Capital Punishment, Errors, American, Human, Constitutional?
Every time I read constitution, it impresses me even more. I truly believe that there is no other charter of human and individual rights better than this amazing document. Although constitution is still being interpreted, more we understand it, higher the respect it demands. The wide based incredible principles laid in our constitution must make all of us proud of our supreme law. A very good example of it is the eighth amendment, and fourteenth amendment which is basically an extension of eighth amendment of constitution. I find lots of people criticizing eighth amendment without ever reading it, and many are confused about it because they have never read it. Before proceeding ahead on this discussion, we must to have a reading of eighth amendment:
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
We may also read the fourteenth amendment:
Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Section 2. Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.
Section 3. No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may, by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.
Section 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.
Section 5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
Excessive bails and fines, and cruel and unusual punishment are prohibited. I believe that it will be really beneficial to all of us if we also read a very important piece of the preamble to bill of rights, of which eighth amendment is part of:
THE Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.
This portion of preamble stresses the basic purpose of Bill of Rights, to limit the powers of government, especially federal government and declare that all rights are owned by “We the people”, some of those may be delegated to government with serious limitations imposed on those.
It is worthwhile to mention the tenth and last amendment here, too:
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
And our constitution begins with these words:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
So, the constitution of United States of America is given by us. We are the ultimate authority, not God, not government, not anyone or anything else. All the powers not mentioned in constitution belong to us or states, not federal government, not NSA or any other agency, not president, not congress, not federal courts. The ultimate purpose of all ten amendments is to limit the authority of government. As mentioned in preamble, the basic purpose of eighth amendment is to limit the authority of government, as well. What are the limitation imposed by eighth amendment?
Bails and fines cannot be excessive and punishments cannot be cruel and unusual. This is the definition of cruel on Dictionary.com:
Adjective, cru•el•er, cru•el•est.
Willfully or knowingly causing pain or distress to others.
Enjoying the pain or distress of others: the cruel spectators of the gladiatorial contests.
Causing or marked by great pain or distress: a cruel remark; a cruel affliction.
Rigid; stern; strict; unrelentingly severe.
And this is the definition of unusual, from the same source:
un•u•su•al [uhn-yoo-zhoo-uhl, -yoozh-wuhl]
Not usual, common, or ordinary; uncommon in amount or degree; exceptional: an unusual sound; an unusual hobby; an unusual response.
You decide, for real!