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It's true...the meaning of “the People†is collective...not individual.

Discussion in 'Legal' started by Graystar, Nov 23, 2004.

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  1. Graystar

    Graystar Member

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    Yes, it pains me to hear it as well. However, in reviewing the Constitution and the Bill of Rights it became so obvious that I simply cannot ignore it any longer. Therefore, I submit for your scrutiny this notion...that the term “the People†is a collective term in every right, privilege, or immunity in which it is used within the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

    My distinction between “collective†and “individual†is simple...if an act can be fully completed by an individual, it is individual in nature. If the act cannot be fully completed by an individual, and thus requires several individuals or a majority of individuals to fully complete, then it is collective in nature. This makes the individual vs. collective test fairly simple.

    So lets look at “the People†within the Constitution. First up is the Preamble.

    So lets put it to the test...can a single individual establish a Constitution? Unless you’re living alone on an island, I’d say the answer is “no.†This use of “the People†must be collective in nature.


    Next appearance of “the People†is in the choosing of Members of the House of Representatives.

    Once again, the test is simply and straightforward ...can an individual fully exercise this privilege? The answer is no. No single individual can decide who goes to Washington. That determination must be made collectively. Therefore, this reference is also collective in nature.


    The last time “the People†appears in the Constitution is in ratification article.

    Again, the individuality test is simple...could an individual determine, fully on his own, who was to be a delegate? The answer is no. Once again, “the People†exhibits its collective nature.


    Next, lets look at the Amendments. The term in question appears 5 times within the Bill of Rights. It’s use in the Ninth and Tenth Amendments really could go either way, and so offers no support for either position. The Second Amendment also offers no support to either position. That leaves the First and Fourth Amendments. Lets look at the First.

    The First Amendment is interesting is that the only time the term “the People†is used is when referring to assembly, which is collective in nature. It is collective because a single person cannot fully exercise this right...as an individual person does not constitute an assembly. This right is only fully realized when two or more people act in concert.

    As for the other rights protected by the First Amendment (religion, speech, press) there is no reference to “the People†within them. And not-so-coincidently, these rights pass the individual vs. collective test for individualism, as these rights can be fully exercised by individuals.


    Finally lets look at the Fourth Amendment.

    At first sight, the Fourth seems to be the showstopper...we clearly accept the right against unreasonable searches and seizures to be individual, but the term “the people†is being used. It would seem that the Fourth Amendment doesn’t follow the pattern I’ve proposed. However, closer review proves this observation wrong. The observation is wrong because individuals are one of the elements secured.

    The Amendment says “The right of the people [the collective] to be secure in their persons [individuals]...â€

    And there you have it...a clear and unequivocal distinction between the collective and the individual within an amendment. In fact, when the Found Fathers referred to an individual, they always used the word “person,†which appears 22 times within the Constitution and 4 times within the Bill of Rights.

    On the strength of this evidence, I can only conclude that the Second, Ninth, and Tenth amendments also follow the pattern, and are collective in nature.
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2004
  2. P95Carry

    P95Carry Moderator Emeritus

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    ''The People'' ...... collective for sure. ''We, The People'' .... plural in my book and so collective only way to go. (''The Person'' - OK, that is singular ... no problem.)

    Anyone who thinks singular for ''The People'' has an equivalent brain cell count!! :D
     
  3. Mulliga

    Mulliga Member

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    Doesn't "persons" mean someone's immediate personal space - i.e. clothes and body? Perhaps a too modern definition.

    In the end, the Second Amendment isn't the justification for personal firearms ownership. I mean, I don't care if the Founding Fathers told us to worship Satan - are we going to let some dead guys who lived 250 years ago dictate how we live our lives today?

    Gun control is flawed based on purely utilitarian criteria alone.
     
  4. Graystar

    Graystar Member

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    Wouldn't that still constitute an explicit quality of individualism?

    I agree. I believe that we have a right to possess firearm for personal preservation, be it self-defense or self-sufficiency, and that this right is protected by the Ninth Amendment.

    That’s my general feeling as well. We cannot elevate the Founding Fathers to level of deity, and the Constitution to a level of bible. I don’t believe in reinterpreting, but we should definitely change the Constitution as needed.
     
  5. Michigander

    Michigander Member

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    Actually, someone correct me if I am wrong, but the phrase "or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances" would be grammitacally the same as "or the right of the people to petition the Government for a redress of grievances, and peaceably to assemble."

    If my statement is true, and assuming one person can petition the Government for a redress of grievances, which I believe one can, then your simple test does not hold up.
     
  6. Warren

    Warren Member

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    So?

    I have the right to bear arms BECAUSE I SAY SO!

    I don't need no documents or anyone's permission.
     
  7. M1911Owner

    M1911Owner Member

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    Dang! How did I end up at DU by mistake?? :banghead:

    I should have been tipped off by the first-grade-reader-sized font. :scrutiny:
     
  8. Justin

    Justin Moderator Staff Member

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    Action undertaken by a group cannot be done without individuals to act as participants.
     
  9. Graystar

    Graystar Member

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    But the action cannot be fully realized without the group. That makes it collective.
     
  10. Graystar

    Graystar Member

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    Hey don't blame that on me...the entire site is like that now!
     
  11. Graystar

    Graystar Member

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    Actually, I made a mistake and shouldn’t have included redress in the list of individual rights. The courts have held that assemblies do petitioning.

    So I would say that your rewording of the phrase does convey a similar meaning.
     
