Monday, October 21, 2019
The Bill Of Rights
The Bill Of Rights Bill of RightsHow many rights do you have? You should check, because it might not be as many todayas it was a few years ago, or even a few months ago. Some people I talk to are notconcerned that police will execute a search warrant without knocking or that they set uproadblocks and stop and interrogate innocent citizens. They do not regard these as greatinfringements on their rights. But when you put current events together, there is informationthat may be surprising to people who have not yet been concerned: The amount of the Billof Rights that is under attack is alarming.Let's take a look at the Bill of Rights and see which aspects are being pushed on orthreatened. The point here is not the degree of each attack or its rightness or wrongness,but the sheer number of rights that are under attack.Andrew Jacobs / 20070811.10D.44747 / SML SkydiveAmendment ICongress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the freeexercise thereof; or abridging the freedo m of speech, or of the press; or the right of thepeople peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.ESTABLISHING RELIGION: While campaigning for his first term, George Bush said 'Idon't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be consideredpatriots.' Bush has not retracted, commented on, or clarified this statement, in spite ofrequests to do so. According to Bush, this is one nation under God. And apparently if youare not within Bush's religious beliefs, you are not a citizen. Federal, state, and localgovernments also promote a particular religion (or, occasionally, religions) by spendingpublic money on religious displays.FREE EXERCISE OF RELIGION: Robert Newmeyer and Glenn Braunstein were jailedin 1988 for refusing to stand in respect for a judge. Braunstein says the tradition of rising incourt started decades ago when judges entered carrying Bibles. Since judges no longercarry Bibles, Braunstein says there is no rea son to stand and his Bible tells him to honorno other God. For this religious practice, Newmeyer and Braunstein were jailed and arenow suing.FREE SPEECH: We find that technology has given the government an excuse to interferewith free speech. Claiming that radio frequencies are a limited resource, the governmenttells broadcasters what to say (such as news and public and local service programming) andwhat not to say (obscenity, as defined by the Federal Communications Commission[FCC]). The FCC is investigating Boston PBS station WGBH-TV for broadcastingphotographs from the Mapplethorpe exhibit.FREE SPEECH: There are also laws to limit political statements and contributions topolitical activities. In 1985, the Michigan Chamber of Commerce wanted to take out anadvertisement supporting a candidate in the state house of representatives. But a 1976Michigan law prohibits a corporation from using its general treasury funds to makeindependent expenditures in a political campaign. In March, the Supreme Court upheld thatlaw. According to dissenting Justice Kennedy, it is now a felony in Michigan for the SierraClub, the American Civil Liberties Union, or the Chamber of Commerce to advise thepublic how a candidate voted on issues of urgent concern to their members.FREE PRESS: As in speech, technology has provided another excuse for governmentintrusion in the press. If you distribute a magazine electronically and do not print copies, thegovernment doesn't consider you a press and does not give you the same protections courtshave extended to printed news. The equipment used to publish Phrack, a worldwideelectronic magazine about phones and hacking, was confiscated after publishing a documentcopied from a Bell South computer entitled 'A Bell South Standard Practice (BSP)660-225-104SV Control Office Administration of Enhanced 911 Services for SpecialServices and Major Account Centers, March, 1988.' All of the information in thisdocument was publicly available from Bell South in other documents. The government hasnot alleged that the publisher of Phrack, Craig Neidorf, was involved with or participated inthe copying of the document. Also, the person who copied this document from telephonecompany computers placed a copy on a bulletin board run by Rich Andrews. Andrewsforwarded a copy to ATT officials and cooperated with authorities fully. In return, theSecret Service (SS) confiscated Andrews' computer along with all the mail and data thatwere on it. Andrews was not charged with any crime.FREE PRESS: In another incident that would be comical if it were not true, on March 1 theSS ransacked the offices of Steve Jackson Games (SJG); irreparably damaged property;and confiscated three computers, two laser printers, several hard disks, and many boxes ofpaper and floppy disks. The target of the SS operation was to seize all copies of a game offiction called GURPS Cyberpunk. The Cyberpunk game contains fictitious break-ins in afuturistic world, with no technical i nformation of actual use with real computers, nor is itplayed on computers. The SS never filed any charges against SJG but still refused to returnconfiscated property.PEACEABLE ASSEMBLY: The right to assemble peaceably is no longer free you haveto get a permit. Even that is not enough; some officials have to be sued before they realizetheir reasons for denying a permit are not Constitutional.PEACEABLE ASSEMBLY: In Alexandria, Virginia, there is a law that prohibits peoplefrom loitering for more than seven minutes and exchanging small objects. Punishment is twoyears in jail. Consider the scene in jail: 'What'd you do?' 