MCViewPoint

Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Posts Tagged ‘Bill of Rights’

Who Cares What the Government Thinks? – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on September 12, 2019

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2019/09/andrew-p-napolitano/who-cares-what-the-government-thinks/

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In 1791, when Congressman James Madison was drafting the first 10 amendments to the Constitution — which would become known as Bill of Rights — he insisted that the most prominent amendment among them restrain the government from interfering with the freedom of speech. After various versions of the First Amendment had been drafted and debated, the committee that he chaired settled on the iconic language: “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech.”

Madison insisted upon referring to speech as the freedom of speech, not for linguistic or stylistic reasons, but to reflect its pre-political existence. Stated differently, according to Madison — who drafted the Constitution as well as the Bill of Rights — because the freedom of speech pre-existed the government, it does not have its origins in government. The use of the article the reflects that pre-existence.

The First Amendment also reflects the framers’ collective belief that the freedom of speech is a natural right. It has its origins in our human nature. We all yearn to speak free from restraint, and we all understand that we can use our speech to express any idea we want to express without fear or hesitation. Those yearnings and understandings are universal — hence, natural.

The framers wrote the First Amendment to codify negative rights. That is, the First Amendment recognizes the existence of the freedom of speech for every person, and it negates the ability and the power of Congress — after the Civil War amendments, of all governments — to infringe upon it. The First Amendment does not command Congress to grant the freedom of speech (it is not Congress’ to grant); rather, it commands that Congress shall not interfere with it.

Nearly all of the rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights are negative rights. Their essence is not a grant of liberty. Their essence is a restraint on the government from interfering with pre-existing liberty.

I offer this brief understanding of the freedom of speech in our constitutional form of government as an introduction to a discussion of the dangers of government exercising free speech. We know from the plain language in and the history of the First Amendment that all persons have the freedom of speech. But what about the government? Does government have the freedom of speech?

That is not an academic question. The short answer to it is: Under the theory of the Declaration of Independence — that our rights come to us from the Creator and are inalienable — and consistent with Madison’s understanding, the government has no freedom of speech. Government only can exercise the powers we have given it. Nowhere in the Constitution did the states give such powers to the feds, and nowhere did the people give such powers to the states. We don’t elect government to identify ideas it loves or hates. We elect it to protect our freedoms.

Stated differently, who cares what the government thinks?

In San Francisco, one needs to care. Last week, the city government there condemned the National Rifle Association, labeled it a domestic terrorist organization and prohibited city agencies from interacting with it or with those with whom it interacts, because of the NRA’s robust defense of the Second Amendment. Can any government in America constitutionally do that? In a word: No….

Whatever one thinks of the NRA, the government has no business condemning it. Can it condemn McDonald’s as a health menace for selling fatty foods? Can it condemn pro-life groups as domestic terrorists for publicly attempting to dissuade young women from having abortions? Can it condemn young socialists for demanding confiscation and redistribution of property? Can it condemn the free press as a public enemy when the press criticizes it? The answer to all these hypotheticals (the last is not so hypothetical today) is: No. The First Amendment was written to keep the government out of the business of influencing the free market of ideas.

The whole purpose of the First Amendment is to encourage and foment open, wide, robust, unbridled speech about the government. Speech without fear or favor from the government. Speech without government interference. Speech without government challenge or reward.

In the most liberal city in America — where free speech was once sacrosanct — it is now subject to official government disapproval…

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More Spying and Lying – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on August 22, 2019

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2019/08/andrew-p-napolitano/more-spying-and-lying/

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While most of us have been thinking about the end of summer and while the political class frets over the Democratic presidential debates and the aborted visit of two members of Congress to Israel, the Trump administration has quietly moved to extend and make permanent the government’s authority to spy on all persons in America.

The president, never at a loss for words, must have been asked by the intelligence community he once reviled not to address these matters in public.

These matters include the very means and the very secret court about which he complained loud and long during the Mueller investigation. Now, he wants to be able to unleash permanently on all of us the evils he claims were visited upon him by the Obama-era FBI and by his own FBI. What’s going on?

Here is the backstory.

After the lawlessness of Watergate had been exposed — a president spying on his political adversaries without warrants in the name of national security — Congress enacted in 1978 the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. It prescribed a means for surveillance other than that which the Constitution requires.

