Joel M. Skousen


At first glance one might well ask, Why would anyone object to a principled approach to law? Why the need for a defense? The answer lies in two facts: 1) a logically consistent, non-conflicting set of principles governing law and government does not now exist, notwithstanding the great leap forward by the founding fathers of the US Constitution in establishing that liberty rests by right in the people--not by special grant of government authority. Our present legal system, is a combination of common law legal precedents and free-market traditions intermixed in the 20th century with a variety of modern social and political ideologies, which are often contradictory and conflicting. 2) Each of these two major ideologies, liberty and Socialism, have large constituencies vying either to be free from government intrusion or to harness governments power for personal and group gain. A consistent set of principles, providing powerful restraints upon the improper powers of government or the ability of politicians to buy votes with benefits, would be very unpopular with many groups who now enjoy majority status in legislative bodies.

Frankly, I dont expect Socialists (including those Republicans who arent willing to admit that what they often propose is merely a watered-down version of Socialism) to like the restrictions of these principles. Once in power, benefit-corrupted people and politicians never voluntarily relinquish their majoritarian powers over the redistribution of other peoples money. They arent my target audience. My interest is in building a unified concensus for just law and government among conservatives, libertarians and honest, non-coercive liberals who are currently factionalized into hundreds of small and medium-sized organizations--none of which have any real power to stop the forces arrayed against us. Christian conservatives are at odds with regular conservatives over not putting God to the forefront of every proposal. Social conservatives are at odds with libertarians over how much personal liberty to allow when it leads to personal corruption that has public or indirect private effects on society.

Conservatives of liberty cant possibly win the current battle nor even govern properly unless key issues that divide us are worked out while we can still assemble and debate in relative peace. If we wait till the next crisis of war or depression (when our liberties are in a free fall) we will still be arguing while the left comes forth with their well-worn, ready-made, benefit-corrupting solutions. The left already controls the legal and governmental agenda we currently operate under, so even now our conservative sons and daughters, who are dutifully trying to work within the system, are enticed into tinkering and modifying Socialist systems. Who is going to teach them how to implement solutions that foster liberty? We need to step back and regroup as a movement and chart a new course for liberty based upon consistent principles that are capable of unifying all good people.

In terms of unity, we are at a real disadvantage up against the left. It only takes one thing in common for liberals to unite. It only takes one difference of opinion for conservatives to divide. To reverse that propensity among conservatives and forge a larger unified whole, we must step back from the illusions of nice-sounding generalities about God, Country, and family values and tackle the tough issues I will raise here. It will take hard work, argumentation, and conversion to hammer out our differences. I dont pretend it will be easy or pleasant. Changes--even minor ones on core issues--are always difficult to achieve. All too often few conservatives or honest liberals demonstrate the patience, tolerance, or ability to do the tough thinking it takes to argue differences of opinion. Most would rather rely on the well-worn stock phrases previously mentioned--most of which dont hold up in the detailed world of law where the real power of government is manifest. There is a way to accomplish much of what social conservatives want to do, but it must be done on a basis of consistent principles that do not violate fundamental rights. Thats what this proposal is all about.

I invite you to join with me in going through some basic arguments on the major issues relating to these proposed principles. If you disagree, address the arguments--dont just restate generalized dogma--which doesnt ever lead to a resolution. Many Christian conservatives dont like argumentation, which they find synonymous with contention. But there are ways to argue without being contentious. One of the best ways to avoid contention is for both sides to stick to sound thinking, and to be humble enough to accept correction when thinking patterns are illogical or incomplete.

Let me give a quick example to illustrate. I often come up against the authority argument--a flaw in thinking where one relies exclusively on someones reputation or authority to support an issue rather than address the specific argument in dispute. Conservatives will often fall back on what they consider the ultimate authority--what the founding fathers said--as their first line of defense against any principle that may differ from the original Constitution. The trouble is, there really never existed a unified voice of the founding fathers. Even Alexander Hamilton, who drafted a majority of the Federalist Papers defending ratification, only did so because he saw the Constitution as a stepping stone to greater federal authority later on. What we call original intent is really a combination of the best ideas from both federalists and anti-federalists, who had wide and heated differences of opinion during the Convention of 1787 and afterward. Taken as a whole, what the founders accomplished was a miracle considering the extreme factions they had to deal with. But that miracle of sage compromises did not mean the Constitution was perfect or that it even came close to creating a solid barrier against government encroachments on liberty, especially at the state and local level.

The founders who prevailed at the convention got done what they could during a time of grave weakness and instability in government--and it was a wonderful beginning. However, there were many gaping holes in the document that would be used in the ensuing years by statists to continually expand the power of government. These are the issues that must be addressed today--not because we do not honor the Constitution, but because we must shore up and give increased support to the basic outline of liberty they provided. I have spoken of the disunity among many of the founding fathers, especially on principles and issues that were left unresolved--which were many. That disunity was so great that it caused many of the victorious Federalists to view each other as enemies during the next twenty years. Some died harboring bitter feelings one against another due to their failure to work out crucial differences early on. Lets not make the same mistake. Now is the time for greater unity. Unfortunately, unity today will be much more difficult to achieve than in the days of the founders. Law has developed a complexity that will never go away--no matter how much we may wish it so. Additional principles are necessary to bring order and resolution to todays diverse and wide-ranging conflicts.

The ultimate misuse of the authority argument is when some decry even the attempt to improve upon what the founders did, as if that would impugn our reverence for their work. This kind of thinking simply doesnt help resolve anything. It is irrelevant to the core issues and counterproductive as well. As revolutionary as the Constitution was at limiting government power, it was a pragmatic document filled with many compromises. We have 200+ years of history behind us to judge the merits of everything the founders did, from the language they used, to the basic concepts. The core is solid and there is nothing that I am going to propose that will undermine that. But, if the founders were present today they would be the first to issue a call for tighter language to clarify their intent. The cold fact remains, someone has to finish the job the founders started in the quest to preserve liberty. Why not our generation who stands at the brink--watching our own pragmatic leaders compromise and destroy what remains of our freedoms?

Many dismiss these efforts as impractical since existing legal tradition has so much momentum. That is an issue of strategy, which cannot be appropriately addressed until we first decide upon the principles of truth we need to defend. Frankly, our chances of taking a benefit-corrupted majority of people back to the restrictions of the Constitution of 1789 are almost nil, and if we did, the lawyers would have us back to our present dilemma within a few years because most of the loopholes they used to subvert limited government would still be there. If we are going to take the trouble to fight at all, lets do it for the sake of building up a remnant of solid thinkers who can truly defend liberty without contradictions and over-generalizations. Lets put our efforts on the solid ground of principles so that, whether we win or lose politically, we will have laid a foundation so powerful and inspiring that it will be impossible to suppress.


The proper purpose of law and government is to protect fundamental rights, maintain mans agency to choose (when not violating others rights) and to resolve conflicts between individuals and groups in a fair and just manner. Unfortunately, the enforcement powers of government have most often been used to restrict fundamental rights and provide special privileges and benefits to groups less than the whole. Legalized government tyranny has taken many forms, including dictators, oligarchies and even democratic majorities (who use the power to vote and tax to extract benefits from the most productive classes of society). Such deviant forms of government have been far more common than the ideal forms precisely because the underlying premises used to establish governmental authority over others have been based upon arbitrary, conflicting or insufficiently precise assumptions (might makes right, Divine right of kings or even common law).

The United States Constitution came the closest to establishing a limited government based upon individual rights, but failed to define those rights, leaving the courts and legislatures free to introduce new privileges and false rights that have given rise to our present benefit-corrupted citizenry, who prosper on government intervention and redistribution of wealth. These and other loopholes in the broad and trusting language of the founders have allowed the enemies of liberty to bring us to the point where almost every true fundamental right is severely curtailed, and the restoration of original intent is nigh unto impossible--whether by the ballot box or an appeal to our representatives.

The purpose of the proposed Principles of Just Law and Government is to set the groundwork for a new and more formidable wall of protection for fundamental rights. It incorporates all the best principles of the US Constitution and declares additional principles as necessary to fill the gaps in law and philosophy which the original founders wrestled with but were not able to resolve under the exigencies of their own crisis period. These proposed principles provide the hope that we might once and for all resolve the core issues of law and government and provide a stable and comprehensive basis for unity--at least among those who view themselves as conservatives of liberty.


This process is begun by first developing a workable definition of fundamental rights that allows all men to easily distinguish between true rights (which allow the maximum of liberty while separating each persons just claims) and false rights (which require that others be partially enslaved to serve anothers needs). Second, we establish criteria for the development of principles, based on these fundamental rights. Those criteria must be internally consistent, non-conflicting, and comprehensive in scope, so as to provide guidance to lawmakers for difficult questions of law. If laws are to be adjudicable in a fair and just manner they must be based upon a consistent set of principles that judges can use as a basis for interpretation. In the adjudication process, judges can refer back to basic principles so that conflicts can be resolved on non-arbitrary grounds.

