Friday, November 30, 2007

"...that a bold and daring usurpation might be resisted..."

"It will not be denied, that a bold and daring usurpation might be resisted, after an acquiescence still longer and more complete than this...."

"...We admit, as all must admit, that the powers of the government are limited, and that its limits are not to be transcended. But we think the sound construction of the constitution must allow to the national legislature that discretion, with respect to the means by which the powers it confers are to be carried into execution, which will enable that body to perform the high duties assigned to it, in the manner most beneficial to the people. Let the end be legitimate, let it be within the scope of the constitution, and all means which are appropriate, which are plainly adapted to that end, which are not prohibited, but consist with the letter and spirit of the constitution, are constitutional."

- Chief Justice John Marshall, U.S. Supreme Court. [M'CULLOCH v. STATE, 17 U.S. 316 (1819)]

Friday, November 23, 2007

"Discharging a loaded pistol..."

"Indeed, is not this so of acts done in the execution of any crime? Discharging a loaded pistol at a target is an innocent pastime; discharging a loaded pistol at a human being, with felonious intent, takes a quality from such intent and may constitute murder."

- Mr. Justice McKenna, Delivering the opinion of the U.S. Supreme Court, [HYDE v. U S, 225 U.S. 347 (1912), Page 225 U.S. 347, 360]

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

And what have we here? ...



"A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

The right to bear arms is not granted by the Constitution; nor in any manner dependent upon that instrument for its existence. The Second Amendment means no more than that Congress shall not infringe the right. United States v. Cruikshank, 92 U. S., 542. This amendment is a limitation only on the powers of Congress and the National government. But in view of the fact that all citizens capable of bearing arms constitute the reserved military force of the National government, as well as in view of its general powers, the States can not prohibit the people from keeping and bearing arms, so as to deprive the United States of their rightful resource in maintaining the public security. State legislatures may, however, enact statutes to control and regulate all organizations, drilling, and parading of military bodies and associations except those which are authorized by the militia laws of the United States. Presser v. Illinois, 116 U. S., 252.

- Edwin Eustace Bryant, The Constitution of the United States, with notes of the decisions of the Supreme court thereon, from the organization of the court till October, 1900 (1901).

Sunday, November 18, 2007

"The right of every individual to keep arms for his defence"

...Besides the reported adjudications of the Supreme Court of the United States, the sources which have been resorted to are, the contemporaneous exposition of the Constitution by the authors of "The Federalist;" that portion of the "Lectures" of the late Chancellor of this State, Mr. Kent, which relate to the subject; Mr. Rawle's "View of the Constitution;'' and the more elaborate "Commentaries" of Mr. Justice Story. To all these works the Author acknowledges his obligations, although he must lament that the last mentioned invaluable repository of Constitutional learning did not reach him in time to consult it more at large; and in regard to the abridgment of it lately published by the learned commentator, " for the use of Colleges andHigh Schools," it may be observed, that both from its size and mode of execution it seems to aim at more select and limited objects than those proposed by the present treatise....

...2. Universally, in the American States, open the establishment of independent Governments, which secured the enjoyment of

1. The inalienable natural rights of individuals.

2. The political and civil privileges of the citizens, designed for maintaining, or substituted as equivalents for, natural rights....

...28. Amongst these institutions was the Common Law of England, which, before the American Revolution, had been generally established as the municipal code of the British Provinces, so far as it was applicable to their situation and circumstances; and the benefit of it was claimed by the first general Congress as a branch of those " indubitable rights and liberties" to which the respective Colonies were entitled.

29. By this system of Law, the absolute and inalienable rights of the Colonists as individuals, were recognized and secured to them ; their relative rights, or political and civil privileges as members of society, regulated and maintained ; and offences against public justice investigated and punished.

30. The most essential of these privileges were those natural rights which are common to all mankind, and which, in virtue of certain fundamental laws of England, were held to be the peculiar birthright and inheritance of every British subject.

31. They consist either of that portion of natural liberty which is not required by the Laws of society to be surrendered for the public benefit; or, of those civil privileges which society engages to provide in lieu of them....

...33. The subordinate privileges of a similar character, to which the Colonists were entitled in lieu of those natural rights surrendered for the general benefit, were,

1. The constititution, powers, and privileges of their provincial assemblies, which were intended to preserve the Legislative power exercised over them in due health and vigour, and to prevent the enactment of Laws destructive to general liberty.

2. The limitation of the King's prerogative by certain arid notorious bounds; which was designed as a guard upon the Executive power by retaining it within the rules established by fundamental Laws.

3. The right of applying to the Courts of justice for the redress of injuries, and of having justice administered impartially and speedily; the most valuable incidents to which were the right of trial by jury; and the benefit of the writ of Habeas Corpus, as the most effectual security of the right of personal liberty.

4. The right of petitioning the King, or either branch of the Legislature, for the redress of grievances; and,

5. The right of every individual to keep arms for his defence, suitable to his condition and degree; which was the public allowance, under due restrictions, of the natural right of resistance and self-preservation.* ....

...37. The same natural, political, and civil rights and privileges which had been declared to be the inalienable inheritance of the People as citizens of the respective States, were, on their becoming parties to the federal compact, expressly asserted to belong to them as citizens of the Union....


Sunday, November 11, 2007

Here's an interesting little U.S. Supreme Court case....

"...As Loving contends, and as we have explained elsewhere, the Framers well knew this history*[3], and had encountered firsthand the abuses of military law in the colonies..."

"...Nor does the majority cite any historical evidence, whether from the constitutional debates,*[5] the Federalist Papers, or some other source, that demonstrates that the Framers sought to embrace, or at least actively considered, the English system of shared power over the military. If the majority pointed to some basis for conducting the inquiry that it does, I might be willing to accept its analysis. Instead, the majority repeatedly substitutes ipse dixit for historical evidence..."

- Loving v. U.S., U.S. Supreme Court, "Instead, the majority repeatedly substitutes ipse dixit for historical evidence", June 3, 1996.