Constitution limits government's power


Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 17, 2007 at 12:03 a.m.
In his letter of Jan. 12, Richard Coleman takes issue with guest columnist Kal Rosenberg (and County Commissioners Paula DeLaney and Mike Byerly) regarding loyalty oaths.
Like Coleman I don't see any real problem with voluntary oaths. My concern is more with the government requiring the oath than the idea of the oath, which only requires support of the Constitution, not defense of it in any event.
More troubling than the issue of oaths is the following statement made by Coleman referring to the Constitution: "This is the document that forms our government that proscribes the rights and duties of all our citizens."
The first part is true. It does establish the government. Beyond that it strikes me as a serious misstatement.
The Constitution creates and proscribes the government, not the citizens or their rights. The idea that our rights somehow flow from the Constitution would be a foreign concept to the founding fathers. As would the idea that the government can assume rights beyond those found in the Constitution.
The purpose of the Constitution was to define and strictly limit the scope and authority of government. In part this was to protect citizens from the tendency of government to over-exercise its power. Rights belong to "We the People" as a matter of course. Or, as the Declaration of Independence proclaims: "That they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights ..."
These days Coleman's view seems to be the more accepted and we as a nation are the less for that.

J. D. Johnson,

Gainesville

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