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Constitution of the United States {Barnes…

Constitution of the United States {Barnes and Noble Study Edition}

by Founding Fathers, William R. Barnes (Editor)

Other authors: Edward C. Smith (Introduction), Samuel Smith (Contributor)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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    Articles of Confederation (Little Books of Wisdom) by Founding Fathers (KingRat)
    KingRat: Between the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution came the Articles of Confederation. Ultimately the government failed under these terms. See what didn't work!

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» See also 13 mentions

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I've taken Con Law classes and read pieces and parts of The Constitution, but recently decided it's high time I read the whole thing! And I feel pretty good having done so! I made some notes on a few things I want to research, but on the whole I was rather pleased to confirm that I had a solid grasp of my own Constitutional rights even before this reading. I did, however, make some surprising (to me) observations...

The scant number (27) of amendments is rather impressive when one considers that it took THREE of them for Congress to wholly grant citizenship rights to non-whites born here (and even then, additional and ongoing legislation is still necessary to accomplish that end. ) Alas, I don't see where all the "excluding Indians" language was ever actually removed and I wonder about that?

Toss in the two Amendments wasted on prohibition and its repeal, and several addressing logistics (like representation for D.C. and appointing a new VP if the old VP assumes the Presidency in an emergency,) and we're pretty much left with Income Tax (1913) and Votes for Women (1920) after the big ten of The Bill of Rights.

Which brings me to the observation that most troubles my feeble mind...

Unlike the scores of legal documents I read in my past professional life, the Constitution fails to define its own terms! It never actually defines "people," or "person" much less "citizen." I find this to be exceedingly baffling!

The document starts out "We the People," and ends with the signatures of individuals selected to represent the population at-large immediately following the Revolution. I suppose this usage of "The People" harks back to the Articles of Confederation, and perhaps I'll find some answers there regarding that flowery opening proclamation and what gave those yahoos the idea that they could speak for everybody.

But what MOST astonishes me is the frequent use of "persons," and not "citizens," throughout the Constitution. I am so embarrassed to admit I never noticed this distinction (or lack thereof) before, and it significantly affects my previous personal positions regarding things like the treatment of suspected terrorists and similar timely topics. To my mind, the Constitution has always enumerated the rights of "Citizens" of the United States. However, it clearly extends those rights and protections beyond that. And now the question is, how far??

Looks like I've got more Important Documents to read...

** I read an edition with ratification notes and the full text of amendments, which was published for the Constitution's Bicentennial in 1987. ** I made a point of confirming that we've passed one amendment since then....only took Congress nearly TWO HUNDRED AND THREE FREAKIN' YEARS to pass a prohibition against raising their own salaries. Course, unless we establish term limits it doesn't really make any difference that Congressional raises don't take place until after subsequent elections. I note that Term Limits for Congressional reps has never even been presented for ratification....doubt I'll see that in my lifetime.

P.S. The documents also fails to define "militia." Regardless, I am still absolutely, positively, incontrovertibly in favor of much stronger gun control! ( )
  Kim_Sasso | Mar 14, 2018 |
Our Constitution is a great document, well worth examining. Since much has been said in our time concerning what priority Christianity should have in our governing process, I thought it would be worth finding out what the Constitution says on the subject. Here’s how I proceeded.

First, I found the text of the Constitution online and searched for “God” and then added some other relevant words. Here’s the list:
• God
• Creator
• Savior
• Christianity (or Christian or Christ)
• Jesus
• Holy
• Bible
• Church
• Sin

Next, the text of the Bill of Rights online, again searching for the following:
• God
• Creator
• Savior
• Christianity (or Christian or Christ)
• Jesus
• Holy
• Bible
• Church
• Sin

If you’re an American you may be surprised by the results. I was.

The words “God” and “Creator” and “Savior” and “Christianity” and “Christian” and “Christ” and “Jesus” and “Holy” and “Bible” and “Church” and “Sin” do not appear anywhere in the Constitution.

