WE, THE PEOPLE of the Federation of American States, each State acting in its sovereign and independent character, in order to form a permanent federal government, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity ~ invoking the favor and guidance of Almighty God ~ do ordain and establish this Constitution for the Federation of American States.
When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident:
That all the People are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, property, and pursuit of wealth and happiness; that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to affect their safety and happiness.
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of the People of these seceding States and such is now the necessity that constrains them to alter their former systems of government and create a new nation.
We desire nothing more but an honorable withdrawal from the Union. We earnestly desire that secession be accomplished in the friendliest spirit, with the utmost goodwill, and without leaving any trace of bitterness behind it, living in amity with all our neighbors of the Americas. We have staked the whole of all our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind for self-government, upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Commandments of God.
We desire a settlement of all matters between the States forming it, and the United States in relation to the public property and public debt at the time of our withdrawal hereby declaring it to be our wish and earnest desire to adjust everything pertaining to the common property, common liability, and common obligations of that Union, upon the principles of right, justice, equity, and good faith. The President, Congress, and the People earnestly desire a peaceful solution of these great questions; that it is neither our interest nor our wish to make any demand not founded on strictest justice; nor do any act to injure our late sister States.
So that the general, great, and essential principles of liberty and free government may be recognized and established we declare that the rights of the People enumerated in this Constitution are binding on the Federation, the individual States, the Seat of the Federation, all counties, all political subdivisions, and the territories or other protectorates except where provided for otherwise within this Constitution or by Article of Amendment.
We declare --
(1) That the rights of Citizens shall include all the enumerated and unenumerated liberties, and privileges recognized by this Constitution. Nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to create any conclusive or irrefutable presumption that a law, regulation, or order of the Federation or any State does not infringe such rights. In any case or controversy in which an abridgment of such rights is alleged, no party shall be denied the opportunity to introduce evidence or otherwise show that a law, regulation or order is an unreasonable restriction on such rights and therefore is unconstitutional.
(2) That only Citizens, permanent residents, and other persons who are legally in this nation are protected by this Constitution with the exception that specific rights, protections, or privileges that are expressly reserved, by law, for Citizens. This government is instituted and exercised for the benefit of the People and that all power is vested in, and consequently derived from, the People; that magistrates are their trustees and servants and at all times amenable to them. The rights of conscience, of bearing arms, of changing the government, are declared to be inherent in the People.
(3) That illegal aliens, Citizens taking up arms against this nation in foreign lands, and all other persons not provided for by this Constitution shall not be protected by any constitutional rights nor have access to any court but only in a manner that Congress may, by law, provide for. Only Citizens shall vote, serve on juries, or hold any appointed or elective office at all levels of government.
(4) That this Constitution is a true republic in the form of a representative government in which governmental power is strictly circumscribed so that it does not trespass on the natural rights of persons within its jurisdiction; that power is not concentrated in a few hands, but is distributed into several branches, each of which acts as a check upon the others; is a government of laws, and not of men; and is instituted for the benefit of every Citizen.
(5) That legitimate government, at any level, is established solely by direct and explicit consent of the governed. Relative to the citizenry, no branch of government has inherent or reserved powers, implicit or assumed prerogatives, or presupposed attributes of sovereignty. Powers shall be expressly granted to government by the People, and the extent and range of such powers shall be strictly, narrowly construed and when any government shall be found inadequate or contrary to these purposes, a majority of the community has an indubitable, inalienable, and indefeasible right to reform, alter, or abolish it, in such manner as shall be judged most conducive to the public weal.
(6) That it is the indispensable duty of a good government the promotion of equal justice for all, to provide an easy, prompt, and adequate remedy for the infraction of every right; and a just, but certain punishment for every wrong or crime and the protection of person, property, and character against violence, fraud, and defamation.
(7) That liberty consists in the freedom to do everything which injures no one else; hence the exercise of the natural rights of each Citizen has no limits except those which assure to the other members of the society the enjoyment of the same rights.
(8) That economic freedom is the fundamental right of every person to control his or her own labor and property. Free markets, free press and political speech, private ownership of property and means of production, privilege to vote, and many other natural rights of men are the great bulwarks of liberty, and should never be restrained but by despotic governments.
(9) That the government provided for by this Constitution shall not be deemed a national one since its jurisdiction extends to certain enumerated objects only and leaves to the several States a residuary and inviolable sovereignty over all other objects. The individual States are not united on the principle of unlimited submission to the Federation; but under this Constitution, and any future Articles of Amendment thereto, they constituted it for special purposes and, delegated to that government certain definite powers reserving to each State the residuary mass of right to their own self-government; and whomsoever that the Federation may assume undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force.
