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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-27-07 07:25 PM
Original message
The U.S. Constitution, Minority Rights, and the Need to Remove those Who Would Destroy them
The United States of America is not just a democracy it is a constitutional democracy. What that means is that our government is designed to express not only the will of the majority (democracy), but also to simultaneously protect the unalienable rights of minorities and the powerless. That is an extremely important point because it is the constitutional protections of minorities and the powerless that add civility, humanity, and decency to what could otherwise be a barbaric nation democratic or not.

In other words, democracy alone does not ensure that a nation will act humanely and decently. A majority can at times be quite cruel and unfair. Lynch mobs will generally express the will of the majority (of the mob that is). The majority of whole nations can at times approve of and do terrible things. Even genocides can at times express the will of a majority. And that is precisely why our Founding Fathers recognized the need for a Constitution that would protect the rights of minorities and the powerless.

Thus it is that our Constitution provides the foundation for our nation; that it has for more than two centuries provided our nation with international respect and credibility; and that the abandonment of our Constitution under the leadership of George Bush and Dick Cheney has largely eliminated the international esteem in which our nation was previously held, reversed more than two centuries of progress, and now threatens to throw our nation and our world back into the Dark Ages.

So lets consider how our Constitution protects the unalienable rights of minorities in our country, how those rights are withering away under the Bush/Cheney regime, and why removing the perpetrators from office is the best solution for bringing our country back into the (relatively) civilized world.

But before doing that I want to point out that when I speak of the need for our nation to reengage in the protection of minority rights, I am speaking of my own rights as much as anyone elses. Though I am a white male citizen of the United States, I am nevertheless a minority, as are most DUers. We are a minority because of what we believe, what we say, and what we write. And as such, our rights in this country are under attack and perhaps in need of as much protection as are the rights of genetically determined minorities, many who are minorities in more than one respect.


The many ways in which our Constitution protects minority rights AND
How the Bush/Cheney Administration is destroying those rights


Separation of Powers in the main text of the Constitution
Recognizing that too much concentration of power in the hands of a single individual or a tightly knit group could lead to tyranny and the trampling of individual rights, our Founding Fathers took great care to separate the powers of our federal government so that they would check and balance each other, using several mechanisms to do that in the first three Articles of our Constitution.

The power to enforce the laws of the land, and the authority given the President as Commander-in-Chief during war time are especially important to check and control because arbitrary enforcement of laws, which are especially prone to occur during time of war, are a notorious means of denying rights to vulnerable individuals. For that reason, our Founding fathers balanced those executive powers by giving Congress the sole power to enact laws and declare war.

By appending signing statements to more than 800 laws enacted by Congress more signing statements that all 42 previous presidents combined have used, George Bush has arrogantly asserted his intentions not to be bound either by the rule of law in general or by the Separation of Powers provided in our Constitution. The American Bar Association has said that it:

opposes, as contrary to the rule of law and our constitutional system of separation of powers, the misuse of presidential signing statements by claiming the authority . . . to disregard or decline to enforce all or part of a law the president has signed

The so called War on Terrorism and our war in Iraq has been used by the Bush administration repeatedly as an excuse to deny basic human rights to thousands of people. Yet Bush and Cheney repeatedly lied to Congress and to the American people to justify our invasion of Iraq. In so doing, according to the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR):

.... George W. Bush has subverted the Constitution, its guarantee of a republican form of government, and the constitutional separation of powers by undermining the rightful authority of Congress to declare war, oversee foreign affairs, and make appropriations. He did so by justifying the war with false and misleading statements and deceived the people of the United States as well as Congress

First Amendment
By protecting our right to speech, to assemble, to practice our religion, and to petition our government, our First Amendment protects us against punishment for expressing our opinions, regardless of how unpopular those opinions are.

George Bush has denied us our First Amendment rights in numerous ways: He denies the right of protesters to be heard by confining the right of protest to first amendment zones. He denies government access to journalists who fail to tow his line. He ties up our airways, using tax dollars, with government propagandists pretending to be real journalists. And he has even claimed the right to imprison journalists who expose administration crimes to the public.

Second Amendment
Unlike the other Constitutional amendments, which speak of rights that are important in and of themselves, the Second Amendment, by giving us the right to form militias, seems to me like a fail-safe mechanism of last resort, for protecting us against our government in case it decides to abuse our rights (Some also believe that the Second Amendment gives us the right to individual gun ownership, though our courts have never recognized it as such.)

