Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

December 27, 2013

SCOUT REPORT: Finishing up — The year in review

By Clinton Gill
Glade Sun editor

CROSSVILLE — Looking back on the year in review, I acknowledge that I need to finish up my series on the Bill of Rights. I began this lofty task in January in response to the threat of overreaching gun control levied by the Obama administration on the heels of a national tragedy. My intentions were to demonstrate the importance understanding our rights, and to generate an interest for people to study them on their own. It wasn't long before I found myself overwhelmed in just trying to keep up with explaining the rights that were being violated.

Not being one to let a crisis go to waste, the administration has launched attacks on not only the right to bear arms, but the rights of free speech, free exercise of religion and freedom of association. Under Obama's direction, the NSA has violated the right of the people to be secure against unreasonable searches. His drone strikes have likely violated the Fifth and Sixth Amendments, calling for due process, trial by jury and the rights of the accused to be informed of the charges against them. Furthermore, the government now has assumed the legal authority to detain American citizens indefinitely without charge, which is a clear violation of due process of law. And those are just a few of the highlights. This is quite likely the most lawless regime in U.S. history. They've overreached their authority on countless occasions, violating not only the enumerated powers but also taking exception to the implied liberties of the Ninth and 10th Amendments, which brings us to the following.  

One of the greatest points of contention in ratifying the Constitution was that the original contained no bill of rights. “A bill of rights,” said Thomas Jefferson, “is what the people are entitled to against every government on earth.” Such a contract, it was thought, would ensure certain freedoms were completely off limits to the usurpations of the powers that be. 

James Madison, on the other hand, worried that clearly defining the rights of the citizenry limited their freedoms to only those the founders could compose. He realized that time would reveal inventions of tyranny not yet conceived. "It is a melancholy reflection that liberty should be equally exposed to danger whether the Government have too much or too little power, and that the line which divides these extremes should be so inaccurately defined by experience," he said.

The Ninth Amendment was a compromise between the Federalists and Anti-Federalists. It reads as follows:

"The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."

The importance of this assertion cannot be overstated. The essence of the Ninth Amendment is limited government, not limited citizenry. In fact, there isn’t one amendment in the Bill of Rights that limits the rights of the citizenry.

What the Ninth Amendment is for the individual, the 10th Amendment is for the states. The 10th Amendment was written as such:

"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."

The founders established our nation on the Compact Theory, which essentially means that the federal government is a creation of the states. There must be balance in government, counteracting forces of power equally pushing against each other in order to maintain stasis. If one element overpowers the other, the system will eventually collapse. The relationship between the states and federal government was designed to provide tension rather than cooperation.

The Ninth and 10th Amendments demonstrate the genius and foresight of the founders. However, tyranny is relentless. The 10th Amendment is commonly referred to as "The Forgotten Amendment" because it is thoroughly ignored on a regular basis. Further, the 16th and 17th Amendments greatly weakened the states' leverage in the balance of power by allowing the federal government to levy an income tax and by changing the Senate from appointment by state legislators to popular vote, which took away the states' representation in the federal government.

Just as the federal leviathan consumed the power of the states, it will continue to attempt total control of the individual. We often talk about our rights as being "natural" and given by God, but the reality is that these rights can readily be taken away by an overpowering authority, as evidenced by every nation that has ever existed on this planet. Thomas Jefferson warned "The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield, and government to gain ground." This has been a terrible year for the cause of liberty, but I fear next year will be still worse. It is therefore important to not only know your rights but to protect them vociferously. Educate yourself and share that knowledge with your family and friends. As it has always been, the fate of the American people rests in our own capable hands.