Commentary, Law

Jim Gray: Writing ‘Convention,’ the Musical, Has Opened My Mind to Lost Liberties

I have been finalizing a new musical entitled “Convention,” which is about our great country’s Constitutional Convention in 1787.

As a result, for the past few years I have been heavily involved with research about the thoughts, beliefs and principles of our Founders. In that group, I include women like Abigail Adams.

And, although the delegates obviously had different backgrounds, biases and beliefs, do you know what the most important function of government was for virtually each one of them? The protection of individual liberties from the encroachment of government! The second most important was security. This thought might be somewhat controversial today, but it shouldn’t be.

The Founders believed that the provisions of the Constitution were so clear that most of them felt that a Bill of Rights was not necessary.

For example, Alexander Hamilton – who never sang any rap songs in his life! – felt that if some rights were enumerated in such a bill, it might mean that others which were not expressly mentioned were forfeited, and he didn’t want to take that chance.

So what are some of the liberties that we have lost to the government over time? That list is long, but it includes no provision in the Constitution at all to justify the federal government’s intrusion into the fields of education, healthcare, or the prohibition of presently illicit drugs, not to mention Congress’ forfeiting of the issuance of declarations of war to the President.

And, of course, all of these intrusions have increased the cost of government by many levels of magnitude. This lasted even up to the year 1913, when the architects of the 16th Amendment, which allowed the federal government to levy income taxes, considered limiting the amount at five percent. But that was determined it to be unnecessary, since they were sure the tax would never exceed three percent.

So in your deliberations about how our government should be acting, and how you should vote in our elections, please consider the Founders, and the Constitution they created for us all.

(Painting of “Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States by Howard Chandler Christy in 1940.)


Judge James P. Gray (Ret.) was a judge on the Superior Court of Orange County, California for 25 years, and was the running mate of Gary Johnson in the 2012 presidential contest, as well as the Libertarian Party’s 2004 candidate for the United States Senate in California. The author of multiple books and a play, he is a critic of current American drug laws.

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