'I was waiting at a bus stop andgave a guy a cigarette.' This is not an impossible occurrence: In Pittsburgh, Eugene Tyler,15, has been ordered away from bus stops by police officers. Sherman Jones, also 15, wasaccosted with a police officer's hands around his neck after putting the last bit of pizza crustinto his mouth. The police suspected him of hiding drugs.PETITI ON FOR REDRESS OF GRIEVANCES: Rounding out the attacks on the firstamendment, there is a sword hanging over the right to petition for redress of grievances.House Resolution 4079, the National Drug and Crime Emergency Act, tries to 'modify' theright to habeas corpus. It sets time limits on the right of people in custody to petition forredress and also limits the courts in which such an appeal may be heard.Amendment IIA well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of thepeople to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.RIGHT TO BEAR ARMS: This amendment is so commonly challenged that the movementhas its own name: gun control. Legislation banning various types of weapons is supportedwith the claim that the weapons are not for 'legitimate' sporting purposes. This is aperversion of the right to bear arms for two reasons. First, the basis of freedom is not thatpermission to do legitimate things is granted to the people, but rather that the governme nt isempowered to do a limited number of legitimate things everything else people are free todo; they do not need to justify their choices. Second, should the need for defense arise, itwill not be hordes of deer that the security of a free state needs to be defended from.Defense would be needed against humans, whether external invaders or internaloppressors. It is an unfortunate fact of life that the guns that would be needed to defend thesecurity of a state are guns to attack people, not guns for sporting purposes.Firearms regulations also empower local officials, such as police chiefs, to grant or denypermits. This results in towns where only friends of people in the right places are grantedpermits, or towns where women are generally denied the right to carry a weapon forself-defense.Amendment IIINo Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of theOwner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.QUARTERING SOLDIERS: This amend ment is fairly clean so far, but it is not entirelysafe. Recently, 200 troops in camouflage dress with M-16s and helicopters swept throughKings Ridge National Forest in Humboldt County, California. In the process of searchingfor marijuana plants for four days, soldiers assaulted people on private land with M-16sand barred them from their own property. This might not be a direct hit on the thirdamendment, but the disregard for private property is uncomfortably close.Amendment IVThe right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, againstunreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, butupon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing theplace to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.RIGHT TO BE SECURE IN PERSONS, HOUSES, PAPERS AND EFFECTSAGAINST UNREASONABLE SEARCHES AND SEIZURES: The RICO law is makinga mockery of the right to be secure from seizure. Entire stores of books or videotapes havebeen confiscated based upon the presence of some sexually explicit items. Bars,restaurants, or houses are taken from the owners because employees or tenants sold drugs.In Volusia County, Florida, Sheriff Robert Vogel and his officers stop automobiles forcontrived violations. If large amounts of cash are found, the police confiscate it on thePRESUMPTION that it is drug money even if there is no other evidence and no chargesare filed against the car's occupants. The victims can get their money back only if theyprove the money was obtained legally. One couple got their money back by proving it wasan insurance settlement. Two other men who tried to get their two thousand dollars backwere denied by the Florida courts.RIGHT TO BE SECURE IN PERSONS, HOUSES, PAPERS AND EFFECTSAGAINST UNREASONABLE SEARCHES AND SEIZURES: A new law goes intoeffect in Oklahoma on January 1, 1991. All property, real and personal, is taxable, andcitizens are required to list all their personal property for tax assessors, including householdfurniture, gold and silver plate, musical instruments, watches, jewelry, and