“We the People”, but, Who are We? – Part II
Outpost of Freedom
July 19, 2011
In the first part, Justice Taney [Chief Justice of the Supreme Court who delivered the Decision in Dred Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. 393 (1856)], speaking from the past, explained who was, and, who was not of that class of people known as “We the People. Recapping that post:
We think they [descendents of slaves, whether free, or not] are not, and that they are not included, and were not intended to be included, under the word ‘citizens’ in the Constitution, and can therefore claim none of the rights and privileges which that instrument provides for and secures to citizens of the United States. On the contrary, they were at that time considered as a subordinate and inferior class of beings, who had been subjugated by the dominant race, and, whether emancipated or not, yet remained subject to their authority, and had no rights or privileges but such as those who held the power and the Government might choose to grant them.
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It is true, every person, and every class and description of persons, who were at the time of the adoption of the Constitution recognised as citizens in the several States, became also citizens of this new political body; but none other; it was formed by them, and for them and their posterity, but for no one else. And the personal rights and privileges guaranteed to citizens of this new sovereignty were intended to embrace those only who were then members of the several State communities, or who should afterwards by birthright or otherwise become members, according to the provisions of the Constitution and the principles on which it was founded. It was the union of those who were at that time members of distinct and separate political communities into one political family, whose power, for certain specified purposes, was to extend over the whole territory of the United States. And it gave to each citizen rights and privileges outside of his State which he did not before possess, and placed him in every other State upon a perfect equality with its own citizens as to rights of person and rights of property; it made him a citizen of the United States.
So, the rights and privileges were not conferred upon those who were not citizens at the time of adoption of the Constitution, and their descendents and others. Those rights, too, are defined as inclusive, regardless of whether he is in his state or another state.
So, in 1867, the 14th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified. However, it did not convey rights, only privileges and immunities, to wit [Fourteenth Amendment]:
Section 1–All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
However, this Amendment did not change or undo that which Taney had described as the “citizens of the United States”, though a new class was created by the 14th Amendment.
Now, I know a lot of people don’t see it that way. They believe that the 14th Amendment merged the ex-slaves and their descendents into the same class of people that had previously held the title of “citizens of the United States”, or, “We the People”. However, if you will note the wording of the 14th Amendment, you will see that “rights” were not conveyed, only “privileges and immunities”. Now, this may seem small, or insignificant, though that is because we have been subjected to “political correctness” and mountains of legislation establishing “civil rights”. However, the Framers never referred to the rights protected by the Constitution as civil, since civil implies granted by government — which is exactly what the legislature has done — enact laws granting civil rights. These fundamental rights granted by God are not granted by government, and, they are not civil rights. They were the object and goal of the colonists from April 19, 1775 to the ratification of the Constitution, 14 years later.
What is very important to understand is that when a law is enacted, or a constitution or amendment ratified, the intent at the time of enactment or ratification is, and must be, what was intended — at that time. To think otherwise is to allow the legislation, or even the Constitution, to mean what was not intended by the sleight of redefining words, concepts, or even enforcement. If that is how we are to operate, we are not a nation of laws rather, of man, and that man who sits in Washington; Member of Congress, President,. Justice or Administrative Agency head is free to promulgate what he wants the law to be and applies not what was intended to be, rather, what he desires it to be.
As James Madison said, in Federalist Papers #62:
It poisons the blessing of liberty itself. It will be of little avail to the people, that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is today, can guess what it will be tomorrow. Law is defined to be a rule of action; but how can that be a rule, which is little known, and less fixed?
So, as you contemplate what is said in this Part, understand that only the words of those who were alive at the time of these activities can tell is what they meant. It is only their words, not what some ACLU lawyer might try to make them out to be, that we must be obedient to. To be obedient to any other interpretation is, at best, disobedience to the Constitution.
We have seen the affect of the 14th Amendment on the right, privileges and immunities of those who were and were not of the class known as “We the People”. Now the question arises as to whether the 14th Amendment changed who “We the People” are, and, if so, what proof do we have that only “privileges and immunities, not rights, were conveyed by that Amendment. That will be the subject of the Part III.
Part I can be found at “We the People”, but, Who are We? – Part I
Part III can be found at “We the People”, but, Who are We? — Part III
Part IV can be found at “We the People”, but, Who are We? — Part IV
Part V can be found at “We the People”, but, Who are We? — Part V