In Praise of Constitutions
What are a country's guiding principles and organization and will they secure the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? A country's constitution is one answer to that question.
The US Constitution was adopted today in 1787 by the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, and after intense discussion was ratified by conventions in each state. It can fairly be said that it would never have existed without the British - sometimes called the English - Constitution, which was its main inspiration. (Future US President John Adams called the British Constitution "the greatest fabric of invention in human history".)
The structure of the oak tree is a visual sketch of the British and US Constitutions. Each constitution has three branches of government—the legislature (Parliament or Congress), the executive (the Sovereign or President) and the judiciary (courts of justice under common law). These powers are meant to balance each other. Without that balance, the tree is unstable.
Just law is the supporting trunk that carries nourishment to all the branches. The roots of the Constitution are the people. The earth is their birthright of freedom. The people and their freedom nourish the Constitution, and are nourished by it.
The written and unwritten elements of the British Constitution that contribute to this structure and defend the people's liberties include -
1. Common Law
2. The Coronation Oath
3. Magna Carta
5. The Declaration of Right
6. Unwritten customs and traditions
In 1792 James Madison moved mountains—in this case, the US Congress—to amend the US Constitution with the promised Bill of Rights.
Many of these rights had been fought for in Britain over the course of a thousand years and were part of the British Constitution—
The right to habeas corpus and to trial by juryThese rights were made part of the first ten amendments to the US Constitution, the US Bill of Rights.
The right not to be fined excessively or punished cruelly
The right to be silent under interrogation
The right to the privacy of your house, free of government searches—‘your home is your castle’
The right to petition your government
The right not to have soldiers quartered in your house
The right to bear arms.
Several significant rights were added, including freedom of religion. The last amendment in the Bill of Rights wisely reserved all the powers not specifically delegated to the federal government to the states or the people. They had good reason for this. They understood the creeping menace of centralized power and the strength and creativity of decentralized, local government and free people.
Thomas Jefferson explained that under Article I, Section 8, Congress does not have unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but [is] restrained to those specifically enumerated.
The current US Government is trampling on this principle. In doing so it is trampling on the creativity of the American people and putting their future at risk.
Current and previous British Governments have attacked the people's constitution by introducing poison.
By poison we mean the European Union. Its undemocratic power and immense wealth - taken from British and European peoples in the form of taxes and tariffs - is used to suborn the British people's independence and overwhelm them with an avalanche of laws.
Today both Constitutions are under attack, but both Constitutions have been attacked before. They will survive if we defend them.