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Friday, March 21, 2014

Hoover Institution: Defining Ideas: Richard Epstein: Our Property Principle


Hoover Institution: Defining ideas: Richard Epstein: Our Property Principle

This post was originally posted at The New Democrat on Blogger  

I guess because of the way I look at the United States Constitution, I would be described as a Liberal Constitutionalist, who looks at the entire Constitution and doesn't pick out parts that I like and rail against the parts that I do not like, which is common among both the far left and far right in America.  Both the left and the right pick and choose the parts of the Constitution they favor and then claim they are upholding the Constitution, but see things they do not favor and support amending the Constitution for the good of the country, however they would phrase that.

I like the Constitution as a whole and am not interested in eliminating any of the amendments, but I might add an official Right to Vote to it as well as update the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which would throw out most of these so-called Voter ID laws that are really voter prevention laws. But there are parts of the U.S. Constitution that are my favorites, which is the real point of this post.  I'm going to concentrate on these because they protect our individual freedom and make us a liberal democracy.

What I really love most about the U.S. Constitution are the First Amendment, which guarantees our right to speech and assembly; the Fourth Amendment, which guarantees our right to privacy and protects our property rights, because it means that government can't come into our homes and businesses without what is called "probable cause" and cannot search our properties without a search warrant issued by a judge; and the Fifth Amendment, which again protects our property rights because government cannot take our property without  probable cause.

These rights allow Americans to live their own lives and associate with whom they choose just as long as they aren't hurting innocent people, and allows government to protect us from criminals and invaders but not to protect us from ourselves. As long as we aren't declaring war on the government or illegally leaking classified information, these rights give us autonomy over our own lives.  We should always remember this and not take them for granted.