“Does the Constitution grant us rights?”
This is a question I posed to several groups of people after discovering that many individuals actually believe that the Constitution of the United States grants rights. I am shocked at the number of people that believe the Constitution, a document made by “We the People” to limit the powers of government, is being interpreted in this manner.
Lets start with the basics. The US Constitution and the Bill of Rights, Wait just one minute, lets get this out of the way. “Doesn’t the Bill of Rights grant us rights?” Absolutely not. I can elaborate on this answer in one short sentence. It only sought to enumerate and protect those rights that were considered important enough to list.
Lets take a look. If it granted us rights then we would have phrases like, “The People shall have the right to free speech” but It contains language like,
“Congress shall make no law… abridging free speech…” or “..the right of the People to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
If the People did not already have the right to free speech or firearms, how could Congress abridge or infringe upon them?
So, what is the Constitution if it is not giving us rights?
The US Constitution is a document firmly founded in the principle of Enumerated Powers. The document is meant to set forth the limited powers that the People were granting the government,
“to establish Justice, insure domestic Tranqility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty.”
The first sentence of Article I, Section 1 says it all.
“All legislative Powers herein granted…”
It is clear that the People are granting certain powers to the government. The People are not being granted rights. Article I. Section 8 even lists those specific powers granted.
In fact, James Madison and many of the Founding Fathers argued against having the first eight amendments as they thought them redundant because those rights remained with the People. But Alexander Hamilton and others felt it was necessary as those were some of the very rights the King had taken from the People.
As a compromise, the Ninth and Tenth Amendments were added to complete the Bill of Rights and assuage those against listing any rights for fear that those listed may be considered the only important ones.
The Ninth Amendment truly makes clear for those that may believe otherwise that all rights are the Peoples.
“The enumeration in the constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the People.”
And if you doubt that the Constitution was meant to give only limited powers, the Tenth Amendment should alleviate them.
“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the People.”
I felt that this was an important article to post. It is extremely important for everyone to understand the Constitution does not grant rights to the people but instead grants limited powers to the government from the people. In essence the Constitution protects our rights from federal overreach.
As I insinuated in the opening paragraph, I was caught off-guard by the amount of people that do not understand the basics of the United States Constitution and our rights. I will be posting a series of articles about our rights as United States citizens and the rights granted to the US Government. I will also be doing a series of in-depth articles outlining the powers of our government and it’s branches.
The first in the series will be “Does The Supreme Court Have The Power Of Judicial Review?“. I will go into great detail as to how the Executive branch has increased in power over the years and it’s expediential increase in power during the Obama administration.