April 25, 2017

Knowing Your Rights and How to Protect Them

This week being the celebration of adoption of the Declaration of Independence, I thought it would be fitting to cover the Bill of Rights. The rights that are given by God to all human beings, that the founders wisely declared as a part of our Constitution, in the Bill of Rights.

After the Boston bombings I wrote about how I felt the authorities trampled on the Constitution and our God given rights. I was asked what I would have done if I had been ordered to leave the house and let it be searched. This got me thinking; the people that read this blog and others like it are intelligent. They strive to be as self-sufficient as they can be. Many of us see things happening around us that we dislike but we’re not sure how to stand up against it. I think this is because we have been molded and sculpted to believe we should “go along to get along”, to never question authority and accept the status quo.

Some of you may be thinking that you have nothing to hide. Why would you stand up for your rights and tell the authorities they can’t search your car? Our Founding Fathers suffered under an overreaching tyrant and they went to great lengths to establish and document what our God given rights are. What God has given, man cannot take away. If we don’t hold the line against overreaching, tyranny slowly gains ground.

Many men and women have taken an oath to uphold the Constitution, to defend the God given rights defined in it. A violation of even one should not be taken lightly.

To be clear, I am not anti-government, anti-military, or anti-police; I am just very pro YOU and your God given rights. I am going to cover the Amendments to the Constitution and list some ways that you could protect them. I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice. These are just the thoughts of someone who has given this considerable thought and has done some research on the topic. I would love to hear your thoughts on the topic, so if you have any, please list them in the comments.
 
 

First Amendment

“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.”

There are three basic components to address; religion, speech and redress.

Many people say there is a separation of church and state in the Constitution; this is not correct. That phrase came from Thomas Jefferson and was his understanding of the Establishment Clause. The intent of the First Amendment is to protect individual right to exercise religious freedom and to establish that no one religion lead the government.

As a Christian, I am also aware that in the book of Revelation, we’re told that there will be one world religion and that Christian’s lives will made shorter for not taking the mark of the beast. This tells me that one day, corruption will rule supreme and all God given rights will be (temporarily) restricted.

We can protect this portion of the amendment by proudly attending the church of our choice and we can vote based on our worldview. For example, when government overreaches and the military tells Christian chaplain’s they will not be allowed to share their faith, we can let our representatives know we do not approve. We can and should do this on any legislative issue that infringes on our religious freedoms.

The first Amendment also protects the freedom of speech of the individual and of the press. While this right does not give someone the right to say anything they wish at any time, it does give us the right to publically state our opinion, positive or negative, about our leaders, about society and about many other topics.

We can protect this right by doing just that. In the modern age of blogging, anyone can, for a very minimal cost (sometimes free), blog about their beliefs, feelings and judgments to anyone who is willing to read it.

The ability to peacefully assemble and petition the government are also protected. We can protect these by continuing to assemble with other likeminded people. If you’re turned down by a local municipality for any reason, try to change venues. If you continue to be turned down, you have the right to petition your government about your grievance. Many local, state and federal laws have been changed because a common citizen stood up and told their representative they did not agree with the way things were.
 
 

Second Amendment

“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.”

I covered what the Second Amendment actually means in a two part article called The War on Guns, so I will only cover it briefly here. The Founders meant that any able bodied person capable of wielding a rifle was in the militia, that the militia should have arms on par with what the army had, and that the militia was a check system to keep an overreaching President from using the army to control the populace. Before I get comments about being a crazed right wing, gun loving, anti-government nut, I’m not crazed, and I already said in the beginning that I’m not anti-government. I’m just very pro-you, the average citizen.

Now, as to how we can protect our Second Amendment rights; we can join pro-gun organizations who have a louder voice to lobby with, we can teach our children gun safety and how to shoot and hunt safely and we can exercise our First Amendment right and let our representatives, at all levels, know we want them to support our God given Second Amendment right to protect ourselves.

