Why the Bill of Rights Would Never Pass Today

Having watched closely the manner in which questions of liberty and power are batted around in the first part of the 21st century — most recently during the disgraceful contretemps that Indiana’s rather tame Religious Freedom Restoration Act provoked across the land — I have come to wonder of late whether the Bill of Rights could be ratified today.

In its classical mode, liberalism requires the citizenry that it serves to respect the crucial distinction that obtains between the principle of a given rule and the consequences that the rule might feasibly yield. Simply put, a country in which the people regard certain individual rights as inviolable axioms of nature — and who accept with alacrity, therefore, that they will often be used for ill — will be a country that boasts protections of those rights within its national charter.

A country in which the people are focused primarily on what might be done with those rights, by contrast, will be a country that prefers to elevate and to abide by the whims of transient majorities — or, perhaps, by the discretion of a supposedly enlightened few. In Indiana, we were given an insight into which of these countries the people of the United States would rather live in.

Speaking at the Virginia Ratifying Convention of 1788, the anti-federalist Patrick Henry insisted that Americans should expect the refurbished national government to provide a framework for ordered liberty, and not to guarantee a particular set of outcomes…

Notice that not a single other Western country has such guarantees for free speech. Kings and politicians see that it gives away too much. That goes for the present day as much as the 18th century.  

I’ve seen idiot leftists on liberal forum bragging that Canada does not have “American” free speech.

  • Norman_In_New_York

    Hell, the Ten Commandments do not pass muster today.

    • Frau Katze

      No they don’t. We’re in free fall.

  • Hard Little Machine

    You couldn’t get the first 16 Presidents elected today. They’d be in prison.

  • Swiss constitution of 1999:

    Art. 16 Libertés d’opinion et d’information

    1 La liberté d’opinion et la liberté d’information sont garanties.

    2 Toute personne a le droit de former, d’exprimer et de répandre librement son opinion.

    3 Toute personne a le droit de recevoir librement des informations, de se les procurer aux sources généralement accessibles et de les diffuser.

    Art. 17 Liberté des médias

    1 La liberté de la presse, de la radio et de la télévision, ainsi que des autres formes de diffusion de productions et d’informations ressortissant aux télécommunications publiques est garantie.

    2 La censure est interdite.

    3 Le secret de rédaction est garanti.

    • Frau Katze

      So the Swiss do have guaranteed free speech?

      • Well, theoretically at least. So far the Federal Council has I think stood by the Constitution. It should be noted that each Canton has its own Constitution too, and its own guarantees of free speech. So there is some sense of security so far. Of course, these constitutions are full of leftist ideas too – so there’s scope for contradiction.

    • Frau Katze

      Holocaust denial is not expressly illegal in Switzerland, but the denial of genocide and other crimes against humanity is an imprisonable offence.