Wednesday, February 24, 2010

QotD: Civics 101.

From Marko:
The Constitution doesn’t grant rights, period. The Constitution lays out what government may do, and the Bill of Rights lays out what government may not ever do, under any circumstances. Nowhere in there does it “grant” any rights to the citizenry…not even in the Bill of Rights, which merely recognizes certain individual rights.
Eloquently stated. I think a huge mistake was made by calling it the "Bill of Rights" in the first place, rather than the "Bill of Restrictions" or the "List Of Stuff That Means We Break Out The Torches And Pitchforks".


Jim said...


We could use a campaign discouraging the phrase, "I have a Consitutional right to do (whatever)."

The correct idea more rightthinkful stated as: "Government has no Constitutional right to bar me from doing (whatever.)"

Anonymous said...

And how many times have you heard someone say, "Where in the Consitution do you see the right to do x?" Drives me nuts.

It's called the 9th amendment, doofus.

Bram said...

And the Tenth Amendment says that government can't do stuff not on the permission slip.

Politicans like to pretend the 9th and 10th don't exist.

Anonymous said...

"Thus, the Framers of the Bill of Rights did not purport to 'create' rights. Rather, they designed the Bill of Rights to prohibit our Government from infringing rights and liberties presumed to be pre-existing." United States v. Verdugo-Urquidez, 494 U.S. 259, 288 (Brenan, J., dissenting).

Shootin' Buddy

Brad K. said...

So - in spite of Constitutionally-protected rights, where do I see any torches and pitchforks?

Where are the moves to censure and recall Reid, Pelosi, Obama, Rahm Emanuel, etc., for abuse of office and violation of regulations, procedure, and the Constitution? Where are the Supreme Court challenges to the union gifts at GM and Chrysler?

Might as well tell a vicious rapist, "Please, don't." Without teeth, the torches and pitchforks, and willingness to defend, there is no security.

And they called Bill Clinton a "doormat" for Congress. Look at voters today, buying into Congress' wet dream that nothing can be done until the next election. There are special elections, recall elections, and means to impeach and prosecute, too. Not to mention petitions for redress of grievance.

Pitchforks, indeed. Congress is *not* a union shop. You don't need to ask the shop steward, politely, to ask Reid and Pelosi to do their silly job as assigned - by their constituents.

Tam said...

Brad K,

Uh, that's kinda my point.

The problem is that generations of people have wanted their .gov to give them stuff, regardless of whether the had the authority to or not.

Pelosi and Reid and all the rest are doing exactly what their constituents want them to do: Arrogate power to the and pass out the loot.

theirritablearchitect said...

Torches and Pitchforks?

You are too kind, Ma'am.

Besides, it's all pretty well spelled out there in the BoR anyway. We get to congregate and say all sorts of nasty things about the powers that be, and we can write it all down and circulate it amongst the proles. Once that avenue is exhausted, we break out teh guns.

How on Earth can anyone not see that?

Fuzzy Curmudgeon said...


There are none so blind as those who will not see...

skidmark said...

While we're on the soapbox, can I get a word in edgewise about the fact that those rights we posses are UNALIENABLE, as opposed to being inalienable? I guess not even many English Majors know the difference between the two words - and no it is not like "flammable" and "imflammable" being the same thing!

Bram said...

I think some of them have been aliened.

Ted said...

I love this blog.

Anonymous said...

Eloquently stated and concise, yes.

But Marko prefaced that blurb with this:

"That’s where Scalia gets it sorta-kinda wrong when he says the Constitution doesn’t grant anyone the right to an abortion."

Of course it doesn't, because it can't. But it's still sorta-kinda wrong since the Constitution doesn't grant anyone any right to anything. So the mention of abortion became kind of a red herring in Marko's post.

In a back-and-forth there as to the nature of rights, who has them and when, I finally said this:

"The essential questions are, what are human rights and when do they accrue? The answer to the first is “everything that doesn’t infringe someone else’s”, and to the second “as soon as something becomes someone”."

Anyone else? Bueller?

Al Terego

Tam said...


When it comes to the Constitution, the whole issue of abortion is a red herring.

Murder, if you believe that is what it is, is not correctly the federal government's purview, no matter how cute or helpless the victim, unless it is the murder of a federal employee while engaged in his or her lawful business.

Anonymous said...

FedGov has a singular purview; defend from foreign threat.

Murder, if that is what it is, is in no one's purview until we answer this: "what are human rights and when do they accrue?"


Tam said...

Like we'll ever get the infanticide-is-hunky-dory and the every-sperm-is-sacred crowds to pick a middle ground. Both are fired by religious zeal that will brook no compromise.

Regardless, murder is properly an affair of the several states.

Anonymous said...

And they rely on the Court to define those affairs. That's what I meant when I called Marko's reference in an otherwise unrelated post a red herring.

The most nebulous, all-encompassing definition of rights is meaningless unless we know to whom they attach.

No, there will be no compromise between extremists (on both ends) with hidden motives and agendas. But they will be the target when the rest of us break out the torches and pitchforks.


Windy Wilson said...

"Government has no Constitutional right to bar me from doing (whatever.)"

Except the government (at any level) doesn't have rights, it has powers, and for the Feds, if the entity-creating document doesn't say they can, then they can't.
Perhaps the slogan should be "Constitutionally, Government doesn't have the power to bar me from doing (whatever)."
Too long for a bumpersticker (sigh).