Connected successfully  The Okie Legacy: Vol 19, Iss 4 US Constitution - Bill of Rights

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Volume 19, Issue 4 -- 2017-03-04

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I remember the little grocery store near Longfellow School. That wasn't far from 224 Center, where my grandparents lived. I would have visited that store in the 1960's, probably.
 ~ regarding Okie's story from Vol. 8 Iss. 10 titled UNTITLED

Is John Cope Louthan a possible relative to any of the people listed in your information [more]...
 ~Patricia (Jaide) Mills regarding Okie's story from Vol. 10 Iss. 47 titled UNTITLED

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NW Okie's Journey

An Independent News media is indispensable for America's democracy as a check-n-balance to those in power. With all the lies coming from President 45's administration, who took an oath to uphold the US Constitution, we thought it was about time we should be reminded of the first ten Articles (Bill of Rights) of the United States Constitution.

The "First 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."

Our First Amendment guarantees freedoms concerning religion, expression, assembly and the right to petition. It forbids Congress from both "promoting one religion over others" and also "restricting an individual's religious practices." It guarantees "freedom of expression" by prohibiting Congress from restricting the press or the rights of individuals to speak freely. It also guarantees the right of citizens to "assemble peaceably and to petition their government."

The Establishment Clause
Did you know that the First Amendment's "Establishment Clause" prohibits the government from making any law "Respecting an establishment of religion?" This clause forbids the government from establishing an "official religion," and prohibits government actions that unduly favor one religion over another.

It also prohibits the government from unduly preferring religion over non-religion, or non-religion over religion. It is kind of like "separation of Church and State," don't you think so?

Then there is "Freedom of Speech." When President 45's administration starts banning respectful, journalists and news media from press briefings it makes you wonder if this is the beginning of an "authoritarian" dictatorship taking hold, destroying our democracy, and for what? A government controlled news media such as Putin's Russia?

Isn't it about time we all stood up, exercised our rights, and "peaceably" protested, petitioned our Local, State and Federal Congresses to protect our rights before we loose them entirely?

There is a reason the "First Amendment" in number one in the US Constitution. These are our fundamental liberties guaranteed by the First Amendment of the U. S. Constitution (Bill of Rights): "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."

~ "Buckle-up, Buttercup!"
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Sweet Silly Spunky Sadie

Separation of Church and State. What does it really mean? We know, or should know that it was a phrase used by Thomas Jefferson and others expressing an understanding of the intent and function of the Establishment Clause and Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

The phrase "wall of separation between the church and the state" was originally coined by Thomas Jefferson in a letter to the Danbury Baptists on January 1, 1802.

Another thing we need to remember is "Article Six" of the United States Constitution, establishing the laws and treaties of the Untied States made in accordance with it as the supreme law of the land. It forbids a religious test as a requirement for holding a government position and holds the Untied States under the Constitution responsible for debts incurred by the United States under the Articles of Confederation.

"All Debts contracted and Engagements entered into, before the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be as valid against the United States under this Constitution, as under the Confederation.

"This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

"The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."

~ Good Night! Good Luck!
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Justice Department Created 23 June 1870

President Ulysses S. Grant signed into law a bill creating the Justice Department, 23 June 1870. It was the early years of the Republic when a position was established by Congress in the Judiciary Act of 1789. Attorney General of the United States was a part-time job held by a single individual.

The Attorney general gave legal advice to Congress and the president. The practice largely ended by 1819 as the workload of the attorney general and his assistants increased.

It was in 1867, after the Civil War, the House Judiciary Committee studied whether to set up a "law department" within the executive branch, headed by the attorney general and made up of the various department solicitors as well as U.S. attorneys.

Feb. 19, 1868, Rep. William Lawrence, Republican of Ohio, committee chairman, introduced a bill to create a Justice Department along these lines. Lawrence's measure failed, though, because Lawrence devoted much of his time to conducting impeachment proceedings against President Andrew Johnson.

There was another bill introduced by Rep. Thomas Jenckes, republican of Rhode Island, on Feb. 25, 1870, which fared better and won approval in the House and the Senate.

But the legislation did little to alter the attorney general duties. The law spawned a new office, U. S. Solicitor general, who was charged with formulating, supervising government's stance in litigation before the supreme court.

