the Founders provided for us. We are dysfunctional when we dismiss the processes and parameters for purpose of expediency and want.
And THAT Mr. Spicoli is why we are the most Non-bogus country ever conceived in Human history!
ARTICLES in addition to, and Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, proposed by Congress, and ratified by the Legislatures of the several States, pursuant to the fifth Article of the original Constitution.
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.
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.
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 cause, 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 a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in 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 limb; 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 a 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 a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, 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 the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.