The constitution is not for us. It was never meant for us.
This sounds scary, but its really not. I mean, first off, why do we even have a constitution? Is it to protect our rights?
No, its not. The constitution does not exist for us. The constitution is not a declaration of our rights.
On the subject of rights, it can't be said that a single document is the key to every one of our liberties, for our liberties are not decided for us, but by us. No document is higher than the individual, including the constitution. We see this in a lot of ways, as we can question it, challenge it, and amend it. Does that not place us above the constitution?
So, the first big question: who determines our rights?
There are several reasons the constitution cannot effectively determine our rights. Slavery was a legal institution for hundreds of years, and was legal under the constitution for a long time. Does that make it right? Does that not deny the rights to a group of people? If the constitution was meant to protect those liberties, why didn't it then? Because the constitution has no say in our rights. Ultimately, we know what happened to the slaves. The constitution was questioned, challenged, and amended by we the people. We are above the constitution.
How about voting rights, womens rights, civil liberties, our rights to speech and the press, everything else. Did those rights not exist before the constitution? Even under the King those rights still existed, even though they weren't recognized.
So, why is there a certain number of rights? What the hell do we need a Bill of Rights for?
A lot of countries have "bills of rights", but none of them have the same number of freedoms outlined. Do we have different rights than the English or the French? What about the Swedes? The answer is no, we don't, because as we have already discovered no document can determine our rights.
So, now to answer the first big question: who determines our rights?
Is it god? Are they god-given rights? If that is so, why did god give a different set of rights to the French and the English? By that matter we can toss out that answer.
We also know they aren't granted to us by any sort of government or document, so we can toss that out too.
The only thing left is us. We are the determiners of our rights, and only we can declare them. Simple as that.
On to the second big question: why do we have a constitution?
I've already told you that the constitution is not for us. So, who is it for?
It's obvious that anarchy couldn't work, so we had to have some form of government for our new nation. Those 40 people who drafted the document that would become our constitution had one primary fear: a strong, overbearing government.
There is our answer. The constitution is not meant for us, but rather for the government itself. The constitution does not declare any rights, but rather ensures that the government remains limited and restricts it to certain practices. That's it. It's not for us, it's not for our rights, it's to make sure that the government is restricted and limited.
Let's prove it. First we'll look at 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."
Look at the language here. It does not say "all people have these rights", or anything like that. It exists to restrict the government from making any sort of legislation that denies these rights (that are determined by us).
If you look all over the constitution, you'll find language like that. Nowhere does the constitution outline any rights, it only restricts the government from violating them. The only way to interpret the constitution is to do so by understanding the meaning of it at the time of ratification, and it is to be understood that the constitution was meant as a safeguard to protect us from the government.
If only our elected officials knew this.