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Limits on power

Posted: Tuesday, February 04, 2003

Andrea Doll wrote a fine letter, posted Feb. 2, concerning the tension between preservation of our rights and some people's idea of preservation of our safety. She made one common but crucial error, though, when she said, "The Bill of Rights grants our most fundamental rights, including press...", etc.

In reality, the Bill of Rights is a series of limits on the power of the federal government in regard to rights people enjoy without grant from anyone except their Maker. It states, "Congress shall make no law...", "...the right of the people ... shall not be infringed" (by the government), "The right of the People... shall not be violated..." (by the government), "No person shall be held ..." (by the government), "... the right ... shall be preserved" (by the government). It goes on, "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." In other words, "Just because we've listed a few rights here, that doesn't mean that there aren't more we didn't mention." Furthermore, "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." In other words, "If we haven't created a power for the federal government here, it ain't got it."

It's important to remember that our president, representatives and senators vow only to uphold and defend the Constitution. They do not formally vow to defend us from every injury by anyone, anywhere. "Safety" is not an excuse for violating that oath.

Remember also, a government that can grant rights can take them away.

Paul Wescott

Anchorage



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