Care About Your Rights? Let’s Talk About It
Let me make something abundantly clear: an unalienable or natural right naturally exists in the absence of authority and does not inherently infringe upon the rights of another. It does not matter your race, gender, sexual preference, religion, or anything else because these things do not change in the absence of authority.
What they teach in school (even some law schools) is crazy. A law student has told me that Constitutional interpretations have evolved over the years and have garnered us many substantive due process rights. I have been told that the states were initially free to disregard the Bill of Rights with impunity but that due to modern Constitutional interpretations, states are chained to the Bill of Rights, protecting our fundamental freedoms. I have also been told that the 14th Amendment is evidence of the previous point and that it is almost a second constitution because it has acted as a means to extend due process rights to the citizens.
Ultimately, this law student argued that Originalism would not have given this result because (as he says) the Bill of Rights did not pertain to the states and that without modern interpretations, states could effectively legislate the Bill of Rights out of existence. He pointed to the fact that for many years, states have disregarded the Bill of Rights in matters of criminal procedure as evidence. He argued, “If we had adhered to original interpretations of the constitution, the states would be able to effectively do away with the bill of rights. Original interpretation of the constitution was that the Constitutional Rights in the Bill of Rights only applied to the federal government. Therefore modern Originalism really is flawed.“
Allow me to retort with the idea that I disagree. Yes, interpretations have changed over time, but they have not garnered us anything. The thing to remember is that the government has not provided us with Rights. The only thing that has changed is the willingness to adhere to Constitutional provisions. This point alone actually negates the rest of his position entirely. Allow me to explain.
Let us get some verbiage squared away first. In the context of United States constitutional interpretation, Originalism is a principle of interpretation that views the constitution’s meaning as fixed at the time of enactment. Also, in this discussion, we must understand that an interpretation is nothing more than a stylistic representation of a fact. It may NOT necessarily be its original intent.
Yes, we could talk about Selective incorporation, Article VI – Clause 2, Marbury v. Madison (1803), etc. You need to understand that this is entirely irrelevant to my point. To appreciate the truth behind the Bill of Rights, a few things must be understood.
- It is simply a fact that the American Bill of Rights was inspired by Thomas Jefferson. So it is probably a good idea to listen to what he has to say on the matter.
- The Bill of Rights was eventually drafted by James Madison
- The Bill of Rights became the law of the land in 1791.
- The phrase “law of the land” is a legal term equivalent to the Latin lex terrae, or legem terrae, in the accusative case. It refers to all of the laws in force within a country or region, including common law.
- Any statute or other law can only be made in pursuance of the constitution. Thomas Jefferson said, “Every law consistent with the constitution will have been made in pursuance of the powers granted by it. Every usurpation or law repugnant to it cannot have been made in pursuance of its powers. The latter will be nugatory and void.” (Thomas Jefferson, Elliot, p. 4:187-88.) This may sound familiar by now, but this actually backed up in Marbury vs. Madison, 5 US 137 (1803), which states that “A Law repugnant to the Constitution is void.“
- A true Right exists in the absence of authority and will not naturally infringe upon the Rights of another, and does not cost money.
That said, let me express that this law student made the case that “It is an established fact that the bill of rights was drafted to only pertain to the federal government. States could enact their own bill of rights, and many did. However, states were free to deny protections of the bill of rights prior to incorporation. Many of them did, and many did not. But the fact remains that without modern interpretation and incorporation the federal bill of rights would have no bearing on the state governments.“
Established fact? It is also an established fact that Mount Everest is the tallest mountain in the world. It still does not make it accurate. This is because the actual fact is that Mauna Kea beats it by about 4,400 feet. It is also an established fact that humans have five senses. Again, not true. Pesky little details. The details matter in this case as well.
The 9th Amendment clarifies that “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.“
The 10th Amendment clarifies that “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 Bill of Rights is the Law of the Land. The Law of the Land states that the enumeration of the constitution is not supposed to be interpreted in such a way that it would or could deny or disregard the Rights of the PEOPLE. It further states that the powers not enumerated in the constitution and not made illegal by it or by the states… are left to the PEOPLE themselves.
We all must understand that it does not matter whether any state does or does not recognize it or would or would not adhere to it. Your Rights exist regardless of anyone’s approval and in both the presence or absence of authority. Rights are NOT privileges – even if the vast majority are tricked into believing so or following along. Ignoring this fact does not make it any less accurate. Yes, some states have successfully contorted this by interpreting it all in such a way that it fits their agenda. Yes, law enforcement officers (who have sworn an oath to defend the constitution but have never actually read it) have enforced unconstitutional orders and laws handed down by the governments they serve. However, this is not only a violation of the oath they took but also a violation of the Founder’s intent. It still does not make it legal because all laws repugnant to the constitution are void.
