Friday, July 04, 2014

Bill of Rights 2.0

It seems like a lot of court cases these days are centered around separate Bill of Rights issues, such as the freedom of religion vs. freedom of speech or whether the right to choose your own reproductive health care is trumped by someone else's right to their religious views. Then there is always that pesky right to bear arms issue and how far it should go.

So, to fix all that, what we really need to do is replace the First and Second Amendments with another, broader amendment that prioritizes these rights. The new amendment would also encode in the Constitution the rights that most courts have already interpreted the First Amendment as granting, such as separation of church and state and the right to privacy.

So to keep it simple, allow me to prioritize the rights myself. All it needs now is a proper endorsement by Congress and then three-fourths of the states. That shouldn't be too hard, right?

The first priority goes to Freedom of Speech and Expression. Yes, expression is a type of speech as determined by the courts, but now it has it's own mention. Following closely is Freedom of the Media (since "Press" is quickly becoming archaic). One of the first things dictatorial governments try to do is limit the distribution of news coverage, so this freedom ranks high.

Freedom of privacy must be added in third place. This would include the provision that whatever an adult does in the privacy of his or her own home or on their own private property is none of the government's damn business, as long as no other person is being harmed. So smoke your weed or hire a whore; it's your own business as long as you're doing it in a private setting.

Coming in a close fourth would be the right of people to peacefully assemble. However, since mobs can sometimes get violent, the government has the right to break up demonstrations even if only a few protestors are actively participating in the violent or threatening acts.

Freedom of Religion would get a distant fifth place. Government still can't prefer one religion over another. However, people would still be able to believe whatever the hell they want and to worship when and where they want. But if this right even comes close to abridging any of the rights above, then those rights would get priority. This would also mean that someone's religious beliefs could never be used to force any type of compliance from others, such as happened recently with the Hobby Lobby SCOTUS decision.

The last enumerated right would be the right to keep and bear arms. You can own a gun, or many guns, as long as the barrel is at least 15 inches in length (so no handguns), that they are not automatic or semi-automatic, and that the owner has a government-issued permit. In obtaining said permit, the state would add the owner's name to a national firearm registry which could be computer accessed instantly by anyone who wants to know via the Internet. Additionally, Congress or the states would have authority to pass laws that would regulate gun purchases and ownership provisions within the scope of this amendment.

There! The rights issues have been sorted out. Let's do it!

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