Tomgram: Peter Van Buren: RIP, The Bill of Rights

By: Monday June 16, 2014 7:15 pm

America has entered its third great era: the post-constitutional one. In the first, in the colonial years, a unitary executive, the King of England, ruled without checks and balances, allowing no freedom of speech, due process, or privacy when it came to protecting his power.

In the second, the principles of the Enlightenment and an armed rebellion were used to push back the king’s abuses. The result was a new country and a new constitution with a Bill of Rights expressly meant to check the government’s power. Now, we are wading into the shallow waters of a third era, a time when that government is abandoning the basic ideas that saw our nation through centuries of challenges far more daunting than terrorism. Those ideas — enshrined in the Bill of Rights — are disarmingly concise. Think of them as the haiku of a genuine people’s government.

Deeper, darker waters lie ahead and we seem drawn down into them. For here there be monsters.

 

Overruling Marriage Equality Will Come With a Cost, Warns Arkansas Judge

By: Saturday May 10, 2014 9:16 am

Arkansas Circuit Court Judge Christopher Charles Piazza struck down Amendment 83 to the Arkansas state constitution and a parallel state law known as Act 144 of 1997 which limit marriage to opposite-sex couples. Piazza, like the judges who have similarly ruled in courts around the country, brings his own style to his ruling — in his case, it’s the very pragmatic and practical language of a judge on the front lines of the state judicial system. Piazza not only rules on the case before him, but notes for the sake of the judges that will look at his ruling on appeal that should they choose to overrule him, that will come with a cost. A very steep, very personal cost.

Raining on Our Parade – and Europe’s

By: Saturday July 6, 2013 6:40 pm

On this 237th anniversary of the adoption of the American Declaration of Independence from the British crown, the nations of Latin America have declared their independence from the United States.

NSA Swaps Information on You With Private Companies for More Information on You

By: Friday June 14, 2013 8:55 am

Freedom isn’t free. The National Security Agency along with the CIA, FBI and other intelligence agencies of the U.S. government has been swapping information with private companies. In exchange for private companies giving the intelligence agencies information on their users, the private companies receive access to classified intelligence.

Open Letter to Senator Dianne Feinstein About the Bill of Rights

By: Friday June 7, 2013 2:10 pm

Dear Senator Feinstein:

On Thursday, when you responded to news about massive ongoing surveillance of phone records of people in the United States, you slipped past the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. As the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, you seem to be in the habit of treating the Bill of Rights as merely advisory.

Late Night: Teacher in Trouble–Fight for Your Rights (to Party)

By: Tuesday May 28, 2013 8:00 pm

Golly Mr. Dryden, you’re my favorite teacher!

John Dryden, a high school teacher in Batavia, Illinois is in hot water for teaching his students about their rights, and for putting that lesson into action by informing students of their Fifth Amendment rights in connection with a survey asking about illegal drug use. The survey was ostensibly aimed at assessing the needs of students at Batavia High School except it asked about illegal drug use and students’ names were on each form! What’s a cool teacher to do?

Brennan Sworn In on Constitution Without Bill of Rights

By: Friday March 8, 2013 4:03 pm

With questions still unanswered on the President’s targeted killing powers, John Brennan was sworn in today as CIA Director. But in a ironically symbolic twist of fate the Constitution used to swear Brennan in did not contain the Bill of Rights.

BREAKING: Senator Rand Paul Filibuster Breaks 8 Hours

By: Wednesday March 6, 2013 5:14 pm

Senator Rand Paul is holding a filibuster on President Obama’s refusal to deny he has the authority to kill Americans on American soil without due process.

Lawsuit Challenging Constitutionality of the Homeland Battlefield Act Set to Begin

By: Wednesday March 28, 2012 5:48 pm

Testimony in a lawsuit against the United States government is set to begin tomorrow as multiple individuals challenge the Homeland Battlefield Act in a New York City federal court.

The lawsuit is being brought by individuals concerned that the work they engage in could now lead the government to accuse them of being an “associated force” of terrorists as a result of the new law that was signed by President Barack Obama on New Year’s Eve last year.

The plaintiffs bringing the case against the Homeland Battlefield Act—more commonly known as the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)—have been dubbed by their attorneys as the “Freedom Seven.”

FDL Book Salon Welcomes Jay Feldman, Manufacturing Hysteria: A History of Scapegoating, Surveillance, and Secrecy in Modern America

By: Sunday January 8, 2012 1:59 pm

As historian Jay Feldman describes in his brilliantly researched and artfully written new book, Manufacturing Hysteria: A History of Scapegoating, Surveillance, and Secrecy in Modern America, there have indeed been a great many things wrong with this country specifically with respect to government attacks on civil liberties. Feldman pulls together a jaw-dropping historical catalogue of 20th Century examples where the United States government not only trampled the Bill of Rights, but did so while whipping up class warfare, xenophobic hysteria, and political mob violence, all on the pretext that war or the threat of war necessitated the abrogation of liberty.

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Upcoming FDL Book Salons

Saturday, August 30, 2014
2:00 pm Pacific
The Nixon Defense: What He Knew and When He Knew It
Chat with John Dean about his new book.

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Imagine: Living In A Socialist USA
Chat with Pau LeBlanc, Debby Smith, and Michael Steven Smith about their new book. Hosted by Deena Stryker

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