Bill of Rights a forgotten document

After fighting a war to win liberty from a tyrannical government, Anti-Federalists — a faction of our Founding Fathers led primarily by Patrick Henry distrustful of a strong national government — pushed for amendments to the Constitution to identify fundamental natural rights and civil liberties.  Such a Bill of Rights, they believed, was necessary because of the known propensity of governments generally to usurp powers not delegated to it.  

Yet some, such as James Madison, initially fought such a move, based on the principle that there is no need to say what a government cannot do, because that could imply it can do everything else. 

In the final analysis, however, Madison took the lead in the Congress in support of the first ten amendments to the Constitution as the Bill of Rights, because not to do so likely would have doomed the entire process.  He therefore, but reluctantly, drafted 12 proposals to settle concerns of Anti-Federalists; 10 were initially ratified. 

The political and legal battles pitting individual liberties against growing government power have been waged ever since; even to the 112th Congress set to convene within days.  Historically and currently, government has notched far more victories on its belt than has the citizenry.  Clearly, one reason for the continued growth of government power – and the necessarily corresponding reduction in individual liberty – has been the growing public misunderstanding of the intended role of government and the distressing ignorance of our Constitution itself. 

According to a survey conducted earlier this month for the Bill of Rights Institute by Harris Interactive, for example, nearly half of the American people – some 42 percent — believe that the communist phrase “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” is part of one of the more important documents in American history. Through ignorance and forgotten history, Karl Marx has morphed into James Madison in the mind of the American people. 

Other aspects of the survey are equally disconcerting, though not necessarily surprising. Fifty-five percent do not realize that education is not a First Amendment right; despite no such guarantee anywhere in either the Bill of Rights or the body of the original Constitution. 

Only 20 percent can identify the Tenth Amendment as the part of the Bill of Rights that reserves powers not expressly authorized in the Constitution to the states or the people themselves. And a stunning 60 percent could not recognize the powers of the government deriving from the consent of the governed as a unique American principle. 

As the lack of understanding of fundamental rights fades away, so too will the Rule of Law. Rights will be treated as permissions granted by the government, and the pendulum will continue to swing toward statism. 

In this coming New Year, perhaps we can all resolve to do more to raise awareness to the documents that protect the liberties we have so fortunately lived under. But I’m not sure I would urge holding one’s breath waiting for such enlightenment to take place.

- by Bob Barr, The Barr Code

130 comments Add your comment

Brad

January 1st, 2011
3:05 pm

“Slavery was on its way out anyway…”

I’m curious, Winfield, to know how you came to this conclusion.

Michael H. Smith

January 1st, 2011
3:13 pm

Viet Vet

January 1st, 2011
11:16 am

Your personal attacks entertain only you, they have little consequence now and will have less in the future. Teddy Roosevelt was accused of brewing a witch’s potion that included socialism in a very comical political cartoon. We are not a Democracy and I understood what Stiglitz said, you missed the meaning of what I wrote obviously. Do you understand that a regulated Capitalist market as I wrote, is a “fettered capitalism”. It truly appear you don’t.

For anyone who wants another opinion they can do their own research without your insistence or inferences.

As I certainly do.

Say goodnight Brucie…

Kamchak

January 1st, 2011
3:16 pm

Your personal attacks entertain only you…

Who granted you the authority to speak for anyone other than yourself?

Ted Striker

January 1st, 2011
3:28 pm

Timely words for the new year. Thank you for sharing.

Michael H. Smith

January 1st, 2011
3:28 pm

Who granted you the authority to speak for anyone other than yourself?

The same source that gave you authority to attack me.

People generally will tolerate an attack or argument leveled at an issue otherwise the attack is of little value, when you can’t kill the message in turn then kill the messenger.

Richard

January 1st, 2011
3:30 pm

Hey BB,
You were on my flight a while back where there were a small group of service members on the flight. I think everyone should know that when the flight pulled up to the gate that the pilot asked everyone to please let the service members exit the plane first as a symbolic gesture to pay our respects for their service. But Bob Barr was up there grabbing his bags and refusing to let the service members exit first. Clearly you’re pretty proud of yourself and humility isn’t a concept that you embrace. Stay classy, my friend.

Kamchak

January 1st, 2011
3:34 pm

The same source that gave you authority to attack me.

