When the US Constitution was adopted, it was with the understanding that a number of amendments would immediately be proposed, passed, and given to the states to approve in order to further enshrine a number of commonly understood rights and privileges of the individual citizens and of the states themselves. Very important point to remember in this is that the amendments themselves did not bestow any of these rights as written or understood today or even then. The amendments handcuffed the government in light of them and should serve as a constant reminder where the true power lies in this country – with you and I, as individual actors and citizens, empowered by an Almighty God, not by the whims of a beneficent government.
THE Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.
These rights were not passed to protect the citizen of that day from governmental encroachment, but to clarify for future generations what rights were held sacrosanct by the founders of this great nation. They collectively requested a number of enumerated rights by codified to prevent any confusion in the future. What is most interesting to this former political science student is how horribly they have been eroded.
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.
- Social media is monitored and data-mined in order to gather intelligence. This is done without a warrant, nor aimed specifically at a single terrorist/criminal, but rather society as an whole.
- Statements made freely and openly can lead to your arrest for political speech.
- The concept of separation of church and state is not found in this text, but it is enforced by legislative and judicial fiat as the law of the land.
- Peaceful assembly and collective freedom of speech/protest has been banned.
- The government has taken steps to censor the media through regulatory means, through threat of arrest, imprisonment, and fine, and through veto power over story publication.
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.
- I have written a great deal about this particular amendment because of how important I hold it (above the rest as it is the guarantor of liberty and freedom). Any attempts by the government to limit our rights in this regard (assault weapons bans, carry bans, ammunition bans, excessive fees/taxes, etc) I see as violations of the ending clause. Thankfully, the courts are finally seeing cases that expose many of the more excessive laws for what they are… unconstitutional and in gross violation of the letter of the law as well as the intent of it.
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.
- I’ll admit I had to dig for this one all the way back to World War Two. On this amendment, the government’s track record is significantly better than the rest.
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.
- Strip searches for minor infractions are permitted.
- Sense-enhancing search methods are permitted without more than an anonymous tip.
- Wireless communications are monitored by law enforcement and archived indefinitely.
- Government unmanned aerial vehicles (commonly called drones) are permitted to gather intelligence domestically and to monitor everyone in their general area in the interests of public safety.
- In order to use commercial transportation, you must consent to a search of your person (either through electronic means or physical search). More so, these sorts of intrusions are not limited to air travel, but have appeared and used in train stations, bus stations, and interstate highways. And don’t bother trying to opt out or protest how thing are being handled or you could end up with a criminal record or being threatened by an entire agency of the government.
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 offence 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 2012 NDAA gave the President the authority to detain American citizens without due process. “The statute is particularly dangerous because it has no temporal or geographic limitations, and can be used by this and future presidents to militarily detain people captured far from any battlefield,” (ACLU).
- Held without charge and temporarily committed in a psychiatric facility. He was released with no charges filed upon a judge’s order.
- People can now be compelled to provide passwords/passkeys to access your personal computer(s) in order to aide the prosecution of a crime in gathering evidence against you.
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 defence.
- This is one of the amendments where I had a great deal of difficulty finding a concrete violation. The track record on this one appears to be okay at least over the last few years. The indefinite detentions in the NDAA fall under a violation of the 5th and 6th in my mind.
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 re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
- Again, concrete examples are hard to find.
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
- The first 8th amendment case to reach the Supreme Court was decided in 1998. There is little definition of excessive bails and fines so your definition of each may differ from mine.
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
- Vague and numerous examples abound. I take this as more of a “don’t read into the language too much because it means what it says in plain language.”
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 simple fact is that these collections of violations and observations are just a small fraction of the number of probable violations in existence or practice today. My point in writing this is to point out the variety of violations that are happening all around us as we live our lives. Some of them are for issues I care about, some aren’t, but for me to stand on my principles and demand Constitutional government, it must be an all or nothing stance.