How many protections are covered in the Fifth Amendment?
“No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury1, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger2; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb3; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself4, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law5; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.6″
It can be difficult for those of us who respect and admire law enforcement officers to remember that interacting with police is usually the most basic form of governmental dealings any of us have. The 5th Amendment was not written to hinder law enforcement, but to constrain our federal government from over-reaching behavior.
Suppose your local police officer or any other government agency official carried a pad of standard forms that allowed him to search your automobile, your office, your computer, or your home. He could fill out this pre-printed form, hand it to you, and conduct his search anytime, anywhere, for anything. Your civil servant wouldn’t need evidence or even a suspicion of a crime to go through your belongings and seize your personal property.
I believe that would rightly be called government tyranny! Sadly, that happened here in America.
The American Colonies were industrious and prosperous, and soon took on the stature of “cash cow” to the British Parliament and the British Crown. At one time or another every commodity in the New World was taxed at a rate designed to discourage trade with American suppliers and encourage business with British competitors.
The English Bill of Rights of 1689, written almost a century before the Battles of Lexington and Concord, listed many of the same grievances against the King James II that Thomas Jefferson listed against King George III in our Declaration of Independence. One of those grievances, which made its way into our Bill of Rights, had to do with quartering, or housing, a standing army in private businesses or residences.
Britain won the French and Indian War in 1763. So, King George left several thousand soldiers in America for the stated purpose of protecting British subjects. Rather than take on the debt of housing those troops, the king and Parliament passed the Quartering Act of 1765.
“It required that British soldiers be housed in American barracks and public inns first, but if there was not enough room in these, that other buildings belonging to the citizenry such as stables, alehouses, barns and uninhabited buildings should be used.”*
The American Revolution started with the battles at Lexington and Concord when the British Army left Boston to capture John Hancock and Samuel Adams in Lexington, and an arms cache in Concord.
These two tactics are time tested. If you deprive a movement of its leadership and its means of resistance, you can keep a people subjugated.
This was not the only time that the British Army had taken lead and powder away from the Colonials. It was, however, the last straw that precipitated the “shot heard ‘round the world.”*
Later, when the serious work of ratifying our Constitution took place, patriots from every colony remembered this bitter lesson, and birthed the Second Amendment.
Can elected politicians or self-appointed leaders ever be fully trusted? Historically, the answer appears to be no!
Our Founders, mindful of this thought, spent four long months in 1787, proposing, debating, wrangling, arguing, threatening, and compromising until they hammered out a fix to the Articles of Confederation, a new Constitution. A constitution that limited the affects a politician could inflict on the population.
The Constitution spelled out limited “enumerated powers” the new government would have. However, it only listed a few specific, protected rights citizens would enjoy: protections of habeas corpus, from bills of attainder, and from ex post facto laws.
A serious debate surrounded the Constitution’s ratification: whether specific rights and liberties needed to be listed. Ratification proponents argued that citizen’s rights were protected by the constitutional limitations put on government. Opponents countered that governments, or at least the individuals governing, couldn’t be trusted; rights needed to be recorded.
How do you decide which government is best for your brand new society? That was the question the Constitutional Convention of 1787 faced.
It had only been a few years since General George Washington had accepted the sword of General Charles Cornwallis at Yorktown, Virginia. The American Revolution, its reasons, and the requisite sacrifices were still fresh in the minds of our founders.
The fear of having another Monarch — and the inevitable tyrant — was ever present in the founder’s minds. They had fashioned the Articles of Confederation, which invested any and all governing authority in only one branch of government, Congress. The plan had fatally limited any national government; it had effectively created 13 smaller sovereign nations.
11 February, 2013
I remember my high school civics teaching about the importance of the Magna Carta; for the first time, citizens, albeit the aristocracy, sought to limit the power of a monarch.
I have since learned that our concepts of trial by jury and habeas corpus were first mentioned in that charter; indicating that as early as 1215, men knew there were natural laws even kings shouldn’t violate.
