During much of the 1980s G. I. Joe cartoons had a commercial that ended, “Knowing is half the battle.” In the spirit of “knowing,” the following is a discussion on the US Bill of Rights. The US Bill of Rights is the first 10 amendments to the US Constitution. Many people think that the US Constitution begins with these 10 amendments, and there remains significant ignorance over what is said, and what is meant, in the US Bill of Rights. Finally, the US Bill of Rights, or the first 10 amendments, was passed by the US Congress and ratified by the states too, “… Prevent misconstruction or abuse of its (US Government) powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added, and as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.”
Never forget, the preamble to the US Constitution describe why governments are formed stating, “… In order to form a more perfect Union (government), establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.”
Amendment 1 states: “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.” There is much to discuss regarding what is being witnessed in America right now where the First Amendment is concerned. Peaceable assembly does not include throwing rocks, blocking traffic, interrupting the free flow of commerce into or out of a building, starting fires, shouting, screaming, or anything else like unto the behavior witnessed in America by radicalized youth and adults. How does one tell the difference between peaceably assembly and protests; the answer is simple and comes down to one word, respect.
Aretha Franklin (1967) taught America about R-E-S-P-E-C-T and just following the basics she sang about, will differentiate between mobs and peaceably assembling. But, do not forget, there is a purpose to peaceably assembling, to “petition the government for a redress of grievances.” Petitioning does not include screaming, using a megaphone, “sit-ins,” and other actions that disrupt the working of the government. The actions of those in Portland, Seattle, New York, and several other cities where fires burn, private and public property is destroyed, commerce interrupted, business halted, and fear is spread, is the work of anarchists, terrorists, and villains, not people peacefully assembling to petition for redress. Politicians take note, if you cannot tell the difference between a peaceful assembly and a riot, I am sure there are several police officers who can make the difference perfectly clear.
Respect is a two-directional path leading to communication, improvement, and the betterment of society. If the respect flows out but is not returned, then the problem is with the receiver being selfish and communication will never occur. If the sender is not sending out respect, the problem is a selfish sender, and contempt is all that will be returned. Why is respect important; because in today’s political environment there is no respect. Contempt for the voter, contempt for the other political side, contempt for law and order, contempt is running rampant and the fruits of contempt are a bitter fruit indeed.
Politicians, ask yourself, what do you do to reflect respect to the people you represent? What do you do to reflect respect for the office you hold and the heritage left you as you fill the duties of that office? What does your staff do to reflect respect back to those who hired you, through an election process, and pays for your staff through forced taxation? If you only represent the big business and big donors who helped elect you, you are not respecting anything or anyone, especially yourself. The first amendment to the US Constitution reveals much about a person, almost as good as holding up a mirror of the soul.
Amendment 2 states: “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.” Much continues to be said and written about this amendment. Many have tried to wrestle meaning from this amendment that runs contrary to the specially selected wording in the amendment, covering their actions by calling their shenanigans “the intent of the authors.” Each citizen of America was considered a member of the militia, and as such the security of the American Republic, rested first in the hands of freedom-loving, gun-toting, people. Stop selling snake oil, start accepting the fact that those who try to “judge intent” of the US Constitution are the problems in America.
Amendment 3 states: “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.” The language of this amendment, particularly, never ceases to amaze me. In order to protect the liberty of individuals, soldiers cannot be housed in a citizen’s home; thus, protecting the ability and freedoms of thought and property from unlawful government intrusion.
Since fourth grade, it has amazed me to no end that the second amendment needed to be understood through the intent of the authors, but the first and third amendments needed no “intent” clarification. This is not irony; this is blatant bias and opinion masquerading as benevolence. I reject utterly and completely any and every argument based upon the “intentions” of the authors in understanding the US Constitution.
Amendment 4 states: “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.” Speaking of “intentionality arguments,” the fourth amendment continues to be replete with interpretations by judges, lawyers, interfered with by bad case law, and weak-kneed Supreme Court (SCOTUS) decisions. Like the third amendment, the fourth is all about keeping the government out of a person’s home, properties, papers, and so forth. If there is anything more egregious in modern America, the abuse of the US Constitution must rank first, and foremost, in the minds of every American. Several current issues are before the court and the lawyers will make more money, and the judges will make more money, but the citizens of America will be abused.
Consider how the Patriot Act, a horribly misnamed piece of legislation, allows for warrantless searches in the name of protecting America. Like the Affordable Care Act produced the reverse and increased the cost of health care while reducing the quality of health care, the Patriot Act has stripped patriots of safety in their property, papers, and so forth. 2018 had two cases argued before SCOTUS regarding warrantless searches and seizures; warrantless search and seizure is unconstitutional, yet they occur. The two cases of warrantless searches were both decided by SCOTUS in the petitioner’s favor (Collins v. Virginia & Byrd v. Government). SCOTUS has ruled on cellphone data, and many regarded that law as dangerous due to the argument that survives that since the government owns the technology the cell phone providers use, then the individual users have no right to privacy or constitutional protections by using cellular phones, cellular data, and where that user goes is able to be scrutinized without warrants.
