Monday, December 15, 2014

Happy Bill of Rights Day!

In case many of our dear readers are unaware, December 15 is "Bill of Rights Day", established in 1941 by then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt, to commemorate the formal adoption of the first 10 Constitutional Amendments 150 years earlier.

Not that they teach this part in public schools anymore, but the anti-Federalists of the day were concerned that the newly-enacted government — despite Constitutionally-limited powers — would expand its grasp beyond the Framers' intentions, and insisted on additional restrictions. This is directly spelled out in the Preamble to the Bill of Rights:
The Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting 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 ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.
Ratified on this day, December 15, in the year 1791, the Bill of Rights was extraordinary in that it described what are now known as "negative rights" — it does not define what the people must be allowed to do; rather, it defines what the government may not do:
  • Congress shall make no law....
  • ... the right of the People ... shall not be infringed.
  • No Soldier shall ... be quartered in any house....
  • The right of the people ... shall not be violated....
  • No person shall be held to answer for a ... crime....

The Bill of Rights, especially the first five Amendments, are a big "No" to the government. It's not even a "you may not"; it's a gigantic "you shall not" — a difference those living under "may-issue" CCW permitting processes rather than "shall-issue" ones can appreciate. The Framers used the word "shall" for a reason.

Happy Bill of Rights Day, everyone!

Stay safe.

(H/T: David Codrea who also notes that no American media outlet or newspaper is acknowledging the significance of this day in history, nor are either of the major political parties. There is, however, an article about it on the Russian news site, Sputnik News. Go figure.)

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