Analysis of Constitutions

Articles of Confederation

An Analysis of The Articles of Confederation as a Model for Institutions of Freedom
by Bobby Yates Emory
Describes the usefulness, omissions, and lessons to be learned from The Articles of Confederation.

Back To the Articles
Economic reasons these united States should restore the Articles of Confederation as the legitimate central government of the US

July 22, 2010
by Ron Holland
"The genius of state sovereignty and a decentralized Articles of Confederation government is the ability of different states to compete with conservative or liberal alternative lifestyles as well as on tax rates and associated government programs etc. A one-size-fits-all top down centralized government might have worked somewhat for communists in the Soviet Union, Red China or British socialists but it has no place any longer in what may someday become "these united States." It is a relic of central planning and corrupt elites and it should be eradicated from our nation and sovereign states."

Constitutions in General

The Basics of Constitutions
by Richard O. Hammer
Thoughts on the philosophy of constitutions for free nations.

The Case For Written Constitutions: Even Broken or Bad Promises Are Better in Writing
by Antoine Clarke

Constitutional Economics and the Calculus of Consent
by Tom DiLorenzo and Walter Block

Constitutions Are a Beginning
by Jim Davidson
Argues for a contractual basis for property ownership and the establishment of governments, as opposed to basing these on natural rights, constitutions, or conventions.

Constitutions: When They Protect and When They Do Not
by Randy Dumse
"The only value in a constitution, is the commitment of the people who hold it to assure each other they will come to the defense of the other, should it be breached. Such mutual commitment is the glue of a free nation."

Constitutions: Written and Actual
by Richard O. Hammer
"... our challenge becomes to discover mechanisms which empower people to do what we want them to be able to do (and which they also want to do). These mechanisms, taken together, and assuming they work, constitute an actual constitution. When we write a description of this actual constitution we will have a written constitution."

Economic Principles of Constitutions: An Economic Analysis of Constitutional Law
August 2, 2001
by Jurgen G. Backhaus
"This essay starts by giving an introduction into the economic analysis of constitutional law. Part I contains an analysis of constitutional guarantees of basic (individual) rights and procedures, illustrated with three constitutions, the American constitution of 1789 as amended in 1792, the German Basic Law of 1949 and the Dutch Basic Law of 1983. Although constitutions are meant to be permanent, they continuously change without amendment. Part II offers an analysis of constitutional change without amendment. Whoever wants to draft a constitution needs to know how the basic guarantees work, how procedural rules interconnect basic guarantees and decision takers, and what chances there are that the meaning of a constitutional provision can be turned upside down. Economic analysis of constitutions speaks to these three problems."

Hayek on Spontaneous Order and Constitutional Design
Summer 2010
by Scott A. Boykin
"For more than two centuries, liberal constitutionalists have championed the separation of powers as a means of constraining self-interested political activity that erodes personal freedom. Although F. A. Hayek values the separation of powers, he contends that it cannot safeguard individual liberty unless the prevailing culture, a product of spontaneous order, favors limited government."

The Myth of Political Consent
June 24, 2010
by James Ostrowski
"To the best of my knowledge, no living American ever signed a contract to be ruled by the creepy politicians in DC."

A New Old American Concept of Political Liberty
March 2002
by Norman Barry
"All written constitutions are inadequate surrogates for a genuine political liberty. For true freedom is found in the active exercise of choice: either in the market for goods and services or the competition for laws and institutions. If that competition is attenuated, and citizens are left with only the threadbare protections of democracy and an activist judiciary, they will soon have little liberty at all."

The Problem with Constitutionalism
February 3, 2010
by Thomas L. Knapp
"The conservative niche marketing device commonly known as “constitutionalism” — a device which massages the libertarian impulse in a way that makes it an ideal fetish for “smaller government” types to wave at anarchists — boils down to the notion that government could be made to “work” if only we herded it back into the corral of constitutional limitations."

European Constitution

Are we fools led by liars?
March 4, 2005
by William Rees-Mogg
"Whenever one dips into the constitution one is liable to sink into a bog of unexamined propositions. I cannot think of any document of comparable historic importance which raises so many questions or answers so few."

Socialism's Farewell Note: The new Constitution of the EU
July 3, 2003
by Marian L. Tupy
"The proposed European Constitution represents the last gasp of European socialism. With its 260 pages and 70,000 words, it is one of the longest and most uninspiring farewell notes in human history. Like the Roman Emperor Diocletian, who tried to avert the demise of his weak and economically mismanaged empire by carving his absurd decrees in stone, Giscard D'Estaing and his fellow all-too-conventional "conventionalists" labored for months to codify Europe's venerated model of "social market economy." History suggests that their efforts will have been in vain."

A Tadpole Constitution, Part I: How Confederacy Could Turn into a Federal Superstate, Part II: Majority Rule by Any Other Name
by Anthony de Jasay
The constitution of the European Union will likely lead to a superstate.