I haven’t attacked you, sport but you seem to have assumed the official spokesperson for everyone on this thread with your use of the words “only you.”

I am merely questioning who was it that granted you the authority to make such an exclusive statement.

Michael H. Smith

January 1st, 2011
3:37 pm

I haven’t attacked you, sport but you seem to have assumed the official spokesperson for everyone on this thread with your use of the words “only you.”

I am merely questioning who was it that granted you the authority to make such an exclusive statement.

According to you, perhaps… sport.

Bill

January 1st, 2011
3:40 pm

1 – The biggest threat to our individual rights is our own fear. Of course, government has played on these fears. In seeking greater personal security, we willingly give up liberty.

2 – Conservatives seem to think that the greatest threat to our liberty is government regulation. I think the greatest threat probably comes from government protection. (We will keep you safe, but we need to search you with no reason, in case you are a terrorist.)

3 – “the powers of the government deriving from the consent of the governed as a unique American principle.” Actually, this is not true. This idea comes from Hobbes and Locke, a hundred years before our revolution. We were the first to actualize the idea.

Kamchak

January 1st, 2011
3:42 pm

According to you, perhaps… sport.

Nope, according to you.

Michael H. Smith

January 1st, 2011
3:13 pm

Viet Vet

January 1st, 2011
11:16 am

Your personal attacks entertain only you…

Did you poll everyone here and arrive at a consensus about whether or not they were entertained?

Michael H. Smith

January 1st, 2011
3:58 pm

Did you poll everyone here and arrive at a consensus about whether or not they were entertained?

Did you, or have you anything of substance? An unending “by who’s authority chase” and what is entertaining to who isn’t worth continuing.

Michael H. Smith

January 1st, 2011
4:12 pm

Bill, item (1) has merit, at times government seems to create crisis when it wants to rush something into law. Item (2) government regulation when it is use properly is necessary, when it is used to grab power for government is when the threat becomes real. Item (3) you are right in that much was borrowed in compiling the constitution and implementing all this is unique. I saw something yesterday Madison said that furthered the point as he mentioned the work of creating the constitution was not his alone.

HistoryTeachesUs

January 1st, 2011
4:28 pm

If one studies the history of the major republics and movements throughout the world, you will notice one main reoccurring fact. Major world powers only hold that power for approximately 200 years. Even the great Roman Empire fell. The United States as we know it will suffer the same fate as other great societies, unless we as the people take back over our government. Absolute power corrupts absolutely! If we don’t take back the power from the politicians, our nation will fall, like all of the other great societies in history!

margaret

January 1st, 2011
4:35 pm

In high school I never learned a thing about the Constitution. The teachers were really not teaching about important things that make this country great.

dave

January 1st, 2011
5:20 pm

The Constitution, like the Bible, is open to interpretation – we can never know what the authors of both truly had in mind. So we have a nation of anarchists who have no moral compasses: it’s a wonder we’ve made to 2011. God, or whatever, bless America.

Michael H. Smith

January 1st, 2011
10:46 pm

The U.S. Constitution: The Source of ALL Authority

“If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude than the animated contest of freedom, go from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen!” – Samuel Adams

http://www.dakotavoice.com/2010/12/the-u-s-constitution-the-source-of-all-authority/

Marlboro Man

January 2nd, 2011
3:09 am

Smith is full of crap

syzito

January 2nd, 2011
9:37 am

Liberals always smear those that they can’t debate using facts and logic.Democrats use hype and spin to hide the fact that they do not have a logical argument against certain issues.Obama is an example and so was Bill Clinton during his term as president.

Dcmatthew

January 2nd, 2011
9:44 am

I love how libs like to act like all conservatives were behind Bush’s abuse of power. There was a reason Bush’s approval ratings got so low and wasn’t because Dems didn’t like him they never voted for him. He lost the support of his party not to mention independent conservatives and blue dogs. Joe Bidden was the leading author of the patriot act and Obama has extended it and club Getmo is still open. Bush promised to be a true conservertaive unlike his father and got huge support when he cut taxes for all americans, by the way only accomblishment Obama has made that had majority supports was extending those cuts. Bush’s lost support after he started expanding goverment. Conservatives don’t change and they dont all have R’s by their names poloticians change, Bush was no conservative.

