From the January 2005 Idaho Observer:
SC activist using legislature to remind citizens, teach children that they have a Bill of Rights
JOHN’S ISLAND, SC—On May, 18, 2004, the Senate for the State of South Carolina voted to adopt S.959—a resolution to recognize December 15 as "Bill of Rights Day" in honor of the Bill of Rights and the United States Constitution.
The bill was sent to the House February 16, 2004, where it became H.4701 and received its first reading. The Bill of Rights Day Resolution did not make it out of its House committee before the close of last year’s legislative session, but is expected to reach the floor for a vote in 2005.
Since approaching Senator Glenn McConnell with the idea last year, Bill Ivy and his friends have approached hundreds of people in search of support for this bill. So far, Ivy and other bill supporters have only been applauded for their efforts to reintroduce the Bill of Rights to the people of South Carolina. Ivy’s local Rep. Robert Brown dropped a short, handwritten note in the mail March 8, 2004, thanking Ivy for his letter and stated, "I agree with you: No, the seatbelt law; Yes, a Bill of Rights Day."
While many activists have stopped writing their congressmen because doing so is usually a waste of time, Ivy chose the legislative route to replant the Bill of Rights in the minds of lawmakers so that maybe teachers will then feel obligated to plant seeds in the minds of their students and water them at least once a year on December 15.
Currently the Bill of Rights, which was adopted Dec. 15, 1791, is officially honored only once a century, the last time being 1991. "American children born in 1992 will be 99 years old the next time we celebrate the Bill of Rights," Ivy observed.
Understanding how far we have strayed from the Constitution Ivy decided we can’t wait until 2091 for a Bill of Rights Day. "It became important to me that we annually honor and remember the birth of our nation, the drafting of our Constitution and the reasons why it was not ratified until the first Ten Amendments, the Bill of Rights, were ratified."
The legislators who sponsored the bill even recognize that laws like those mandating seatbelt use would be unenforceable under our Bill of Rights.
Ivy believes that if we keep our heritage and our history in the forefront of people’s minds, particularly those of America’s children, they will be empowered to resist government infringements on their rights.
For sure, if the federal government or the states can take away the Second Amendment, they can take away the Fourth—protection from unlawful searches and seizures and the Sixth Amendment’s right to a trial by jury. With these three Amendments abrogated, what stands in government’s way of abolishing the remaining seven?
"If I can get the ball rolling in my state, than surely others can do the same in theirs," said Ivy. "The key," he added, "is to know the history before you contact your congressman so you can impress upon him the importance of the Bill of Rights."
TO AMEND THE CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, SO AS TO ENACT THE "SOUTH CAROLINA BILL OF RIGHTS DAY" BY ADDING SECTION 53-3-165 SO TO ESTABLISH DECEMBER FIFTEENTH OF EACH YEAR AS BILL OF RIGHTS DAY, AND TO ENCOURAGE ALL GOVERNMENTAL BODIES TO OBSERVE THE ANNUAL BILL OF RIGHTS DAY IN A MANNER THAT EMPHASIZES THE DOCUMENT’S MEANING AND IMPORTANCE.
Whereas, the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution are referred to as the Bill of Rights, which limit and define the powers of government; and
Whereas, several of the original states refused to ratify the Constitution without an express Bill of Rights; and
Whereas, the Bill of Rights recognizes, affirms, and protects fundamental human and civil rights for which persons of all races have struggled for thousands of years; and
Whereas, the Bill of Rights secures our freedom to speak, print, read, assemble, pray, petition the government, and keep and bear arms; protects us from unreasonable arrests, searches, excessive bail, double jeopardy, coerced confessions, and cruel and unusual punishment; and secures our rights to due process, jury trials, and counsel, and to present defense witnesses; and
Whereas, the Bill of-Rights protects our sovereign State from excesses of the federal government
Whereas, the Bill of Rights is integral to the American way of life, and America’s civic holidays, President’s Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Veterans Day, Memorial Day, and Thanksgiving, all remind us of the special contributions and sacrifices made by our forefathers and leaders to preserve, protect, and extend our freedoms; and
Whereas, the Bill of Rights energizes our military defense because American servicemen and women swear an oath to preserve and defend the United States Constitution, which includes the Bill of Rights; when American military personnel fight and die for our country, they do so to protect our rights and freedoms under the Bill of Rights; and
Whereas, a Bill of Rights Day would help prevent the Bill of Rights from being otherwise forgotten, and since many Americans do not know their Bill of Rights, this special day will encourage our schools to instruct children about this aspect of our American heritage; and
Whereas, a Bill of Rights Day would declare America’s commitment to fundamental human rights to the whole world; and
Whereas, just as celebrating religious holidays reminds Americans of their religious beliefs and traditions, a Bill of Rights Day annually would remind America of the manner in which its history and philosophy have secured the rights for which oppressed people everywhere still yearn; and
Whereas, a Bill of Rights Day would remind elected and appointed officials and employees of the state and local executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government that their authority and powers are limited; and
Whereas, the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution was ratified on December 15, 1791. Now, therefore,
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:
SECTION 1. Chapter 3, Title 53 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:
"Section 53-3-165. (A) December fifteenth of each year, the anniversary of the ratification of the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution, is declared to be ‘Bill of Rights Day’ in South Carolina.
SECTION 2. This act takes effect upon approval by the Governor.
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