"[The Bill of Rights is] designed to
protect individuals and minorities
against the tyranny of the majority,
but it's also designed to protect
the people against bureaucracy,
against the government."
Laurence Tribe
(1941-) American professor of constitutional law
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Reader comments about this quote:
 -- Anonymous      
When the greater voice of the people freely embraced the Goverment as their friend, nay even their savior, We are doomed.
 -- ej, Las Vegas     
    Some wrongly equate Democracy with freedom and liberty. Democracy more often means the lack of liberty for those unfortunate enough to garner one vote less today than they garnered yesterday.
     -- Wendell, Syracuse, UT     
    Right Wendell, democracy is not synonymous with liberty anymore than monarchy is. In fact, a monarchy, per Aristotle, would be preferable to democracy because it is more likely to respect individual freedom. Democracy is perhaps more subversive than any form of government proposed because it purports to sustain freedom and all the while it rationalizes taking it away for the good of the whole. Some call this semantics but it DOES matter when children are being indoctrinated with this nonsense. Only a Republic based on natural law can maintain individual liberty. The form is less relevant than the function, which should be constrained to minimal by the law. That is not to say that the majority will always wish to constrain it. However, if government is powerless to violate the law, the people cannot use it for such purposes. That is the sum of the matter: bind governmental power such that it cannot be used, even by a majority, to violate the law. This is the importance of respect for the Constitution. Its NOT just a piece of paper. The laws of nature and nature's God cannot be repealed by a vote.
     -- Ben, Orem, UT     
    That quote about sums it all up.
     -- jim k, austin     
    Bureaucracy is the key to control. That's why Stalin invested in so much of it. And had he known that he could control everyone's money and actions and let them "think" they were free with the sham of voting...he could have called it a democracy and gotten away with it for much longer...
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
    Maybe but of course it also protects the majority against those minorities who might like to corner the market on newspapers, TV, etcetera, like Fox Noise. Bureaus were established to bring professionalism to government after years of the spoils system where whoever was the latest politcal hack would bring in their own cronies. Like Bush and his Texas league of losers like Gonzo and Company and remember Reagan and his Mr. Watts. You got the cart before the horse Ben. Freedom and liberty brings democracy not the other way around. Freedom and liberty is the natural state of man, the simple math that says that each mans equal right or vote on any given issue will be considered and that the 51% solution will prevail since it advances the notion of the greatest liberty and freedom is what democracy is all about. To be ruled by the 49% mob is tyranny, and the smaller is the ruling mob the greater is the tyranny till one gets down to dictatorship. A society lacking democracy therefore is lacking freedom and liberty.
     -- Waffler, Smith     
    It was well understood, and the intent blatantly clear that the government was to be as limited as possible, and if the government was not given direct authority by the Constitution to do a specific thing, it could not do it. This understanding was so basic, fundamental and pervasive that the argument was the Bill of Rights was not necessary. The quote's meaning is accurate but backwards. The Bill or Rights was designed to protect the individual from the government as per the Laws of Nature and Nature's God when the government forgot the original intent and focus of the Constitution. The government is to protect the individual (his life, liberty, and property), no matter what any numerical percentage of individual sovereigns might do, desire, say, or vote on.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
    I believe Judge Tribe is a Harvard Liberal. Yet his words would be a contradiction of Barack Obama's beliefs........and that is good! bnyoung@metrocast.net
     -- Niel Young, Laconia, N.H.     
