What is the most important Constitutional right?
Arguments about that could go on for a very long time. All of the Constitutional rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights are important. But is there one the founding fathers might have thought to be the most important of all? Actually, there might be.
What is it?
The Bill of Rights outlines many rights that are ensured to us and these rights are a shield against the power of an oppressive government.
We are guaranteed the right to free speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion, the right to petition government for redress of grievances, the right to keep and bear arms, the right against cruel and unusual punishments and others.
Could it be there is one of these rights that the founding fathers thought was so important, it was included in not one but two Amendments of the Bill of Rights?
It is the right to a jury trial.
The right to a jury trial is found in both the Sixth and Seventh Amendments to the Constitution.
The Sixth Amendment states:
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.
And the Seventh Amendment states:
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.
The two amendments specify one right, the right to have a trial by jury. The jury trial is one of the most amazing gifts to freedom and liberty that was given to us by our founding fathers.
The jury in a criminal case acts as an absolute shield against the abusive power of the government. A citizen accused does not have his or her fate decided by the same government that accuses it and should the verdict in the trial be unfavorable to the government, there is nothing to government can do.
By the same token, the civil jury trial is an incredible part of the free market and is the great equalizer. The poorest man in the nation can come into court against a rich man or corporation and get twelve citizens to decide his case.
The free market does a couple of things. It rewards good behavior and punishes bad behavior. The justice system is a part of the free market that punishes bad behavior.
As we go into Thanksgiving this year, one of the things we should be grateful for is the wisdom of our founding fathers who thought the jury was such an important institution for the preservation of liberty that they included it not once, but twice in the Bill of Rights.
The right to a jury trial is not one of the sexy issues in the Tea Party movement. Nonetheless, we need to remain on our guard for those who do want to strip our right to have justice decided by our fellow citizens and not by the government.
The way judges act in many cases you would think they come right off the boat from Mother Russia.
Certainly this is a critically important right, however it is my opinion that the most important right, and the right that really all others flow from, and without which the rest would be of little value, is the right to private property. A right which most states make a mockery of by taxing the private property, essentially creating a landlord-tenant relationship where all the costs of acquiring, building, repairing and maintaining the property are borne by the tenant, and all the control of how the property is acquired, built, repaired and maintained is usurped by the landlord. If you don't believe so, just quit paying your rent (property tax) and see who confiscates the property, and who ends up on the street.......... empty handed.
What you say is golden! Is there any provision in the Constitution that protects property rights? If not, we should propose a Constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right to acquire, own, control, and dispose of property in any way we see fit without our having to pay "rent" to the government, so long as we are not damaging others' property. If you'll write it up, I'll help to refine it. Then, let's get this on the road.
I disagree that the right to is trial by jury is the most important right - because juries can be corrupted. The most important guarantee to a fair trial by one's peers is The RIGHT to property.
The original Declaration of Independence, which was influenced by the Magna Carta, listed the 3 rights given to all men: life, liberty, and property. What is yours is yours, not someone else's. It did not list "happiness," for as President Lincoln noted regarding the word 'liberty,' when the shepherd defends the sheep from the wolf, the sheep enjoys the liberty afforded by the shepherd's protection, but wolf's liberty has been infringed upon - and its happiness denied. The sheep owns the property of its life which the wolf would have gladly taken from it had the shepherd not protected the sheep. Happiness is even more ephemeral than liberty.
Thus, a jury that enjoys the right of property - to keep that which is theirs and not have someone or the government take it from them - will treat the guilt or innocence of a defendant quite differently. Think jury nullification. Today, the greatest threat to peace in the Middle East is the lack of uniform property rights. How does Israel maintain within its borders a large Arab population: property rights.
So, the right to private property is your greatest right connected to the life and liberty and the guarantee that you'll have a fair jury of your peer.
It is far worse than just a jury being "corrupted" - the entire system is nothing more than "the perception of justice" when you are up against this monster called "government" today. This happened all the way back in the 1930s when the Public Salary Tax Act was passed - allowing the Executive (via the IRS) to control the behavior of federal judges. Who does the judge work for? GOVERNMENT. Do you see how easy it was to take over the system?
Problem is that most of us honest hard working people don't get ourselves in trouble. We simply do as we're told to do and have been raised to believe that government is "GOOD"
Our government today is more corrupt than any criminal enterprise in history and they have virtually unlimited force to apply against any of us that stand up for our (formerly) unalienable rights.
Attention Everyone !******(I will repeat one more time) Based on both my military and law enforcement
experience and as a student of history, "NOTHING" is more important than our "Right to Keep and Bear Arms". With out the firearm, you can't hold on to the other rights you supposedly have !
The firearm allows you to protect yourself and your family and friends against the tyranny of anyone and put food on your table at the same time !
"Every" country that has fallen into the hands of a dictator or conqueror, were disarmed first so they could not
"Remember" the lessons of the American Revolution and how we won ! George Washington didn't get his way discussing the situation over a cup of tea with the brits and others. He did it by a black powder rifle. I could go on with many other examples but I am constantly amazed that "FEW" people remember our history and the history of the other countries ! If "WE" don't learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it.
Could not agree more Don - well stated!
The right to Keep and Bear Arms, is absolutely an important right and I agree with the essence and spirit of your comment as well as it's historical veracity. But without the right to private property, you wouldn't have the right to own and possess even the gun you allude to, and nothing to protect (other than the lives of you and your loved ones). "When a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is the right, it is their duty to throw off such government and appoint new guardians for their future security." - DOI July 04, 1776 We are at a point in our history where unfortunately, we will either have anarchy and civil war, or tyranny and oppression...........God Forbid!
We no longer own much of our property - The Manufacturer's Statement of Origination (MSO), the actual document that validates the automobile you buy goes to the state and you receive a "Certificate of Title" from the state that identifies that you are "allowed" to possess the automobile.
You no longer own your land or your house - just try not paying the "taxes" imposed on your property and you'll prove that you don't "own" it.
You no longer own your labor - the fictional creation we call government has decided that they may take a portion (and if they can take 5% they can take 100%) of the money you earn from that labor and let you keep some part of it - refuse to obey and they'll demonstrate that they can take anything they want from you without recourse - your PD won't help you, your sheriff won't help you, your congressman won't help you - no trial, no judge, no jury - they will take whatever they want and you are helpless to do anything about it.
When did we lose the right to a SPEEDY Trial?
Does anybody know who coined the phrase "jury of your peers"?
I've heard this used quite a bit but it is not constitutional and is at best, nonsensical. After all, if we were tried by a "jury of our peers", nobody would ever be convicted!
Not at all true...
The basis for a jury of peers was to have people that knew your character, your moral fiber seated in judgment against an accusation. They didn't mean "friends" they meant people that lived in your town, that knew you.
This was implied and not explicit. One must look to the meaning of the words used when the document was written - the customs of the time are what is important. When you look at the economic issue in the constitution, you must understand that Adam Smith's "Wealth of Nations" was the mainstream thought at the time. Therefore, a "capitation" as is used in A1S9C4 of the constitution meant a tax on a human being's labor - Smith stated that the labor of a human being is the most sacred property and must remain inviolate. Up until the "Victory Tax Act" - the "wages" of a worker were untouchable by government.
The system has become so terribly perverted and the number of "crimes" has become nothing more than a way to get additional revenue from the people and fund an entire industry (the prison industry).
Break a written contract - civil tort
Kill another, harm them or their property - real crime (crime against G-d's Law).