Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Read Your Constitution!

I was embarrassed today in a meeting with my Delegate.  I live in the Commonwealth of Virginia and he and another Delegate were holding a “town hall” style meeting in preparation to heading off to Richmond, Virginia next week for the opening of the General Assembly. 

The issue of “Eminent Domain” came up in the context of an amendment to our Commonwealth Constitution.  Our Delegate was patiently explaining how that process works when he paused and said “Okay how many of you have read the Virginia Constitution?”  I was embarrassed, I hadn’t and neither had the rest of the room.  I had a copy of the United States Constitution in my hip pocket, but I hadn’t read my own State’s Constitution.  You see we in the shadow of Washington, DC are so preoccupied with National issues that sometimes we forget that first and foremost we are Virginians.  I intend to remedy that fact. 

Just look how elegantly that document begins:


Bill of Rights 
A DECLARATION OF RIGHTS made by the good people of Virginia in the exercise of their sovereign powers, which rights do pertain to them and their posterity, as the basis and foundation of government.

Section 1. Equality and rights of men.

That all men 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, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.

I ordered my own copy today while I read it on-line.  How many of you are familiar with your own State’s Constitution?  


  1. Amigo,
    Ya got me there... epic fail on my part.

  2. CS,

    As an avid reader, and somewhat of an amateur historian, I have read them all. Hawaii's actually provides for lying about the birth certificate of any native sons who may or may not have been born there.

    Just kidding, but I do believe I read Virginia's in my US History class at North Stafford High School. I doubt I could quote or even paraphrase any of it today.

  3. CS- I actually am alot more educated on my state constitution, than the U.S. Constitution. But it is a very good point, and may I remind all, that these documents are so precious and important, that noone should feel ashamed to read them over and over again. Always a good idea to freshen up.

  4. Excellent point. If only these documents meant as much to our leaders today as they did to the people who wrote then.

  5. Oh Oh Oh ... I have, I have and I am a fellow Virginian. I'm not bragging, but I had to read the Virginia Constitution to study the U.S. Constitution when I was comparing the Articles of Confederation to the U.S. Constitution. Sure is a lot of reading. Now I confess, I did not do this until I was older. What would be great is if Virginia schools required high school level kids to read their own State Constitution. Could spur some great discussion.

  6. Hardnox,

    Thanks for your honesty - me too - I'm playing catch-up.

  7. Tenth,

    It is very important in how you judge your elected officials. I'll be a better Virginian now.

  8. Johnny,

    Great point! We all need to be informed citizens. The reason our Delegate brought it up was because people were asking questions about process and trying to do an end around. It was obvious to him that we didn't grasp how the system works. He was right unfortunately.

  9. Paladin,

    I suspect that they would be pissed if they knew we didn't all have a dogeared copy at home.

  10. Mrs. AL,

    You are a Rock Star! I'm going to be caught up with you soon.

  11. Same for me as well,CS. I WILL be doing that very thing soon. Talk about a "must read". Thanks for bringing this issue up. A LOT of are likely in that same boat.

  12. Same goes for me in North're right in that while we work to ensure Washington abides by the U.S. Constitution, our states need to abide by their respective state constitutions also.

  13. Clyde,

    Thanks for the visit friend.

    The Constitution,don't leave home without it!

  14. Matthew,

    You are right - a lot of these tyrants started their lives as local tyrants. It's important to nip that in the bud.

  15. When we in Ohio were fighting for concealed carry, Ohio's constitution played a big part in beating back the elected "lords" who fought the issue tooth and nail.
    "The people have the right to bear arms for their
    defense and security" was part of what tipped the scale since having to defend yourself could happen anyplace and was not just limited to your home.

  16. -Sepp,

    Proving once again how much early Americans believed in freedom and the rights of individuals. Thanks.