Updated: Dec 16, 2019
The MC world is full of clubs who cite the U.S. Constitution in their mission, by-laws, or other proclamations. Typically the statement is to uphold and defend the Constitution or to exercise Rights guaranteed by the Constitution. The Constitution is seen as a doctrine that supports a particular political point of view held by a particular group (or club).
The reality is that a vast majority of Americans have little or no understanding of the U.S. Constitution and have never read the entire document. We do know that it was adopted in 1787 by the most forward thinking politicians of the time. Even they knew that the nature of society would evolve and change over time. They knew that the Document would have to withstand interpretation by future generations.
The ONLY individual rights mentioned in the U.S. Constitution are the right of Habeas Corpus (The right to be informed of the reason/justification for detention), Ex-Post Facto protection (No prosecution for laws passed after the fact), and Protection from Bills of Attainder ( A person cannot be declared a criminal for their beliefs or status not involving a criminal act). No other individual rights were included until 1790 when the first Ten Amendments, now known as The Bill of Rights was adopted. The original American Social Contract was now in place and remains relatively unchanged to this day.
The U.S. Constitution is the document that describes the balance between the Power of Government and the Rights of Citizens.
Arguably, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights is open to interpretation. The founding fathers could not have illustrated today’s political landscape. The United States Supreme Court was created, in part, to serve as interpreter of the Constitutionality of laws, and final arbitrator the balance of power between government and people.
Political influences eg., Liberal vs. Conservative vs. Libertarian and political philosophies such as Elitism vs. Pluralism vs. Socialism/Communism all play a role in the lawmaking process. The competition for political dominance never ends, and it never will.
Some people and groups have their own interpretations of the Constitution which are not supported by today’s rule of law. They are in essence, saying that the founding fathers or the Supreme Court is wrong and they are right. These people are not constitutionalists. There is nothing wrong with disagreement with laws or government practices. But, to state that your opinion supersedes the established rule of law makes you a SUBVERSIVE not a constitutionalist.
A CONSTITUTIONALIST is someone who knows what the Constitution says, knows what was intended, and is familiar with case law (Supreme Court interpretation) on any legitimately contested issue. A constitutionalist can certainly disagree with the status quo and knows how to go about changing it, legitimately. A SUBVERSIVE will resort to unlawful tactics, propaganda rhetoric, and incitement of the uninformed to sway opinions and gain favor. Which are you?
We, in the law abiding motorcycle community, strive to enjoy and maintain the freedoms that we have. We know how the U.S. Constitution protects us in these endeavors. We also know that there are those in our society that would use the complexities of democratic law making to diminish or take away those rights. If we are to defend ourselves in this arena we must understand the nature of Constitutional Law before we call ourselves Constitutionalists.
LET THE DISCUSSION BEGIN HERE.