This is my fifth, and final, post on the Bill of Rights. It seems that most Americans have forgotten or never learned what these first ten amendments to our Constitution said and what they mean to our freedoms. The Constitution would not have been ratified without them.
In this post I will be commenting on the ninth and tenth amendments. These two amendments limit the powers of the federal government. They have been ignored in many cases and , as a result, the federal government has taken powers that belong to the states and to the people. If we were to apply these two amendments as they were originally intended we would eliminate many, if not most, of the federal government’s programs. We wouldn’t eliminate the services, we would just return them to the states where they belong.
Ninth Amendment: Rule of construction of the Constitution
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
The reason the founders, in particular James Madison, thought this amendment was necessary was the fear that the listing of certain rights in the Bill of Rights would imply that the government had the right to legislate all other rights. Therefore this amendment, along with the tenth, were designed to limit the federal government’s intrusion into the lives of the citizens. It states that the listing of certain rights of the people does not mean that these are the only rights of the people.
The language and history of the Ninth Amendment show that the Framers of the Constitution believed that there are additional fundamental rights, protected from governmental infringement, which exist alongside those fundamental rights specifically mentioned in the first eight amendments.
Tenth Amendment: Rights of the states and the people under the Constitution
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
This amendment, along with the ninth, protect the rights of the people from the government’s intrusion into their lives. As the ninth says that there are other rights than those listed in the Bill of Rights, the tenth says that if a power is not specifically given to the federal government, and if it is not specifically prohibited to the state governments, then those powers reside in the state governments and in the people.
An example of the states having rights that are not given to the federal government would be education. Nowhere is the federal government given the power to legislate educational standards in any way. The federal Department of Education violates this amendment. On the other hand, this power is not denied to the states so the states have the power to legislated educational standards for their specific state.
The second amendment declares the people’s right to keep and bear arms. According to the tenth amendment it is a violation of the Bill of Rights for the states to infringe upon the right of the people to keep and bear arms.
In this series of articles I have tried to show what a simple reading of the Bill of Rights would lead one to believe was meant by the founders of the Constitution when they added these first ten amendments. Not being a legal expert, nothing that I have said in any of these articles should be construed as legal advice. The statements I have made are simply the thoughts of a simple man as he reads the simple language of these amendments and interprets them according to the normal usage of the words at the time they were written.
Lawyers, who are paid to twist words to find meanings that support their client’s position, have distorted the original intent of these simple amendments. One of the biggest weaknesses of our legal system is the principle of precedence. This principle states that when a court comes to a conclusion on an issue that this conclusion becomes part of case law and can be used as a basis for future conclusions by other courts. Suppose the conclusion arrived at by the court is based upon a faulty or prejudiced interpretation of the law. How does that influence future court conclusions?
I think one example should suffice to show what I mean on this issue of precedence. Courts have determined that a woman has the right to do what she wants with her own body, and have, therefore, concluded that she has the right to abort a baby that she does not want. The precedence upon which this conclusion is reached are faulty and prejudicial. They are faulty in assuming that the abortion is dealing with her body. It is not. It is dealing with the body of another human being, the babies body. The fact that the baby’s body is not yet fully developed has nothing to do with the issue. A five year old boy’s body is not yet fully developed, yet no one would argue that his life is not protected by law.
The Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution to protect our rights. Because Americans have little knowledge or understanding of this important part of our Constitution we have allowed lawyers to rob us of some of our freedoms. We need to arm ourselves with knowledge and fight to restore this important part of our Constitution to what it was intended to be.
Our nation was founded upon the principles and precepts of God. We, as a nation, have, in our ignorance, turned from these founding principles. Not only have we ceased to pass this knowledge on to our children, we have done so deliberately. One verse of Scripture will summarize my purpose better than anything I can say. Hosea 4:6 “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.”
I hope this series has been a help to some of you. I pray that it will drive you to study the Bill of Rights to discover its purpose and that you will strive to return to our nation to the precepts upon which it was founded.
Copyright 2017 Pierre Coovert, All rights reserved