The British Parliament counts its beginning from that day, but the struggle for power between the governed and their governors lasted centuries. Even during the 150 years that the colonists had been in America, Parliament was dissolved and later reinstated, war occurred between monarchs and the church, and a king was tried and executed.
I would like to see a cadre of lawyers go to Newtown, Connecticut, and bring charges against the school district and possibly the town manager for not protecting those treasured children.
I think a very strong argument can be made that the school district and the state of Connecticut not only failed to protect those children, but their Liberal ideas and policies ensured that children would perish.
In his book “More Guns, Less Crime; Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws third edition;” Economist Dr. John Lott Jr. studied the crime of every county in America over a period of 29 years, and demonstrated that those states with concealed carry laws experienced lower crime rates. In addition, states that recently adopted concealed carry laws, since his first edition, have seen reductions in crime.
26 November, 2012
The American Civil Liberties Union in New Mexico is trying to change existing state law that requires, mandates, obliges, commands, dictates and directs parents or guardians to send their charges to school every day of the school year. Students who don’t attend school put their parents or guardians at risk of a fine, a jail sentence, or both.
The ACLU believes that it is unfair that teenage parents only have ten days excused absence a semester from school to take their babies to doctor’s appointments and such. They want to change the law to allow these kids to receive 14 days excused absence a semester.
My first question is: why would we not just exempt these immature grown-ups from the entire truancy law? I mean, should your local school district be able to dictate when a parent takes his child to the doctor?
I do believe that a high school diploma or a college degree is an appropriate goal. However, I am not convinced that every student enrolled in our public schools needs to be kept there, especially under the force of law.
Our society has need of plumbers, but plumbers don’t need to quote Keats or Yeats. We need auto mechanics, but mechanics don’t need to discuss String Theory. We need heavy-equipment operators, but heavy-equipment operators don’t need to apply the Socratic Method.
I am sure that by the time a student is fifteen years old, parents, grand-parents, and even teachers know whether matriculation to a university is probable or not. So, why not let these kids apprentice somewhere so they can learn a trade and become a productive member of society.
Which leads to my second question: who actually benefits from such a stringent truancy law?
It is pretty obvious that students are not benefiting from attending school; according to the Washington Post:
“The [SAT] average reading score for the 2012 graduating class was 496, down one point from the previous year and 34 points since 1972.”
Parents or guardians, under the threat of legal penalties and increased property taxes, are not beneficiaries, unless you cynically consider school attendance the same as day care.
Does the school district benefit? Well, the law ensures that the district will have returning customers; it just doesn’t ensure that those customers will receive an adequate product. When the “poor overwhelmed” school district has all of these students, they of course need ever increasing amounts of money.
Do teacher’s unions benefit? You bet they do! By mandating school attendance, you ensure that the largest number of teachers is needed. Teachers equate to dues payers, and that means more money to the union.
I think this move by the ACLU points out how foolish governments or bureaucracies can be when they run amok. The ACLU also points out the foolishness of Liberal thought: a parent taking his child to the doctor’s office for the eleventh time resulting in a grand-parent having to face a magistrate judge is egregious. However, it is okay to do so on the fifteenth time.
That’s my nickle
19 November, 2012
Last week’s Nickle discussed the therapeutic aspects of Butter Brickle ice cream. However, a couple of readers let me know that there is another satisfying form of catharsis:
“Ice cream? I bought more ammunition!”
Now, this brings to mind a few questions. First, are they talking about target practice? I am sure that they enjoy the challenge that comes from putting small holes in a piece of paper over a known distance. Personally, I know that there is a great deal of satisfaction in displaying the talent of putting several rounds into a small group from a distance of 100 yards or further.
The second question is one of protection. Are they of the opinion that with the reelection of President Obama, that their possessions, families, and persons are more likely to be taken or endangered? Without question they do! If my estimation is correct, and the bulk of Obama’s support came from citizens who believe they are entitled to goods and services just because they want them. There is every reason to believe that those folks won’t be satisfied with only government hand-outs, they will covet the possessions of private citizens as well.