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» The Ornery American Forum » World Watch » Property rights

   
Author Topic: Property rights
AI Wessex
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Libertarians object to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 because it interferes with the fundamental Constitution rights of property ownership. When the Constitution was written, white males almost exclusively could own property (16% of the population) and only property owners could vote.

Constitutional Amendments have extended property rights to women and voting rights to all citizens of a certain age. The Framers didn't intend that, however.

If the Framers were right about these most fundamental principles of the Constitution, do you think that subsequent Amendments undermined their intent? What would those of you who would like to see a new American Republic more firmly rooted in the Founders' principles and the religious principles of the bible want?

If the Framers were wrong about property ownership and voting rights, what else were they wrong about and why do some of those same people continue to argue in support of the "Original Intent" of the Constitution?

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Greg Davidson
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As the old line goes, they use the Constitution the same way a drunk uses a lamp-post: for support and not illumination.

A particular example is using the Constitution to assert that you can't force people to buy health insurance, but you can force private hospitals to treat sick patients in their emergency room. If we had a world where the status quo was that everyone had to buy health insurance but hospitals didn't have to treat patients without insurance, and a Democrat proposed establishment of a law forcing hospitals to treat any patient, the so-called Constitutionalisst would likely be against that on the same grounds.

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Wavecrest
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quote:
Originally posted by AI Wessex:
If the Framers were right about these most fundamental principles of the Constitution, do you think that subsequent Amendments undermined their intent? What would those of you who would like to see a new American Republic more firmly rooted in the Founders' principles and the religious principles of the bible want?

If the Framers were wrong about property ownership and voting rights, what else were they wrong about and why do some of those same people continue to argue in support of the "Original Intent" of the Constitution?

I'll try to play Devil's Advocate for you. I will probably be rather bad at it. Please pardon this.

If everyone in this country is equal, why is your right to be heard greater than mine? Because I want and support a country of religious freedom and am willing to vote and most likely die for it? People die for that 'original intent' of freedom and equality; they have died since this country began, fighting a war for it and even now we fight wars for those same reasons.

The Founders were involved in a war, had few backers, and went through hard economic times. That sounds a bit familiar to me and anyone else that watches the news. I think that just because they didn't specify some things doesn't mean we should think they didn't understand that things change or anything of that nature. They seemed to have gone through the same issues that we have even now, so I'm sure their intentions were probably the same and that's why we can rely on the Constitution even now.

The original intent was about principles. And maybe some things have changed, maybe we've grown as a society to realize that sometimes you can't write down everything that you mean in one document, but the Constitution's original intent has never changed.

As for them being wrong, even some people who got the rights didn't want them and protested against being granted them. Much like the Founders during their war, it was a percentage that felt strongly enough about changes to fight for them that got it and everyone else ended up not only adjusting to it, but also benefiting from it years after the actual event.

And that's why people will argue for the 'Original Intent' of the Constitution.

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by AI Wessex:
Libertarians object to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 because it interferes with the fundamental Constitution rights of property ownership. When the Constitution was written, white males almost exclusively could own property (16% of the population) and only property owners could vote.

That wasn't in the constitution, btw. Nothing in the original constitution about who could vote. That was a matter for the states to determine.

quote:


Constitutional Amendments have extended property rights to women and voting rights to all citizens of a certain age. The Framers didn't intend that, however.

The Framers didn't intend to prevent it. It wasn't until the 14th amendment that there was any constitutional language limiting the vote to males (although the intent was to prevent limitations on race, etc.)

quote:


If the Framers were right about these most fundamental principles of the Constitution, do you think that subsequent Amendments undermined their intent?

Which fundamental principles? If you mean federalism (i.e. letting each state determine who could vote & how to carry out the vote) then yes, the framers of the 14th Amendment undermined the intent of the framers of the original constitution.

But the framers did intend the constitution to be amendable ... the legislative history suggests that the expected more frequent amendments than we have done.

quote:
What would those of you who would like to see a new American Republic more firmly rooted in the Founders' principles and the religious principles of the bible want?

I don't want America more rooted in the Founders' principles. I think that the founders' intent is relevant, simply because it casts light on the meaning of the constitution. Some constitutional language is intended to adapt for the times, e.g. the 4th Amendment and any other part that uses language like "reasonable." Obviously we don't ask what would have been reasonable in 1789.

Where we don't like the Founders' intent, we need to rewrite, amend. Intent is simply a landmark that prevents the unamended parts of the constitution from being rewritten at whim of the SCOTUS majority.

