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Author Topic: Does a Constitution Require Your Signature to Be Valid?  (Read 6943 times)

<Patrick>

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Does a Constitution Require Your Signature to Be Valid?
« on: January 23, 2004, 03:03:12 am »

"The Constitution is not any sort of 'contract' requiring anyone's signature -- because it's binding, not on the people, but on the government itself. It wasn't established to limit the people; it was established to limit government. It is a document setting up a system by which individual rights will be protected, even from government itself.

Lysander Spooner's critique of the Constitution thus attacks a straw man. With remarkably few inconsistencies, the Constitution didn't impose coercive demands on the citizens, or authorize the government to violate their rights. Rather, it ordered its own agents to protect the peoples' rights, while generally letting them free to go about their business. What's so intrinsically immoral and coercive about this? What requires personal signatures?"

www.vix.com/objectivism/Writing/RobertBidinotto/ContradictionInAnarchism.html

     If the constitution is not a binding agreement on me but only a limitation on the government, then why would I need to sign it to accept it as valid? I have actually argued the Lysander Spooner case before, but this argument has made me reconsider my stand.

     The problem is, the US constitution doesn't just limit the govenment. Certain ammendments DO limit private citizens as well. I would conclude that a constitution would need to limit  ONLY the actions of government, NOT of private individuals, before I could accept it as valid.

     We ought to ammend the New Hampshire constitution to NEVER place limitations on private citizens, ONLY on the government.


« Last Edit: January 23, 2004, 03:13:03 am by New Intellectual »
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Morpheus

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Re:Does a Constitution Require Your Signature to Be Valid?
« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2004, 03:09:22 am »

Which is the ultimate desire of Libertarians: to fully apply the Libertarian Philosophy to the National Constitution.
That, of course, will take a very long time. That time may never even come. But hopefully, through the Free State Project, we shall be able to apply it to the Constitution of New Hampshire one day.
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<Patrick>

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Re:Does a Constitution Require Your Signature to Be Valid?
« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2004, 03:14:18 am »

Which is the ultimate desire of Libertarians: to fully apply the Libertarian Philosophy to the National Constitution.
That, of course, will take a very long time. That time may never even come. But hopefully, through the Free State Project, we shall be able to apply it to the Constitution of New Hampshire one day.

     Someday, decades from now, we may be able to ammend the state constitution.
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Morpheus

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Re:Does a Constitution Require Your Signature to Be Valid?
« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2004, 06:28:51 am »

Yes. Decades. But it shall be worth the fight ahead.

Few things worthwhile are gained easily. This is no exception.
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RhythmStar

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Re:Does a Constitution Require Your Signature to Be Valid?
« Reply #4 on: January 23, 2004, 06:54:17 am »

"The Constitution is not any sort of 'contract' requiring anyone's signature -- because it's binding, not on the people, but on the government itself. It wasn't established to limit the people; it was established to limit government. It is a document setting up a system by which individual rights will be protected, even from government itself.

Lysander Spooner's critique of the Constitution thus attacks a straw man. With remarkably few inconsistencies, the Constitution didn't impose coercive demands on the citizens, or authorize the government to violate their rights. Rather, it ordered its own agents to protect the peoples' rights, while generally letting them free to go about their business. What's so intrinsically immoral and coercive about this? What requires personal signatures?"

www.vix.com/objectivism/Writing/RobertBidinotto/ContradictionInAnarchism.html

     If the constitution is not a binding agreement on me but only a limitation on the government, then why would I need to sign it to accept it as valid? I have actually argued the Lysander Spooner case before, but this argument has made me reconsider my stand.

     The problem is, the US constitution doesn't just limit the govenment. Certain ammendments DO limit private citizens as well. I would conclude that a constitution would need to limit  ONLY the actions of government, NOT of private individuals, before I could accept it as valid.

     We ought to ammend the New Hampshire constitution to NEVER place limitations on private citizens, ONLY on the government.


I think that's a capitol idea!  :)

RS
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Tracy Saboe

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Re:Does a Constitution Require Your Signature to Be Valid?
« Reply #5 on: January 23, 2004, 03:03:57 pm »

I agree about Spooner.

I have trouble stomaching most of Spooners rightings.

But then he's a left anarchist, and wants government abolished for wealth redistribution.

He would be perhaps an early version of anarcho-socialists.

Well, whatever. As long as he wants to abolish the Fed he can still be on my team.

Tracy
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<Patrick>

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Re:Does a Constitution Require Your Signature to Be Valid?
« Reply #6 on: January 23, 2004, 03:18:55 pm »

Yes. Decades. But it shall be worth the fight ahead.

Few things worthwhile are gained easily. This is no exception.

     Agreed!
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Terry 1956

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Re:Does a Constitution Require Your Signature to Be Valid?
« Reply #7 on: January 31, 2004, 01:18:22 pm »

"The Constitution is not any sort of 'contract' requiring anyone's signature -- because it's binding, not on the people, but on the government itself. It wasn't established to limit the people; it was established to limit government. It is a document setting up a system by which individual rights will be protected, even from government itself.