Iraq Constitution

The Iraq Constitution: And They Call This Victory?
by Ivan Eland
"The U.S. government has instituted, by force, democratic processes in Iraq. However, this effort does not solve the main problem: convincing a disaffected, well-armed minority to quit fighting against the Iraqi government and the U.S. occupation that props it up. In fact, the democratic process—in this case, the constitutional referendum—has conclusively demonstrated to the Sunnis that even if they vote, they are at the mercy of the alliance of Kurds and Shi’a. Thus, the referendum will likely fuel the rebellion, not weaken it."

Making the World Safe for Theocracy
by Ivan Eland
"To reduce the chances of such a conflagration, the constitution should be amended to partition Iraq into Shi’ite, Kurdish, and Sunni areas (all lands within these three or more areas do not have to be contiguous) and to proportionally share petroleum revenues or even oilfields with the Sunnis. To give the Shi’a and Kurds an incentive to reach an agreement to share oil, the United States would inform them that the U.S. military, which is the only thing propping up the Iraqi government, will be exiting quickly. The administration has dug itself so deeply into the Iraqi hole that no perfect solution exists to avoid the impending civil war. But this solution at least stops the digging and begins filling in some dirt."

United States Constitution

Address of the Free Constitutionalists to the People of the United States
by Lysander Spooner
"If these views are correct, it is just as much the constitutional duty, and just as clearly the constitutional right, of the general government to protect; the people of the United States against enslavement by the State governments, as it is the constitutional duty and right of the State governments, to protect the same people against enslavement by the general government."

Anti-Federalist Papers
"The arguments against ratification appeared in various forms, by various authors, most of whom used a pseudonym. Collectively, these writings have become known as the Anti-Federalist Papers. We here present some of the best and most widely read of these. They contain warnings of dangers from tyranny that weaknesses in the proposed Constitution did not adequately provide against, and while some of those weaknesses were corrected by adoption of the Bill of Rights, others remained, and some of these dangers are now coming to pass."

A Breach of Contract
June 11, 2012
by Butler Shaffer
"I propose that we respond to our alleged obligations to the state – duties we never agreed to in the first place – in the same manner by which we would treat our hypothetical car dealer in the marketplace: to walk away and take our business elsewhere! Whatever goods or services we desire in our lives, and which we have been conditioned to believe can only be provided by the state, can be found in the willingness of our neighbors to freely and genuinely contract with us in ways that do not depend upon predation, restraint, or violence. It is time for us to discover the peaceful and creative nature of a society grounded in a voluntary "meeting of the minds" of free men and women!"

A Brief Enquiry into the True Nature and Character of our Federal Government
by Abel Parker Upshur
"A review of Joseph Story's Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, arguing against some of Story's expansive interpretations of national powers."

Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States
by Joseph Story
"Authoritative commentaries by an early Supreme Court justice who helped shape interpretation of the Constitution for the next century."

The Constitution
by Lysander Spooner
"The number who actually consented to the Constitution of the United States, at the first, was very small. Considered as the act of the whole people, the adoption of the Constitution was the merest farce and imposture, binding upon nobody."

Constitutional Con Men
by Thomas J. DiLorenzo
"If Lincoln was not, in fact, a devoted champion of the Constitution, the whole anti-states’ rights house of cards collapses. If he disregarded the Constitution and acted like a dictator, no matter how noble his ends might have been, then the sanctity-of-the-Constitution argument against secession goes out the window."

Constitutional Consistency: Is it asking too much?
February 18, 2010
by Steven Horwitz
"No one ever accused progressives and conservatives of being overly consistent about freedom. After all, we classical liberals frequently say we want the State out of both the bedroom and the boardroom, in contrast to progressives and conservatives who seem only to care about one of the two."

Constitutional Counterrevolution
October 1, 2000
by Charlotte Twight
"Given America’s carefully crafted constitutional restrictions on central government power, how is it that intrusive federal powers over the lives of ordinary Americans took root in the twentieth century? If you had just fifteen minutes to explain it to James Madison, what would you say?"

The Constitution and the New Deal by G. Edward White
reviewed by James W. Ely Jr.
"White’s thoughtful volume is a vast improvement over much of the existing literature on the constitutional dimensions of the New Deal era. It deserves a large audience. Still, one might suggest that in his well-founded desire to stamp out the myths associated with the New Deal, White unduly downplays the New Deal as a significant turning point in constitutional history. The New Deal may not have brought about a complete change in constitutional theories, and some of the legal doctrines it produced may have been long in gestation and only coincidentally to have come to a head in the 1930s. The fact remains, however, that for better or worse it was responsible for bringing these issues to a head and did so in a way that has shaped all subsequent constitutional discourse."

The Constitution Does Not Grant Rights!
May 28, 2012
by Gary D. Barnett
"Those seeking freedom and liberty must look to themselves for answers, not to a very flawed piece of parchment."

The Constitution Does Not Protect Our Property
March 6, 2010
by Tom Mullen
"The U.S. Constitution is widely believed to have been written to limit the powers of the federal government and protect the rights of its citizens. Inexplicably, this belief is held even by those who acknowledge that the constitutional convention was called for the express purpose of expanding the powers of the federal government, supposedly because the government under the Articles of Confederation was too weak. That this was the purpose of the convention is not a disputed fact."

