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Today Is National Bill Of Rights Day. Now, More Than Ever, We Need To Remember.

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“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.”

 

In 1941, Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared December 15 to be Bill of Rights Day, commemorating the 150th anniversary of the ratification of the Bill of Rights. In the present climate of political repression in which we find ourselves, the importance of the first ten amendments to our constitution deserves to be recognized.

During the debates on the adoption of the Constitution, opponents repeatedly charged that as drafted the Constitution would open the way to tyranny by the central government.

Remembering the violation of civil rights before and during the Revolution, the Founding Fathers demanded a “bill of rights” that would spell out protections for individual citizens. Several state conventions in their ratification of the Constitution asked for such amendments; others ratified the Constitution with the understanding that the amendments would be offered.

James Madison originally introduced the amendments to the first United States Congress as a series of legislative articles. Prior to his proposing the amendments, Madison acknowledged there was discontent with the Constitution as written:

“I believe that the great mass of the people who opposed disliked it because it did not contain effectual provision against encroachments on particular rights, and those safeguards which they have been long accustomed to have interposed between them and the magistrate who exercised the sovereign power: nor ought we to consider them safe, while a great number of our fellow citizens think these securities necessary.”

The Bill of Rights was adopted by the House of Representatives on August 21, 1789, formally proposed by joint resolution of Congress on September 25, 1789, and upon ratification by three quarters of the States, came into effect as Constitutional Amendments on December 15, 1791. While twelve
amendments were passed by Congress, only the ten we call The Bill of Rights, were originally passed by the states. Of the remaining two, one was adopted as the Twenty-seventh Amendment and the other still technically remains pending before the states.

The Bill of Rights originally only included legal protection for land-owning white men; it excluded African Americans and women. It took additional Amendments and decisions by the Supreme Court to extend the same rights to all U.S. citizens.

UC Davis police officer pepper spraying unarmed, non-violent students at campus Occupy Movement protest, November, 2011

The First Amendment is especially referenced these days; most often because of recent attempts to bring religion into the political discussion or to curb freedom of speech and the press and peaceable assembly. As we observe the sometimes successful attempts to insert religious belief into school curricula and the excesses of police brutality; pepper-spraying, tear-gassing and arrests of peaceful protestors and the prevention of the press from photographing the incidents, the importance of The First Amendment is especially apparent.

 

Congress OF THE United States
begun and
held at the City of New York, on Wednesday
the Fourth of March, one thousand seven hundred and eighty nine.

THE Conventions of a number of
the States having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a
desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that
further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending
the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best insure the
beneficent ends of its institution

RESOLVED by the Senate and House of
Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, two
thirds of both Houses concurring, that the following Articles be proposed to
the Legislatures of the several States, as Amendments to the Constitution of
the United States, all or any of which Articles, when ratified by three fourths
of the said Legislatures, to be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of
the said Constitution; viz.:

ARTICLES in addition to, and
Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, proposed by
Congress, and ratified by the Legislatures of the several States, pursuant to
the fifth Article of the original Constitution.

Article 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.

Article
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.

Article 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.

Article 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.

Article 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 offence 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.

Article 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.

Article 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 re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the
rules of the common law.

Article VIII

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

Article
IX

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

Article 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.

Upon ratification by three quarters of the States, these ten articles came into
effect as Constitutional Amendments on December 15, 1791 and are known as The Bill of Rights.

 

Stuart Wilber. Photo by Mathew Ryan Williams

 

Stuart Wilber believes that living life openly as a Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender or
Allied person is the most powerful kind of activism. Shortly after meeting his partner in Chicago in 1977, he opened a gallery named In a Plain Brown Wrapper, where he exhibited cutting edge work by leading artists; art that dealt with sexuality and gender identification. In the late 1980’s when they moved to San Clemente,
CA in Orange County, life as an openly gay couple became a political act. They moved to Seattle 16 years ago and married in Canada a few weeks after British Columbia legalized same-​sex marriage. Although legally married in some countries, they are only considered domestic partners in Washington State. Equality continues to elude him.

