Happy Birthday to the Bill of Rights…All Ten of Them

constitution bill of rights ratified 1791 second amendment

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On this day in 1791, Virginia ratified the first ten amendments to the Constitution, otherwise known as the Bill of Rights. As history.com notes,

In September 1789, the first Congress of the United States approved 12 amendments to the U.S. Constitution and sent them to the states for ratification. The amendments were designed to protect the basic rights of U.S. citizens, guaranteeing the freedom of speech, press, assembly, and exercise of religion; the right to fair legal procedure and to bear arms; and that powers not delegated to the federal government would be reserved for the states and the people.

Yes, well, we all know how the federal leviathan has grown in the intervening generations and impinged on those original ten as well as other subsequent amendments. Still . . .

On December 15, 1791, Virginia became the 10th of 14 states to approve 10 of the 12 amendments, thus giving the Bill of Rights the two-thirds majority of state ratification necessary to make it legal.

In case you’re wondering, the two amendments that didn’t make the cut back in 1791 were one that would have established a formula for apportioning congressional seats among the states and another that mandated that no law affecting the salaries of members of Congress could take effect until after an election. That second one eventually became the 27th Amendment.

But back to those original 10. One of them, as we all know, has been under attack for most of the last 227 years. Despite affirmations from the Supreme Court in the Heller and McDonald decisions, cities, states, and federal courts continue to treat the Second Amendment as a second rate right. And organizations that are ostensibly dedicated to the defense and preservation of the Bill of Rights, have given up all pretense as to their support of the right to keep and bear arms.

None of which means that those of us who believe that the Second Amendment means what it says will stop fighting to preserve it. And given recent and more potential changes in the makeup of the Court, we’re optimistic that we could see still more precedent-setting support for the RKBA that would make future infringements, at any level, much more difficult and legally tenuous.

So while we know the struggle to preserve our freedoms never end, we’re wishing the Bill of Rights — all ten amendments — a very happy birthday today. And if some of us hold one of the ten a little more dear than the others, well, we’ll just have to live with that.

 

 

comments

  1. avatar Freebird says:

    Each year on Christmas Morning the re-enactment of Washington Crossing the Delaware takes place in Titusville , NJ. Thousands line both sides of the river to watch, and the press is always on hand.

    We could not ask for a better venue to quietly PROTEST New Jerseys assinine 10 round magazine ban. If N.J.S.P. are dumb enough to harass citizens holding a few signs ( they will , they cant help themselves ) the public attention will be even greater.

    Something for our oppressed countrymen to consider.

  2. avatar TrueBornSonofLiberty says:

    I bet if you produced toilet paper with the bill of Rights preprinted on them they’d sell like hot cakes in places like California, New York City and other various democrat strongholds. The modern democrat party are THE domestic enemies our Founders warned us about. Plan accordingly.

    1. avatar Jon in CO says:

      Ironically, I would start that business, and use all profits like Newman to fund GOA/NAGR/etc. Take all of that money they’re giving me to hate on the Constituiton, and use it to further expand the Constitution to provide more freedom.

      Granted, I would feel shitty about it. No pun intended.

  3. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

    The story of the ratification of the 27th Amendment is pretty interesting. A UT student didn’t like the grade he got on a poli-sci paper claiming that the amendment was still alive and could still be ratified, so he went on a campaign to prove he was right. Which he was.

    Happy B-day BoR!

    1. avatar BLAMMO says:

      Clearly something that is in the interest of “We the People” but contrary to the interest of Congress who has to vote FOR it in order for it to proceed to ratification. That’s why we’ll never get term limits. Not for them.

      1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

        Article V – Convention of States. 2/3 of the states agree to a convention and they can pass any amendment they want. We don’t need congress.

        1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

          2/3 to call for a convention, but 3/4 of the states have to ratify the amendment.

        2. avatar Sam I Am says:

          “Article V – Convention of States. 2/3 of the states agree to a convention and they can pass any amendment they want. We don’t need congress.”

          Please read the entire article, then explain where it plainly says the COS can ratify amendments. “Passing” an amendment is step 1, it is called a “proposed” amendment. CONGRESS then determines how the states will ratify any proposed amendments, and there is no time limit for providing that guidance.