Let me address these modern interpretations for a moment. Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to Judge William Johnson from Monticello on June 12, 1823, that says that “On every question of construction [of the Constitution] let us carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or intended against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed.” In other words – knock it off!
What the state either does or does not do is irrelevant. The PEOPLE are what the Bill of Rights was for, not the state. This was stated clearly by Jefferson and others. Thomas Jefferson said the following:
“It would have been much more just and wise to have concluded the other way that as most of the states had judiciously preserved this palladium, those who had wandered should be brought back to it, and to have established general right instead of general wrong. Let me add that a bill of rights is what the people are entitled to against every government on earth, general or particular, and what no just government should refuse, or rest on inference (Jefferson, 1787).“
No government (local, state or federal) can interfere with the Bill of Rights, said the guy who inspired it. This is not a “philosophical” debate. Philosophical debates allow for interpretations that take away rights. If you doubt this, then look around.
The second paragraph in the Declaration of Independence states, “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.“
- Definition of Men: a human being of either sex; a person
- Definition of endowed: to be given
- Definition of unalienable: cannot be licensed, altered, adjusted, traded, or taken away.
- Definition of Rights: a moral or legal entitlement
So basically, ALL HUMANS of EITHER SEX are created EQUAL. Their creator (not government and not religion specific) has given them moral and legal entitlements that cannot be licensed, altered, adjusted, traded, or taken away. These include life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (property).
Thomas Jefferson took it a step further (as demonstrated previously). He said that the Law of the Land (Bill of Rights) is what all humans automatically and permanently have AGAINST EVERY GOVERNMENT (which includes local, state, and federal) on earth, general or particular, and what no government which might behave according to what is morally right and fair would ever refuse.
This is, by definition, not interpretation. An interpretation is what stole the Rights from women, children, and people of color. Interpretation has denied elements of the Bill of Rights on the state level. It is an interpretation that has denied such rights to citizens and non-citizens alike.
The people, lawyers, courts, states, and feds have all screwed up quite a bit. That is not in debate. However, it does not take away from the purpose or point. Most of the opposing positions to my statements also come from those who believe that we reside in a Representative Democracy, which is part of the problem.
Many people today tend to believe that bulls do not like red, that penguins mate for life, that Napoleon Bonaparte was short, that people only use 10% of their brain or that the U.S. was intended to be a Christian Nation. Established facts? These are all false. Just because you believe them, or try to convince someone else to accept them along with you, does not mean they are true.
As made abundantly clear by the guy who inspired them, the rights listed in the Bill of Rights are not laws or privileges that can be handed out, taken away, or amended. They are ours and not exclusive to a particular state or people. Whether a state writes them down or abides by them does not affect whether I do or do not have them. We do not need any more modern interpretations of falsehoods and contorted (and often bigoted) case law. Instead, perhaps we should try something radical for a change, something never actually tried before, like strict adherence.
Something important to note is that a right is not provided by authority or even the constitution, meaning it does not require an investment of capital or labor from someone else. It is what you have with you at birth, a birthright, a right available to you upon birth and provided to you by your creator (whoever that might be). In a Republic like the United States, a government is supposed to merely protect the unalienable rights of the citizenry.
Licenses and Permits for ANYTHING attached to an unalienable right (firearms, speech, religion, etc.) are, without a doubt, unconstitutional. We know this because the definition of license or permit is “official permission for something that would otherwise be illegal.” However, in this country, an unalienable right cannot be illegal, and it is supposed to be the government’s number one function to pursue certain protections of said rights. Welcome to America – where this has been forgotten.
You can know this to be true because as a representative from Virginia to the First Congress, James Madison proposed that “Government is instituted and ought to be exercised for the benefit of the people; which consists in the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the right of acquiring and using property, and generally of pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety (Ames, 1897).” These words would eventually help form the Bill of Rights.
The Bill of Rights is not a comprehensive list of rights available to us. The Ninth and Tenth Amendments make that clear. Furthermore, these rights include the right to privacy, the right to protect my family and me how I see fit, the right to die on my terms if I so choose, the right to marry as I see fit, the right to be in a mutually agreed upon relationship with whomever I prefer to have said the relationship with. The government is not supposed to provide a license or permit for such actions; doing so violates the spirit of the constitution.