Lysander Spooner's critique of the Constitution thus attacks a straw man. With remarkably few inconsistencies, the Constitution didn't impose coercive demands on the citizens, or authorize the government to violate their rights. Rather, it ordered its own agents to protect the peoples' rights, while generally letting them free to go about their business. What's so intrinsically immoral and coercive about this? What requires personal signatures?"

www.vix.com/objectivism/Writing/RobertBidinotto/ContradictionInAnarchism.html

     If the constitution is not a binding agreement on me but only a limitation on the government, then why would I need to sign it to accept it as valid? I have actually argued the Lysander Spooner case before, but this argument has made me reconsider my stand.

     The problem is, the US constitution doesn't just limit the govenment. Certain ammendments DO limit private citizens as well. I would conclude that a constitution would need to limit  ONLY the actions of government, NOT of private individuals, before I could accept it as valid.

     We ought to ammend the New Hampshire constitution to NEVER place limitations on private citizens, ONLY on the government.



Well what about the importer who was required to pay a tax?
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Terry 1956

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Re:Does a Constitution Require Your Signature to Be Valid?
« Reply #8 on: January 31, 2004, 01:21:57 pm »

"The Constitution is not any sort of 'contract' requiring anyone's signature -- because it's binding, not on the people, but on the government itself. It wasn't established to limit the people; it was established to limit government. It is a document setting up a system by which individual rights will be protected, even from government itself.

Lysander Spooner's critique of the Constitution thus attacks a straw man. With remarkably few inconsistencies, the Constitution didn't impose coercive demands on the citizens, or authorize the government to violate their rights. Rather, it ordered its own agents to protect the peoples' rights, while generally letting them free to go about their business. What's so intrinsically immoral and coercive about this? What requires personal signatures?"

www.vix.com/objectivism/Writing/RobertBidinotto/ContradictionInAnarchism.html

     If the constitution is not a binding agreement on me but only a limitation on the government, then why would I need to sign it to accept it as valid? I have actually argued the Lysander Spooner case before, but this argument has made me reconsider my stand.

     The problem is, the US constitution doesn't just limit the govenment. Certain ammendments DO limit private citizens as well. I would conclude that a constitution would need to limit  ONLY the actions of government, NOT of private individuals, before I could accept it as valid.

     We ought to ammend the New Hampshire constitution to NEVER place limitations on private citizens, ONLY on the government.



Now how does the constitution giving the federal government the power to tax limit only the government? That was a main point of Spooner.
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Terry 1956

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Re:Does a Constitution Require Your Signature to Be Valid?
« Reply #9 on: January 31, 2004, 01:33:30 pm »

"The Constitution is not any sort of 'contract' requiring anyone's signature -- because it's binding, not on the people, but on the government itself. It wasn't established to limit the people; it was established to limit government. It is a document setting up a system by which individual rights will be protected, even from government itself.

Lysander Spooner's critique of the Constitution thus attacks a straw man. With remarkably few inconsistencies, the Constitution didn't impose coercive demands on the citizens, or authorize the government to violate their rights. Rather, it ordered its own agents to protect the peoples' rights, while generally letting them free to go about their business. What's so intrinsically immoral and coercive about this? What requires personal signatures?"

www.vix.com/objectivism/Writing/RobertBidinotto/ContradictionInAnarchism.html

     If the constitution is not a binding agreement on me but only a limitation on the government, then why would I need to sign it to accept it as valid? I have actually argued the Lysander Spooner case before, but this argument has made me reconsider my stand.

     The problem is, the US constitution doesn't just limit the govenment. Certain ammendments DO limit private citizens as well. I would conclude that a constitution would need to limit  ONLY the actions of government, NOT of private individuals, before I could accept it as valid.

     We ought to ammend the New Hampshire constitution to NEVER place limitations on private citizens, ONLY on the government.



Now how does the constitution giving the federal government the power to tax limit only the government? That was a main point of Spooner.
                                                                             
  And don't forget about the state constitutions which got into even more detail taxing and other commercial issues. Now if taxing is only connected to citizenship and voting( although a citizen could collect from a non citizen from voluntary trade) and legislative law is almost impossible to pass but easy to repeal, I don't have as much a problem in not signing a constitution.
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RhythmStar

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Re:Does a Constitution Require Your Signature to Be Valid?
« Reply #10 on: January 31, 2004, 08:26:46 pm »

FWIW, I think that some form of consent is beneficial.  Otherwise, you have people running around saying that they never agreed to things.  

Citizenship is a bundle of rights, privileges and obligations.  The rights you have to begin with, but the government is formed to secure those rights, so it is only good sense to take a gander at the bundle and decide if the security and privileges are worth the obligations.  This could/should happen sometime (not too long) after the age of majority.  Those who sign the contract are consenting citizens, those who do not have a different status -- perhaps not as estranged as an illegal alien, but still NOT a citizen of the jurisdiction.

