…to prevent misconstruction or abuse…

patriotism

We often hear about people quoting individual amendments to the constitution, or the Bill of Rights, or the Declaration, but rarely do we hear or read something in context.

When was the last time you heard about why we have amendments to the US Constitution? What is the Bill of Rights for?
Read the first paragraph of the preamble to the Bill of Rights. It’s not a hard read, and most people who possess at least an 6th grade education should be able to grasp it pretty well:

THE Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.

I underlined the important bit there. That is, the Bill of Rights — the first ten amendments to the Constitution — were stated to prevent anyone from perverting the intent of the founding documents of this nation. Or, exactly as stated, “in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers,” makes it very clear what the bill of rights is for.

Now, take a few minutes to read the full text of the Bill of Rights, in its entirety. Ratified by the States on December 15, 1791 exactly as stated.

While reading this, keep in mind that “no” means “no”, “not” means “not”, and “people” means “people”. There are no separate definitions for each of those words within these statements.

Congress of the United States

begun and held at the City of New-York, on

Wednesday the fourth of March, one thousand seven hundred and eighty nine.

THE Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.

RESOLVED by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, two thirds of both Houses concurring, that the following Articles be proposed to the Legislatures of the several States, as amendments to the Constitution of the United States, all, or any of which Articles, when ratified by three fourths of the said Legislatures, to be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of the said Constitution; viz.

ARTICLES in addition to, and Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, proposed by Congress, and ratified by the Legislatures of the several States, pursuant to the fifth Article of the original Constitution.

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Amendment II

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.

Amendment III

No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment V

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Amendment VI

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

Amendment VII

In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Amendment VIII

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Amendment IX

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

Amendment X

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.

Did you see it?

Did you see the statement that said that the second amendment could be excluded at the whims of those in power? Did you see the statement that said it’s okay to search through somebody’s personal belongings just because some other people doesn’t like someone? Or maybe you spotted the sentence that allows government limit the peoples’ rights to gather and express their distaste or dislike or anger of their government. What about the paragraph that says the people aren’t allowed to observe and report the actions of the government when in plain view of the people?

Did you see them?

You didn’t see any statements like that within the Bill of Rights because they don’t exist. The Bill of Rights states what the rights of the people (that’s you and me) are and very clearly limit the power of government and its ability to abuse the people.

“People” means “people”. “No” means “no”. “Not” means “not”.