By Richard A. Primus
Richard A. Primus examines 3 the most important sessions in American background (the overdue eighteenth century, the Civil struggle and the Nineteen Fifties and Sixties) and demonstrates how the conceptions of rights winning at each one of those occasions grew out of competition to concrete political circumstances. within the first research of its type, Primus highlights the impression of totalitarianism (in Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union) at the language of rights. This e-book should be a huge contribution to modern political thought, of curiosity to students and scholars in politics and govt, constitutional legislation, and American heritage.
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Additional info for The American Language of Rights (Ideas in Context)
Constitution, I. 8 and I. 10. 50 Edward Dumbauld, The Bill of Rights and What it Means Today (University of Oklahoma Press, 1957), p. 187. Page 101 not the first Englishspeakers to codify rights against the depredations of a hostile professional army. The most obvious examples are certain rights in the English Bill of Rights of the previous century, notably the prohibition on the king's keeping a standing army on British soil in peacetime without parliamentary consent and the entitlement of Protestant subjects to have arms for their own defense. Those rights were forerunners of the Second Amendment. 51 The range of the Founders' claims, however, exceeded the scope of earlier guarantees, creating a broader network of rights regarding military affairs than had existed theretofore. Reaction to contemporary conditions and attitudes inherited from previous times both contributed to the shape of Founding ideas about rights, and here as elsewhere the Founders operated under both influences. Appropriating the aforementioned parts of the English Bill of Rights and filtering them through contemporary experience to produce the Second Amendment was an instance of past/present rights synthesis. Standing Armies The right to bear arms, the apparent centerpiece of the Second Amendment, was a direct product of the Founders' fear of standing armies. The link between opposition to standing armies and a right of citizens to bear arms was not new at the time of the American Revolution, of course: the two issues had been prominently conjoined during the English political crises of the previous century. As just mentioned, the English Bill of Rights of 1689 prohibited the king from maintaining a standing army in the kingdom in peacetime without parliamentary consent and guaranteed Protestant subjects the right to keep arms for their own defense. 52 English Protestants had worried that the Stuart monarchy would use a standing army as a tool of repression. They therefore sought to prohibit standing fifty one Second Amendment rights were thus inherited rights as well as reactive rights in 1791, but it is noteworthy that the 1689 origins of those rights were themselves reactive. Before the English Bill of Rights listed its provisions, it set forth a list of the crimes by which James II forfeited the crown. The list included his "raising and keeping a standing army within this kingdom in time of peace, without consent of Parliament," and his "causing several good subjects, being Protestants, to be disarmed, at the same time when Papists were both armed and employed contrary to law. " Thus, inherited rights are not wholly outside the pattern of concrete negation; sometimes a right that is inherited in a later period may arise oppositionally in the earlier period from which it is inherited. fifty two Bill of Rights of 1689, sections 6 and 7. Page 102 armies and to guarantee that ordinary citizens could bear arms, both so as to make standing armies unnecessary and so as to be able to resist repression if it came.