December 15, 2006
Happy Birthday, Bill of Rights!
"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."
– Thomas Jefferson, Letter to James Madison, Dec. 20, 1787
Today marks the 215th anniversary of the Bill of Rights. Every person in America knows it is comprised of the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution, some more than others. You furrners know, of course, that as the greatest country in the universe we're pretty proud of James Madison's humble little framework. Despite his advanced age, the Bill (or The Billster, as I like to call him) is still somewhat prominent today, though in a conceptual sense. As I understand, the original was destroyed after two copies were made - one by rolling a big wad of Silly Putty over the parchment, peeling it back and mounting it on the ceiling above Ruth Bader-Ginsburg's indoor pool. There it can only be read by keeping totally still and thinking pure thoughts. The other has the words - and man, there's a bunch of them - etched into granite and placed in Antonin Scalia's billiard room, where hyphenated bitch Justices with lead pipes are expressly forbidden from tinkering with it.
Anyway, Libertarian policy wonk Adam B. Summers writes in today's Orange County Register that the poor old BOR ain't what she used to be. He cites TJ himself in maintaining that among the 10 original amendments, Old No. 10 is the most important of them all, not to mention a damn good sour mash recipe.
Jefferson wrote in 1791:
"I consider the foundation of the Constitution as laid on this ground: 'That all 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'. To take a single step beyond the boundaries thus specifically drawn around the powers of Congress, is to take possession of a boundless field of power, no longer susceptible to any definition."To which Summers adds this analysis:
"The Anti-Federalists (like Jefferson) were, sadly, prescient in their criticisms of government power under the Constitution and the tendency of men and women of ambition to find ways to expand that power at the expense of the governed. The founders must be spinning in their graves. Nearly everything the government does today is unconstitutional under the system they instituted. Governmental powers were expressly limited; individual liberties were not. Now it seems it is the other way around."
What's a poor civilian to do?
They did a good job building something that would be flexible enough not to snap over time.
What's a poor civilian to do?
Write your congressman and let him know you won't be needing any more laws, but thanks, he can go back to getting to know the interns a little better and leave the Constitution alone.
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