“One of the most heartening things he has seen in the birth of the tea party is that ‘more people have come to see that document as the best arrangement for limiting government and extending liberty ever devised.’ ”
He left out the key word: INDIVIDUAL liberty.
Among other Americans looking into the Constitution are airplane travelers citing the Fourth Amendment in self‐defense as — anxious and angry — they approach airports and the pat‐downs by overreaching government agents who also underreach into what used to be considered our “private parts.”
While our Constitution — still a “wonder” for those around the world struggling to be free — is reaching more American adults, it’s largely absent in our schools — a crucial failure seldom even mentioned by the diverse array of battling education reformers.
Were I teaching again — whether visiting elementary schools (I’ve taught the Bill of Rights to fifth‐graders) or evening classes for adults — I would, early on, focus on what James Madison, a primary architect of the Bill of Rights, emphasized as the essence of “property rights” in this constitutional republic. (The Founders’ Constitution, Volume 1. Chapter 16, Document 23, University of Chicago Press).
Madison begins with defining “property” as “that dominion which one man claims and exercises over the external things of the world, in exclusion of every other individual.”
Obviously, he continues, “a man’s land, or merchandize, or money is called his property.”
Then, here comes what should be taught in all of our schools, media and recurring remedial education classes for all members of Congress. And with particular attention to the executive branch:
“A man (also) has property,” Madison continues, “in his opinions and the free communication of them. He has a property of peculiar value in his religious opinions, and in the profession and practice dictated by them.”
As in atheist, I would add: A man has property in his right to have no religious opinions — and not be penalized thereby.
And, James Madison further deepens the American definition of “property”: “He has a property very dear to him in the safety and liberty of his person.”
If I had a car (I don’t drive) my large bumper sticker (credited to James Madison) would read: