Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Justice Lumpkin's Bill of Rights V

As he builds to a crescendo, Justice Lumpkin's magnificent oratory swells with grandeur and unintentional irony. Print out this passage and read it aloud:

"[T]he Legislature . . . cannot commit political suicide, or rather parricide, by violating or destroying the great first principles of American civil liberty, as set forth and declared in the ten amendments of the Constitution -- a legal decalogue for every civilized society, in all time to come.

"No such attempt would be considered a rightful exercise of legislative authority. To maintain that our Federal or State Legislature possess such a power, is, in our opinion, a political heresy, altogether inadmissible. The British Parliament dare not, at this day, with all its transcendental power, commit such an outrage. For such monstrosity in legislation we must go to semi-imperial France, or semi-barbarous Russia. Any attempt in this country, at this day, to establish religion; to curtail the freedom of speech or of the press; to deprive a party of the privilege of appearing personally, or by counsel; to inflict cruel or unusual punishments; to immure a prisoner without trial, in a dungeon for life; to subject a citizen to a star-chamber proceeding instead of a public trial; would shock not only the common sense, but sense of justice of the teeming millions in this free and happy country! Shame! shame! upon such legislation, would be indignantly uttered by ten thousand tongues!"

The picture above is of Thomas R.R. Cobb, Justice Lumpkin's son-in-law.

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