The Constitution of no Authority
by Lysander Spooner
"The Constitution has no inherent authority or obligation. It has no authority or obligation at all, unless as a contract between man and man. And it does not so much as even purport to be a contract between persons now existing. It purports, at most, to be only a contract between persons living eighty years ago. And it can be supposed to have been a contract then only between persons who had already come to years of discretion, so as to be competent to make reasonable and obligatory contracts. Furthermore, we know, historically, that only a small portion even of the people then existing were consulted on the subject, or asked, or permitted to express either their consent or dissent in any formal manner. Those persons, if any, who did give their consent formally, are all dead now. Most of them have been dead forty, fifty, sixty, or seventy years. And the constitution, so far as it was their contract, died with them. They had no natural power or right to make it obligatory upon their children. It is not only plainly impossible, in the nature of things, that they could bind their posterity, but they did not even attempt to bind them. That is to say, the instrument does not purport to be an agreement between any body but "the people" then existing; nor does it, either expressly or impliedly, assert any right, power, or disposition, on their part, to bind anybody but themselves."

The Constitution: The God That Failed (To Liberate Us From Big Government)
by William Buppert
"Ask yourself this question: have the robed government employees who read the Constitutional tea leaves for the most part defended individual liberty or have they rubber-stamped the exponential growth of power and control of the colossus that sits astride the Potomac?"

The Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787
by James Madison
"These are the proceedings of the Constitutional Convention held in Philadelphia, an essential guide to interpreting the intent of the Framers."

The Debates in the Several Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution
by Jonathan Elliot
"A collection of documents, including proceedings of the ratifying state conventions."

A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America
by John Adams
"Comprehensive historical review of how various national constitutions worked, with quotes from political philosophers and historians, that influenced the Founders in their drafting of state and federal constitutions."

Did the Constitution Betray the Revolution?
January 1, 1981
by Jeffrey Rogers Hummel and William Marina
Hummel argues that that U. S. Constitution betrayed the revolution. Marina argues that it resolved the issues raised by the revolution.

A Discourse on the Constitution and Government of the United States
by John C. Calhoun
"One of Calhoun’s most important works of political philosophy. In The Discourse Calhoun attempts to show how the theory he developed in The Disquisition might be applied to the American context."

Does the Constitution Mean Anything?
December 17, 2010
by Doug Bandow
"It has been years since the Constitution has had any meaningful impact on what is done in Washington. True, no one challenges the structural provisions -- there are a hundred senators, presidential elections are held every four years, etc. And there are lots of court battles over application of the Bill of Rights, largely because it protects some liberties favored by the Left.
But most congressmen pay little, if any, attention to their authority under the Constitution before they pass legislation. And there probably are more unicorns in the wild than executive branch employees who consult the Constitution before imposing regulations."

Doomed from the Start: The Myth of Limited Constitutional Government in America
February 25, 2010
by Thomas J. DiLorenzo
"The only group of Americans to ever seriously challenge this false nationalist theory, Southern secessionists, were mass murdered by the hundreds of thousands, including some 50,000 civilians according to James McPherson; their cities and towns were bombed and burned to the ground, tens of millions of dollars of private property was plundered by the U.S. Army; Southern women, white and black, were raped; and total war was waged on the civilian population. This is what finally cemented into place the false, Hamiltonian/nationalist theory of the American founding, for the victors always get to write the history in war."

The Federalist Papers
by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay
"Newspaper articles which made a case for adopting the U.S. Constitution, and in the process explained much about the issues of government power."

Founders' vision would shock some
July 5, 2010
by Walter E. Williams
"Contrary to Alito's assertion, the central component of the Second Amendment is to protect ourselves from U.S. Congress, not street thugs.
Today's Americans have contempt for our Founders' vision. I'm sure our Founders would have contempt for ours."

Getting Back to the ‘Real’ Constitution – Fagettaboutit
October 29, 2010
by Kirkpatrick Sale
"Let’s wake up these “real Constitution” die-hards and the ardent “Tenthers” and tell them that it’s a waste of time to try to resurrect that document in order to save the nation – because the growth of government and the centralization of power is inherent in its original provisions. As the anti-Federalists were trying to say all along from the very beginning of the ratification process. Only when we get people today off this understandable but ill-fated track can we begin to open their eyes to the reality of our present peril: we have a big overgrown government because that’s what the Founding Fathers founded, and we won’t escape from it until we take the idea of secession as seriously as it must be taken."

Hit or Run
December 1980
by Jess Raley
"As best I can tell from looking, listening, and reading, a great many Americans have been conned into believing that anything an individual is at liberty to do is a right guaranteed to them by the Constitution of these United States. More than this it seems to be generally assumed that the public is bound by that same document to pay, on demand, for the implementation of these rights."