It is not sufficient to simply make a list of nice sounding virtues and platitudes and call them principles. In general, a proper set of principles must be capable of providing a logical basis for both the structure of government and each element of a constitution, statute or law. Principles are not the law themselves, but are more general pronouncements of reasoned truths that provide this logically consistent basis for law and simultaneously restrict or limit the writer of the law to the appropriate concepts. A good set of principles also helps people see dangers in bad laws that, at first glance, might seem reasonable or even beneficial.

For example, many people support seat belt laws because seat belts save lives. Its true, they do--but that isnt the only point to consider. Underlying every specific law is a legal principle or generalization of the law, either right or wrong. In this case the underlying and generalized legal principle is not only wrong but extremely dangerous: that a majority has the power to dictate what is good for others, even when failure to comply does not affect the rights of the majority. This improper legal principle opens up a major pathway of intrusion that is used to justify other good for you proposals like fluoridation of water supplies and motorcycle helmet laws. Why not Titanium chaps to protect motorcyclists? Or three glasses of milk a day? These kinds of laws result in what I call an unlimited extension of lawmaking power which should never be allowed in good constitutional law. Once we allow the majority to start dictating what they think is good for others, we create a legal form of intrusiveness into the realm of self-responsibility that is only limited by the willingness of the majority in power to restrain itself, which is never a safe way to limit government and protect rights.


Some principles are more basic than others because they establish the non-conflicting playing field, which allows men to form a government without violating others rights from the outset. They also provide the basis for bringing all good persons to a potential meeting of the minds. The fact that all men wont ultimately agree doesnt make the quest for proper principles less valid, as long as the principles do, in fact, provide a basis for the greatest peaceful interaction between people in the context of government and law. Some people will resist being bound by principles for a variety of reasons. Some may not like doing what is right. Some may simply be incapable or unwilling to think things through--indeed, developing principles is a rigorous mental process. [Once the difficult process of determination and testing of principles is complete, a basic, shorter version of condensed principles is appropriate to help facilitate acceptance and understanding.] Finally, some may object simply because they want to preserve their privilege to fund their own pet projects with other peoples taxes, or even violate others rights in more obvious ways. If, however, the principles preserve everyones fundamental rights, are logically consistent and non-conflicting no one has a good reason not to agree. Thats the key point, and that is my goal--to develop something that is logical, right, and practical that solves the historical conflicts in law and government between competing groups of good people once and for all.

This non-conflicting, comprehensive criteria is what distinguishes good principles from bad ones, or even incomplete ones. Good principles simply dont allow anyone to justify creating laws that permit the taking of life, liberty and property or the forcing of others to serve their needs. That isnt to say principles, all by themselves, stop men from using force to enforce evil, but it does remove any presumption of legitimacy as well as the excuses people use to justify the modern forms of tyranny--like democratic or Fabian Socialism, which allows private ownership but controls property by regulation, and control). Ultimately one must forge a cooperative form of government with enforcement powers in order to stop violations of rights.

Here are what I consider the core non-conflicting principles, which will be explained in greater detail later:

1. Each individual, capable of being self-responsible, can rightfully claim as fundamental rights any action or state of being that all others can simultaneously claim without forcing others to serve their needs.

2. Individual sovereignty is the underlying authority behind every legitimate form of cooperative government.

3. Families have a special, temporary form of sovereignty over the health, welfare and education of their children until those children are capable of being responsible for themselves.

4. The only proper way to establish a government among free and sovereign individuals, with police powers of enforcement, is by initial mutual agreement of all parties, and the subsequent agreement, on the same terms, of all those joining the compact at a later date.

5. Nothing done under government authority has any validity if it violates or limits a fundamental right, unless such limitations have been specifically agreed upon by all citizens participating in the governmental process.

Before proceeding into a discussion of the other principles derived from the foregoing, let me address three of the most common objections raised by others relative to individual rights, authority, and efficacy of our existing Constitution. I do so because these objections are so persistent in some conservatives minds that they tend to cloud their ability to be objective as they read the principles, or even to see that what I have proposed here does not threaten what they value most dearly. Lastly your ability to understand the careful wording of the principles will be enhanced after working through these three basic controversies.




Those of us who believe in God and acknowledge his ultimate sovereignty in the universe may be tempted to make Gods sovereignty the basis of authority for earthly government. There are several major problems with this strategy. First, it violates Gods purpose in creating this earth as a proving ground for man. Second, despite interpretative claims to the contrary, we do not have any definitive revelation from God, common to all believers in God, that establishes either fundamental rights or an outline of secular government. Even the concept of fundamental rights is missing from the Bible. Many have tried to extract such things by strenuous interpretation of scripture, but its not clear enough to allow Christians to agree among themselves, let alone gain the agreement of non-believers or other religions. Third, God has never supported the concept of enforcing purely religious punishments upon non-believers by secular government.

Since God is sovereign, he has the power to intervene at will in earths affairs. His historic reluctance to do so must, therefore, be taken as evidence that God is holding back to enhance the testing purposes of this earth, demonstrating as well that He has a greater interest in preserving mans agency to believe or disbelieve, than he has in proving his existence (at least for the present). If God has declined to enforce a recognition of his own sovereignty on earth (or at least postpone such enforcement till the judgment day), how can we claim to be authorized to enforce that recognition upon other non-believers by making it the basis of authority in a civil government meant to protect the rights of both believers and non-believers? God Himself has not only refrained from establishing an earthly secular government, by revelation, but he has given every indication that He wants to remain in the background as much as possible so as to maintain a level playing field. Even the powers of Satan are both permitted and limited by God so that good and evil can compete for adherents.

Many Christians mistakenly look to the Old Testament as an example that God established an earthly government. He did establish an earthly kingdom, it is true, but it was clearly a covenant religious society, not a secular government intended to be implanted upon the rest of the world against their will. While both secular and religious laws and punishments were found in the Mosaic Law, such strict laws and punishments were only binding upon those agreeing to be part of the Lords covenant people. Only those violations of life, liberty and property were prosecuted outside the boundaries of the covenant society. From this we can see that even God had some type of line of demarcation between the proper bounds of secular and religious government. Secular government can only prosecute violations of basic fundamental rights related to protecting life, liberty and property. When groups wish to live by more restrictive standards that dont violate a fundamental right when the standard is transgressed, they can only enforce those higher punishments upon those who have covenanted to abide by such punishments from the beginning. This standard allows non-believers to be free to live their own values as long as all refrain from violations of actual fundamental rights. The doctrine of fundamental rights provides a clear and easy-to-administer dividing line, in most cases. Ill address the exceptions shortly.

The fact that Jefferson and others referred to God-given rights does not make it a suitable basis for law in a pluralistic society. Its a statement of faith and an appropriate expression of religious opinion, but improper as a source of authority on rights except for a unified religious government--which didnt fully exist even during the founding era of America. Part of the problem is that we think we must have some ultimate authority to proclaim rights, which isnt really true. As long as our definition is inherently non-conflicting each of us can simply claim proper rights and defend them without recurring to any other authority--except that which we may form by mutual consent to protect our rights. This is one of the basic tenets of cooperative government, that we create our own authority to defend rights. Such authority is legitimate as long as the governmental compact is approved by all participants voluntarily and that it does not violate the rights of others who dont wish to join.

In summary, I do believe that God has an interest in promoting liberty, but He wants us to do it in a way that doesnt force others to accept His existence as a pre-condition of participation, and that is why I am opposed to using God as the stated basis for rights--even if it is true. To believe in Gods sovereignty, or even to openly declare that one believes rights come from God, does not violate Gods testing purposes, but making the acceptance of that belief a basis for participation in a pluralistic earthly government does violate Gods purposes, in my opinion.

Lastly, it is not necessary to enforce the recognition of God upon non-believers or even upon the legal system for religion to flourish or for the law to protect the freedom of belief. All of Gods religious purposes are preserved merely by making sure government can play no favorites, either by enforcing restrictions on religious beliefs or by taking peoples tax money to promote others beliefs. What is necessary is to establish a level playing field where all belief systems are free to compete with adherents--with none having the power to harness the authority of government in their behalf.

Currently, the playing field of competition for moral values is not level. In fact, it never has been. In the early history of America, Christians used the power of government to establish official churches, finance ministerial salaries and promote various Christian causes using taxpayer money. Christians controlled public education for a time in many states, as well. Some European nations still have state-sponsored religions which is a violation of the property rights of those who must pay for the establishment and teaching of values they oppose. Non-Christians rightly felt imposed upon because their tax moneys were being used to support the promulgation of values that were not within the purview of governments taxing authority.

Today, we have a new state religion in America--that of atheism and evolution. While claiming to be scientific and neutral (in its denial of God), it is anything but neutral--it is still a value-oriented system of belief that goes beyond the defense of fundamental rights, and therefore is an inappropriate function of government taxing authority. While Christians are eager to retake control of the public school system, they fail to realize that it is always inappropriate for any majority to control education for all. All forms of education have values (even science) and those values should always be competing--never monopolized by majorities lest the minoritys property rights be violated. The only way to accomplish this is complete separation of schools and state. All education must be private, or, if run by government, 100% funded by user fees so that it competes on a level playing field with private education.