Nowhere. Not one of them. Not even once.

The words “God” and “Creator” and “Savior” and “Christianity” and “Christian” and “Christ” and “Jesus” and “Holy” and “Bible” and “Church” and “Sin” do not appear anywhere in the Bill of Rights.

Nowhere. Not one of them. Not even once.

Even “religion” isn’t in the Constitution. The word “religious” occurs exactly once, in Article VI: “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” Mind you, it says “ever.”

The Bill of Rights does of course have a provision in the First Amendment concerning religion. But note how it uses “religion” as a general term, not as one to single out a specific faith: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

It’s inescapable. In these documents no one religion is identified as having a claim to a privileged status compared to any other religion, of any kind. That is the law of the land, as written by the Founding Fathers.

Huh. ( )
2 vote dypaloh | Nov 23, 2017 |
The complete Constitution of the United States printed in large print accessible to young readers.
  wichitafriendsschool | Oct 12, 2016 |
Another amendment has been added since this book was published, but this should be a required read for every American citizen! Not only does it contain the Constitution and the Amendments, but a history and rationale for its development is expertly written. It can be read in one sitting which makes it all the more remarkable. ( )
  mgeorge2755 | Aug 7, 2015 |

The USA PATRIOT ACT was signed in October 2001, over eleven years ago now. Soon, the first generation of Americans to grow up without the Constitution will enter high school. I imagine textbooks will need to be re-written, to adjust to their perspective. Some of you out there will probably wonder “Why even bother to teach about the Constitution, now that it’s no longer relevant to American life?”, but I think there is value to talking about this old bygone paper. It was once a big part of our national character and mindset. People even died defending it, back before we collectively shrugged our shoulders when it was discarded one October morning. Looking back, I wonder what would have happened if we would have been more outraged at its passing. I mean, what if angry patriots had taken to the streets? What if there had been a general strike to stop the wheels of commerce until our defining document was restored? It’s one of those great "what if’s" historians will ponder and alt-history novelists will write bad books about in centuries to come, I suppose.

This book not only contains the full text of the U.S. Constitution, it also furnishes beautiful drawings on almost every page, illustrating the principles of the Constitution, and some of the historical persons connected to it.

The U.S. Constitution (September 17, 1787 - October 26, 2001) was one of the most extraordinary documents in history. It extended the notion of personal liberties brought to prominence by the Magna Carta (1215 A.D.), and placed political power in the hands of the governed. Most of it outlines our tripartite Judicial-Legislative-Executive structure of government, which was the framework for American political life in the first 225 years of the Republic. During this period, our constitution was used around the world as a model for numerous other liberal democracies. It is probably too simplistic to say that the Constitutional was swept away and replaced by the Doctrine of the Unitary Executive purely in a fit of post-traumatic national hysteria, following the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. In truth, undeclared wars, Executive signing statements and other anti-Constitutional practices had been signaling the end of the Constitutional Age (C.A.) for decades. The signing of the USA PATRIOT ACT, is merely a convenient place to mark the end of the end of the C.A., but our leaders must have had a sense long before we did that we were no longer interested in living under or defending the Constitution, as it is now known that the USA PATRIOT ACT had been written long before 9/11.

The most remarkable aspect of the Constitution is the Bill of Rights, which comprise its first ten amendments. These amendments were submitted by James Madison to the first Congress, and were approved into law in August of 1789. As clarified in the American Declaration of Independence, the liberties protected in the Bill are not created by the Bill, but are endowed by the Divine Creator, and are inalienable from all human beings. The Bill of Rights only represents a legal recognition that these rights exist, and attempts to safeguard them within the structure of the law. The Bill of Rights appears as follows.

