“Bill of Rights — what “Rights?”” an essay by Dan Miller

Today’s Guest Saturday post is by Dan Miller of the DanMillerInPanama blog. Dan first published his essay on December 5, 2013.


Bill of Rights — what “Rights?”

The Bill of Rights has been around for a long time. Some complain that it gets in the way of the Government, but that’s its purpose. 

With an ever expanding Federal Government, can the Bill of Rights still get in its way? Or is the Government more effective in getting in the way of the Bill of Rights?

Here’s a link to an article at PJ Tatler about some of the consequences of our ever expanding Government:

REP. BOB GOODLATTE (R-VA): Professor Turley, the constitution, the system of separated powers is not simply about stopping one branch of government from usurping another. It’s about protecting the liberty of Americans from the dangers of concentrated government power. How does the president’s unilateral modification of act of Congress affect both the balance of power between the political branches and the liberty interests of the American people?

JONATHAN TURLEY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The danger is quite severe. The problem with what the president is doing is that he’s not simply posing a danger to the constitutional system. He’s becoming the very danger the Constitution was designed to avoid. That is the concentration of power in every single branch. [Emphasis added.]

This Newtonian orbit that the three branches exist in is a delicate one but it is designed to prevent this type of concentration. There is two trends going on which should be of equal concern to all members of Congress. One is that we have had the radical expansion of presidential powers under both President Bush and President Obama. We have what many once called an imperial presidency model of largely unchecked authority. And with that trend we also have the continued rise of this fourth branch. We have agencies that are quite large that issue regulations. The Supreme Court said recently that agencies could actually define their own or interpret their own jurisdiction. [Emphasis added.]

Here are two short videos on the First and Fourth Amendments to the Constitution.

“Weaponizing” the IRS? Yep, and it seems to be proceeding apace.

Some State and local governments have also become excessively audacious in a Fourth Amendment context. According to an article posted today at Jonathan Turley’s blog,

If a recent story is to be believed, it appears that there are many things that you can demand to see in the “show me state” but a warrant is not one of them. A Kansas City man is accusing the police department of shocking conduct after he declined a demand that he allow police officers to search his house without a warrant. Eric Crinnian, a lawyer, said that an officer threatened that, if he insisted on his getting a warrant, he would come back in force, bust down his door, and shoot any dogs in the house.

. . . .

What makes this alleged threat even more egregious is that we have been a disturbing trend of officers shooting family dogs under questionable circumstanceshere and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here andhere and here and here). It is chilling that, according to Crinnian, the first thing that this officer thought of was to threaten to shoot the family’s pets as if it were just one more minor act like kicking in a door. [I apologize for the way in which the list of links is formatted, but after reviewing the HTML code there seems to be nothing I can do about it.]

Hereherehere and here are just a few links to additional allegations of police abuse. I have “bookmarked” many more, but those linked seem particularly relevant here. Remember when the police were actually civil servants?

Conclusions Questions

The rot is metastasizing, but why and where did the tumor begin? Did it grow and spread before enough of us noticed it? If so, why? Is it already too late to excise it? If not, how?


About Dan

I was graduated from Yale University in 1963 with a B.A. in economics and from the University of Virginia School of law, where I was the notes editor of the Virginia Law Review, in 1966. Following four years of active duty with the Army JAG Corps, with two tours in Korea, I entered private practice in Washington, D.C. specializing in communications law. I retired in 1996 to sail with my wife, Jeanie, on our sailboat Namaste to and in the Caribbean. In 2002, we settled in the Republic of Panama and live in a very rural area up in the mountains.

3 thoughts on ““Bill of Rights — what “Rights?”” an essay by Dan Miller

    1. All members of the Virginia Law Review, with the exception of those on the (separate) business side, were expected to, and did, submit articles. As notes editor, I was expected to submit my own articles, and did. They were then edited by one of the other editors. It was considered poor practice to edit one’s own articles. Student articles were called “notes” and authorship was denoted by the author’s initials (HDM in my case). A few years after graduation, while I was serving as an Army JAG officer in Korea, I submitted an article (as I recall, it was about the antitrust laws) and it was published under my full name.

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