IPFS Powell Gammill

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More About: Bill of Rights

Bill of Rights Day: December 15<sup>th</sup>

December 15th is Bill of Rights day. Not many people have heard of it. Nor is it a government holiday, not that that is unexpected as it would be celebrating a massive and absolute limit on government power. That is something no government tolerates once enough acquired power and enforcement apparatus have been established. But President Bush officially recognized this day as a reason to celebrate and reflect on the Bill of Rights, and that is what I intend to do.

It is a holiday that you should celebrate, for it is an affirmation of your rights not as a United States citizen, or a citizen of your state, but of your rights as a human being. For ALL humans have these rights outlined in the Bill of Rights as well as numerous others. [December 15th has been known as Bill of Rights Day since 1941 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed it as such, noting the 150th anniversary of this ratification. President Roosevelt urged all Americans to display the flag on this date, and to plan appropriate ceremonies honoring the occasion. In my home state of Arizona, the Governor has recognized this day, and it will be celebrated this weekend in the cities of Payson and Tucson.]

On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was published to announce not just our severance with the British Empire, the creation of a new nation, the launching of a civil war, the listing our grievances, which were many, against our prior rulers, but most importantly, yet most often overlooked, stated the Rights of Individuals. Among these Rights were the right to our own lives, our liberty to pursue our life and our pursuit of what brings us happiness. And that a just government is formed ONLY to protect those Rights.

After winning the war, those who insist on ruling the individuals set about creating a government. A monarchy was proposed, but this plan fell apart when good King George the IV (George Washington) incredibly not only declined the position, but in as many words said he hadn’t just fought a grueling war of Independence to seat another King on the throne of America!

So those who tried to bring us a monarchy instead compromised on a centralized federal government that was outlined in the Constitution of the United States. Within this document was laid out the formation of the federal government, which was to be limited in power to those areas explicitly granted (18 of them in all ) to the federal government by the people and the states, for which the state governments were less well suited.

Unfortunately for the drafters of this Constitution, the majority of colonists held deeply felt fear and distrust of government in general and centralized national government in particular. As a result, not enough States would ratify the Constitution. Regrettably a compromise was worked out, in which in exchange for several of the remaining states to ratify the Constitution (9 concurring states were required to ratify) a promise of a Bill of Rights would be drafted and amended to the Constitution spelling out those rights for which the federal government would never be able to restrict these rights in any way. The Constitution took effect in 1789, ending over a decade of prosperity without a national government. [Constitution Day is "celebrated" on September 17.] Our Rights have been whittled away ever since.

Twelve Amendments containing these rights were originally proposed, with ten of them being adopted into the Constitution on December 15, 1791 (an 11th amendment recently became our 27th Amendment). These ten Amendments became known as “The Bill of Rights.” Chief defender of the Constitution, Alexander Hamilton, along with others worried that by listing those rights that the federal government would eventually only acknowledge those spelled out rights and not the many more rights we enjoy as part of our human heritage. [Ironically this is exactly what has transpired (e.g., Judge Bork disavowing any “right to privacy.”).] This fear formed the basis of the 9th and 10th Amendments which stated that the listing of certain rights doesn’t diminish the many other rights enjoyed by people, and that ANY powers NOT specifically delegated to the federal government belong to either the states (unless prohibited by the Constitution) or the people (who being the supreme power cannot be restricted by the Constitution).

The federal government was eventually formed between the 13 Sovereign governments of America. All the grievances listed in the Declaration of Independence against the old government were soon to be perpetrated by the new government. Meet the new boss . . . same as the old boss.

So why celebrate? We celebrate the idea of indisputable Rights inherent in being human. The ideas brought forth by the Declaration of Independence, and enumerated in the Bill of Rights that act as very tasty bread found on either side of a rancid piece of meat.

A pocket booklet can be purchased that contains the DOI and U.S. Constitution with ALL Amendments for $5 at: http://catostore.org/index.asp?fa=ProductDetails&method=cats&scid=15&pid=144278-A

More on the Declaration of Independence

Comprehensive collection of our founding documents, including those documents leading to the Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Includes philosophical treatises that were influential on the ideas of the colonists.

More on the U.S. Constitution

More on the Bill of Rights

Another comprehensive collection of our founding documents.

Bill of Rights Institute

If you are interested in lobbying your state legislature or donating money {max. limit of $100 per individual} to place a tasteful stone monument upon which the Ten Amendments are engraved in your capitol park contact My Bill of Rights. All 50 states are targeted.

See Jacob Hornberger’s excellent articles on the Bill of Rights, dealing with each enumerated Right as well as the unenumerated Rights and State’s and People’s Reserved Power.