  12. Michigander

    Michigander Member

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    So we are going by what the courts have ruled then? I thought we were going by your simple test. If we go by what the courts have ruled, I believe there are some rulings in favor of "the People" meaning "individuals." Maybe someone can help me out here......
     
  13. Graystar

    Graystar Member

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    We are going by my test. I’m simply using the court rulings to differentiate what the right is...not whether it’s individual or not. And the courts agree with you...â€the people†get to petition the government.

    Oh darn I wrote “assemblies†in my previous post. Now I’m just writing too fast to keep up with the responses and getting careless. Sorry.
     
  14. Fletchette

    Fletchette Member

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    So let me get this straight; there is such a fundamental difference in "the people" as opposed to "person" that if a right is the province of "the people" it doesn't apply to a "person"?

    Sounds like it depends on the definition of "is".

    Are you Bill Clinton? :barf:
     
  15. Mark in California

    Mark in California Member

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    Collectively Individual Rights

    These Rights are collectively only in the terms that they apply to everyone.

    Everyone has the right to vote canidates of their choice (individual), that right does not give everyone the right to elect the choice. You confuse the individual right of voting with the election to office.

    The Second Admendment, which can only refer granting power/authority to the individual states or the people individualy, is absurd if you are trying to say it refers only to the powers of the states because the states already had that right. It was a right given to the people of each and every state by Right of Citizenship. Remember States Rights.

    All the Rights you listed are Rights that we all hold as Citizens.

    If "We They People..." are collective, what were we a collection of when we wrote our Consitution?
     
  16. Justin

    Justin Moderator Staff Member

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    Graystar, for your test to work, one must at the very base assume that the rights of a group outweight the rights of a single individual. Since a group is nothing more than a number of individuals it is illogical to claim that the rights of the majority outweigh the rights of the minority for any given civil right.

    Now, a group of individuals working together may indeed be able to exert more power and/or influence than any single individual, but that does not mean that they have the "right" to nullify the civil liberties of any individual. To do so only sets up a society in which various groups snipe at the rights of other various groups until no one has any civil rights at all. This, more than anything else, is what makes the concept of individual rights so fundamentally important.

    Said another way, how can a group have the freedom to speak as it wishes, but no single member of that group?
    How can a group have the right to bear arms if no single member of that group is able to?
    How can a group have the right to worship the God that it chooses, but no single member can dissent?

    If an individual does not have liberty, how can a group?
     
  17. Graystar

    Graystar Member

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    You got it crooked.

    I did not say that a right of "the people" didn't apply to a "person." I said that if a right can be fully exercised to its very end, by an individual, then the nature of that right is individual. If not, then the nature of the right is collective. Such right cannot fully be realized unless two or more people operate in concert.
     
  18. Jim March

    Jim March Member

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    Where this falls apart is when we factor in the 14th Amendment - and John Bingham's specific support of black arms for defense against the proto-Klan already forming between 1865 and 1868.

    Blacks didn't yet HAVE "collective rights". At all. Not even with the passage of the 14th - they didn't get "political rights" such as voting, jury duty, militia duty until the 15th Amendment.

    Yet their basic civil rights, their "privileges and immunities of US citizenship" which specifically included a right to arms, was being protected FIRST.

    And it ain't just us "gun nuts" talking about this. Bingham and his compadres left a paper trail a mile wide on what they were up to re: the 14th. Liberal Yale law professor Akhil Reed Amar has been talking this up.

    It gets better. IF the arms of the 1867/1868 period are being protected, they had Gatlings by then, snubbie revolvers, 15-shot leverguns, etc. We ain't talkin' flintlocks any more, we're talkin' damned effective personal defense arms.
     
  19. schizrade

    schizrade Guest

    You and your logic. :neener:
    Well put.

    On a related note, I just picked up a new Biography on Hamilton at Borders. So far so Good.
    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/A...53/sr=2-1/ref=pd_ka_b_2_1/103-8176869-2604653
     
  20. Graystar

    Graystar Member

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    I’m not confusing anything. All such exercises, in the end, break down to individual action. However, no single individual gets to choose, unequivocally, the person that goes to Washington. The person that actually makes the trip is the one chosen by the people as a whole. Therefore, no individual can fully realize this privilege. It can only be fully realized to its end by voters acting in concert.
     
  21. Fletchette

    Fletchette Member

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    OK. I can fully exercise my right to keep and bear arms all by my lonesome. Therefore, that right is by your definition an individual right.

    :cool:
     
  22. Tag

    Tag Member

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    Collectively exercised by the individuals.
     
  23. Tag

    Tag Member

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    By some species of Democracy then?
     
  24. Mr. Clark

    Mr. Clark Member

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    Justin got it right. There are no collective rights. None.

    If the group has rights but individuals don't, all "collective rights" means, in the end, is that some people have rights and others don't. Some individuals will be allowed to exercise that right, while others are denied. The very concept of collective rights is a negation of rights. A person can neither gain a right he doesn't already posses by joining a group or lose rights he has.
     
  25. Graystar

    Graystar Member

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    No you don’t. There’s no logical progression that leads to that assumption. All I’m saying is that there are right, privileges, and immunities that simply cannot be fully realized to their end by an individual.

    Your right to have a representative in Congress isn’t realized when you cast your vote. Your part may be done, but your right isn’t fully realized until the votes are counted and a person is selected. When that person fills a seat in the House of Representatives, then your right has been fully realized.

    I believe I noted both of those rights as being individual.

    I guess that depends on what you mean by “bear armsâ€...but that another discussion. The second amendment was not included in my analysis.
     
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