I’m Fed Up With Constitution Worship!
September 25, 2010
by Gary D. Barnett
"The Anti-federalists had it right all along. The Articles of Confederation were certainly not perfect, but that constitution was a damn sight better than the one we have now. One single reading of Article 1, Section 8 of the current U.S. Constitution should literally scare the living daylights out of all who believe in freedom and liberty. In my opinion, Hamilton and his followers were able to fool and then co-opt enough of the political leaders of the time to bring about a massive change; a change that ushered in a much more powerful central governing system. This was entirely by design in my opinion, and was never intended to advance and protect the freedom of the individual. Had that been the case, slavery would never have been sanctioned by that same document. Why this system is so revered is beyond me. It can only be due to long-term indoctrination. I have been told since childhood of the greatness of the constitution by peers, by the school system, by politicians, by the media, and by virtually everyone else able to utter the spoken word. Considering this, it is no wonder that this mediocre document is worshiped by so many."

Is Health-Care Reform Constitutional?
March 21, 2010
by Randy Barnett
"Here is a guide to the possible legal challenges to a comprehensive health-care bill."

Is the Constitution Antiquated?
by Wendy McElroy
"It is necessary to look beyond the quaintness of any specific term and ask, what current legal practice corresponds, in its essence, with one that is prohibited by the Constitution?"

Libertarians and the Constitution
September 1956
by Charles Hull Wolfe
"But I now sincerely believe that the apparent clash between libertarianism and the Constitution is superficial rather than fundamental; that each has its necessary place, and is important—even indispensable—to the other."

Liberty vs. the Constitution: The Early Struggle
by Albert Jay Nock
"The Constitution had been laid down under unacceptable auspices; its history had been that of a coup d'état."

The Meaningless Constitution
July 30, 2009
by Don Cooper
"Any clause that could be interpreted to mean many things therefore means nothing."

New Views of the Constitution of the United States
by John Taylor
"A discourse on the constitutional nature of the American union reflecting views of Jefferson and Madison."

No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority
by Lysander Spooner
"It is plain, then, that on general principles of law and reason – such principles as we all act upon in courts of justice and in common life – the Constitution is no contract; that it binds nobody, and never did bind anybody; and that all those who pretend to act by its authority, are really acting without any legitimate authority at all; that, on general principles of law and reason, they are mere usurpers, and that everybody not only has the right, but is morally bound, to treat them as such."

On the Constitution and the Union
by William Lloyd Garrison
"A sacred compact, forsooth! We pronounce it the most bloody and heaven-daring arrangement ever made by men for the continuance and protection of a system of the most atrocious villany ever exhibited on earth."

The Political Economy of the U.S. Constitution
February 1987
by Dwight R. Lee
"The U.S. is a wealthy country today in large part because our Founding Fathers had what can be quite accurately described as a negative attitude toward government. They had little confidence in the ability of government to promote social well-being through the application of government power to achieve particular ends. In their view, the best that government can realistically hope to achieve is the establishment of a social setting in which individuals are free, within the limits of general laws, to productively pursue their own objectives."

The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution
by Thomas E. Woods, Jr.
"To those who weep over the Constitution’s neglect these past 50 or 100 years, Gutzman shows that defiance of that document has gone on from the beginning, starting in the 1790s. An expert on colonial and early republican Virginia, Gutzman knows the Virginia ratifying convention inside and out. He knows the promises made to the people, and the assurances that Virginia’s ratifiers inserted into that state’s ratification instrument. And he shows that Jefferson and his allies were faithful to those principles and promises, and that the so-called Federalists and their present-day apologists (which includes just about everybody) were not."

Some Critical Considerations on the United States Constitution
January 15, 2011
by Carl Watner
"We should examine the Constitution closely, since it has such a pervasive influence over our lives. Does it meet the requirements of commonly accepted legal principles and reason, or do we judge it by a double standard? Did the Constitution have a legal birth, or did it unlawfully encroach on the Articles of Confederation? In other words, is the Constitution constitutional, and does it have any inherent authority?"

The Unhonored Prophets: Morton Borden (ed.), The Antifederalist Papers
by C. P. Ives

The U. S. Constitution and Money
by Michael S. Rozeff
"This volume is a summary of Edwin Vieira Jr.’s Pieces of Eight: The Monetary Powers and Disabilities of the U.S. Constitution. I composed this book’s thirteen chapters between March and June of 2010, writing them sequentially as I worked through Vieira’s masterwork for the second time."

The U.S. Constitution: The 18th Century Patriot Act
December 14, 2009
by Tom Mullen
"Don't get me wrong. If our government were limited to the powers granted it in that document, the United States of America would be far freer, far more prosperous, and likely not facing any of the monumental problems that it is facing now. However, that does not change the facts about why the Constitutional Convention was called or why the Constitution itself was created. If you are astounded that any Republican can still claim that George Bush was "pro-freedom" or that Barack Obama is "anti-war," you should be equally surprised that anyone can claim that the U.S. Constitution limited the powers of the central government."

A View of the Constitution
by William Rawle
"Early commentary on the Constitution and how it should be interpreted. Made point that the Bill of Rights also applied to the states, something that would later be denied, then partially reassserted by the 14th Amendment and the doctrine of (selective) incorporation."