I have to admit that I am not as interested in our Second Amendment as I am about most of the other ones, since I dont believe that a militia has ever protected Americans against the power of their federal government, nor can I imagine that happening. But perhaps they may turn out to be more important than I currently imagine.

As far as I am aware, the Bush administration has not infringed on our Second Amendment rights. Doing so would alienate his rapidly shrinking base, which he can ill afford. Nevertheless, the likelihood that George Bush has thought along those lines is suggested by his attempt to take control of Louisianas National Guard and local police during the emergency engendered by Hurricane Katrina.

Third Amendment
This amendment says that we cannot be forced to allow soldiers into our homes. It was not used until 1979, almost two centuries after its passage.

As far as I know, George Bush hasnt abused this right within the United States, though it is obvious that our occupying forces in Iraq have repeatedly been quartered in whatever premises are required by military necessity.

Fourth Amendment
This amendment protects our privacy by disallowing unreasonable searches or seizures. It does this by requiring that searches or seizures by government be preceded by specific warrants that are based upon probable cause.

George Bushs warrantless domestic spying program is a clear example of massive and repeated violations of our Fourth Amendment rights. Though Bush has repeatedly assured Americans that the programs purpose is to catch terrorists, he has offered no evidence to that effect. If the Bush administrations wiretapping of American citizens had a justifiable basis behind it, there should be no reason it couldnt request warrants to conduct them. Though Bush claims that that would hamper his War on Terror, that claim is patently absurd, since the law allows the requesting of warrants to be retroactive. Furthermore, knowledgeable sources have maintained that, though thousands of warrantless wiretaps per year have been ordered and conducted by the Bush administration, fewer than ten per year are justified by the constitutional standard of reasonable cause for suspicion.

Fifth Amendment and Sixth Amendment
These amendments contain several provisions that are meant to ensure due process of law, or in other words, a fair trial prior to punishing an individual for an alleged crime, by taking away his or her life, freedom, or property. They do this especially by requiring a speedy trial, an impartial jury, the right to confront witnesses against oneself, and to be informed of the nature of the charges against oneself.

In its so-called War on Terror, the Bush administration has violated virtually every provision of our Fifth and Sixth Amendments. It is barely an exaggeration to say that our detainees in this so-called war have no rights whatsoever. They are held indefinitely, and only a minute fraction of them have charges brought against them. They are not allowed to confront witnesses against them. They are not given access to counsel. According to our own military, most of them are completely innocent. The whole idea of innocent until proven guilty is turned inside out by our administrations repeated public pronouncements on their guilt.

The only explanation I can think of as to why there isnt more outrage against these crimes against humanity is that most people think that it doesnt apply to them. Those people should think again. Our recently passed Military Commissions Act gives George Bush the authority to deem as an unlawful enemy combatant anyone who engages in hostilities against the United States. Given their tendency to very broad definitions of hostilities, it is not unreasonable to think that George Bush and Dick Cheney would consider my writing of this article equivalent to engaging in hostilities against the United States.


Eight Amendment
This amendment protects us against cruel and unusual punishment, including torture.

There is abundant evidence that torture of our detainees is widespread and routine, as documented by Human Rights Watch, Seymour Hersh, Amnesty International, the International Red Cross, and our own FBI. Furthermore, the Bush administration has issued memos affirming its right to torture our prisoners, and George Bush himself has appended a signing statement to an anti-torture bill passed by Congress.

Thirteenth Amendment
The Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery, the worst of all the abuses of minority rights. There are many liberal Americans who denigrate our Constitution and our Founding Fathers who created it because they initially allowed this terrible affront to humanity. But what some of these people may not understand is that refusal to surrender on this issue (on the part of many who abhorred slavery) would not have done anything to end slavery, since the American South would never have agreed to it. It finally took a catastrophic Civil War to end slavery in the United States, and had it not been for the Constitution which founded our nation, slavery may have persisted much longer than it did.

Perhaps the protection against slavery is so basic and uniformly accepted in our country that even George Bush wouldnt push for it. But perhaps he would. The privatization of our prison system is an open invitation to forced labor (i.e., slavery), and it is something that George Bush as Governor of Texas was sympathetic to and had strong ties to (See section on slave labor).

