The Confederate Constitution Actually Had A Lot Going For It

Everyone knows that the Confederacy was that evil part of the country that saw no problem with owning people. But it wasn't all bad, especially when it came to their Constitution.

If you read the Confederate Constitution, although most of it is copied verbatim, there are several areas that differ significantly from ours. Slavery, of course, was made legal subject to the same limitations on importation of any new slaves. But a separation of State and Economy got the most new changes and limitations on the government.

It explicitly banned their federal government from favoring any branch of industry in any way via duties or taxes on imports.

It required a 2/3 vote for approval of federal appropriations outside of a limited list of purposes as well as for taxes or duties on exports.

It required appropriations to have specific line item amounts for specific purposes and banned any additional payments to anyone after the initial contract had been made or services rendered.

It gave the President a line item veto on expenditures.

It most forcefully banned Congress from appropriating any money for the facilitation of commerce aside from a very few specific cases involving water transportations such as buoys, lighthouses and dredging, and, even in those, duties were to be laid on the navigation that got those improvements until they were paid for.

It made the Post Office pay for itself after the first two years.

It also made a Constitutional Convention easier to call for, requiring only three states instead of our 3/4. It limited the number of people any one Representative in the House could represent to 50,000. It gave the President the power to remove any department head or anyone in the diplomatic service. It also incorporated the Bill of Rights almost verbatim into the Constitution itself.

One of my favorites was getting rid of general omnibus bills: "Every law, or resolution having the force of law, shall relate to but one subject, and that shall be expressed in the title."

Except, of course, for the issue of slavery, I approve of almost all of them. They were almost all additional and explicit limitations on the power of the government in areas that our Constitution over the previous 70 years was found to be lacking in actual practice. Of all of the changes, only the slavery one was changed in ours.

Lincoln's issue, the succession itself, has never been addressed. There never was any ban on it. In fact Texas, which used to be an independent nation on its own, explicitly wrote into the agreement when it joined the US that it reserved the right to secede.

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The Well-Regulated Definition

The phrase “Well-Regulated” is so long out of use that dictionaries no longer cover it as a phrase. Since the word “regulated,” in common (non-scientific) usage requires an external regulator, many people assume that a well regulated militia requires an outside regulator, i.e. the government.

However there are examples of it in usage at the time which gives us, in a way, an even better definition.

  • If a liberal Education has formed in us well-regulated Appetites and worthy Inclinations.
  • A remissness for which I am sure every well-regulated person will blame the Mayor.
  • It appeared to her well-regulated mind, like a clandestine proceeding.
  • The advantage of living a well-regulated life was never better illustrated than in the person of his brother Andrew. — “The Prodigal Father” by J. Storer Clouston
  • He has led a well-regulated life, but his virtues are narrow and petty. — “Prescott of Saskatchewan” by Harold Bindloss
  • Lord Byron’s mind was as well regulated as it was powerful. — “My Recollections of Lord Byron” by Teresa Guiccioli
  • And the one I ran across while reading Mary Wollstonecraft’s “A Vindication Of The Rights Of Women” — … the harmonious propriety that attunes the passions of a well-regulated mind, that I blush …

It referred to something being in proper working order or was associated with self control. Something that was well-regulated was functioning as expected. Government control of the people’s arms was not only NOT what was meant by the phrase in the 2nd amendment, it was the opposite. Arms under the self control of the militia (which was the entire body of the populace capable of bearing arms) is what was necessary to keep government under control.

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The Constitution, A Government Of Laws, Not Of Men

In a comment about a Supreme Court ruling on a Constitution issue, I saw the often repeated but wrong statement: In the US, the majority rules.

My response:

Constitution of the United States of AmericaNO, No and no!! We are NOT an unlimited democracy and never have been. The majority does NOT automatically rule. We are a Constitutionally limited Republic.

If the power to do a thing has not been given to the government by the Constitution, then it doesn’t matter how many people do or don’t want it. The government does not have that power. If the majority want the government to have a power that it doesn’t currently have, then Congress and the people can change the Constitution itself. Until and unless that happens, the Supreme Court has no rightful power to rule other than what the Constitution says as those who wrote it intended it to mean.

If words don’t have meanings or you can twist the meanings of those words at will, then we become a government of men and not of law and we might as well just tear up the Constitution. It has no real significance other than as an antiquity that we like to pull out every once in a while to smile at. We will no longer be the United States of America, but just the State of America. Unfortunately, there are some people who want just that.

If you want to learn more about what the words were understood to mean when it was written, there’s a couple of books worth getting: Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 Reported by James Madison and the two book set The Debate on the Constitution : Federalist and Antifederalist Speeches, Articles, and Letters During the Struggle over Ratification: Part One, September 1787-February 1788 and Part Two: January to August 1788 by Bernard Bailyn.

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Civil Forfeiture – Arresting Your Money (or House Or Car Or …)

Civil forfeiture, or civil asset forfeiture, is a legal action where your property is arrested and seized even if you aren’t. Get stopped on your way to buying a used car and having a couple of thousand dollars in cash on you? The cop can take the money, saying he thinks you’re really on your way to buy drugs and keep it, no proof needed.

It can cost thousands of dollars and years of work to get your property back if you even can. Most people wind up walking away. One airplane owner in Arizona had his plane confiscated because they said it was being used to transport drugs. He was never even arrested, much less convicted, of anything. Over $50,000 and years later he finally got his plane back … in the pieces they’d taken it apart into to search it.

Originally conceived as a way to cripple organized crime bosses so they couldn’t buy their way out of trouble when being prosecuted, it has morphed into the biggest crime ring of all, run by the police themselves. You see, they often get to keep that money or the proceeds from the sale of property to spend pretty much however they want. It’s off budget and un-accountable.

What brought all this to mind is a video I ran across on Cafe Hayek. Longish and hilarious, but well worth watching:

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