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Commonly Misconstrued Intent of the Constitution

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posted on Aug, 14 2010 @ 10:30 PM

Originally posted by misinformational
First, the "Bill of Rights" in the US Constitution only define what natural rights cannot be infringed upon by the government. The majority of the Constitution is only the framework for our government.

So what are ''natural rights'' if they aren't malleable ?
They have to be set in stone. Yet, I've never seen any logical justification of these, other than they were the Founding Fathers' idea of ''rights''.

Originally posted by misinformational
Agreed. But our Constitution provides us Americans exactly the framework necessary to invoke reform. Being for the people, by the people, we control who sits in Congress and the Whitehouse - So we directly control the people responsible for all that corruption and we can fix so long as we awaken enough people to necessary reform. The people we elect for these two branches of government control who is appointed to the Supreme Court.

I hear you, man. I know it's easier said than done fighting the corruption of governments.

What seems to be a problem, is politicians carrying out unconstitutional policies, and half the population of the USA unaware, or not caring about it.

That's one of the things that strikes many of us non-Americans; so many people idolising the constitution, yet so many others seemingly not caring or disregarding it.

Although, I know there's a lot ( many on ATS ) still fighting the good fight.

Originally posted by misinformational
So we directly control who's in power in 2 branches of our government and indirectly control the other branch. No need for a bloody revolution, just well-informed voters.

Well-informed voters ?
Do they actually exist, in election-changeable numbers ?

Originally posted by misinformational
It's not supposed to. It only defines what our government should be.

What I meant, is that one of the problems with any constitution is that it doesn't explicitly pass comment on some things that later become a problem.

For example, I'm no US Constitution scholar, but some things that are often referred to as ''unconstitutional'' can have a very ambiguous interpretation, depending in how you read the wording of the Constitution.

Essentially, it's not that difficult to skirt around the wording of any constitution, as long as you've got a group of good lawyers on your side ( which every government has ).

Originally posted by misinformational
This was a sign of the times, many of the writers were slave owners themselves. There is now, obviously, legislation that prevents slavery. But this doesn't denigrate the value of our Constitution in its framing of our democratic republic.

But what part do natural rights play in the Constitution, then ?

How can you accept this form of ''natural rights'', when the people that defined them thought that those very same natural rights included the right to ''own'' another human being as ''property'' ?

Ultimately, why accept their personal ideology of how government should run, when their other views were so off-base ?

Originally posted by misinformational
It hasn't been - take a look at the Amendments - Most of these cultural atrocities were just that - cultural. America wasn't the only country that widely believe owning African slaves or the lack of female rights were just. Just look to the colonization of Africa by the Brits during the time period.

The difference is that Britain doesn't have an all-encompassing constitution ( the Magna Carta doesn't count

The ''natural rights'' incorporated in the US Constitution and Bill of Rights were written and adopted in the late 18th-century - therefore, the Founding Fathers implictly thought that ''natural rights'' included the right to ''own'' another human being as ''property''.

So, why do so many Americans hold these ''natural rights'' so dear ?

Clearly, the Founding Fathers got that one completely wrong, so why are all the other ''rights'' that they documented held in such high esteem ?

Originally posted by misinformational
I don't think so.

I think you're caught up in the ''emotional'' response to the Constitution that so many people have, rather than the logical.

Of course the Founding Fathers would have worded it completely differently if they'd been around in the 21st century.

I certainly hope they'd have had a prohibition on having slaves.

Originally posted by misinformational
Nope, reference that definition of constitution above.

I suppose the US Constititution is like beauty, then - all in the eye of the beholder.

posted on Aug, 14 2010 @ 10:35 PM
reply to post by airspoon

Agreed, almost entirely. People need to read up on Natural Law before asserting they know the meaning behind every word of it. When I tell people here on ATS that the Constitution is the culmination of a few thousand years worth of philosophical evolution, I mean it. It's not just something that came from a couple of dudes in 1776.

