Happy Bill of Rights Day

By Anthony Gregory
Published 12/15/09
hat tip: Campaign for Liberty

December 15 is neglected by most Americans for its historical significance as the anniversary of the Bill of Rights. Even worse, American politicians neglect the actual Bill of Rights on a day-to-day basis.

Whether or not the Bill of Rights can ever be an effective means of limiting the government is open to debate. However, the Bill of Rights does offer a fairly good outline of a free society, and it shows how far our country has strayed.

In an America with a full respect for the Bill of Rights, there would be no Federal Communications Commission regulating the airwaves and forbidding certain speech, no Federal Election Commission limiting how much Americans can donate to political candidates or what they can say in independent political ads, no Food and Drug Administration harassment of pharmaceutical and wine producers regarding their commercial speech, no federal laws that have anything to do with religion whatsoever, and no federally established “free-speech zones.”

There would be no federal laws disarming Americans, prohibiting airlines from allowing pilots or passengers to carry guns on planes, or limiting how much ammo or what kind of firearms people can buy and own.

There would be no Patriot Act, no secret searches, no spying on telecommunications without a warrant.

There would be no civil asset forfeiture, no horrendous eminent domain abuses, no kangaroo courts, star chambers and phony hearings for the accused.

There would be no torture in America’s “terrorist” dungeons.

There would be no federal laws against starting a business without a license, buying and selling drugs, competing with the government to provide its “services” at a better cost and higher quality, or seceding from the central state.

There would be no federal programs not authorized by the Constitution: no Departments of Energy or Education, no Medicare or Social Security, no Federal Reserve or Selective Service, no farm subsidies or corporate welfare.

We’ve come a long way, haven’t we?

If either the ninth or tenth amendment alone had full recognition, almost everything now done by the federal government would come grinding to a halt. A government that obeyed the Bill of Rights would cost a small fraction of its current size, and would not require an income tax to fund. The young would be liberated from Social Security and any fear of conscription ever coming back. The streets would be safer, free from the violent crime augmented by the War on Drugs and gun control. America would no longer have a higher per capita prison population than Saudi Arabia, Russia and North Korea. The free economy would be unleashed to produce the largest revolution in technology and commerce and greatest increase of the American standard of living since the Industrial Revolution. The productive sector would no longer be persecuted by the political class for producing too much, not enough, or not according to the specifications of central planning.

Many if not most political tensions would be decentralized down to the state level, and after that, competition and experimentation among states would likely point the way to the benefits of liberalizing and shrinking government at all levels.

The blessings of free association would again sweep America, as people’s rights to hire, fire, work for, and enter business and organizations with whomever they wanted would allow economic productivity to balloon, and religious, ethnic and racial hostilities to decline. Immigration would no longer be seen as such a threat as decisions to associate or not to associate would be left to the states and, much more ideally, private-property owners.

Healthcare would be more affordable and of a higher quality. The price of food staples would plummet, as the feds would no longer subsidize clumsy agricultural practices with price supports, and even the poorest workers would have far greater access to necessities and luxuries than almost anyone in the history of the world.

Many tens of thousands of federal employees would have to find honest work.

With the Bill of Rights respected and enforced, the War on Terror as we know it would be impossible. The federal government would no longer have any powers not delegated to it by the Constitution — rendering such unconstitutional projects as Iraq and Afghanistan totally prohibited. Americans would stop dying in foreign wars, and foreigners would have far less reason to attack the United States.

Americans would become more responsible, tolerant, caring, cooperative, industrious, wealthy and safe. A lot of problems would still exist, but without the amplification that they now get in the political process.

If today you hear an elected official mention the Bill of Rights — a politician besides Ron Paul, that is — try to imagine which Bill of Rights he’s referring to. Which Bill of Rights is it that allows for three-and-a-half-trillion-dollar budgets, airport Gestapo, thousands of gun laws, a federal war on drugs, No Child Left Behind, bailouts of Wall Street, stimulus spending, Obamacare, Cap and Trade and McCain-Feingold? Where in the Bill of Rights does it say that the president can disqualify suspected terrorists from their rights to a trial, an attorney, and due process?

The officials who violate the Bill of Rights are breaking the very law that supposedly brings their jobs and the government that employs them into existence. And yet we are supposed to take them seriously when they talk about “the rule of law,” “law and order,” and “justice.”