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AI Wessex
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"I think that the founders' intent is relevant, simply because it casts light on the meaning of the constitution."

Was there really any such thing as "intent", since there is no language in the Constitution about that and we know the Founders had strong disagreements about many things. If their "intent" is not there, but their "principles" are, what of the "Founders' principles" don't you want things more rooted in?

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Pete at Home
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Ah, perhaps we are misundertanding each other; perhaps we aren't so far apart on this as we supposed.

No, I don't care to build this country or our life on the principles of the founders. I care only for the meaning of the constitution itself, and the meaning of any agreement corresponds to the "meeting of the minds." The states, through their representatives said, we will surrender rights x, y and z, and in exchange we get guarantees a, b, and c, you get duties f, g, and h, etc. Much of that is manifest in the text of the document, but some is better understood by looking at the debates and alternate wordings that were discarded.

What I dispise is the sort of semantic nihilism that justice Stephens engaged in when he reinterpreted the term "with respect to" from the 1st amendment, to make the audacious claim that the government needed avoid any hint of respect towards any religion or towards religion in general. (Stephens was attacking a display on state property that showed the symbols of different world religions and proclaimed peace and good will towards all). Now any moron with a background in reading stuff that was written earlier than last week realizes that the expression "with respect to" in the 1st amendment means, with REFERENCE to. But Stephens "textualism" means tearing words out of any inteligible context to make up new meanings of the constitution -- meanings anathema to the meeting of minds that formed the constitution.

If America was based off the principles of any one particular founder, I would move to Norway in a heartbeat. But I happen to think that these imperfect men, settled on an extraordinarily useful system of government, and I don't want that agreement tweaked by every new fad. Let's look at the agreement as it signified in 1789, and go from there.

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AI Wessex
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Hmmm, we may indeed agree in principle, like the Founders, and yet disagree on practical interpretations, also like the Founders. I have actually bought two original dictionaries from the era of the writing of the Constitution so that I can study what the words they used were likely to have actually meant to them, rather than rely on a "common" understanding that we have now and project back on them. Stephens is also a student of that sort of forensic analysis, it seems [Smile] . I don't know the actual reference you are talking about here, but one connotative nuance of the phrase "with respect to" was "affiliation" or "deference".

[ July 04, 2011, 03:32 AM: Message edited by: AI Wessex ]

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Congress shall make no law *respecting* an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the
I still think that Stephens is wanking the phrase.
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AI Wessex
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Wank is what the SC does. I wouldn't have interpreted it as deference, but then again, I'm not sitting on top of a mountain of research, libraries of original papers from the post-Colonial era and an exuberant and awestruck staff of razor sharp clerks looking for ever finer hairs to split. All I have are my dictionaries and my nose. Since the former are all packed in boxes and going into storage and I'm stuffed up from all the dust as I give my house a final cleaning, I'm not going to debate you on this any further.
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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by AI Wessex:
Hmmm, we may indeed agree in principle, like the Founders, and yet disagree on practical interpretations, also like the Founders. I have actually bought two original dictionaries from the era of the writing of the Constitution so that I can study what the words they used were likely to have actually meant to them, rather than rely on a "common" understanding that we have now and project back on them.

Fair enough and well-said.
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Paladine
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quote:

A particular example is using the Constitution to assert that you can't force people to buy health insurance, but you can force private hospitals to treat sick patients in their emergency room.

Yes. Congress can regulate commercial activity; it can't require you to engage in it. They can regulate the terms under which you operate a hospital; they can't tell you that you have to operate a hospital if you don't want to. They can tell you the terms under which you can buy insurance; they can't tell you that you have to buy insurance if you don't want to.

There's a bright line between activity and inactivity. If you allow them to regulate inactivity, what you have is a government of pretty much absolute power, bounded only by the provisions of the Bill of Rights. We could be legally compelled to buy fruits, vegetables, cars of a certain sort; we could be compelled to work certain kinds of jobs for a certain amount of time each week and all of it would be constitutionally permissible by your reasoning. If you support this healthcare legislation, you're not trying to go back to the Constituion (islands of government power in a sea of maximized negative liberties); you're trying to go back to Magna Carta (islands of individual liberties in a sea of maximized government power).

I'm not saying that the healthcare law is in itself absolutist; I'm saying that an interpretation of the Commerce Clause would render pretty much any possible Congressional regulation constitutional since virtually every human behavior (or lack of behavior) has a significant aggregate impact on commerce.

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