Monday, February 26, 2007

Hamilton was Right

"I go further, and affirm that bills of rights, in the sense and to the extent in which they are contended for, are not only unnecessary in the proposed Constitution, but would even be dangerous. They would contain various exceptions to powers not granted; and, on this very account, would afford a colorable pretext to claim more than were granted. For why declare that things shall not be done which there is no power to do? Why, for instance, should it be said that the liberty of the press shall not be restrained, when no power is given by which restrictions may be imposed?"

- Alexander Hamilton, Federalist Paper #84

When we find ourselves in a constitutional debate... how often are its merits determined by the Bill of Rights? Sometimes I wonder why they bothered writing the rest of the document at all.

Reading the Constitution seperately from the Bill of Rights... you notice a stark difference.

One document is full of specifics actions that are permited the government... such that all other items not specificly listed are forbidden. The Bill of Rights however... it suddenly switches to a list of prohibitions.

Correctly read, both limitations apply. The government can only perform the specific functions itemized, and must do so without violating any of the listed rights in the Bill of Rights.

But that's not the way it worked out. It created confusion... it created an inconsistancy which evil men were able to exploit to expand the government and by proxy their own power.

Yep... the Articles of Confederation are looking better all the time.

Here's to you Alex. Its a shame they didn't listen to you.

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