The preamble to the document known as the Bill of Rights states that the sole purpose of the proposed amendments was to prevent the federal government from “misconstruing or abusing its powers.” To accomplish this, “further declaratory and restrictive clauses” were being recommended.

If the Amendments are broken-down into this declaratory and restrictive clause format, they read as follows:

Article I
Congress shall make no law (declaratory)
respecting an establishment of religion, (restrictive) or
prohibiting the free exercise thereof; (restrictive) or
(Congress shall make no law) abridging the freedom (declaratory)
of speech, (restrictive) or
of the press, (restrictive) or
(of) the right of the people peaceably to assemble, (restrictive) and
to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.(restrictive)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Article VIII
Excessive bail shall not be required, (restrictive) nor
excessive fines (shall not be) imposed, (restrictive) nor
cruel and unusual punishments (shall not be) inflicted. (restrictive)

Article IX
The enumeration in the Constitution,(declaratory)
of certain rights, (restrictive) shall
not be construed to deny or disparage others (declaratory)
retained by the people. (restrictive)

Article X
The powers not delegated to the United States (declaratory)
by the Constitution, (restrictive) nor
prohibited by it (the Constitution) (declaratory)
to the States, (restrictive) are
reserved to the States respectively, (restrictive) or
(reserved) to the people. (restrictive)

When the Amendments are broken-down into the declaratory and restrictive clause format, they show that every Amendment, without exception, places enumerated restraints on the powers of the federal government to prevent that government from misconstruing or abusing its powers concerning the rights of the people and the powers reserved to the States.

None of the Amendments define or limit the rights of the people or empower the federal government to determine the extent of the people’s rights under the Amendments. Thus, the only power the federal judiciary can have relative to the Bill of Rights is the power to uphold the constitutional restraints imposed on the powers of the federal government by the Amendments. Anything beyond that is a blatant usurpation of power.

Note: This beakdown of the Bill of Rights was a joint effort with Claude Ellsworth.

Bob Greenslade
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