Fourteenth Amendment
This amendment in some ways repeats the due process provision of our Fifth Amendment. Coming as it did following the Civil War, its framers anticipated that the recently freed slaves would face intense racial discrimination at the hands of the defeated Southern states. Therefore, the Fourteenth Amendment was directed specifically at the states, saying Nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Needless to say, my above description of how the Bush administration has trampled on and denied the rights of our detainees (American citizens and non-citizens alike), applies here as well. Furthermore, the racial factor which spurred the creation and acceptance of the Fourteenth Amendment, is fully operational in the way that the Bush administration abuses that Amendment. Whenever George Bush or Dick Cheney justify their abusive treatment of prisoners they allude to what THEY did to us. Everyone knows what THEY refers to. It refers to Muslims. It refers to guilt by association. It has nothing to do with the actual actions or guilt of our detainees, as abundantly proven by the rarity with which charges are brought against them. Even in justifying our illegal invasion of Iraq, all George Bush has to say is We got attacked, oblivious to or unconcerned about the non-relationship between who attacked us and who George Bush chose to attack.

Fifteenth Amendment
This amendment, like the Thirteenth and Fourteenth, represented an attempt to give the newly freed slaves the Constitutional rights that would enable them to live a decent life. The Fifteenth amendment gave them the right to vote, although after briefly making use of that new right during the Reconstruction era, the defeated Southern states effectively and almost completely denied that right until the Voting and Civil Rights movements of the late 1950s and 1960s, culminating in the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

George W. Bush came close enough to winning Floridas electoral votes in the Presidential election of 2000 to enable five jackasses on our Supreme Court to award him Floridas electoral votes, thereby selecting him as president. But he was able to do this only because, among other nefarious reasons, his lawyers challenged the right of the state of Florida to count all of its votes (The uncounted votes were greatly disproportionately cast by the descendents of slaves) and because George Bushs brother, the Governor of Florida, had illegally disenfranchised tens of thousands of voters, most of whom were the descendents of slaves.

And then again, in 2004, George Bush was re-elected to the presidency when he was awarded the electoral votes of Ohio, with the great assistance of numerous actions that worked to disenfranchise tens of thousands of mostly Black voters. Needless to say, there was no federal investigation into these numerous criminal incidents.

And no discussion of denial of voting rights would be complete without noting that today most of our votes are counted by machines using secret computer programs that cannot be verified for accuracy.


Sixteenth Amendment
The Sixteenth Amendment allowed the use of the federal graduated income tax to raise money for use by the federal government. The use of this amendment recognizes that excessively wide gaps in income are bad for democracy and result in a lack of opportunity and the trampling of rights for a large portion of our citizenry. Franklin Delano Roosevelt explained this best, speaking of what he termed economic royalists:

It was natural and perhaps human that the privileged princes of these new economic dynasties, thirsting for power, reached out for control over Government itself. They created a new despotism and wrapped it in the robes of legal sanction. In its service new mercenaries sought to regiment the people, their labor, and their property. And as a result the average man once more confronts the problem that faced the Minute Man.

George Bush, on the other hand, has done everything in his power to re-expand the income gap that hadnt previous existed in our country since the Gilded Age of the robber barons. Hes done this in every manner conceivable, from awarding billions of dollars worth of no-bid contracts to his corrupt friends, to failing to take any action to alleviate the catastrophic effects of Hurricane Katrina, to pushing through a large array of tax plans that are meant explicitly to benefit the rich at the expense of everyone else by reversing the salutary effects of our Sixteenth Amendment. He justifies his unbalanced tax proposals by saying Its your money thus implying that the federal government (i.e., we the citizens of the United States) have no right to it. But we do have a right to it, and that right is explicitly written into the Sixteenth Amendment to our Constitution.

Nineteenth Amendment
This amendment gave women the right to vote, thus eliminating one of the great defects in our Constitution. Judging by recent national elections, women are making much wiser use of their voting rights than men (but thats just my opinion).

I have to admit that this is one Constitutional amendment that George Bush probably wouldnt even attempt to abuse. He is probably powerless to do so. Women are no longer a vulnerable minority with respect to the right to vote. Unlike the situation in 1920, when they had no political rights, today they constitute a tremendously powerful voting block that politicians alienate only at great risk to their political futures.

