Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Best Bills

Virginia ratified the Bill of Rights 225 years ago today, making them the law of the land and triggering full support for the new Constitution to replace the Articles of Confederation under which the United States of America had previously tried to operate. Massachusetts had balked at the new formal unless it included the ten spelled-out rights that the Bill of Rights specifically guarantees.

Technically, the Bill is just a group of ten amendments -- the first ten amendments, to be precise -- to the overall Constitution. They create an excellent framework within which the federal government operates, and they are actually written in plain enough English that they can be understood by most anyone today.

Any vagueness they may exhibit has been eisegeted into them by different groups which want the opposite of the plain text to prevail but would rather not do the hard work of getting an actual amendment passed. Or they may realize that it's a lot easier to find a judge who agrees with you than it is to find two-thirds of both houses of Congress and then three-fourths of the state legislatures who do.

Anyway, we find that the initial ten amendments have been very useful for the past two centuries and a quarter, and we may hope they continue to be so for another 225 years.

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