When Laws Become Slavery

“The people who submit to … laws made neither by themselves nor by an authority derived by them, … are slaves.” — James Madison

The context of James Madison’s quote contains important wisdom on the operation of federal government that every citizen should know. He points out that, for freedom to be preserved, the separation of the departments of power in government must be invariably maintained. No branch should encroach upon or usurp the function of the others.

But more important than branches and departments respecting their constitutionally assigned bounds toward each other, is their respect for the rights of the people. In “Memorial and Remonstrance against Religious Assessments,” The American Republic, 1785, Madison writes that no department of power should be suffered to:

“…overlap the great barrier which defends the rights of the people. The rulers who are guilty of such encroachment, exceed the commission from which they derive their authority, and are tyrants. The people who submit to it are governed by laws made neither by themselves nor by an authority derived by them, and are slaves.”

This overreach of governing power is being displayed on a daily basis in our nation. Congress has allowed the Supreme Court and the President to run over their legislative territory rough shod. The marriage issue is perhaps the clearest example. On this issue, courts have also trampled directly on the rights of the people. One of the more notable examples was on August 4, 2010 in California when the court ignored the vote of the people and nullified Proposition 8 which had been passed by a state-wide ballot.

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Will we submit to such tyranny and be slaves – or not?

This is the great question of our time. But one thing is for sure, those who do not know the foundational truths and principles that preserve liberty are not likely to rise up to protect them. This is why we must pursue knowledge.

“My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge,” Hosea 4:6.

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