Dear government, give our rights back

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I have a simple request for Christmas this year. We all got a certain gift over 200 years ago and my request is that it merely be returned back to us.

I would like to have my rights back!

I do not need a pretty bow or wrapping paper, just hand them back in their original condition, please.

In case you did not get the memo, Dec. 15 was Bill of Rights Day. Instead of a celebration of the magnificent document safeguarding our liberty, the day is better suited for mourning a lost treasurer.

Believe it or not, quite a few of our Founding Fathers thought the Bill of Rights was unnecessary, especially since the Constitution explicitly enumerated limited powers to the federal government.

Thomas Jefferson finally concluded that “A Bill of Rights is what the people are entitled to against every government, and what no just government should refuse, or rest on inference.”

We are sitting on our hands, uninformed citizens, while the government and the courts are literally stealing our most prized possessions. The guarantee of our rights is only as good as the entity providing the security.

The Supreme Court case of Kelo v. The City of New London allowed private property to be taken from an owner and given to another private entity, under the proviso of “eminent domain.” The local government can commandeer your property and give it to Walmart so they can build a superstore at their preferred location.

With few exceptions, the government may not detain an individual even momentarily without reasonable and articulable suspicion. The new National Defense Authorization Act, receiving bipartisan support, could allow the military to pick up U.S. citizens on American streets strictly on suspicion, without charging them with any crime, and then lock them up for an indefinite period of time, deliberately doing away with due process.

When an amendment was introduced stating only non-U.S. citizens in our country could be interned, it was voted down.

The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 generally prohibits the military from law enforcement activities within the United States.

On the First Amendment, John Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute wrote, “Students are often stripped of their rights for such things as wearing a t-shirt that school officials find offensive. Likewise, local governments and police often oppose citizens who express unpopular views in public. Peace activists who speak out against the government are being arrested and subjected to investigation by the FBI, threatened with jail time for reporting on possible government wrongdoing and refusing to reveal their sources.”

The Fourth Amendment demands a warrant approved by a judge before the government can search your home. Unfortunately, the USA Patriot Act exposes us to unwarranted electronic intrusions by government agents into your most personal and private transactions, including phone, mail, computer and medical records. Section 215 of the act is causing grave concern.

“Kevin Bankston, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, thinks the government is demanding that cell companies provide the location data as well as other call-data records in bulk form in order to mine the data. ‘My guess is these [Section] 215 orders are being used to collect massive amounts of communications data without any direct connection to terrorism targets,’ Bankston said,” (Time Magazine, “New Patriot Act Controversy: Is Washington Collecting Your Cell-Phone Data?” June 24, 2011).

Senator Mark Udall, a member of the Intelligence Committee, said on the Senate floor May 26 that the same authority “currently allows records to be collected on law-abiding Americans, without any connection to terrorism or espionage.”

The Supreme Court will soon rule in a case that could determine if authorities can track U.S. citizens with GPS trackers hidden in vehicles without a warrant.

The Second Amendment clearly gives us the right “to keep and bear arms.” How many times have we seen people on the television running for cover or lying dead on the ground as an armed maniac wreaks havoc on a college campus or some other area where carrying a gun for personal protection is prohibited?

Georgia Tech students, tired of being the victims of crime, recently held a rally in support allowing students to arm themselves on campus.

In direct contrast to the Ninth Amendment, the government seems perfectly content to constrict the rights of the people and expand their power.

The Tenth Amendment says specific powers have been delegated to the federal government, but everything else is set aside for the states or the citizens.

The Supreme Court will soon decide whether the U.S. Congress overstepped its powers by requiring all Americans to buy health insurance by 2014 or pay a penalty, a provision known as the individual mandate.

Locally, regional governance is being forced upon our county. In the upcoming Transportation Investment Act referendum in July, every voter in Fayette County could vote in opposition, but if a majority of the other counties approve, we are stuck paying the bill.

The loss of “home rule” appears a real possibility. Unfortunately, our county’s representatives to the Atlanta Regional Commission (since voted out) enthusiastically supported the move to regional governance.

The state secret with the Transportation Investment Act, especially with the mass transit projects, is no one in power will divulge to the public exactly how our region is going to pay the maintenance and operation costs in future years (we are billions in the red now). The only plausible answer is a permanent regional sales tax.

Forget the Home Depot gift card. I prefer getting my “inalienable” rights back.

Steve Brown

Fayette County Commissioner, Post 4

CommissionerBrown@fayettecountyga.gov

Peachtree City, Ga.