Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Rights Are Unalienable

The United States Supreme Court will soon rule on McDonald V. Chicago. The question in this case is whether or not the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution applies to States through incorporation under the Fourteenth Amendment. I don't understand why there is any doubt that the Second Amendment applies to the States. I also don't understand why the Fourteenth Amendment was needed? I do understand that states were denying rights to the newly freed slaves after the Civil War but I don't feel an Amendment was needed to protect their rights. Being free, they retained the same rights as all citizens of the United States. The United States of America was responsible for six percent of the slave trading in the world. While this is not a huge percentage, we brought them here against their will. Once freed, if they chose to remain they were citizens as much as any other freeman.

The first ten amendments are referred to as “The Bill of Rights.” These rights are a few of the unalienable rights that each person is endowed with by their Creator. At the time of the Ratification of the Constitution, a number of the states insisted the Bill of Rights be included. The preamble to the Bill of Rights reads, “The Conventions of a number of the States having at the time of their adoption of the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best insure the beneficent ends of its institution.” For some reason, this preamble is often left out of printouts of the Constitution. Amendment Nine reads, “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” In other words, the rights codified are not the only rights the people have. The Tenth Amendment reads, “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.” In other words, we, the States give the Federal Government some powers and we reserve some powers for ourselves. The rest we, the people, retain.

Let's use the Freedom of Speech as an example. Nothing in the Constitution gives Congress the authority to limit speech so there should be no need to tell them they can't make any law abridging the freedom of speech. The foresight of our founding fathers was amazing. Imagine how many more laws abridging the freedom of speech would exist had they not insisted on including the prohibition in the First Amendment? Now let's use the Second Amendment as an example. The Amendment reads, “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.” In other words, from time to time we are going to need a well trained militia to protect our security so Congress can't infringe on our unalienable right to keep and bear arms. Even with this strict prohibition, there are around twenty-thousand laws that do infringe our our right to keep and bear arms. As we've seen, some of our founding fathers trusted the government to abide by the Constitution and others didn't. These two groups of founders wanted the people to retain our unalienable rights.

There are people that believe that the Bill of Rights only applies to the Federal Government. It makes no sense to suggest that our founding fathers would forbid the Federal Government from making laws abridging Freedom of Speech but be fully accepting of a State doing just that. How could you exercise right to freely speak out if the State you live in abridges that right? Similarly and back to McDonald v. Chicago, how does it makes sense that our founding fathers would use such stringent words as “shall not be infringed” against the Federal Government but then think it okay for a city to completely ban handguns? I don't think they would and I've seen none of their writings that would suggest this was their intent. Their writings are quite the opposite. Thomas Jefferson said, “No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.” During Virginia's Convention to ratify the Constitution, George Mason, Co-author of the Second Amendment was asked “What is the militia?” His answer, “It is the whole people. To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them.” Patric Henry said, “The great object is that every man be armed.”and “Everyone who is able may have a gun.” Thomas Paine said, “The supposed quietude of a good man allures the ruffian; while on the other hand arms, like laws, discourage and keep the invader and plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as property. The same balance would be preserved were all the world destitute of arms, for all would be alike; but since some will not, others dare not lay them aside... Horrid mischief would ensue were the law-abiding deprived of the use of them.” Alexander Hamilton, “The best we can hope for concerning the people at large is that they be properly armed.”

During oral arguments of McDonald v. Chicago, the justices seemed open to the idea of incorporation under the Fourteenth Amendment with the understanding that “reasonable restrictions” could be enacted by the state legislatures for the betterment of society. Let's say a state legislature determines that because the great majority of crime in the inner cities is black on black crime, they are going to pass a reasonable restriction against blacks living in the inner cities. This type of law would obviously be a violation of the rights blacks and the justices would hopefully find this law unconstitutional. In Heller v. D.C., the majority agreed that reasonable restrictions were allowable and they will likely do the same in McDonald v. Chicago. How can they do this when the Second Amendment clearly says, “...shall not be infringed?” There is no equal protection under the law in this country.

1 comment:

  1. The rights exist, regardless of what some court says.

    When the governemnt takes unalienable rights, people change governments.

    4 Judges violated their oath. In violating the Constitution in the course of their official duties, they are guilty of Treason, and need to be held accountable for that. It's the law.

    Like illegals, if we keep letting them get away with it, then we'll encourage that behavior.