Life, Liberty, and….. The Bill of Rights?

Published 4:32 pm Wednesday, September 2, 2015


I saw a post on Facebook which alleged that Vice President Joe Biden had said, “No ordinary American citizen cares about their constitutional rights.”
This seemed like a bit of a stretch, even for someone as dumb as Joe Biden, so I decided to research it. What he actually said was equally dumb, “No law-abiding citizen in the United States of America has any fear that their constitutional rights will be infringed in any way. None. Zero.”
Okay, Joe, here’s one law abiding citizen who has serious fears that his constitutional rights may be infringed.  I’m even willing to give examples.
So, in the educational tradition of this column…
The First Amendment guarantees that the Gov’t won’t make laws about religion or restrict the free exercise thereof. It also guarantees freedom of speech, freedom of the press, the right to peaceful assembly, and the right to petition the gov’t for a redress of grievances. (This is why Muslims love us.  They can come here, be Muslims, say they hate the gov’t, put it in the paper, get together and talk about it, and sue the gov’t for foot washing stations in the airports.)
The Second Amendment says citizens get to own guns. Yes it does. Of course, convicted felons and known nutcases aren’t supposed to own guns, but I’m in favor of that. Too bad they can’t enforce it.
The Third Amendment says the gov’t won’t send soldiers to live with us in our houses. (I’m not actually afraid of this one.)
The Fourth Amendment protects us from illegal search and seizure and guarantees that warrants have to be issued on probable cause, under oath, and name the place to be searched and the items or people to be seized.  (Friends and neighbors, I’ve seen this amendment violated.)
The Fifth Amendment guarantees that we can’t be locked up for a capital crime without a grand jury indictment. (Think George Zimmerman.)  It also guarantees due process (essentially that the gov’t will follow the law), prohibits being tried twice for the same thing, and allows us to keep quiet when asked to say something incriminating about ourselves.
The Sixth Amendment is essentially part two of the Fifth.  It guarantees defendants the right to trial by jury.  It doesn’t say anything about a jury of your peers, though.  It does guarantee that the gov’t tell you what you’re accused of, give you the chance to confront your accuser, let you have witnesses on your behalf, and an attorney to represent you. (This was a big change from the Colonial system which was basically, “Ready, aim, fire!”)
The Seventh Amendment says that in any suit in common law for a value over twenty bucks, the plaintiff automatically gets the right to trial by jury.  (I think this one needs to be adjusted for inflation.)
The Eighth Amendment says the gov’t won’t impose excessive bail, excessive fines, or cruel or unusual punishment. (Apparently that judge that fined those Christian bakers $150,000 over a cake wasn’t familiar with this one.)
The Ninth Amendment says that just because the Constitution enumerates certain rights, it can’t deny or disparage other rights retained by the people.  (This is where the SCOTUS was going on their decision about gay marriage.)
The Tenth Amendment says that powers not given to the Gov’t by the Constitution, or prohibited by the Constitution to the States, are reserved by the States, or to the people.  (This was the counter-argument about the gay marriage ruling.)
Now, you can’t say you haven’t been told.