Published Brownsville Herald 9/13/2010
Freedom is a word that is in the media with regularity. We use it in many contexts usually describing something we either claim we have or hope we recover from some lost place.
My associates and I recently sponsored an essay competition related to freedoms and rights and Glen Beck led a Rally on the National Mall to “recover freedom” that attracted perhaps 500,000 or more attendees. We Libertarians claim that Freedom is the foundation on which our party stands.
What is this concept that is credited with being the moving force that is responsible for the birth of the United States?
How often have we heard, “I got my rights” Or “We are free people in the United States”. Where do our rights and freedoms come from and how are they assured to us year after year; has the nations concept changed over the last two hundred fifty plus years?
The first thirteen colonies were first settled primarily by people from England that wanted to be able to practice their religion without interference from the national religion “The Church of England”. As time went on the colonists established profitable businesses that sometimes became competitive with those in England or other enterprises owned by prominent friends of the Royalty. This resulted in extraordinary taxes and business concessions to benefit the friends of the politically powerful. We have similar circumstances today that Thomas Jefferson foresaw. He gave us an ominous warning in the form of suggestions which our politicians have ignored and for that we are now paying,
First was “My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government. “and then “I predict future happiness for
Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.”
It seems our courts and the Congress have misread the intents of the Constitution in their attempts to be too fair resulting in the losses of freedom for the most of our residents.
The polls relating to the leaders of two largest of the major parties are in the 30 percentage area which indicates that they don’t think either is representing us well. The third major party with poll access, The Libertarian Party is gaining daily. This is most likely that they have advocated the ideals of Jefferson all along.
At the time of the Revolution not unlike today’s sentiments taxes were on the minds of the public and ignored by the government.
One of the most disliked taxes was on tea, which was a beverage that most consumed. The first “Tea Party” was a protest of this tax by throwing a cargo of tea from a ship that had arrived at Boston Harbor. It was the first spark to ignite into the beginning of what was to become the United States. This is the idea that resulted in the Libertarians forming the “Tea Party” protests that have grown into a great grass roots movement.
The rights and freedoms we talk about still came from somewhere.
The document that explained the reason that the English colonies felt so strongly that they must risk their lives to establish their own government and the origins and a description of the rights and freedoms is in 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.
That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.
This asserts all men are created equal and have a right to life, freedom and the opportunity to seek happiness as they understand it. It also says that all the power the government has is granted by the people – the government does not grant power to the people, they already have it.
That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of
These ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it,
It also says that when the government oversteps its bounds the people have the right to abolish it and create another.
Our nation is based on the concept that these rights are granted by the Creator are unchallengeable and always exist for every one.
Later when the Articles of Confederation were being replaced by the Constitution, ten amendments describing personal freedoms that were held to be inalienable rights.
Originally, this Bill of Rights only limited the national government and did not apply to the states. But after the fourteenth Amendment was ratified in 1868, the Supreme Court began applying the provisions of the Bill of Rights — one by one — to the states. In 1925, the Supreme Court ruled that no state or local government could deny its citizens free-speech and free-press rights, described in the first amendment. More than that is in the first amendment as well.
It says *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 consists of five rights in one place. Our forefathers were so sensitive to the power of a national religion that they prohibited Congress from establishing one but did not prohibit each of the states from having a state religion and in fact nine of them did have state religions.
Further the “Bill of Rights” goes on:
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 defence.
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 re-examined 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.
Lastly, when you read the constitution you will note at the end of some articles: The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article. This means that Congress may make law to further define and set criteria to enforce the provisions. This would indicate that where the provision is not specified the power is reserved to the people or the states.
All our rights and freedoms start with our maker and are guaranteed by the government but it is our responsibility to take the necessary action to correct problems. Most frequently we accomplish this with our vote! We must also remember Amendment Ten; “any power not specifically delegated to Congress are held to the states or “We the people” .
It is our responsibility to carefully watch what the government does and take action when needed. Speak out and Vote out!
All these things are good until the judiciary starts fiddling with them. I don’t believe the intention was to make strong definitions to the Constitution that would change it for everyone but for the “several states” to make determinations that fit that state then if a resident there doesn’t like it they can move to Texas where they would keep it straight unless the people pass an amendment.
The courts have misapplied the concepts so poorly that we are on the edge of another revolution. I prey it will be the result of an election!