It is interesting to know that many of the attendees at the Constitutional Convention held in 1787 were OPPOSED to including a Bill of Rights in the Constitution. Why would this be so? The chief concern was that if a written bill of rights were included, the people would, over time, think that these rights were the ONLY rights they had. They were wise enough to know that the people would not understand how vast this body of “inalienable” rights was, and would therefore allow the government (especially the federal government) to dictate, and invade, the sacred domain of self-government that was to remain with the people.
As a result, the Bill of Rights was not included in the original Constitution, but was later introduced by James Madison in 1789 to the First United States Congress as a series of amendments to the Constitution.
The Bill of Rights, which are now defined as the first ten amendments to the Constitution, are understood to protect such rights as freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of religion. Also included (among others) are the freedom of assembly, the right to keep and bear arms, and protections against unreasonable search and seizure. It is critical to understand that this in no way limits the extent of the rights of “the people.” What has been generally lost is an understanding of the purpose and meaning to the 9th Amendment which states:
“The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”
Obviously, the founders were referring to these other “unspoken and unwritten” rights which the people possessed, even if the Bill of Rights did not explicitly detail those rights.
In addition, “the people” (that is us) have lost an understanding of our role in the governing process. An understanding of the purpose and intent of the 10th Amendment is also critical to understand the “vision” of the founders. The 10th amendment states:
“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.”
Therefore, there has existed, and still exists, a vast realm of rights (also referred to as “natural rights”) that we, the people, possess that are not defined by the Constitution or its amendments. In order to gain an understanding of these rights, let me ask a few questions about only one of the important areas of our lives, our physical health.
Despite no specific mention in the Constitution or its amendments, do humans have an individual right to choose their form of medicine or medical treatments? Do we have an individual right to choose “alternative” forms of medicine (such as Native American medicine, ancient Chinese medicine, or ancient Ayurvedic medicine, as examples? On the other hand, can we be forced to only accept what our government states is “legal” medical treatment according to current governmental regulations? Does the Federal government have any constitutional authority to even speak on the subject?
A study of the history of “acceptable” medicine in this country reveals that “chiropractic” treatments were for many decades “illegal,” as government authorities (dominated by the American Medical Association) had not yet deemed it “safe.” Some of the greatest breakthroughs in medical history were not “legal” according to existing governmental authorities. This reality is even more evident today as new breakthroughs in alternative medicine are being discovered every day. Does it make sense to allow a government bureaucracy (which is obviously subject to control by special interest groups) to make such an important decision for YOU, as your choice of medical treatment? Or is this potential life or death decision part of “the peoples” inalienable rights to make choices for themselves, without having to resort to “permission” from some government authority?
Hopefully, this discussion will help to clarify how we, the people, must not allow governments to invade those sacred realms of personal decisions and responsibilities, collectively referred to as our “inalienable rights.” In upcoming articles I will continue to uncover how the Founders were attempting to give us our freedom, if only we would accept it.