a union of Free states
A Californian's View
The First Ten Amendments
Error of Presumption and Misunderstanding -
The first ten Amendments to the Constitution are commonly, but erroneously called the "Bill of Rights". The phrase "Bill of Rights" does not exist in ANY founding document of our Republic.
The contemporaneous understanding of the first ten amendments was that these amendments would assure the PROPER construction of the main body of delegation and prohibition of powers at the hand of the people who would govern. It was well understood at the origin that all individual rights under our new philosophy for self-government are inherent at birth, and are not within the power of any "government" to "grant" and that all American governments were created to preserve our inherent rights, our liberty of free exercise and our self-determination as individuals and as a society.
All aspects of the Constitution are to be construed in reference to the Purpose for American Government established by our initial founding document, "The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America". The examples of "rights" and "freedoms" of the first ten amendments were provided to illustrate "PROPER" construction when any question of meaning should be asked.
For instance, if the Constitution is totally silent upon a question, the First Amendment is explicit that "Congress shall make no law" and asserts certain inherent rights concerning which Congress CANNOT make any law.
And for instance, where the Constitution addresses a question, but does not offer explicit guidance, the Second Amendment provides the guidance necessary for proper construction. Because certain properties of a free people are inherent, they necessarily must also have the unencumbered liberty to defend self and community and these rights shall not be infringed.
The remainder of these ten amendments address these same questions and provide a logic for the proper construction of the Constitution as a framework for laws and conduct of the federal and where appropriate, the state governments.
Without the essential concretion of the intent of the Declaration with the institutions of the Constitution, our delegated powers may be and have been deliberately twisted and misconstrued to our disadvantage and empoverishment.
OnLine References for this page:
Declaration of Independence
Congress of the United States begun and held at the City of New-York, on Wednesday the fourth of March, one thousand seven hundred and eighty nine.
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.
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.
In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
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.
These first ten amendments are considered incorporated as essential elements of the organic federal law, the Constitution. The minimum number of states' ratification was totally dependent upon the adoption of these first ten amendments, titled "Bill of Rights".
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