What Is the Constitution?
December 29, 2009
by Timothy Baldwin
"Given the natural laws of sovereignty, self-defense, self-preservation and self-government, the States may in fact be better off not to be a part of a union that is causing their demise. More pointedly put, the States may in fact be better off to declare the compact (the U.S. Constitution) or at least, the federal laws creating their demise, null and void within their sovereign borders. Naturally, this sovereign power can come in different forms, through nullification, active resistance to federal usurpations, controlling the mechanisms used against the states, and secession."

Why Care What The Constitution Says?
by Randy E. Barnett
"In his book Restoring the Lost Constitution, Randy Barnett argues that since the nation's founding, but especially since the 1930s, the courts have been cutting holes in the original Constitution. In the process, the written Constitution has been lost, and so has an important tool for defending of our liberty."

The Commerce Clause

Does Rape Violate the Commerce Clause of the Constitution?
October 1, 2000
by Wendy McElroy
"The Supreme Court’s decision in U.S. v. Morrison is not a blow to women’s equality or safety, which was not the issue under consideration in the ruling. The decision is an attempt to check the seemingly infinite and non-enumerated powers claimed by Congress under the Commerce Clause."

Government by Commerce Clause
November 30, 2010
by William J. Watkins Jr.
"Since upholding the Agricultural Adjustment Act, the Court has redefined interstate commerce as “economic activity.” If an activity substantially affects (or potentially could affect) the national market, then Congress may regulate the activity via the Commerce Clause. Because almost any activity conceivably could have some effect on the economy, Congress has used the Commerce Clause to pass laws dealing with everything from crime to civil rights.
If Congress and the president can force Americans to buy health insurance, is any activity beyond the scope of the Commerce Clause? If the auto industry needs assistance, what is to stop Congress from requiring that all multi-car families own at least one Chrysler or General Motors product? Rather than bail out the banks, Congress could simply require citizens to increase their bank deposits or face a penalty. The possibilities are endless."

Obamacare, the Constitution, and the original meaning of the Commerce Clause
December 21, 2010
By William J. Watkins, Jr.
"Does Congress's power to regulate commerce permit it to mandate that all Americans purchase a health insurance policy? So far two federal district courts have answered 'yes' and one has answered 'no.' The courts' opinions exhaustively discuss and interpret modern Supreme Court case law, but barely touch upon the history of the commerce power and the intent of the Constitution's framers."

Bill of Rights

The Bill of Rights and Moral Philosophy
July 1992
by Tibor R. Machan
"After the Bill of Rights, the amendment process quickly deteriorated into a mobocracy, and nearly every time some powerful sentiment raged, an amendment was passed to satisfy it. It is not speculative to say that nearly every good subsequent emendation of the Constitution could have been derived from its existing provisions, including the abolition of slavery, while the rest were expressions of impatience with the wheels of justice and the life of a free society."

Letter to George Washington on the Bill of Rights
by James Madison

Letter to Thomas Jefferson on the Bill of Rights
by James Madison
"The restrictions however strongly marked on paper will never be regarded when opposed to the decided sense of the public; and after repeated violations in extraordinary cases, they will lose even their ordinary efficacy."

First Amendment

First Amendment must protect hate speech
October 10, 2010
by Thomas J. Lucente Jr.
"If the First Amendment is to have any meaning at all, it must be used to protect the speech of Phelps and others of his ilk. If Nazis can’t march in Skokie, Ill., and Phelps can’t protest against homosexuality at military funerals, then we no longer have free speech in this country."

Property Rights and the First Amendment
July 1987
by Lance Lamberton
"While it would be naive to assume that the public schools or the interstate highway system will be privatized any time soon, the powerful trends toward greater recognition and appreciation for the free market—and the private property concepts on which it is founded—bode well for the furtherance of First Amendment protections over the long term."

The Wall of Separation Between Church and State
November 1995
by Judd W. Patton
"The purpose of the First Amendment was not to protect Americans from religion, it was to protect religion from government intrusion. This “understanding” is in full and obvious accord with the raison d'etre of the Bill of Rights to limit the federal government's power and thereby secure the freedom of individuals and the rights of the states. The Bill of Rights was a declaration of what the federal government could not do."

Second Amendment

Deconstructing the Second Amendment
by Stephen Halbrook
A critical review of Michael A. Bellesiles’s anti-historical book, Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture.

Does the Second Amendment Apply in Chicago? Understanding the stakes in the Supreme Court's next gun rights case
December 15, 2009
by Damon W. Root
"Later this term, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in McDonald v. Chicago, a case that centers on whether the Windy City’s notorious handgun ban violates the 14th Amendment. As we’ll see, it most certainly does."

Don’t Cherish the 2nd Amendment!
September 12, 2011
by Marc J. Victor
"Although I cherish freedom, and all the concepts which are necessary to a free and peaceful society, I do not cherish the 2nd Amendment or any other collection of mere words."