Now, enter the lawyers, attorneys, and armchair lawyers who will argue and complain about my ignorance of the law, throwing up arguments, and muddying the issues. Yet, the ACLU is making the arguments that the Patriot Act has reduced the American Citizen’s rights to the fourth amendment. FISA Courts have been discussed due to the role they played in obtaining warrants to illegally spy on political opponents. FISA Courts should scare the hell out of every American! Yet, the Patriot Act passed with no debate, no discussion, and many legislators never read the bill before or after voting.
Amendment 5 states: “No person shall be held to answer for a 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.” FISA courts empowered the FBI to be the politician’s best friend and the freedom-loving person’s worst enemy. The taking of private land for public use continues to be abused beyond measure. Eminent domain abuses abound, and one axiom of law I have come to appreciate is as follows, “Bad cases make bad case law!” Where the concept of “eminent domain” is concerned this axiom remains telling, and the abuses of government unabated. Between the principle of eminent domain and the Patriot Act, the fourth and fifth amendments have been stripped, the power shifted to the bureaucrats and politicians, and the abused American Citizen left without recourse.
Amendment 6 states: “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 wherein 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 defence.” When it comes to legalese muddying the intelligence of an issue, I have not found anything more convoluted than the definition of a “speedy trial.” Worse, with the FISA Courts not having to inform the accused, a person could be accused of a crime and never know they have been accused.
Amendment 7 states: “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.” The seventh amendment remains important specifically for the re-trial in a different court of an issue settled by a jury trial. Enter the convolution of “small claims court” as a method of settling matters between people or businesses (under $10,000). To be frank, you can have a jury trial in small claims court, and some issues are worth having a jury hear evidence.
Amendment 8 states: “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” What does excessive mean according to a dictionary; “more than is necessary, normal, or desirable; immoderate.” Bail is all about incentivizing a person to appear in court. Excessive bail used to be set in England as a means of keeping a prisoner in jail, to work. Thus, the founding fathers desired bail to be reformed to prevent people from wasting away in jail from poor living conditions, harsh work conditions, and languishing in prison for a considerable time without trial. Modern America has seen the abuse of language, the plasticization of terminology, and the convolution of excessive, into decreasing bail to nothing. New York and California both have laws representative of these practices, to the detriment of law enforcement, the revolving doors of prisons, and the decrease in safety for the citizens affected.
Amendment 9 states: “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” Rights of the people, the US Constitution, and the individual constitutions of each state and commonwealth in the American Union, cannot infringe upon other rights of the people as they individually dictate. How did we American Citizens lose sight of this amendment and what it means? How did we lose the US Constitution? Under Amendment nine FISA Courts should never have been established. The right to die without health care intervention is encapsulated in the ninth amendment, but somehow this has been lost. I remember distinctly losing the classroom debate that assisted suicide is a right under the ninth amendment; I also remember the day when states started passing laws to counter assisted suicide. Consider the case of Boston Children’s Hospital v. Justina Pelletier, and you will find the ninth amendment abused and tattered by the hospital bureaucracy, as well as horrible malpractice.
Amendment 10 states: “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.” Yet, America is replete with Federal and State laws which represent government overreach. Yet, America is inundated with bureaucracies who design new rules without the consent of the legislative branch that empower the executive branch to trample individual rights, state’s rights, and liberties. America, you have been abused by a runaway government, powered with politicians and bureaucrats who strive to “keep the gravy train running,” at your expense.
According to the US Constitution can a person choose to live in poverty; yes! According to the US Constitution does the government have the power to pass out government benefits, which are nothing but taxpayer funds; no! Yet, the US Government and the various states and commonwealth continue to choose who to pass out government funds to and interfere in people’s lives and choices. How many times in American History has the actions of government improved a situation; zero! War on poverty; lost! War on drugs; failed.
The politicians, from both major parties, are guilty of government overreach and unconstitutional power grabs at the city, county, state, and federal government levels. America must stand, to survive America must return to the roots established by the US Constitution. Yes; this means getting the government out of Social Security, Welfare, and butting its nose into the rights and liberties of the individual citizen. Consider the following, a whale and the ocean. Does the government represent the whale or the ocean? For if the government is the ocean, then the wale is reliant upon the government. But, if the whale is the government, then we the citizens of America are the ocean and the government is dependent upon us. The US Constitution claims the government is the whale and we the citizens are the ocean, and the government depends entirely upon the consent of the governed.
Well, I am revoking my consent! The government has abused me enough. I am done with government and bureaucratic overreach. I reject the thought posited by Charles Reich that I am the property of the government. Until the government is placed upon a strict constitutional diet, I revoke my consent to be governed. We, the American Citizens, can retake control from the bloated feck beasts in government and correct the course of this Republic through the powers provided to us in the US Constitution.
I speak by way of invitation; join me, revoke your consent to be governed by these totalitarians!
© Copyright 2020 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the pictures. All text quoted from another source set in italics and is not the property of the author. Minor punctuation and spelling changes made.
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