As we shall see in the following principles, a system of laws based upon fundamental rights does not require that God be banished from all public expressions as is becoming the rule in our ACLU-distorted legal system (which only defends a portion of individual rights). In a system that establishes the full range of fundamental rights, both believers and non-believers have all the freedom they need to declare their beliefs to willing listeners. In the public arena only the direct expenditure of taxes would be restricted from being used to promote non-coercive values or religion. Leaders can rightfully express their personal and religious feelings as part of their leadership responsibility. Religious groups can use public property on the same basis as any other group of private citizens--paying only appropriate user fees to cover any administrative costs of government in managing public properties and keeping order.


As the left has succeeded in carving out a lop-sided and incomplete concept of rights, defending only the right of personal corruption, but denying other key rights (like the right the rest of us have to make discriminating choices against that corruption), certain social conservatives have reacted by attacking the whole concept of individual rights and replacing it with a sloppy and poorly thought out doctrine of societal rights--the supposed communal right to have a moral society. Their basic premise is that since government cannot long exist without a moral people, society as a whole has the right to enforce a community standard of moral conduct upon all citizens, even if those standards violate individual liberty. The implicit assumption here is that religious-based societal standards are superior to individual rights since society has the right to defend itself against internal corruption. Proponents claim that the societal rights system of law holds out the promise of being able to defend moral agency, the family and religious values. I will demonstrate that it does no such thing. Not only do these imprecise and generalized societal rights not provide the legal basis for defense of family values, but that they provide the very color of law that is currently being used to destroy religious values today.

The essential flaw in this whole premise is centered around the question of who is going to decide what religious or moral standards become community standards? Proponents respond that the majority has the right to decide--confidently assuming that we, the religious community, are the majority. This is very short-sighted at best and lethal to religious liberty at worst. Without the limiting role of a doctrine of individual rights, this majoritarian power that social conservatives grant to themselves has the unlimited power to destroy liberty. If any majority has the power to impose community standards upon others, then surely the day will come when Christians will lose the majority and be forced to become subject to the values of a new majority, hostile to religion. The only safe way to run a government is to make sure that no majority has the power to enforce moral values on others--except in the area of violations of fundamental rights. [Note: fundamental rights, as defined in this proposal, differ from some libertarian versions of individual rights in that they include a form of family sovereignty that remedies one of the major deficiencies of an individual rights doctrine].

Societal rights only live in the world of idealized and generalized concepts--they simply dont work (in terms of consistency and fairness) when you get down to specific legal challenges. They are awkward to adjudicate in court because there is no single entity present in court either as victim or proponent. What is present is someone claiming the authority to represent all of society, even though they are, in fact, only representing a portion of society that happens to control the majority of votes in some governing body. Minorities and dissenters from the majority position are never represented--unless they can take power--which is why this system always leads to class conflict. Sadly, no one has any rights unless they capture the majority in a winner-take-all democracy.

A lot of conservatives insist they arent using force when acting by majority rule, but it is force just the same when the power of government is used by majorities to take away life, liberty, or property as part of the disciplinary system. The existing majoritarian control system builds class conflict and is the source of eternal wrangling among factions and political parties. To repeat, societal rights are a form of unlimited democracy, which is what makes them so dangerous. The same doctrine of law that allows Christians to implant their moral restrictions upon atheists can be used by atheists to implant their religion upon Christians--depending on who controls the majority.

The entire basis of the American system is that this nation should NOT be a democracy--or even a representative democracy. The best of our founders were adamant that they did not want the majority, no matter how well intentioned, to have power over individual rights. They came upon the radical and correct idea of forming a constitutionally limited, representative democracy within a federation of sovereign states (called a republic)--and the limits they would impose concentrated on not allowing government to violate fundamental rights, no matter how big the majority that controlled government. [If only they had been able to define rights, and apply them to the sovereign states, the constitution would have more fully accomplished the job they originally intended it to do]. Even though the majority of founders were anti-democracy, they failed to foresee the variety of novel ways in which majoritarian forms of democratic rule would later evolve to improperly regulate and control the lives of others.

In contrast to a majoritarian system, a carefully defined system of fundamental rights, does not allow any person to use government to promote its personal values or attack other values--unless there are specific violations of someones rights. Every faction is free to compete peacefully in the private sector or try to gain the bully pulpit of public leadership to make their case, but neither can use direct government funding to do so. In fact, the entire public school controversy over restrictions on religious values would quickly evaporate if we did only one thing--take away the public school monopoly on tax funding and put all schools on the same user fee basis as private schools. Within a very short time, everyone with differing values would start forming schools that served their personal values, and no ones rights would be violated.

Lets take one specific example in law to demonstrate the difficulties the courts would have in dealing with a doctrine of societal rights. I will use the issue of private use of discrete pornography. We could just as well choose prohibition of alcohol, or mandatory seat belt laws. The issues are similar. Fundamental rights proponents argue that as long as there is no specific violation of rights or imminent threat to life, liberty and property (as in drunk driving) people must be allowed to take risks or otherwise corrupt themselves. Social conservatives, in contrast, argue that because there are indirect, long-term effects of personal corruption on families and even society, government should have the power to prohibit personal corruption. They cite increased rape from pornography, increased spousal abuse from alcohol abuse, and increased burdens to public health care systems and welfare from auto accidents where seat belts are not used.

Let me dispose of the public health care burden argument first. To do so, we need to recur to a specific concept in jurisprudence to see the inherent flaw. Lack of seat belt usage really is a victimless act, even though it certainly is risky and unwise. But many things in life involve risk and controversial judgment. Allowing government to mandate safety restrictions for persons knowledgeable of those risks and willing to take them is a very dangerous form of lawmaking power. Using the excuse that the public is a somehow a victim simply because government has decided to treat indigent accident victims without charge is totally fallacious. In the first place, government health care is an unconstitutional and Socialist government program which improperly takes money from all to deliver benefits to a few. But even if we set aside the redistribution violation of property rights, public-funded health care is a non-binding unilateral contract and unenforceable as a means of control and regulation. This is the key issue in jurisprudence.

Unilateral agreements are not generally valid in law. It would be as if your neighbor agreed to voluntarily pay for your health insurance--without your specific consent. The neighbor is certainly free to provide this gift in a unilateral manner, but he has no right whatever to bind your actions because of his gift or dictate to you what you can or cannot do on the grounds that it will increase his self-imposed insurance premiums or his liability. Governments self-imposed offer to treat indigent people of accidents cannot be used to bind all automobile users unless the government has a specific agreement with each driver. Neither is it sufficient to say that everyone is bound because the health care system provisions were determined by majoritarian government. As in the case of two wolves and a sheep voting on dinner, majoritarian rule without the initial consent of all the government is always a violation of the basic law of individual liberty. That is what this document of principles is all about--to establish a basis for law and government that allows for the greatest amount of liberty while still protecting all valid rights from infringement.

Fundamental rights proponents would agree that there are indirect effects of personal corruption, but that it sets a dangerous precedent in law to proscribe personal liberty on the imprecise grounds of indirect effects. The more sure ground of law lies in prosecuting people when they actually cross the line to direct effects and commit a crime. Simply put, not all pornographers become rapists, so prosecute the rapist. Not all alcohol users become drunk drivers, so prosecute drunk driving. Not all alcohol users abuse their family, so prosecute abuse when it occurs. In any system of liberty, some abuse will go undetected for a while, so a strong deterrence is necessary to control indirect effects before they become direct violations of rights.

Social conservatives complain that our current system protecting the individual right of private corruption hasnt acted as a sufficient deterrence to crime. This is true, but the reason is because of a permissive judicial system, controlled by sociologists who resist strong punishment. Even though strong punishments are possible under existing law, they are rarely used and criminals know this. Worse, our welfare-state type prison system has its own brand of evil and corruption that embitters prisoners and provides no restitution for victims. None of this can be blamed on the failure of an individual rights doctrine to provide deterrence. Clearly there needs to be established increased deterrence by dramatically increasing the severity and swiftness of punishment once people cross the line and commit a crime. A point system that effectively keeps track of chronic predation, leading to an eventual death penalty, on points alone, would also increase deterrence across the full range of criminal behavior.

To use indirect effects to justify restrictions on personal liberty, as the social conservatives suggest, creates this dangerous unlimited extension of lawmaking power that all good constitutions are designed to prohibit. Majority rule is always an unlimited power to rule, unless it is restricted by a constitution that specifically limits majoritarian powers in a way that cant be changed at will. Such restraints should not be arbitrary if they are to avoid conflict--and we cannot avoid being arbitrary if we allow the use of subjective value judgments, not related to actual violations of rights, to take life, liberty or property. Our current constitution itself is not a fool-proof barrier to unlimited majority rule since any and every portion can be amended by that majority. The fact that amendments require a super majority wisely increases the level of protection, but hasnt prevented the majority from making some serious errors in the past. If the majority becomes corrupted (as it always does) it must be restrained by law from acting to destroy others rights. Not allowing any constitutional amendment to violate a fundamental right is that essential limitation.

You will notice in the principles presented below, I have made the case for separate family rights as well as individual rights. This would give families a basis to prosecute any intrusion of family sovereignty by pornography and seduction from outside the family unit, without permission. The basis for prosecution of crimes is thus kept on a sound basis of parental rights to be free from being acted upon, harmfully, within their own property.

