Essay:A Liberal Interpretation of the Bill of Rights

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A lot of conservatives use the Constitution to justify things such as letting people own any kind of firearm or paraphernalia, allowing unlimited spending by corporations on election campaigns, and NSA mass surveillance. If they actually read the document and interpreted it according to what is actually written, they should leave with far more left-wing viewpoints of the text rather than their right-wing view. Here is a liberal reinterpretation of the Bill of Rights. It is intended to be a refutation of the conservative views which have run contrary to the Bill of Rights for over a century.

The Bill of Rights The Liberal

First Amendment[edit]

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. Firstly, it is immediately clear that the government should not endorse any religion. This reasonably means that there should be no references to God or religion on any strictly government property, and the government should provide no favorable treatment towards any religion. This means religious institutions should pay taxes just as for-profit corporations do. Freedom of speech is also important. Everything that does not directly cause violence should be permitted. However, if someone calls for a killing of a figure and then it occurs, that person is guilty of inciting murder. The right of peaceful protest is also guaranteed. This means any union strike, so long as it is not violent, is a constitutional right that the workers have, regardless of the damage it may do to the company.

Second Amendment[edit]

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. Guns are for the purpose of use by the armed forces, state militias, and police forces. This was long ago, when police and the army did not exist in America. A violent popular revolution was necessary because there was no other defense mechanism from the British. Now that a well-regulated militia (the Army) exists, the right of civilians to own firearms is at the most not a right, and at the least is not explicitly guaranteed. Thus, a law to ban civilian firearm ownership may well be Constitutional. At the very least, bans on automatic and semiautomatic firearms, as well as magazine limits, background checks, and bans for the mentally ill are all Constitutional.

Third Amendment[edit]

No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law. Ok. Does this apply only to houses inside the United States? Or does it apply to any house all over the world, even in a warzone? I'd say it only applies to the US, or else US soldiers would not be allowed to enter foreign (Iraqi) houses in a war even if there was a battle going on solely because of this Amendment. Let's keep in mind that the definition of 'quartered' meant soldiers forcing someone to let them sleep in their house. Seems ok.

Fourth Amendment[edit]

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. Automatic surveillance of everyone's emails, text messages, and phone calls based on the pretext that anyone could be a possible terrorist constitutes an unreasonable search. The PATRIOT Act and the PRISM surveillance program are therefore unconstitutional. This does not apply to foreign governments however, as they are not within US jurisdiction. The police also have no right to search anyone's car, house, or person unless they have obtained a warrant. Undercover sting operations are legal only if a warrant has been issued: FBI agents can't just solicit illegal weapons just for the hell of it. They need to have a warrant showing that someone is likely to possess them, and only then can the sting operation be conducted.

Fifth Amendment[edit]

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation. Eminent domain is only legal if the property seized is for public use. This means no one can be forced off their land because someone wants to build a casino, pipeline, or business. Public things such as police stations, roads, and government buildings are allowed. Police civil asset forfeiture is illegal due to the last clause.

Sixth Amendment[edit]

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence. Detaining captured enemy soldiers and failing to try them for over a decade is not a speedy trial. All of the people in Guantanamo Bay should be tried immediately, and no one should have their trial delayed for that long of a time.

Seventh Amendment[edit]

In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law. Nothing to mention here.

Eighth Amendment[edit]

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted. The death penalty is certainly cruel. You're killing someone. It is not practiced in the majority of the countries in the world. As such, it is both cruel and unusual. It is therefore unconstitutional, and should be abolished. Solitary confinement is a cruel punishment as well, unless the person is a danger to other prisoners.

Ninth Amendment[edit]

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people. This is rather vague, but one could use this language to support gay marriage as well as the rights of other minority groups.

Tenth Amendment[edit]

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people. States have the right to legalize certain drugs within their borders if they so choose.