Friday, October 06, 2006

A Sovereignty of the People

The issue of sovereignty - who gets to make the laws - is why we have a constitution in the first place. When George Washington and his band of revolutionaries declared their rebellion, it was against the sovereignty of King George III of Great Britain. They broke the laws of Great Britain in their revolt, and they became something new: a citizen instead of the "subject" of a king.

Some of the more popular revolutionary slogans combined representation and sovereignty. For instance, Patrick Henry noted that "Taxation without Representation is Tyranny." Another one, and even more popular, was "No Taxation Without Representation." You will also find "the Right to Representation" well argued in the Declaration of Independence in 1776. In the declaration, representation of the people is the third in a long series of complaints about his majesty’s rule. The charge was tyranny because the king would not accommodate large districts of population – the colonies – with representation. The founders declared only a tyrant would do such a thing:

"HE [King George] has refused to pass other Laws for the Accommodation of large Districts of People, unless those People would relinquish the Right of Representation in the Legislature, a Right inestimable to them, and formidable to Tyrants only."

Our revolutionaries also signed the declaration with the phrase – “We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America . . . ”

There is no sovereignty of the people if the people are not constitutionally represented. Instead, Congress, just like King George, is refusing the people their "Right to Representation." In doing so, Congress is undermining the rule of law and the sovereignty of the people.


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