It was in 1884, after control of federal prison system was transferred from the Interior department to the Justice department, several new penitentiaries were built. The passage of the Interstate commerce Act of 1887, the Justice department began to undertake an ever broader law enforcement agenda which Congress continues to expand today.
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1870, The Department of Justice

There was an interesting article in The Daily Milwaukee News, Milwaukee, WI, dated 22 June 1870, Wednesday, page 4: "The Department of Justice." As Mrs. Throllope said back then, "The biggest and the best," and still growing, and if we only grow in wisdom and grace as we grow in years, numbers and extent, the legislation and creation of departments and bureaus may be "All for the best."

Found on powered by

This was back in time when a new cogwheel was added to the executive gearing, in the shape of a bill to establish the department of justice. It had passed both houses of congress, and only required the signature of President Ulysses S. Grant to become a law.

The first section established the new 'department of justice,' of which the attorney general was to be the head, and fixed the salary and duties of that officer.

The second transferred to the new department of justice from their old departments, the solicitor of the treasury and his assistants, the solicitor of internal revenue, solicitor and naval judge advocate general, with their clerks, messengers and laborers.

Fourth - All questions of law submitted to the attorney general for his opinion, except questions involving a construction of the Untied States Constitution, may be by him referred to his subordinates.

Fifth - Provides that when he attorney general deemed it necessary he may require the solicitor general to argue in any case in which the government is interested before the court of claims, and empowers the attorney general to conduct and argue in any court of the Untied States, any case in which the government is interested or send the solicitor general, or any other officer in the department of justice to do so.

Section 6 - Questions of law arising out of the war or navy department, not otherwise provided for, to be sent to the attorney general and by him referred to the proper officer.

Section 7 - Referred all duties, formally enjoined by act to change the organization of the post office department passed July 1, 1836, upon the auditor of that department, to the new department of justice.

Section 8 - Empowers the attorney general to make rules and regulations for the management of the business of the department.

Section 9 - and the remaining portions of the bill relate to the tenure of offices in the department, officer's salaries, making annual reports, finding suitable rooms in the treasury buildings necessary to accommodate officers and clerks of the department, printing of law opinions required within the department; and other detail for the carrying of the business of the department into effect.

Section 19, and last enacted that the act shall take effect and be in force from and after the first day of July, 1870.
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The Federalist Papers (1787-1788)

The Federalist Papers were a series of 85 essays urging the citizens of New York to ratify the new United States Constitution. It was written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay. The essays originally appeared anonymously in New York newspapers in 1787 and 1788 under the pen name "Publius."

The Federalist Papers were considered one of the most important sources for interpreting and understanding the original intent of the Constitution.

[SEE ALSO: Congress.Gov Resources]
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The Founders' Constitution - Bill of Rights (28 March 1788)

The following is taken from The Founders' Constitution, Bill of Rights, document 7, written by Alexander Hamilton, Federalist, no. 84, 575-81, 28 March 1788.

Federalist, no. 84, 575-81
The most considerable of these remaining objections is, that the plan of the convention contains no bill of rights. Among other answers given to this, it has been upon different occasions remarked, that the constitutions of several of the states are in a similar predicament. I add, that New-York is of this number. And yet the opposers of the new system in this state, who profess an unlimited admiration for its constitution, are among the most intemperate partizans of a bill of rights. To justify their zeal in this matter, they allege two things; one is, that though the constitution of New-York has no bill of rights prefixed to it, yet it contains in the body of it various provisions in favour of particular privileges and rights, which in substance amount to the same thing; the other is, that the constitution adopts in their full extent the common and statute law of Great-Britain, by which many other rights not expressed in it are equally secured.

To the first I answer, that the constitution proposed by the convention contains, as well as the constitution of this state, a number of such provisions.

Independent of those, which relate to the structure of the government, we find the following: Article I. section 3. clause 7. "Judgment in cases of impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honour, trust or profit under the United States; but the party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to indictment, trial, judgment and punishment, according to law." Section 9. of the same article, clause 2. "The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it." Clause 3. "No bill of attainder or ex post facto law shall be passed." Clause [8]. "No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no person holding any office of profit or trust under them, shall, without the consent of the congress, accept of any present, emolument, office or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince or foreign state." Article III. section 2. clause 3. "The trial of all crimes, except in cases of impeachment, shall be by jury; and such trial shall be held in the state where the said crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any state, the trial shall be at such place or places as the congress may by law have directed." Section 3, of the same article, "Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court." And clause [2], of the same section. "The congress shall have power to declare the punishment of treason, but no attainder of treason shall work corruption of blood, or forfeiture, except during the life of the person attainted."

