Happy Birthday to the Bill of Rights

On December 15, 1791, the U.S. adopted the Bill of Rights.

It's been slowly eroded since then, with the Patriot Act and other laws borne of fear in the mistaken belief that by restricting our rights we will become safer.

It's a great day to remind our elected officials in Congress of this anniversary -- and the history behind this critical addition to our Constitution.

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    Who's Next? (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by dutchfox on Fri Dec 15, 2006 at 10:49:59 AM EST
    Thanks for the reminder, Jeralyn.

    From Balkinization:

    [This essay, on the beginnings of the Jose Padilla case, originally appeared in the Hartford Courant on June 20, 2002. Over the next several days I will be republishing some op-eds and pieces I wrote in the first year after 9/11 on civil liberties issues.

    It is worth remembering the extreme claims of power that led to Padilla's original imprisonment. Before the Hamdi decision, the Bush Administration took the view that it could seize anyone, anywhere-- including U.S. citizens-- that it claimed was associated with terrorism and hold that person indefinitely without any rights. Furthermore, it claimed that the President's designation that a person was an enemy of the state was unreviewable by the courts, or at the very least should be upheld if there was any evidence supporting it, including, for example, a self-serving affidavit from an executive branch official.

    Five years later, Padilla is still in prison without ever having been convicted of any crime, and, if reports are to believed, has become unhinged from the treatment he received at the hands of his own government.

    It has often been said that it can't happen here. But it already has happened. And it is still happening.

    Five years after 9/11, we should remember the road we have traveled.]

    I'm gonna check back in the next days to see what JB writes.

    safety........ (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by cpinva on Fri Dec 15, 2006 at 05:10:03 PM EST
    at the cost of freedom, is no security at all.

    i'm sure i've stolen that, probably paraphrased, from some person much smarter than myself, but that party's name escapes me at the moment.

    the thought, however, remains.

    Squeaky (none / 0) (#10)
    by Edger on Fri Dec 15, 2006 at 07:42:43 PM EST
    posted this link last month, and I think it's relevant and worth reposting:

    From billmon:

    Emerson: What are you doing in there, Henry?

    Thoreau: No, Waldo, the question is: What are you doing out there?

    Thanks for finding it, Squeaky.


    You're welcome, Edger (none / 0) (#11)
    by squeaky on Fri Dec 15, 2006 at 07:51:31 PM EST
    The pleasure was all mine. bilmon hasn't posted for a month. Not since his piece on Webb which was quite shocking, if you ask me.
    Comrade Webb

    It was good one! (none / 0) (#12)
    by Edger on Fri Dec 15, 2006 at 07:53:07 PM EST
    Definitely worth remembering. ;-P

    I agree (none / 0) (#13)
    by squeaky on Fri Dec 15, 2006 at 08:03:42 PM EST
    My sense of direction (this way is left; that way is right) is getting pretty scrambled. Former Reagan cabinet officers now sound like Abby Hoffman. Connecticut Senators who started out trying to impeach Richard Nixon now sound like John Mitchell. Where's it going to end?



    this way is left; that way is right... (none / 0) (#14)
    by Edger on Fri Dec 15, 2006 at 08:09:48 PM EST
    the center used to be right here,
    but all that's left,
    and the right is way over there,
    beside the cliff...

    NOw you've... (none / 0) (#15)
    by Edger on Fri Dec 15, 2006 at 08:10:42 PM EST
    ...got me doing it! :-)

    It's not all bad. (1.00 / 1) (#2)
    by Gabriel Malor on Fri Dec 15, 2006 at 10:48:55 AM EST
    I tend to think that we've gained more than we've lost. Here's a list (off the top of my head) of things related to the Bill of Rights that we've gained since then:

    (1) An expansive understanding of the First Amendment. First Amendment freedoms are many times more extensive than they were back then.

    (2) A much more expansive understanding of the protections to privacy embodied in the Fourth Amendment. After all, the word "privacy" doesn't even appear in the text and yet we now understand it protects a person's reasonable expectations of privacy.

    (3) An expansion of substantive due process rights that would have been unimaginable for the early US. The due process clause of the 5th amendment gives us such freedoms as the right to use contraception, the right to an abortion, the right to have sex! with someone not your spouse and many other liberty freedoms.

    (4) A modern understanding of the Sixth Amendment has led us to provide lawyers for the indigent, something that wasn't recognized until the 20th century.

    So, even if you think that you're being oppressed by the Patriot Act, to claim that your rights have been eroded since the time of the adoption of the Bill of Rights is to completely ignore the course of American history.

    Oh,My.God. Further comment unnecessary. (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Bill Arnett on Fri Dec 15, 2006 at 12:37:13 PM EST
    Just one. Bill (none / 0) (#6)
    by Edger on Fri Dec 15, 2006 at 01:32:06 PM EST
    There's no delusion like self delusion, I guess. Quite incredible. isn't it?

    I'm sure Jose Padilla appreciates the facts... (none / 0) (#17)
    by Bill Arnett on Sat Dec 16, 2006 at 04:04:01 PM EST
    ...that, according to Gabriel, prove that we have REALLY improved civil rights for all Americans.

    Need I say more?


    Careful..... (none / 0) (#1)
    by kdog on Fri Dec 15, 2006 at 10:29:46 AM EST
    I don't think the govt. would appreciate people being reminded that this glorious document is still the law of the land.  

    They are hoping our fears get the better of us and we forget it exists.

    Gift giving from Bush & Co. (none / 0) (#4)
    by David at Kmareka on Fri Dec 15, 2006 at 11:33:21 AM EST
    Gee, I wonder what gift the Bush administration thought to give the Bill of Rights on this notable occasion.  Rumor has it that they wanted to give ol' Bill a cozy suite at a local retirement community but then, lacking any real imagination or good will, they settled on a gaudy tie and a quart of Aqua Velva.

    Domestic Security Act (none / 0) (#7)
    by William Hosch on Fri Dec 15, 2006 at 02:57:55 PM EST
    So, do you all think that "they" have given up on passing some (possibly retitled) version of this http://www-tc.pbs.org/now/politics/patriot2-hi.pdf?mii=1

    Possible quote? (none / 0) (#9)
    by William Hosch on Fri Dec 15, 2006 at 07:33:55 PM EST
    Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety--Benjamin Franklin (probably, but there is so doubt over authorship)


    Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both--Benjamin Franklin

    Actually, Franklin used many similar aphorisms.

    yep, that's probably it (none / 0) (#16)
    by cpinva on Sat Dec 16, 2006 at 12:34:28 AM EST
    it's good to know i steal from such intelligent sources! :)