Do our laws go against the Bill of Rights?

3 Feb

The first ten amendments of the Constitution of the United States are known as the Bill of Rights.  My reason for bringing this subject to light is that I wonder just how many laws and court decisions contradict these Amendments. 

The first one many have heard of because it is referred to in the press quite often.  However, mostly the press doesn’t really state the Amendments in its entirety.  Let’s just look at these for a few minutes.

Amendment I

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 first section concerns the establishment of religion.  This means that Congress can’t even address religion in any way.  If Congress can’t address religion in any way then the Supreme Court cannot rule on any religious matter.  That is simple and straight forward.

The second section concerns freedom of speech. 

I think we have done pretty well on that one and the other item concerning assembly has been fairly well adhered to, although there are some problems there in the government’s reluctance to protect those active in such assemblies

Amendment II

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.

If you read this completely you will discover that the first of the amendment states that a well regulated militia is mentioned.  As regular citizens living in this county we should have the right to bare arms for recreation, hunting and even protection, but it is not part of the Constitution.  The National Guard is the only state sponsored well regulated militia that would qualify as identified in the Constitution.  However, they are not allowed to take their weapons home outside the bases.

The states fund the national government, the national government pays for the Nation Guard and the governors control the National Guard unless they are needed for National defense.  At that point they come under the direction of a four start general.

This way it is hard to determine if the Guard would be state controlled if the state had a disagreement with the national government.  If the national government has first control then a separate militia should need to be formed and regulated solely by the states.

Confusing isn’t it; was it planned that way or did that just happen.  If that is the case then our Second Amendment rights have to be interpreted that we need guns.  Now what size and shape is a different matter.

Amendment III

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.

This one so far has been fairly well kept except during the Civil War.  At that time the army did just as it wanted to.  They used southern property as they deemed fit.  As a result of the Civil War the Southern States were determined not to have been separated from the Union.  This shows that the national government will do as it wishes and decide whether or not it was right or wrong later.

Amendment IV

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.

The only thing I can say there is that this would be kept if the accused has enough money.  Otherwise the government especially the justice system does as it wishes both locally and nationally.

Amendment V

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.

I have, in my lifetime seen this amendment trampled by both state and federal government.  Again money plays a big hand it this.  This goes for people not getting JUSTLY compensated to people being defrauded by the government so other not connected with the property can prosper.  Again the justice you receive is directly related to how much money you have to buy your justice.

Amendment VI

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.

On the fringe of this amendment it seems we are doing well, but in practice the rights of each accused is to prove themselves innocent when accused.  The innocent until proven guilty is a myth.  Access to lawyers for jailed individuals is impaired almost completely in some counties to fairly reasonable in other.

Once the individual is tagged guilty the populous treats him guilty even after restitution has been made.  Needs work; criminals should be brought to justice, but within the realm of the Constitution.

Amendment VII

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 common law.

 

Here one thing that probably should be done is to amend the $20 to a value based idea.  The other thing that should be done is to force the trial to be settled at a faster pace once the damage has been assessed.  In common law practice the attorneys drag out the trails to benefit themselves and shield the damaging party from paying.  This is a constant in our society.  People that have a grievance usually cannot hold out because they do not have enough money.  Always it takes money in this country to buy justice.

Amendment VIII

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

This is being used in some cases to extreme allowing criminal types to circumvent the law, again, if they have money.

Amendment IX

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

This was supposed to cover rights not mentioned in the above texts.  The problem here is it sometimes used to adjust the tone of the first eight amendments.  This was never the purpose.

Amendment X

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.

This one has gone one way and then the other.  Before the Civil War the states gave the government certain powers and during the Civil War and shortly after the federal government took powers it never had before and kept them.  Again the federal and state and local governments will take power then explain why they took it.  This is why the constant redistricting of the voting public should be done independently.  Otherwise one vote will never mean anything.

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