The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution — written in the aftermath of British soldiers and agents using general warrants obtained from a secret court in London to spy on whomever in the colonies they wished and to seize whatever they found — was ratified as part of the Bill of Rights to limit the government’s ability to intrude upon the privacy of all persons, thereby prohibiting those procedures used by the British.

Thus, we have the constitutional requirements that no searches and seizures can occur without a warrant issued by a judge based on a showing, under oath, of probable cause of crime. The courts have uniformly characterized electronic surveillance as a search.

I am not addressing eyesight surveillance on a public street. I am addressing electronic surveillance wherever one is when one sends or receives digital communications. FISA is an unconstitutional congressional effort to lower the standards required by the Fourth Amendment from probable cause of crime to probable cause of foreign agency.

Can Congress do that? Can it change a provision of the Constitution? Of course not. If it could, we wouldn’t have a Constitution.

It gets worse.

The court established by FISA — that’s the same court that President Donald Trump asserts authorized spying on him in 2015 and 2016 — has morphed the requirement of probable cause of being a foreign agent to probable cause of communicating with a foreign person as the standard for authorizing surveillance.

What was initially aimed at foreign agents physically present in the United States has secretly become a means to spy on innocent Americans. In Trump’s case, the FISA court used the foreign and irrelevant communications of two part-time campaign workers to justify surveillance on the campaign…

The late Supreme Court Justice George Sutherland once wrote that we cannot pick and choose which parts of the Constitution to follow and which to ignore. If we could, the Constitution would be meaningless.

Did he foresee our present woes when he wrote, “If the provisions of the Constitution be not upheld when they pinch as well as when they comfort, they may as well be abandoned”?

Is that where we are headed?

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No Accountability in Washington. The CIA Wants to Hide All Its Employees — Strategic Culture

Posted by M. C. on July 29, 2019

…consider for a moment that if it turns out that serial pedophile Jeffrey Epstein was indeed a C.I.A. covert source, which is quite possible, he would be covered and would be able to walk away free on procedural grounds.

https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2019/07/25/no-accountability-in-washington-the-cia-wants-to-hide-all-its-employees/

Philip Giraldi

Government that actually serves the interests of the people who are governed has two essential characteristics: first, it must be transparent in terms of how it debates and develops policies and second, it has to be accountable when it fails in its mandate and ceases to be responsive to the needs of the electorate. Over the past twenty years one might reasonably argue that Washington has become less a “of the people, by the people and for the people” and increasingly a model of how special interests can use money to corrupt government. The recent story about how serial pedophile Jeffrey Epstein avoided any serious punishment by virtue of his wealth and his political connections, including to both ex-president Bill Clinton and to current chief executive Donald Trump, demonstrates how even the most despicable criminals can avoid being brought to justice.

This erosion of what one might describe as republican virtue has been exacerbated by a simultaneous weakening of the US Constitution’s Bill of Rights, which was intended to serve as a guarantee of individual liberties while also serving as a bulwark against government overreach. In recent cases in the United States, a young man had his admission to Harvard revoked over comments posted online when he was fifteen that were considered racist, while a young woman was stripped of a beauty contest title because she refused to don a hijab at a college event and then wrote online about her experience. In both cases, freedom of speech guaranteed by the First Amendment was ruled to be inadmissible by the relevant authorities.

Be that as it may, governmental lack of transparency and accountability is a more serious matter when the government itself becomes a serial manipulator of the truth as it seeks to protect itself from criticism. Reports that the Central Intelligence Agency (C.I.A.) is seeking legislation that will expand government ability to declare it a crime to reveal the identities of undercover intelligence agents will inevitably lead to major abuse when some clever bureaucrat realizes that the new rule can also be used to hide people and cover up malfeasance.

A law to protect intelligence officers already exists. It was passed in 1982 and is referred to as the Intelligence Identities Protection Act (I.I.P.A.). It criminalizes the naming of any C.I.A. officer under cover who has served overseas in the past five years. The new legislation would make the ban on exposure perpetual and would also include Agency sources or agents whose work is classified as well as actual C.I.A. staff employees who exclusively or predominantly work in the United States rather than overseas.

The revised legislation is attached to defense and intelligence bills currently being considered by Congress. If it is passed into law, its expanded range of criminal penalties could be employed to silence whistle blowers inside the Agency who become aware of illegal activity and it might also be directed against journalists that the whistleblowers might contact to tell their story…

Kiriakou also explains how the “…implementation of this law is a joke. The C.I.A. doesn’t care when an operative’s identity is revealed — unless they don’t like the politics of the person making the revelation. If they cared, half of the C.I.A. leadership would be in prison. What they do care about, though, is protecting those employees who commit crimes at the behest of the White House or the C.I.A. leadership.” He goes on to describe how some of those involved in the Agency torture program were placed under cover precisely for that reason, to protect them from prosecution for war crimes.