On the other side of this coin are privileges. A privilege is a special advantage, benefit, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group of people. A right is not a privilege, and privilege is not a right. We know this because not everyone is given or can partake in benefits or privileges.
When I think of this, I think of things like entitlements or healthcare. Healthcare is not a right, especially when it is government-assisted. We know this because it simply would not exist in the absence of authority or some other institution. Things like the ACA are unconstitutional because it requires that someone’s rights be infringed upon to achieve its goal. That being said, pursuing healthcare is a right, but whether or not you get, it depends upon your means.
In a similar vein, education is not a right, but the pursuit of it is. No one can stop you from learning, but nobody has to provide it for you, and nobody should be forced to provide it to you because that could potentially infringe upon their rights or the rights of another. However, this comes with a warning from one of our most influential Found Fathers. Thomas Jefferson made it clear that an uneducated society would be unable to preserve the Republic. He told James Madison, “Above all things, I hope the education of the common people will be attended to.”
In 1814, Thomas Jefferson told Peter Carr, “It is highly interesting to our country, and it is the duty of its functionaries, to provide that every citizen in it should receive an education proportioned to the condition and pursuits of his life.” It is interesting to note that Thomas Jefferson believed such education should be paid for with public funds because the public directly benefits from having an educated class. For example, in 1786, Thomas Jefferson told George Wythe that “The tax which will be paid for [the] purpose [of education] is not more than the thousandth part of what will be paid to kings, priests and nobles who will rise up among us if we leave the people in ignorance.” Sure, times have changed. However, even the most conservative thinkers would likely still agree that if a community is directly benefiting (roads, police, hospitals, etc.) from the higher tax burden placed upon our educated sons or daughters, then that community must also be obligated to help in that investment.
Everyone is indeed born equal. This is something that our nation prides itself on. However, this does not mean equal things; it means equal opportunity and fair investments upon clear return. For example, we all have the right to self-protection, but we are not all provided firearms to facilitate that protection. If we were, we would all be obligated to participate in the necessary protection. Someone with a nice home worked hard to achieve their goal of homeownership. Someone who does not work or does not want to work should not be provided the same property, having not provided the same sweat investment. Similarly, we should not be directly benefiting from an education we did not invest in. So, as a society, either education must become our obligation, or the higher tax burden placed upon the shoulders of the educated should be reduced to match that of non-educated persons.
BILL OF RIGHTS AND NON- U.S. CITIZENS
One thing that we should all be aware of is the traps that are set by those who seek to destroy our Rights. It is pretty easy to do. As you may already know, adding a little controversy to an issue can create an environment where people demand their rights be taken away. The education debate is a perfect example of this, but let me provide you with two other great examples.
The first example would be Roe v. Wade. Individuals demanded the right to choose. This ultimately led to the overturning of Roe v. Wade. As a result, the power to choose was handed back to the states rather than being federally regulated. However, a controversy was injected into the issue, and the same people who demanded the right to choose demanded that the federal government reclaim the power, ultimately resulting in less control by the states. Of course, it might be too soon to appreciate this example fully, so I will move on to the next one.
Not long ago, the 7th Circuit Court panel ruled unanimously that the term the people in the Second Amendment’s guarantee that the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed also applies to those in the country illegally (Richmond, 2016). This made a lot of people very upset. If you are one of these folks, I want to caution you: you are being set up.
Why? The ruling conflicts with opinions from three other federal appellate courts in recent years that found the Second Amendment does not apply to people in the country illegally. Adding to the rub is the current immigration debate, which has done a relatively decent job dividing the nation. Still, what you are about to read will surely challenge your Constitutionalism. The 7th Court is CORRECT, and you should celebrate it.
As Constitution-loving Americans, we understand that Rights are given to us by Our Creator. This means that we are born with them, and the government does not provide them. Therefore the government cannot take them away. Collectively, we have tried to spread this message worldwide for some time now. However, we need to understand this little detail first because Rights are not provided upon Naturalization; only privileges are.
In other words, and once again, the Bill of Rights are not privileges to be handed out. They are Natural Rights. They are unalienable Rights to be embraced by anyone who considers themselves to be a sovereign person. We must understand that there is a vast difference between a Right and a privilege. Privilege is something that a government or court can rule on or license. Therefore they are also things that an authority figure can take away. So understand that if you support the idea of taking away someone’s Rights based on status, there is a good chance that you’re participating in turning your right into a privilege; and, in doing so, creating the opportunity to get yours taken away or infringed upon by those who have tried to desperately to do so for years. Now imagine why we have so many gun laws today.
