Relentless Pursuit of Wisdom and Liberty

The weblog companion of, dedicated to pondering, "If Patrick Henry could see us now..."

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Debate on the Constitution

Here's a few interesting tidbits I read today - these are the kinds of things that make me sad that so few people really understand the aims of the Federalists vs. the concerns and worries of the Anti-Federalists. The quoted sections below are from an essay written in October 1787 by Noah Webster (yes, THAT Webster) attempting to rebut published objections to the proposed Constitution.
A third insinuation, is that the proposed federal government will annihilate the several legislatures. this is extremely disingenuous. Every person, capable of reading, must discover, that the convention have labored to draw the line between the federal and provincial powers - to define the powers of Congress, and limit them to those general concerns which must come under federal jurisdiction, and which cannot be managed in the separate legislatures - that in all internal regulations, whether of civil or criminal nature, the states retain their sovereignty, and have it guaranteed to them by this very constitution. Such a groundless insinuation, or rather mere surmise, must proceed from dark designs or extreme ignorance, and deserves the severest reprobation.
Interesting - very strong words indeed, but I truly wonder what Mr. Webster's reaction would be to seeing some of the federal laws that are on the books these days, like outlawing the private, non-commercial, medical use of doctor-prescribed marijuana, regardless of what state laws have to say on the matter.

It is alleged that the liberty of the press is not guaranteed by the new constitution [keep in mind that this is before the Bill of Rights was ratified and that "the press" meant more than just journalists, but anyone who wanted to write a letter or an article or print and distribute his own pamphlet or book - think bloggers]. But this objection is wholly unfounded. The liberty of the press does not come within the jurisdiction of federal government. It is firmly established in all the states either by law, or by positive declarations in bills of right; and not being mentioned in the federal constitution, is not - and cannot be abridged by Congress. It stands on the basis of the respective state-constitutions. ... All objections therefore on this score are "baseless visions"
Once again, I'd be willing to bet that Mr. Webster would pale in the face of the McCain-Feingold law and the "free speech zones" of which the Bush administration is fond.


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