Monday, March 30, 2015

Thank God for the Anti-Federalists

In the era when the U.S. Constitution was being formulated, there was a rather large and significant group, usually called anti-Federalists, of those who thought it was a bad idea. They are often seen today as an obstacle that had to be overcome to give us “the United States.” I dissent from that view, and instead thank God for the anti-Federalists. They undoubtedly helped mitigate, as least somewhat, the erosion of our liberties today.

To illustrate this, come with me to merry old England. Recently, as reported here:

Mike Overd was convicted under the Public Order Act after he quoted the Bible when preaching about homosexuality in Taunton in June 2014.  The judge at Bristol Crown Court said Overd should not have used the Leviticus 20:13, which uses the word “abomination” . . . Overd has been fined about $200 and is required to pay another $1,300 in costs and compensation to a homosexual man, who was listening to Overd preach.

As far as I can determine, this would not stand in the United States: not yet, at least. Why?

Because of my beloved anti-Federalists. They were opposed to the Constitution in varying degrees, but one thing most of them did agree on was that any constitution needed a “Bill of Rights,” that is, a list of specified areas of liberty where the government to be created under that Constitution may not interfere.

It is not that the Federalists of the time were against liberty. They simply saw no need for a Bill of Rights because they thought they had put together a Constitution of specified, and thus limited, powers for the central government. In other words, according to the Federalists, the Constitution states what the central government can do, and that clearly means it can do no more.

The anti-Federalists resisted rather vigorously, to the point that, to placate them to some degree there was something of a gentlemen’s agreement that if the Constitution were ratified, the first order of business for the new government would be amending said Constitution to add a Bill of Rights.

The British have no Bill of Rights, partly because they have no written constitution. So when the regime there decides that freedom of speech and freedom of religion must bow to social engineering, there is nothing to stand in the way.

Our government has an increasing record of simply ignoring, or creatively reinterpreting so as to eliminate, or Bill of Rights. A couple of them have simply been ignored throughout most of our history. But they have provided a barrier of some kind against things like not being able to cite Lev. 20:13 in public so as not to offend someone.

You can easily imagine that, apart from our Bill of Rights, you would not be able to do all sorts of things that our social engineering state finds objectionable. Our Bill of Rights does not always protect us because, as mentioned before, sometimes it is just ignored.

But even now, and at some key points, our Bill of Rights does keep the hounds of statism in check. And for that you can thank God for the anti-Federalists.