Sunday, June 25, 2017

Let’s Study The Constitution, Part V - Bill of Rights

By Susan Frickey, Center for Self-Governance student

By now you should be seeing a trend in our study of the Constitution.  The Articles set up the form and intent of the Federal Government along with the powers relegated to each branch. But many of the Framers believed this was inadequate for their peace of mind in ratifying this first-ever document. They believed eventually the Federal government would encroach on individual rights, as had happened throughout world history; a history they had intently studied for years before creating our constitutional republic. So in order to get on board with ratifying the Constitution, many of the signers demanded the inclusion of certain guarantees which became the first ten Amendments to the Constitution, commonly known as the Bill of Rights.
Language of Liberty

The amendments in the Bill of Rights guarantee the natural rights of INDIVIDUALS not the rights of certain groups of people.  

The Framers were extremely concerned about protecting the individual and his natural rights against the encroachment of a tyrannical Federal government. They wanted to be certain that individual rights were defined and protected in the official document, even though constraints on the Federal government had been outlined in the Articles.

So, in order to obtain enough signatures for ratification, the Bill of Rights was incorporated as part of the Constitution. The signers wanted the added protection of telling the Federal government to keep its hands off individual rights and freedoms. The States submitted one hundred eighty-nine suggestions. These were finally consolidated into the ten provisions now known as the Bill of Rights.

Lonnie D. Crockett writes, “In truth, the Bill of Rights is not a declaration of rights… it is a declaration of prohibitions against the Federal government. One will notice that Amendment 1 begins, ‘Congress shall make no law’.  The Bill of Rights is, again, the ‘keep your hands off’ declaration.” 

So, the purpose of the Bill of Rights was to limit the Federal government, not the People.  They are statements of what the government is prohibited from doing. They are not rights granted to the People by their government. The Signers of the Declaration had already established that inalienable rights are given to each natural-born person by our Creator and must not be violated, diminished or taken away by government. The first five words of the First Amendment, ‘Congress shall make no law’ reinforces the mission statement of inalienable rights established in the Declaration.

“The American Bill of Rights is a legacy from tens of thousands of Englishmen who suffered torture, hanging, beheading, imprisonment, exile and being burned alive in an effort to preserve those basic rights set forth in previous documents as far back as the Magna Carta of 1215.” ~from The Making of America

The First Amendment is as follows: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble; and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances”.

The persecution of religious practices in England was still fresh in the colonists’ minds. It was one of the most important motivating factors in the fight for independence. When the American government declared the First Amendment the supreme law of the land, it set the new nation apart from all others. It is the fundamental building block upon which our Republic rests.
And yet, by a strange perversion of this guarantee to the American people, the enemies of America cite the First Amendment as their protection and support while they attempt to dismantle our Republic piece by piece from within.

The First Amendment guarantees freedom to all Americans from Federal interference in most matters involving religion, speech, press, assembly and the petitioning of government. Remember that the next time you witness a Federal agency like the BLM or USFS create so-called ‘free speech zones.’ These ‘zones’ are actually free speech violations sponsored by our government – the very system We created to protect our natural rights.

It is up to us as Americans to learn our system and maintain our republic. Thomas Jefferson said, “The general (federal) government will tend to monarchy, which will fortify itself from day to day, instead of working its own cures.”

Therefore, it is not up to the politicians to ‘work its own cures’ and keep government within its proper boundaries. Historically, governments’ natural tendency is to grow bigger and bigger until the people are subservient to it. It is up to the People to defend their rights, hold government accountable and keep their republic intact.

John Adams wrote to his beloved Abigail, “Posterity! You will never know, how much it cost the present Generation, to preserve your Freedom! I hope you will make a good Use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in Heaven, that I ever took half the Pains to preserve it.”

Our study of The Bill of Rights will continue next week with the 2nd Amendment.

The Language of Liberty series is a collaborative effort of the Center for Self-Governance (CSG) Administrative Team. CSG is a non-profit, non-partisan educational organization, dedicated to training citizens in applied civics. The authors include administrative staff, selected students, and guest columnists. The views expressed by the authors are their own and may not reflect the views of CSG. Learn more at

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