PHILADELPHIA REFLECTIONS
Musings of a Philadelphia Physician who has served the community for six decades

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Articles of Confederation
The Articles of Confederation were initially written by John Dickinson, but modified by others. Even though officially unratified for five years, the country was more or less ruled under them in Philadelphia, for thirteen years. We learned many lessons during that episode, but begin to forget we learned them.

Right Angle Club 2012
This ends the ninetieth year for the club operating under the name of the Right Angle Club of Philadelphia. Before that, and for an unknown period, it was known as the Philadelphia Chapter of the Exchange Club. www.philadelphia-reflections.com/topic/175.htm

...Ratification, Bill of Rights and Other Amendments
The 1787 Constitution lacked a Bill of Rights. Few except Madison himself were opposed to adding one, but many other delegates would have failed election without promising it. Negotiations at the Convention had proved so excitingly innovative that time ran out before the Convention had to adjourn with only a promise of a Bill of Rights, first thing. Almost immediately, political America was thrown into a year of state ratification conventions. Massachusetts initiated the concept of ratifying the Constitution, attached with eight or nine amendment proposals for the Bill of Rights. When the First Congress finally convened, it faced almost two hundred proposed amendments, and Madison made sure he was chairman of a committee to deal with them. Practically alone he pared them down to a succinct twelve which survived as the first order of business of the new Congress. Almost unnoticed, he made a deal with Oliver Ellsworth the leader of the Senate, to pass the Bill of Rights in exchange for passing the Senate's Judiciary Act in the House of Representatives. Out of this combined beginning, the power and scope of the Judiciary Branch was born. But while that is a subject for later chapters, Madison never achieved a more skillful moment in his political life, than this pivotal one.

...Pending and Later Amendments
New topic 2012-08-01 19:06:55 description

Human Rights

{AMA Logo}
AMA Logo

ABOUT ten years ago, I first encountered the use of the term "Human Rights". Seated as a member of the House of Delegates of the American Medical Association, I was distracted when a late resolution was passed around for urgent consideration. Such resolutions require a super majority to be introduced as business of the House, either two thirds, or three quarters of the attendees, and a little speech by the author explaining the "reason for lateness". The resolution was a one-line request for endorsement of the concept of Human Rights by the American Medical Association. The stammering explanation for lateness (as distinguished from holding it over to the next meeting) was that it was self-evident that the Association would favor human rights and immediately place it on the "Consent Calendar" for approval without voting on it. Like everyone else in the room, I looked to my seatmate neighbor to ask what this was all about. No one knew, so the author was asked to explain. Well, it was about human rights, not animal rights or corporate rights, and was otherwise so self-evident it needed no further explanation. Just what was in the mind of others seated in that room I cannot say, but to me the resolution seemed like nonsense, whose author seemed very innocent and naive. In any event, the resolution was dismissed, the paper discarded, and we went on to the medical issues we were there to discuss.

{Bill of Rights}
Bill of Rights
the committee to prepare the Bill of Rights, it is easily possible that he felt the same way about the ninety rights he decided to delete. The handful of rights which survived into the Bill of Rights seem to have been limited to preventing outrages (freedom of speech, assembly, petition for grievances, press, religion) which the British had committed during the Revolutionary War. The rest of the proposed rights would have to go through the process, one by one, of establishing that violations had indeed been numerous and notorious. By contrast in the recent construction of the Bill of Rights for the European Community, a far more relaxed attitude was in evidence. They are fifty pages long, including such things as the right to work half time when an employer wants you to work full time. The best I could say about that would be it is micro-management. The worst would be to imagine that a great many people who voted for it were displaying a deliberate intention to make the European Union unworkable, and that must have been at least a majority, if not a super-majority. Without more willingness to compromise than this, the EU seems doomed.

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Ghengis Kahn

In fact, the whole concept of prosecution for human rights violation is too vague to be useful. When individuals commit outrageous crimes, the matter can normally be handled under the criminal code, with the offense defined and appropriate punishment described in advance. Murder and torture are not commonly affected by whether or not rights have been violated. On the other hand, offenses by component national states are usually regarded as acts of war; if Ghengis Kahn were accidentally admitted to the EU, the punishment would start with expulsion from the Union, and surely go on to war, essentially the same outcome. A nation which was able to deal with the Iroquois and the Comanche tribes surely has no nightmares about Nebraska electing Pol Pot as governor. The human rights advocates have simply got to make a more plausible case for revolutions in our criminal justice system, if they are to be taken seriously.

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