The Bill of Rights

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Part 5:

ARTICLE I (aka, the First Amendment to the US Constitution.)

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.”

This being the most important of natural rights, according to our forefathers, it only made good sense to place it at the forefront of all other rights to be protected by this new constitution.  These natural rights being the right to freely speak or express one’s self, to freely assemble, to govern and express your personal religious beliefs without retribution, to freely publish, and to bring about grievances against the government.  There is an acronym that aids in your memory of these rights of paramount importance and it is as follows:

Grievances, Religion, Assembly, Speech, Press OR GRASP

The rights of greatest importance, which is impossible as all rights are of equal importance but perhaps in priority, are the rights of religion and speech.  Religion will probably trump only because it was for religious persecution that the people left England to set up house in the New World.  So, let us begin with religion.

RELIGION

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…” This is known as the Establishment Clause it is the provision that our Congress will make no law thereby creating a state sponsored religion, nor any law to respect a specific religion.  Thomas Jefferson in his second inaugural address, 1805, in which he declared to the whole country, “In matters of religion, I have considered its free exercise is placed by the Constitution independent of the powers of the general [i.e., federal] government.” In other words, Jefferson’s wall metaphor in his 1802 letter was referring to the First Amendment’s prohibition of federal interference with the authority of the states in religious matters. It was a wall to prevent federal trespass. On the issue of religion, as with other matters, Thomas Jefferson emerges as a believer in what might be called states’ rights.  This was the meaning of the “wall of separation” metaphor, it was a limitation upon the general or Federal government.

We must discuss the case of Everson v. Board of Education (1947).  Everson believed that the New Jersey law was misapplying the “wall of separation” by reimbursing the cost of transportation for children to schools other than public schools since most of the private schools in NJ during the 1940s were run by the Roman Catholic Church, it begged the question concerning the Establishment Clause.  It was upheld as a public service.  However, it appears that Justice Hugo Black, who wrote the majority opinion, was both factually and historically incorrect in his assessment of the situation.  He stated that the First Amendment prohibited states from having an establishment of religion; where in reality, Jefferson stated that it was the Federal government was prohibited from trespassing upon the rights of the states in matters such as these.

This is how the US Constitution is RE-INTERPRETTED over the course of time and permits the government to trample upon the rights that are otherwise protected.  Now, of course, in my opinion, it truly matters not whether the Bill of Rights existed or not, nor does it matter how someone else interprets your exercise of your God given rights.  Those rights are yours and are not negotiable, you can opt to lay down and suspend your rights anytime you desire and then pick them pack up again!

Now to move right along, “…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.”  This is called the Free Exercise Clause, a protected right preventing the government’s intrusion upon your endowed rights given by God, not by Government!  This was the great thing way back when, they wrote the laws and declarations so the people could understand them; unlike today where each law or amendment to the constitution is written so ambiguously that it must be interpreted by the courts…so, sad!  Notice the free exercise clause where it can be stated emphatically that “Congress shall make no law…prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom…” which means by making any law that violates, prohibits, or abridges your expressed, or unexpressed, freedoms is both unlawful and unconstitutional…in my opinion.

The Declaration of Independence declared to the world that “Every individual is sovereign over his own person with natural inalienable rights.”  But as time slips away from us all, our rights and liberties are slowly being shaven and chiseled away.  One question must be asked and answered by every free man:  Where will you draw the line in the sand?  How many of your endowed, inalienable rights are you willing to give up?  What are you willing to do to protect your rights, your liberties, and your country?  What are you willing to do to reclaim your country from your rogue & tyrannical government?  Run for office and perhaps tip the balance of power?  What are you willing to do?

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One Story Behind the First Amendment

How religious freedoms and the First Amendment came to pass:  Edward Bushnell and three fellow JURORS learned this lesson well. They refused to bow to the court. They believed in the absolute power of the JURY, though their eight companions cowered to the court. The four JURORS spent nine weeks of torture in prison, often without food and water, soaked with urine, smeared with feces, barely able to stand, and even threatened with fines, yet they would not give in to the judge. Edward Bushnell said, “My liberty is not for sale,” though he had great wealth and commanded an international shipping enterprise. These “bumble heads”, so the court thought, proved the power of the people was stronger than any power of government. They emerged total victors.

