March 20, 2006
Bush's Amended Bill of Rights
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It's about time someone tabulated this--you hear about Bush violating the Bill of Rights, it's another thing to see the actual damage laid out. So here it is, the Bill of Rights, George W. Bush-style:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion (Bush and the GOP have blurred the lines between church and state, giving clear endorsement to Christianity, in many different ways), or prohibiting the free exercise thereof (coming soon); or abridging the freedom of speech (Bush's "free-speech zones" prohibit free speech elsewhere; those with criticisms of Bush anywhere near him are arrested), or of the press (this is a tough one--Bush has fought the periphery of this one, though has otherwise undermined the press so much that he doesn't have to go that far); or the right of the people peaceably to assemble (again, "free-speech zones"), and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances (people are more and more forbidden to sue the government, and Bush allows people to be charged or otherwise punished with the evidence kept secret, making redress impossible).
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.
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.
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 (Bush says he has the power to authorize warrantless eavesdropping and physical searches).
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury (Bush and Congress have obviated this in the name of the War on Terror™), 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 (see above); nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial (You may be taken to Gitmo and held indefinitely without 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 (only if your crime was in Gitmo), and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation (Bush now says this can be classified, sorry); to be confronted with the witnesses against him (also classified); to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor (impossible if everything is classified), and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence (see previous).
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 (see previous).
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed (partial--bail and fines are moot if you are held without bail and your livelihood destroyed), nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted (torture now allowed).
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people (Bush appointed strict constructionists, who say if it's not in the Constitution, it doesn't exist).
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. (see Amendment IX; also, despite making "states' rights" claims, the Bush administration and the GOP in Congress overrule states whenever they are displeased with what states are doing; prosecution of distribution of medicinal marijuana is one small example)
Did I miss anything?
It might actually be easier to list the parts of the Bill of Rights that Bush hasn't violated. Of those, some are non-relevant because of changing times (quartering soldiers in private homes), some are ones Bush doesn't want or need to change (exception for indictment under military law), or a combination of both (depending on how you read the Second Amendment); and some are on their way out (prohibiting the free exercise of religion--something which goes hand in hand with the marriage of church and state, just takes more time).
You might argue that these violations are not absolute--that most free speech is not infringed, for example, or that most people still don't fall victim to warrantless searches. That argument is wrong. The Bill of Rights is not something you can "partially" uphold; they are absolutes. Violate them even just a few times, and they fall apart. Why? Precedent. Now that Bush has violated most of the Bill of Rights, those violations--unprosecuted, not found unconstitutional--may now be used to justify further incursions against the Constitution. What, did you think the only way the Constitution could be obviated would be all at once? Of course not. It must be destroyed while maintaining the illusion that it is still there. It is destroyed piecemeal, rights and liberties chipped away, until no incursion can be denied. These rights are not revoked, they are simply made weak so they can be violated at will. And so they are.
As for the argument that only some people's rights are violated, that's not just wrong, it's dangerous--and unthinking. There has never been a dictatorship or regime so tyrannical that everyone is oppressed. There's a word for those who agree with other people losing their liberties so long as their own are untouched: collaborators. Think about it.
Posted by: Sako at March 20, 2006 04:24 PM
Posted by: ykw at March 21, 2006 02:50 AM
Posted by: Paul at March 21, 2006 05:22 AM
Posted by: Luis at March 21, 2006 08:35 AM
Posted by: Dawn at May 18, 2006 10:54 PM