personal, private,or professional libraries. If a citizen refuses to list their property or is suspected of not listingsomething, the law directs the assessor to visit and enter the premises, getting a searchwarrant if necessary. Being required to tell the state everything you own is not being securein one's home and effects.NO WARRANTS SHALL ISSUE, BUT UPON PROBABLE CAUSE, SUPPORTEDBY OATH OR AFFIRMATION:As a supporting oath or affirmation, reports of anonymous informants are accepted. Thispractice has been condoned by the Supreme Court.PARTICULARLY DESCRIBING THE PLACE TO BE SEARCHED AND PERSONSOR THINGS TO BE SEIZED: Today's warrants do not particularly describe the things tobe seized they list things that might be present. For example, if police are making a drugraid, they will list weapons as things to be searched for and seized. This is done not becausethe police know of any weapons and can particularly describe them, but because theyallege people with drugs often have weapons.Both of the above apply to the warrant the Hudson, New Hampshire, police used whenthey broke down Bruce Lavoie's door at 5 a.m. with guns drawn and shot and killed him.The warrant claimed information from an anonymous informant, and it said, among otherthings, that guns were to be seized. The mention of guns in the warrant was used as reasonto enter with guns drawn. Bruce Lavoie had no guns. Bruce Lavoie was not secure fromunreasonable search and seizure nor is anybody else.Other infringements on the fourth amendment include roadblocks and the Boston Policedetention of people based on colors they are wearing (supposedly indicating gangmembership). And in Pittsburgh again, Eugene Tyler was once searched because he waswearing sweat pants and a plaid shirt police told him they heard many drug dealers atthat time were wearing sweat pants and plaid shir ts.Amendment VNo person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on apresentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or navalforces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall anyperson be subject to the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shallbe 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 forpublic use without just compensation.INDICTMENT OF A GRAND JURY: Kevin Bjornson has been proprietor ofHydro-Tech for nearly a decade and is a leading authority on hydroponic technology andcultivation. On October 26, 1989, both locations of Hydro-Tech were raided by the DrugEnforcement Administration. National Drug Control Policy Director William Bennett hasdeclared that some indoor lighting and hydroponic equipment is purchased by mari juanagrowers, so retailers and wholesalers of such equipment are drug profiteers andco-conspirators. Bjornson was not charged with any crime, nor subpoenaed, issued awarrant, or arrested. No illegal substances were found on his premises. Federal officialswere unable to convince grand juries to indict Bjornson. By February, they had calledscores of witnesses and recalled many two or three times, but none of the grand juries theyconvened decided there was reason to criminally prosecute Bjornson. In spite of that, as ofMarch, his bank accounts were still frozen and none of the inventories or records had beenreturned. Grand juries refused to indict Bjornson, but the government is still penalizing him.TWICE PUT IN JEOPARDY OF LIFE OR LIMB: Members of the McMartin family inCalifornia have been tried two or three times for child abuse. Anthony Barnaby was triedfor murder (without evidence linking him to the crime) three times before New Hampshirelet him go.COMPELLED TO BE A WITNESS AGAINST HIMSELF: Oliver North was forced totestify against himself. Congress granted him immunity from having anything he said to thembeing used as evidence against him, and then they required him to talk. After he did so,what he said was used to find other evidence which was used against him. The courts alsoplay games where you can be required to testify against yourself if you testify at all.COMPELLED TO BE A WITNESS AGAINST HIMSELF: In the New York CentralPark assault case, three people were found guilty of assault. But there was no physicalevidence linking them to the crime; semen did not match any of the defendants. The onlyevidence the state had was confessions. To obtain these confessions, the police questioneda 15-year old without a parent present which is illegal under New York state law. Policealso refused to let the subject's Big Brother, an attorney for the Federal government, seehim during questioning. Police screamed 'You better tell us what we want to hear andcooperate or y ou are going to jail,' at 14-year-old Antron McCray, according to BobbyMcCray, his father. Antron McCray 'confessed' after his father told him to, so that policewould release him. These people were coerced into bearing witness against themselves, andthose confessions were used to convict them.COMPELLED TO BE A WITNESS AGAINST HIMSELF: Your