The First Amendment is supposed to protect the freedom to speak your mind and protest in peace without being bridled by the government. It also protects the freedom of the media, as well as the right to worship and pray without interference. In other words, Americans cannot be silenced by the government. Yet despite the clear protections found in the First Amendment, the freedoms described therein are under constant assault. Whether it’s a Marine detained for criticizing the government on Facebook, a reporter persecuted for refusing to reveal his sources, or a protester arrested for standing silently in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, these are dangerous times for those who choose to exercise their rights.
The Second Amendment was intended to guarantee “the right of the people to keep and bear arms.” Yet while gun ownership has been recognized as an individual citizen right, Americans continue to face an uphill battle in the courts when it comes to defending themselves against militarized, weaponized government agents armed to the hilt. In fact, court rulings in recent years have affirmed that citizens don’t have the right to resist police officers who enter their homes illegally, mistakenly or otherwise.
The Third Amendment reinforces the principle that civilian-elected officials are superior to the military by prohibiting the military from entering any citizen’s home without “the consent of the owner.” Unfortunately, the wall of separation between civilian and military policing has been torn down in recent years, as militarized SWAT teams are now allowed to burst into homes unannounced in order to investigate minor crimes such as marijuana possession and credit card fraud. With domestic police increasingly posing as military forces—complete with weapons, uniforms, assault vehicles, etc.—a good case could be made for the fact that SWAT team raids constitute the forced quartering of soldiers within the private home, which the Third Amendment was written to prevent.
The Fourth Amendment prohibits government agents from touching you or placing you under surveillance or entering your property without probable cause–and even then, only with a court-sanctioned warrant. Unfortunately, the Fourth Amendment has been all but eviscerated in recent years by court rulings and government programs that sanction all manner of intrusions, including giving police carte blanche authority to break into homes or apartments without a warrant, conduct roadside strip searches, and generally manhandle any person in any manner they see fit. Moreover, in the so-called name of national security, intelligence agencies like the National Security Agency now have the ability to conduct mass unwarranted electronic intrusions into the personal and private transactions of all Americans, including phone, mail, computer, and medical records. All of this data is available to other government agencies, including local police.
The Fifth Amendment is supposed to ensure that you are innocent until proven guilty; and government authorities cannot deprive you of your life, your liberty, or your property without following strict legal guidelines. Unfortunately, those protections have been largely extinguished in recent years–especially in the wake of Congress’ passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which allows the president and the military to arrest and detain Americans indefinitely without due process.
The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.