Amendment I
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 press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

This is the spirit of the old First Amendment:

During the Constitutional Age, American citizens enjoyed the exercise of free speech. Although the judiciary placed some restrictions on this, most notably Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr’s famous "shouting fire in a crowded theatre" opinion (Schenck v. United States in 1919), it seemed to be an easily-understood standard. Under the USA PATRIOT ACT, any speech -even peaceful conflict resolution- could be illegal, if it was with groups or persons on government watch lists. Following passage of the PATRIOT ACT, use of "free speech zones" proliferated in public areas. The Bush II administration also infringed free speech with the issuance of over 30,000 National Securities Letters, most of which were accompanied by gag orders prohibiting the receiver from telling anybody he had received the letter. The full extent of how National Securities Letters are used in the Age of the Unitary Executive is not publicly known, but apparently many have been used to solicit from librarians information about what books citizens read.

This is the spirit of the New First Amendment:

The entire country used to be a “First Amendment Area”.

Amendment II
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

I know this part will be the most divisive. A lot of people are quite correctly concerned about the role of guns in violent crime. There’s no denying that, and I don’t think every person should have a gun; much the way not every person should have a license to drive. On the other hand, it seems clear that a sufficiently armed citizenry is more secure from governmental abuses. It seems obvious that if the average Cambodian family had firearms in 1974, Pol Pot’s government would have had far less success implementing their program of genocide on the population. This little poster may be trite, but it’s also got an element of truth to it:

So anyway, The Second Amendment had been controversial in America for a long time before 2001. As the nation moved from a sparsely-populated agrarian rural society to a more populous urban industrialized one, gun-related crime increased dramatically. The public came to regard the legal issues surrounding gun ownership to be purely a matter related to domestic crime. The notion of widespread gun ownership as a safeguard against tyranny was gradually forgotten, or came to be thought of as a "fringe" belief. The PATRIOT ACT did not itself eradicate the Second Amendment, but did signal an a tightening of administrative restrictions on gun sales and ammunition production.

Amendment III
No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

The realities of the twenty-first century did not require quartering of the military in private homes, so this right -only because it was so irrelevant- was left unmolested by the USA PATRIOT ACT.

Amendment IV
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Here is the Fourth Amendment at work: a warrant being served.

Here is the Fourth Amendment, as gutted by the USA PATRIOT ACT

Of the entire Bill of Rights, the Fourth Amendment was probably worst damaged by the USA PATRIOT ACT. As with other rights, safeguards against unreasonable search and seizures began eroding long before 2001, but it was the USA PATRIOT ACT which allowed law enforcement agents to conduct searches without warrants issued by judges, and which specifically allowed evidence obtained contrary to the Fourth Amendment to be nevertheless used in legal proceedings. Section 215 of the PATRIOT ACT contains provisions allowing for "warrantless wiretapping", in which private voice communications can be intercepted, recorded, and used against a citizen without a warrant. The Act's "sneak and peak" provisions allow police and other law agents to search homes without serving warrants, and/or to delay notification of the warrant for 90 days or more after the actual search. In the Age of the Unitary Executive (A.U.E.), an anonymous tip is enough to get a citizen categorized as “suspicious”, which in turn is sufficient cause to trample his rights. The label "Suspicious" in the A.U.E. is akin to the label "witch" in the Middle Ages.

Reference 1
Reference 2
Reference 3
Reference 4

Amendments V and VI go so well together, since they have to do with trials and criminal justice, so I’ll combine them in the discussion here.

Amendment V
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Amendment VI
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.

Without the Fifth and Sixth Amendments, this could be you:

These are the Amendments which protected citizens from being deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of the law. After the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center, it was deemed too risky to let citizens have due process, because then The Terrorists would also get due process. The PATRIOT ACT streamlined law enforcement substantially, allowing the Unitary Executive to forgo the time-consuming bureaucratic steps our Fifth and Sixth Amendments entailed. By merely by designating any citizen as an "enemy combatant" or "suspected terrorist", the Executive could move directly to indefinite detention, questioning without defense council present, or filing of charges.

