As defenders of the Republic and guardians of the rights of the people, we affirm the timeless, self-evident truths set forth in our Declaration of Independence, which are at the very heart of our Republic:
1. All men are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights. People are born with natural rights that come from nature and nature’s God, not from government.
2. To secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men. Rights come first, and then comes government, not the other way around. Government is merely the creation of the people. The only legitimate purpose of government is to protect our rights.
3. Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. Governments have no inherent or intrinsic powers – only those granted by the people.When governments claim powers never granted, such government is illegitimate.
4. Whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government. When the government violates the people’s rights, it violates its only legitimate purpose and voids the compact by which the people created that government. The people retain the right to decide when that has happened, and retain the right to throw off such oppressive government, just as our forefathers did in the American Revolution.
5. Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes. And that is why the American people have continued to try and work within the system despite a relentless, sustained assault on their rights.
6. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism …. Among the abuses and usurpations were:
[the national government] “declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever,” erecting “a multitude of New Offices,” and sending “swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance”; Denial of jury trial, with trial instead by admiralty courts (military tribunals); warrantless searches (the writs of assistance); confiscation of property; Imposition of martial law – the suspension of legislatures and the appointment of a general to rule the people, rendering “the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.”
The final spark of Revolution was an attempt to disarm the people
during martial law, which was an act of war against the people.
The parallels to our time are obvious and ominous.
7… it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government. Again, the people themselves will determine when that point has been reached. We cannot expect the national government’s own courts to approve of that decision by the people. Every dictator throughout history, be it Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, or Pinochet, twisted and perverted the law and the courts into a weapon against the people. In our own history, every oppressive act of Parliament and the King in the years leading up to the Revolution were upheld by the English courts. But that was not the end of the argument. The same is true today.
After the Revolution, those principles were again affirmed and made part of our Constitution by the adoption of the Bill of Rights.
When you read the Bill of Rights, remember that each and every one of those amendments was in response to the Founding Generation’s experience with government tyranny, and were intended to prevent such tyranny from happening again. The Bill of Rights thus tracks nearly exactly the causes of Revolution listed in the Declaration of Independence.
In particular, pay close attention to the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, which affirm the the natural rights and sovereignty of the people, and which provide a guide to constitutional interpretation, as I will further explain in an upcoming post.
Each of you must remind yourself of those hard learned lessons, renew your understanding of the principles of American liberty, and how those principles are reflected in the Constitution and Bill of Rights you swore an oath to defend.
And then you must search your soul and arrive at your own personal line in the sand.