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Our Eroding Bill Of Rights In America

 

By James Donahue

 

The document we refer to as the Bill of Rights is, in effect, published as the first ten amendments to the U. S. Constitution.

 

This document, which assures individual rights, was created early in the history of our nation, back when states were still living under the promises of the Declaration of Independence that assured state sovereignty as countries within themselves. The constitution, framed in a national convention in 1787, was perceived as a contract among the states to provide a central headquarters to deal with such common issues as national defense, common currency and a federal judicial system.

 

The goal, at least in the minds of many of the men who framed those first documents, was to maintain strong state governments, and allow for a central government that had little power. The central government, established in the District of Columbia, a small territory located outside the jurisdiction of the 13 original states or colonies, did not collect taxes directly from the people. Its operating money and the members of the U. S. Senate were delegated by state legislators. Only members of the U. S. House of Representatives were elected by the public at large.

 

Thus our first presidents, from George Washington to Abraham Lincoln, while they are portrayed as larger than life in our history books, were no more than token leaders operating a government that took its powers at the discretion of the individual states.

 

After the invention of the printing press and establishment of newspapers, people throughout the states became more and more informed about the issues of the nation. Among the hotly debated issues of the early Nineteenth Century was that of slavery. The issue led to pressure from the northern states on the southern states to prohibit slavery. Rather than submit to demands of the north, and reflected through the central government, the southern states rebelled, declared their own independence, and formed the Confederate Union.

 

Under the rules of the Declaration of Independence, the south had the right to succeed. But the central government under Abraham Lincoln, waged war on the south and thus crushed any further actions by states to withdraw from the union. In effect, our own Declaration of Independence, while considered a hallowed document throughout American history, would be considered a terrorist creed if drafted by any group of individuals within the nation today.

 

All of this involved months and years of political maneuvering by early leaders who clearly had differences of opinion as to just how to forge a government to run this nation.

 

A recent article by J. B. Campbell claims that the Masons, who comprised many of the men involved in writing our Constitution, sabotaged the promises written in the Declaration of Independence. They fought reference to “enumerated rights” arguing that the people should trust their government to preserve these rights.

 

But patriots like Patrick Henry and George Mason saw the Constitution as a blueprint for empire building and they fought it. Their efforts led to the addition of the Bill of Rights as the first ten amendments to the Constitution, the Campbell article said.

 

The Masons, who operated their own organization through a strong central system of leadership, used their own system as a pattern for framing the United States government. They wanted a strong national government, Campbell said.

 

During the Constitutional Convention of 1787, the two ideologies clashed in open debate, and the concept of federalism was established, although at the time it was weak.

 

Since the Civil War, the federal government has grown in power, while state powers have been slowly eroding.

 

When states approved the Seventeenth Amendment in 1913, providing for the direct election of Senators, the state governments lost their representation in Washington. Campbell argued that this amendment, alone, rendered the Constitution null and void, and that the United States has been “a sham government ever since.

 

“The Constitution is a fraud on the people and should be abandoned. It has not protected us from civil or foreign wars, from inflation and federal corruption. It is in fact the engine of all these crimes, authorizing such racketeering as the private Federal Reserve Corporation and its collection agency, the IRS,” Campbell wrote.

 

He notes that the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment after the Civil War declares that all people born in the United States are citizens of the country. It also establishes the federal government’s right to establish debt, and denies the right of individuals to question it.

 

He continues to say that the Bill of Rights is now being eroded, mostly through rulings by the federal judges who “protect the Constitution” but do not protect the Bill of Rights.

 

These key Amendments, and what has happened to them in recent years are as follows:

 

Amendment I

“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 are efforts underway, even at the time of this writing, to control free expression in printed form, in public statements and on the Internet. The proponents of such control are listing such things as pornography, terrorism and spam, or the flooding of e-mail with unsolicited advertising, as reasons for these controls. Also people have been fined and jailed in recent months for making “inappropriate statements” in public places.  

Amendment II

“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.”

This amendment has all but been declared void by legislative and court actions that prohibit the carrying of concealed and unlicensed weapons, make certain firearms illegal to own and use, and prohibit the establishment of local militias. A movement has been threatened, and furiously defended, that would remove the individual’s rights to bear arms of any kind.

Amendment III

“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.”

 Amendment IV

“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.”

Under the rules of the new Patriot Act, adopted after the 9-11 attacks, authorities now have the right to enter and search homes, seize personal items and even make arrests without probable cause. The searches, upheld by the courts, are being conducted under the cloak of anti-terrorism and anti-drug laws. Legislators will soon decide whether to rekindle this phase of the act when it expires in the next few months.

Amendment V

“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 offense 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.”

The arrest and jailing of alleged “terrorists” have been conducted under the Patriot Act and by military forces, not only in the United States, but overseas. Many were not given due process of law until after President Barack Obama came into power. There are rumors that so-called “illegal aliens” also have been detained by police and government forces on American soil without due process.

Amendment VI

“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 defense.”

Again, the Patriot Act has overridden this amendment under the guise of a war on terrorism. Also the “War On Drugs” launched under the Nixon Administration, has clogged U.S. Courts and filled American prisons and jails so that there no longer is such a thing as a “speedy and public trial” for the accused.

Amendment VII

“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 reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.”

Due to inflation, this rule has been violated constantly. Traffic fines far exceed this $20 limit, set at a time when twenty dollars was considered a considerable sum of money. Most courts will still allow for a trial upon request by the accused, although it is discouraged due to the press of work by the courts. Instead, prosecutors use a plea-bargain system to rush cases through the courts, encouraging defendants to plead guilty to reduced charges rather than take the chance of being found guilty or the more serious crime.

Amendment VIII

“Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”

Overloaded courts have slowed the process of criminal prosecution to such a crawl that there can be no such thing as a speedy trial. Courts set bail according to the nature of the offense. Bail can often be set at thousands of dollars, although in many cases the accused is allowed to post a portion, usually 10 percent of the amount which is furnished by a loan from a bondsman at high interest. Sentencing follows guidelines set by law.

Amendment IX

“The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

This might be the “equality” amendment. And it is obvious that minorities in America have not been and continue to be denied equal and fair treatment on jobs, in the courts, and by society in general. Sometimes the disparage is subtle, but it exists.

Amendment X

“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.”

The final two amendments, designed to retain a portion of states powers, appear to be ignored by the courts and the U.S. Congress.