View Full Version : The Anti Federalists were right.

Anti Federalist
12-22-2012, 06:55 AM
Bill of Rights, R.I.P?

by Karen Kwiatkowski


This talk was given at the Capitol Bell Tower in Richmond, Virginia, on December 15th, 2012, the 221st anniversary of the ratification of the First Ten Amendments by the Virginia Assembly. The Virginia Chapter of People Against the NDAA (PANDA) organized the event.

We are standing here not far from the place where the first ten amendments – the Bill of Rights – were made the law of the land. These amendments were a great victory for the Anti-Federalists – that indispensable group of founding fathers that included Thomas Jefferson, and George Mason, Patrick Henry and Samuel Adams, James Monroe and George Clinton, and many more.

It is fitting that we celebrate here today what they accomplished here 221 years ago – especially given that every prediction of the Anti-Federalists seem to have come true, and not in a good way.

But before we speak of that, let’s take a moment to remind ourselves of what happened back then. In 1776, the former colonies had united in a war of independence from England and the British crown. By 1787, these united States had won that war. It was not a quick or easy war, but it was a war that was just and right. We know it was just and right, because as Americans, we are familiar with the reasons for the war, as recorded by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence.

Jefferson described the Declaration as, "an expression of the American mind." And what a rebellious and powerful and inspiring expression it was!

The generations that claimed independence from the King of England and his empire did so because they understood that all men are created equal, and that all men – all human beings – have rights that are inalienable and intrinsic and timeless, rights granted by the Creator. Chief among these rights are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

The Declaration goes on to explain why we have government at all. It’s a simple reason. Governments are instituted among men, by men, and derive power from the consent of the governed for one reason: To secure these God-given natural rights.

Let me repeat – government exists only to secure our rights to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.

There is a debate as to what "pursuit of happiness" means.

John Locke, known as the father of classical liberalism, explained that property is a natural right, and that property is derived from labor. Frederic Bastiat, several decades later, echoed Locke and Thomas Jefferson when he wrote,

We hold from God the gift which includes all others. This gift is life – physical, intellectual, and moral life.

Life, faculties, production – in other words, individuality, liberty, property – this is man. And in spite of the cunning of artful political leaders, these three gifts from God preceded all human legislation, and are superior to it.

The war for independence was fought here by Virginians who understood the fundamental role and reason for government. Government exists to secure our rights. They knew that when a government fails to secure our Creator-granted rights of life, liberty and property – of individuality, or expression, of association, of the ability to conduct our physical lives, our intellectual lives, and our moral lives – well, then that government is illegitimate and wrong, and men have every right to withdraw their consent and dissolve it.

So what happened since then? We are today standing not twenty miles from Chesterfield, Virginia, where in August of this year, former Marine Brandon Raub was involuntarily committed to a mental hospital by federal and state authorities because of something he wrote in a private Facebook chat.

Brandon Raub, a 26 year decorated Iraq war veteran, had commiserated to some of his friends about the state of government in America today. I want to read to you some of what he wrote.

He wrote, "The idea that men can govern themselves is the basis for every just form of government. "

He wrote, "The bill of rights is being systematically dismantled. "

He wrote, "You elected an aristocracy. They are beholden to special interests. They were brainwashed through the Council on Foreign Relations. Your leaders are planning to merge the United States into a one world banking system. They want to put computer chips in you.

He wrote: These men have evil hearts. They have tricked you into supporting corporate fascism. We gave them the keys to our country. We were not vigilant with our republic.

He wrote: There is hope. BUT WE MUST TAKE OUR REPUBLIC BACK."

For these words, for this sentiment, Brandon Raub not twenty miles from here was arrested and incarcerated by the federal government, indefinitely, and without due cause. No matter what you think about what he wrote – and I happen to agree with Brandon – his communications and his individuality, his pursuit of happiness –upset the federal government, and that government then decided to take his rights away, and attempted to disappear him into a federal mental institution.

