Thursday, May 04, 2006

Ten Amendments Day?

A great, underpublicized idea is out there- a day of celebration for the Bill of Rights, for May 7.

I like it. The Bill of Rights- the first 10 Amendments to the Constitution- enunciate many of what Americans consider their basic freedoms: the right to free speech, free assembly, and a host of others.

Hint: I'd list more, but I agree with Star Columnist Sheila Suess Kennedy's assertion that most people are unaware of the 10 Amendments, either having never read the Constitution, or having forgotten their civics lessons of so many years ago. You should read it! Heck- even the ACLU, who should be a defender of all 10 Amendments, conveniently omits the 2nd Amendment from its consideration, and was silent on the 5th as regarded the stadium and NK Hurst Co., which is important to consider in eminent domain cases.

Three great paragraphs from Kennedy's column:

Whatever the reason, Ten Amendments Day is a great idea. Too few Americans know much early American history; fewer still have ever read the Constitution or the Bill of Rights, or the Federalist Papers and the arguments for and against the addition of a Bill of Rights to America's Constitution. Without that background, it is impossible to appreciate how radically America's constitutional system changed what was then thought to be the natural order of things.

Before the United States, the right of a government to exercise authority over its individual subjects was taken for granted -- indeed, it was thought to be divinely ordained. America's Founders asked audacious, previously unimaginable questions: What is the proper role of the state? What are the limits of its legitimate authority? Do individual citizens have rights that governments must respect? If so, what are those rights?

Democratic processes are important, but America was not originally conceived as a democracy as we currently understand that term. The emphasis was on individual liberty, and the creation of checks and balances intended to limit the reach of official power. As important as many other governing innovations were, and have been, the real genius of the "American experiment" was this recognition that government's power over the individual conscience must be limited -- that the important question was not "who is right and who is wrong" but "who gets to decide." (Emphasis is mine.)

Doesn't sound like the consideration given to the people by our Republican and Democratic lawmakers, at any level, does it? These are the considerations Libertarians give first to their policy proposals.

Read the Bill of Rights some time soon. You'll be mightily impressed with the wisdom of the Founding Fathers, and yet the simplicity of the document. Link to info on

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I appreciate the wisdom of the Founding Fathers. They planted the seeds of a great opportunity for freedom and prosperity. It is frustating to see the unconcerned and irresponsible sit around and bitch and then basically refuse to use the rights they can so easily squander.
I also have a problem with this democracy thing as we were guaranteed a republican form of government. I just naturally bristle at the thought some majority of people deciding what I can and can't do.