Many sources cite religious philosophers like Saint Thomas Aquinas who wrote extensively on the Natural Law:

This little wiki article does a pretty decent job of explaining it:

I would also recommend 50 Questions on The Natural Law, by Charles Rice. This is both a layman's manual and a respectable research paper on Natural Law.

[edit on 14-8-2010 by projectvxn]

posted on Aug, 14 2010 @ 10:55 PM
You all want to hold true a constitution? The reality is if you were all dropped on an island you would want everyone to act, be what you would want to them to be, to suit your needs and desires. The fact is human beings will never fully cooperate your demands. Get over it. There can never be a God nor government or entity that will make every human satisfied. Thank God He loves us anyway.

posted on Aug, 14 2010 @ 10:56 PM
reply to post by Sherlock Holmes

I think we agree on most points here. But I'll say this: The Constitution isn't meant to be taken as only the "Bill of Rights" - That is a portion of it and that portion certainly defines what in the eyes of many Americans constitutes (pun intended) natural or inalienable rights. Could we add some amendments, perhaps - but that would possibly limit the intent of framing the political entity of the US government (at least for legal and civil rights). And really that's not the job of the Constitution - we have one branch to create legislation and another to enforce it.

(side-note: if you what the US constitutional amendments protect infringement from and apply that to all people of all races, sexes, creeds - you have pretty well defined what is universally accepted as inalienable rights - to a rather large degree at least)

That said, the Constitution is purposely vague and allows for interpretation to fit the will of the people via the Supreme Court. Likewise it is meant to provide the framework for a government by the people, for the people that can change as our culture does. At the same time, the checked and balanced government ensures (in theory) separation of powers that levels the playing field so-to-speak.

Now, I think you raise a very important point. Many many people (especially politicians) use the term 'unconstitutional' improperly and completely out of context and - And I think that brings us full circle to the OP - Politicians understand that your average American (just like your average person) won't take the time to thoroughly understand it, so they won't see false claims when made and then won't make intelligible interpretations of the issue(s) at hand - Your average person will simply take a partisan stance and accept the rhetoric of the person speaking as long as that person aligns with their political ideology.

Can we awaken enough voters to invoke worthwhile reform to the current political happenings with the US (corporate interests at the top of that list, followed closely by foreign policy)??... Let's hope beyond hope!! I will continue to make that my mission - One of my outlets for such is right here, on good ole ATS.

Transparency and populace awareness are the only two necessary components to reform the issues within America - I like to think that we have people fighting for both and hopefully making an impact.

[edit to add: Natural Rights by definition are not malleable - they are universally accepted rights afforded to every single human. Here's the proper definition]

[edit on 15-8-2010 by misinformational]

posted on Aug, 14 2010 @ 11:27 PM
To make the discussion as simple as possible.

The Constitution or the Bill of Rights specifically have NO power over people. It is a list of negative rights of the government. Things they are not allowed to do. Or more specifically an INCOMPLETE list of things they are not allowed to do.

I think the more things listed, the more problems occur.

Just as an example, here is a list that could have been done-

1 The right to Life, Liberty and Property
2 The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
3 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.

Notice I only included the 9th and 10th from the original in my list.

Basically, the Bill of Rights was argued about, even including into the Constitution. Because listing them, kind of furthers the fallacy that they were limited to the ones listed. That is why the 9th and 10th were added, to state that the rights listed, were not the only ones inherent to the people.

Now, the additional amendments are not really rights. They are clarifications of the Constitution. Some are even used UnConstitutionally IMO. Such as the 16th. Which has been argued that does not give anymore taxation then was previously bestowed upon the government. This has lead to a changing of the definition of income. Income back when the Constitution was written, was NEVER defined as wages from labor. One's labor was NEVER considered to be income. It was the even trade of one's labor for a commodity or currency.

By the very definition change, the government now supposedly can take your labor or your "your life, liberty or property".

How can that be?

Just to finish, the Constitution was never meant to infringe upon anyone's right to Life, Liberty or Property, it's sole purpose was meant to limit the power of the government over the governed.


posted on Aug, 14 2010 @ 11:59 PM

Originally posted by neo96
reply to post by eNumbra

protection from the government but what protects us from each other?

