Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Bill of Rights Comparisons

So I was reading through an article on American Spectator (it's on my list of places for news, and before I get accused of only reading stuff on one side of the spectrum I also read the NY Times, CNN, and MSNBC) and I came across this. The article itself was an interesting read, but one of the commenters decided to point out how the Canadian Charter of Rights has all the same rights as the US Constitution (except the guns, which IMO is a VERY important part), and challenged anyone to argue with them on the merits. So I took the bait, and looked up the Charter, as above, along with the South African one which was also touted by various Liberals as an example of a good constitution.

Reading them I noticed some very important bits. First we'll look at the Canadian Charter (established only in 1982), which I can defeat after just a few lines.

Section 1. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.

This bit, "subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law" is the important part. Keep that in mind as we go look at the South African 1996 Constitution (yes, their constitution is only 16 years old, it's obviously a model of what can work for the long-term...).

First, it was modelled on the Canadian Charter, so the wording is somewhat similar.

Section 7, Part 3. The rights in the Bill of Rights are subject to the limitations contained or referred to in section 36, or elsewhere in the Bill.

Anyone seeing the problem yet? Let's continue...

Section 36.
  1. The rights in the Bill of Rights may be limited only in terms of law of general application to the extent that the limitation is reasonable and justifiable in an open and democratic society based on human dignity, equality and freedom, taking into account all relevant factors, including ­
    1. the nature of the right;
    2. the importance of the purpose of the limitation;
    3. the nature and extent of the limitation;
    4. the relation between the limitation and its purpose; and
    5. less restrictive means to achieve the purpose.
  2. Except as provided in subsection (1) or in any other provision of the Constitution, no law may limit any right entrenched in the Bill of Rights.
Most of the world's constitutions have similar wording, granting rights to the people from the government. *Best disclaimer voice imitation* Rights subject to change, offer expires as soon as the government decides. /voice

Meanwhile the US Constitution tells the government to bugger off and lists what the government is allowed to do, while specifically listing what the government cannot ever ever ever do. The language is pretty easy to understand, contrary to what a lot of lawyers and politicians would have people believe, and helped along by our public education system. Here, go read the first 10 Amendments, I'll wait...


Now let's go through them and list where it tells what cannot be done.

Amendment 1. Congress shall make no law
Amendment 2. shall not be infringed.
Amendment 3. No Soldier shall
Amendment 4. shall not be violated
Amendment 5. No person shall be; nor shall any person be; ; nor be deprived of; nor shall private property be
Amendment 6. the accused shall enjoy the right (the only one that doesn't say DON'T GET IN THE WAY)
Amendment 7.  no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined
Amendment 8. Excessive bail shall not be required
Amendment 9. shall not be construed to deny or disparage
Amendment 10. The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Had to list the 10th in its entirety, since the whole thing tells the government what to stay the heck out of; EVERYTHING NOT LISTED IN THE CONSTITUTION AS A POWER OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.

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