It may well be a question whether these are not upon the whole, of equal importance with any which are to be found in the constitution of this state. The establishment of the writ of habeas corpus, the prohibition of ex post facto laws, and of TITLES OF NOBILITY, to which we have no corresponding provisions in our constitution, are perhaps greater securities to liberty and republicanism than any it contains. The creation of crimes after the commission of the fact, or in other words, the subjecting of men to punishment for things which, when they were done, were breaches of no law, and the practice of arbitrary imprisonments have been in all ages the favourite and most formidable instruments of tyranny. The observations of the judicious Blackstone in reference to the latter, are well worthy of recital. "To bereave a man of life (says he) or by violence to confiscate his estate, without accusation or trial, would be so gross and notorious an act of despotism, as must at once convey the alarm of tyranny throughout the whole nation; but confinement of the person by secretly hurrying him to goal, where his sufferings are unknown or forgotten, is a less public, a less striking, and therefore a more dangerous engine of arbitrary government." And as a remedy for this fatal evil, he is every where peculiarly emphatical in his encomiums on the habeas corpus act, which in one place he calls "the BULWARK of the British constitution."

Nothing need be said to illustrate the importance of the prohibition of titles of nobility. This may truly be denominated the corner stone of republican government; for so long as they are excluded, there can never be serious danger that the government will be any other than that of the people.

To the second, that is, to the pretended establishment of the common and statute law by the constitution, I answer, that they are expressly made subject "to such alterations and provisions as the legislature shall from time to time make concerning the same." They are therefore at any moment liable to repeal by the ordinary legislative power, and of course have no constitutional sanction. The only use of the declaration was to recognize the ancient law, and to remove doubts which might have been occasioned by the revolution. This consequently can be considered as no part of a declaration of rights, which under our constitutions must be intended as limitations of the power of the government itself.

It has been several times truly remarked, that bills of rights are in their origin, stipulations between kings and their subjects, abridgments of prerogative in favor of privilege, reservations of rights not surrendered to the prince. Such was Magna Charta, obtained by the Barons, sword in hand, from king John. Such were the subsequent confirmations of that charter by subsequent princes. Such was the petition of right assented to by Charles the First, in the beginning of his reign. Such also was the declaration of right presented by the lords and commons to the prince of Orange in 1688, and afterwards thrown into the form of an act of parliament, called the bill of rights. It is evident, therefore, that according to their primitive signification, they have no application to constitutions professedly founded upon the power of the people, and executed by their immediate representatives and servants. Here, in strictness, the people surrender nothing, and as they retain every thing, they have no need of particular reservations. "We the people of the United States, to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this constitution for the United States of America." Here is a better recognition of popular rights than volumes of those aphorisms which make the principal figure in several of our state bills of rights, and which would sound much better in a treatise of ethics than in a constitution of government.

But a minute detail of particular rights is certainly far less applicable to a constitution like that under consideration, which is merely intended to regulate the general political interests of the nation, than to a constitution which has the regulation of every species of personal and private concerns. If therefore the loud clamours against the plan of the convention on this score, are well founded, no epithets of reprobation will be too strong for the constitution of this state. But the truth is, that both of them contain all, which in relation to their objects, is reasonably to be desired.

I go further, and affirm that bills of rights, in the sense and in the extent in which they are contended for, are not only unnecessary in the proposed constitution, but would even be dangerous. They would contain various exceptions to powers which are not granted; and on this very account, would afford a colourable pretext to claim more than were granted. For why declare that things shall not be done which there is no power to do? Why for instance, should it be said, that the liberty of the press shall not be restrained, when no power is given by which restrictions may be imposed? I will not contend that such a provision would confer a regulating power; but it is evident that it would furnish, to men disposed to usurp, a plausible pretence for claiming that power. They might urge with a semblance of reason, that the constitution ought not to be charged with the absurdity of providing against the abuse of an authority, which was not given, and that the provision against restraining the liberty of the press afforded a clear implication, that a power to prescribe proper regulations concerning it, was intended to be vested in the national government. This may serve as a specimen of the numerous handles which would be given to the doctrine of constructive powers, by the indulgence of an injudicious zeal for bills of rights.

On the subject of the liberty of the press, as much has been said, I cannot forbear adding a remark or two: In the first place, I observe that there is not a syllable concerning it in the constitution of this state, and in the next, I contend that whatever has been said about it in that of any other state, amounts to nothing. What signifies a declaration that "the liberty of the press shall be inviolably preserved?" What is the liberty of the press? Who can give it any definition which would not leave the utmost latitude for evasion? I hold it to be impracticable; and from this, I infer, that its security, whatever fine declarations may be inserted in any constitution respecting it, must altogether depend on public opinion, and on the general spirit of the people and of the government.1 And here, after all, as intimated upon another occasion, must we seek for the only solid basis of all our rights.

