Saturday, July 19, 2008

Education, the Supreme Court and Your Rights

When the founders set up our nation, it became clear that we needed something that wasn’t commonly available in the world: a free education for all people. The concept of government-provided education is rather socialist for a group of people who essentially set up a nation on libertarian principles. The reason for this was that the only way the Constitution could stand and elections would work is if the people were truly educated with respect to their rights and the issues.

How did it work? Rather well. Alexis de Tocqueville wrote his Democracy in America based on his 1831 visit to the United States. He wrote:

“The observer who is desirous of forming an opinion on the state of instruction among the Anglo-Americans must consider the same object from two different points of view. If he singles out only the learned, he will be astonished to find how few they are; but if he counts the ignorant, the American people will appear to be the most enlightened in the word…

“In New England every citizen receives the elementary notions of human knowledge; he is taught, moreover, the doctrines and evidence of his religion, the history of his country and the leading features of its Constitution. In the states of Connecticut and Massachusetts, it is extremely rare to find a man imperfectly acquainted with all these things, and a person wholly ignorant of them is a sort of phenomenon.” (Democracy in America, 1:326-27.)

Why are these principles so vital? If you look at what’s happening in America today, you can see why the founders were so determined to have the principles of the Constitution generally known. Politicians and courts are freely altering the rights guaranteed therein, and even changing basic understanding of the document, so they can do what they want.

The Constitution wasn’t written to spell out the rights of the Citizenry, though some are very carefully guaranteed by it. It was designed to carefully enumerate and limit the rights and responsibilities of government. In their study and keen understanding of government and human nature, the founders understood that people with power will usually take whatever control they are permitted to take, and that some of the population will be happy to give it so they don’t have to deal with responsibility (more on that in a future post). The only way to prevent that was to have the government’s powers limited, in writing, and have the people understand those rights so there could be no back room revisions of the document.

“Miranda Rights” should never have to be given by the police. First, government officials in any capacity do not give any citizen his or her rights. The police are simply informing, but the concept is vital. The Constitution does not give any citizen his or her rights. Being a human being endows each citizen with unalienable rights. The Constitution simply safeguards those rights by keeping government from infringing on them.

This is why DC v. Heller was such an important decision and yet should have never come before the Supreme Court. The thought of depriving any lawful citizen of their ancient and unalienable right of self defense should have been so foreign the DC lawmakers should never have tried it. If they failed, then the first court reviewing the matter should have stricken it down. Even further, the Supreme Court should never have had any option to set the standing of the 2nd Amendment (that is, whether it carries the same weight and force as the other amendments). That should never be a question. Of course it has, and of course no legislative body in the United States has any right to abridge that right. In listing out the rights of government, the Constitution specifically forbids any governmental body from engaging in the denial of the right of self defense to any citizen. It’s that simple.

Furthermore, the Constitution is not a “living document” as judicial activists mean that phrase. It is a living document in that it is a vital, vigorous guard standing over the rights of the people. It is not mutable, however, to be molded and shaped by any court’s whim. It can only be changed by a deliberately difficult amendment process. Again, this is a planned design to prevent abuse of the people by government.

This brings us back to education. Our schools today aren’t having children read the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution or the Bill of Rights. Far from the purposes of the founders, they are determined to make sure people do not know their rights, so those rights can be changed and there is no outcry at laws like the DC or San Francisco handgun bans, which so obviously contradict rights that predate our Constitution.

If schools will not teach these things, then it’s up to each American to find out for himself or herself. The book mentioned below is a great place to start, as are the links on the right of the page. Learn our founding documents and the philosophies of the people who wrote them so you’re never left to the whims of capricious politicians.

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