Michael H. Smith

January 2nd, 2011
9:49 am

Federalist 45

The powers delegated by the Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in state governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce…The powers reserved to the several states will extend to all objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the states. - James Madison

Federalist 41

Some, who have not denied the necessity of the power of taxation, have grounded a very fierce attack against the Constitution, on the language in which it is defined. It has been urged and echoed, that the power “to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises, to pay the debts, and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States,” amounts to an unlimited commission to exercise every power which may be alleged to be necessary for the common defense or general welfare. No stronger proof could be given of the distress under which these writers labor for objections, than their stooping to such a misconstruction.

Had no other enumeration or definition of the powers of the Congress been found in the Constitution, than the general expressions just cited, the authors of the objection might have had some color for it; though it would have been difficult to find a reason for so awkward a form of describing an authority to legislate in all possible cases. A power to destroy the freedom of the press, the trial by jury, or even to regulate the course of descents, or the forms of conveyances, must be very singularly expressed by the terms “to raise money for the general welfare.”

But what color can the objection have, when a specification of the objects alluded to by these general terms immediately follows, and is not even separated by a longer pause than a semicolon? If the different parts of the same instrument ought to be so expounded, as to give meaning to every part which will bear it, shall one part of the same sentence be excluded altogether from a share in the meaning; and shall the more doubtful and indefinite terms be retained in their full extent, and the clear and precise expressions be denied any signification whatsoever? For what purpose could the enumeration of particular powers be inserted, if these and all others were meant to be included in the preceding general power? Nothing is more natural nor common than first to use a general phrase, and then to explain and qualify it by a recital of particulars. But the idea of an enumeration of particulars which neither explain nor qualify the general meaning, and can have no other effect than to confound and mislead, is an absurdity, which, as we are reduced to the dilemma of charging either on the authors of the objection or on the authors of the Constitution, we must take the liberty of supposing, had not its origin with the latter. - James Madison

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 or to the people.’ To take a single step beyond the boundaries thus specially drawn around the powers of Congress, is to take possession of a boundless field of power, not longer susceptible of any definition.

…Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but only those specifically enumerated(Specified individually). - Thomas Jefferson

Our tenet ever was…that Congress had not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but were restrained to those specifically enumerated, and that, as it was never meant that they should provide for that welfare but by the exercise of the enumerated powers, so it could not have been meant they should raise money for purposes which the enumeration did not place under their action; consequently, that the specification of powers is a limitation of the purposes for which they may raise money. - Thomas Jefferson

~

It is hard to reason that the precise purpose and meaning of the Constitution is unobtainable when the actual men who played such a great part as authors in writing the document clearly spoke of its’ purpose and meaning in a number of their other writings of that time to dispose of open interpretations and usurpations, used then as now, to grab unlimited powers that were never granted by the Constitution to the limited federal government, isn’t it Mr. Barr?

[...] Bill of Rights a forgotten document | The Barr Code. [...]

Kamchak

January 2nd, 2011
4:02 pm

There was a reason Bush’s approval ratings got so low…

Yeah, that 51% overall average is such a cross to bear.

:roll:

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Julia Adair, Bill of Rights Insti. Bill of Rights Insti said: Bill of Rights a forgotten document – shocking results from a recent study http://t.co/SVEddfh [...]

MarkV

January 2nd, 2011
7:15 pm

syzito: “Liberals always smear those that they can’t debate using facts and logic.”
One does not need anything more to recognize someone with limited brain power.

MarkV

January 2nd, 2011
7:19 pm

HistoryTeachesUs: “If we don’t take back the power from the politicians, …”
An typical example of drivel one hears so much around now. We take power from the politicians? And give them to whom? The people? How?

Michael H. Smith

January 2nd, 2011
10:57 pm

The people did take back power in the last election and have entrusted it to a new guard. Soon we shall see if the new guard sent to Congress remains faithful to secure our expressed objectives. The people remain the sole owners of power. For that reason power must be derived from our hands. In all cases, at all times, the people are never without the remedy to resolve an obstinate contrarian government or even the emergence of despotism of any form.

T minus two days and counting.