The Founders’ Second Amendment: Origins of the Right to Bear Arms
by Stephen P. Halbrook
"Stephen Halbrook’s The Founders’ Second Amendment is the first in-depth, book-length account of the origins of the Second Amendment, based on the Founders’ own statements as found in newspapers, correspondence, debates, and resolutions."

Internet Encryption and the Second Amendment
by Alexander Tabarrok
"The founding fathers blessed us with the right to keep and bear arms so that the people would always have a safeguard against tyranny. Encryption techniques are a similar bulwark protecting liberty."

The Militia Question, Resolved: Second Amendment 101
by Michael E. Kreca
"First of all, the inalienable right of individuals to keep and bear arms as a check on a tyrannical government predates our Declaration of Independence and Constitution. This, among other things, was clearly and eloquently expressed in Sir William Blackstone's 1768 "Commentaries On The Laws of England.” Hence, the Founders were operating within a long historical tradition based upon English common law."

Militia, Standing Armies, and the Second Amendment: Some Perspectives from the American Revolution
July 1, 1975
by William Marina
"The regular American army, as well as segments of a rag-tag militia, accepted the surrender at Yorktown. The existence of that army should never be allowed to obscure the large reason for the British defeat which was that they could never control, let alone win over, a population of armed militia that was the foundation of support for the American government."

Reading the Second Amendment
February 1998
by Sheldon Richman
"Perhaps the deterioration of American education is illustrated by the high correlation between the number of years a person has attended school and his inability to understand the words “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” It is more likely, though, that those who interpret the Second Amendment to preclude an individual right to own guns are driven by their political agenda. Whichever the case, they do themselves no credit when they tell us that a simple, elegant sentence means the opposite of what it clearly says."

Reports of the Death of the Second Amendment Have Been Greatly Exaggerated: The Emerson Decision
November 19, 2001
by Stephen Halbrook
"If any argument about the Second Amendment is a "fraud," it is the assertion that the Framers intended the Second Amendment to protect a "collective" State right to maintain a militia, not an individual right to keep and bear arms. The 86-page opinion in United States v. Emerson, 2001 U.S. App. LEXIS 22386 (5th Cir. 2001), overflowing with quotations from the Framers, now forces Second Amendment deconstructionists to face the music."

The Right of Workers to Assemble and to Bear Arms: Presser v. Illinois, One of the Last Holdouts Against Application of the Bill of Rights to the States
by Stephen Halbrook

The Right to Keep and Bear Arms
by Jacob Hornberger
"Arguably, the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution should have been made first in the Bill of Rights because without the right to keep and bear arms, such rights as freedom of speech and freedom of the press would be treated as nothing more than meaningless “privileges” bestowed and taken away by government officials at will."

The Second Amendment in the Light of American Republicanism
June 1999
by Joseph R. Stromberg
"The gun-controllers, to put it another way, can’t see why Americans are so reluctant to submit themselves unquestioningly to the benevolent rule of a social-democratic welfare-warfare state of the sort in place in the happy and peaceful nations of western Europe. In such a state things will be very orderly—and there is absolutely nothing to fear because we will all have that all-important right to trudge to the polls every so often to show (perhaps under threat of fines) our acquiescence in whatever the politicians decide to do with our lives, incomes, and property. No matter how detailed bureaucratic oversight of people’s lives may become, they can always vote for a change in personnel—if not about anything substantive. This happy scenario looks to a re-creation of the Old Order in which priests and warriors rule over the economic producers who, after all, need only do what they are told."

Should the 2nd Amendment Apply to the States?
August 10, 2009
by Marc Gallagher
"Since the court recognizes that the right to bear arms is a pre-existing right, that it existed prior to the Constitution, it appears I found an answer to one of my questions. Yes, the 2nd Amendment does enumerate a natural human right. Of course, we already knew it did. Now it seems the Supreme Court knows it too."

So George Washington was a socialist, too!
March 25, 2010
by Joe Conason
"Quotations and facsimiles of the Militia Act can be found on hundreds of right-wing blogs, of course, where it is often cited to demonstrate that the founders would have despised gun control. Few if any of these Second Amendment zealots seem to have realized yet how ironic it is for them to quote this venerable statute alongside their anguished protests against the constitutional validity of any federal mandate."

Weapons, Technology and Legitimacy: The Second Amendment in Global Perspective
January 1, 1983
by William Marina
"To understand the reasoning of those who framed the Second Amendment, we need to comprehend their view of social behavior, based upon their distinctive interpretation of history and their own political experience. In essence they believed the lesson taught by both history and experience was that an armed citizenry is both necessary against the perennial threat of tyrannical government, and the ultimate protection against foreign invasion."

Fourth Amendment

The Changing Face of the Police and the Death of the Fourth Amendment
May 24, 2011
by John W. Whitehead
"In an 8-1 ruling in Kentucky v. King, the U.S. Supreme Court effectively decimated the Fourth Amendment by giving police more leeway to break into homes or apartments without a warrant when in search of illegal drugs which they suspect might be destroyed if notice were given."