answers to Censusquestions are required by law, with a $100 penalty for each question not answered. Butpeople have been evicted for giving honest Census answers. According to the GeneralAccounting Office, one of the most frequent ways city governments use census informationis to detect illegal two-family dwellings. This has happened in Montgomery County,Maryland; Pullman, Washington; and Long Island, New York. The August 8, 1989, WallStreet Journal reports this and other ways Census answers have been used against theanswerers.COMPELLED TO BE A WITNESS AGAINST HIMSELF: Drug tests are beingrequired from more and more people, even when there is no pr obable cause, no accident,and no suspicion of drug use. Requiring people to take drug tests compels them to provideevidence against themselves.DEPRIVED OF LIFE, LIBERTY, OR PROPERTY WITHOUT DUE PROCESS OFLAW: This clause is violated on each of the items life, liberty, and property. Incidentsincluding such violations are described elsewhere in this article. Here are two more: OnMarch 26, 1987, in Jeffersontown, Kentucky, Jeffrey Miles was killed by police officerJohn Rucker, who was looking for a suspected drug dealer. Rucker had been sent to thewrong house; Miles was not wanted by police. He received no due process. In Detroit,$4,834 was seized from a grocery store after dogs detected traces of cocaine on threeone-dollar bills in a cash register.PRIVATE PROPERTY TAKEN FOR PUBLIC USE WITHOUT JUSTCOMPENSATION: RICO is shredding this aspect of the Bill of Rights. The moneyconfiscated by Sheriff Vogel goes directly into Vogel's budget; it is not regulated by thelegislature. Federal and local governments seize and auction boats, buildings, and otherproperty. Under RICO, the government is seizing property without due process. Thevictims are required to prove not only that they are not guilty of a crime, but that they areentitled to their property. Otherwise, the government auctions off the property and keepsthe proceeds.Amendment VIIn all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, byan 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 thenature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to havecompulsory process for obtaining Witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance ofcounsel for his defence.THE RIGHT TO A SPEEDY AND PUBLIC TRIAL: Surprisingly, the right to a publictrial is under attack. When Marion Barry was being tried, the prosecution attempted to barLouis Fa rrakhan and George Stallings from the gallery. This request was based on anallegation that they would send silent and 'impermissible messages' to the jurors. The judgeinitially granted this request. One might argue that the whole point of a public trial is to senda message to all the participants: The message is that the public is watching; the trial hadbetter be fair.BY AN IMPARTIAL JURY: The government does not even honor the right to trial by animpartial jury. US District Judge Edward Rafeedie is investigating improper influence onjurors by US marshals in the Enrique Camarena case. US marshals apparently illegallycommunicated with jurors during deliberations.OF THE STATE AND DISTRICT WHEREIN THE CRIME SHALL HAVE BEENCOMMITTED: This is incredible, but Manuel Noriega is being tried so far away from theplace where he is alleged to have committed crimes that the United States had to invadeanother country and overturn a government to get him. Nor is this a unique occurrence; in amatte r separate from the Camarena case, Judge Rafeedie was asked to dismiss chargesagainst Mexican gynecologist Dr. Humberto Alvarez Machain on the grounds that thedoctor was illegally abducted from his Guadalajara office in April and turned over to USauthorities.TO BE INFORMED OF THE NATURE AND CAUSE OF THE ACCUSATION:Steve Jackson Games, nearly put out of business by the raid described previously, has beenstonewalled by the SS. 'For the past month or so these guys have been insisting the bookwasn't the target of the raid, but they don't say what the target was, or why they werecritical of the book, or why they won't give it back,' Steve Jackson says. 'They haverepeatedly denied we're targets but don't explain why we've been made victims.' Attorneysfor SJG tried to find out the basis for the search warrant that led to the raid on SJG. But theapplication for that warrant was sealed by order of the court and remained sealed at lastreport, in July. Not only has the SS taken property and ne arly destroyed a publisher, it willnot even explain the nature and cause of the accusations that led to the raid.TO BE CONFRONTED WITH THE WITNESSES AGAINST HIM: The courts arebeginning to play fast and loose with the right to confront witnesses. Watch out foranonymous witnesses and videotaped testimony.TO HAVE COMPULSORY PROCESS FOR OBTAINING WITNESSES: RonaldReagan resisted submitting to subpoena and answering questions about Irangate, claimingmatters of national security and executive privilege. A judge