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Just dropping by ... Rights of the people

Yevet Tenney for Progressive Dairy Published on 30 June 2020

Ronald Reagan said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

With the advent of COVID-19 and the recent riots in the streets, it becomes clear how true this statement is. One day, we were basking in the sunlight of a wonderful economy with hopes of a bright future – the next day we could not buy a roll of toilet paper. The shelves were bare in a matter of hours, and people wondered where their next meal would come from if the trucks stopped running or the stores closed their doors. Freedom is fragile. As the virus wore on and riots escalated, our rights began to hang in the balance.

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Officers closed businesses, and owners were tossed in jail or fined for not obeying a governor’s edicts. Shocking! They were only trying to feed their families. There was talk of separating families and closing churches on a permanent basis. Sporting events and concerts would be closed until everyone is vaccinated from the silent, deadly enemy. Every person in America suddenly felt the pressure of the omnipresent, and seemingly omnipotent, arm of government.

There is a greater need for us to remember and retain the rights guaranteed us by our Founding Fathers. Through the pages of history, it is evident that, as Lord Acton said, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Power in the hands of many people is power with restraint, while power in the hands of a few breeds tyranny. It would be well to look at our rights and write them indelibly upon our hearts lest we fall under the hand of a dictator.

Amendment 1Congress 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.

Who would have thought religious freedom would be under fire when it has been a hallmark of our freedom since the Pilgrims set sail on the Mayflower? Who would have imagined freedom of speech and the right to assemble and petition the government would turn into temper tantrums that shattered windows, set fires and murdered police officers? The operative word is peaceably. We do not have the right to push our agenda with violence, no matter how strong our beliefs. There is always a peaceful answer.

Amendment 2A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the rights of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

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This amendment is under attack at every turn. The founders wanted us to be able to defend ourselves. Someone once said, “He who has the guns makes the rules.” That is true, and the founders knew it. We have a Constitutional right to our weapons, and it seems we need them more than ever to protect ourselves and our property.

Amendment 3Quartering of Soldiers. 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.

I don’t know that the government requires citizens to house soldiers, but I am glad we have this amendment. I want my house open to my friends, not the henchmen of a dictator.

Amendment 4Search and Seizure. 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.

This states that no one can enter my house and search randomly for whatever they want. A warrant must be in place and there must be a good reason; then the police can only search in places stated in the warrant, and they can only take things that are written in the warrant. My bank account, phone calls and my emails should not be open to the government. They belong to me and originate in my home. Computer apps and programs should not be able to gather information about me unless I give them permission.

Amendment 5No 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 offense 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.

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This amendment allows me to be properly summoned to court. If I am acquitted, I will not be tried again. I do not have to witness against myself and I will get a fair trial. It also says that my property cannot be taken for public use without me receiving compensation.

Amendment 6In 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 defense.

Here we have the right to a speedy, public trial by an impartial jury. We have the right to know up-front what crime we are being accused of. I have seen a few cases where we have had investigation and trial in search of an accusation. This should never be the case.

Amendment 7In 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.

We have the right to have a trial by a jury if there is a property dispute amounting to $20.

Amendment 8Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

The government cannot throw a person in jail and set bails that could never be paid. We are not to be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment while in prison. The founders were compassionate Christian individuals who wanted American citizens to be treated with dignity.

Amendment 9The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

This is the catch-all amendment. In other words, if it is not spelled out in the Constitution, no one needs to suppose that the government could take those rights away. The founders were forward thinkers. They didn’t know about technologies, but a right to have and use my devices is covered under this amendment.

Amendment 10The 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.

The government has no right to take power from the states. Rightfully, many of the COVID-19 decisions were passed to the state governors.

The Bill of Rights were written and added to the Constitution by our Founding Fathers. We need to know the law and cherish our rights. Especially as we approach this fall’s election season, we need to know the candidates’ track records. “Wherefore, by their fruits ye shall know them” (Matt. 7:20 KJV). Do they espouse the first 10 amendments as the supreme law of the land, or are they constantly working under the table, pushing their agenda to make those rights seem unimportant and even selfish in a time of crisis?  end mark

Yevet Crandell Tenney is a Christian columnist who loves American values and traditions. She writes about faith, family and freedom.

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