The Former Fourth Amendment
by William Norman Grigg
"When SWAT teams were introduced in the late 1960s, they were intended to be used only in hostage rescues and similar extraordinary circumstances, and those recruited for such duty were taught that the mission was a failure if innocent people were endangered. Today, SWAT teams are entirely useless in hostage situations, and are promiscuously used to carry out routine police duties. And SWAT operators who kill innocent people enjoy nearly bullet-proof immunity."

The Fourth Amendment and Faulty Originalism
September 14, 2010
by Joseph R. Stromberg
"Most arrests and searches today are without warrant, and getting a formal warrant is fairly easy. Concrete, sworn personal knowledge has yielded to vague (“reasonable”) suspicion or whimsy as a “standard.” Once we enjoyed rules that provided for concrete privacy. By the 1960s privacy seemed so imperiled that the Supreme Court with its usual jobbery was driven to invent an artificial “right of privacy” just to restore some balance. Later, “originalist” conservative justices wrathfully informed us that passage of a law by Congress is nine-tenths of “due process” (you voted, didn’t you?) and the rest is enforcement—stern law-and-order formalism indeed. Translated, conservative “due process” seems to leave us subject to arrest, search, or seizure at the whim of any functionary capable of forming a whim."

Fifth Amendment

Takings: Private Property and the Power of Eminent Domain by Richard A. Epstein
March 1986
reviewed by Joan Kennedy Taylor
"He finds that the entire concept of transfer payments underlying welfare checks, social security legislation, unemployment benefits, food stamps, farm subsidies, indeed, most of our contemporary budget, is unconstitutional by this analysis. But being a real-world thinker, he then questions whether it is possible to undo such programs now that people have been led to rely on them, and ends by proposing a practical sequence of reforms that would start to reverse the damage."

Ninth Amendment

The Rights Retained by The People: The History And Meaning of The Ninth Amendment edited by Randy E. Barnett
October 1992
reviewed by James A. Woehlke
"This book should open the door to a serious, intellectually sound approach to the Constitutional protection of human rights—including property fights. The book contains historical background and analysis by legal scholars concerning the Ninth Amendment to the Constitution."

Tenth Amendment

Bring Back Nullification: We Can Resist the Tyranny of the Federal Government
by Michael Boldin
"The 10th Amendment was ratified as an exclamation point on the Constitution – and it lays out in plain English that our federal government is to be one of limited, enumerated powers – not the nearly unlimited, unchecked one that it has become today."

It’s Not About Political Parties. It’s About Liberty
by Michael Boldin
"At its very core, nullification is mass civil-disobedience to the federal government with the support of the state apparatus. It’s about “We the People” exercising our rights whether the politicians or judges in Washington D.C. want to give us “permission” to exercise those rights or not."

Jefferson and Nullification
March 12, 2010
by Clyde Wilson
"Those who hope to revive a constitutional role for the States as counters to the present U.S. Empire, must hope to make the States once more into self-conscious, viable polities who have the political will to enact nullification and stand by it."

Jefferson vs. Lincoln: America Must Choose
by Josh Eboch
"Over the course of American history, there has been no greater conflict of visions than that between Thomas Jefferson's voluntary republic, founded on the natural right of peaceful secession, and Abraham Lincoln's permanent empire, founded on the violent denial of that same right.
That these two men somehow shared a common commitment to liberty is a lie so monstrous and so absurd that its pervasiveness in popular culture utterly defies logic."

Q&A on Nullification and Interposition
by Clyde Wilson
"'Nullification' was a derogatory, negative-sounding term invented by the opponents of the right. The proper name is State Interposition."

The Reluctant Anarchist
by Joseph Sobran
"Gradually I came to see that the conservative challenge to liberalism’s jurisprudence of “loose construction” was far too narrow. Nearly everything liberals wanted the Federal Government to do was unconstitutional. The key to it all, I thought, was the Tenth Amendment, which forbids the Federal Government to exercise any powers not specifically assigned to it in the Constitution. But the Tenth Amendment had been comatose since the New Deal, when Roosevelt’s Court virtually excised it."

Tenth Amendment Defense in New Jersey
by Keith Halderman
"Marijuana law reformers can count another state, fourteen in all, in their victory column but another group of political activists, those concerned with the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution also have reason to celebrate."

Tenth Amendment Showdown: La Boétie vs. Machiavelli
by John Bowman
"The very recent revival of the Tenth Amendment on both popular and political landscapes has underscored the ever-present demarcation between liberty and statism. It has also brought to light an interesting demarcation within the group of liberty-minded anti-statists."

Texas v. White a Roadblock To Secession; But It Might Also Provide an Escape Route
by Brian Stanley
"Michael C. Dorf, a law professor at Columbia and a constitutional scholar, is one of the few commentators who has addressed this language in White. In an article about secession, Dorf, after saying that White held secession unconstitutional, looked to the “consent of the states” language and said, essentially, that we don’t know what it means but it may provide an argument for states that want to secede."

The Untold History of Nullification: Resisting Slavery
by Derek Sheriff
"Few Americans have ever heard the heroic story of how the people of Wisconsin and several other states stood up to the federal government's tyrannical, unconstitutional slave laws with the help of their elected state officials."