If the face of tyranny shows up and we are ordered to enter our guns in a national registry, or to turn in our guns just as England and Australia have, we can say “no” or we can hide them. Doing so may mean dire consequences, from fines to jail time to the possible threat of violence taking them. I am not suggesting we all ignore the government and get ready for an armed revolution. I am saying think for yourself and pray for wisdom.
 
 

Third Amendment

“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’m not sure this is a concern anymore, but if things change we can refuse to house any troops for any reason, during peace or war.
 
 

Fourth Amendment

“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.”

In summary, police cannot search or seize you or your property without probable cause or without a warrant that specifically states where they can search or who they want to arrest.

I will protect this right by never consenting to search or seizure. I am a supporter of law enforcement. I have donated a good sum of money to law-enforcement-based charities. I am also aware that if/when I am looked at as a suspect of any kind, they are not my friend. There are many valid reasons why you should not consent to a search, even if you have nothing to hide. Here is a video that lists five of them from the groupFlex Your Rights.org.
 

 
Here is another video that is a bit longer, but well worth watching. The name of the video is “10 rules for Dealing with Police”. If you’re someone who might want to stand up and protect your God given rights but think you might feel intimidated or uncomfortable telling police “no, thank you, I do not consent to a search”, I highly suggest you watch this video.
 

 
 

Fifth Amendment

“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.”

This amendment basically says that you do not have to be a witness against yourself. It is not the job of police to look out for my best interest. It is to find proof and solve crime. Again, I am a huge supporter of law enforcement, but I will never talk to police without a lawyer present. Here is another video put on by a former Criminal Defense Attorney/law professor and a police detective who both give many reasons why you should never talk to police. Again if you think you might be intimidated by telling a police officer “no”, this is a video I recommend you watch.

 

 
 
Sixth Amendment

“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 defense.”

This Amendment basically says that you cannot be held indefinitely without charges, that you have a right to a speedy trial and that you must be allowed legal counsel, unless you are deemed an enemy combatant. In September 2005 a federal appeals court backed President Bush’s decision to hold US citizen and former gang member Jose Padilla indefinitely. Padilla was said to have trained in an Al Qaeda camp and was said he was planning on blowing up apartment buildings in the US.

While Padilla appears to be a dirtbag, I still think he should have been granted his constitutional rights. I don’t know what it takes to be classified as an enemy combatant. Maybe one day they will decide people with Christian themed blogs who might say something critical of big government from time to time are enemy combatants. If I disappear for a while without warning trust I’ll be enjoying the Cuban sun, and please pray for me.

In all seriousness, before 2005 I would have said you just needed to demand access to your lawyer and demand to be charged. I am not sure what one could do about being classified as an enemy combatant; maybe try to get your story to the media. On a side note, Padilla was convicted and sentenced to 17 years in prison on January 22, 2008. I think he is where he should be. I just think that if the government had enough information to deem him an enemy combatant, they should have had enough information to charge him and let a jury decide Padilla’s fate.
 
 

Seventh Amendment

“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.”

A criminal is, at times, given the option of having a judge hear the case and decide innocence or guilt. If you’re arrested and charged with a crime, you can protect this amendment by demanding to be tried by a jury.
 
 

Eighth Amendment

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

If arrested and you feel your bail is set excessively high, you could have your lawyer argue the constitutionality of it. As far as the cruel or unusual goes, I would like to know who determines what unusual is. I have seen some pretty odd sentences handed down from judges.
 
 

Ninth Amendment

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

It is a bit tricky to say how to protect the Ninth Amendment as the Ninth Amendment protects rights that are not expressly defined in the Constitution; for example the right to privacy.
 
 

Tenth Amendment

“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.”

This Amendment protects the states more than the citizens; basically giving it freedom and independence from the federal government.
 
 

Final Thoughts

I think it is very important to stand up for ourselves anytime any of these rights are infringed. I also know that most people don’t like to tell police “no”. Knowing what you will say ahead of time is important. While Jesus told us that the Spirit would give us the words to speak when we’re accused of being His, I’m sure He won’t have a problem with us not giving permission for the police to search our car. I’m not certain that He’ll give us the words to say in that case. The above videos give some insight on how you might want to phrase your refusal. Watching them can give you a good idea of what to say.

