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The Bill of Rights for Dummies [View All]

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Home » Discuss » Archives » General Discussion: Presidential (Through Nov 2009) Donate to DU
Mythsaje Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-07-07 02:29 AM
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The Bill of Rights for Dummies
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Edited on Tue Aug-07-07 02:32 AM by Mythsaje
1. You can say what you want about your government and the people in your government. They aren't supposed to harass, arrest, or do anything to prevent you from doing so. This extends to the written word as well, and the government cannot tell the press how it may describe the government, whether it's flattering or not. The government doesn't get to decide what is "news" and what isn't.

You also have the right to worship God in your own way as long as no one gets hurt, or even not to worship as you so choose. The government doesn't get to say "this is the only real religion(s)."

Status: Ignored at will. (See "Free Speech Zones," "Media Consolidation," and "Evangelicals at the Air Force Academy." Also see "Atheists or pagans running for public office."


2. You have the right to defend yourself from assault. As long as you're the defender and not the attacker, you may protect yourself with whatever weapon is at your disposal. This right even extends to defense against unlawful attacks by the government itself, though the government would very much like you to forget about this part of it.

Status: Variable. Though certain elements often defend the "Right to Bear Arms" rigorously, there seems to be a lot of controversy surrounding who is allowed to use which methods to defend themselves. Members of certain minorities in particular are excluded from exercising this right without legal repercussions. Also, the police can exercise "no knock" warrants against any citizen and, even if they do NOT identify themselves as police, if any are somehow injured or killed during these raids, the civilian WILL be charged with murder and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.


3. The government can't force you to provide room and board for soldiers against your will. They can't make you rent a room to a soldier so he can keep an eye on you. This amendment is of limited importance these days.

Status: Mostly obsolete.


4. The government can't simply go through your things without first going to a judge to ask "please, we think this person is a criminal and here's why we want to look through his things, his mail, and/or tap his phone."

Status: Almost completely negated by Congressional acquiescence to the authority of President Bush and his Attorney General to intercept the communications of anyone they allegedly believe MAY be in contact with someone overseas. In addition, property can be seized without any evidence of a crime if certain agencies have reason to believe that the property is somehow connected with the sale of drugs.


5. You cannot be forced to testify against yourself or provide incriminating evidence to the authorities about yourself. Nor can they attempt to try you twice for the same crime, or take your property without paying you for it.

Status: Only partially in effect. If you are suspected of terrorism, you may be taken out of the country and placed jailed indefinitely, put under torture, and never receive any sort of legitimate legal representation. If they decide you could somehow "block" the rebuilding of Iraq, or Lebanon, they can block or seize your property without due process. This is in addition to the seizure orders in effect in the Status details of the 4th Amendment above.

6. You are entitled to a public trial that follows certain procedures before a jury of people like yourself to figure out if you're innocent or guilty of the crime of which you're accused. It's supposed to happen quickly, so that an innocent person isn't wrongly jailed for a long time.

Status: Only partially in effect. Certain minorities were unable to stand before a "jury of their peers" and now those suspected of terrorism are subject to military tribunals and not afforded any of the Constitutional protections listed above.

7. If someone sues you, or you sue someone else, you get to present the case to a jury and let them decide.

Status: Questionable. Right now forces are mustering to protect corporations from civil suits and are trying to tie the hands of juries by changing the whole process so it's almost impossible for the average citizen to challenge corporate power.

8. The government isn't allowed to set bail so high you'd never be able to get it. They are also not supposed to inflict "cruel and unusual punishment" upon any prisoner.

Status: Forget about it. Bail is whatever the hell the judge decides it will be and THEY get to decide what's "cruel and unusual."

9. The Constitution's supposed to explain the powers of government--what it can and can't do.

Status: The 9th Amendment has been ignored for a LONG time. Most Americans are completely unaware of what it was supposed to mean.

10. Powers not granted by the Constitution to the federal government is supposed to remain in the hands of the people, or in the separate states.

Status: :rofl: The people of California and Oregon passed Medical Marijuana laws. The federal government ignores these laws and prosecutes people anyway, though a strict reading of the Constitution grants it no such authority.


;)

Well, I'm hoping this sparks some interesting debate. Hopefully we'll be able to refrain from name-calling and other such juvenile behavior, but I'm not holding my breath.

edited to run a spell check
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