L. Neil Smith's
Number 290, September 26, 2004

"Taxation With Representation"

Survey of the Bill of Rights: Articles 7 and 8
by Ron Beatty

Exclusive to TLE

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 reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Amendment VIII

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

I decided to combine Amendments in this week's article for a very simple reason: Both the Seventh and Eighth Amendments deal with judicial process. Probably I should have combined the Fourth through the Eighth, but I didn't, sooooo ....

These amendments are very short, and very simple, easy to understand for anyone but a lawyer, judge, or politician. The Seventh Amendment preserves the right of jury trial in civil suits. It also specifies that any jury decision is binding upon all courts in the United States, and may not be over-ridden except "according the rules of the common law", or in other words, the appeals process. By extension, this is a reiteration of the double jeopardy clause, an indication of how important the Founding Fathers considered this to be. We all know how much attention the government pays to the Constitution, so it should be no surprise that this amendment is frequently ignored.

In the Eighth Amendment, we are told that the courts are not allowed to impose excessive bail or fines, nor cruel or unusual punishments. This amendment suffers from the one common malady that the whole Bill of Rights does, in that some of the terms are ambiguous and are not clearly defined, leaving it up to the government to define it's own restrictions.

Anytime you allow the organization that is being controlled to determine the parameters of that control, that organization is out of control. There is no limit upon the actions of that organization except the good will of those who make up the organization. Therefore, when you have an organization which is controlled by power-mad control freaks, such as the BATF(E), the Justice Department, the Congress, or the office of the Presidency itself, those organizations do not pay attention to the clear intent of the Founders.

When the government unilaterally defines the terms of the social contract which is the glue which holds this nation together, without consultation, without consideration of the needs, wants or desires of those who empower the government, that government has voided the contract, and no longer has any legal or moral reason to exist. Unless the government returns to the original terms of the contract, there are those who would feel justified in repudiating that government in all particulars. You will notice that I am using language carefully, here. I am definitely not calling for or advocating any form of armed rebellion. What I am saying is that this government, by it's own actions, may be precipitating one. I am saying that unless there is a major change, and soon, it may be too late to prevent an armed rebellion. I am saying that when this government has gone so far away from the guidelines for it's actions (the Constitution), it is no wonder that the country has become so fragmented that it may be impossible to hold it together for any extended length of time.

Had the government abided by the Constitution in every way, at least those who were angry would know that there was some legal basis for their dissatisfaction. As it is, there is none, as there is no relationship between the government of the United States and the Constitution, with Congress, the federal bureaucracy, and the Executive Branch seeming to be in a race to see who can break the most strictures of the Constitution the quickest.

As always, I encourage each and every one of you to examine the facts, to learn and research for yourselves. Again, never, ever take my unsupported word for anything, and still less the word of any governmental or media outlet. Prove to yourselves that what I am telling you is the truth, at least as I see it.


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