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Mike Bryant
Mike Bryant
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Congress and the Whole Constitution

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It’s been interesting to see the clips of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords reading the Constitution and the right to a peaceful assembly. It’s actually chilling.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zL6GhxAgFL4

But, it points out that this really is an amazing document. As they found, there are some areas about voting that needed to be dealt with. So they had minority members read them.

American Association for Justice President Gibson Vance recently looked at the Seventh Amendment and what it was that they heard when it was read. All of it’s worth reading, but a part I expeciallly liked was:

The right to a trial by jury for civil suits dates back almost 800 years, to the signing of the Magna Carta. Article 39 of the Magna Carta specifically guaranteed the right to a jury trial for civil suits and criminal cases.

Our Founding Fathers also agreed with the importance of a trial by jury. In the words of James Madison, "In suits at common law, trial by jury in civil cases is as essential to secure the liberty of the people as any one of the pre-existent rights of nature."

Other founders were equally adamant about the critical importance of access to civil justice. Thomas Jefferson called civil jury trials, "the only anchor ever yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution."

But today, that 7th Amendment right may well be the most ignored and endangered of those enumerated in the Bill of Rights. Years of political and legal warfare by the corporate community, in the name of "economic efficiency," have succeeded in shredding our rights in a host of areas. Lawmakers beholden to insurance companies, the drug industry, Wall Street, or other corporate lobbies have for years pushed tort reform – providing immunity to wrongdoers at the expense of American consumers’ and patients’ 7th Amendment rights.

Votes on tort reform will be one of the first true tests of newly-elected Constitutional Conservatives. In fact, the House will vote on Wednesday to repeal the health care reform law and take steps toward creating an alternative plan that would include limiting the legal rights of patients. These members should consider how this idea conflicts with the limited government they promote.

I was talking to a friend about this issue recently, who responded, "but they just want to regulate it. They don’t want to eliminate trials". While my first response was – I really think they do – I pointed out what that same line sounds like when you replace trials with some of the other amendments:

- They just want to regulate guns, they don’t want to take them away.

- They just want to regulate speech, they don’t want to take it away.

- They just want regulate public assemblies , they don’t want to take them away.

Seems like it points out how important the Seventh Amendment is and what rights we all have. Let’s make sure we keep them.