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Bill of Rights is crucial to U.S. citizens - Comments (2) View Comments
Carole McWilliams - 3/25/2013
This year’s heated (to put it politely) debate about 2nd Amendment gun rights includes on one end those who insist that any gun restrictions whatsoever are a plot to gut the amendment and take away our guns.
Others argue that the other amendments in the Bill of Rights have some limits and are not absolute, and neither is the 2nd Amendment.
The 1st Amendment has five parts. The press is subject to libel laws and liability for various transgressions into personal privacy. As for speech, next time you are on a commercial plane, try joking about having a bomb in your luggage and see what happens. Inciting others to violence might cross the line too. I hope so, although it seems to be anything goes on the internet.
Your religious freedom doesn’t include the right to violate someone else’s religious freedom. You have a right to peaceable assembly. Riots and destruction aren’t included.
Petitioning for the redress of grievances doesn’t include those either, although history has shown that sometimes more than petitions are needed to get the attention of powers that be, e.g. during the civil rights protest era.
The 3rd Amendment about forced quartering of troops in people’s homes was relevant when we won independence from Britain, but probably irrelevant now. That’s why we never hear anything about it.
The 4th Amendment against illegal search and seizure was gutted in the name of the War on Drugs. Property confiscation is a popular way for law enforcement to bring in extra revenue, and it’s not contingent on the owner being found guilty of a drug crime. The 4th also has suffered in the name of security after the 9-11 attacks. Google FISA and Patriot Act.
The important 5th and 6th Amendment due process protections were gutted by the Bush-Cheney regime after the 9-11 attacks as well. Same with the 8th Amendment that prohibits excessive bail and cruel and unusual punishment.
Amendment 7 is a sleeper dealing with civil lawsuits where more than $20 is at stake.
Amendments 9 and 10 are beloved of libertarians and states rights proponents, preserving rights to the states and the people. I would argue that the federal War on Drugs has violated these, in terms of the rights of citizens and states to legalize medical and recreational marijuana.
Conversely, social conservatives argue for states’ rights to take away women’s reproductive choices and to discriminate against non-heterosexuals. I oppose any claim of states’ rights that involves taking away anyone’s rights as an individual.
Anything can be taken to extreme and thus pervert something that is otherwise good. The Constitution and its amendments are no exception.
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