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,”
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:
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
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.
“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.
“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
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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
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.
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.
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.
“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.