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Constitutional education, history, commentary, reform, compliance, and interpretation.

2012/07/12

List of constitutional rights

A question I often get is to indicate a comprehensive, authoritative list of constitutional rights. Most legal scholars in the past have declined to offer such a list, saying that it would be infinite, so no listing could ever be adequate. Of course, some have provided partial lists, as James Madison did with the Bill of Rights, which included a catch-all, the Ninth Amendment, for all the other rights not made explicit in the other amendments. Essentially, he was referring people to legal history for the details, but too many judges refuse to acknowledge rights that are not spelled out.

I offer two things that try to identify the rights in more detail. The first is a law review article, Presumption of Non-authority and Unenumerated Rights, that goes into the historical background to find what got lumped into the Ninth. The second is a proposed Civil Rights Act to be introduced in Congress. For the convenience of readers, here is the part of that Act that lists the rights:

a. All rights already recognized in the above titles, and in the Constitution as amended.
b. Due process and efficient remediation
1. General
1. Due notice of time, place, manner, parties, and subject of any proceeding with sufficient time to respond.
2. Fair hearing and decision on the legal merits, with redress for just grievances, including damages, property, or injunctive or declaratory relief.
3. Not to have just remedies made inaccessible or excessively difficult or costly.
4. Mandated testimony of witnesses.
5. Unimpeded access to courts, court filing, and grand juries, subject only to routine scheduling.
6. Direct presentation of complaints to a grand jury without the presence of any other government actor without the consent of the grand jury.
7. Standing to privately prosecute a public right without having been injured or expecting personal injury.
8. Not to be subject to retaliation.
9. Not to have admitted any plea or testimony induced by a plea bargain.
10. Not to have any property or asset taken or forfeited without civil or criminal judgment in a trial, with possession presumed to establish title unless proved otherwise.
11. Not to have any right, privilege, or immunity disabled by statute unless one is a minor, which by default shall be any individual under the age of 18 unless the disabilities of minority are extended or reduced by court order.
2. Criminal trials:
1. Indictment by twelve members of a randomly selected grand jury of 23 who elect their foreperson, upon a finding that the court has jurisdiction and that there is sufficient evidence for a trial, except for persons subject to military or militia discipline.
2. Service as prosecutor upon receipt of an indictment by a grand jury, subject only to consolidation by the grand jury if more than one person seeks to prosecute the same offense.
3. Trial by a randomly selected jury of twelve sworn to uphold applicable constitutions in criminal cases for which the penalty is more than 90 days.
4. No excessive bail when there is little flight risk.
5. No excessive fines imposed.
6. No  cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
7. Speedy and public trial before an impartial jury of the state and district previously defined by law, wherein the offense shall have been committed, and to have the location of commitment be deemed where there was concurrence of mens rea and actus reus.
8. Not to be twice prosecuted for the same offense or same facts under different jurisdictions.
9. To be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defence, but not to have counsel or an attorney imposed on him without his consent.
10. Not to be compelled to be a witness against himself.
11. Not be disabled in the exercise, or deprived, of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law, by unanimous verdict of a jury of twelve.
12. Unimpeded presentation of all evidence by the defendant, without being subject to a motion in limine.
13. Unimpeded presentation of all legal argument to the jury, up to the final instructions to the jury, except for argument on a motion in limine that cannot be made without disclosing evidence properly excluded.
14. Unimpeded presentation of all pleadings, alternative instructions, and certified copies of applicable laws and constitutions, to the jury.
15. Not to have a sentence that does not separately disable the exercise of the immunity, and order deprivation of it, within the scope of that disablement
3. Civil trials:
Trial by a randomly selected jury of twelve sworn to uphold applicable constitutions in which the amount at issue, including costs, exceeds the equivalent of at least 15.46875 troy ounces of pure silver.
4. Appeals
Appeal from a jury verdict on a writ of error or habeas corpus, according to the rules of the common law in the United States as of 1787, unless the Constitution is amended to provide otherwise.
c. Nonauthority
1. Presumption of nonauthority for any claim to authority, to be strictly proved by an unbroken logical chain of derivation from a constitution.
2. Not to have any government actor exercise a power not delegated, regardless of whether one may be personally injured by such exercise.
3. Not to have government actors exercise powers on the pretext of being "necessary and proper" when they are not just to perform his official duties but to get a desired result beyond such duties.