(10) That no free government, or the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any People but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, education, and virtue and by frequent recurrence to fundamental principles.
(11) That all the People are by nature equally free and independent and have certain inherent rights, of which, when they enter into a state of society, they cannot, by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity; namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety, and speaking their opinion and beliefs in any forum without fear of professional, academic, or personal retribution.
(12) That religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education, whether at home or in government or private schools, shall forever be encouraged.
(13) That no Citizen, or set of Citizens, is entitled to exclusive or separate emoluments, entitlements, or privileges from the community or a transfer of wealth or political power from one set of Citizens to another, but in consideration of public services or ought the offices of magistrate, legislator, or Judge to be hereditary.
(14) That it is justice, not the courts, that is sacred to a free society and in controversies respecting property or in suits of law and equity the ancient trial by jury is preferable to any other.
(15) That it is the right and duty of the People, when serving on a jury, to have the power to judge the law as well as the evidence, and to vote on the verdict according to their conscience, to annul execution of unjust laws, or to grant clemency should just laws be applied in such unusual context that punishment is not merited.
(16) That it is as much the duty of government to render prompt justice against itself, in favor of Citizens, as it is to administer the same between private individuals.
(17) That laws are made for People of ordinary understanding and should, therefore, be construed by the ordinary rules of common sense. Their meaning is not to be sought for in metaphysical subtleties which may make anything mean everything or nothing at pleasure.
(18) That every elected or appointed public service official, students of all ages, and the People at large should be taught age appropriate lessons on the Declaration of Independence, selected Federalist Papers, Articles of Confederation, United States and Confederate Constitutions, and any other documents to foster understanding of the same at least once a year.
(19) That the People have a right to bear arms for the defense of themselves, their communities and State, and the nation, or for the purpose of taking game and no law shall be passed for disarming the People or any of them, unless for crimes committed or real danger of public injury from mentally disturbed individuals.
(20) That elections of Citizens to serve as representatives of the People, in assembly ought to be fair, free, and open; and that all Citizens, having sufficient evidence of permanent common interest with, and attachment to, the community, have the right of suffrage and cannot be taxed or deprived of their property for public uses without their own consent or that of their representatives so elected, or bound by any law to which they have not, in like manner, assembled for the public good.
(21) That the rights of electoral participation and political association are fundamental; any law burdening their exercise is subject to strict judicial scrutiny for legitimacy regarding ends and means, and shall be supported by clear and convincing evidence. Political choices and competition are primary interests of the citizenry.
(22) That the legislative and executive powers of the state should be separate and distinct from the judiciary; and that the members of the two first may be restrained from oppression, by feeling and participating the burdens of the People, they should, at fixed periods, be reduced to a private station and the vacancies be supplied by frequent, certain, and regular elections as the laws shall direct.
(23) That all power of suspending laws, or the execution of laws, by any authority, without consent of the representatives of the People, is injurious to their rights and ought not to be exercised and government should not help or unnecessarily hinder lawful private enterprises.
(24) That the People have a right to uniform government; therefore, that no international organization, foreign government, army, or police force separate from or independent of the Federation ought to be erected or established within the limits thereof.
(25) That any law that is repugnant to this Constitution is void and that the courts, as well as other branches, are bound by this Constitution and the only method to increase or diminish the powers or duties of the Federation shall be only by Article of Amendment to this Constitution. The powers delegated by this Constitution to the Federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite and if the Federal government assumes any undelegated powers those acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force.
(26) Congress shall make no law nor shall any Federal or State agency carry out or authorize any act that abridges or denies to any Citizen or groups of Citizens the rights, protections, and privileges afforded or guaranteed to any other Citizen by this Constitution except in the case of a Citizen who is incarcerated or on parole or probation in which case this Citizen's rights, protections, or privileges may be deferred for a period of time prescribed by Federal or State laws.
(27) That State Governments have a full superintendence and control over the immense mass of local interests of their respective States, which connect themselves with the feelings, the affections, the municipal institutions, and the internal arrangements of the whole population. They possess, too, the immediate administration of justice in all cases, civil and criminal, which concern the property, personal rights, and peaceful pursuits of their own Citizens.
(28) That the legitimate function of government is to secure the aforementioned declarations through the preservation of domestic tranquility, a fair and equal system of justice, the maintenance of a strong national defense, security of all international borders and seacoasts, and economic and energy independence.
(29) That this Constitution's objectives are to authorize government, limit its powers in a manner that secures individual rights, and is a code of conduct for the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government. This Constitution is not a criminal or civil code that private citizens must obey but protects personal liberty, wealth, property, and the freedom and choice to participate in the public forum or not.
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