In the United States, it’s becoming more and more customary to have our constitutional rights violated or threatened. As our nation becomes more progressive, the first liberties to be trampled have been those guaranteed by the First Amendment: For the most part, the freedom of speech exists only so long as you are politically correct; The freedom of religion is only for those who embrace tolerance over their religious beliefs; And who can rely on the freedom of the press with the Department of Justice spying on reporters and seizing their phone records? Not to mention the threats to the Second Amendment by gun control advocates or to the Fourth Amendment with the NSA eagerly looking over the shoulder of every citizen. We may well be aware of the abuse to these rights, but what about all of others? Are they, too in danger of being destroyed – or is it even too late?
Rights That May Fly Under Our Radar
Take, for example, the Third Amendment. You know, the one that says, “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.” Not worried about these rights being violated? Maybe you should be…
The Mitchell Family, in the Las Vegas suburb of Henderson, Nevada, learned just how important the Third Amendment is when they were forced from their homes so that law enforcement could occupy their homes “in order to gain a ‘tactical advantage’” during a police standoff (that had nothing to do with the family) that lasted for hours. But it didn’t end there. Once police officers forced their way into the homes and “rummaged” through the family’s belongings without permission or a warrant, the father and son were both arrested for “obstructing an officer” and spent nearly 10 hours in jail. So, how important is the Third Amendment to you? Is it worth protecting?
What about your Fourteenth Amendment rights? Remember, this amendment, like the Fifth Amendment, guarantees due process. But the Fourteenth Amendment also guarantees that citizens’ constitutional rights, their legal rights, are respected by the State. It also says that the State can’t “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws,” guaranteeing citizens have access to both the law and courts. So when the Mitchells refused to let police use their homes but law enforcement forced their way in without a warrant, was that due process? Or was it a disregard for both due process and for the Mitchells’ legal rights?
The Conspicuous Loss of Rights
Don’t think for a second that the Mitchell’s problem isn’t your own as well, because we share both those rights, and the threats to them. James Madison once said, “I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.” And that’s the reality that America is facing. We’re not facing some violent and sudden dismissal of citizens’ rights. Instead, we’re slowing losing a grip on them, and many Americans don’t even realize how far the government has encroached on our liberties.
It’s bad enough when the government, on any level, blatantly disregards our freedoms, our rights. And the severity of this issue must not be taken lightly, as the government gradually becomes a threat to nearly all of them. And the unfortunate truth here is that we’re losing our rights; their presence, their existence is entirely meaningless if we’re subjected to force that prevents us from exercising them.
In pursuit of the truth,