Bill of Rights Day: To preserve, protect, and defend the Bill of Rights

Regardless of whether other “public servants” support the Constitution, all Americans should preserve, protect, and defend the United States' Bill of Rights. Photo: whitehouse.gov

SAN JOSE, December 14, 2013 —  In recent years, the bedrock document of fundamental freedoms, the Bill of Rights, has increasingly come under attack. Not as direct assaults by international terrorists, but by men and women empowered by the government of the United States, namely elected “public servants” as well as their appointees. It is indeed ironic when the very people entrusted to “support,” or in the case of the President: “to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States,” are capable of weakening the Law of the Land.

Much of the American public is incredibly indifferent to the eradication of fundamental freedoms that have been ensured by the Constitution, specifically the cornerstones of individual freedoms proclaimed in the Bill of Rights. Even before the horror of 9/11, the 1st Amendment and the 2nd Amendment were under attack by those who would seek to dismantle two of the most important guarantees of personal freedom preserved in the founding document. Since 9/11, the 4th Amendment, the 5th Amendment, and the 6th Amendment have been incredibly weakened and possibly rendered meaningless.

Today, Americans tolerate such regular scrutiny as “business as usual,” and accept it as part of life in a post 9/11 world. Yet citizens willingly pay much more than the price of airfare to travel the “friendly skies” as invasion of their personal privacy (quite literally) is accepted as routine procedure. By submitting to standardized scans and searches prior to boarding a commercial aircraft, Americans, as well as other world travelers, trade freedom offered under the Bill of Rights for the freedom to fly “freely.” 

In addition, the Snowden disclosures of the NSA scrutiny of almost all cell phone activity made it apparent that there is technically no such thing as “probable cause” warrant requirements anymore.

Today, it is increasingly clear that the federal government, specifically the Executive Branch of the government, will do whatever it pleases with regard to individual liberty.

Americans are seemingly accepting of the fact that the government has assumed such liberty without requiring legal warrants to access cell phone conversations, text messages, and e-mail as well as other internet communications. In the name of fighting terror, the Patriot Act seemed a reasonable measure at the time under President Bush’s administration, but the law seems to have been injected with steroids under president Obama’s administration with such an extensive increase in the scope of the scrutiny of regular citizens.   

Today, again and again, observant Americans become aware of regularly reported incidents of the abuse of the document that has ensured the very freedom to read reports of abuse. And the abuse is all too casual, as if it is now normal to abuse this incredible document of fundamental freedom. Some are comfortable to use the premise of national security and the protection of the nation to be the primary, and often the only, reason the freedoms or civil liberties of Americans outlined in the Bill of Rights should be suspended.

Yet, as recently as October of this year, American citizens, especially veterans were physically denied the right of public assembly by the current administration of President Obama.

Ironically, when Barack Obama delivered his official proclamation declaring “Bill of Rights Day” last year, he quoted Franklin D. Roosevelt. When recognizing the 150th anniversary of our Nation’s Bill of Rights, President Roosevelt called it the “’great American charter of personal liberty and human dignity.’”

Obama explained that FDR “understood that the freedoms it protects — among them speech, worship, assembly, and due process — are freedoms that reinforce one another. They form the bedrock of the American promise, and we cannot fully realize one without realizing them all…”

It is a matter of history what President Roosevelt believed about the Bill of Rights, especially as he ordered well over 100,000 Japanese-Americans to be interned in “War Relocation Camps;” however, it is much less obvious whether President Obama and his minions have the same deep and disciplined respect for freedom.

On the surface, President Obama has the words memorized, or packed in a teleprompter, but one can wonder whether he really, deeply grasps the notion that words are one thing and deeds are another. In his 2012 proclamation, he stated: “In adopting the 10 Constitutional Amendments that make up the Bill of Rights, the Framers sought to balance the power and security of a new Federal Government with a guarantee of our most basic civil liberties. They acted on a conviction that rings as true today as it did two centuries ago: unlocking a nation’s potential depends on empowering all its people.” The Framers did indeed have such conviction, but it seemed the president wove his words carefully together to explain others’ convictions; it remains less obvious that Obama acts with the same conviction for ALL people.  [837]

Incredibly, President Obama’s conclusion of his brief proclamation did express truth:

Generations of patriots have taken up that challenge. They have been defenders who stood watch at freedom’s frontier, marchers who broke down barriers to full equality,    dreamers who pushed America from what it was toward what it ought to be. Now it falls to us to build on their work. On Bill of Rights Day, we celebrate the liberties secured by our forebears, pay tribute to all who have fought to protect and expand our civil rights, and rededicate ourselves to driving a new century of American progress.

On Bill of Rights Day, Americans should consider what has ensured that the nation has arrived at this point in history, no matter how good or bad it is perceived to be. All Americans should celebrate the liberties secured by the Founders and Framers and our forebears. All Americans should honor those who fought to protect civil rights. All Americans should consider what makes America the nation it is today, and what differentiates America from other nations around the world. Thus, regardless of whether Barack Obama or other “public servants” fully support the Constitution, it is indeed time for Americans to rededicate themselves “to preserve, protect, and defend” the Bill of Rights of these United States. 


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Dennis Jamison
Dennis Jamison
Dennis Jamison reinvented his life after working for a multi-billion dollar division of Johnson & Johnson for several years. Now semi-retired, he is an adjunct faculty member  at West Valley College in California.  He also currently writes a column on history and one on American freedom for the Communities at the Washington Times.

 

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