There remains another issue, however, which cannot be solved so easily --the issue of offensive public behavior or offensive private behavior that spills over (through sound or sight) to other peoples property. This behavior is offensive to people of high moral values but difficult to prove as harmful without using subjective criteria. Examples of these problems are, public nudity, sexually suggestive billboards, outdoor theater screens with R-rated movies, and loud music, etc.

A fundamental rights doctrine permits people to act in self-corrupting ways, as long it stays private and when no one elses rights are violated. But now we must deal with the leakage effects of corrupt behavior when they can be seen or heard by others, who dont wish to be influenced, and where its hard to prove damage or harm. A lot of bad conduct in public is fairly easy to handle. Noise can be limited by a scientific standard of loudness. Smoke or other toxic airborne waste is also subject to fairly objective scientific standards. Other things like morally offensive conduct in language, nudity, or suggestive behavior is difficult to define without being arbitrary, let alone distinguish harm. We can use fundamental rights doctrine as the basis for proscribing public behaviors that can be shown to be harmful. But, if we attempt to lower the barrier of what defines a violation of rights from provable harm to merely being offended by someones conduct, we get into an even bigger problem. To claim a right not to be offended may give someone a right to control almost everything any other person does--which would be a violation of our basic non-conflicting definition of a fundamental right. To include an excessively broad definition of offensive views as a violation of rights would create a nightmare of legal conflict as people would then begin to claim the right to control whatever they can see even beyond the borders of their own property. How does a court adjudicate a right to a view that can be claimed by more than one person? It cant be done. One person may love the color pink for a house, and others may feel offended.

Fundamental rights are based upon non-conflicting criteria that work best at resolving conflict when each person can define his own boundaries, interests and property. Conflicts are resolved by the courts by being able to separate yours and my rights and property. However, in this public dilemma we are dealing with people interacting together, without specific legal boundaries and contractual obligations, without any clear distinction of yours and mine, and in the absence of easily definable harm to anyones rights. For the gray areas of law relative to offensive public conduct, we must look to another solutions--and they are less than perfect under many circumstances

There are two possible solutions. The first is to use the current community standard of conduct imposed on all by a majority of voters--but only where the offense or corruption is public--not private. It has worked pretty well for two centuries, except as it has intruded into the realm of personal privacy. The ever-present danger is that this doctrine allows an evil majority to take control and strip away all current community standards against public corruption, and replacing them with another. In other words, community standards by majority rule are completely mutable and do not offer permanent safety.

The second alternative would be the use of a variety of citizen compacts to gain the voluntary agreement of citizens, either as a whole or as members of local jurisdictions. The first is in place now, and as it deteriorates, people can begin to fall back on the second method--not unlike choosing to live in certain neighborhoods that have covenants and restrictions, agreed upon by each person as they join the neighborhood. These restrictions are purposefully made difficult to change because of the fact that everyone has to sign on as they move into the city or neighborhood where these are in effect. It has been suggested that a slightly lesser standard than absolute unanimity be used to make changes--to avoid allowing any one person to act as a lone holdout.

This second alternative can also be used on a larger scale, even in forming a new government, or a new state. It uses voluntary principles of inducements (trading public limits on behavior for citizenship or other privileges) to establish a national or state standard across a broad sovereign territory. Those that choose to establish even higher standards would be free to do so, as long as it was done by mutual consent within a contiguous land area. Each time a new state or city is created it would have the right to accept the basic national standard or create a new set of covenants that could be more or less restrictive than the basic national standard. The higher or lower community standards would be binding only upon those who choose to live in that jurisdiction. People can then choose the degree of community standard restriction they want in public affairs by the community they select. Private liberties would still be protected everywhere, as long as they stayed private. Over time, the covenant community system leads to a more peaceful set of diverse but internally homogeneous communities. In contrast, as we are seeing in the present, the majoritarian system leads to increasing class struggle within each city as competing ideologies seek to control the majoritarian levers of power.


The Constitution was a wonderful, great leap forward in limiting government power. It provided a mechanism that slowed down the inexorable march of majoritarian power and corruption for at least 100 years. As a matter of historical fact, however, the Constitution was under assault to expand the powers of government from the moment it became the law of the land. In its present interpreted and amended form the Constitution is much changed from the original, some things for the better and many changes for the worse.

As to the question of how we can use the present Constitution to restore the full range of liberties, we come face to face with several complex problems. The first is the question of which version of the Constitution best represents the founders intent or preserves liberty? Do we go back to the original version with no Bill of Rights, or do we accept the second version with the first 12 Amendments--a partial Bill of Civil Rights? But keep in mind that the second version with the Bill of Rights possessed the fatal flaw of exempting the states from adhering to those rights. For the next 100 years the states were the prime violators of rights, engendering a huge public demand for expanded federal powers to control state predation. Or do we accept the 1868 version, with the Fourteenth Amendment, including the incorporation doctrine--the strained interpretation by the courts that brought the states under the requirements of the Bill of Rights? While this did curtail much state mischief, it also allowed the courts to add new rights paving the way for government programs mandating the right to an abortion or public access, without discrimination, to private business property. How about the version of law after 1913 giving us the onerous income tax? You see the problem. There is no single time or version when the Constitution served as a fully effective shield. The earlier versions had more loopholes, and the later versions allowed for more false rights and government power.

What is most critical to our constitutional dilemma is the fact that the founders failed to come up with an adjudicable definition of fundamental rights. No document can protect for long what it fails to define. There were no listings of definitions of anything in the document. As to rights, the founders were fearful of listing any rights lest they leave something out (as directly expressed in the 9th Amendment), which is a consequence of not having a working definition. They relied, instead, on the limited delegation of power concept imposed upon federal government to act as the primary wall of protection. However, as the anti-federalists predicted, and as history has confirmed, this turned out to be entirely inadequate in light of interpretations by an activist Congress and Supreme Court.

The first 10 amendments of the Constitution, termed a Bill of Rights, were added as the first acts of the new Congress, but many of these were not true fundamental rights, but merely a listing of the common law civil rights that Madison and others (particularly George Mason) had extracted from British law. While not complete, they did offer specific protections against common historical abuses at the time, but were far from comprehensive. Even worse, without a restraining definition, the courts continue to add other rights by interpretation that, in fact, turn out to be violations of real fundamental rights.

Consider the tenth amendment which was specifically written to shore up the founders intent to restrict the expansion of federal powers: The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States, respectively, or to the people. It hasnt held up for two reasons. First, it has generally been outright disregarded by Congress and an activist Supreme Court. Sadly, the founders system of checks and balances did not anticipate the numerous factions and conspiracies that government power would both facilitate and harbor. These powerful groups have effectively controlled all three branches of government for many years, thus eliminating the substance of the separation of powers. Second, the 10th Amendment failed to delineate between the residual powers reserved to the States...or to the people. Naturally, the states would have grabbed most of those undefined residual powers and left nothing for the individual had it not been for the Supreme Court. Regardless, the line of demarcation between states rights and individual rights cannot be determined without a working definition of fundamental rights, which the founders did not attempt. The courts have carved out some clarification of rights for the individual--but without any guiding principles, what we have ended up with is a partial list of civil rights mixed with left-leaning political interpretations and restrictions.

There were other major holes in the wall of constitutional protection. Besides the major flaws already mentioned other deficiencies are:

A federal revenue system--originally dependent wholly on tariffs and duties, and now upon income taxes, that violates a host of economic and privacy rights. Tariffs violate economic rights by distorting prices unfairly between external and internal commerce.

The granting of a virtual monopoly to the federal postal system making it immune from competition.

Failing to properly define and limit fiat money (except for the states) and prohibit fraudulent banking practices by government--a serious omission leading to the first major constitutional crisis after ratification.

Allowing for unlimited amendments to the constitutions, such that there are no ultimate protections against a corrupted majority attacking essential liberties by amendment.

Failing to provide for any requirements of citizenship except for immigrants. Without a basic knowledge of the principles of liberty coupled with a sworn commitment to uphold the Constitution, politicians and public education has bred an increasingly ignorant and benefit-corrupted electorate that continues to vote for representatives who do not understand or who are hostile to many aspects of liberty.

A judicial system, which has taken advantage of the general language of the Constitution to erode property rights, economic rights, the rights to association and disassociation, to take risks, to be responsible for ones own safety, and the rights of families over the matters of health, welfare and education of their children.

One of the greatest problems we face in taking a strictly constitutional approach to reform is that the Constitution fails to limit, at the state and local level, the governments power to mandate the taking of everyones private property to fund welfare schemes and public education. Public education has turned out to be the Trojan Horse that has slowly corrupted, culturally and politically, the majority of citizens. Armed with doctrines of social democracy, modern citizens regularly use the power of the vote to improperly harness the property of others for their own pet purposes. Conservatives who think they can take back government fail to realize that there is a huge constituency for this kind of bad law, doling out special privileges in education, racial preferences, and environmental takings--things which can no longer be overturned by the electoral process since they have the majority. There is no substitute for constitutional restriction against majoritarian tyranny--and those restrictions can only be born out of universal principles--not social values that should remain in the realm of free debate.

Explanatory note: The principles are presented in italics and my commentary in regular type in brackets.