I celebrate Bill of Rights Day, not out of some delusion that we have the enumerated and unenumerated freedoms protected by the document, nor with some nostalgia for a past when the Bill of Rights was perfectly obeyed. It never was. George Washington and John Adams violated the Bill of Rights. Ever since Lincoln, the document has suffered major violence, and eight years of Bush and one year of Obama have probably done more harm to the freedoms in the Bill of Rights than this country has seen in several generations.

But Bill of Rights Day is still a good time to think of that document, which comes as close to a perfect founding legal charter for a free society as any in the world. Celebrate Bill of Rights Day, if only to think of the great freedoms that might exist, that could exist, and that can exist, one day, in fuller force and greater glory than ever before.

Adapted from an article that ran on LewRockwell.com in 2004.


  1. Bill Harris

    December 15, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    One need not travel to China to find indigenous cultures lacking human rights. America leads the world in percentile behind bars, thanks to ongoing persecution of hippies, radicals, and non-whites under prosecution of the war on drugs. If we’re all about spreading liberty abroad, then why mix the message at home? Peace on the home front would enhance global credibility.

    The drug czar’s Rx for prison fodder costs dearly, as lives are flushed down expensive tubes. My shaman’s second opinion is that psychoactive plants are God’s gift. Behold, it’s all good. When Eve ate the apple, she knew a good apple, and an evil prohibition. Canadian Marc Emery is being extradited to prison for selling seeds that American farmers use to reduce U. S. demand for Mexican pot.

    Only on the authority of a clause about interstate commerce does the CSA (Controlled Substances Act of 1970) reincarnate Al Capone, endanger homeland security, and throw good money after bad. Administration fiscal policy burns tax dollars to root out the number-one cash crop in the land, instead of taxing sales. Society rejected the plague of prohibition, but it mutated. Apparently, SWAT teams don’t need no stinking amendment.

    Nixon passed the CSA on the false assurance that the Schafer Commission would later justify criminalizing his enemies. No amendments can assure due process under an anti-science law without due process itself. Psychology hailed the breakthrough potential of LSD, until the CSA shut down research, and pronounced that marijuana has no medical use, period. Drug juries exclude bleeding hearts.

    The RFRA (Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993) allows Native American Church members to eat peyote, which functions like LSD. Americans shouldn’t need a specific church membership or an act of Congress to obtain their birthright freedom of religion. John Doe’s free exercise of religious liberty may include entheogen sacraments to mediate communion with his maker.

    Freedom of speech presupposes freedom of thought. The Constitution doesn’t enumerate any governmental power to embargo diverse states of mind. How and when did government usurp this power to coerce conformity? The Mayflower sailed to escape coerced conformity. Legislators who would limit cognitive liberty lack jurisdiction.

    Common-law must hold that adults are the legal owners of their own bodies. The Founding Fathers undersigned that the right to the pursuit of happiness is inalienable. Socrates said to know your self. Mortal lawmakers should not presume to thwart the intelligent design that molecular keys unlock spiritual doors. Persons who appreciate their own free choice of path in life should tolerate seekers’ self-exploration.

  2. Charles Robert

    December 15, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    It’s with all my heart that I agree with the well-spoken comment by Bill Harris.
    If, however, I were not to agree, or even if the vast majority were in strong, vehement opposition to Bill’s opinions, it would, in no manner, diminish his, or anyone’s natural rights enumerated in the “Bill of Rights”. The thing which has effectively diminished, and/or desimated of our basic rights, is the usurpation of such, by the much later, and completely illegitamate, alleged Fourteenth article in amendment. The Fourteenth amendment was not ratified, but declaired to have been ratified by a rogue and lawless Congress. That such has been upheld by the alleged courts, under color of law, is another of the crimes against the people. Until the people repopulate the Republic, and exercise their rights in the common law, The Democracy will persist until we awaken in a Socialist Dictatorship. The Remedy for this quagmire is neither simple nor easy. It is complex beyond measure, and has been endowed with these charactistics quite intentionally, for the purpose of rendering the remedy for the decay of our union, found in the Fifth amendment, beyond the memory knowledge, and access of those who would invoke it. We, the People have been given a tool by the framers of our supreme Law, sometimes called “the fourth branch of government”, the independant common law grand jury, and it alone is capable of the remedy we seek. The persuit of this remedy is not fun, like tea-parties, rallies, or petitions. It will require a great deal of hard work and dilligent study, but short of the slim-to-none chance of recovering our freedoms through armed conflict, re-institution of the independant common law grand jury, is, by far the best and perhaps the only path to Freedom.          http://www.angelfire.com/la/lawgiver/14thAm.html

    — Charles Robert

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