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Nikki Haley Continues Her IVF Evolution With Yet Another Policy Position 

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Nikki Haley is now on her fourth in-vitro fertilization (IVF) policy position. In a period of less than two weeks the trailing Republican presidential candidate has gone from saying embryos are “babies,” to distancing herself from the Alabama Supreme Court ruling that claims embryos are “children,” to saying she supports IVF but it’s an issue for the states, to calling for federal protections for IVF.

After the extreme Alabama Supreme Court ruling that declared human embryos to be “children,” the former Trump UN Ambassador quickly announced she agreed that embryos are “babies.”

“When you talk about an embryo, you are talking about, to me, that’s a life. And so I do see where that’s coming from when they talk about that,” Haley had said.

But public sentiment runs strongly against the Alabama Court’s February 16 ruling and Haley’s concurrence February 21.

Haley, who is trailing Trump in the polls by strong double digits, pulled back from aligning herself with the toxic Alabama decision.

RELATED: Republicans Kill Bill to Protect IVF After Claiming They Fully Support It

“Well first off all, this is, again, I didn’t say that I agreed with the Alabama ruling. The question that I was asked is, ‘Do I believe an embryo is a baby?’” Haley told CNN, as The New Republic reported. “I do think that if you look in the definition, an embryo is considered an unborn baby. And so yes, I believe, from my stance, that that is.”

That appears to not have been sufficient, because she quickly switched her stance yet again.

“We don’t want fertility treatment to shut down, we don’t want them to stop doing IVF treatment, we don’t want them to stop doing artificial insemination,” said Haley, again to CNN, on February 22. “But I think this needs to be decided by the people in every state. Don’t take away the rights of these physicians and these parents to have these conversations.”

And now, another switch.

“We don’t need government getting involved in an issue where we don’t have a problem,” she told CNN’s Dana Bash on Friday. “We don’t have a problem with IVF facilities. If you have a certain case, let that case play out the way it’s supposed to but don’t create issues and that’s what I feel like it’s happened with this.”

READ MORE: ‘Trump’s Lawyers Got It Dead Wrong’: Espionage Act Trial Will Not Be Stalled by DOJ Rule

But there is a problem, and it was caused by Republicans. Specifically, by the Dobbs case and the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. The Alabama Supreme Court majority opinion mentioned Dobbs over a dozen times.

“I think we want IVF to be as accessible as possible to parents who are wanting those blessings of having a baby,” she also said Friday, adding a religious element to her remarks. “I don’t know the details of any of the bills, so I can’t weigh to that. But what I can tell you is, we don’t want to take that away from parents who desperately want to have a child.”

“Michael and I got our children from fertility processes. We need to make sure that those are available, that they’re protected, that it’s personal, and that the whole situation is dealt with respect,” she added, echoing pro-choice concepts while applying them to IVF.

Asked, “should there be a federal protection” for IVF, “or do you think it should be left to the states?” Haley replied: “Well, I think there should be federal protection that we allow for IVF places to be able to function.”

She added, “I think that the people need to decide if they want to get into the details of it or not. It’s the same thing of, do they want to decide, you know, exactly how many embryos or anything like that. I hope they don’t get into that. I want to see that decision between the parents and the doctors. But I think the only thing that the federal government should do is make sure that IVF places are protected and available.”

Professor of law Joyce Vance said recently, “It’s pretty simple. If life begins at conception, IVF is off the table. If you make an exception for IVF then we’re just having a conversation about who you’re willing to make exceptions for.”

Watch the video above or at this link.

READ MORE: Tuberville: Secure the Border Because Immigrants ‘Know Nothing About God’

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‘Trump’s Lawyers Got It Dead Wrong’: Espionage Act Trial Will Not Be Stalled by DOJ Rule

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Special Counsel Jack Smith’s prosecution of Donald Trump in the Espionage Act case, which will be tried in Florida, will not be stalled by the U.S. Dept. of Justice’s policy on not taking certain actions 60 days before an election. The case, often referred to as the classified documents case, includes 31 charges under the Espionage Act.

MSNBC legal analyst and contributor Katie Phang Friday afternoon reports on the “BIG news out of Ft. Pierce.”

