On the Eve of Bill of Rights Day: What Bill of Rights?

By Mike Huckabee Published on December 14, 2021

Wednesday is December 15, otherwise known as Bill of Rights Day as designated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The Bill of Rights is 230 years old and starting to feel some serious wear and tear.

Believe it or not, our nation actually takes one day out of the year to pay homage to the Bill of Rights, at least officially. The rest of the time, those 10 amendments are largely trashed, as “progressives” try to dilute it, creatively misinterpret it, find ways around it, or add to it with new rights that were not intended. Leftists see this enumeration of rights mostly as an inconvenience, the dusty relic of a bygone age, believing that they, the geniuses who are so adept at running things (into the ground), should be able to assume power at will.

We’ve often quipped that today’s elected leaders, lawyers, and bureaucrats read the Constitution the way W.C. Fields used to read the Bible — looking for loopholes. But on Wednesday, it’s time for everyone to pay respect and think about what’s at stake. For more about the Bill of Rights, here’s a helpful website.

A Reminder of What’s at Stake

“The Bill of Rights incorporates the basic rights every human being should have,” it says. Well, yes. But these rights are rare and precious indeed, and I don’t need to tell you that they’re gravely endangered even within our own country.

We found some surprising information on this website. For example, did you know that not all the states ratified the Bill of Rights right away? They had enough votes in 1791, but Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Georgia waited until 1939 to ratify it! No explanation given.

It’s important to say that the government doesn’t grant us these rights; it recognizes that they belong to us by virtue of God’s grace and natural law.

The Bill of Rights, which can be viewed today in the Rotunda of the National Archives Building in Washington D.C., was introduced by fourth U.S. President-to-be James Madison. (He originally drafted 19 amendments, but the list was whittled down to 10.) The Anti-Federalists had been hesitating to approve the Constitution as originally written, and it was Thomas Jefferson who suggested to Madison that a Bill of Rights was what they needed, to guarantee “what the people are entitled to against every government on earth.”

New Jersey was the first state to ratify it, in 1789, and the country completed this process on December 15, 1791. The bill codified our most fundamental rights: freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, the right to protest, due process, and equal protection under the law. (I already know what you’re thinking — what has happened to all of these?) We also have the right to bear arms, the right against unreasonable searches and seizures, and more.

It’s important to say that the government doesn’t grant us these rights; it recognizes that they belong to us by virtue of God’s grace and natural law. The Bill of Rights was set up to prevent the government from abridging our liberties. Little did the founders know that 230 years later, the government would morph at will into a cheesy magic act and “poof!” make those rights disappear.

An Important and Timely Question

To that point, Jane Hampton Cook has a timely column in American Greatness, asking the question, “Have Americans Surrendered Their Liberties on the Bill of Rights’ 230th Anniversary?”

She notes that The Bill of Rights’ 150th anniversary happened to fall eight days after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, bringing us into a war in two hemispheres, World War II, with no guarantee of victory. At that time, Americans could feel what an attack on liberty was, because it was sudden and literal, with bombs and guns.

FDR believed that nothing could make Americans surrender their rights. “What we face is nothing more nor less than an attempt to overthrow and to cancel the great upsurge of human liberty of which the American Bill of Rights is the fundamental document,” he said. If they could, our enemies would once again impose “absolute authority and despotic rule.”

Roosevelt explained that under totalitarianism, “the individual has no right by virtue of his humanity, no right to a soul, a mind, a tongue or a trade of his own or to live where he pleases,” adding that his duty is “one of obedience only to Adolf Hitler.” We see this today in societies such as China, where the CCP demands loyalty and compliance from its people — not to mention from others even in our country who would do business there, and those in our government who would hope to maintain negotiating privileges. They’re extremely touchy and we wouldn’t want to upset them.

For the Love of Freedom

Sadly, as Cook points out, the American people have shown FDR to be wrong by allowing their most basic rights to be trampled. This has happened on a variety of fronts; Cook in her column focuses on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Consider this quote from Dr. Anthony Fauci: “There comes a time when you do have to give up what you consider your original right of making your own decision for the greater good of society.” And who decides what the right decision is for you to make for the greater good of society? Not you, goodness knows. It’s Dr. Fauci, of course.

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It’s not my purpose here to get into the efficacy of vaccines and lockdowns, as — note the irony — I’d like to be able to make my general point about freedom without being blocked on social media. I’m vaccinated myself. We’re not talking about viruses right now unless you mean the metaphorical kind that are trying to weaken and even kill the Bill of Rights. For that vital document to survive and mean anything, our love of freedom has to transcend other concerns.

“The rise of censorship, the rise of suppression of religious freedoms, of property rights, closing a million businesses without just compensation or due process…all of these — and the rise of a kind of track-and-trace surveillance state has been troubling to people, both Democrats and Republicans,” Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. said to Tucker Carlson on FOX News recently.

He has also said this: “All of these rights that the founders of our country died for, sacrificed their properties, their livelihoods, to give us the Bill of Rights, and all these rights over 20 months [of the pandemic] have been obliterated, taken from the American people.”

“Fear stops us from exercising critical thinking,” he said. “It allows us to believe that if we just do what we’re told, that is the only way to save our lives.”

“We’re lucky that there was a whole generation of Americans in 1776 who said it would be better to die than to not have these rights written down,” he said. “And they gave us that. They gave us the Bill of Rights.”

Yes, but they were acting as the conduit; ultimately it was God who gave us the Bill of Rights. Our rights have to be considered THAT SACRED. We certainly can’t let 21st Century control freaks take them away 230 years later.


Mike Huckabee is the former governor of Arkansas and longtime conservative commentator on issues in culture and current events. A New York Times best-selling author, he hosts the weekly talk show Huckabee on TBN. 

Originally published at MikeHuckabee.com. Reprinted with permission.

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