Was the Union Army’s Invasion of the Confederate States a Lawful Act? An Analysis of President Lincoln’s Legal Arguments Against Secession
by James Ostrowski
"If South Carolina illegally seceded from the Union, then both the Union’s initial refusal to surrender Fort Sumter and its subsequent invasion were lawful and constitutional. Conversely, if South Carolina had the right to secede from the Union, then indeed the Union soldiers in the Fort were trespassers and also a potential military threat to South Carolina. Thus, assuming the right of secession existed, the Union had no right to retaliate or initiate war against the Confederacy. Its subsequent invasion of Virginia then marks the beginning of its illegal war on the Confederacy."

Fourteenth Amendment

The Freedmen’s Bureau Act and the Conundrum Over Whether the Fourteenth Amendment Incorporates the Second Amendment
by Stephen Halbrook

Personal Security, Personal Liberty, and The Constitutional Right to Bear Arms: Visions of the Framers of the Fourteenth Amendment
by Stephen Halbrook

Other Constitutions

The Athenian Constitution: Government by Jury and Referendum
by Roderick T. Long
Explains the history and operation of the Athenian constitution and what lessons libertarians can learn from it.

The Declaration of Independence: A Study on the History of Political Ideas
by Carl Becker
"An examination of the political ideas behind the Declaration of Independence. Becker examines the theory of natural rights, the view the colonists had of their place in the British Empire, and the literary qualities of the Declaration."

Defense of the Albany Plan of Union
by Benjamin Franklin
"The following letters, though first published in 1766, were dated late in 1754, the year that the actual fighting of the French and Indian War began in the Ohio Valley. They were addressed to William Shirley (1694-1771 ), governor of Massachusetts. In June and July of 1754 Franklin had attended the Albany Conference, where negotiations with the Indian allies of the colonies and discussion of plans for colonial union had been carried on simultaneously. At that time his famous "Albany Plan," somewhat modified from his original proposals, was unanimously accepted and recommended to the British and colonial governments."

Proposed Constitutions for Libertarian Nations

After Apartheid: the Solution For South Africa by Frances Kendall and Leon Louw
June 1987
reviewed by Bettina Bien Greaves
"Louw and Kendall suggest a completely new political arrangement for South Africa—a confederation patterned more or less on the Swiss model. The central government would be limited drastically; many small cantons would be entrusted with most of the matters that concerned the people. The crux of the Louw-Kendall proposal is a powerful bill of rights, granting freedom to own property, to make contracts, to trade, to move, and so on. Under the Louw-Kendall scheme, all citizens of voting age would have the franchise, but the power of the central government would be so limited that national elections would be relatively unimportant. The important votes would be those at the canton level, for it would be in the cantons that matters affecting individual rights would be decided."

An Anarchist's Proposal for Limited Constitutional Government -- Minarchy vs. Anarchy
by weebies
"First the current US Constitution would need to be abolished. A new constitutional convention would be required where the libertarian ideals of the Declaration of Independence are actually enshrined as the law of the land. Any ambiguous reference to the common good that could be incorrectly interpreted must be avoided. It should be clearly stated that the constitution is not a living document subject to the interpretation and whims of judges, legislators, and executives, but only serves to limit what powers they may exercise in their duties. Most importantly, it must emphasize individual sovereignty, where the rights and property of individuals are not subject to group whims and demands, and that it is illegal to use force or coercion to gain individual compliance to any program. Forced collectivism of any type must be fully renounced as inimical to the foundation of individual liberty."

Imagineering Freedom: A Constitution of Liberty Part I: Between Anarchy and Limited Government, Part II: Defining Federal Powers, Part III: Virtual Cantons, Part IV: The Rights of the People
by Roderick T. Long
In Part I, Roderick Long explains the Preamble and Articles 1.1.1 through 1.2.10 of his Draft of a Virtual-Canton Constitution, Version 5. In Part II he explains sections 1.2.11 through 1.4.16. Part III explains the provisions for virtual cantons. Part IV explains the rights included in his Constitution.

Libertarian Legal Code
by John Ewbank
Comments on Michael van Notten's Bill of Law.

Politics Versus Proprietorship
by Spencer Heath MacCallum
Remarks prefatory to discussion of the Orbis Constitution for proprietary communities.

A State Can Be Designed to Shrink
by Richard Hammer
A proposal to design a government that will not grow, because it has branches whose only function is to repeal legislation.

Virtual Cantons: A New Path to Freedom?
by Roderick T. Long
Discusses the possibility of a free nation whose political structure is organized by virtual cantons, which are voluntary organizations that elect representatives to the national government, but are not tied to geographic location.

Writing the New Texas Constitution: Avoiding Inherent Flaws
October 24, 2009
by Russell D. Longcore
"In this article, I will prove that the Constitution is without authority and that the subject of secession related to the Constitution is entirely irrelevant, and that any states need not concern themselves with the constitutionality of secession."

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This page was last updated on June 12, 2012.