“The DOJ advises Judge Cannon that the ’60-day rule’ does NOT apply in Trump’s case as he has already been indicted & the case is already being litigated,” Phang writes. “So, no reason to delay taking him to trial, even with elections in November.”

Phang notes professor of law and her fellow MSNBC contributor Joyce Vance has been making that point.

“Read the policy for yourself,” Vance added Friday. “it doesn’t apply after a case is indicted, when the judge, not DOJ, is in charge of the schedule. Trump’s lawyers got it dead wrong.”

Vance points to her own Substack newsletter’s commentary, where she explains: “At the start of his filing, Trump tries to invoke DOJ policy as a justification for not having a trial this year. But he gets the analysis dead wrong. Trump tries to claim the protection of a DOJ policy against interfering in elections—a huge irony in light of Trump’s efforts to corrupt DOJ after the 2020 election and get the Justice Department to legitimize his false election fraud claims.”

READ MORE: Trump Swore Under Oath He Had $400 Million in Cash – Now He’s Telling a Court a Different Story

“Trump argues that ‘Given President Trump’s status as the presumptive Republican nominee and President Biden’s chief political rival, a trial this year would also violate Justice Manual § 9-85.500, which applies to the Special Counsel’s Office, and prohibits ‘Actions that May Have an Impact on an Election.’ ‘”

“The provision Trump references reads as follows: ‘Federal prosecutors and agents may never select the timing of any action, including investigative steps, criminal charges, or statements, for the purpose of affecting any election, or for the purpose of giving an advantage or disadvantage to any candidate or political party,'” Vance notes.

She adds that the timing of a trial is controlled by a judge, not the DOJ.

READ MORE: ‘Injustice’: Experts Condemn Supreme Court’s ‘Fundamentally Corrupt’ Trump Decision

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Tuberville: Secure the Border Because Immigrants ‘Know Nothing About God’

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U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville says America must put God back into the country and the government, and right now the government isn’t honoring our “Judo” Christian values. The Alabama freshman Republican, a Christian nationalist, also says God cannot be put back into this nation currently because immigrants, who “know nothing about God,” are crossing the southern border illegally.

Sen. Tuberville is also calling for massive cuts to the federal government, saying only the “mentally unhealthy,” “elderly,” “veterans,” and “farmers” should be eligible for financial support from the government.

Tuberville told Fox News’ Maria Bartiromo that “the federal government is not here to take care of every person in this country. We have to take care of the mentally healthy, mentally – mentally unhealthy. We have to take care of our elderly, our veterans. Everybody else needs to go get a job. They need to get off that couch. We’re paying so many people. Maria, we have turned into so much of a socialist country headed to communism.”

He insisted there is no “free speech” in America. “They’re taking all of our rights away.”

READ MORE: Bartiromo Blasts Biden Administration for Encouraging Americans to Register to Vote

“We need to ask God for help, our country needs help,” Tuberville said in a separate interview. “We’re in a tough situation right now. I’m right here in the middle of it. I get to see it every day.”

“We live in a constitutional republic that’s trying to do things without our Judo-Christian [sic] values. And that’s how this country was built. And we got to get back to that. If we don’t, we won’t make it,” Tuberville claimed.

“The biggest thing right now I will tell you is what’s going on at our southern border. When you’ve got a country without borders, you don’t have a country. And it goes back to one thing: God is not in this building. We’ve got to get God back in this building and we’re gonna get God back in our country. We’ve got to get the God back in the nuclear family. We have to get moral values back into our country. And you can’t do that when you have a million people every couple of months come into this country that know nothing about God, that know nothing about our laws and constitution.”

Back in October, Tuberville said European countries have been “lost” to “immigration” as he praised Christian nationalist authoritarian Viktor Orbán of Hungary. Tuberville has a history of promoting white nationalism and has said he sees a white nationalist as a “Trump Republican.” The Senator also declared immigrants “don’t assimilate,” and are “globalists” who “don’t go by the laws.”

Watch the videos above or at this link.

READ MORE: ‘Jaw Dropping’: Democratic Senator Slams Tuberville’s ‘Open’ Talk About ‘White Supremacy’

Image via Shutterstock

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