The year was 1670, and the case Bushnell sat on was that of William Penn, who was on trial for violation of a “Conventicle Act.” This was an elaborate Act which made the Church of England the only legal church. The Act was struck down by their not guilty vote.  Freedom of Religion was established and became part of the English Bill of Rights and later it became the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. In addition, the Right to peaceful assembly was founded, Freedom of Speech, and also habeas corpus. Had Bushnell and his colleagues yielded to the guilty verdict sought by the judge and prosecutor, William Penn most likely would have been executed as he clearly broke the law.

The first such writ of habeas corpus ever issued by the Court of Common Pleas was issued to free Edward Bushnell.  Later this trial gave birth to the concept of Freedom of the press.  There would have been no Liberty Bell, no Independence Hall, no city of Philadelphia, and no state called Pennsylvania, for young William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania, and leader of the Quakers, was on trial for his life. His alleged crime was preaching and teaching a different view of the Bible than that of the Church of England. This appears innocent today, but then, one could be executed for such actions. He believed in freedom of religion, freedom of speech and the right to peaceful assembly. He had broken to government’s law, but he had injured no one. The four heroic JURORS knew that only when actual injury to someone’s person or property takes place is there a real crime. No law is broken when no injury can be shown. Thus there can be no loss or termination of rights unless actual damage is proven

The trial made such an impact the every colony but one established the jury as the first liberty to maintain all other liberties. It was felt that the liberties of people could never be wholly lost as long as the jury remained strong and independent, and that unjust laws and statutes could not stand when confronted by conscientious JURORS. JURORS today face an avalanche of imposter laws. JURORS not only still have the power and the RIGHT, but also the DUTY, to nullify bad laws by voting “not guilty.” At first glance it appears that it is almost unfair, the power JURORS have over government, but necessary when considering the historical track record of oppression that governments have wielded over private citizens.

See also: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

Works Cited

Alexander Hamilton, J. J. (1788). THE FEDERALIST PAPERS.

Butler, J. (n.d.). THE BEST OF CARL MILLER. Retrieved January 15, 2013, from MY PRIVATE AUDIO: http://www.myprivateaudio.com/CARLTEXT.pdf; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1s-zHrNPfkQ (PARTS 1, 2, & 3)

Geiger, R. (2008, June 4). Background on the First Amendment. Retrieved March 5, 2013, from Oklahoma State University School of Media & Strategic Communications: http://journalism.okstate.edu/faculty/jsenat/foioklahoma/educationlessons/Background_on_First_Amendment.pdf

Lockhart, W. B., Kamisar, Y., & Choper, J. H. (1970). THE AMERICAN CONSTITUTION Cases and Materials. St. Paul: West Publishing.

McElroy, J. H. (2011, April 9). Understanding the First Amendment’s Religion Clauses. Retrieved March 5, 2013, from First Principles ISI Web Journal: http://www.firstprinciplesjournal.com/articles.aspx?article=1485

Know Your Constitution – Carl Miller Parts 1 – 3 (abt. 1980). [Motion Picture].

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Jury Duty

Next week I am scheduled for jury duty.  I am rather excited about it, as I honestly believe that it is not just our civic duty to perform, but also our moral duty.  You may be wondering “moral duty?”  Yes!  So many people are hell bent on getting out of this obligation, because it is interfering in their lives; however, they fail to realize the purpose of this duty.  YOU are all that stands between a fellow citizen and jail, potentially a wrongful imprisonment.  This is a serious subject and MUST be deemed as such.  You are not the Prosecuting Attorney’s friend, nor are you the District Attorney’s friend; you are, in fact, the ally of the accused, because you can stop the improper use of the law and say to one and all…THIS IS WRONG AND I WON’T STAND FOR IT!

Why a JURY of your PEERS is is so vital to FREEDOM?  One day long ago a man rode into the small town of Culpeper, VA He was totally shocked by what he saw!  There, in the middle of the town square was a minister tied to a whipping post, his back laid bare and bloody with the bones of his ribs showing. He had been scourged like JESUS, with whips laced with metal.  The man turned to someone and asked what the man had done to deserve a beating such as this.  The reply given him was that the man being scourged was a minister who refused to take a license. He was one of twelve who were locked in jail because they refused to take a license to preach.  The time was March, 1775 and the man who viewed this travesty was none other than Patrick Henry and the incident was the basis for his “…GIVE ME LIBERTY OR GIVE ME DEATH!” speech.

