Eleventh Amendment

We’ve finished the original Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Today, we’ll consider the Eleventh Amendment.

This post is part of a series that will make more sense if it is read in order. If you haven’t read the earlier posts in this series, please click here to start with the first one. One reason I’ve broken this series into fairly small parts is that we have a tendency to rush through reading the Constitution and miss a lot of it. I hope the readers of this series will ponder the points in each session. I also hope you will comment on each post as we go along.

Throughout this series on the Constitution, my comments will be in black normal font, and the text of the document will be in this color and italicized.

ARTICLE XI.

The Judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State.

This amendment is so short and simple I thought about combining it with the 12th Amendment, but it is much longer and wouldn’t have combined well. We’ll take a look at that one in our next post.

This 11th Amendment hardly even requires any explanation at all. It protects the states against lawsuits filed by people who are not citizens of that state. If a citizen of Delaware wants to sue the state of Texas, for instance, he must file that suit in a Texas state court and not in a federal court.

Likewise, a citizen of Germany or Japan or any other foreign nation who wants to file suit against one of our states must do so in a state court of that state and not in a federal court. This is designed to protect the integrity and sovereignty of the various states.

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Benjamin Franklin, exiting Constitutional Convention:

“We’ve given you a republic, if you can keep it.”

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For more information about David N. Walker, click the “About” tab above.

For more information about his books, click on “Books” above.

Contact him at dnwalkertx (at) gmail (dot) com or tweet him at @davidnwalkertx.

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Tenth Amendment

We’ve finished the original Constitution and the first nine amendments. Today, we’ll consider the Tenth Amendment.

This post is part of a series that will make more sense if it is read in order. If you haven’t read the earlier posts in this series, please click here to start with the first one. One reason I’ve broken this series into fairly small parts is that we have a tendency to rush through reading the Constitution and miss a lot of it. I hope the readers of this series will ponder the points in each session. I also hope you will comment on each post as we go along.

Throughout this series on the Constitution, my comments will be in black normal font, and the text of the document will be in this color and italicized.

ARTICLE 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.

This amendment is very short and concise, but it’s one of the most important statements in the entire Constitution. It’s also one that has been increasingly ignored throughout our history.

To put this amendment into perspective, we need to remember the roots of the Constitution itself. It was an agreement—a treaty, if you will—among sovereign states. The signers of our Constitution were not appointed by some king, nor were they elected in some national referendum. They were appointed by the legislatures of the states which were party to this treaty.

In coming together to form a nation, the states gave up part of their sovereignty. The experiment of the Articles of Confederation had shown the folly of trying to form a national government without giving it the power to govern, but none of the delegates wanted to cede too much power to the federal government either. They were concerned about loosing some sort of monster central government that would run rampant over the very states that created it.

Much of the basic document concerned itself with limiting the power of each branch and setting each branch as a check against the powers of the other two. In this amendment, they clearly limited the powers of the federal government to those that were specifically delineated, reserving ALL other powers to the states or the people.

In the 1860’s, we totally ignored this amendment, with the federal government declaring war on a number of its constituent states. No such power was given to the federal government—it was usurped in order to pursue a political agenda.

Under the guise of freeing slaves—which was never the main issue—the U. S. Army was deployed to invade the southern states. The rights of these states and their citizens were completely ignored and trampled.

This abrogation of the Constitution continued after the war when the southern states, which the northerners maintained couldn’t secede, were forced to ratify the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments as a condition of being readmitted to the union. These states could not secede, which implies they were always part of the union, yet they had to be readmitted? Huh?

More recently, the state of Arizona has been told it could not protect its own citizens against an onslaught of illegal aliens. The federal government has inflicted itself so much on our local school systems, voters have almost no say in what goes on. How can this be justified in light of the Tenth Amendment?

I won’t take my research time or your reading time dredging up other instances of violation of this amendment by the federal government, but there have been many. It’s too bad federal judges, Supreme Court justices and elected federal officials don’t know how to read the Constitution.

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Benjamin Franklin, exiting Constitutional Convention:

“We’ve given you a republic, if you can keep it.”

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For more information about David N. Walker, click the “About” tab above.

For more information about his books, click on “Books” above.

Contact him at dnwalkertx (at) gmail (dot) com or tweet him at @davidnwalkertx.

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Eighth and Ninth Amendments

We’ve finished the original Constitution and the first seven amendments. Today, we’ll consider the Eighth and Ninth Amendments. Both are very brief, so we’ll consider them together.

This post is part of a series that will make more sense if it is read in order. If you haven’t read the earlier posts in this series, please click here to start with the first one. One reason I’ve broken this series into fairly small parts is that we have a tendency to rush through reading the Constitution and miss a lot of it. I hope the readers of this series will ponder the points in each session. I also hope you will comment on each post as we go along.

Throughout this series on the Constitution, my comments will be in black normal font, and the text of the document will be in this color and italicized.

ARTICLE VIII.

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

It was not uncommon in the monarchies of the day for people to be held in prison unreasonably by the use of impossibly large fines or bail, and the use of cruel and unusual punishment was fairly routine. The forefathers wanted to be sure our citizens were protected against such abuses of power.

When I read about particularly horrendous murders or perverts raping young children, I sometimes wish we could have cruel and unusual punishment to fit their crimes, but that’s not a serious desire. I’m glad we have these protections.

ARTICLE IX.

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

This statement seems obvious, but it was necessary to be sure our rights as citizens were not limited.

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Benjamin Franklin, exiting Constitutional Convention:

“We’ve given you a republic, if you can keep it.”

