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September 16, 2011

The Commandments of the US Constitution (long form)

The Principles of the Constitution

  1. We shall not have a tyrannical government
    • government shall not have unlimited power
    • government power shall be dispersed to prevent its accumulation; the different parts shall provide “checks” on the others
    • individuals shall not be able to leverage the power of government for long
    • individuals who violate the public trust can be removed from office
    • the power of the government shall be limited to specified areas
    • many personal rights will be specified so as to also restrict government power from infringing them
  2. Each of us shall have rights the government can’t take away
    • no one has special rights
    • one person's rights can’t be used to infringe on others rights
    • people can believe in any religion or none; therefore no one can be forced to belong to any religion
    • no one can be held in slavery or involuntary servitude
    • all citizens have the right to vote
    • a small, enumerated set of national emergency situations permit suspending specifically listed constitutional rights, but in no other circumstances and for no other rights
  3. No religion or religious sect gets government preference over another
    • government can't require any person to be of a religion
    • government can’t require a religious test, nor require god's name, for an oath of office
  4. None of us can be unjustly deprived of life, liberty or property
    • no one can be spied on, be arrested or have there property taken with showing probable cause beforehand
    • any imprisoned person can challenge the reason why they are being held in court
    • any accused person get their day in court in a timely manner, a fair chance to defend themselves and be judged by their peers rather than the government
  5. Each of us can say what they believe, including especially about the government
    • people can get together and say what they believe
    • people can publish what they believe
  6. We shall have a representative government so it can be changed and its power checked
    • some parts will be more representative than others
    • some parts will be more quickly responsive to the people than others
    • all citizens of a certain age can vote; there shall be no discrimination between different classes of citizens
  7. We shall have a nation governed by the rule of law
    • no one is above the law
    • the law applies equally to everyone
  8. All laws and government actions must conform to the US Constitution, which is the ultimate authority
    • new laws under the US Constitution can be created by the Congress & President
    • treaties with other countries can be agreed by the Senate & President, but once approved have the same force as the US Constitution
    • all state constitutions and laws are subject to the US Constitution
    • powers not enumerated in the US Constitution devolve to states or the People
    • the Supreme Court is the final arbiter of all disputes about the constitutionality of laws or actions, including by the President or between the branches of government or between a citizen or state and the government or any of its branches
    • the constitution can be amended, but the process isn't easy to ensure broad acceptance
  9. The nation can defend itself, fight wars and provide for a military
    • the government can raise and sustain armies, including in peacetime
    • money shall only be allocated for limited time, by the Congress
    • the President will be head of the military
    • the Congress can limit by regulation how the military can do things and what things it can do, including the President as head of the military
  10. We can tax ourselves and regulate interstate commerce
  11. The federal government shall be our voice in foreign relations

These do not look anything like the Judeoo-Christian 10 Commandments, about which I've remarked here.


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