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Category: Citizenship, Current Events, Education, Government, Law, Leadership, Liberty, Politics Comments: 0

Fundamental Principles, Individual Rights, and Free Government: Do Utahns Remember How to Be Free?

The idea of jealously guarding freedom seems to be slipping quickly from the grasp of the average Utahn and American.
Over the past year I have spent significant time in New York, California, and Utah with visits to Arizona, Nevada and Kentucky.
I get a feeling that the average American is becoming less and less concerned or aware of  the state of affairs of their state and nation beyond what they happen to run into during the course of a day of work and entertainment.
Few people are continuing the age-old practice of vigilantly protecting liberty by being regularly self-educated and remaining current in the foundations of American liberty (State and Federal Constitutions), by providing service and staying actively engaged in local and state government and by standing up to and defending against all degrees of tyranny and immorality (immorality is defined here as anything that defaces or attempts to tear down the moral integrity of a people).
So what do we do and how?  For starters we go back to basics.
Paul Wake, presumably a law student himself at the time he authored a Law Review Comment entitled “Fundamental Principles, Individual Rights, and Free Government: Do Utahns Remember How to Be Free?”  has some Utah specific suggestions regarding these issues. I have included the conclusion of his comment below.
But for those of us who did not attend law school, what is a Law Review? And what is a comment?
A Law Review is a scholarly journal focusing on legal issues, normally published by an organization of students at a law school or through a bar association.
According to the Stanford Law Review, there are two types of Law Review submissions, a note and a comment:
A Note is a student-authored piece of academic writing which discusses and analyzes an original legal issue or problem in some depth.
A Comment is a student-authored piece of academic writing that is centered around an analysis of a recent case, piece of legislation, law journal article, or law-related book.  Comments are also significantly shorter than notes.
I encourage all to take the time to read Wake’s comment and then do more to engage your proper role as citizen, Utahn and guardian of liberty.
Conclusion to Fundamental Principles, Individual Rights, and Free Government: Do Utahns Remember How to Be Free?:
As Utah enters its second century, members of the legal profession should give renewed attention to the central role of the Utah Constitution in creating a framework for free government and in protecting rights. Specifically, lawyers, jurists, scholars, and citizens should give greater heed to the call of Article I, Section 27 of the Constitution.
Section 27 of the Utah Constitution essentially says that Utahns should not forget the civics lessons of high school. Freedom depends on structures of government that prevent the concentration of power in the hands of the few.
Freedom also depends on a populace which actively involves itself in governance in a variety of ways: by making its wishes known to government officials, by demanding that government officials respect those wishes, and by respecting the constitutional protections that guard everyone’s rights.
It may seem trite to declare in a constitution that freedom is not free and to call for popular political participation. But, given chronic voter apathy and the resultant shift of political power from the many to the few, the call of Section 27 should sound loudly at the beginning of Utah’s second century.
Section 27 reminds Utahns of why their participation in government is so important. Section 27 can be used to support such fundamental principles as natural rights, federalism, and democratic political processes.

The provision makes a strong argument that Utah courts should adopt the primacy approach to state constitutional law interpretation. Also, in conjunction with the unenumerated rights provision of Article I, Section 25, Section 27 supports the idea that Utah courts should take unenumerated rights seriously.
In addition, Section 27 suggests that Utahns should not limit their rights to the extent the federal courts think necessary. Frequent recurrence to fundamental principles will ensure that the structures of freedom remain intact and that citizens use them appropriately to enhance and protect the freedoms of every Utahn.
This comment was published  in the Utah Law Review in 1996. The online version was posted to in 2004 and contains some revisions. The endnote numbers in the online version are bolded when the endnote provides more information than just a citation. The author, Paul Wake, holds the copyright to this article. 

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