Tag Archive: Magna Carta


“The First Amendment Is Not An Area”

 

 

Bunkerville mentality: Dissident rancher Cliven Bundy walks past the Bureau of Land Management’s designated First Amendment Area in Bunkerville, Nevada. The land outside the orange fencing stretching as far as the eye can see is the federally designated Non-First Amendment Area

 

 

 

 

 

 

” Indeed. The “First Amendment Area” is supposed to be something called “the United States“. If the Bureau of Land Management gets to determine which sliver of turf you can exercise your right to freedom of expression in, then it isn’t freedom of expression at all, is it? I’m less impressed by the First Amendment then I used to be, mainly because I’m having to spend a half-decade in court and a seven-figure sum for the privilege of hearing some judge years down the line inform me that my 270-word blog post is, in fact, permitted under the US constitution. (If you’d like to help lessen the toll of that seven-figure sum, I’d be awfully grateful.) But even so it’s extraordinary that even twerp bureaucrats from the Department of Compliance feel comfortable setting up an “orange plastic pen” labeled “First Amendment Area”. If an anonymous pen-pusher in the permanent bureaucracy can confine the Bill of Rights to tiny enclaves where it will be entirely ineffectual, then there is no Bill of Rights.

  By the way, what’s depressing about this is, if the issue worked its way in front of a judges or judges, the genius jurists would undoubtedly rule that, while an 11-foot wide free-speech zone is too narrow an interpretation of the First Amendment, it would be acceptable if you widened it to 17 or 18 feet.

~ I was on The John Oakley Show in Toronto yesterday, and, noting my reference to Magna Carta, a handful of American listeners emailed to ask why I only mention laws eight centuries old. Yeah, I’ve noticed that, too – not just Magna Carta, but the Assize of Clarendon and the Charter of the Forest:

  In 1217, King Henry III signed the Charter of the Forest, which despite various amendments and replacement statutes remained in force in Britain for some three-quarters of a millennium, until the early Seventies. If Magna Carta is a landmark in its concept of individual rights, the Forest Charter played an equivalent role in advancing the concept of the commons, the public space. Repealing various restrictions by his predecessors, Henry III opened the royal forests to the freemen of England, granted extensive grazing and hunting rights, and eliminated the somewhat severe penalty of death for taking the king’s venison. The [National Park Service] have not yet fried anyone for taking King Barack’s deer, but it is somewhat sobering to reflect that an English peasant enjoyed more freedom on the sovereign’s land in the 13th century than a freeborn American does on “the people’s land” in the 21st century.

  And so, as happened to Japanese and European tourists at Yellowstone, you can be arrested for photographing the King’s deer. That’s why I quote this stuff: if a 13th century peasant enjoyed rights a 21st century American doesn’t, something’s gone badly wrong.”

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TRANSCRIPT: FIRST HOUR OF RAND PAUL’S FILIBUSTER

 

 

” In the first hour of his filibuster over the nomination of John Brennan, Sen. Paul spoke 9,024 words, enough to fill 15 pages as a standard Word document. A transcript of the first hour was provided by Sen. Paul’s office and appears below in its entirety:

 

I rise today to begin to filibuster John Brennan’s nomination for the CIA I will speak until I can no longer speak. I will speak as long as it takes, until the alarm is sounded from coast to coast that our Constitution is important, that your rights to trial by jury are precious, that no American should be killed by a drone on American soil without first being charged with a crime, without first being found to be guilty by a court. That Americans could be killed in a cafe in San Francisco or in a restaurant in Houston or at their home in bowling green, Kentucky, is an abomination. It is something that should not and cannot be tolerated in our country. I don’t rise to oppose John Brennan’s nomination simply for the person. I rise today for the principle. The principle is one that as Americans we have fought long and hard for and to give up on that principle, to give up on the bill of rights, to give up on the Fifth Amendment protection that says that no person shall be held without due process, that no person shall be held for a capital offense without being indicted. This is a precious American tradition and something we should not give up on easily. They say Lewis Carroll is fiction. Alice never fell down a rabbit hole and the White Queen’s caustic judgments are not really a threat to your security. Or has America the beautiful become Alice’s wonderland? ‘No, no, said the queen. Sentence first; verdict afterwards. Stuff and nonsense, Alice said widely – loudly. The idea of having the sentence first? ‘Hold your tongue, said the queen, turning purple. I won’t, said Alice. Release the drones, said the Queen, as she shouted at the top of her voice.

Lewis Carroll is fiction, right? When I asked the President, can you kill an American on American soil, it should have been an easy answer. It’s an easy question. It should have been a resounding and unequivocal, “no.” The President’s response? He hasn’t killed anyone yet. We’re supposed to be comforted by that. 
The President says, I haven’t killed anyone yet. He goes on to say, and I have no intention of killing Americans. But I might. Is that enough? Are we satisfied by that? Are we so complacent with our rights that we would allow a President to say he might kill Americans? But he will judge the circumstances, he will be the sole arbiter, he will be the sole decider, he will be the executioner in chief if he sees fit. Now, some would say he would never do this. Many people give the President the – you know, they give him consideration, they say he’s a good man. I’m not arguing he’s not. What I’m arguing is that the law is there and set in place for the day when angels don’t rule government. Madison said that the restraint on government was because government will not always be run by angels. This has nothing, absolutely nothing to do with whether the President is a Democrat or a Republican. Were this a Republican President, I’d be here saying exactly the same thing. No one person, no one politician should be allowed to judge the guilt, to charge an individual, to judge the guilt of an individual and to execute an individual. It goes against everything that we fundamentally believe in our country.

This isn’t even new to our country. There’s 800 years of English law that we found our tradition upon. We founded it upon the Magna Carta from 1215. We founded it upon Morgan from Glamorgan and 725 A.D. We founded upon the Greeks and Romans who had juries. It is not enough to charge someone to say that they are guilty.

 

 

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