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For more information about David N. Walker, click the “About” tab above.

For more information about his books, click on “Books” above.

Contact him at dnwalkertx (at) gmail (dot) com or tweet him at @davidnwalkertx.

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Seventh Amendment

We’ve finished the original Constitution and the first five amendments. Today, we’ll consider the Seventh Amendment.

This post is part of a series that will make more sense if it is read in order. If you haven’t read the earlier posts in this series, please click here to start with the first one. One reason I’ve broken this series into fairly small parts is that we have a tendency to rush through reading the Constitution and miss a lot of it. I hope the readers of this series will ponder the points in each session. I also hope you will comment on each post as we go along.

Throughout this series on the Constitution, my comments will be in black normal font, and the text of the document will be in this color and italicized.

ARTICLE 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.

This is a very simple, straightforward and non-controversial amendment regarding the right to a trial by jury in civil cases. Although the figure $20 may seem to be ridiculously low these days, it represented most of a month’s pay for the average person back in the day when it was written.

It is interesting to note the provision that no fact so tried can be re-examined by any other court. While any civil case may be appealed by either party, only the application of the relevant law is appealable. Appellate courts cannot change rulings on facts—only on law.

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Benjamin Franklin, exiting Constitutional Convention:

“We’ve given you a republic, if you can keep it.”

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For more information about David N. Walker, click the “About” tab above.

For more information about his books, click on “Books” above.

Contact him at dnwalkertx (at) gmail (dot) com or tweet him at @davidnwalkertx.

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Sixth Amendment

We’ve finished the original Constitution and the first five amendments. Today, we’ll consider the Sixth Amendment.

This post is part of a series that will make more sense if it is read in order. If you haven’t read the earlier posts in this series, please click here to start with the first one. One reason I’ve broken this series into fairly small parts is that we have a tendency to rush through reading the Constitution and miss a lot of it. I hope the readers of this series will ponder the points in each session. I also hope you will comment on each post as we go along.

Throughout this series on the Constitution, my comments will be in black normal font, and the text of the document will be in this color and italicized.

ARTICLE 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 defense.

This is an tremendously important amendment that the lawyers have made a complete mockery of. Do you ever watch Western movies? When someone was arrested, he was tried the next day. The witnesses were all still around, and their memories of what happened were fresh. This is what the Sixth Amendment calls for.

Nowadays, however, defense lawyers start filing all sorts of motions to delay the trial, and it can be years before the accused actually faces a courtroom. The memories of the witnesses may begin to dim. If the accused is part of an organized gang, his fellow gang members have plenty of time to try to intimidate the witnesses. He may post bail and continue enjoying the fruits of his crimes for many years before he has to face the verdict of a jury.

We have become so overwrought with our efforts to protect criminals we’ve forgotten about protecting honest citizens from those criminals. It’s time we begin to honor this wonderful Constitution of ours and operate our government according to its provisions.

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Benjamin Franklin, exiting Constitutional Convention:

“We’ve given you a republic, if you can keep it.”

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For more information about David N. Walker, click the “About” tab above.

For more information about his books, click on “Books” above.

Contact him at dnwalkertx (at) gmail (dot) com or tweet him at @davidnwalkertx.

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Fifth Amendment

We’ve finished the original Constitution and are now looking at the amendments. Today, we’ll consider the Fifth Amendment.

This post is part of a series that will make more sense if it is read in order. If you haven’t read the earlier posts in this series, please click here to start with the first one. One reason I’ve broken this series into fairly small parts is that we have a tendency to rush through reading the Constitution and miss a lot of it. I hope the readers of this series will ponder the points in each session. I also hope you will comment on each post as we go along.

Throughout this series on the Constitution, my comments will be in black normal font, and the text of the document will be in this color and italicized.

ARTICLE 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.

The corrupt kings and other governments in Europe frequently had people imprisoned with little or no reason. It was also common for people to be tortured into confessing crimes, whether they committed them or not. Nobles and royalty were bad about just usurping people’s property for their own benefit, too. These are the reasons behind this amendment. We all get upset when some criminal gets off on a technicality and cannot be retried because of “double jeopardy,” but we would lead precarious lives without such protections.

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Benjamin Franklin, exiting Constitutional Convention:

“We’ve given you a republic, if you can keep it.”

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For more information about David N. Walker, click the “About” tab above.

For more information about his books, click on “Books” above.

Contact him at dnwalkertx (at) gmail (dot) com or tweet him at @davidnwalkertx.

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Fourth Amendment

We’ve finished the original Constitution and are now looking at the amendments. Today, we’ll consider the Fourth Amendment.

This post is part of a series that will make more sense if it is read in order. If you haven’t read the earlier posts in this series, please click here to start with the first one. One reason I’ve broken this series into fairly small parts is that we have a tendency to rush through reading the Constitution and miss a lot of it. I hope the readers of this series will ponder the points in each session. I also hope you will comment on each post as we go along.

Throughout this series on the Constitution, my comments will be in black normal font, and the text of the document will be in this color and italicized.

ARTICLE 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.

This was another one of the experiences under the king the founders wanted to protect us against. Sometimes this has resulted in allowing lawyers to get evidence tossed out of criminal trials and resulted in letting guilty people go free, but it’s still a protection most Americans wouldn’t want to give up.

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Benjamin Franklin, exiting Constitutional Convention:

“We’ve given you a republic, if you can keep it.”

——————————————

For more information about David N. Walker, click the “About” tab above.

For more information about his books, click on “Books” above.

Contact him at dnwalkertx (at) gmail (dot) com or tweet him at @davidnwalkertx.

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