Monday, June 22, 2015

A modest proposal

We need to do away with the anachronism known as the Bill of Rights.

Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

This amendment has been an unending source of problems preventing a just and equal society.  The ‘religion’ clause has been perverted by the radical right to prevent the much needed and popular distribution of birth control, for free, to any woman who wants it.  Instead the Catholic Church has been supporting the religious right in opposing this just and progressive initiative.

Furthermore, churches have vast fortunes which are not being subjected to normal taxation, which means a less fair society.

Also, the freedom of speech has been abused so badly that it needs some sort of limitation.  As Martin O’Malley has pointed out, we need to silence the National Rifle Association.  And the relentless attacks of radical right wing organizations such as Fox News on our President should not be allowed to continue.  A just, fair, progressive society cannot be created with such a background of vituperation.

This amendment needs to be repealed.

Amendment II
A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

This amendment isn’t even clear.  What it appears to say is that because the Redcoats might come back, everybody needs to have a gun, so they can get out there and fight them off.  The Redcoats are not coming back. 

We need to take guns out of our society for everyone’s benefit.  We need to allow Congress to pass laws restricting guns for all of our safety, and if Congress won’t act we need for our President to be able to take action by Executive Order.  Guns should be allowed only for licensed hunters, who have had background investigations, and hunters should be re-licensed every year.

This amendment needs to be repealed.  Even Karl Rove agrees that we can’t have gun control in this country until this amendment is repealed.

Amendment III
No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

This is another completely obsolete amendment. The Redcoats are not coming back.  It needs to be repealed.

Amendment IV
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.

In order to enforce the new Federal gun laws, it will be absolutely necessary for the police (hopefully the Federal police, another much needed reform) to be able to go into any place in order to search for illegal firearms. The necessity for a just, peaceful, progressive society trumps the old, obsolete, Eighteenth Century notion of individual rights.  Anyone who has ever been on the Internet has already waived any right to privacy anyway.

The fourth amendment needs to be repealed.  It has been ignored for the most part by the Federal Government since (at least) the Clinton Administration and has certainly been obsolete since September 11, 2001.

Amendment V
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

The Fifth Amendment has been long abused.  Look, for example, at George Zimmerman.  Why is he walking the streets and getting into more trouble?  He should have been arrested for the murder of Trayvon Martin and should still be locked up.  Why is it even necessary to try an individual such as that?  Why do we have to spend taxpayer money on this Roof individual?  Everyone knows he is guilty.

The takings clause is widely ignored anyway.  Any prosecutor can just confiscate anything he wants to for any reason or no reason.  In New York City they can take your vehicle and not even have to tell you why.  Look at what happened to AIG.  The government seized the company and paid nothing, and then sold off the stock it seized.

As far as someone being a witness against himself, ‘taking the Fifth’ is widely understood to be an admission of guilt anyway, so there is no real benefit to it.  As for the prohibition against double jeopardy, the Federal Government has worked its way around that any time necessary.  For example the police officers who beat Rodney King were retried for the same offense (they only beat him once) on civil rights grounds.

The Fifth Amendment interferes with the just, equal, progressive society and must be repealed.

Amendment VI
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

The Sixth Amendment is obsolete and should be repealed.  Do you think for a moment that an impartial jury can be found for someone like Roof?  And when that videographer made the anti-Muslim video that caused the Benghazi tragedy, wasn’t the President right to have him locked up, held with no charges, and throw away the key?  Why should a Zimmerman have to be given equal treatment in court with some innocent defendant? And why should we have to pay for his lawyer?

The Government is already ignoring this amendment whenever it needs to (cf. Gitmo) and it should already have been repealed.

Amendment VII
In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Twenty dollars?  Absurd.  And courts overturn facts found by juries all the time – all you have to do is assert improper influence or bias and you can do it.  This amendment no longer serves any purpose and should be repealed.

Amendment VIII
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

This is another obsolete amendment.  The bikers in Waco were all held with $1 million bail even though most of them were just spectators.  Who decides what is excessive?  And our President imposed fines on the oil company responsible for the big leak in the Gulf without any legal proceedings at all.  With the near-elimination of the death penalty, which a more progressive Supreme Court will completely eliminate soon, the prohibition against cruel and unusual punishments will be obsolete.  This amendment should be repealed.

Amendment IX
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

This sure sounds like States Rights to me, and in order to prevent outrages like the Confederate Battle Flag appearing anywhere except in a history book, it needs to be repealed.

Amendment X
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.

Oh, please, more States Rights.  The power should be in the hands of the Federal Government.  It is the surest way to a fair, equal, progressive society.  The states missed their chance.  This amendment must be repealed.

The Bill of Rights is really the Bill of No Rights, according to the Federal Government, and its repeal is basically already done, but we need to make it official.  This will help lead to a more equal, just, peaceful, and progressive society for all Americans.

Let's start the movement now!  Repeal the Bill of Rights!

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