Twenty-Fourth Amendment
This amendment was another attempt to solidify the right to vote for the descendents of former American slaves (and other vulnerable minorities). It did so by abolishing the poll tax, which posed a distinct barrier to voting by citizens who were relatively lacking in financial resources.

Today we see the Republican Party, in a desperate attempt to maintain power, re-instituting poll taxes in a number of states, disguised as requirements to ensure that people dont vote twice.


On the need to remove from office those who would destroy our Constitution

Thus, it should be abundantly obvious that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney are intensely hostile to each of the numerous provisions of our Constitution that are meant to protect the unalienable rights of minorities and the powerless, which is so eloquently expressed in the Declaration that made us an independent nation. And not only are they unalterably hostile to those provisions, but they have repeatedly put themselves above the law in denying those Constitutional rights to us, the American people.

The first duty of the President and the Vice President is to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, and they are sworn to do so. In that vein, I previously posted an article on DU entitled Impeachment is Our Last Non-Violent Defense Against Tyranny. Though generally well received, some DUers argued that impeachment is not our last defense against tyranny rather, elections are.

I hope that this discussion has successfully argued against that view. Elections are what democracy is about. But the prominence of our Constitution in the birth and history of our country means that we are much more than just a democracy. Our Constitution represents a bulwark against the tyranny of the majority for those times when the majority may be tempted to act in a tyrannical manner. Times of crisis or proclaimed crisis are precisely the times when majorities are most tempted to act in a tyrannical manner against minorities and the powerless, out of fear or hatred. We are in such a time now. And our pResident and Vice pResident are doing everything they can to raise themselves above the law and abuse the authority granted them, in their grasping for ever more power.

Waiting until the next election before attempting to getting rid of them is likely to have two terrible consequences. First, it appears that they are on the verge of, in addition to escalating the current war in Iraq, expanding it to another country. That could very well involve nuclear weapons and precipitate World War III. In any event, the consequences are bound to be catastrophic.

The other terrible consequence of waiting until the next election is that it would send a message and set a precedent for acknowledging that the protection of the inalienable rights granted to us in our Constitution and paid for with centuries of struggle and millions of deaths and casualties incurred by our ancestors in two wars are not really that important after all. The impeachment provision of our Constitution was put there by our Founding Fathers for very good reasons. If the widespread violation of our Constitutional rights is not a good enough reason to use it, then nothing is.

Some say that we dont have enough votes to make a successful attempt to remove Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney from office. Well, the votes are rarely available prior to the attempt. As the evidence of the numerous crimes of the Bush/Cheney regime against our Constitution become more available to the American public, Republican Senators will be forced to make a decision between party loyalty and their own political futures just as Republican Congresspersons had to do during the impeachment proceedings against Richard Nixon. I have little doubt as to how they will handle such a decision.

But whether or not the votes are there, or ever will be there, should not affect the decision on whether or not to make the attempt to remove the worst cancer that has ever disgraced and endangered our nation. The attempt must be made. To do otherwise would be to concede that our Constitution is not worth struggling for. And that could very well be the beginning of the end for our Constitutional democracy.
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Independent_Liberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-27-07 07:32 PM
Response to Original message
1. K&R!
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-27-07 09:39 PM
Response to Original message
2. The Nation has a very interesting take on impeachment and the war in a recent editorial
Noting that the Democratic effort to impeach Nixon was followed by huge Democratic gains in Congress later that fall (1974) and two years after that by Jimmy Carters election to the Presidency, it goes on to say:

recall that investigations that could lead to impeachment may, as one ingredient of Congresss activity, strengthen rather than weaken the efforts to end the war. Investigations, resolutions, legislation, not to mention citizen action, can all find their place as part of the common effort. For the Republic, for peace, let all these surge together.

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Karenina Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-28-07 02:46 PM
Response to Reply #2
12. Impeach, Indict, Imprison and
:kick:
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-27-07 11:23 PM
Response to Original message
3. Paul Craig Roberts calls for impeachment of Bush to stop Iran invasion
http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=viewArti...

The only action that can stop Bush is for both the Democratic and Republican leadership of the House and Senate to call on the White House, tell Bush they know what he is up to and that they will not fall for it a second time. The congressional leadership must tell Bush that if he does not immediately desist, he will be impeached and convicted before the week is out.


