It may be the work of a vast left-wing conspiracy, or it could be simply the by-product of a nation slowly inching its way into socialism, but a systematic shredding of America’s [i]Bill of Rights[ei] is well underway.
The [i]Bill of Rights[ei] is a collection of the first ten amendments to the [i]U.S. Constitution[ei]. Ratified in 1791, the [i]Bill of Rights[ei] addressed the concerns of several states debating ratification of the proposed constitution. Those concerns centered on securing the natural rights of Americans – rights bestowed upon man by God. Thus the [i]Bill of Rights[ei] codified and enshrined in the nation’s founding document that which compelled the 13 colonies to separate from England in 1776. Thomas Jefferson set forth the nation’s foundational principles in the [i]Declaration of Independence[ei] staying: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
The [i]Bill of Rights[ei] has stood the test of time as the [i]U.S. Constitution[ei] is the oldest and most successful written national constitution operating in the world today. That, however, is not stopping those who would like to recast America more in the image of failing European-style socialism from pecking away at our rights in an effort to fundamentally change our nation. Recent events show this assault on our rights is gaining steam.
Perhaps no amendment is more threatened than the first. It states: "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."
The nation’s highest law enforcement officer, the U.S. Attorney General, has personally approved government surveillance of a Fox News reporter. That same agency tapped the phones of the Associated Press. These are clear violations of the First Amendment. Those responsible for this breech justify it on the grounds of national security. But the amendment is clear – "congress shall make no law" – the freedom of press is a natural right which can never be taken away.
Freedom of religion in America is long a thing of the past. If you don’t think so, try peaceably assembling at a school function and praying and see what happens. Or, try telling the citizens of Flatwood, Pennsylvania where residents of that tiny Fayette County town are fighting to keep the Ten Commandments posted on school property. The First Amendment has been successful recast from preventing the "establishment" of religion, to effectively prohibiting the "free exercise" of it.
The Second Amendment is currently under the most brutal assault. That’s the one that states: "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." By the way, Pennsylvania’s state constitution goes even further saying the right of the people to bear arms "shall not be questioned." The United States Senate recently narrowly defeated a bill which would have dramatically curtailed Second Amendment rights, and a United Nations treaty that would essentially supplant our constitutional protections is favored by the Obama Administration.
Most recently, the Left-wing block on the U.S. Supreme Court significantly stripped away our Fourth Amendment rights preventing unreasonable search and seizure by ruling as Constitutional the taking of DNA samples from people accused of – not even convicted – just accused of crimes and placed into a national database. Using pretzel logic, the court claimed this invasive procedure is akin to fingerprinting and allowed the practice to stand.
Over the years we have seen other rights chipped away, such as the Fifth Amendment protection against government taking of private property. In a 2005 five-four split decision the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against Suzette Kelo in [i]Kelo v. City of New London[ei] that allowed the municipality to take her home and transfer ownership to private developers. Her property was not taken for public use, such as construction of a road or school, but rather taken and transferred into the private hands of others. It remains a landmark ruling that puts the property rights of every American in Jeopardy.
And, of course, no amendment has been more trampled than the Tenth, which simply and clearly 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." Today’s federal Leviathan clearly exceeds the scope of anything even remotely imagined by our Founding Fathers who drafted a constitution to limit, not enable government.
History clearly shows the natural course of governments is to move from freedom to repression. America today is on that same path. We must reverse the erosion of our God-given rights, and restore the primacy of the [i]Bill of Rights[ei]. And it must be done soon, before America reaches the point of no return.
(Lowman S. Henry is Chairman & CEO of the Lincoln Institute and host of the weekly Lincoln Radio Journal. His e-mail address is [email protected])
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