The problem is that most people do not understand terms like unalienable or sovereign, or Right and how they apply. Many are also so dead set on the contortion sold to them that they cannot see the application or intent and hurt themselves in the process. As a result, people often defeat their goals by simply subscribing to the contortion.
For example, some have suggested that a firearm must be locked up at all times or face criminal charges. Some have suggested that people need a license or permit to carry a gun, even if they cannot afford the permit. The only problem with ideas like this is that they are associated with privileges via payment, not Rights. U.S. District Judge Anthony Ishii recently stated, “One cannot exercise the Right to keep and bear arms, without actually possessing a firearm (Ishii, 2016).”
Understand that if we were to support the Foundation’s intent regarding the Second, we would not be subject to laws, permits, infringing limitations, or even confiscations. However, we are now subject to the associated actions because we exercise the Second as though it were a privilege. The answer is simple, and it has been staring us in the face the entire time.
The truth is that any Constitution or Foundation-loving American should understand that ANY enumerated Right within the Bill of Rights (including the Second) is what ANYONE is entitled to against every government on earth, general or particular, and what no just government should refuse, or rest on inference – and this is regardless of where they happen to be in the universe or where they happen to be from. Don’t believe me? Well, most of what I just said was Thomas Jefferson’s words.
“Let me add that a bill of rights is what the people are entitled to against every government on earth, general or particular, and what no just government should refuse, or rest on inference.” Jefferson to Madison, December 20, 1787, in PTJ, 12:440.
The Second is a Natural Right. We know this because EVERYONE has the Natural Right to protect themselves. This means that it would not make sense for ANYONE to have to get a license or permit to exercise this right, as both are, by definition, just pieces of paper expressing official permission for something that would otherwise be illegal. And since exercising this right is not supposed to be unlawful according to the constitution, anyone should be able to exercise their right without such permissions.
Like most things, if we followed the constitution, most of our problems would be solved. Remember, folks, this was not, is not, and should not be a democracy, and the people would do well to stop treating it like one. For clarity – the Bill of Rights is for everyone who embraces them (as stated by the Founders) because they are not government-provided. They are not exclusive to any particular people or location as they are considered Natural Rights – a Deist term which once again means “Provided by your Creator Upon Birth” (Robertson, 2016). Our Founders also called them unalienable – as stated before, this term means they cannot be licensed, adjusted, altered, traded, or taken away.
I often say that you cannot support, defend or even exercise something you do not fully understand. However, this is America, a land filled with people who think the Constitution and Bill of Rights revolve around only them; a nation filled with people who feel free to exercise their rights as long as someone else does not exercise their own.
I guess that is what made guys like Paine, Jefferson, and Franklin so great and what makes modern America so tragic. “You can’t have a gun, but give me my social security!” – said no Founding Father. We would do well to remember that our Founders created the constitution as a list of things the government could not do, and they enumerated (listed out) the Bill of Rights as a reminder of what the people should always exercise and what the government could not take away.
If I could have you take away one thing from this article, it would be as follows: Rights are inherent to everyone. They are not privileges to be sold, handed out, or taken away. If you consider what I have said here to be true, I want you to do me a favor. Imagine all who have had their Rights taken away for arbitrary or infantile reasons. Where is their defense? Where is their justice? Where is your outcry?
Of course, everyone on earth has rights, and we should all stand up in defense of those rights. Like I said earlier, I am very Voltarish in the idea that while I disagree with what someone says, I will defend their right to say it. I encourage you to do the same. However, we should be mindful of what our rights are.
Many people THINK they have certain rights when the truth is that they do not. Others think they are having their rights trampled upon when they are not. The rest are just oblivious all the way around. We must all examine the things we are told and the things we believe. It is a must if we wish to level-set.
A few great examples of this point might be the contortions we are told about offensive language, firearms, or women in the workplace. I will close this article with a few simple statements having these points in mind. First, you do not have the right to stifle free speech or create “free speech zones” because you do not like what is being said and do not have the right not to be offended. Second, every firearm law is unconstitutional, no matter how safe such laws make you feel. I recommend that men and women of any color and nationality exercise their right to self-protection whenever possible. I recommend the documentary “Assaulted: Civil Rights Under Fire.” Ice-T narrates it, and it provides some tremendous insight. Third, you do not have the right to force someone else to perform a service or task for you, regardless of your reasoning, because this equates to slavery. Finally, the realities about women in the workplace are not what you have been sold. You should look into that.