There remains but one other view of this matter to conclude the point. The truth is, after all the declamation we have heard, that the constitution is itself in every rational sense, and to every useful purpose, A BILL OF RIGHTS. The several bills of rights, in Great-Britain, form its constitution, and conversely the constitution of each state is its bill of rights. And the proposed constitution, if adopted, will be the bill of rights of the union. Is it one object of a bill of rights to declare and specify the political privileges of the citizens in the structure and administration of the government? This is done in the most ample and precise manner in the plan of the convention, comprehending various precautions for the public security, which are not to be found in any of the state constitutions. Is another object of a bill of rights to define certain immunities and modes of proceeding, which are relative to personal and private concerns? This we have seen has also been attended to, in a variety of cases, in the same plan. Adverting therefore to the substantial meaning of a bill of rights, it is absurd to allege that it is not to be found in the work of the convention. It may be said that it does not go far enough, though it will not be easy to make this appear; but it can with no propriety be contended that there is no such thing. It certainly must be immaterial what mode is observed as to the order of declaring the rights of the citizens, if they are to be found in any part of the instrument which establishes the government. And hence it must be apparent that much of what has been said on this subject rests merely on verbal and nominal distinctions, which are entirely foreign from the substance of the thing.

-1. To show that there is a power in the constitution by which the liberty of the press may be affected, recourse has been had to the power of taxation. It is said that duties may be laid upon publications so high as to amount to a prohibition. I know not by what logic it could be maintained that the declarations in the state constitutions, in favour of the freedom of the press, would be a constitutional impediment to the imposition of duties upon publications by the state legislatures. It cannot certainly be pretended that any degree of duties, however low, would be an abridgement of the liberty of the press. We know that newspapers are taxed in Great-Britain, and yet it is notorious that the press no where enjoys greater liberty than in that country. And if duties of any kind may be laid without a violation of that liberty, it is evident that the extent must depend on legislative discretion, regulated by public opinion; so that after all, general declarations respecting the liberty of the press will give it no greater security than it will have without them. The same invasions of it may be effected under the state constitutions which contain those declarations through the means of taxation, as under the proposed constitution which has nothing of the kind. It would be quite as significant to declare that government ought to be free, that taxes ought not to be excessive, &c., as that the liberty of the press ought not to be restrained.
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U. S. Constitution, Amendment XIV

Amendment XIV addresses many aspects of citizenship and the rights of citizens. The most commonly used phrase in the amendment is "Equal protection of the laws," which figures prominently in a wide variety of landmark cases.

Section 1 - All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Section 1 deals with privileges and Immunities clause, civil rights, slaughterhouse cases, due process, substantive due process, right of privacy (personal autonomy), territorial jurisdiction, equal protection, Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), Player v. Doe (1982).
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US Constitution - Bill of Rights

We the People of the Untied 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 Blessing of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Articles I through X are known as the Bill of Rights. The first ten amendments to the Constitution of the U. S. were proposed to the legislatures of the several States by the First Congress on September 25, 1789. The first ten amendments were ratified by the following States, and the notifications of ratification by the Governors thereof were successively communicated by the President to Congress: New Jersey, November 20, 1789; Maryland, December 19, 1789; North Carolina, December 22, 1789; South Carolina, January 19, 1790; New Hampshire, January 25, 1790; Delaware, January 28, 1790; New York, February 24, 1790; Pennsylvania, March 10, 1790; Rhode Island, June 7, 1790; Vermont, November 3, 1791; and Virginia, December 15, 1791. Ratification was completed on December 15, 1791. The amendments were subsequently ratified by the legislatures of Massachusetts, March 2, 1939; Georgia, March 18, 1939; and Connecticut, April 19, 1939.

Bill of Rights
-Article [I] (Amendment 1 - Freedom of expression and religion) 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.

-Article [II] (Amendment 2 - Bearing Arms) 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.

-Article [III] (Amendment 3 - Quartering Soldiers) 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.

-Article [IV] (Amendment 4 - Search and Seizure) 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.

-Article [V] (Amendment 5 - Rights of Persons) 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 offence 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.

-Article [VI] (Amendment 6 - Rights of Accused in Criminal Prosecutions) 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 defence.

-Article [VII] (Amendment 7 - Civil Trials) 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 re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

-Article [VIII] (Amendment 8 - Further Guarantees in Criminal Cases) Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

-Article [IX] (Amendment 9 - Unenumerated Rights) The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

-Article [X] (Amendment 10 - Reserved Powers) 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.
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