No guidance or restrictions are in place to specify who can be designated as "suspicious", and there is no oversight for how the Executive chooses to use this power. (that’s why he’s the “Unitary Executive”). Evidence obtained by coercion, or torture is admissible in trials against suspect citizens, who may not excercise the right to attorney-client privilege. This streamlined process is great for catching The Terrorists, yet even today the idea that anyone may legally be locked away forever with no trial, even with no suspicion of wrongdoing, and no chance to clear his name, merely at the President's whim, doesn’t sit well with some people, who would like to go back to the dangerous old Constitutional system. Unfortunately, that outmoded document doesn’t recognize the realities of the twenty-first century- namely that if Americans want to preserve our freedoms from The Terrorists who would destroy us, "due process" is simply a luxury we can no longer afford. The USA PATRIOT ACT was just the first of many laws stripping away the old system of due process. Certainly Section 1031 of the 2012 National Defense Appropriations Act (NDAA) also went a long way in clarifying that U.S. citizens no longer enjoyed due process as it existed under the Fifth and Sixth Amendments.

Reference 5

Amendment VII
In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

I am not aware of any examples in which the USA PATRIOT ACT or other legislation in the A.U.E. has abridged the Seventh Amendment, but if you have any, please comment on this review’s thread. I’d be interested to hear about it.

Amendment VIII
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Now this will be an interesting discussion. I don’t honestly know how waterboarding fits into this discussion, because the Eighth Amendment addresses punishment, which seems to imply something which follows a trial and conviction. Waterboarding, while certainly cruel and unusual, is a technique used to gather information from suspects, not convicts. Of course in an age where being a suspect is enough to get you a life prison sentence, fussing over the difference between suspects and convicts really seems like hair-splitting, doesn't it? Under the Unitary Executive, being a suspect is effectively a punishable crime. There is not presumption of innocence, which leads us to Amendment #9...

Who says there’s been a militarization of our culture?

Amendment IX
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

The Ninth Amendment was supposed to clarify that the Bill of Rights was not intended to be a complete list of citizens’ rights. Just because something isn’t in the Bill of Rights, doesn’t mean it isn’t a right. Take the presumption of innocence, for example. It isn’t specifically mentioned in the Bill of Rights, but it was a foundational principle in American law during the Constitutional Age. Obviously involuntary detention based on suspicion runs counter to the idea of a presumption of innocence, so the 2012 NDAA represents a violation of the Ninth Amendment. Hope you don’t miss it too much. I think the Unitary Executive would tell you that if you aren’t doing anything wrong, you don’t need a presumption of innocence; only terrorists need a presumption of innocence.

Reference 6

Amendment X
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Even though we are barely a decade into the A.U.E., there have already been some bold legislative proposals to keep us all safe from The Terrorists. One of the more controversial ones has been the REAL ID ACT. This was to be a federal law mandating standardization of state drivers’ licenses throughout the nation, effectively creating a sort of "national I.D. card", which would supposedly be more difficult for The Terrorists to copy. The thing is, the federal government isn’t supposed to get into the states’ business over stuff like this, and if you read this link, or this one, or maybe this one, you can begin to see why people in different states might want to keep their own local laws, and not have federal standards forced on them. ( )
  BirdBrian | Apr 3, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Founding Fathersprimary authorall editionscalculated
Barnes, William R.Editormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Smith, Edward C.Introductionsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Smith, SamuelContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Browder, EarlIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Barnes and Noble study edition. Includes the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, the Virginia Bill of Rights and sample test questions
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0760700761, Hardcover)

The Constitution of the United States of America, with the Bill of Rights and all of the Amendments; The Declaration of Independence; and the Articles of Confederation Collected here in one affordable volume are the most important documents of the United States of America: The Constitution of the United States of America, with the Bill of Rights and all of the Amendments; The Declaration of Independence; and the Articles of Confederation. These three documents are the basis for our entire way of life. Every citizen should have a copy.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:51 -0400)

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The complete text of the United States Constitution, including all of the amendments. This beautiful little book is sure to be prized by Americans of all ages.

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