For a working model, see the Amish.  For freedom reasons, they do not try to force their children into the church.  Instead, they are given a 'free period' to decide for themselves if they want to swear off technology and stay, or leave the community and live with the rest.   While the Amish youngfolk are known to party hardy during this time, something like 90% or better elect to stay Amish, even in the face of all that modern life has to offer them.  That makes a strong statement.

RS
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Terry 1956

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Re:Does a Constitution Require Your Signature to Be Valid?
« Reply #11 on: February 03, 2004, 12:16:49 pm »

FWIW, I think that some form of consent is beneficial.  Otherwise, you have people running around saying that they never agreed to things.  

Citizenship is a bundle of rights, privileges and obligations.  The rights you have to begin with, but the government is formed to secure those rights, so it is only good sense to take a gander at the bundle and decide if the security and privileges are worth the obligations.  This could/should happen sometime (not too long) after the age of majority.  Those who sign the contract are consenting citizens, those who do not have a different status -- perhaps not as estranged as an illegal alien, but still NOT a citizen of the jurisdiction.

For a working model, see the Amish.  For freedom reasons, they do not try to force their children into the church.  Instead, they are given a 'free period' to decide for themselves if they want to swear off technology and stay, or leave the community and live with the rest.   While the Amish youngfolk are known to party hardy during this time, something like 90% or better elect to stay Amish, even in the face of all that modern life has to offer them.  That makes a strong statement.

RS

Good points.
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SteveA

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Re:Does a Constitution Require Your Signature to Be Valid?
« Reply #12 on: February 10, 2004, 04:09:43 pm »

This is a bit off-subject, and I believe a voluntary signature to provide a physical record and some method to verify "membership" in social agreements is beneficial but to emphasize the physical source of "human rights", I'll meandor a bit.

The only right people are born with has been, the right to self-determination (and only through some warped application of technology could I envision a way to remove that, but then without self-determination, are we even a living human?).  No matter who you are or where you live, your thoughts and actions are your sole possession.  Even a prisoner chained in a cell has his/her own thoughts and might be able to wiggle a finger or sleep, if they try.

The rights enumerated in the Constitution, have been (IMO) an attempt to define what freedoms people should agree upon to maximize the overall benefits of liberty for everyone and allow peaceful resolutions to disagreements.  Driving a car may endanger pedestrians, but having society disallow driving is a greater loss of freedom for all than accepting the risk that some dangers may be presented to others by allowing it.  The end result is that whether or not it is legal, people may drive vehicles and others may complain and sometimes disputes devolve into physical confrontations if the terms of the agreement are unacceptable to all parties.

The more voluntary and agreeable the terms of these social contracts, the better for everyone.

Someone who does not agree or follow the terms of the agreement, is not necessarily entitled to the benefits or protections in it and may find tradeoffs in the decision to not be involved, but that decision should be theirs and should, as much as possible, not be enforced upon them.  The key to the longevity of any agreement is recognizing that those involved expect some benefit to being a part of it, and everyone, whether or not a member, has an interest in self-preservation so any agreements that provide little or no benefit to its members or threaten others are unlikely to be successful (or desirable).  Having citizens voluntarily accept the responsibilities and benefits of constitutional law by signature wouldn't seem a bad idea but recognizing a signature doesn't, in itself, create social agreement is important as well.
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Re:Does a Constitution Require Your Signature to Be Valid?
« Reply #13 on: March 30, 2004, 04:46:02 am »

With remarkably few inconsistencies, the Constitution didn't impose coercive demands on the citizens, or authorize the government to violate their rights. Rather, it ordered its own agents to protect the peoples' rights, while generally letting them free to go about their business. What's so intrinsically immoral and coercive about this?

At the time the State Constitutions were signed, the existing law was English common law.  The Legislatures can "abrogate" the common law (I hear that the Supreme Court has ruled that when they do this, they must say so in the text of the statute or the statute is void).  Statutes that abrogate the common law DO create obligations upon the citizens that didn't exist without the State Constitution.

You're probably thinking of the Federal constitution, which does (theoretically) create a more limited government.  The Congress has enumerated powers:  any power not granted is withheld.  State Legislatures, however, are the opposite:  any power not withheld is granted.  Seems odd to me, but so say the courts.  It has to do with the States being sovereigns.  These are the same courts that sometimes throw out statutes as not being a "valid police regulation" to protect the health, safety, morals and welfare of the public.

Taxation, of course, is another sore point.
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rodschmidt

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Re:Does a Constitution Require Your Signature to Be Valid?
« Reply #14 on: March 30, 2004, 04:49:35 am »

In ordinary contract law, there are other ways to accept an offer besides signing a document.  A contract offer can be accepted by taking any action specified in the offer.  

Example: When you sit down in a barber's chair and allow the barber to start cutting your hair, you have accepted a contract and courts will hold you to it.

So if Spooner were in court contesting an obligation flowing from a Constitution, the judge might well look at whether Spooner had done anything inconsistent with the nonexistence of the Constitution.
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