Monday, January 30, 2006

Right To Petition For Redress Of Grievance

"I thought the feds usually ignored lawful petitions. I thought "Right to Petition" just meant one could hold a protest or something, but that there was no obligation on the part of the feds to 'provide satisfaction', so to speak.

Am I wrong? If you know anything different about the specifics of Right to Petition, please correct me."

Yes, the Feds ignore the Citizens and yes the Feds want people to believe that a petition is nothing more than a protest. However that isn't why it was placed into the Constitution. It was a way of keeping the government from ignoring petitions. When our Founding Fathers were creating the Constitution, and subsequently the Bill of Rights, they were no doubt thinking upon immediate history as well as the Rights they had as Englishmen. So lets look at three of the more obvious documents.

Over the course of years many petitions from the Colonists to the King of England had been ignored. The reasons varied with taxation, trade, and trial by jury as well as other issues of law. Indeed, the King's ignoring the petitions was the reason we had separated from England. The Colonists Petitioned expecting Redress and, in their words, recieved injury. The following is from the Declaration of Independence.
"In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people."
They petitioned as they had been assured that Right by the British Bill of Rights, passed in 1689. This was passed because it was found that Parliment would ignore or even punish those who petitioned the government
"That it is the right of the subjects to petition the King, and all committments and prosecutions for such petitioning are illegal."
The origins of this Right goes back to the Magna Carta of 1215. As everyone should already know the Magna Carta is the basis for many of the Rights we have. Also Common Law dates back to this time which is where our Law and Rights were defined until the advent of "statutory" law which was created by merging Maritime and Equity. But I digress... The Magna Carta gave a rather specific and some would say drastic measure for enforcing the Right to Petition: seizure of "federal" property.
If we, our chief justice, our officials, or any of our servants offend in any respect against any man, or transgress any of the articles of the peace or of this security, and the offence is made known to four of the said twenty-five barons, they shall come to us - or in our absence from the kingdom to the chief justice - to declare it and claim immediate redress. If we, or in our absence abroad the chiefjustice, make no redress within forty days, reckoning from the day on which the offence was declared to us or to him, the four barons shall refer the matter to the rest of the twenty-five barons, who may distrain upon and assail us in every way possible, with the support of the whole community of the land, by seizing our castles, lands, possessions, or anything else saving only our own person and those of the queen and our children, until they have secured such redress as they have determined upon. Having secured the redress, they may then resume their normal obedience to us.
Any man who so desires may take an oath to obey the commands of the twenty-five barons for the achievement of these ends, and to join with them in assailing us to the utmost of his power. We give public and free permission to take this oath to any man who so desires, and at no time will we prohibit any man from taking it. Indeed, we will compel any of our subjects who are unwilling to take it to swear it at our command.
The Right to Petition is much more than simply the Right to make noise. The Founding Fathers intended for there to be teeth in this Right for it was they who wrote "If money is wanted by Rulers, who have in any manner oppressed the people, they may retain it, until their grievances are redressed; and thus peaceably procure relief, without trusting to despised petitions, or disturbing the public tranquillity."