A. Governments can only derive their just powers from the sovereign powers of their individual members. [There are two basic forms of authority to initiate government: 1) force (man or God) or 2) voluntary mutual cooperation. Since God has not intervened to mandate a secular government and we reject the imposition of force by man as a proper basis of initial authority, we are left with mutual cooperation as the basis for government. Inherent in the concept of voluntary cooperation is the fact that all the forming parties come to the table on an equal basis--each person sovereign in his claims of liberty insofar as those claims do not force others to serve his needs].

B. All persons are rightfully sovereign over those affairs, which do not infringe upon the rights of others. [This is the basic criteria for a non-conflicting cooperation. Notice that I do not use the words harm other people, or conflict with other people. There are examples where peoples exercise of their freedom can do economic harm to or conflict with people without violating any rights. For example, painting your house a wild color can potentially lower the value of your neighbors house, but since your neighbor has no right to any predetermined value on his home, no rights have been violated. Economic values are determined in the eye of the beholder and by negotiation with potential buyers, so the seller does not have a right to enforce a fixed value on others. If we were to use the words harm or conflict in limiting sovereignty, there would exist many unsolvable legal challenges to sovereignty. By tying sovereignty to a distinct definition of rights (Principle #3), more protection is afforded against arbitrary claims of offense].


C. All persons reaching an age and ability to take care of themselves and be responsible for their actions can claim status as sovereign individuals. [This provides the basic criteria for determining who can exercise sovereignty. Its wording is general, which is sufficient to guide lawmaking, but not so specific as to cause problems. For example, if I had chosen an age and ability to be completely self-sufficient one might be able to attack anyones claim to be a sovereign individual. Who can be totally self-sufficient indefinitely? Responsibility for actions is an essential part, however. Sovereign entities must never be able to use sovereignty to evade compensating others for damages that occur as a result of their use of liberty. This criteria will also serve as a basic guide to lawmakers who may wish to define a specific minimum age or responsibility level when children can claim independent status from their families and join the ranks of sovereign individuals].



A. Families, composed of a man and a woman and their natural or legally adopted children, act as a special sovereign unit over the health, welfare and education of their children until such children reach the age or capability of exercising individual sovereignty and self-responsibility. [It is precisely due to the existence of children, who cannot yet exercise individual sovereignty, that we must carve out a special form of sovereignty for the family. If we do not give families sovereign status, there is no basis in individual rights theory to stop the state from asserting a preeminent caretaker status in the guise of protecting children--as it does in our current legal system. Even though the definition of the family is becoming fuzzy with artificial insemination of children, I feel we must rely on the basic biological fact that no child can be engendered without the male and female components, which are traceable in origin to the parents for purposes of sharing responsibility. This definition is not intended to say that families only exist when both parents are present, but that only a man and a woman having a child trigger the creation of a family unit. All other artificial forms of the family are creations of the state, and liable to the state. The family unit, including the subsequent responsibilities of parents, still exists and is binding upon both even if parents separate or never live together in the first place. Marriage that doesnt involve children does not need this separate form of sovereignty since both parties to a marriage are protected by the individual right of contract. Unfaithfulness to the marriage covenant under this doctrine would be prosecuted as a breach of contract].

B. Families, therefore, possess the ultimate authority over the health, welfare and education of their children unless the actions of the parents constitute an actual or imminent threat to the life of the child. [This principle confronts the major question of who has the ultimate authority over children, the parents or the state--and if parents, what are the limits of that sovereignty? I believe it is always dangerous to give the state the ultimate authority over children, short of a life-threatening situation--especially in areas of normal health and education. Despite the growing problem of abuse or the potential problem of neglect, if we are going to allow leeway in the law, we need to defer to the family. Recent patterns of state intervention in families are showing an increasing hostility toward parental freedom to choose in areas of physical discipline, rejection of establishment medical procedures (including psycho-therapeutic drugs), and religious indoctrination.

The state even claims, under the guise of the state interest doctrine, that it can control the education of children, which is extremely dangerous to parental rights. As one tough-minded home schooling parent told a judge, I dont care if the state claims an interest in my childrens education, I have the ultimate interest and authority! The growing hostility of the courts to this simple doctrine is disturbing and needs reinforcement in a founding principle of law. I am proposing raising the barrier of state intervention into the family to actual or imminent threat to the life of the child. It is a high barrier, and it will permit some mild abuse. If there is any doubt or suspicion, judges almost always defer to state authorities. Parents are often forced to meet arbitrary requirements as a condition of regaining custody--often including consent to questionable psychological counseling and drug therapy for their children. The courts should never be involved prescribing treatment--only prosecuting actual violations for serious abuse or life-threatening neglect. Because there is a growing hostility of establishment authorities to family rights and strict religious upbringing, the burden of proof for abuse or neglect should always remain upon the state. There is an addition safety valve against abuse as well. Children have the clear right to leave an abusive home at any time, and seek voluntary foster care, before the level of abuse approaches life-threatening consequences. This is an important option in problems of sexual abuse].

C. Once new life is conceived, in a consensual relationship, a family unit is formed, and both parents must accept responsibility for the care and upbringing of the child until it reaches the age and ability of exercising individual sovereignty. [This principle establishes a new and formidable barrier against abortion and neglect. It bases the requirement for parental responsibility on the principles of liability for consequences of consensual acts. Individual right-to-life arguments are valid even for a fetus, in my opinion, but they get mired down in the question of whether or not the fetus is an individual capable of claiming rights. In the liability argument all that has to be shown is that the consensual act engendered a new living entity and that the persons responsible must bear the consequences of their actions. Just as a person who impacts another persons property with his car is not free to walk away from the responsibility, so a man and a woman, engaging in a consensual act that creates new life, are not free to walk away from that responsibility or otherwise destroy that life, unless the life of the mother is truly endangered. This argument avoids the issue of when the life is viable. Initiating a new life marks the beginning of the resultant liability.

Under this doctrine, rape does not trigger any liability on the part of the victim--only upon the perpetrator. In the case of the mother and child where neither party is at fault, we do have a conflict of rights. The solution to abort a child would not necessarily have the sanction of law, however. The case should be judged on a different standard of law--one that addresses the relative burden of harm to each party when there is a conflict of rights and no one is at fault. Note that the impact of the fetus upon the innocent mother is only temporary and not generally harmful, whereas the impact of an abortion on the innocent fetus is permanent and fatal].


A. Fundamental rights are those rights that all persons can claim simultaneously without forcing others to serve them. [The definition does not require a fixed listing of rights, but rather provides a two-prong test which can be applied to any action that someone claims as a right. The first criteria is simultaneity of action. Even though this rarely happens in life, it establishes a theoretical and mental framework to more easily determine if conflict will result from competing claims. The second criteria fulfills the core element of non-conflicting rights--no one being able to claim a right that requires some form of involuntary servitude, whether personal, financial or use of someones assets. I have purposely chosen involuntary servitude as the standard rather than harm or conflict. It is more precise and easy to determine, as mentioned earlier, and does not create false rights based upon the sometimes ethereal concept of harm. Physical harm is not too difficult to define but aesthetic, spiritual or psychological harm are hard to prove and requires considerable judgment.

The most common false rights claimed by democratic socialists are the rights to a job, an education or health care. But each of these clearly violates the definition. All people cannot simultaneously claim any of these without forcing others to provide the facilities, the salaries and the working materials.

In contrast, the most commonly derived true rights from this definition are life, liberty and property. Each of these traditional rights qualifies under the definition, as long as certain non-conflicting conditions are added. The universal qualifier is: as long as the rights of others are not violated. The right to life therefore is not absolute. If a person is engaged in attacking another without justifiable self-defense, the aggressors life would be rightfully in jeopardy. The right to life does not mean that society is obliged to keep you alive--that would violate the second criteria. It only assures that no one can rightfully take it from you, as long as you are not acting so as to violate any other persons rights.

Personal liberty of action is a universal right until one begins to infringe on anothers right. All persons can claim property and hold physical assets as long as these things were acquired by voluntary contractual relationships or the application of unique labor and improvements to unowned land (not first claimed by others).

As far as categorizing rights, a good logician could probably extract all necessary rights from one--the right to Life, but the mental gymnastics would be somewhat tedious and difficult for the common person to follow. We must also avoid the temptation to add so many categories that it becomes complicated. I will list two more categories to the basic three already mentioned, which I consider essential to thwart common violations by government--excessive intrusion into family affairs and the denial of private arms for self-defense.

Having a right to family sovereignty over the affairs of children is essential to avoid trying to carve out a complete doctrine of individual rights for children, having no ability to be independent nor responsible for self. The right of self-defense is essential to the existence of all other rights. No claim to a right is meaningful without enforcement power--first and foremost by the person possessing the right. No person should have to rely totally upon others, including government, for defense of his rights. A suggested definition of this right should include the right to possess private arms in the defense of self, family and others; and the right to use the appropriate force necessary to eliminate the threat.

Corollaries to the right to life would be the right to be free from physical attack by others (when not engaged in criminal behavior) or even freedom from harmful pollutants emanating from anothers property (if shown to be harmful).

Corollary rights under personal liberty would be the right of contract with willing parties, the right to take risks, and the freedom to engage in any economic endeavor as long as others rights are not violated.

