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Constitutional Fail: 7 Ways the Left Abuses the First Amendment

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Posted on March 23 2011 6:00 am
Walter Hudson is a political commentator and co-founder of Minnesota's North Star Tea Party Patriots, a statewide educational organization. He runs a blog entitled Fightin Words. He also contributes to True North, a hub of Minnesotan conservative commentary. Follow his work via Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

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It is perhaps the most renowned sample of law in the Western world, the first of ten amendments anti-federalists insisted upon adding to the Constitution. It’s purpose has been bemoaned by the sitting president of the United States.

…the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties, says what the states can’t do to you, says what the federal government can’t do to you. But it doesn’t say what the federal government or the state government must do on your behalf.

Despite the First Amendment’s intended purpose of prohibiting federal encroachment upon individual rights, the Left has masterfully twisted its guarantees into both rhetorical bludgeons and demands for provision. It seems increasingly common to encounter mindless cries of “freedom of speech” or “religious freedom” from people who do not understand what those or other rights actually are.

Part of the problem is that the First Amendment exists at all. There is an argument that the Bill of Rights was unnecessary, and has in fact contributed to the “progressive” expansion of government over nearly two and half centuries of American jurisprudence.

The Constitution was informed by the enumerated powers doctrine, which dictated that the new central government was only empowered to do specific things. Under this doctrine, the federal government may not rightfully act where it is not explicitly authorized to. Therefore, ratifying amendments which say “Congress shall make no law” is redundant. Alexander Hamilton phrased it succinctly.

I go further, and affirm that bills of rights, in the sense and in the extent in which they are contended for, are not only unnecessary in the proposed constitution, but would even be dangerous. They would contain various exceptions to powers which are not granted; and on this very account, would afford a colorable pretext to claim more than were granted. For why declare that things shall not be done which there is no power to do?

Alas, that precedent was set, and such claims have continued ever since. Furthermore, the reimagining of these “exceptions to powers which are not granted” as positive liberties has left many with the impression that the government actually owes them something. Let us consider how the freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment have been thus abused.

Next: Freedom of Speech to be Heard Out, Applauded, and Thought Well Of…

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