Pandemic Follies – and the Constitution, by Hadley Arkes

Founder’s Quote
September 22, 2020
DOJ Officially Designates NYC, Portland, Seattle As Violent Anarchy Zones, by Jordan Davidson
September 22, 2020

*Image: Theodore Sedgwick by Ezra Ames (after Gilbert Stuart), c. 1808 [National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC]

By Hadley Arkes, The Catholic Thing, Sept. 22, 2020

Hadley Arkes is the Ney Professor of Jurisprudence Emeritus at Amherst College and the Founder/Director of the James Wilson Institute on Natural Rights & the American Founding. …

Hadley ArkesIt still comes as a surprise for many lawyers and judges to learn that there were thoughtful people who bore serious doubts, at the beginning, about the wisdom of adding a Bill of Rights to this Constitution.  And the concerns didn’t spring from men who had reservations about “rights.”  The concern rather was that a Bill of Rights would misinstruct the American people about the very ground of their rights.

That concern is amply reflected in the line we hear so often when someone invokes “those rights we have under the First Amendment.”  The hard question was put at the time by Congressman Theodore Sedgwick:  Do you really think that, in the absence of that Amendment, you wouldn’t have a presumptive freedom, in a free country, to speak and assemble and publish?  Why don’t you specify as well, he said, that a man has a “right to wear his hat,” or “that he might get up when he pleased and go to bed when he thought proper.” ….