Monday, January 08, 2007

Constitutional Limitations

"2. Those declaratory of the fundamental rights of the citizen: as that all men are by nature free and independent, and have certain inalienable rights, among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing, and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining safety and happiness; that the right to property is before and higher than any constitutional sanction; that the free exercise and enjoyment of relgious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall forever be allowed; that every man may freely speak, write, and publish his sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for theabuse of that right; that every man may bear arms for the defense of himself and of the state; that the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated, nor shall soldiers be quartered upon citizens in time of peace; and the like."

- Thomas M. Cooley, LL.D, [A Treatise on the Constitutional Limitations Which Rest Upon The Legislative Power of the States of the American Union" 6th Edition, Little, Brown and Company 1890.] (Outline of Declaration of rights for the protection of individuals and minorities, expected from states when forming/amending a Constitution). Mr. Cooley was Dean of the University of Michigan's Law School, Michigan Supreme Court justice, and a nationally recognized scholar.

Addendum - The sentence "that the right to property is before and higher than any constitutional sanction" threw me. That is, until I remembered a quote from James Madison about property/rights;

"As a man is said to have a right to his property, he may be equally said to have a property in his rights. Where an excess of power prevails, property of no sort is duly respected. No man is safe in his opinions, his person, his faculties, or his possessions."

- National Gazette Essay, 27 March 1792

As well as a quote from Samuel Adams;

"Among the natural rights of the Colonists are these: First, a right to life; Secondly, to liberty; Thirdly, to property; together with the right to support and defend them in the best manner they can. These are evident branches of, rather than deductions from, the duty of self-preservation, commonly called the first law of nature...."

- 'The Rights of the Colonists', Nov. 20, 1772.

The way Iread it, is that you can't possibly have, (or at least not for long anyways), one without the other.

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