Corollary rights of private property are interesting because certain rights that are normally considered absolute (like freedom of speech) are actually not absolute except when linked to private or contractual property rights. Property rights would also include the right to freedom of association or disassociation on your own property, freedom of expression, privacy (including freedom from search and surveillance when not violating any persons rights), and freedom from physical or regulatory takings of property by government. Notice that there is no unrestricted freedom of expression on other peoples property or even on public property. Personal actions on public property are governed by fundamental rights or, in cases of indeterminate rights, by rules and norms of the local citizen compact or community standards as determined by mutual consent of the governed.

B. Fundamental rights are superior to all other earthly law and should never be made subject to majority rule. No law or claim of state sovereignty to enforce a law is valid if the law constitutes a violation of any fundamental right. [If a right is truly fundamental, then no other person or government can rightfully violate it, even by law. A constitution alone would be insufficient to protect those rights if that constitution is capable of being amended by majority rule. Rights must never be subjected to a vote. They must be declared and agreed upon by mutual consent].

C. Fundamental rights are best secured by a citizen compact where all parties agree to recognize and defend those rights. [Since it is improper to subject fundamental rights to a vote, the only way to secure those rights is by forming a unanimous covenant of all participants, akin to the Mayflower Compact. In this case, I use the term citizen compact since it would be the basic signature document that all citizens would have to agree to upon when forming a government. In terms of practical implementation, it doesnt mean that a government cant be formed until every possible person agrees, but rather, that we form a government with the largest possible circle of agreement we can achieve at a given time and place, and treat other non-participants as free foreigners, inviting them to join when they want the benefits of the protections that the new government offers. Any new society that truly protects the broadest range of fundamental rights will eventually win out over competing societies that violate rights. This will be described more fully in Principle #10.

A variety of citizen compacts, all emanating from one basic national pact can also resolve the major differences in religious background in a pluralist society. Most conservatives recognize that this nation was founded as a Christian nation. This is true, for the most part, even though there were many non-religious people who were part of the American Revolution. Today, imposing the concept of a Christian nation upon non-believers would be highly resisted and improper. Religion has lost significantly more ground in recent years, and every group who perceives itself as the silent majority is struggling to control the majoritarian system that gives almost total power to whoever controls the electoral process. If a national government is formed with a basic compact that only sets out basic, bare-minimum community standards for public behavior, and each religious section of society is allowed to establish more restrictive religious covenants, by mutual agreement in contiguous territory, then a variety of differences in society can be accommodated without each one trying to oppress the other.]


A. The formation of a government with enforcement powers is an extension of two specific fundamental rights--the right to contract with willing parties and the right to act in self-defense of fundamental rights. [This concept is derived from the assumption that the only legitimate form of government (in the absence of a clear, divine mandate to all people on earth) is a cooperative government formed by free men possessing equal fundamental rights. A cooperative form of government cannot possess any right that its individual members do not possess].

B. In forming and authorizing a government to enhance the right of self-defense, the individual does not cede nor limit any fundamental rights except as specifically agreed upon. [This statement counters one of the prevailing doctrines of those opposed to the right to bear arms--that there is a presumed social compact entered into by each person who is born a citizen. Proponents say the implied contract dictates that, each citizen relinquishes his right of self-defense to government, for the sake of order. This sounds nice, but it is bad doctrine. Presumed social compacts are whatever the government says they are. Only specific agreements entered into by all citizens can rightfully limit the exercise of fundamental rights. Otherwise, who is to decide what rights are presumed to be limited in a social compact?]

C. Thus, a government that is granted enforcement powers and is governed by majority rule should only be formed by initial unanimous consent of those to be governed by such. [This point was previously explained.]

D. A proper government is controlled by a constitution that limits majoritarian powers and establishes a sovereign nation composed of sovereign states that jointly and severally protects our rights through a republican form of government. [A Republican form of government is a government ruled by elected representatives of the people, within a federation of several sovereign states, whose majoritarian powers are strictly limited by a constitution to the defense of fundamental rights. This principle expresses the American concept that lawmaking power should be limited by a constitution and that power should be diffused among sovereign territories (states) under a federal government that, in turn, takes its place as a sovereign nation among the nations of the world. This system provides a federation of cooperating sovereign entities. Each sovereign state has the right to establish a unique citizen compact for its members, with community standards of public conduct that may differ from state to state. Even though the principles herein espoused eliminate most of the conflicts within law, there is still a role for the concept of competing governments, that attract adherents according to the specific judgments and standards developed under the overall umbrella of fundamental rights, guaranteed nationally. When there are multiple competing sovereign states, like multiple private schools, citizens can choose the state and local community that best represents their taste in community standards and efficiency in governmental administration.]


A. A governments only proper role of enforcement power is to defend the fundamental rights of the persons joining together to form, authorize and support such government. [This statement forces all law to seek its basis in fundamental rights and effectively prohibits government from drifting off into areas of regulating and protecting people from themselves and from other harmful decisions that dont involve violations of fundamental rights. It also declares that non-participants dont qualify to have their rights protected, except by their own fundamental right of self-defense. This is one of the inducements to join in a cooperative government and help pay for its legitimate expenses.]

B. All levels of government must be strictly limited in their respective legislative and enforcement powers to those powers specifically granted to them by the citizens of each jurisdiction which do not violate the fundamental rights of individuals. [In other words, there must exist no unlimited powers of lawmaking in any portion of the Republic. All levels of government must trace their just powers to a grant by all of the citizens of each jurisdiction, and that grant of power is always limited by the doctrine of fundamental rights.]

C. Governments may also act as a cooperative enterprise in behalf of any portion of its citizens, as long as such services are provided exclusively on a user-fee or voluntary donation basis. [Under this doctrine, governments may provide cooperative schools, hospitals, or engage in business ventures as long as no public funds are used to fund them in any way. Government, when not acting in its enforcement role, is no different than any other business co-op--as long as it is funded with user fees and private donations. In this manner government isnt unfairly competing with the private sector.]


A. Within the proper limitations of government powers, an effective government will be structured so that representation will reflect both territoriality and population. [This point reflects the wisdom of the founders in the great compromise dividing representation between territoriality for the Senate and population for the House of Representatives.]

B. In addition, to avoid concentrations of power, at each level of government, there should be a separation of executive powers, legislative powers, judicial powers, and those oversight powers retained by the citizens. [This principle acknowledges another of the founders great principles--the separation of power at the federal level--but also suggests that such a separation be implemented at the state level as well. It also directly addresses oversight powers of the citizens themselves so as to be able to override potential collusion within the 3 branches of government, which is particularly threatening at this time.]

C. Each separate jurisdiction of government, including citizens, should have investigative and enforcement powers to ensure access to truth, expose corruption, and enforce compliance within their proper and respective realms of authority. [One of the weaknesses of the Constitutions separation of power is the lack of enforcement and investigative powers on the part of the Judiciary. Even the Congress has no enforcement powers except that of impeachment. The bar has been raised so high on impeachment that Congress has little power to enforce its investigative authority.

In one particular case, President F. D. Roosevelt took direct advantage of the judiciarys weakness by refusing to abide by one of its rulings. It set the world on notice that the court had no power to enforce any of its rulings, or do basic fact-finding on issues of compliance. As for citizen oversight, citizens have been given (by Congress) a minor power to investigate government through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), but are powerless to break through the governments improper use of secrecy to hide all illegal acts from discovery through ultimate control of the FOIA procedure. The courts almost always refuse to assist the citizens in penetrating this control.]


A. In criminal proceedings, equal justice through due process of constitutional law should be provided all citizens and residents. Due process should always include the right of the accused to have ready access, in person, to a representative of his choice to prepare a defense, the right to a speedy and public hearing on the cause for detention, and timely trial not to exceed a certain time limit from the time of detention. [This principle sustains the two bedrock principles of traditional law--equal justice and due process for every accused person. The language establishing the rights of the accused are important to ensure that each prisoners condition is capable of being known outside the justice system, and that a speedy and public trial is mandated. The time limits for a speedy hearing and trial are essential to avoid the grave injustice of wrongful imprisonment or refusal by the government to yield up the prisoner (Habeas Corpus).]

B. The accused should be considered as innocent as the current level of credible evidence permits. [Even though everyone thinks we presently act under the dictum of innocent until proven guilty this is not completely true. Judgments about bail, tendency to flight, and danger to society, always involve some determination of the credibility of the evidence, and the seriousness of the crime at the initial hearing. This replacement language states the conditional principle of innocence more plainly.]

C. Access to the courts to defend ones fundamental rights, in criminal cases, should never be denied due to inability to pay, although the assessment of reasonable user fees and fines are appropriate once guilt and blame are established. Access to the courts for civil proceedings may be limited to those who sustain and support the legal system. It is inappropriate for the Courts, in either criminal or civil matters, to grant court-approved representatives the exclusive power to represent persons before the court. [While access should not be denied due to inability to pay, neither does this principle mandate unlimited taxpayer support for court-appointed attorneys, which have less than a stellar record for fair representation. There are other partial solutions, such as in D below, where the judge himself is responsible to make sure the rights of both parties are secured. Other solutions would include a loan fund for the indigent accused that would be paid back by the user in prison-work fare programs, so as not to present a burden to taxpayers. The support qualification mentioned in civil proceedings is important so that non-participants cannot claim the same level of access to the system as citizen taxpayers. A fair user fee would be the appropriate remedy.]

