Saturday, Dec. 15 is National Bill of Rights Day, a day to honor, to celebrate, and to reaffirm this nation’s commitment to civil liberties, as enshrined in the Bill of Rights.
The Bill of Rights became law when a number of the original 13 states refused to sign the United States Constitution without the inclusion of language to protect individuals from a despotic central government. In response, the first 10 amendments to the United States Constitution, subsequently referred to as the Bill of Rights, were ratified on Dec. 15, 1791.
The Bill of Rights serves to define and limit the powers of government, to state to all members of the government that they serve the citizens and that the citizens reserve the right to restrain government.
The Bill of Rights guarantees that rights not explicitly granted to the government, are reserved to us as individuals. The Bill of Rights protects our freedoms of speech, of the press, of assembly, of religion, to petition the government; to keep and bear arms; protects us from unreasonable arrests, searches and seizures, coerced confessions, cruel and unusual punishment, excessive bail; and secures our rights to probable cause, due process, counsel, jury trials and defense witnesses.
We write in praise and celebration of Bill of Rights Day because the Bill of Rights is central to the promises, opportunities, and tensions between “We the People” and our government.
We also write to deplore the extensive violations of the Bill of Rights by the administration of former President George W. Bush that remain unpunished and unrepaired.
Perhaps we thought that the abuses were an aberration. Maybe we were reassured when then Presidential candidate Barak Obama stated on March 2007, “I was a constitutional law professor, which means unlike the current president I actually respect the Constitution.”
Sadly, the Obama administration both continues and extends the abuses to the Bill of Rights.
We urge all citizens to participate in the opposition to the violations of the Bill of Rights that are increasingly enshrined in unconstitutional laws and/or unconstitutional practices. Imagine this nation without the Bill of Rights.
Steering Committee, Friends of the Constitution Coalition Friday Harbor