          But let’s pretend (purely for academic purposes) the COS fantasy results in states ratifying the proposed amendments. Then what? Which political system do you image will exist? Which two current major parties do you imagine will not exist? Which SC do you imagine will not exist.

          To borrow from former President Andrew Jackson, “The Convention of States have their ratifications. Now, let them enforce those.”

        3. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

          Like I said, 2/3 for a convention, then 3/4 to ratify. I suppose the congress could try to block the amendment by delaying a procedural decision, but seeing that there’s never been a convention of states they’d likely be strung up on the capitol lawn if they tried that.

          Also, who said anything about eliminating parties?

        4. avatar Sam I Am says:

          If you introduce newly ratified COS amendments, they are no different from the current amendments. That is, they are subject to the same political and judicial environment that exists today. That means the amendments will be enforced, circumcised and distorted as the current amendments have. Without a political earthquake that wipes the current environment clean, a COS will achieve virtually nothing. And this is not to mention that there are not enough pro-constitution states available to ratify the proposed amendments from the COS.

          In short, folks, if the current constitution and amendments are not “working”, where is the magic in those stemming from a COS?

          Fact: In this day and age, culture trumps constitution.

        5. “Article V

          The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress; provided that no amendment which may be made prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any manner affect the first and fourth clauses in the ninth section of the first article; and that no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate. ”

          Either two thirds of both houses of Congress can propose amendments, or, upon application of the legislatures of two thirds of the States, Congress shall call a convention for proposing amendments.

          Either process requires participation by Congress. Both processes require ratification by the legislatures of three-fourths of the States. No easy task, on purpose. The Founders/Framers made the Article V. processes nearly impossible to accomplish to prevent amendments of momentary importance for the benefit of some special interests and not for the United States, from being proposed/ratified.

          At any time during the process of ratification, the legislature of any state proposes an amendment to change so much as one word in the amendment being ratified the entire process has to be restarted. How likely is it that the legislatures of three-fourths of the States would agree on anything, let alone an amendment to the Constitution? In today’s run amok political scene, impossible!

        6. avatar Sam I Am says:

          Agree.

          And here is what so many overlook – even the founders could not protect the constitution and BOR as written. We have nothing in our nation to approximate the intellectual power of the founders. Not in politics. Not in academia. Not in the media. Not in Hollywood. Why would we suppose the nation has the brainpower to achieve that which the founders were unable?

        7. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

          ‘…as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress…’

          MAY be proposed by the Congress, not AS proposed by the Congress. Congress could do nothing to thwart a constitutional amendment proposed by a convention of states.

          As to the probability of a CoS, highly improbably, however, the threat of a convention led to the congress passing the 17th Amendment (direct election of senators). It’s conceivable that it could work again for term limits.

        8. avatar Sam I Am says:

          A COS is just silly.

          First, there are the logistics – the rules. Never ending arguments about what is what or will be what.

          Second, the States cannot act until Congress decides which method of ratification will be used, or formally declines to decide.

          Third, going into the COS, the requisite number of States to do the ratifying must exist. If that were the situation (and it definitely is not), there would be little need for a COS, as the representatives to congress/senate would have already been exchanged for those friendly to the constitution in the first place.

          Fourth, enforcement. If the current political climate exists at the time of ratification of COS proposed amendments (presuming without evidence that all the amendments would “restore” the original constitution), the congress would continue to pass extra-constitutional laws that ignore the newly amended constitution, and the SC would continue to increase its power to widely interpret the newly amended constitution just as they do today.

          Too many people think that somehow the COS would be the equivalent of, “This time we really mean it”, and the forces of national destruction would simply acquiesce, and behave themselves.

        9. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

          First, we’ve already passed and ratified 17 amendments. The same squabbles that exist in a CoS works just the same in congress.

          Second, I just explained above that the Constitution says the Congress MAY, not SHALL set the procedures for ratification. They can’t stall by refusing to decide.

          Third, ratification by 3/4 of the states was never assured when congress passed amendments, why should it be any different if the amendment is passed by a CoS.

