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Vote em in or vote em out

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I have sat back over the past eight years and watched a constant chipping away of those Constitutional Rights and Civil Liberties so gallantly fought for by our founding fathers.

The premise has been under the guise of "homeland security" or "in the interest of national security," but this has been at best a lightly veiled attempt to destroy those liberties we cherish so greatly.

When I sat back and started to dissect the loss of our liberties I found what I believe to be an erosion of the first 10 Amendments to the Constitution, which are of course open for your own interpretation:

Your first Amendment guarantees freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of association and assembly. It also protects the rights of citizens to worship as they please and the right not to be forced to support someone else’s religion.

The First Amendment also provides for the right to demand a change in government policies. Those protections of free speech and freedom of the press were attacked under some bizarre reading of the Patriot Act in which the government believed it could prosecute news reporters for leaks on the torture being conducted in secret prisons throughout the world. Your right not to be forced to support someone else’s religion is a hotbutton for all sides and I don’t know who is winning.

Your Second Amendment is debated among legal scholars to whether it affirms a broad individual right to gun ownership, or only protects a narrow right to possess firearms as members of a militia.

Recent Supreme Court decisions have not resolved this debate, but the courts have held that the Second Amendment does not preclude certain government regulations on gun ownership, such as laws prohibiting ownership of firearms by felons. Your right to keep and bear arms is now in more jeopardy than ever before. It should be noted that recent Court decisions, while preserving your rights to keep your weapons, still leave the door open for more challenges.

Your Third Amendment to be free from quartering any soldiers in your home may be challenged soon. It appears that our government has decided to expand our executive branch authority to putting American Military troops on American soil to deal with domestic issues. Please pay attention to this one…as much as some of you dislike the ACLU hear what they said, "Domestic emergency deployment may be "just the first example of a series of expansions in presidential and military authority," or even an increase in domestic surveillance, said Anna Christensen of the ACLU’s National Security Project.

And Cato Vice President Gene Healy warned of "a creeping militarization" of homeland security.

"There’s a notion that whenever there’s an important problem, that the thing to do is to call in the boys in green," Healy said, "and that’s at odds with our long-standing tradition of being wary of the use of standing armies to keep the peace."

Your Fourth Amendment to be free from unreasonable search and seizure and the requirement for warrants to invade your home and privacy are nothing more than a distant memory at this point. The Fourth Amendment was designed to prohibit the police and other government officials from searching people’s homes or offices or seizing their property without probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed.

In most cases, police can conduct a search of a person’s home or office only after they get a written search warrant from a judge, detailing where they will search and what they expect to find. In ignoring the rule, the government can now invade your privacy at will; invade your home without warrants; seize, and arrest and detain you; all in the interest of national security.

Your Fifth Amendment right guarantees you five important protections against arbitrary government actions. First, no person may be prosecuted for a federal crime without first being indicted by a grand jury. Second, a criminal suspect may be prosecuted only once for each crime. If a jury acquits the accused person, there can be no retrial.

Third, a person cannot be forced to testify against himself or herself in any criminal case. Fourth, the due process clause bars the government from arbitrarily depriving anyone of life, liberty, or property. Fifth, the government may not take anyone’s private property unless it is necessary for a public purpose and unless the government pays a fair price for it.

I believe the due process clause which bars the government from arbitrarily depriving

anyone of life, liberty, or property died in Guantanamo and all those other filthy little secret prisons where people are kept incognito with no rights. The right that says the government may not take anyone’s private property unless it is necessary for a public purpose and unless the government pays a fair price for it was blatantly absent when all those good folks in Arlington Texas were told to move for the new stadium…public purpose?

Your Sixth Amendment rights, you may ask? The Sixth Amendment guarantees people accused of crimes the right to a speedy and public trial. Defendants in federal cases are entitled to be tried in the area in which the alleged crime was committed, and both state and federal defendants have the right to have an impartial jury decide their guilt or innocence.

The Sixth Amendment also prohibits the government from prosecuting an accused person without first informing him or her of the nature of the charges against him or her. The accused has the right to "confront"—that is, to cross-examine witnesses who testify against him or her at trial. Those accused also have a right to subpoena (compel) supporting witnesses to testify in court and to have a lawyer assist in their legal defense.

Again…dead in prisons kept throughout the world in which the defendants have not been taken to trial; advised of the charges against them; provided with an attorney; or allowed to confront the witnesses.

Your Seventh Amendment seems intact, but only because it addresses suits in common law and the right to jury trial in common law matters.

Your Eighth Amendment right that Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted is violated every single day in courts throughout the nation where defendant’s bonds are intentionally set so high they cannot afford to bond out. Everyone knows about it, but nobody cares.

Your Ninth Amendment is secretly one of the strongest weapons of the people, but few even know what it means.

It states, "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." Which means that just because certain rights are not mentioned in the Constitution does not mean that they do not exist. Courts may not infer from the silence of the Constitution that an unlisted right is unavailable to protect individuals from the government. It is designed to protect us from the government…why did they think to put that in there I wonder?

Your Tenth Amendment 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

. The Tenth Amendment restates a fundamental constitutional rule as it was understood by the founding fathers.

If a particular power was not assigned to the federal government by the Constitution itself, then the states may exercise the power, unless the Constitution also prohibits the states from exercising it.

The Tenth Amendment also states that people are free to act, without permission of the federal government, in areas outside the scope of the federal government’s powers. Unfortunately there has been a constant erosion of states powers since the inception of Federalism and the federal government is reluctant to grant the states too much power…we might be able to make decisions based on what people want in their own states.

It makes you wonder just how far this erosion of rights is going to be allowed to go without one of our branches of government making a stand, or if any of them even care enough about our civil liberties to do something about it.

The only tools we have are the elections and we better start paying more attention to the candidate’s positions and less to his party affiliation. Vote ‘em in or vote ‘em out…that’s the answer.

Rodney P. Ramsey


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