On The Issues

Constitution

In Brief

9

Immediately begin teaching Pennsylvania’s Constitution in every grade in the government schools.

9

Cease intervening in the Citizen’s right to Initiative and Referendum as secured by Article I Section 2.

9

Support Free and Equal elections as mandated by Article I Section 5 and stop forcing independent or third-party candidates to collect over 33 times as many signatures to get on the Pennsylvania statewide ballot.

9

Add Jury Nullification to the judge’s instructions to the jury, telling them of their right to judge the law as well as the facts. Good jurors nullify bad laws.

9

End asset forfeiture except in the case of restitution for a real crime.

9

All officeholders should strictly honor their oath to uphold the Pennsylvania Constitution or be removed from office.

In Depth

One of the main duties of the governor is to protect the rights of each and every citizen as outlined in the Constitution. But the Pennsylvania Constitution is being ignored, violated, and gutted by the politicians of the two old parties (and other third parties) on a daily basis.

Worse yet, even though these politicians have absolute control over the school system and what is taught to our children, why is it that they don’t order their schools to teach the Pennsylvania Constitution? Virtually no government school anywhere teaches it, not now, nor in the last half century. According to school officials, it’s only “mentioned” as a part of Pennsylvania history taught to all fourth graders.

Why do you think that the government schools don’t teach our children how Pennsylvania’s government works? A reading of Article I of the Pennsylvania Constitution gives a clear answer.

Article I is also called the Declaration of Rights. It is similar to the federal Bill of Rights, only much, much more powerful in keeping an oppressive government at bay. Much of it was authored by William Penn, the founding father of Pennsylvania. For the most part, it’s written in simple terms so that the average person can understand it.

There are 28 sections in Article I that deal with the basis of Pennsylvania government. But the most important one is Section 25, which reads: “To guard against transgressions of the high powers which we have delegated, we declare that everything in this Article is excepted out of the general powers of government and shall forever remain inviolate.”

In other words, there are things that the government is forever forbidden from touching. Why do you suppose they never teach our children that, never tell us that?

The answer can be found by reading what sort of things are forbidden by Article I of the Pennsylvania Constitution. What is it they can’t touch?

Section 1 says that “All men are born equally free and independent, and have certain inherent and indefeasible rights, among which are enjoying and defending life and liberty, of acquiring, possessing, and protecting property and reputation, and of pursuing their own happiness”.

This is nothing more than a restatement of the basic Libertarian philosophy that your life is yours, your property is yours, that you have the right to live your life your way, provided that you don’t infringe the rights of others to do the same.

But are all people equally free and independent? Yes, unless you’re a foreign shipbuilder looking for a tax break, or a millionaire sports team owner looking for a stadium at the public expense.

You can acquire and possess property, assuming that you don’t have it all confiscated as asset forfeiture without ever being convicted of a crime.

You can pursue your own happiness, so long as it doesn’t include gambling, homosexual behavior, marijuana, or a thousand other moral choices that harm no one (if anyone) except perhaps the person who indulges in that behavior.

Now can you see why they don’t teach the Pennsylvania Constitution? It’s political dynamite to tell the citizen that their life is their own, their property their own. People may start thinking that this is a free country again.

And that is only Section 1; it gets much better. Section 2 says that “All political power is inherent in the people and all free governments are founded on their authority and instituted for their peace, safety, and happiness. For the advancement of these ends, they have at all times an inalienable and indefeasible right to alter, reform, or abolish their government as they may think proper.”

Alter or reform our government? If you ask any politician, judge, or lawyer if Pennsylvanians have the right to initiative and referendum, they’ll say “no”, not unless the legislature authorizes it. But Section 2 plainly states that We The People can, at all times, change or even abolish our state government as we see fit.

This is even more political dynamite. Were the citizens of Pennsylvania aware of the immense power they hold, what changes would we see? Term limits? Lower taxes? Better roads? Less intrusive, more accountable government?

Until now, there would be no way to know. But with the phenomenal, continuing growth of the Libertarian Party, the day is coming when we will soon find out. Libertarians are committed to the freedoms protected by our Constitution, to the idea that we can change our government without the government’s permission. Libertarians are committed to the power inherent in a free people.

