Skip to comments.Alert: Put ALL legislation to Bill of Rights Test
Posted on 10/03/2001 8:02:25 PM PDT by DLfromthedesert
AN OPEN LETTER TO CONGRESSMAN JAMES SENSENBRENNER, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee
PUT ALL LEGISLATION TO THE BILL OF RIGHTS TEST ~~~~~~ Readers: If you agree with this letter and want to safeguard the values that make America free, please let Congressman Sensenbrenner know
Phone: (202) 225-5101
Mail: 2332 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20515-4909
Executive Director, Concerned Citizens Opposed to Police States P.O. Box 270205
Hartford, WI 53027
Phone (262) 670-9920
Fax (262) 670-9921
F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr.
Chairman, House Judiciary Committee
Washington, D.C. 20515-4909
Dear Congressman Sensenbrenner:
At this pivotal moment of history, you have power to direct the world's future. As head of the House Judiciary Committee, you play a major role in determining whether, in the aftermath of September 11, America becomes a police state or stands proudly as a beacon for freedom and individual rights. I am writing to ask you to use your authority to do two things:
* Stand firm against the destruction of the Bill of Rights -- a destruction that many powerful interests are now demanding. Subject every proposed piece of legislation to the Bill of Rights test and reject it if it fails that test;
* Use this time to remind America and the world of what we're really fighting to protect -- our eternal, unshakable commitment to individual rights You, your committee, and all of Congress are being besieged by demands for expanded federal powers -- demands for more mass surveillance of the innocent, more unconstitutional searches, draconian punishments for any crime that any prosecutor might even loosely call terrorism (for instance, computer hacking), more authority to snoop into private finances, and more money to extend the reach of unconstitutional activities.
Many of these demands represent longstanding agendas, not genuine antidotes to terrorism. These things would not have prevented the horror of September 11 and they will not prevent future horrors.
Yes, America must and should fight back vigorously against our attackers. But the only relationship between most demands for expanded power and the September attacks is that those pushing power agendas know that, in crisis, the American people and its representatives in Congress will historically surrender any liberty in the name of safety -- thereby achieving neither liberty nor safety, but increasing control for the cagey few.
In a time of emotion and high political pressure, people -- including congressmen -- can usually be counted on to act with excess trust in government and too little foresight into the consequences of new laws.
On Tuesday, October 2, we learned that you and your Judiciary Committee colleague, John Conyers, had co-authored the sadly mis-named Patriot Act, a version of the Bush administration's proposed anti-terrorism package, which would grant the federal government many of the very powers we're writing about. Although we were encouraged that you eliminated the provision that would have allowed non-citizens to be locked up indefinitely without charges or deportation orders, and that you made at least the token gesture of adding a two-year "sunset" clause, it was distressing to see that you -- a man of known courage and conviction -- otherwise gave no consideration to Americans' rights under the highest law of the land, the Bill of Rights.
Mr. Sensenbrenner, we urge you to go back and re-examine that bill -- and to similarly examine every bill that comes before you. Check every provision against the articles of the Bill of Rights.
Does something violate Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures? Into the garbage with it! Does it cancel First Amendment protections of speech, petition, religion, or assembly? Strike it out. Does it go against Eighth Amendment protections against cruel and unusual punishment? Get rid of it. Does it expand federal authority, as expressly forbidden by Amendments Nine and Ten? Then let it reside in the trashcan of history.
The demand for the uncritical expansion of government power is an opportunistic infection attacking a wounded nation. Do not let the virus of tyranny infect our laws. Do not discard -- uselessly and tragically -- the very thing we claim to be defending: Freedom.
If you surrender the Bill of Rights, you've handed victory to terrorists, criminals, and enemy regimes, who could inflict no more devastating loss upon us. Some people may say that it is unrealistic -- too idealistic -- to preserve rights while fighting for our national life. But in fact, the U.S. can fight enemies, foreign and domestic, with no further increase of state power. America didn't fall victim to terrorism because the federal government lacked the scope to act. In many cases, the agencies charged with protecting us simply misused their power -- by ignoring intelligence (CIA and FBI), by promoting a false sense of security (FAA), by disarming the citizens who could have halted the hijackings (FAA), by failing to prosecute and/or deport immigrants with known terrorist intentions (INS, FBI, and others).
Federal agencies were not doing their job. And giving them new unconstitutional powers will not make them better at what they do.
Having said that, we further ask you not only to stand firm for the Bill of Rights, but to use your power and your public visibility to restore to Americans a deep understanding of the Bill of Rights and its crucial role in our existence.
Without the Bill of Rights, the United States is just another country, where the powerful can do as they wish and those with the gold make the rules. With the Bill of Rights, the U.S. is a place where the smallest and weakest have the best hope of being treated fairly under law, where each individual life matters and deserves respect. Too many people (including lawmakers and judges) have forgotten how the Bill of Rights protects us all against the arbitrary exercise of power.
Remind them, Congressman Sensenbrenner. December 15 is the 210th anniversary of the ratification of the Bill of Rights. Use your influence to promote legislation making December 15 the annual Bill of Rights Day. And don't make this new Bill of Rights day an ordinary holiday or token event, decreed and promptly forgotten.
Make it a time when children in schools are encouraged to learn and understand the articles of the Bill of Rights and their relevance.
Make it a time when every federal office examines its own actions and "reality checks" its policies against this highest law of the land.
Make it a time -- each year -- when Congress repeals laws that violate individual rights. Make it a time when every representative is reminded that ALL legislation must pass the Bill of Rights test or be discarded.
America has given up more rights in every crisis and war since the War Between the States. You have the power to halt that erosion. You have the power to begin the restoration of individual liberty and the Bill of Rights. You have the power to make yourself a statesman of the ages, not just a political dealmaker of the moment.
Protect America. Do that not only with military power and better intelligence. Do it by protecting the Bill of Rights against ALL enemies, foreign and domestic.
Aaron Zelman Executive Director, Concerned Citizens Opposed to Police States And your constituent, living in Hartford, Wisconsin ============================================== Original Material in JPFO ALERTS is Copyright 2001 JPFO, Inc. Permission is granted to reproduce this alert in full, so long as the following JPFO contact information is included: Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership PO Box 270143 Hartford, Wisconsin 53027 Phone: 1-262-673-9745 Order line: 1-800-869-1884 (toll-free!) Fax: 1-262-673-9746 Web: http://www.jpfo.org/
Say, I read something in IBD last night which all those saps that have been donating to the Red Cross will be surprised to learn: The Red Cross is negotiating with the Taliban, asking them to allow "humanitarian aid" into Afghanistan.
Support the Terrorists - Donate to the Red Cross!
Above all else help when and where you can but don't throw good money to unknown organizations who sit on it to collect intrest or pay professionals for counseling the victims versus making a few bill payments and groceries purchases etc etc till survivors are back on their feet per se........
Just my rant,......Stay Safe marobe
Some here may not agree, but another thing that really irks me is the sales of flags. I now see roadside stands everywhere, and even a 1-800 commercial on TV that is hawking 3 or 4 different flags in one package. (Only $19.95!!!). I know this is capitalism at work - supply and demand - but people should have had flags flying proudly BEFORE 9-11.
Just my two cents...