On another occasion in history a Mr. Bushnell sat on the jury for a man who was placed on trial for violation of a “Conventicle Act.” This was an elaborate Act which made the Church of England the only legal church. The Act was struck down by the jury’s not guilty vote. Freedom of Religion was established and became part of the English Bill of Rights and later it became the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. In addition, the Right to peaceful assembly was founded, and Freedom of Speech. Had Bushnell and his colleagues yielded to the guilty verdict sought by the judge and prosecutor, William Penn most likely would have been executed as he clearly broke the law.  The year was 1670 and the man on trial was William Penn.

As a member of the Jury you carry much weight and power, unfortunately people are more interested in going home to watch reruns of Friends or MacGyver, hmmmm!  The previous two stories are the basis for the Bill of Rights, more specifically the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendments

AMENDMENT VI (1791) to the US Constitution reads as:  “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 defense.”  This guarantees each of us the right to an impartial Jury, but so many of us forget that we are INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY, not the other way around!

We are endowed with God-given, or inalienable, Rights.  They come from our creator; no one can take them from us and we cannot give them away without the ability to pick them back up and use them again.  Only YOUR creator can take them from you!  As a Juror you have an obligation to the accused to ensure and make certain that he, or she, gets a fair trial.  It is NOT your duty to make certain that every Tom, Dick, and Harry is found guilty of everything that the Prosecutor swings before you and says that he is guilty.  NEWS FLASH: Not every Policeman, District Attorney, Prosecutor, and Judge tells the truth – nor do they ensure that you know everything that you need in order to make that decision.

“All laws which are repugnant to the Constitution are null and void.” Marbury vs. Madison, 5 US (2 Cranch) 137, 174, 176, (1803)

“When rights secured by the Constitution are involved, there can be no rule making or legislation which would abrogate them.” Miranda vs. Arizona, 384 US 436 p. 491.

JURY RIGHTS

“The jury has the right to judge both the law as well as the fact in controversy.” John Jay, 1st Chief Justice U.S. Supreme Court, 1789

“The jury has the right to determine both the law and the facts.” Samuel Chase, U.S. supreme Court Justice, 1796, Signer of the unanimous Declaration

“The jury has the power to bring a verdict in the teeth of both law and fact.” Oliver Wendell Holmes, U.S. Supreme Court Justice, 1902

“The law itself is on trial quite as much as the cause which is to be decided.” Harlan F. Stone, 12th Chief Justice U.S. Supreme Court, 1941

“The pages of history shine on instances of the jury’s exercise of its prerogative to disregard instructions of the judge…” U.S. vs. Dougherty, 473 F 2nd 1113, 1139. (1972)

And these are the Judges from the days of old speaking on the subject. During the Reconstruction Period of our history it was difficult at best to get justice for the previously known slaves and  ultimately impossible to find a white man guilty of murdering a previously know slave and that was when the Judges began to instruct the jury and essentially said that the jurors needed to listen to them.

The ultimate goal of the Communist belief is power and the Communist Manifesto represents a misguided philosophy, in my opinion, which teaches the citizens to give up their RIGHTS for the sake of the “common good,” but it always ends in a police state.  Just listen to the news and all of the things that YOUR government is implementing and how YOUR RIGHTS are being ebbed away by their law making and chiseling away at the Constitution.  This is considered preventive justice.  Control is the key concept. Read the ten tenets of communism carefully:

1. Abolition of private property.

2. Heavy progressive income tax.

3. Abolition of all rights on inheritance.

4. Confiscation of property of all emigrants and rebels.

5. Central bank.

6. Government control of Communications & Transportation.

7. Government ownership of factories and agriculture.

8. Government control of labor.

9. Corporate farms, regional planning.

10. Government control of education.

As a juror you may have to make a decision that takes away someone’s rights, rights are equivalent to property.  Just think about it and consider these things when you are on a panel of jurors.  I would highly suggest you read and reread the Declaration of Independence, US Constitution, Bill of Rights, and the Citizen’s Rule Book (which has the founding documents in it).  It would serve you well to know your rights and the rights of your fellow citizens.

 

References:

http://archive.org/stream/CitizensRuleBookJuryHandbook/

http://lewrockwell.com/peters-e/peters-e165.html

http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/

Files for your viewing pleasure:

citizen-rule-book

CARLTEXT