Most of us know about Brandon Raub’s experience. We know because his mother raised Cain about the illegal arrest, John Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute aided his legal case, and a judge soon ordered him released without charges. We know this because the Internet was on fire with his story for several months, and Brandon Raub has become one of many lightning rods for the modern liberty movement.

How did this happen? Sure, we’ve read about President Adams and his Alien and Sedition Acts, and we know about the suspension of habeas corpus and imprisonment of opponents by Abraham Lincoln, martial law in the South after the war between the states. We have watched the modern Drug War effectively eliminate posse comitatis, a constitutionally derived post-Civil War concept that prevented the federal army from conducting domestic law enforcement. We have watched, often silently, as millions of Americans patiently submit to repeated and egregious violations of their fourth amendment rights every time they fly on an airplane or visit a federal facility.

I’ll tell you how it happened. And in thinking about how we got here, the way to take our republic back may become clear.

First – the Constitution itself, when offered at the end of that long hot summer in Philadelphia was very much the work, to use Bastiat’s phrase, of cunning and artful political leaders. Their assigned task was to improve upon the Articles of Confederation – specifically addressing issues of central government funding, and of interstate standardization of trade and tariffs.

Instead, the doors were locked, the Articles – which had functioned well and had survived and thrived for a dozen years, were discarded, and a document establishing a central and unified government for the 13 colonies was drafted.

The 9th and 10th amendments were demanded as a weak remedy to a Constitution that seemed to grant ultimate power to a distant capitol. These two amendments were demanded by the Anti-Federalists to ensure that the Republic was not a Kingdom in disguise; that the President and the Congress were not a King and his court all over again.

The constitution’s language can be, and often is, construed to have created a strong centralized government capable of taking life, liberty and property from its citizens. This was no secret, then or now, and the many predictions of the Anti-Federalists have a special poignancy today.

What exactly did these Anti-Federalists – these drafters of our Bill of Rights, predict?

Anti-federalist and judge Robert Yates, writing as Brutus, warned that the Supreme Court would become a source of almost unlimited federal over-reaching, that the vague language of the Constitution would be interpreted broadly, and would have the effect of drastically increasing the power of the federal government. He believed that the Supreme Court, as constructed, would not to be guided at all by Natural Law, precedent, or any other law, just by its own whims and whatever precedents it might set.

Thomas Jefferson believed that the Constitution would indeed bind many of those who signed it – effectively, one generation. After that, he wrote famously, that the tree of liberty would be watered by the blood of patriots. Of course, a contract that no living person has signed in a sense is void – and clearly while many people in this country believe in and honor the Constitution – overwhelmingly, we must agree that most politicians and government bureaucrats do not.

Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts summed up anti-Federalist concerns when he predicted that the new Constitution would "produce a monarchy, or a corrupt, tyrannical aristocracy."

Samuel Bryan also argued that one representative in the House for 30,000 inhabitants was "too few to communicate the . . . local circumstances and sentiments of so extensive" a country. Bryan also attacked the Constitution's checks and balances, saying these would not protect liberty but only serve to obfuscate federal corruption.

These Anti-Federalists, all over the colonies, and especially here in Virginia, demanded ten amendments to the Constitution – a written Bill of Rights. That these amendments were written on paper did not limit them. As we see in the wording of the 9th Amendment – this enumeration of rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage other rights retained by the people. Imagine, a government that does not deny our rights, and beyond that, does not disparage, belittle, mock, and laugh at them!

The daily abuses of the Department of Homeland Security, the American presidents’ kill lists and free speech zones, and 30 thousand drones flying over our country operated by local, state and federal law enforcement and spy agencies don’t seem to fit in or under the Constitution. The many property abuses we face every day, from illegal searches of our papers, computers, and phones to actual takings and condemnations of land and property, tell us in no uncertain terms that the federal government is disparaging our natural rights. It tells me our modern government has nothing but contempt for our life, liberty, and property. It has nothing but contempt for, as Bastiat defines it, our life, our faculties, our production and our individuality.

