Last year following the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida I wrote an article about the Consitution being non-negotiable for America. The reactions from the Left to the recent shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio have prompted a more complete analysis of that subject.
The last article in this journal focused more on the President’s words in the wake of those horrible events. The focus shifts here to a larger part of the picture, the integrity of the Constitution itself.
The Integrity of the Constitution Is at Stake
The English word “integrity,” has a commonly understood meaning similar to “honorable,” or of good moral character. However, there is a lesser-known meaning of the word which is,
the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished:
It is this particular kind of integrity of the United States Constitution that is threatened today. I refer, of course, to the renewed attacks on the 2nd Amendment because of the recent mass shootings.
There is little doubt that the goal of the Left is to banish the 2nd Amendment with its troubling [to the Left] individual citizen’s “right to bear arms.” The newest ‘limits’ they wish to place upon this right are simply tracking points toward that goal.
What is not understood by many is the full consequence of tossing the 2nd, should the Left be allowed to continue this narrative. Whether the Left realizes this or not is irrelevant because the result is inevitable.
The fact is that any repeal of the 2nd would result in shattering the integrity of the Constitution itself. Moreover, this is uniquely true of any one of the first ten Constitutional Amendments, better known as the “Bill of Rights.”
Repealing Any Part of the Bill of Rights Would Destroy the Constitution
To gain some further insight into this, examine the reason the first ten Amendments were proposed. It is found in the preamble prior to listing the Amendments themselves.
THE Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.
The framers came to the realization that without some declaration of American’s individual and unbreakable basic rights, the powers granted to the government could be used by future leaders to usurp such rights. The phrase ‘restrictive clauses’ was intended to mean restricting the power of the state, not the power of the individual.
That is evident in the wording of each one of the Bill of Rights, for they speak of what the government can’t do while asserting the rights of the individual citizen. Should any of them be removed the cascade of consequences would inevitably devastate the other parts and do what the founders most feared, increase the power of the state over the citizen.
It is important to examine the rights in the Bill of Rights and understand the inter-connectedness of each and that should one be swept away by the winds of the Left, the rest will fall sooner or later. The only course is to insist upon the integrity of the Constitutional guarantees in the Bill of Rights.
The Rights in the Bill of Rights
The Bill of Rights is a profound and wise document, and it deserves being read in the original wording. If any reader wishes to do so, it can be accessed online here: https://constitution.com/bill-rights/.
In this meager attempt to make the essence of the document a bit clearer, these are my plain-spoken “Bill of Rights.”
The First Amendment mentions five distinct rights: 1. Congress can’t restrict freedom of religious belief or practice., 2. Congress can’t halt freedom of speech. 3. Congress can’t restrict freedom of the press 4. Congress can’t stop the citizens from peacefully assembling, and 5. Congress must allow people to petition the government for a “redress of grievances.” That is, the government must listen to the complaints of the citizens.
The Second Amendment: The government can’t infringe upon a citizen’s right to private ownership of firearms.
The Third Amendment: The government can’t force anyone to house military forces on their own property.
The Fourth Amendment: The government can’t search a citizen and take their property/or arrest them without probable cause.
The Fifth Amendment also delineates five specific rights: 1. The government can’t hold or imprison someone for a serious crime without an indictment from a Grand Jury unless it happens during military service in wartime. 2. The government can’t put anyone on trial for the same crime more than once. 3. The government can’t make anyone testify against themselves 4. An individual accused of a crime has the right of the “due process” procedures of the law. 5. The government can’t take private property for public use without paying a fair price for it.
The Sixth Amendment, like the Fifth, deals with the rights of the individual accused of a crime. Four specific rights are noted here: 1. The accused is entitled to a trial by an impartial jury and the trial must be swift and public. 2. The accused has the right to a lawyer for his defense 3. The accused has the right to face his accusers. 4. The accused has the right to produce witnesses for his case.
The Seventh Amendment: In lawsuits seeking more than an award of twenty dollars, the government can’t deny a right to trial by a jury whose decision is final.
The Eighth Amendment restricts what the government can do in criminal cases. There are three rights declared here: 1. the government can’t punish the accused by demanding an excessive amount of bail, 2. Nor can they impose excessive fines on the guilty 3. Nor can they execute cruel and unusual punishment upon the guilty.
The Ninth Amendment: The rights mentioned in the Constitution do not deny other human rights.
The Tenth Amendment: The Federal government can’t exceed the rights given to it in the Constitution, and any rights not mentioned in the Constitution go to the states and the individual.
I am neither a lawyer or a Constitutional scholar, although I do know and have read the Constitution several times. Moreover, I have learned from many others who are such experts.
Here is one example concerning the 2nd Amendment from Prager University,
With that caution, I believe these form a reasonable interpretation of the Bill of Rights, however roughly expressed. Together they virtually scream of one overriding principle, that the individual citizen’s rights are of first importance.
The Bill of Rights Are Connected by the Idea that the Individual Citizen’s Rights are Paramount
The founders took great care to ensure the individual citizen’s rights in three key areas. The first was in the area of personal expression in various forms such as speech, in the press, and religious expression.
The second area was the right to personal safety and defense against even a government turned tyrannical. It was meant as a guarantee that other rights could be defended by the citizen should an attempt be made to take those rights away.
The third area was the right to be considered innocent of any crime unless one is proven guilty. This is the bedrock of American justice.
All of these ideas were unique in world history at the time, and remain rare in the world even today. Without all of them, the whole Constitution loses integrity and the citizen shrinks in importance.
The Leftist goal is advanced whenever individual rights are diminished in America. For at bottom, the individual is only relevant in the Socialist Left’s world to work for the goals of the group, as dictated, of course, from a central-planning edifice ruled by Leftist elites.
These ground-level principles of the Bill of Rights work to ensure individual liberty while evoking individual responsibility. Which of these principles might be considered the most important is debatable.
Many would say the right to bear arms in defense against enemies is most important. After all, if a citizen can’t defend his or her rights against a threat, no rights can’t be exercised freely at all.
However, others might say that the right to free speech is most important because if one can’t defend individual rights verbally or in writing, eventually those rights will be taken through government power.
Moreover, if the right to be considered innocent until proven guilty is taken away, then the rights of speech and defense can be abrogated with arbitrary accusations of crimes by the government authorities. One doesn’t get a weapon or a forum while in jail.
The truth is that fervent battles against liberty are being waged by the Left within every part of American society. Battles aimed right at the heart of the Constitution’s protection of individual citizen’s freedoms.
The First Amendment is under attack constantly by those who would banish Christianity from the public square, as well as attacks by Antifa and the SJW’s of the Left. The Second Amendment is under assault by Leftist media and politicians, especially after the recent mass shootings.
The principle of being innocent until proven guilty is constantly undermined by the selective assignment of guilt first by the Left whenever the President or his supporters are involved.
America simply can’t afford to erode and possibly lose any of these bastions of individual liberty! The integrity of the Constitution must remain intact or the whole building of our free society will fall.
But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. James 1:25 [ESV]
Sources: The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, Crossway Bibles, 2001
Featured and Top Image courtesy of Scutter’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 1 courtesy of Adam Theo’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 2 courtesy of DonkeyHotey’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 3 courtesy of Charles Fettinger’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
All other sources linked or cited in the text
Originally published in TIL Journal