D. Punishment for infractions of law should be uniformly applied to all offenses of similar threat to fundamental rights. Punishments should be fair, proportional to the offense, provide deterrence, provide restitution to victims by the perpetrators, and remove permanently from society chronic offenders who refuse to control their predation upon others. [The principle of uniformity, qualified by the violation of rights test, differs from the current danger to society test, which often is used more today to heavily penalize anyone who presents a challenge to the government or court system itself (tax protesters, constitutionalists, government whistleblowers), instead of focusing on criminal threats to the public. The list of criteria herein for proper punishment is meant to establish fairness and increase the deterrent effect of the judicial system. The principle of removing chronic offenders of any category permanently from society can mean life imprisonment, the death penalty or even banishment. Providing an ultimate penalty for recidivism, even among petty criminals will have a powerful deterrent effect as well. To facilitate victim restitution and reduce the burden on taxpayers, a vigorous prison work system should be instituted.]

E. All prosecution of criminal acts should be tried before a judge and citizen jury, trained in the applicable law, where the judge is responsible to ensure that rights of all parties are protected and the jury has the power to judge the facts of the case, the applicability of the law to the particular case, and the appropriate punishment. Access to a jury trial should be an absolute right for all criminal cases and an absolute option for civil cases, where the parties to the case are willing to accept their share of the appropriate user fees. [It is my belief that both judges and juries should be trained in the applicable law, so that those who make the final judgments on guilt are less likely to be influenced by bad arguments on sophisticated issues outside their area of expertise. The history of jury manipulation and excessive control by judges through restrictive jury instructions leads me to the conclusion that juries must possess the ultimate authority to judge both the application of the law to the situation and the facts of the case.]


A. Government should be financed by general taxes only for universal services that are directly related to the defense of fundamental rights of all and that render no specific benefit to an individual or group constituting less than the whole. [This one principle would do more to stop the power of government to redistribute wealth than any other. It would also provide a major obstacle to political corruption since no politician would be able to promise direct benefits to any individual or group. This principle was the basis for the original general welfare clause of the Constitution--which had nothing to do with welfare benefits and everything to do with restricting government to those things which related to the defense of everyones rights.]

B. User fees must be employed to cover all costs, and only those costs, for any direct government services or benefits to individuals, groups, and such user fees should be applied to those same services, which produce the fee. [The principle of user fees allows government to offer cooperative and selective services to less than the whole, as needed, without violating the property rights of the general taxpayer. Restricting user fees to actual government costs effectively prohibits legislatures from tacking on new and unrelated taxes and calling them user fees.]

C. A mix of general tax revenues and user fees is appropriate to support a single government service which provides both a general protection of rights and a specific legal or other service to an individual or group. [This is most appropriate for civil trials in the judicial sector, as well as where there are mixed-use benefits to public commercial enterprises like seaports, airports, and use of the commons--oceans, airwaves, and space, etc.]

D. The type of taxation employed should be directly levied upon the persons or properties protected by government services. [The two primary entities protected by the military and police powers of government are people and property (which includes land, buildings, factories, and farms). A truly fair tax system will directly tax those entities in proportion to how much they benefit from government defense and administrative services. Any other form of taxation, no matter how convenient to tax is a violation of someones rights.]

E. Taxation should never be allowed on commerce, income, inheritance or gifts. Neither should taxes be hidden within an economic price, interfere with or distort economic processes, or force any person to pay a higher proportion of taxes when no higher protection is required from government services. [The greatest way to keep government expansion in check is by keeping the cost of government up front and painful to the taxpayer. The prohibition against todays common forms of taxation effectively forces government to tax openly and directly the people and property directly protected.]

F. There must be no taxation without representation and no form of taxation voted upon with majoritarian powers should be valid unless applied to all citizens and residents. [The intent of this principle is to stop the human tendency to tax the other guy by seeking to add other types of taxes on products that have no majority constituency in the legislature to protest.

G. No state should be allowed to incur a budget deficit and no deficit should be allowed at the national level except in time of declared war. All government liabilities and expenditures should be included in the budget. [Government should only be allowed to spend what the citizens are willing to pay for each year. A nation must have the power to save itself in wartime, even if it means extensive borrowing, but that deficit should be limited to the principles of debt in H. Todays governments distort and hide their real financial condition with a variety of accounting tricks. Everything should be up front and transparent.]

H. Total indebtedness should not exceed a certain percentage of total annual tax revenue of any government entity (perhaps, 10%) and every separate debt issue should be retired within 10 years so that those who vote for it pay for its retirement. No tax burden should be shifted to the next generation through debt or unfunded entitlement programs. [Debt is a form of future taxation and is an insidious form of government funding because it makes the expenditure seem less painless than it is. A tight time and quantity limitation on debt is important to avoid the threat of exceeding a nations solvency, or violating the prohibition against transferring a debt to the next generation without their consent.]


A. Military and police power of government should only be used to prosecute and punish actual violations of fundamental rights of its citizens, or imminent threats to those rights, whether foreign or domestic. [This language restates the basic principle that all police actions must be tied directly to the defense of someones rights or the rights of the nation as a whole. Military intervention prior to enemy action is appropriate under the very limited circumstances of imminent threat--a strict legal term meaning that a lethal threat poses a real and present danger.]

B. Citizens should be secure in their privacy from government search, intrusion, surveillance, and seizure except when credible evidence exists of a crime against fundamental rights or an imminent threat to liberty. [This presents the basis for constitutional language that would require that a warrant be issued by a judge before a search or seizure could take place. It should also be required that police must have the warrant available for inspection, naming a specific person or place to be searched and detailing the evidence justifying the warrant. Too often, the Constitutions strict language on warrants is totally disregarded. Surveillance is also routinely conducted without any warrant. Thus, government agents must be held strictly liable for the violation of these limitations on police intrusion.]

C. Government power to enforce secrecy should not be applied to the specific knowledge any person may have concerning crimes committed by government officials. [This principle directly addresses the major reason why government illegal activities continue unabated despite numerous attempts to discover them--laws and penalties for violating a governments national security mandate are entirely one-sided, aimed at suppressing the testimony of any agent who threatens to blow the whistle on illegal activities. Despite lip service to whistle blowing laws, agents have little effective recourse to overturn or object to secrecy orders covering government illegal activities when the courts often refuse to side with government critics.]

D. Officers of government should not have immunity from acts committed by themselves or by others under their knowing supervision that violate the fundamental rights of others. [Immunity, coupled with excessive powers over secrecy, allows powerful forces for evil to grow up under the mantel of government enforcement. The excuse that police or military are only following orders has lead to historys greatest human holocausts. Military command and control is important but it must never be used to create a cadre of abject yes-men, as was the case in Germany, Russia, and now America. There is no substitute for ample training of every government agent, including military personnel, to know when their actions constitute a violation of fundamental rights. Only the threat of personal liability will make sure each is motivated to learn the law and keep it high on his list of priorities.]

E. In Foreign affairs, any assistance in behalf of liberty given to other nations or peoples, where a significant threat to this nations rights cannot be demonstrated, should be encouraged and allowed by government, but carried out by voluntary measures. [This principle prohibits tax-payer assisted military involvement in foreign wars where no direct threat to our nations liberties can be demonstrated. It also establishes the right of volunteers to help with private arms and manpower. Presently the US uses the Neutrality Act to prohibit all private assistance to freedom movements.]

F. No citizens or residents of this nation should be allowed to use the shield of government protection of fundamental rights herein to undermine the efforts of other foreign persons seeking to establish similar fundamental rights. [This point does allow government to prohibit US citizens from using this nation as a base of operations to foment or assist revolutions against liberty.]


A. Citizenship should be by covenant and qualification rather than by birth alone, whereby the fundamental rights of citizens, voluntary limitations on those rights, and the duties and responsibilities of both citizens and government are clearly specified. [The concept of citizenship by qualification solves the greatest and most persistent internal threat to liberty--an ignorant populace with the power to vote themselves benefits without any understanding of the law or the principles necessary to maintain liberty. The two most prevalent causes of citizen ignorance are a controlled media and a controlled system of public education. By requiring all potential voting citizens to pass a test on law and government, each person has an inducement to get whatever education is required to pass the test.

Without such a test, conservatives have to compete with Socialists for control of education in order to ensure a knowledgeable voting public. But with a test of understanding, citizenship itself serves to induce all people to seek out the necessary information on liberty in order to qualify. I believe strongly that linking knowledge of liberty to citizenship is a more viable solution than trying to control peoples education, which in and of itself, is a violation of liberty. Besides, the battle to control education has not been successful and shows little hope for improvement, given the high percentage of the public (including conservatives) that has become addicted to the tax monopoly funding of public education. This welfare benefit allows their children to receive education funding for lavish buildings and programs far in excess of the taxes they personally pay.

The citizenship test needs to be extensive and complete so that all citizens understand the full range of what constitutes bad law and illegal actions. But it need not be tricky, complex or difficult. The questions can even be known in advance so that people can openly prepare for the test. The tests purpose is not to stop good people from becoming citizens, but to ensure no one becomes a citizen with the power to vote without having the requisite understanding of how to maintain liberty.