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mod mom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-28-07 06:35 PM
Response to Reply #3
20. Yes, I believe he is looking for another national crisis to either declare martial law
or shift the sentiment where he is allowed to divert attention away from his criminal acts. Why wait and allow him to further ruin this country and trample the constitution?

Thanks TFC-another (of many) outstanding post!
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-28-07 11:03 PM
Response to Reply #20
26. Thank you mod mom -- yes, I will be very disappointed in our Democratic Congress
if they don't make a damn strong effort to stop this regime before they get us involved in another war.
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mod mom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-29-07 08:00 AM
Response to Reply #26
28. Unfortunately I believe there is a powerful faction in our party who will go w another
war. :mad:
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mmonk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-27-07 11:27 PM
Response to Original message
4. Great thread.
The most important issues we currently face (not Edward's house).
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-28-07 01:59 AM
Response to Reply #4
6. Thank you -- One poster thought that Edwards' house itself was going to make a run
for the presidency. I don't think I could vote for an expensive house like that! :P
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Cabcere Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-27-07 11:28 PM
Response to Original message
5. The Constitution?
Please. Everyone knows that's "just a goddamned piece of paper." :sarcasm:

(Seriously, though, this is an excellent post. K&R!) :kick:
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-28-07 06:51 AM
Response to Reply #5
7. Thank you -- To Bush and Cheney it is way worse than "just a goddamned piece of paper"
To them it is a major impediment to their grand plans. They barely even pretend to show any respect for it. I certainly hope that, "off the table" or not, our Congress is thinking long and hard about doing something very aggressive about this. The fact that they are investigating a lot of things is a good sign, but I'm feeling very impatient about this, and I don't know whether their investigations are a prelude to definitive action, or something much less.
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-28-07 09:26 AM
Response to Original message
8. The Center for Constitutional Rights has produced a short book
that has drawn up articles of impeachment against Bush and Cheney, called "Articles of Impeachment Against George W. Bush".
The charges include:
Unauthorized spying on American citizens
Unlawfully taking our nation to war against Iraq
Unlawful treatment of prisoners of war
Failure to execute the laws of our country (as in his signing statements).

And at their website they talk about many things we can do to further the process along:
http://www.articlesofimpeachment.net /

In this post I summarize much of their advice:
http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.ph...

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Karenina Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-28-07 09:51 AM
Response to Reply #8
9. K&R!!!
:applause:
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-28-07 10:57 AM
Response to Reply #9
10. Thank you Karenina
:)
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hansberrym Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-28-07 11:41 AM
Response to Original message
11.  Good post overall, but your take on the second amendment
Edited on Sun Jan-28-07 11:43 AM by hansberrym
demonstrates just how easily one can adopt the sort of doublespeak that the Bush administration employs with the 1st, 4th, 5th, etc. and other clauses meant to protect us FROM government.


Unlike the other Constitutional amendments, which speak of rights that are important in and of themselves, the Second Amendment, by giving us the right to form militias, seems to me like a fail-safe mechanism of last resort, for protecting us against our government in case it decides to abuse our rights (Some also believe that the Second Amendment gives us the right to individual gun ownership, though our courts have never recognized it as such.)


The second amsndment does not GIVE us the "right to form militias", it recognizes "the right of the people to keep and bear arms", and guarantees that right shall not be infringed. The preamble is neither a qualifier nor a conditional as anyone familiar with English grammar will know. It is Absolute Construction and it provides a rationale for the main clause -the right... shall not be infringed. There is no reference whatever to the right to keep and bear arms being unimportant "in and of itself". That a right is important in that it serves a larger purpose in no way suggests that it is otherwise unimportant.


The Bradys and other Collective Rights advocates turn the plain language of the second amendment on its head. The explicit right recognized(to keep and bear arms) is to them less important than the implied right (armed citizens able to form a collective resistance against tyranny). But the utter silliness of that claim ought to be obvious. If the citizens can be disarmed(defeating the explicit right recognized), they can't form a collective resistance -thus defeating the (supposedly all-important) implied right as well. And so by the the insideous process of doublespeak the second amendment becomes a protection of the government FROM the people.








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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-28-07 02:53 PM
Response to Reply #11
13. Second Amendment issues
What I said in my OP was that the federal courts have never recognized the 2nd Amendment as giving individuals the right to bear arms, as opposed to forming militias, which it clearly does say. As far as I know, you may or may not be correct that our Founding Fathers meant it to apply to individual gun ownership. I cannot comment on that. But it is nevertheless true that our courts have never recognized that right. If you can site a case to show otherwise, then please do so.