    Waffler, you oops again. Protection was to be of/for the individual, not any numerical percentage thereof. If each individual is protected, democracy becomes mute.You can't have a majority or minority without the one. How do you think Fox will corner the newspaper, TV, etc. markets (a majority of watchers?) when the rest (the majority) of stations all have a biased liberal slants (reporting, [very little news] to further a theocratic socialist's agenda)? The foundation of your analogy is flawed and then it only gets progressively more wrong. Being ruled by the mob's tyranny, whether that be 51% or 49% is still tyranny and wrong.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
    Waffler, a serious question for you. What do you say when the majority becomes accustomed to the minority's tyranny - tyranny becoming the natural order of things? My thought. Theocratic socialism ("religion is real piety in practice, consisting in the performance of all known duties to . . . our fellow men." [Bouviers Law Dictionary]), proselytizes at the end of a gun and through threat and duress; such being a Stockholm Syndrome, describing the behavior of victims who, over time, become sympathetic to their despotic masters. Democracy is a sick justification for despotism and tyranny. The Bill of Rights is an individual's protection from / against a Democracy's form of government.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
    Mike the Constitution and the Union founded under it was about a coming together not a coming apart. The weight of the matter was about union and unity. Now in this matter of unity the founders were also right to consider and give an ear to minority opinion. But always remember that the overriding tone of the Revolution and The Declaration and the Constitution was and is about union. Again Mike I never oops, I just think outloud, and correct and revise my remarks outloud. The Constitution has always thus far protected us from tyranny of the minority. That is what elections are all about. Minorities and majority views and opinions change, and leaders rise up to change views and opinions and folk shift their allegiances from one side to another, this is what happened apparently in November.
     -- Waffler, Smith     
    Waffler, you oops again and intentionally misstate the facts. (-; I may not write to well but I can read ;-) It appears by your writings that your supreme religious beliefs include a socialistic theocracy that includes a superior ministry. Part of my beliefs are that, 'WE THE PEOPLE', (each and every, any and all) are created equal as noble sovereigns, owing no man or entity any burden, duty, inferior position, homage, obligation or pleasure. We are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable Rights. Each and every individual sovereign, is/were/are the sole principal(s), uniquely holding each, every, any, and all principle, authority, power, right, privilege, exposition of law, etc. Each Creator endowed noble heir, enables certain others to represent each of 'WE' as personal servants and deputies in a limited forum of united representation. "Governments are the servants, not the masters of the people." (Thomas Jefferson) The Biblical reference you keep alluding to is 2 Pet 1:20 "Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation." By your accusations, are you saying that theocratic beliefs are not a private interpretation of prophecy of scripture but, my beliefs are? Here's another Biblical thought on the subject for you. Israel was a people united in individual sovereignty under the lawful premise that their rights were inalienable and endowed by their Creator when the Elders came to the prophet Samuel and said: "Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations." (1 Sam 8:5). Waffler, I know you can read so you're going to have to make a personal interpretation of why God was so displeased when the corporeal government wanted to judge and rule over the people like all the nations (you wanting to be like the rest of the world because the majority must be right) instead of growing in freedom and liberty where life, liberty, and property are reverenced as inalienable to the individual sovereigns.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
    I studied those scriptures several years ago Mike, and what the Hebrew experience teaches me is that God is a god who wants democracy for his children. He did not want them to have a King with all of the ass kissing, hangers on, and sycophants such a society and government creates. He wanted each man to be soverign and have a voice a vote in the matters concerning the whole. Later Jesus attacked the hierarchy of government and theocracy when he attacked the Sadducees and Pharisees and the Apostle Paul explained to us that we do not report to Priests and hierarches but have direct access to the one and only KIng. The principle that we each and individually have this direct access we are therefore all equals. These Hebrew/Christian teachings in my value system makes what I consider the essence of DEMOCRACY! I agree with you about one thing, you do not write to well which is a really big OOPS!
     -- Waffler, Smith     
    Unfortunately, the current political majority in the bureaucracy has no intention of continuing to allow those protections to remain in place. Though to be fair, the erosion of the protections of the Bill of Rights has been going on in earnest for decades. We just weren't paying attention and the media weren't doing their "watchdog" job. Whether you call it Fox News or Fox Noise, thank God for it. It's the one news outlet that can be counted on to offer opinions from both sides of the issues (on the commentary shows) as well as a great deal more facts in the news portions. They are the fairest of them all. Those like Waffler, who disparage the facts when they disagree with them should still be grateful. It is the Bill of Rights that still manages to preserve even that right.
     -- empty pockets, Albuquerque     
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