We do. Each individual is responsible for themselves.

2nd line

[edit on 15-8-2010 by exlibertateveritas]

posted on Aug, 15 2010 @ 08:37 AM
Our rights dont exist when met with the fury of the law, I was just arrested on Friday night for asking a plain clothed detective for an ID and a badge after watching this guy dive tackle and strong arm a member of a group I was with in Harrisburg Pa for alledgedly relieving himself behind a bush. All I did was ask for ID because I had no reason to believe this man was an officer of the law no uniform only a pistol and a cell phone. I refused to acknowledge his authority as a police officer until I had conclusive proof he was one seeing how where this occured on friday a murder had happened a couple blocks from there on the same street. Our rights are bunk if I can spend the night in a cell for making sure this gun toting citizen was a police officer, when the 9 other officers showed up for a guy that peed in a bush got there they had badges and IDs visible and they were in plain clothes I was not un cooperative in any way but after I was told I would be shot if I tried to go anywhere I began to ask him if I was being arrested or detained, they wouldnt say other than I better shut the **** up or else. When they found out I was a Marine they started to yell at me that I will follow orders and quit asking questions I responded by telling them they are not my Commanding Officers and I dont follow unlawful orders that I am a tax paying citizen and I am concerned. I was arrested for disorderly conduct and spent the night in jail, so much for your rights..., there a myth.

posted on Aug, 15 2010 @ 09:53 AM
One of the more common arguments against the bill of rights being incorporated was that if it were adopted, some fool would later claim that the only "rights" we had were those enumerated in the Bill of Rights.

Take a tour of the Federalist Papers.

As predicted, there are moronic federal drones, in offices we pay for, living off our tax money; there are black robed terrorists who likewise will tell you the following lies:

Any power not denied the federal government by way of the Constitution is something the federal government can usurp; and,

If you cannot find an individual right defined and granted in the Constitution or its amendments, you don't have such a right; and, here's the best one,

Just because a right is "given to you" by the federal government, that does not mean it can't rewrite the rules and change that right or eliminate it all together "for the common good."

Where's Patrick Henry when we really need him?

posted on Aug, 15 2010 @ 10:40 AM
That kind of thinking is naive. You know as well as i do that what you just stated airspoon is a PHILOSOPHY. Its not based in reality. The truth is the constitution DOES give you your rights. You know as well as i do that the piece of paper is the ONLY thing giving you your rights.

You can say we are 'born' with those rights but i have to tell you,you are full of it man. Because while i recognize a few founders thought that way(god rest there soul) the truth is the constitution(the bill of rights) is the only thing GIVING you rights. Without the constitution...YOU DONT HAVE ANY RIGHTS.

You adhere to a PHILOSOPHY.

Your 'rights' would not exist without that constitution.

[edit on 15-8-2010 by Nofoolishness]

posted on Aug, 15 2010 @ 10:44 AM
reply to post by Nofoolishness

None of what you said is actually true. You think paper and ink gives people something as precious and important as your individual Natural Rights? Rights that apply to all of Nature, Rights that predate any form of government? That's awfully narrow, and intellectually lazy. It ignores all historical reference in the advancement of human freedom.

[edit on 15-8-2010 by projectvxn]

posted on Aug, 15 2010 @ 11:13 AM
reply to post by Nofoolishness

This argument is not only philosophical, but also fact as the wording of the first 10 Amendments (and beyond), makes the intent more than clear. In fact, I don't even think it's debated among anyone who has actually read and understood the document. This isn't a matter of how it is interpreted, rather it is a common misconception among those who have either never read the Constitution or don't understand it.