4. To have delegated powers construed as narrowly, and rights, privileges, or immunities construed as broadly, as the language of the Constitution as meant and understood when ratified permits.
5. Priority docketing of all prerogative writs filed by a any person as demandant in the name of the people with a court of competent jurisdiction and served on the respondant, within three sederunt days, unless the respondant requires more, but not more than 20 calendar days, including but not limited to, demurral, quo warranto, habeas corpus, procedendo, mandamus, prohibito, certiorari, and scire facias, and to have default judgment even if no proof is presented or a hearing is not held.
6. Unimpeded and unpunished communications, including speech, press, and education, except such as instigate or direct a felony, misdemeanor, or tort.
7. Unimpeded assembly and exercise of rights in concert with others.
8. Unimpeded assembly as militia for organizing, training, and response to threats to public safety, subject only to direction by state militia officers during a call-up.
9. Unrestricted keeping and bearing of weapons, equipment, and supplies commonly used by military forces, or suitable for militia, subject only to court order of disablement for being a threat to oneself or others, or to the lawful orders of militia officers during a call-up.
10. Unimpeded and unpunished petition for redress of grievances.
11. Unimpeded devotion or practice of religion, not preferentially supported by public funds, that does not instigate or direct a felony, misdemeanor, or tort.
12. Exclusion of government actors from intrusion into one's real property, body, or use of one's personal property, for search, seizure, or for any other reason, without consent, a declared state of war or emergency threat to public, safety, a warrant supported by an affidavit of probable cause, and just compensation for any losses incurred, for each incident.
d. Supervision of government actors
1. Access to observation and recordation of any government proceeding except trial and grand jury deliberations or their equivalent, or deliberations on matters of security requiring secrecy.
2. Receipt of records of all proceedings, and accounting for all receipts, loans, debts, and expenditures, and reporting thereof, for eventual examination prior to an election in which the issues may be reviewed.
3. Accurate recording, counting, and reporting of all votes cast by eligible voters in any public election with protection from disclosure of how each voted.
4. Access to all information about oneself, and either copies at cost of all documentation or to make one's own copies using one's own equipment.
5. Effective low-cost remedies for getting information about oneself corrected, and use of such information restricted to that for which there is consent by oneself.
f. Other
1. Association and contract to do things not unlawful, including practice of a profession or occupation, marriage, procreation, and acceptance or denial of medical prevention or treatment, except prevention of contagious diseases.
2. Formation, conduct, and revision or dissolution of corporations, partnerships, and other trusts, in which settlor, trustee, and beneficiary are distinct persons who may not be impeded or penalized from directly appearing in any court in such capacities.
3. Not to have some accorded special privileges or protections that favor them over the rest of the people, in ways not essential to the performance of public duties.
4. Travel within, to, and from the United States and any State, territory or locality.
5. Not to be removed from the location of one's birth or lawful residence, or impeded from returning thereto.
6. Not to be enslaved or submitted to peonage except as punishment for a crime, but subject to militia, jury, witness, and other public duty.
7. Not to be impeded or punished for voting if one is a citizen and resident on grounds of race, color, creed, previous servitude, gender, age 18 or above, or failure to pay a tax.
8. Custody and care of close relatives who are non sui juris.
9. Not to be neglected or abused while in custody.
10. Not to be denied any right, privilege, or immunity for failure to have or present a name or other form of identification.
11. Not to be deported without proof that one has not been born or naturalized as a citizen, unless one is born to a person not subject to the allegiance of the United States, such as a foreign diplomat or an invader.
12. Not to be subject to penalty for not doing something, such as not paying a tax, if government agents refuse to allow it to be done, such as not accepting payment of a tax.
13. Not to deny relief from some government action for lack of an appropriation to process the application for relief, or having an official to receive the application, and to fail to recognize the demand for such relief as being granted by default.
14. Not to be required to procreate or to refrain from procreating.
15. Not to have imposed upon one any unwanted belief or expression of devotion or to be pressured into conformity with such.
g. The foregoing list is not exhaustive, and further rights, privileges, and immunities are to be found in the historical record. The rule of expressio unius est exclusio alterius shall not be applied.

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