Sunday, December 25, 2005

Rights of Christmas

Inspired by RJB at Words Have Meaning , here are some Christmas presents the framers of the Constitution left under our tree back in the eighteenth century.

Amendment I

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.

Amendment II

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.

Amendment III

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.

Amendment IV

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.

Amendment V

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.

Amendment VI

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.

Amendment VII

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.

Amendment VIII

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Amendment IX

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

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.


If we give these rights up to Mister Bush and his team of neo-con men, does that constitute "regifting?"

Or is it rolling over for a dictator?


  1. Rolling over? Bending over.

  2. Jeff:

    Do I read this properly in concluding that you support the second amendment? Just curious where you stood on that one (yes, it is an individual right - that's fairly clear if one reads it in historical context).


  3. As a matter of fact, Scott, I do. I don't own a firearm, but I think it's an important right.

  4. I'm with you on that one, Jeff. And I don't own a firearm either.

  5. I think it's also one of the most difficult parts of the constitution to interpret. "The right of the people to bear arms shall not be infringed" seems pretty clear, but the dependent clause in front of that is not.

    Does all that business about a militia being necessary blah, blah, blah modify "the right of the people to bear arms" or the concept of what constitutes infringement?

    I sure don't know.

    In context of other rights, it seems to me that anyone has a right to hunt their fair share of game, and everyone has the right to defend themselves, and firearms are clearly a legitimate means to those ends.

    Coming at the issue from the other end, does government have the constitutional power to restrict or regulate the sale and ownership of certain types of firearms?

    That gets gray in my book. For now, anyway.