Be aware that standing against authority to protect the rights listed above could have some negative impacts on your life. As the videos mention, you might not give permission to be searched, but the police may do so anyway, I do not suggest you resist. Many interactions with police are recorded now, and then uploaded and kept in case they need the information for a trial. If you have stated that you do not consent, it will be heard. Resisting will most likely ensure you see the inside of a cell.

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Comments

  1. Rev. Dr. Michael E Harris says:

    Check out ‘Gun Control for Dummies’ (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F584p5kJL-U) for the 3rd Amendment.

  2. Nice article, Chris, and a good selection of clips on this topic. I liked the 5 reasons clip from flex-your-rights. While we are not supposed to expect “the police” to plant evidence on people, it has been known to happen, even decades ago in big cities it happened often enough to get out in the open. So in addition to “#5 you can never be sure what they might find” we might add “#6 you can never be sure what they are really up to”. The unequivocal NO to a search covers more territory than we might otherwise expect it to. Just be sure to say “NO”…

    • Chris Ray says:

      Yep, good points. Some people have a very hard time saying no, that’s why deciding to say no now is important.

  3. Great job and a good tool for parents to help their children and themselves know some to the Constitution. I do wonder why so little is mentioned on all of the “prepper” blogs and web sites about the spiritual implications and what needs to be done to encourage the individul and family when church attendence and other public worship is not possible. With any kind of collapse their will be great pressure brought against Christians.

    • Chris Ray says:

      Thank you, I’m glad you liked it.

      I think Christians in particular have a hard time saying no to authorities, or that could just be in the Midwest lol

    • Rev. Dr. Michael E Harris says:

      I have copies of the US Constitution (and Declaration of Independence) all over the house. I think I should start carrying one with me every time I leave the house.

      I started my study of US Constitutional history in 1967–I think the Supreme Court has lost its understanding of its only function and it understanding of the US Constitution itself.

  4. Rick Pollard says:

    One way of say “no” to a search of your vehicle is to simply lock it as you exit. First this implies your refusal to “implied consent”. If asked why, a simple explanation of “it’s habit” will suffice. That then puts the burden of “proof” on the officer as to having a “reasonable suspision / probable cause” to search your vehicle in the first place, and justifies his having to swear for a search warrant to do so. Refusal on your part to allow the search of your vehicle is not a crime, nor does it constitute “probable cause” if you claim your 4th and 5th amendment rights at the time.
    But in this encounter, be polite, and not confrontational; just firm.

    • Rev. Dr. Michael E Harris says:

      Rick–That is a great idea. My father was a nut about locking up everything (cars, house, etc.). I live in an area where petty crime is common, so I lock my car every time I get out of it. I lock my house too.

  5. Carl Rooker says:

    I understand that there are some real dangers of us losing our Constitutional rights, and there are some things going on now that are worrisome.

    However, I, nor anyone I know of, has ever been subjected to the automobile searches that have been mentioned in this thread.

    Have you, or anyone you know ever been subjected to an illegal search of this kind?

    • Chris Ray says:

      I have not, but I know some who have. I also can see this happening more and more, people knowing their rights and how they can protect them is important now.

  6. Armequen says:

    Chris

    This is a great write-up. Hats off to you!

  7. Rev. Dr. Michael E Harris says:
  8. Chris, thanks for this article on the Bill of Rights – so timely on this week of July 4th. It’s a great review for those of us who haven’t read it in a while. Back in the 70s, I recall learning this in middle school social studies. I’m interested if young adults/teens have had this in school??

    Our church has sometimes put out copies of the US Constitution, but not lately.

    Thanks, Chris, & hope u’ve had a super 4th w/ your family!

    • Chris Ray says:

      I’m glad you liked it Red. I asked my kids a couple years ago if they had ever covered early American history, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, they said no. They may have since then, but I doubt it.

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