Irregardless of my own personal opinions or philosophies, the framers of the Constitution felt this way and framed our founding document on that very philosophy. When reading the "Bill of Rights", it really can't be interpreted any other way. Again, this isn't a matter of interpretation or my own personal beliefs, rather it is the beliefs of those who created the supreme law of the land. So, even if we disagreed with this philosophy, we would still be bound by it, short of the amendment process contained therein or a revolution.


posted on Aug, 15 2010 @ 12:01 PM
To avoid further confusion it is better not to cite this consitution or that law but instead to just say freedom of this or freedom of that.

If a teenager has a right to bear arms (since birth), the government should not infringe upon it right? Technically speaking of course, if the government try to take his gun, it'll be against the constitution. Is it or is it not?

And if a US soldier goes to war, and he says I'm defending your right to freedom of speech, how's that work? Since according to this, the infringer/enemy of the right to freedom can only be the US government itself, not other countries or other people. You should explain this, I'm lost.

Phylosophically speaking, I'm with defcon5.

posted on Aug, 15 2010 @ 12:14 PM
reply to post by Jazzyguy

Sure, the government is breaking the Constitution by dissarming a teenager, as it should be the parents' job, IMO. Now, if this teenager then goes and commits a crime with said weapon, then you can dissarm and punish him, as well as maybe his parents.

You see, children aren't capable of living up to the responsability that comes with liberty, thus the parents are in control of their children. The parents hole the liberties of their children. That's why a parent can set a curfew or diet for their child/ren.

Irregardless of what you or I believe, it is the wording and intent of the Constitution, the supreme law of the land, that really matters. Read each Amendment in the Constitution, it isn't giving you the right to do anything, rather it is preventing government from taking those rights away.

Whether you believe in the Constitution or not, doesn't really matter because if you don't have enough support to either amend it or overthrow it, you have to abide by it. To amnd it, you need at least 2/3 votes in both houses or 38 States to call a National Convention.


posted on Aug, 15 2010 @ 12:35 PM
reply to post by airspoon

I actually agree with you since both of us are talking about the technicality. Philosophycally I'm with defcon5.

But my second question, if a US soldier goes to war against another country, technically, it can't be about protecting this particular right to freedom of speech, am I right? Since I heard a US soldier say something about that too.

posted on Aug, 15 2010 @ 02:44 PM
reply to post by Jazzyguy

I'm not really understanding what you are trying to suggest. Why couldn't a soldier go to war to protect his freedom of speech? Sure, if another country is threatening your right to speak freely, you could go to war over that infringement.


posted on Aug, 15 2010 @ 03:02 PM

Originally posted by airspoon
reply to post by Jazzyguy

I'm not really understanding what you are trying to suggest. Why couldn't a soldier go to war to protect his freedom of speech? Sure, if another country is threatening your right to speak freely, you could go to war over that infringement.


Precisely, if that is the case. But according to the constitution the only one who can violates that particular right to freedom of speech is only the US government itself. Most of the time United States goes to war, it's not because some other country is trying to infringe americans right of freedom of speech. Hence when a soldier said that, it seems that he misunderstood, since obviously he's not fighting the US government.

posted on Aug, 15 2010 @ 04:12 PM
reply to post by ExPostFacto

excellent, a better reply to this post could/can not be better stated. welcome to the prison state! what more could a human ask for, 3 meals a roof over your head and activities.


posted on Aug, 15 2010 @ 04:25 PM
Two words would go a long way to stoping this fiasco. Term Limits. One term and your done. Then and only then would politicians be free of external influences that make them vote for reelection rather than the good of the People.

posted on Aug, 15 2010 @ 07:11 PM

Originally posted by misinformational
reply to post by zroth

They aren't "God-given" rights. They are inalienable rights. Being that Freedom of Religion is one of those inalienable rights, we have the natural right to believe or not believe in a god or supreme being or anything in-between.

Taking away "God" doesn't do anything to your natural rights.

UNALIENABLE, not INalienable. There is amdifference.

posted on Aug, 15 2010 @ 08:19 PM
reply to post by airspoon

We hold these right to be self evident....

Translated to modern speak: We understand that we are born with these rights. Not given by man but by our Maker and this is how we will keep them.

Great post spoon.


[edit on 15/8/10 by felonius]

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