Even team player Joe Biden, when a Senator, voted against the I.I.P.A., explaining in an op-ed in The Christian Science Monitor in 1982 that, “The language (the I.I.P.A.) employs is so broadly drawn that it would subject to prosecution not only the malicious publicizing of agents’ names, but also the efforts of legitimate journalists to expose any corruption, malfeasance, or ineptitude occurring in American intelligence agencies.” And that was with the much weaker 1982 version of the bill.

The new legislation is an intelligence agency dream, a get out of jail card that has no expiry date. And if one wants to know how dangerous it is, consider for a moment that if it turns out that serial pedophile Jeffrey Epstein was indeed a C.I.A. covert source, which is quite possible, he would be covered and would be able to walk away free on procedural grounds.

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In 1975, during the Church Committee hearings, the ...

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FDR’s Worst Perversion of Freedom: The “Four Freedoms” Speech | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on January 18, 2019

Two years earlier, Congress enacted the Emergency Price Control Act, which created an Office of Price Administration with sweeping power to set or strike down prices in practically any industry.

https://mises.org/wire/fdr%E2%80%99s-worst-perversion-freedom-four-freedoms-speech

Franklin Roosevelt did more than any other modern president to corrupt Americans’ understanding of freedom. Last week was the 75th anniversary of his 1944 speech calling for a second Bill of Rights to guarantee economic freedom to Americans. Nation magazine whooped up the anniversary, proclaiming that Democrats now have a “unique—and likely fleeting—opportunity to deliver where FDR fell short” with vast new government programs.

The 1944 speech, given as the tide in World War Two was finally turning, was a followup of his 1941 “Four Freedoms” speech which exploited Americans’ rising apprehensions tosee far more power for the government. Roosevelt promised citizens freedom of speech and freedom of worship and then, as if he was merely enumerating other self-evident rights, declared: “The third [freedom] is freedom from want . . . everywhere in the world. The fourth is freedom from fear . . . anywhere in the world.” Proclaiming a goal of freedom from fear meant that government should fill the role in daily life previously filled by God and religion. Politicians are the biggest fearmongers, and “freedom from fear” would justify seizing new power in response to every bogus federal alarm… Read the rest of this entry »

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Rights……

Posted by M. C. on August 23, 2018

https://wp.me/s6xe4U-rights

CONSTITUTIONAL INSURGENT

Remember that rights are moral principles which define and protect a man’s freedom of action, but impose no obligations on other men. Private citizens are not a threat to one another’s rights or freedom. A private citizen who resorts to physical force and violates the rights of others is a criminal — and men have legal protection against him.

Criminals are a small minority in any age or country. And the harm they have done to mankind is infinitesimal when compared to the horrors — the bloodshed, the wars, the persecutions, the confiscations, the famines, the enslavements, the wholesale destructions — perpetrated by mankind’s governments. Potentially, a government is the most dangerous threat to man’s rights: it holds a legal monopoly on the use of physical force against legally disarmed victims. When unlimited and unrestricted by individual rights, a government is men’s deadliest enemy. It is not as protection against private actions, but against governmental actions that the Bill of Rights was written. – Ayn Rand, 1963

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The Whiskey Rebellion: How Brand New America Tore Up The Bill of Rights | The Daily Bell

Posted by M. C. on November 13, 2017

Another event to celebrate for you big government fans.

http://www.thedailybell.com/news-analysis/the-whiskey-rebellion-how-brand-new-america-tore-up-the-bill-of-rights/

223 years ago today, “The Dreadful Night” occurred in Western Pennsylvania, after an uprising called The Whiskey Rebellion. Read the rest of this entry »

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More on the Subject of Gun Control and Liars, take President Obama and Pathological Hillary…Please

Posted by M. C. on December 27, 2011

More about Obama’s anti-gun agenda.  He is getting help from that bastion of truth Hillary Clinton.  You remember Hillary, who as first Lady told the story of allowed to land in a helicopter in a free fire zone and had to dodge bullets on her way to safety.  I hate to point out mores lies but what can you do when talking about Obama and Hillary?  It just comes naturally. Read the rest of this entry »

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