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May 18, 2007

The Warrior

The Constitution: all or nothing

1788. That’s the year the text of the Constitution was ratified. Five years later, in 1803, the Suprem Court, unuder John Marshall, began to deem things Unconstitutional, with the land mark case, Marbury v. Madison. Thus the idea of Constiutional

State Senator Michael Waddoups, a Republican, said, “If gov- ernment can’t protect you, you should have the right to protect yourself.”

The Utah State Supreme Court upheld the state’s law over chal- lenges by the state university.

interpretation began.

This Constitutional interpretation is common amongst modern

From the start, there was fierce debate over what ought to be included in the Constitution and the final product was more a compromise aimed at uniting the colonies than it was an ideological manifesto. At the most basic level, it acted as a textual check on governmental action, acting to reassure the states at a time when many felt that a strong national government would subvert state authority. With the exception of the “necessary and proper” clause, federal powers were quite limited by the original document.

To protect the views of all and alienate none by providing for fair representation of all views is a good intent. That was, unfor- tunately, never the case. Many felt themselves to lack political clout, a feeling that would lead to such actions as Shays’ and the

Republicans (and Democrats, for that matter), which would be fine

if they didn’t engage in picking and choosing of which sections of the Constitution to protect.

Interestingly enough, the many of the very same people who advocate such a strict interpretation are much more lenient when examining the other amendments of the Bill of Rights.

In relation to schools, the court has repeatedly ruled in favor of students’ rights to free speech in school, but limits them based on whether they actively interfere with pedagogical concerns. Ac- cording to the 1988 Supreme Court case, Hazlewood School Dis- trict v. Kuhlmeier, administrators have the right to censor school sponsored publications and theatre productions.

Whiskey Rebellions.


This would make sense, just like it makes

Even if there was indeed a time of unity within the various states on political matters, which there wasn’t, that certainly isn’t the case now. Rather,

sense that you can’t yell “fire” in a movie the- ater, except for the gun control interpretation. If scaring people by warning of a false fire is

the Constitutional provisions force the opinions of fellow state constituents upon oneself, regardless of whether there is mutual sentiment concerning a particular issue or election.

There are those, of course, who would point to the great politi- cal and ideological victory of the Bill of Rights, which guaranteed citizens of the various states certain rights that were important in 1791.

Some of these rights, such as the freedom of speech and religion (outlined in the First Amendment) and the various rights of indi- viduals when subject to state action, as outlined in Amendments Four through Eight, are quite obviously pertinent today.

The Second and Third Amendments, however, which guarantee the rights of militias, to bear arms and the negative right not to have a soldier quartered in one’s house are not as relevant at this time.

The only reasonable case for a right to possess arms would be grounded in self-defense, which only becomes an issue when an- other individual poses a threat with such a weapon. This weapon would be legally acquired under state and soon national law. A new Utah state law explicitly legalizes such concealed weapons, even on college campuses.

dangerous enough to lack Constitutional protection, why can’t the possession of handguns and assault rifles be limited or regulated? Surely fathers aren’t going to take their sons out on a hunting trip to load thirty rounds into a prize buck.

Look to the rights guaranteed in over half of the first eight amendments in the Bill of Rights (the other two deal only with the powers of the government to enforce such clauses and state that the rights included in the Bill of Rights are not the only rights that exist), which deal specifically with the negative rights of individuals against unwarranted search and seizure and the right to a fair and speedy trial adjudicated by a jury of peers. The Patriot Act and actions taken at Guantanamo Bay and various U.S sponsored secret prisons certainly do not act in accordance with these provisions.

All we’re trying to bring to light are the contradictions in Con- stitutional interpretation. Clearly, there is no easy solution to the issues posed by differing interpretations of the constitution because they’re just that: interpretations. The options are twofold. Either read the Constitution in its explicit nature and protect all rights included therein equally, or toss it and start anew. It can’t be both ways and we’re sick of it being used as such.

The Warrior Niskayuna High School, 1626 Balltown Road, Niskayuna, NY, 12309 http://www.nisk.k12.ny.us/nhs/warrior

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