It seems to me everyone knows about the First and Second Amendments to the US Constitution. They are the only two that ever get any airplay, occasionally you hear about the 5th, but frankly 1 & 2 are the rock stars. I’ve been thinking about the others a lot though lately and how people’s relative unfamiliarity with them might mean that they are giving up a big portion of their personal rights without even realizing it. So I’m going to give my take on the bill of rights.
1. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Notice if you will above that the words separation of Church and State do not appear anywhere in this text. In fact you will also note that this pertains to teh Government being unable to deny you the abilities to do these things. You do not have the freedom of speech in a private forum; an internet message board owner can very well deny your “right” to free expression on the servers they are paying for. I do however wonder how states and localities make people get a permit to assemble? Maybe they get around it by the Congress wording up there. I do however think this makes the famous Bush “Free Speech Zones” a very shady practice.
2. A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
There are a few things I’d like to point out about this one. First, the well-regulated militia part that gun control people like to mention: Well regulated meant operating efficiently. People like to point out the well-regulated section to justify their draconian laws, but seem to always overlook the last part: SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED. If you look into other documents and essays written at the time, and by the same people who wrote and signed the Constitution, you will find they were very much FOR people having the same weapons as the government should an overthrow be necessary. As for those people who want to claim that all they had were muzzleloaders and didn’t foresee the automatic weapons we have, well, I’ll counter that point with they didn’t see email either, does that mean you can’t practice freedom of speech or the press on the internet?
3. No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
Don’t even see this one becoming an issue any time soon.
4. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
This is rapidly becoming one of my favorites. Do you realize that stores can not force you to show your receipt and do a bag check without your consent? If you don’t want to wait in the long assed exit line, just walk right the fuck by! The troubling thing about this is that we submit to searches without probable cause or warrants every time we travel by air. The TSA is terrible. I hate them. I will make another post specifically about these wastes of life and how they make us no safer at a later date.
5. No person shall be held to answer for any capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
This is another one I like. I’m dead set against eminent domain, I think private property shouldn’t be able to be seized for public use except in case of a needed road or other public service. Seizing in order to sell the land to a facility that will generate more tax revenue is reprehensible. As for the Self Incrimination and testifying against yourself portions, I think this video and this one speak for me.
6. In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district where in the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.
You have the right to confront your accuser, be represented by counsel, and must be tried speedily and publicly. This is of course if you are a US Citizen, personally I disagree with holding suspected terrorist indefinitely, it isn’t a good practice.
7. In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
Again, I don’t see many issues with this one, except for terror suspects. This is why the importance of classifying civilians as “enemy combatants”.
8. Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
Excessive bail, well I guess the judge is free to decide what is excessive, but I wonder for a minimum wage guy, isn’t $500,000 excessive? Isn’t the purpose of bail to insure you go to trial so as not to lose your money, rather than keeping you locked in? Cruel and unusual punishment; I think getting stuck in a place you are sure to get raped is cruel and unusual, why is prison rape a joke and not something we protect our inmates from?
9. The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
now it gets interesting again. People misunderstand the Bill of Rights all the time. They think that it list what rights you have, when in fact, it actually puts limits on what the government can do to you. Also note that it states that because a right is NOT listed here, that does not mean you don’t have that right. The rights belong to the people, not to the government to grant to you. Stand up for your rights.
10. 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.
Notice here that it says if the Constitution does not SPECIFICALLY grant a power to the Federal Government, that power resides in the states or to the people. This clearly states that the powers rest with the people or the state, not the centralized Government. States should be free to make their own laws, the Fed should stop running roughshod over people’s lives and trying to rule us. that makes us subjects, not Citizens, and HERE is where we get problems.