Re: Notes from the Bill Joy radio talk

From: S.J. Van Sickle (
Date: Fri Apr 06 2001 - 09:22:21 MDT

On Thu, 5 Apr 2001, Spike Jones wrote:

> Perhaps some of those who have been in the military will comment
> on this. The way I understood the constitution, the Bill of Rights
> cannot be abrogated, now or in the future, thus the name Rights.
> Those who serve in the military take an oath to defend not the
> government, but to defend the constitution. The way I read that,
> should any future U.S. government attempt to repeal any of the
> Bill of Rights, then that constitutes an attack on the constitution,
> making that government invalid, so the military is obligated to
> reestablish a government that is based on the constitution. The
> government has not the authority to repeal the first amendment,
> or the second, or any of the Bill of Rights. Right?

Well, Spike, the way I read it is that the Bill of Rights *can* be
repealed by the normal constitutional amendment process: vote 2/3 house
and senate, 3/4 state legislatures. It's *called* the Bill of Rights, but
are technically just the first 10 Amendments. Unlikely, but possible.
Maybe For The Children, to win The War on Drugs and School Shootings.

Actions short of this would cause the military to look closely at the
"preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution" clause of their oathes.
The tradition of deferral to civil authority is so strong, however, that
it would have to be completely unambiguous. The Supreme Court deciding
that the 2nd amendment only applies to the National Guard, or that the 1st
only applies to talking to your friends in private and printing a
newspaper, probably wouldn't be enough. Bush declaring himself "President
for Life" and dissolving Congress might...but even then I think that they
are aware that once the Rubicon is crossed, the Constitution is probably
dead no matter what they do.

It would indeed be a U.S. military officer's worst nightmare.


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