Sections 3 and 4 of the Pennsylvania Constitution protect our religious freedoms, something that all Americans take for granted, except perhaps Branch Davidians and people of Middle Eastern descent.

Section 5 states, in part, that “All elections shall be free and equal”. But all elections aren’t equal, not by a longshot.

For instance, for the two old parties to put their governor candidates on the ballot, they each need 2,000 signatures from registered voters. But the Libertarians and fourth parties must collect over 20,000 signatures to qualify, over ten times as many! How can this be considered “equal”? It would appear that some people are more equal than others.

Why impose high hurdles to the ballot? Regardless of the reason, the result is to limit competition, limit new ideas, limit the power of the people over their own government. The two old parties have entrenched themselves, creating an effective monopoly on the ballot box. Unfortunately, since their ballot laws clearly violate Section 5, they’re unconstitutional.

Section 6 of Article I says that “Trial by jury shall be as heretofore”, a wording which obscures one of the most powerful tools that the citizen has against an overbearing government, the power of jury nullification.

Jury nullification refers to the traditional power of jurors to judge not only the facts of a case but also the law itself. In other words, if a jury feels that a certain law should not be applied in a certain case, or if they feel it’s a bad law, they can find the person “not guilty” no matter how compelling the evidence, no matter what the instructions from the judge.

Jury nullification was used successfully to help end Prohibition — prosecutors found it increasingly difficult to obtain a conviction for alcohol possession. It was used by William Penn to ensure his religious freedom in England, and we can use it again today to help curb the most egregious excesses of our government.

Now can you better understand why the Pennsylvania Constitution isn’t being taught in our government schools? What if the people knew that they had the power to vote their conscience when sitting on a jury? What if they knew that the instructions that the judge gives the jury are flawed and incomplete? What would happen if the citizens were aware that they are the fourth branch of government charged with keeping watch over their own freedom? Since jury nullification is featured predominantly in the Libertarian platform, the day is coming when Pennsylvanians will find out.

For more information about jury nullification, visit www.fija.org.

Although Section 8 of the Pennsylvania Constitution says that “The people shall be secure in their persons, houses, papers, possessions from unreasonable searches and seizures”, the government can still seize all your worldly possessions even though you’ve never been convicted of a crime, never set foot in a courtroom, never hurt a soul. They call it “asset forfeiture”; I call it “highway robbery”.

Fortunately, asset forfeiture is one travesty that a Libertarian governor can halt unilaterally, without the consent of the Legislature or courts. Article 4, Section 9 gives the governor the power to remit all forfeitures, so with the election of a Libertarian governor, this unconstitutional practice will stop overnight.

For more information about asset forfeiture, visit www.fear.org.

Section 15 of Article 1 says that there shall be “no special criminal tribunals to try a particular class of cases”, but just a few years ago a new court was commissioned to sit in Philadelphia’s sports stadium to try a particular class of criminal cases, those involving rowdy sports fans, in clear violation of this section.

By far, though, the one provision of Article I that stands out alone in its sheer impact is Section 21, which says that “The right of the citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the state shall not be questioned.”

Think about it: The right to bear arms shall not be questioned. Someone should tell Handgun Control Incorporated, tell the hunters, tell the residents of the inner cities who huddle in fear. Someone should inform our politicians, then ask them if they have any questions.

Can you imagine if this were taught in the schools? Picture a child watching the evening news with their parents when some oath-breaking politician calls for the banning of certain weapons. Picture the child asking, in a child’s innocent way, “Daddy, why are they questioning our right to bear arms?”, or “But Mommy – the Constitution says the right can’t be questioned”. How would you answer that child?

Now, do you see why the Pennsylvania Constitution isn’t being taught in the government schools? If the people knew of the power they have, the games our elected officials play with us would come to an abrupt halt.

They would have to admit that you have rights they don’t want you to know about. They would have to answer for their unconstitutional acts. Our unelected Board of Education would have to answer to the people why they hid our rights from us and our children, and why they continue to hide them today.

They control the schools. They control the curriculum. They control teacher certification. Yet they do not teach our Constitution to our children. Do you think they’ll apologize for not doing their job?

The answer is obvious: no one will apologize for hoodwinking us. Nothing will change.

The only way to restore the rule of law to Pennsylvania is to elect Libertarians.

Stay Connected

There are no upcoming events at this time.