In this episode of Thoughts from Maharrey Head, I explain the original application of the Bill of Rights, why it matters and why the liberty centralizers are wrong.
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A lot of people who say they believe in “limited government” turn around and favor the federal government “enforcing” liberty on the states. While this approach can yield some small victories for the cause of liberty, in the long run, it undermines freedom by centralizing government power at the top.
The founding generation never intended for the federal government to play such a large role in policing and protecting “rights” at the state level. They feared centralizing authority more than they feared state governments.
In this episode of Thoughts from Maharrey Head, I explain the original purpose and scope of the Bill of Rights and how it was intended to be applied. I also explain why lovers of liberty should resist to temptation to turn the federal government into a liberty enforcement squad.
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SHOW NOTES AND LINKS
Bill of Rights Preamble:
THE Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.
John Marshall, Barron v. Baltimore:
The constitution was ordained and established by the people of the United States for themselves, for their own government, and not for the government of the individual states. Each state established a constitution for itself, and in that constitution, provided such limitations and restrictions on the powers of its particular government, as its judgment dictated. The people of the United States framed such a government for the United States as they supposed best adapted to their situation and best calculated to promote their interests. The powers they conferred on this government were to be exercised by itself; and the limitations on power, if expressed in general terms, are naturally, and, we think, necessarily, applicable to the government created by the instrument. They are limitations of power granted in the instrument itself; not of distinct governments, framed by different persons and for different purposes.
If these propositions be correct, the fifth amendment must be understood as restraining the power of the general government, not as applicable to the states. In their several constitutions, they have imposed such restrictions on their respective governments, as their own wisdom suggested; such as they deemed most proper for themselves. It is a subject on which they judge exclusively, and with which others interfere no further than they are supposed to have a common interest.
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