On this day in 1791 the Bill of Rights was ratified by three-fourths of the states, adding 10 amendments to the new Constitution.
It has been downhill and out the door ever since.
They might more properly be called a Bill of Prohibitions, since they are not so much a delineation of rights as a list of things the federal government may not take away from individuals and the states and local governments.
Perhaps they should now be called the Bill of Vague Suggestions.
The First Amendment has been trampled repeatedly over the years as newspaper editors were locked up by Abraham Lincoln for questioning the Civil War — freedom of the press — and dissenters to the War to End All Wars were jailed by Woodrow Wilson — freedom of speech.
Freedom of religion is hardly extant when devoutly religious people must provide contraceptives in violation of their conscience.
Right to redress of grievances? You’ll be ignored, like the citizens of Nevada who voted 18 years ago to take over federal public land.
Free to assemble? Not if you wish to pass the hat and fund a political campaign without listing your home address to your government overlords.
Some may celebrate the Second Amendment today, but others have circulated a petition to require background checks before obtaining a firearm.
We celebrate the Fourth Amendment prohibition against unlawful search and seizure, despite the Hiibel case in which Larry Hiibel was arrested for not giving his name to a Humboldt County deputy.
There’s the Fifth’s protection against taking of property except for public purposes? That was bounced by the Kelo decision that let government take property for private development.
As for the Sixth’s right to speedy and public trial? Forget it. No explanation needed.
The right to trial by jury according to the Seventh? Try that in traffic court, buddy.
No cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth’s prohibition. Lifetime sentences for possession of pot belie that one, as well as execution of American citizens by drones.
The Ninth’s and 10th’s guarantees that rights not delineated are prohibited to feds? Let’s see the states try to set the drinking age or voting age or speed limits.
There’s still the Third’s prohibition against housing troops in private homes.
Oops, that one went South when the Henderson cops commandeered two homes to use as staging posts during an hours-long standoff with a domestic violence suspect holed up in a nearby home.
The resulting lawsuit claims a “deprivation of rights, privileges, and immunities secured to Plaintiffs under the Third, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.”
So far as I can find the case is either still pending or was quietly settled and ignored by the media.