There are other essential things that can be done in the context of a citizenship compact that are equally useful in establishing a government that maintains fundamental rights and moral values without doing so through the dangers of majority rule. For example, the citizenship compact is the appropriate place for all citizens to sign on to the recognition to fundamental rights, to take a pledge not to violate those rights, and agree to some voluntary limitations of those rights, for example, taking part in jury duty, a citizen militia or a limited military wartime draft; accepting some very limited eminent domain takings of property for public purposes (with compensation); and agreeing to basic community standards of decency in public. Each of these functions I have listed are problem areas when implemented by the force of law without the consent of those whose lives and property are used involuntarily or taken by government.]

B. It is, therefore, proper to establish other classifications of residence for the protection and training of those not yet qualified for citizenship. [The purpose of this form of citizenship by qualification is to offer citizens a higher level of protection and privilege in society in exchange for a higher level of knowledge and commitment to preserve liberty. Since this form of citizenship is not imposed upon unwilling participants, it must be structured to offer inducements for others to join so that the circle of supporters is ever-increasing. Citizenship privileges offer one of the major inducements for people to join and qualify. It is therefore appropriate to have lesser categories of resident or visitor for those who have not yet qualified or who do not wish to do so.

Residents and visitors would not have a free ride, however. They would pay different types of taxes and user fees than most citizens if they wanted to have access to any public services or public property. In like manner, not having joined the covenant as a citizen, they most likely would not have access to any public property governed by the new government unless they at least agreed to the community standards on public behavior and paid appropriate user fees. There must, of necessity, be some disadvantages to remaining in a resident status so that people have the incentive to move up to citizenship, but the differences must not be so onerous as to make being a resident a non-viable choice. I think there is even room to allow residents to have some limiting voting rights on local issues (especially taxes) that directly affect them, as well.

One of the most important differences between citizen and non-citizen might be a restriction from owning titled property, a privilege only extended to citizens. Residents and visitors could own the full range of normal goods but would have to rent housing, cars, businesses or certain investments that are defended by legal title. This is not an onerous difference since all responsible people can easily become citizens should they want to own titled property. What the restriction does do is induce all industrious people to qualify for citizenship and to link increased privilege with increased responsibility for maintaining liberty.

This is simply an overview of the basic concept. The details of implementation would require much careful thought and discussion. Non-participants with the new government always have the full range of private fundamental rights that all men possess that pre-date any new government, including property rights, but they would not be able to have those property rights defended by the new government unless they agreed to come into the compact as a citizen. Those who chose to stay completely outside the system would be considered foreigners and have to rely on their own fundamental right of self-defense.

This form of citizenship also helps solve one of the major problems in a world of open markets and free trade, where an unequal balance of payments results between different trading countries. Currently foreign holders of dollars evade purchasing American products and choose instead to buy up portions of America itself: government debt, land, capital and business enterprises. Since all of these are titled property, under this new proposal they would be restricted to citizens only. Foreign buyers would not be able to buy up the capital assets of America unless they became citizens. In this way, either they become committed to our version of liberty through the citizenship qualification process, or they apply their excess dollars to American products. In both cases, liberty wins.]

C. Children of citizens fall under the protection of their parents citizenship until reaching an age or ability to become self-responsible, or they become disqualified by criminal or rebellious behavior. [Children of citizens (or residents, for that matter) automatically come under the respective category of protection that their parents possess. Thus, children are fully protected under the umbrella of their parents citizenship, but arent considered citizens themselves until they qualify. Once reaching the minimum age to apply for citizenship, they would become residents until they otherwise qualify for personal citizenship status.]


A. All citizens should be free to own and possess the means of effective personal protection and to use appropriate force to protect life and property from harm when police forces are not immediately available or willing to help. [This language is extremely effective in recognizing a broad degree of power for the individual in the exercise of his right of self-defense. It does not specifically limit the types of arms a person may possess, though a citizen may agree to do so in the citizen compact. It allows the use of force to defend both life and property, and is not contingent upon permission from police.]

B. Citizens acting in self-defense of fundamental rights should use only the force necessary to eliminate the perceived threat. [This presents the basic principle of how much force is appropriate. It focuses on the issue of the threat, as seen through the eyes of the one threatened. Naturally, specific kinds of force would be more clearly defined in constitutional and statutory law.]

C. A privately armed citizenry also serves as a proper counter-force and deterrence to government tyranny. [This principle recognizes the legitimate role that an armed citizenry has in deterring government tyranny. This is essential since the threat of government tyranny is very real today, but carefully hidden.]


A. All non-coercive values should be free to compete for adherents in both private and public domains, with government serving only in its role of maintaining public order. [This principle establishes that government is not to promote or detract from the private or public competition of ideas, but is only to ensure public order and to ensure that neither side has use of the public purse nor enforcement powers to promote its position as stated in B.

B. Government should never use general revenues or its lawmaking power to establish or promote any system of belief except that which directly protects fundamental rights or which is agreed upon by all participants in a citizen compact covering community standards of public conduct. [This principle adds the concept that governments can only go beyond fundamental rights to enforce some limited community standards of public conduct (not private) as long as all citizens who form the government have agreed to those standards. In this case fairness would dictate that only a reasonable set of community standards is going to be capable of engendering wide support. That is why excluding private conduct is an important element of gaining wide acceptance among people who are not totally moral by Gods standards, but recognize the wisdom of keeping such conduct to themselves and not flaunting it in public. One must be careful to implement a citizen compact while there still exists a majority of people at least sensitive to these moral issues, otherwise the best that a compact can do is govern a break-away sector of good people who declare their freedom from the corrupt majority.]

C. Officials should not be restricted, however, from making statements of personal belief, including religious references to a duty to God or a belief in a Supreme Being, or praying publicly to God, as long as such pronouncements are stated as their own personal beliefs or feelings, represent part of his or her leadership role to constituents, and do not require mandatory acceptance by others. [This principle establishes that even though officers of government are paid employees, they may express their personal convictions about politics, philosophy and religion etc., as long as those expressions are part of their leadership responsibility, are not at odds with their official capacity requiring fairness and justice, and are stated as their own personal opinions or feelings. Leaders are paid to lead, and not simply parrot mechanistic rules. If a leader oversteps the bounds of propriety in this area, there are other checks and balances, including the election process or legislative censure that can serve to counterbalance excesses.]

D. Private citizens should not be prohibited from using public property on a temporary basis, without cost to the government, for religious or other celebrations of belief as long as such activities are voluntary and coordinated with other normal public needs. [Religions are no different than any other association of belief. All such associations (that do not threaten fundamental rights, or the community standards established by voluntary compact on public comportment), ought to have free access to public property, even to promulgate their beliefs--as long as any costs to the taxpayer for administration or maintaining public order is reimbursed.]

E. Officials should not, in an official capacity, publicly disparage the beliefs of others, unless those beliefs violate fundamental rights. [Again, the criteria for official criticism of a belief system must be strictly limited acts or intentions that violate or present an imminent threat to fundamental rights--not mere dislike or disagreement for the belief system that is otherwise voluntary. Naturally, criticism can be leveled at beliefs or actions of the group that may violate the agreed upon standards of public comportment as well--especially since even those members agreed to those standards.]


The key elements of this system of principles, that distinguish it from our present system, are these:

It provides a workable legal definition for fundamental rights that effectively stops the creation of false rights that always accompany Socialist demands.

It limits the powers of enforcement to the defense of fundamental rights so that law enforcement officers and citizens can better know the proper bounds of police action.

It provides a basis for forming a government or covenant societies within that government based upon initial unanimous consent so that no persons rights are violated at the onset.

It provides a mechanism to keep the voting public bound to the principles of liberty, without having to control the education system or the distribution of information.

It provides a system that allows for a variety of covenant compacts to govern matters of community standards for public behavior, avoiding the dangers of putting such powers in the hands of majority rule.

It provides for a system of government funding that absolutely prohibits the use of general tax revenues to support the redistribution of wealth, property, or belief systems (other than the defense of fundamental rights).

All of the above are so significant in their potential for restoring and preserving liberty that they deserve the attention of all good men and women. There is room in this system for widest possible expressions of belief and action for both religious and non-religious people and groups. This system also allows for a variety of different covenant societies so that strict uniformity is not mandated throughout the nation.

No system completely eliminates the myriad of conflict possible between human beings, but this system establishes a stable foundation that eliminates the most serious disagreements on basic issues for all those who endorse liberty instead of government redistribution or control. The principles will not end conflict with those who want to harness government for their own power, but they do at least give us reasonable and fair grounds upon which to challenge their moral pretensions. Only raising up a strong majority of people dedicated to stop the improper use of government power will solve this battle, ultimately. While my readers may have differences of opinions on specific implementation, I would hope that we can come to an agreement on basic principles. I appeal to each of you to help in the quest to perfect these principles in the spirit of non-conflict, rather than tear them down. We have the finest historical legacy of liberty anywhere in the world. Let us build upon it for the restoration of the full range of our liberties.

Joel M. Skousen April 6, 2001