“Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor deserve, either one.” Those famous words, spoken by Benjamin Franklin, seem to have been lost on many in the United States. All too often, we see key parts of the Bill of Rights, not just violated for the sake of security, but also the “general welfare.” Our individual rights are under attack because of these violations.
Three of the rights that have been assaulted are privacy, freedom of religion and the right to life. These rights, among others, are necessary to “secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity” and they have been greatly compromised in the name of security and the general welfare.
The first of these liberties which has been violated is privacy, which is protected under the Fourth Amendment. The Patriot Act provides a specific example of how this right has been assaulted. It was passed 45 days after 9/11 and was said to be created to catch terrorists. While this may be true, it also made it much easier for the federal government to spy on ordinary American citizens by monitoring their phone, e-mail, banking and credit records by using National Security Letters (NSLs).
NSLs are issued by FBI agents, without the approval of a judge, to obtain personal information, much like the general warrants issued by the British to randomly search the colonists’ homes and businesses. They clearly violate the Fourth Amendment which states “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.” NSLs fail to meet all of these requirements.
From 2003 to 2006, 192,499 NSLs were issued. Only one led to the discovery of a terrorist who would have been found regardless of the NSL. The Patriot Act, in the name of security, uses a form of prohibited general warrants to trade our Right to Privacy for security. Given the results, it would seem we are no safer for it.
Another right that has been compromised is the Freedom of Religion; a fundamental right protected by the First Amendment. The Affordable Care Act commonly known as “Obamacare,” provides a startling example of how this right has been infringed upon.
Obamacare was signed into law on March 23, 2010 with the promise of helping those who are uninsured to get health insurance to improve the “general welfare.” However, one of the things it does is it forces Christians into buying coverage which pays for sterilization, contraception, and abortion procedures and drugs whether they object or not. It also forces religious institutions and business owned by religious people to provide those coverages in their insurance plans, regardless of whether or not it violates their religious beliefs. By mandating the purchase or provision of services that violate their faith, even for the “general welfare,” Obamacare clearly violates the First Amendment which states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion nor prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
Another right that the government has infringed on is the most essential and important right of all, the Right to Life. This right is primarily violated through abortions.
In 1973, the Supreme Court deemed that a woman had the right to abort a child. This is nothing short of murder and demonstrates a hideous disrespect for life. Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence that “all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
Though the Bill of Rights does not specifically mention the Right to Life, it is obvious that none of the rights it protects could exist without life. Also, the Ninth Amendment states “The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” Clearly, this includes life. Without life, there can be no other right, so when the government denies it, it consequently denies all other rights as well.
Ronald Reagan once said “It is time we ask ourselves whether we still know the freedoms that were intended for us by the Founding Fathers.” Our privacy has been compromised in the name of security. Our right to freely exercise our religion has been attacked in the name of the general welfare. The Right to Life has been sacrificed in the name of choice. Without the realization of these rights, the blessings of liberty cannot be secured to ourselves or our posterity.
Editors note: Dominic Girard is a camper at Camp Constitution’s Family Camp. His father is Richard Girard, host of the popular radio show Girard At Large.