          Fourth, ‘…the congress would continue to pass extra-constitutional laws that ignore the newly amended constitution, and the SC would continue to increase its power to widely interpret the newly amended constitution just as they do today.’ – So in other words, our hypothetical 28th Amendment would be just like the other 27. However, concerning an amendment to incorporate term limits for representatives and senators, nobody has yet defied the 22nd Amendment and attempted to run for president a third time, so I think it would be pretty hard to circumvent.

          Also as I pointed out already the threat of a CoS pressed the senate to accept and pass the 17th Amendment. There’s no limit to what the states can pass once a convention is assembled, so if term limits were demanded the parties might fall in line rather than risk even more power stripping amendments.

        10. avatar Sam I Am says:

          “They can’t stall by refusing to decide.”

          Congress must either act, or formally decline. Besides, as used at the time of the founding, “may” was not permission, but a statement of affirmation. As in a claim that congress has a specific duty regarding the determination of means of ratification. The minute a state begins ratification without instruction from congress, the SC will rule such ratification procedure void. COS folks believe their natural opponents will sit idly by and just watch the COS, and subsequent actions; waiting on outcomes.

          “…the parties might fall in line rather than risk even more power stripping amendments.”

          This is again a wish. A wish that the people bent on destroying the constitution will be cowed by some sort of collection of strong words. Back when a COS threatened regarding the 17th, you did not have the current radicalization of the leftists, the near 50-50 split of the voters.

          In the end, no government-restricting amendment will achieve anything. The lawyers, politicians and courts will neutralize anything the deem dangerous to their power. And time is not a friend. The game was over in 1860. Constitutionalism was dead once the electorate decided that the amendment process was too difficult, and war was preferable as a means to control the States. The only amendment since 1960 that didn’t have support of the states was ERA.

        11. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

  4. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

    food, clothing, shelter and healthcare. vouchers for such are in higher demand than self defense options (although i’d like to see ammo vouchers per household). and the only gfz’s should be north of the firing line.
    happy birthday o sublime ephemery. may the high court shore you up in defense of the onslaught. truly a shame that it be necessary, but it do.
    strict fucking scrutiny, bitch.

  5. avatar Cliffg says:

    An unintentionally hilarious Facebook post was someone posting all these bits of Federal spending he didn’t have any problems with(I.e. NPR) and only objecting to one thing. Yep, the only program the Constitution requires federal spending, national defense. These are the morons we have to deal with every day.

  6. avatar Ralph says:

    The NY Slimes is celebrating the anniversary of the Bill of Rights — all nine Amendments.

    1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

      I think you mean ‘both amendments’.

  7. avatar Sam I Am says:

    As someone who tries to keep informed about the history of the country, and the constitution, it would be a great event to see congress and the SC curtail the 3d Amendment based on governmental “compelling interest”. It would only be fair to abuse the entire BOR.

    1. avatar UpInArms says:

      C’mon– we gotta hang on to something, even if it’s just for sentimental reasons.

      1. avatar Sam I Am says:

        Yeah. UR right. I forgot about the nostalgia thing.

  8. avatar Tom Jefferson says:

    The United States of America has a Bill of Rights? Wow, who would have guessed.

    1. avatar Baldwin says:

      Who? Anyone that has spent time in literally any other country around the world. We complain a lot, but we have so much to be thankful for.

  9. avatar Michael says:

    No compromise, no retreat, no surrender.

    1. avatar Bob Percopo says:

      We are going to get background checks jammed down our throats one way or another. How about NRA, the president and if necessary the Supreme Court all agreeing to the checks in exchange for national reciirocity. The Supreme Court is stacked in our favor. This would finally give us something back instead of dying a death of 1,000 cuts

  10. avatar Chris T in KY says:

    Happy birthday to the Bill of Rights.
    My Bump Stock is very grateful to his great, great, great, great ,great, great grandfather, the “rapid fire”, pickle gun.

  11. avatar Kenneth Kaplan says:

    It seems that the USSC does not bother with the 2nd when a illegal law is passed stomping the 2nd into dirt.The justices always uphold the lower court ruling against the 2nd. Why? Have you ask that question to your local rep? Or is he to busy giving you a b.s.answer>

  12. avatar Ton E says:

    States have powers not rights.

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