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Posts tagged ‘Third Amendment’

The Constitutional “Shall Not’s” of Congress


waving flagWritten by Bethany Blankley

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Universal human rights are determined by government restraint. In what areas of human life should the government not be involved? What areas of life must the government not regulate, not restrain, not limit, not oversee, not implement, not subsidize, not legalize or make illegal? Interestingly, the first five words of the Bill of Rights state what Congress cannot do: “Congress shall make no law… .” Even more telling– the first ten amendments, with perhaps The Sixth as the exception, all define what the government cannot do:

  • First: “Shall make no law … prohibiting … abridging,
  • Second: “Shall not be infringed”
  • Third: “No soldier shall … without the consent …”
  • Fourth: “Shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue …”
  • Fifth: “No person shall be held … nor shall any person be subject …”
  • Seventh: “Shall be preserved … No fact … shall be otherwise reexamined …”
  • Eighth: “Shall not be required … Nor excessive … imposed, nor … punishments inflicted”
  • Ninth: “shall not be construed to deny or disparage”
  • Tenth: “Not delegated … nor prohibited.”

The third, fifth, eighth, and tenth amendments don’t state “rights;” they state what authority the government does not have. In effect, limits on government are universal human rights. The Constitution outlines specific areas of human life that are off-limits to government. This suggests that there are certain aspects of human life which are fundamentally free.tie it down

The Constitution did not outline rights or prohibitions defined by a government that could later redefine them. It outlined rules to be followed by a self-ruling people in addition to separating and balancing political authority among judiciary, legislative, and executive branches.

Despite the limits the Founders enumerated in the Constitution, their limits are still limited in their ability to constrain government overreach. Matters of conscience, especially as they relate to the First Amendment, dictate certain situations when citizens decide to not follow and/or disobey unjust laws. Interestingly, dissent in the form of collective actions of conscience (refusing to pay taxes, boycotting specific products, and armed resistance) among approximately one third of American colonists who fought for independence.Tree of Liberty 03

The Constitution was the result of a point in time that the Founding Fathers and Framers identified of a line they could not cross. They could not comply in good conscience– it would be immoral to comply– with the laws of a corrupt and tyrannical government. Christians joined them, citing New Testament directives, identifying that they also must only “obey God rather than men.”christianity

They recognized they could not selectively disobey certain laws because the government itself could not be obeyed. They needed a new government. Rebellion and resistance were required because the ruling authorities had rebelled against God. The government had not only violated basic principles of justice but also had squandered God-given human rights, rendering itself illegitimate.

Thomas Jefferson asserted:

“Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long Established, should not be changed for light and transient causes; and, Accordingly, all experience [has] shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.

“But, when a long train of abuses and usurpations,  pursuing invariably the same object, evidences a design to reduce [the people] under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.”

Jefferson also said, “Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God.”

The Shall Nots were imperative to the Founders– they wanted to ensure that if Congress violated them the people had just cause to rebel.

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Bill of Rights’ Most Important Liberty: Religion


waving flagWritten by Bethany Blankley

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The Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to the Constitution, listed non-negotiable constitutionally guaranteed freedoms in specific order, unchanged since 1791. James Madison, its chief architect, listed freedom of religion first; then speech, press, assembly, petition, right to keep and bear arms, and freedom from forced quartering of military members in one’s home.

Freedom from civil government overreach and interference was essential to establishing sustainable civil order and a just rule of law; the first ten amendments — only 468 words — were added to protect what the founders considered “preexisting rights” from federal government “encroachment.”

Freedom of religion was un-mistakenly listed as the first freedom of the Bill of Rights. And the term “religion” was well understood from its original context derived from the State of Virginia’s Bill of Rights. In Article 1, Section 16, Virginia’s Bill of Rights defines “religion” as “the duty which we owe to our Creator… the manner of discharging… [of which] can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence.”

(Many significant words and phrases used to write the Bill of Rights to the U.S. Constitution were selected from preexisting documents and individual state constitutions’ declaration of rights, which provided more detailed definitions.)

Virginia’s Bill of Rights legally defined “religion” as a means to secure freedom from government coercion, which enabled a foundational protection for other freedoms. The Bill of Rights, by defining religion, allows people to believe and act by “reason or conviction” without fear of being coerced to violate their “dictates of conscience.” In this way, religion is jurisdictional– the Bill of Rights ensures that the government cannot force a citizen to violate his/her conscience.AAA02

James Madison articulated in Memorial and Remonstrance:

“The Religion … of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man; and it is the right of every man to exercise it as they may indicate. This right in its nature is an unalienable right. It is unalienable; because the opinions of men … cannot follow the dictates of other men: It is unalienable also; because what is here a right towards men, is a duty towards the Creator. … This duty is precedent both in order of time and degree of obligation, to the claims of Civil Society.”GOD

Madison believed that citizens were first “subject[s] of the Great Governor of the Universe,” who must first make his/her “allegiance to the Universal Sovereign” before they could consider being a “member of Civil Society.”ONE NATION

He considered religion first and foremost “immune” from any and all civil authorities. The wording used for the First Amendment’s two religion clauses were specifically straightforward: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …” All matters of religion were exempted from civil authority.

Madison asserted:

“In matters of Religion, no man’s right is abridged by the institution of Civil Society, and that Religion is wholly exempt from its cognizance.”

want_rel_liberty_rAs a legal and jurisdictional matter, Madison asserted that all men are first subject to God as an immutable fact based on the Christian worldview (Mark 12:17, Psalm 24:1). It was imperative to specify that no government could ever have authority over one’s relationship with God. Understanding that even governmental authority itself originates from God (Romans 13:1) — moral standards could not be mutually exclusive from rule of law.

Furthermore, freedom of conscience, under the jurisdiction of freedom of religion, established the next four freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment. They include freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom to peacefully assemble, and freedom to petition the government for a redress of grievances. These four freedoms granted constitutional security for “residual sovereignty” of the people, not the government. The Bill of Rights ensured freedom of religion as the foundation for all other liberties. No other amendments were possible if freedom of religion had not first been guaranteed as an unalienable right.One Nation Under God

Bethany Blankley; http://BethanyBlankley.com

Bethany Blankley is a political analyst for Fox News Radio and has appeared on television and radio programs nationwide. She writes about political, cultural, and religious issues in America. She worked on Capitol Hill for four U.S. Senators and one U.S. Congressman, for a former New York governor, and for several non-profits. She earned her masters degree in theology from The University of Edinburgh, Scotland and her bachelors degree in politics from the University of Maryland. Follow her @bethanyblankley & BethanyBlankley.com.049590d9aa5e45170821a5ba6f11ac12  SCOTUS Death lost forever liberty 

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