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I don’t know about you, but I’ve come to think of our rights as spelled out in the Bill of Rights to be more important that anything else — more important than the economy, more important than health or love or even sex. The reason that I’ve come to think that is because when our Constitutional rights are curtailed, so are our opportunities in every other arena. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness can become impossible when our government interferes with those rights.

That is why I feel especially frustrated at the news that the Supreme Court has struck down Clapper v. Amnesty International. At issue is the federal government’s warrantless wiretapping program. The plain text of the Fourth Amendment seems — at least to me — to make that program clearly unconstitutional. It strikes at the very heart of the sovereignty of The People, a fundamental principle that underlies our Constitution. However, with their ruling, the Supreme Court has said that the government is supreme over the People, that certain rights — both enumerated and unenumerated — are not held by the People because the government can infringe upon them simply by saying those infringements are secret.

Clapper v. Amnesty International, Warrantless Wiretapping Challenge, Struck Down By Supreme Court

So, with SCOTUS turning a deaf ear to our individual liberties and rights, what options do we have left? Our politicians don’t listen to us — they listen only to a very few very wealthy individuals and corporations. The President doesn’t listen to us — he said “Make me”, and we gave him huge public opinion polls telling him what we wanted to have done, but he went in the opposite direction, instead, on many issues. And, now, the Supreme Court has confirmed that it has no interest in protecting our fundamental rights.

In times long past, Americans revolted against such tyranny. Today, however, the general public is much less aware of what is being done to them. As long as they’ve got their smart phones and junk food and football games, they’re content to let things ride. And those are things that the establishment will not mess with, since that actually would raise the ire of the public.

Since a modern revolt to reassert and protect our rights seems very unlikely to occur, must we resign ourselves to losing all of our rights, and to a planet made destitute by corruption and the ruining of our climate? Are our children truly doomed by our ignorance and laziness?

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Comment Preferences

  •  The Amendments to not spell out, much less (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    guarantee human rights. The Amendments enumerate some specific prohibitions, which are conditional. That is, if there is good reason, the prohibitions can be ignored.
    I suspect that is why some framers were wary about including prohibitions in the first place. If public officials were limited by the duties and obligations in the main body, spying, for example, since it hasn't been ordered, would not be acceptable.
    Also, the problem with prohibitions is that humans are inventive and can always come up with exceptions for why a particular prohibition does not apply. The mantle of "providing protection to the nation" has been extended over all kinds of malfeasance.
    What we need is a commitment to human rights, which we never have had.

    We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

    by hannah on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 04:22:57 AM PST

    •  There are no directly conferred human rights (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Juarez Traveller, Mnemosyne the US Constitution. After all, the document was largely written to appease slave-holders. By today's global standards, the document is too out-dated and stingy with rights. It is no longer used as a model in crafting modern constitutions.

      The modern model is the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which has been incorporated in the constitutions of most nations


      In 1946, world leaders decided to complement the UN Charter with a road map to guarantee the rights of every individual everywhere. The document they considered would later become the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

      The Commission on Human Rights was made up of 18 members from various political, cultural and religious backgrounds. Eleanor Roosevelt, widow of American President Franklin D. Roosevelt, chaired the UDHR drafting committee.

      The first draft of the Declaration was proposed in September 1948 with over 50 Member States participating in the final drafting. On December 1948, the General Assembly, meeting in Paris, adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights with eight nations abstaining from the vote but none dissenting.

      Denial is a drug.

      by Pluto on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 05:12:09 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Human rights cannot be "conferred," (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Juarez Traveller

        only recognized and respected or not.
        Civil rights are another matter in that they outline the duties which it is the right of citizens to perform:

        to vote
        to hold office
        to serve on juries
        to petition for laws
        to provide support
        to enforce the laws

        The Civil Rights agenda had to do with people acting as citizens, according to our Constitution. Human rights are derived from our natural fuctions as living organisms. They cannot be given, but they can be ignored and disrespected.

        We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

        by hannah on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 06:42:30 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Unenumerated rights (0+ / 0-)

      The right-wing often refers to the Tenth Amendment when talking about "states' rights" and, somethimes, when talking about individuals' rights. It's a legitimate referral.

      "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

      However, in this case, the right is clearly enumerated in the Fourth Amendment:

      "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

      The word "effects" comes into play here.

      I completely disagree that the framers were "wary" about including prohibitions on government power, and I'm not sure that you understand our Constitution.

      The entire Constitution is nothing but enumerations of government power and restrictions on it. The Bill of Rights is ONLY about prohibiting government actions. I don't see any reluctance on their part about anything except enumerating people's rights because that would have been limiting on us rather than on the other way around.

      Our founding fathers specifically sought to limit government power and to expand the power of the people.

  •  Re: (0+ / 0-)

    There's these things called elections; they occur from time to time and allow citizens to retain or replace officials at the local, state and federal level.  Try those out before worrying about revolting against tyranny.

    •  In case you haven't noticed,... (0+ / 0-)

      ...every government we get is farther to the right than the last one. The 2008 election gave us a President who actively pursues expanding government surveillance and seizures without warrants far beyond what Bush did.

      •  Re: (0+ / 0-)

        That's one dimension, one that's particularly susceptible to extraordinary advances in technology.  

        •  I have no idea what you meant by that. (0+ / 0-)

          Are you excusing Obama's usurpation of our Fourth Amendment rights?

          •  Re: (0+ / 0-)

            Not at all, but it's ridiculous to say that this country is moving further rightward under the President.

            •  Really? (0+ / 0-)

              What policies -- other than abortion rights and Lilly Ledbetter -- has he implemented that move us further to the left?

              Health care finance? He negotiated for contributions from the insurance and pharmaceutical industries and, in returned, promised the insurance companies that there would not be a public option. He did that in June 2009. He promised the pharmaceutical industry that he would not allow drug re-importation or allow Medicare to negotiate prices. Both industries now have firm holds on our health care system, and the cost of our national health care bill continues to rise.

              Finance in general? No one believes that Dodd-Frank does anything meaningful. Sure, we got a "Consumer Protection Agency", but it's housed under the Fed, which is not a government agency and is dominated and controlled by Wall Street, when it should have been in the Executive branch.

              Government corruption? Obama has done nothing to close the revolving door or to weaken the influence of money in politics.

              Social insurance? Obama has tried many times to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. It is guaranteed that Republicans will not stay stupid enough to keep refusing his offer of their Holy Grail.

              Labor? As I recall, he sold the unions down the river in Arkansas, Michigan, and Wisconsin, when he could have helped them.

              Civil Rights? How do warrantless wiretapping, extraordinary rendition, and torture strengthen our civil liberties? In what way does his defense of his ability to kill any person anywhere at any time for any reason make us more free? Perhaps you missed Eric Holder's press conference where he said that "due process is not necessarily judicial process", and that the President can make life and death decisions completely by his own specifications.

              I'm not sure what makes you say "it's ridiculous to say that this country is moving further rightward under the President". I'll be grateful if you could explain.

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