With regard to my statement that I believe that "the Second Amendment, by giving us the right to form militias, seems to me like a fail-safe mechanism of last resort, for protecting us against our government in case it decides to abuse our rights", that was just my opinion, which I stated as such.

I don't see any double speak there.
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hansberrym Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-28-07 03:48 PM
Response to Reply #13
15. How can we form militia if we are not armed?
What I said in my OP was that the federal courts have never recognized the 2nd Amendment as giving individuals the right to bear arms, as opposed to forming militias, which it clearly does say.

1) Never? The link you provide says otherwise.
2) Does the second amendment say we a right to form militias? or does it say we have a right to keep and bear arms? This is not a trick question.


As far as I know, you may or may not be correct that our Founding Fathers meant it to apply to individual gun ownership. I cannot comment on that.

Why CAN'T you comment of that? Are you incapable of discerning truth on your own? It doesn't seem that to me from your comments regarding Bush's trampling of our other rights.


But it is nevertheless true that our courts have never recognized that right. If you can site a case to show otherwise, then please do so.

The link you yourself provided shows the statement to be untrue (Emerson).
But even if Bush, Gonzales, a federal judge, or a dozen judges tell you 2 + 2 = 5 , would that change the truth?


With regard to my statement that I believe that "the Second Amendment, by giving us the right to form militias, seems to me like a fail-safe mechanism of last resort, for protecting us against our government in case it decides to abuse our rights", that was just my opinion, which I stated as such.

I don't see any double speak there.


How can we form militias if we are not armed? You may not see doublespeak, but you are repeating it.

Your above opinion is dead on, but you fall for the Collective Right slight-of-hand.



Unlike the other Constitutional amendments, which speak of rights that are important in and of themselves, the Second Amendment,

Where do you get the idea that the right to keep and bear arms is not important in and of itself? That opinion is not stated in the amendment.


by giving us the right to form militias,

Where does the second amendment GIVE us the right to form miltiias?
The only right explicitly guaranteed is the right to keep and bear arms.



seems to me like a fail-safe mechanism of last resort, for protecting us against our government in case it decides to abuse our rights (Some also believe that the Second Amendment gives us the right to individual gun ownership, though our courts have never recognized it as such.)

How can we form militias if we are not armed? Your above opinion is dead on, but you fall for the Collective Right slight-of-hand.






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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-28-07 04:12 PM
Response to Reply #15
17. How can we form a militia if we're not armed?
That's kind of like asking like how we can play baseball if we don't own a baseball bat. We get one from our team when we go to play a game.

I don't understand why you have to be so hostile about this. It is not my opinion that the 2nd Amendment doesn't give us the right to bear arms. That is what our courts have said -- repeatedly. The only case you cite to refute that -- Emerson -- was over-ruled by a higher court. Don't argue with me about that, argue it with the judges who made the decision.

And excuse me for saying that I CAN'T comment on what our Founding Fathers had in mind regarding individual gun ownership when they wrote the 2nd Amendment. I should have said that I WON'T comment on it -- because I haven't studied it enough or given it enough thought.

And yes, I am capable of discerning truth on my own. But that doesn't mean that I have an opinion on everything.
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hansberrym Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-28-07 07:55 PM
Response to Reply #17
22. If no one is allowed to own baseball equipment, then nobody
will have it. What you will have is nine guys on each team but no equipment. You can't play baseball that way anymore than you can have a militia without arms.

And how does the "team" fit into your analogy?

Does the second amendment read -the right of the militia to keep and bear arms? (Do you need a law degree or two or three years of studing the question to give an answer? )

Where is my "team"? How do I sign up? (think, occam's razor)


I am not hostile, rather I am simply pointing out that the same tactics that the Bradys use to deny the second amendment are being used by Bush to deny the rest of the Cosntitution.

Bush has his team of lawyers, and he can cite legal briefs from such luminaries as Gonzales to support his cause, but it doesn't change the fact that under our Constitution the executive has no say in legislation other than to give assent or to veto. Signing statements have no constitutional basis regardless of how many guys in black robes might someday agree with Gonzales.


Got a link to Emerson being over ruled?




