A Libertarian Perspective: The US Constitution

“We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

The United States Constitution has been a subject of political debate since its creation in 1787. It was signed on September 17 of that year by delegates sent from 12 of the 13 states to attend the Constitutional Convention (Rhode Island refused to send any delegates because they did not want a strong central government). Among the attendees to the Convention were 55 delegates, including George Washington, who was unanimously voted President of the Convention.

The delegates, who we now call the framers of the Constitution, included merchants, bankers, lawyers and farmers, and some veterans of the Revolution. Eight delegates had signed the Declaration of Independence, and six had signed America’s first constitution, the Articles of Confederation, which the Convention was being held to replace.

In 1791, the first ten amendments to the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, were added. These amendments set the standard of Liberty which came to be expected in this country. The Bill of Rights reads as follows:

-The 1st Amendment: 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.
-The 2nd Amendment: 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.
-The 3rd Amendment: 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 4th Amendment: 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.
-The 5th Amendment: 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 offense 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.
-The 6th Amendment: 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.
-The 7th Amendment: 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.
-The 8th Amendment: Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
-The 9th Amendment: The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
-The 10th Amendment: 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.

The Constitution has been amended an additional seventeen times since 1791. Some amendments, such as the 16th, which created the income tax, or the 18th, which prohibited the “manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes”, were very much the opposite of being Libertarian. Thankfully, however, the 21st Amendment repealed the 18th, and ended Prohibition. I’m still waiting for an end to the income tax.

As a Libertarian, I like the Constitution. I like the guaranteed Liberties for citizens of the United States, and I like the limitations imposed upon the federal government. However, I admit that the Constitution has not done all that the framers hoped it would do. Government powers have grossly increased with nearly each new President since the founding of our country. The framers of the Constitution never intended for the IRS, the NSA, the TSA, the CIA or the DEA to exist. They never intended for the federal government to so heavily regulate and control our economy, our education, or our food and weapons. They never wanted a Federal Reserve, or a national draft. The federal government was never supposed to have all the power it has today.

The Constitution is a good tool that we Libertarians can use to fight back against government expansion and overreach. But to do that, we have to elect politicians who genuinely want to limit government. Whether they’re a part of the Libertarian Party, the Republican Party, or any other Liberty-minded party, they need our support. We need more Congressmen like Rand Paul, Justin Amash, Thomas Massie, and other members of the Republican Liberty Caucus. We need to get people like Austin Petersen and John McAfee in elected positions where they can do good work for freedom. And we need to work together to defeat Democrats, Socialists, Communists and liberal Republicans, like the ones who recently voted against Rand Paul’s balanced budget in Congress.

If we can get more of our people in government, including local and state government, we can restore the United States to the Constitutional Republic it was meant to be. From there, we can further advance Liberty and in time, there’s no limit to what we can do as free people.