Saturday, February 2, 2008

Groundhog Day isn't mentioned in the Constitution....

Zoologist David Barash notes that the groundhog--also called a woodchuck--is the only United States animal to have a day named after it (Marmots: Social Behavior and Ecology, 1989, p. 21). So since I'm posting on Groundhog Day, it seems a good time to point out that no animal other than human beings is mentioned in the Constitution. Not surprising, huh?

Animals would at least have been alluded to, however, had a group of Pennsylvania anti-federalists had their way when the Bill of Rights was debated. These folks from the Keystone State--ironically also the state where our Groundhog Day tradition began--wished for a different wording for the Second Amendment. They desired that it read:

"The people have a right to bear arms for the defence of themselves and their own State, or the United States, or for the purpose of killing game," see Akhil Reed Amar The Bill of Rights: Creation and Reconstruction, 1998, p. 47, emphasis mine.

It sounds a bit like a Jeff Foxworthy routine, doesn't it? I can picture him exclaiming, "If you think the Bill of Rights should include hunting, NASCAR, and Budweiser... you just might be a redneck!"

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