The United States’ Constitution
Drafted between May and September of the year 1787, the Founding Fathers of the United States’ Constitution had one thing in mind; that the government ought to be defined by the rule of law. The United States’ Constitution owes its existence to a period in the 18th century dubbed the ‘Age of Enlightenment.’ During the very era, the duo of the American and the British philosophers pioneered the ideas that a government “comes from below, not from above, and that it derives its powers from the consent of the governed; that individuals have certain natural, inalienable rights” (Anastaplo 2). As such, they felt that it is possible for power to be balanced between the local and the national government by giving local powers to the former and the general powers to the later. Also, they underscored the fact that all persons are equal and they should enjoy the right to be treated equally before the law.
The document as drafted by its founders emphasized on the fact that the citizens were the government, and that they were themselves separating powers for the sake of providing checks and balances to eliminate potential abuse. Powers were allotted to the federal government, later; they were bolstered further following the 10th Amendment, making it explicit that the residual power was vested on the local units. Within the federal government, there was the creation of a trio of separate units, with their respective functions dependent on each other. The essence was to ensure that the powers vested within the federal units were used indiscrimately. Similarly, the far-reaching presidential powers were not concentrated in a specific place, but they were separated by designated responsibilities.
With regards to liberty, the original document was lacking in the bill of rights. To this, the framers of the Constitution thought that it was unnecessary given that the Congress powers were delegated down to the people, and as a consequence, it would not deprive its citizens of their inalienable rights. Nonetheless, the document was not, absolutely, lacking in the individual rights. For instance, as it was explicitly spelled out in the document, “the protection against ex post facto laws and bills of attainder were included” (Anastaplo 6).
Moreover, the document, categorically, guaranteed its citizens of all the privileges within their respective States. However, with respect to the principle that all men are equal, while reflecting on the society to guarantee them of this, the framers lacked a mechanism to accomplish the same. Nevertheless, the fact that a government created by men serves as a custodian of their rights, and that aforementioned government ought to be a government of laws as opposed to that of the people, underscores a presumption of equality.
Prior to the drafting of the Constitution, the Founding Fathers thought it wise to resolve the issue surrounding the extent of powers to which the national government had been granted, and the major obstacle lay on the conflicting interest pitting the smaller and the larger States. The future framers were not keen on the assumption that a paradigm shift from a strong local political control would jeopardize the local interests.
Their aim was to see that there was a feasible republican structure, keen to ensure a national primacy and to control “the turbulence and follies of democracy, but limited enough to ensure individual self-determination within a structure of ordered liberty” (Anastaplo 10). Their difference, essentially, emanated from the means, while their common objectives, Madison states, are to ensure individuals’ rights to privacy are secured and a fair judgment is dispensed.
Following the previous amendments, though, the document could still not stand the test of time as many flaws emerged. One such flaw was manifested by the national government, lacking authority over individual liberties. Consequently, the framers thought of amendments, spelling out the federal Bill of Rights.
Following the ratification of the United States’ Constitution back in the 18th century, the Anti-Federalists’ faction was viewed by many as great losers. Nonetheless, that does not mean that they were wrong, but just the losers of a debate. The argument fronted by the Anti-Federalists’ back then was that they feared for a bossy national government. Over two centuries down the line, my opinion on the same is that the Anti-Federalists were right over a number of issues including civil liberty. Basically, many a speculation made by this group has come to pass, but in a negative manner. The ensuing question that we are striving to establish is whatever the Anti-Federalists speculated with respect to civil liberty that has come to pass today.
For instance, Judge Robert Yates, an Anti-Federalist, was wary of the consequences that the Supreme Court would create an almost infinite federal overreaching, that the interpreters of the Constitution would explore the vagueness of the same to broadly interpret it, and that it would inflate the authority of the federal government. His take on the Supreme Court, as established, was that it would not be influenced by the natural laws of the land, but its own whims and “whatever precedents it might set” (Kwiatkowski). On the other hand, Thomas Jefferson envisaged that the drafted document would hold its signatories in bondage.
To this, he stated that “the tree of liberty would be watered by the blood of patriots” (Kwiatkowski). In essence, while the citizens of the United States, awesomely, trust and honor the Constitution, the politicians assume it. In a synopsis, Elbridge Gerry, an Anti-Federalist, summarized his colleagues’ outcry, predicting that the document would create monarchs, or produce corrupt, despotic aristocrats.
To date, the gravity of abuse to which the citizens are subjected to at the hands of the Department of Homeland Security leaves so much to be desired. Moreover, the Americans’ right to privacy is constantly being abused as the government conduct unrestricted search to private properties. As such, the government portrays nothing but disrespect for liberty and property. Today, even with numerous laws, the post-Constitution generation enjoys less liberty relative to their predecessors.
Liberty as a value should core-exist with other values including equality and fraternity for a society to shun away from an imminent friction amongst individuals. Nonetheless, this has never been the case. In the society that we live today, liberty overshadows the other two values, and as a result, it has bred greed and selfishness.
The Anti-Federalists were the opponents of the new Constitution. They were demanding for relatively stronger state legislatures as opposed to a stronger federal government. Basically, they were opposed to a stronger central government that would erode away the civil liberties, the rights that were fought for in earnest during the Revolutionary War. Precisely put, the Framers of the Constitution had overlooked the peoples’ Rights, prompting resentment from the Anti-Federalists.