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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-28-07 10:14 PM
Response to Reply #22
24. You don't have to "own" baseball equipment to play baseball
You can use the equipment that the team or league provides you.
You don't have to "own" a gun to be in a militia (It could be provided to you by the militia when you drill with them or participate in any of their activities), but I suppose it would help. If you belonged to a militia and your locality passed a law against owning guns, then I guess the case might have to go to the courts.

I agree with you that reading the 2nd Amendment, it sounds like it gives us the right to bear arms. But our courts have not seen it that way -- perhaps they're basing their decisions on historical evidence involving the deliberations of our Founding Fathers. I don't know what their reasoning is, I haven't studied it very much.

The article I link to in the OP talks about the Emerson case:
"This ruling has been appealed and since that decision, two federal courts, including a higher Circuit court, have ruled that the Second Amendment does not guarantee an individual right to keep and bear arms (Gillespie v. City of Indianapolis)."
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hansberrym Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-31-07 06:43 PM
Response to Reply #24
32. But , as per your analogy, ...
who is the league? Who decides if I am in the militia?, or if I can have a weapon.

If the people have a right to play baseball, why do they have to ask the league for equipment? That would mean that the league, and not the people, would have the right to play baseball.

The Collective Rights argument creates another entity -the people collectively- but then can't answer who decides if I am in the militia. Or why the states would have the power to violate a supposed collective right of the people protected the US Constitution. That is why I mentioned Occam's Razor earlier. Is there yet another entity associated with the second amendment?, perhaps some subgroup of the people who are empowered to decide for the people collectively who shall be in our militia?

The States Rights argument as in Caroline Kennedy's book is not as "sophisticated" as the collective rights argument, instead it cuts right the chase and simply "replaces the right of the poeple to keep and bear arms", with "the right of the states to arm their militias". But anyone who can read can see that the second amendment guarantees "the right to the people" and not "the right of the state".




Thankfuly the Democratic Party platform has pledged to support the individual right to own arms, and in recent years the doublespeak regarding the amendment is fading. But it is well worth your time to read up on the history of the right to keep and bear arms and then read some of the decisions supporting either the collective or States Rights interpretations.









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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-28-07 11:10 PM
Response to Reply #22
27. Here's another, clearer statement on the Emerson case
http://www.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2002/6/10/1407...

"Timothy Joe Emerson, was indicted by a federal grand jury in San Angelo, Texas, for possessing a firearm, a Beretta pistol, while under a domestic-violence restraining order, a violation of federal law.

A federal judge, ruling that the federal law was a violation of the Second Amendment, dismissed the indictment. But a federal appeals court subsequently reversed the judge."
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benEzra Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-29-07 09:21 AM
Response to Reply #27
29. IIRC, the court recognized the individual right aspect, but said
that it was OK to deny constitutional rights to people subject to restraining orders, as I recall. I'd have to go back and look it up, but IIRC the court did NOT rule that the 2ndA didn't apply to individuals. In fact, they tacitly admitted that it does apply to individuals, because they didn't dismiss it on grounds that he lacked standing as an individual to bring a 2ndA case; they dismissed it on the merits of the case itself, same as they would have for a 1stA decision, IMHO.
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-29-07 04:51 PM
Response to Reply #29
30. "In Our Defense -- The Bill of Rights in Action"
This is a book by Caroline Kennedy and Ellen Alderman, which discusses each of the first 10 amendments in detail. Here's how they sum up the Morton Grove case:

The Second Amendment, therefore, acts only as a restriction on the federal government keeping it from passing legislation that would infringe on a statels right to arm and train its militia. State legislatures remain free to regulate or restrict state militias. Municipalities may also limit private access to weapons under their power to provide for the public health and safety.


The Morton Grove case (which banned private ownership of guns) was appealed and, in 1982 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit affirmed that decision. It concluded that "the right to keep and bear handguns is not guaranteed by the 2nd Amendment".

Sorry, but I don't know what you are referring to by IIRC, so I can't comment on that.
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hansberrym Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-31-07 06:07 PM
Response to Reply #27
31. And an even clearer statement from the link you provided...

From your link:
Olson told the Supreme Court that the appeals court was right when it ruled "that the individual right to bear arms protected by the Second Amendment is subject to 'limited, narrowly tailored specific exceptions or restrictions for particular cases that are reasonable and not inconsistent with the right of Americans generally to keep and bear their private arms as historically understood in this country."


tells us exactly how the Emerson court interpreted the second amendment.



http://fl1.findlaw.com/news.findlaw.com/hdocs/docs/gunl...