Martin Sloan

January 3rd, 2011
3:28 am

As usual, the stooges for the wealthy have only contempt for those they have in their care. The wealthy are winning and stooges like this guy are leading the way. The wealthy want only one thing ‘More’ any questions? The wealthy ruled Rome, and have ruled before and ever since. The poor are for use and abuse. JFK, FDR started the reform movement and as usual JFK was assasinated for it as was his brother(as was Marius,obscure reference). Anyone dependent on SSI, Medicare and Medicaid is by definition a democrat. Anyone thinking they are a republicon while dependent on SSI, Medicare, or Medicaid is a fool. Here are the reasons. The wealthy never need these services, they are completely without need of public assistance. The wealthy given the opportunity to keep their money, in fact, will. The only way to make the wealthy spend their money is to tax it. Why? How? If a wealthy person is made to pay taxes on their income they will find a useful way to keep from paying those taxes. They are considered loop holes. However, a common loop hole could fund new green energy and it’s assosiated industries while reducing the taxable income of some billionaire and paying the wages of a greater stable middle class. Giving The wealthy the right to keep their wealth while exploiting the people and country of their birth is insane. They are given specific rights they take the rights of others with money and then spit on the middle class exclaiming “We are the Aristocracy and you peasants owe us the life style we enjoy!” This is fundementally untrue. The wealthy owe their wealth to the people. There are no rights to despotism.

Martin Sloan

January 3rd, 2011
3:30 am

OOps a typo in there…forgive please..

Michael H. Smith

January 3rd, 2011
4:28 am

Wonder when the intelligentsia of the left will learn their own socialist history? LOL

The father of their pee-gressive agenda was Woodrow Wilson, he started the socialist ball rolling down hill. An elite aristocrat. Not exactly a pulpier, neither was FDR.
Unfortunately, they both choose to transform, not reform the country. That brings to mind another fellow doesn’t? Now who said he would transform America? Oh yeah, that is the present dear leader Comrade Obumer.

Problem with these socialist guys is they think observing or ignore the Constitution is an option. Good thing the newly elected House intends to see that they observe it to the letter of the enumerated powers given to the Congress. Might even challenge a few of these regulations that go beyond the enumeration. To bad for them the commerce clause will no longer serve as their Carte’ Blanche for all the socialist welfare goodies they want to redistribute.

Word has it, shellac futures are looking good on the commodities market with a delivery date of Nov. 2012.

Bye for now, stock up on popcorn, soda, other munchies before the slowdown-showdown show begins.

Chili Dogg

January 5th, 2011
12:35 pm

>Jeb wrote:
>Bob: Funny you had not problem with this under the Bush admin.

Jeb, you haven’t been paying attention. Barr was very critical of actions by the Bush Administration, esp. the Patriot Act. Check http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob_Barr#Criticism_of_Bush_Administration to get enlightened. In 2005, Barr formed “a bipartisan group dedicated to eliminating aspects of the Patriot Act that could potentially affect law-abiding citizens rather than terrorists”. Your claim is factually incorrect. I’ll look for your correction.

>Big Dim aka Big Jim wrote: “To beat a dead horse, Bob Barr proudly used OUR MONEY to get >Bill Clinton for lying about having an affair. I repeat, Bob Barr proudly used OUR MONEY to get Bill >Clinton for lying about having an affair.”

Bill Clinton committed perjury in a sworn deposition and obstruction of justice. It seems unimportant to you that the President committed perjury and obstruction of justice, but the legal authorities thought otherwise. Per Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Clinton#Lewinsky_scandal):

“In 2000 the Arkansas Supreme Court’s Committee on Professional Conduct called for Clinton’s disbarment, saying he lied about his affair with Monica Lewinsky.

“In January 2001 Clinton reached an agreement under which he was ordered to pay $25,000 in fines to Arkansas state’s bar officials and his Arkansas law license was suspended for five years.[80] The agreement came on the condition that Whitewater prosecutors would not pursue federal perjury charges against him.[81] Clinton was suspended by the Supreme Court in October 2001, and, facing disbarment from that court, Clinton resigned from the Supreme Court bar in November.[82]”

His testimony was in connection with a sexual harassment case against him. So do you think that it’s OK to commit perjury and obstruction of justice because “it’s just about sex”?

Maybe you just forgot those facts – assuming you ever knew them. Or maybe you think it’s OK for a Democrat to break the law. I’m sure you would be so charitable towards a Republican who did the same thing. I’ll look for your correction.

Chili Dogg