had to dismiss some chargesagainst Irangate participants because the government refused to provide informationsubpoenaed by the defendants. And one wonders if the government would go to the samelengths to obtain witnesses for Manuel Noriega as it did to capture him.TO HAVE THE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL: The right to assistance of counsel took ahit recently. Connecticut Judge Joseph Sylvester is refusing to assign public defenders topeople ACCUSED of drug-related crimes, including drun k driving.TO HAVE THE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL: RICO is also affecting the right to havethe assistance of counsel. The government confiscates the money of an accused person,which leaves them unable to hire attorneys. The IRS has served summonses nationwide todefense attorneys, demanding the names of clients who paid cash for fees exceeding$10,000.Amendment VIIIn Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, theright of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwisereexamined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of common law.RIGHT OF TRIAL BY JURY IN SUITS AT COMMON LAW: This is a simple right; sofar the government has not felt threatened by it and has not made attacks on it that I amaware of. This is our only remaining safe haven in the Bill of Rights.Amendment VIIIExcessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusualpunishments inflicted.EXCESSIVE BAIL AN D FINES: Tallahatchie County in Mississippi charges ten dollars aday to each person who spends time in the jail, regardless of the length of stay or theoutcome of their trial. This means innocent people are forced to pay. Marvin Willis wasstuck in jail for 90 days trying to raise $2,500 bail on an assault charge. But after he madethat bail, he was kept imprisoned because he could not pay the $900 rent Tallahatchiedemanded. Nine former inmates are suing the county for this practice.CRUEL AND UNUSUAL PUNISHMENTS: House Resolution 4079 sticks its nose inhere too: '... a Federal court shall not hold prison or jail crowding unconstitutional under theeighth amendment except to the extent that an individual plaintiff inmate proves that thecrowding causes the infliction of cruel and unusual punishment of that inmate.'CRUEL AND UNUSUAL PUNISHMENTS: A life sentence for selling a quarter of agram of cocaine for $20 that is what Ricky Isom was sentenced to in February in CobbCounty, Georgia. I t was Isom's second conviction in two years, and state law imposes amandatory sentence. Even the judge pronouncing the sentence thinks it is cruel; Judge TomCauthorn expressed grave reservations before sentencing Isom and Douglas Rucks(convicted of selling 3.5 grams of cocaine in a separate but similar case). Judge Cauthorncalled the sentences 'Draconian.'Amendment IXThe enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny ordisparage others retained by the people.OTHER RIGHTS RETAINED BY THE PEOPLE: This amendment is so weak today thatI will ask not what infringements there are on it but rather what exercise of it exists at all?What law can you appeal to a court to find you not guilty of violating because the lawdenies a right retained by you?Amendment XThe powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it tothe States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.POWERS RESERVED TO THE STATES OR THE PEOPL E: This amendment is alsoweak, although it is not so nonexistent as the ninth amendment. But few states set their ownspeed limits or drinking age limits. Today, we mostly think of this country as the singular United States, rather than a collection of states. This concentration of power detacheslaws from the desires of people and even of states. House Resolution 4079 crops upagain here it uses financial incentives to get states to set specific penalties for certaincrimes. Making their own laws certainly must be considered a right of the states, and thisright is being infringed upon.Out of ten amendments, nine are under attack, most of them under multiple attacks ofdifferent natures, and some of them under a barrage. If this much of the Bill of Rights isthreatened, how can you be sure your rights are safe? A right has to be there when youneed it. Like insurance, you cannot afford to wait until you need it and then set aboutprocuring it or ensuring it is available. Assurance must b e made in advance.The bottom line here is that your rights are not safe. You do not know when one of yourrights will be violated. A number of rights protect accused persons, and you may think it isnot important to protect the rights of criminals. But if a right is not there for people accusedof crimes, it will not be there when you need it. With the Bill of Rights in the sad conditiondescribed above, nobody can be confident they will be able to exercise the rights to whichthey are justly entitled. To preserve our rights for ourselves in the future, we must defendthem for everybody today.