Where are we today, 221 years after the Bill of Rights was made the law of the land right here in Richmond? We have a million pages of laws, and less liberty than any generation before us. We have more taxation and less representation than any previous generation. But we do have a rallying cry – written into the supreme law of the land, a cry for liberty and prosperity.

This is the legacy of the Anti-Federalists, and it is alive and very real. The Bill of Rights is not an agreement, a contract or a conditional grant. It is a statement of a common and factual natural law. Men are born free. We are born free. We are born free, to live free, to create and produce freely as we are led and blessed to create and produce, to care for and protect our own property, our environment and our families, to trade peaceably with others, and to worship and express our individuality, our faith, and our liberty in a thousand ways. Government exists by our consent, and serves only to protect our rights.

I want to close with my own tweetable version of each of the first ten amendments. And we do need to tweet liberty, to sing liberty, and to live liberty using the Bill of Rights as our guide to how it’s supposed to be. Unlike the Anti-Federalists – who were forced to use pseudonyms when they campaigned for liberty, we can stand and face our oppressor, and together, we can put out-of-control government back in its constitutional box.

Here’s how I understand the Bill of Rights:

First: We assert our human freedom to speak, assemble, worship, read, write, and to openly petition our government – anytime, anywhere, as we wish, always.

Second: We assert our natural right, using arms and armaments both antique and modern, to protect our families, our property and our states as we wish, because an armed populace is the last defense against tyranny.

Third: We refuse to be forced to participate in, to fund, to feed and to maintain a standing army in peacetime, and we will support no war conducted by unaccountable tyrants.

Fourth: We, our children, our homes, our cars, our papers, blogs, emails, and our property are – and must always be – secure from government intrusion or seizure.

Fifth: We demand our right to due process when dealing with any part of government, from the DMV to the DEA, the FDA to the FCC. We will never be forced to testify against ourselves. Our private property is secure from government seizure, even for public use, without just compensation.

Sixth: We will be treated as equals in a court of law. We demand public trials, access to evidence against us and to our accusers, and assistance of counsel in our defense. We celebrate nullification as protection from federal and judicial tyranny.

Seventh: We assert our right to a trial by jury, and for the wisdom of common law to prevail, not rarely or accidentally, but always.

Eighth: We will neither inflict nor tolerate cruel and unusual punishments, excessive fines, or bails.

Ninth: No one and no government may use the Constitution as an excuse to deny, limit, ridicule or mock any of our natural rights and liberties, whether we have listed them here or not.

Tenth: We assert our ownership of ourselves, and of our government, and demand that it act only as defined in Sections 1, 2 and 3 of the Constitution. We positively claim all other rights in the name of our states, and ourselves.

I hope that as you listened just now, you were doing two things. First, I hope you were reveling with me in the wonder of our real liberty, and the opportunity and prosperity and happiness it promises. I also hope you were quietly lamenting the fact that our Bill of Rights is today being ignored, rebuked, and violated by a government we have long tolerated, and continue to tolerate.

In Patrick Henry’s famous speech in Richmond in 1775, he spoke of this human tendency to tolerate bad government far longer than we should, and to cling to vain hopes that governments will voluntarily stop their abuse of human life, liberty and property simply because we ask it to, and hope it will.

But he also said, "We are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. Three millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us."

I believe the Bill of Rights is the natural companion to the Declaration of Independence. May both of these documents inspire us all to seize the day, and live free. May the Bill of Rights guide us in our lives and work, focus our prayers, broaden our dreams, and lead us to end the tyranny, and restore our badly damaged Republic.

Matt Collins
12-22-2012, 10:33 AM
If you ever read the anti-federalist papers, it's like reading prophecy.

12-22-2012, 10:43 AM

12-22-2012, 10:54 AM
Thanks for posting this.

12-22-2012, 11:42 AM
Anti-Federalists FTW! :D Although the Revolutionary war was not nearly as great as the author makes it out to be, it's the closest thing to a just war in US history.