Constitutional Sound Bites

What was the true purpose of the Bill of Rights?

In this political season, it seems appropriate to remind politicians of the true purpose of the Bill of Rights. To make the point, I have selected “sound bites” from each of the first ten amendments:

  1. Congress shall make no law…
  2. …the right of the people…shall not be infringed.
  3. …without the consent of the owner…
  4. The right of the people…shall not be violated…
  5. No person shall be held…nor shall be compelled…nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property…nor shall private property be taken…
  6. …enjoy the right…
  7. …no fact…re-examined…
  8. Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
  9. The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
  10. 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, written in easily understood language, amounts to little more than two typewritten pages, yet politicians seem to forget (or not know) that it primarily restricts the powers of the government. It does not convey rights; it protects them.

Despite all this evidence, legislators focus on phrases like “…but upon probable cause,…” in the 4th amendment to craft monstrosities like the “Patriot” Act.

How does the phrase “…nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.” in the 5th Amendment square with the federal income tax (or any tax).

On the other side, one word you cannot find in the Constitution: Democracy. So, from where do all these cries to “save our democracy” come?

Maybe the Presidential candidates should keep the Constitution in mind.

One thought on “Constitutional Sound Bites

  1. This article is an excellent invitation to discuss its points with friends, neighbors, and maybe even some relatives.

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