From Emerson:
Although, as we have held, the Second Amendment does protect individual rights, that does not mean that those rights may never be made subject to any limited, narrowly tailored specific exceptions or restrictions for particular cases that are reasonable and not inconsistent with the right of Americans generally to individually keep and bear their private arms as historically understood in this country.
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TahitiNut Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-28-07 02:56 PM
Response to Original message
14. "Majority Rule and Minority Rights" (1943) by Henry Steele Commager
Edited on Sun Jan-28-07 03:01 PM by TahitiNut
IMHO, it's THE seminal work on this issue ... and is the very essence of Liberalism. It's out of print, but it's a very worthwhile read ... very short but VERY jam-packed.


One significant quibble. The Constitution does NOT "give us" rights, even in the (so-called) Bill of Rights. What it does is leash the monster called "government" and PROHIBITS it from infringing on the rights of the People, under whose very rights and authority that government even attains legitimacy.

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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-28-07 05:21 PM
Response to Reply #14
18. Thank you for the reference -- I think I'll see if I can find it
I don't quite understand your "significant quibble". In other words, I don't see much of a substantive difference between our Constitution 'giving' us rights versus prohibiting the government from infringing on those rights.

Unless you mean to say that those are somehow naturally given to us, so we don't need a document that "gives" them to us. But it seems to me that we do need that document -- because without it, that would it easier for despots like Bush and Cheney to deprive us of those rights. The fact that they are clearly written into our Constitution (i.e., prohibiting the government from infringing on those rights) means that at least we have a remedy to combat the attempts of despots to take them away from us.
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TahitiNut Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-28-07 06:56 PM
Response to Reply #18
21. I believe it's very important to understand that it's our rights that even
... make the Constitution itself legitimate. both morally and legally. On other words, to insinuate, imply, or even permit the idea that the Constitution is, in any sense whatsoever, superior to human rights is the kind of toxin that gives govern-mental-cases license to act to abrogate those rights.

To be a bit more specific, any powers or authorities established by the power of a state is called an entitlement. Titles, such as Duke, Prince, King, or Baron, and even titles to property either real or legal fictions (e.g. stock) are created not by Nature but by the state. The powerful and greedy, no matter where or when, have always and will always covet entitlements and will seek to reduce human rights themselves to mere entitlements - entitlements only available to the wealthiest or most powerful, i.e. those who 'own' the state.

In my view, even though the letter of the law says otherwise, 'treason' is not (morally) a crime against the state unless it's a crime against The People. In that sense, when The People dissolve the state because it assumes superiority over The People, they are not committing treason, they are committing self-governance ... just like we did 230 years ago. While we might be desirous of an alternative, force (even non-violent) is ultimate the basis on which human rights can be protected. It's called self-defense.

The beauty of any form of democracy is in the mechanisms of "slow-motion revolution" (participation in our own governance) - elections, votes of confidence, petition, protest, referenda, and impeachment. If the mechanisms of "slow-motion revolution" are atrophied and denied The People, 'fast-motion' revolution becomes the ultimate recourse. That option can never be denied.

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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-28-07 11:00 PM
Response to Reply #21
25. Ok, I see what you're saying, and I agree with it
The rights we have in our Constitution are rights that the People have given themselves. And as specified in the document that provides the moral grounds for our Constitution (our Declaration of Independence), those rights are inalienable, and therefore cannot be taken away by the state. Still, it's very good IMO to have it written down as such in our Constitution, which provides the legal foundations for our government.

I also agree with you that "treason" is not morally a crime unless it is also a crime against the People -- though theoretically in a democracy a crime against the state IS a crime against the People.
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kentuck Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-28-07 03:55 PM
Response to Original message
16. Yes, we are a nation of laws - not men...
But the whole of the Republican Party seems to have forgotten that...?
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-28-07 06:24 PM
Response to Reply #16
19. I'm afraid that is absolutely correct
I am mightily hoping that the Democratic Party considers it important enough to take aggressive action against Bush and Cheney, who have forgotten it even more than their fellow Republicans in Congress.
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Ellipsis Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-28-07 08:36 PM
Response to Original message
23. .
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