|Rights at Risk|
By Quin Hillyer
Thursday, February 07 2013
Consider this a thought experiment.
Consider this a serious warning about the menace that can come from a nameless, self-worshipping president leading a government of increasingly unchecked powers.
Consider this however you want. Just know that there can indeed be a tipping point at which big government no longer respects civil liberties as we know them. And know that the United States may be closer to that point than most Americans imagine or fear.
This isn’t some sort of crazy alarmism. People of the Left, including those with great power, already have announced in theory, repeatedly, the idea that rights do not precede government, but instead are government’s prerogative to grant or deny as government sees fit.
Example: From now-Justice Elena Kagan of the Supreme Court. Writing about First Amendment speech rights, she asked (rhetorically) if government is “constitutionally constrained from doling out this favor.” Her obviously implicit answer was that no, government is not so restrained.
Presaging President Obama’s later, infamous remark to successful businessmen that “you didn’t build that,” Kagan also wrote that “corporate wealth derives from privileges bestowed on corporations by the government…. Individual wealth also derives from government action.” And Kagan repeatedly wrote other pieces indicating she has what the Washington Times called a “government-centric view of American life, and a judge-centric view of government power.”
The point is not to single out Kagan. The point is that Kagan was so clearly seen as being in the Democratic “mainstream” as to have been easily confirmed to the Supreme Court (63-37). And those views, radical as they are and as historically counter to American tradition as they are, are increasingly being pushed or even enacted as government policy.
Dozens of entities have rightly filed suit to block the “HHS mandate” that would force businesses and even religiously affiliated institutions to pay for abortion-inducing drugs against the clear, unambiguous tenets of their faith. (Again, the predicate was laid by Kagan, who effectively posited that “the starting point [for public policy] assumes funding for all family-planning services, including abortion referral….”) Dozens of states and private entities rightly sued to block ObamaCare as a whole, noting that the “individual mandate” to purchase health insurance was a horrid invasion of individual rights. (The majority of the Supreme Court agreed, but Chief Justice John Roberts punted by calling the mandate a tax.)
Contract rights already have been trampled (despite the Constitution’s indices to the contrary) via the Obama administration’s outlandish interpretation of the TARP bill, so that supposedly secured creditors were forced to the back, not the front, of the reimbursement line. And procedural protections aplenty have been cast asunder so that power plants are being shuttered without clear authority and all sorts of other employers are losing protections to an illegally constituted National Labor Relations Board and an equally illegally constituted Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Of course there is plenty of debate right now over gun rights, with the Obama administration effectively arguing that they aren’t truly “rights” but merely privileges to be limited almost entirely at government’s will. Tech geeks, meanwhile, are concerned about the administration’s moves to gain access to private e-mails and Internet records, while plenty of others are worried about an increasingly over-armed Department of Homeland Security. And administration officials as high-ranking as (then-) Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were already promising to apprehend and imprison the maker of an idiotic anti-Muslim video – wrongly blamed for the terrorist attack that killed four Americans in Libya – even before his identity was known and his own probation record was even imagined. In other words, they were willing to trample his speech rights, facts unknown.
And now we find out about the secretive Justice Department memo allowing the President to order drone strikes on American citizens – otherwise known as a “targeted killing of a U.S. citizen” – without benefit of outside review. All that would be needed would be a determination by “an informed, high-level official of the U.S. government” that the targeted individual is a threat, under specified conditions.
This would not be quite so alarming if Homeland Security under Obama had not already promulgated a booklet saying the likely purveyors of terrorism include gun owners, activists for limited government, and former military personnel. Discredited and silly in the extreme? Absolutely, but someone in government wrote it down.
None of this is to say that totalitarians are in charge. It is to say that the multitudinous areas of diminished liberties, when combined into one big picture, give clear indication that Americans are at risk of no longer being wholly free, as Americans have traditionally understood that term. We may be on a slippery slope towards a semi-authoritarian hybrid state, where freedoms are reasonably widely enjoyed, but only at the sufferance of government officials, rather than as a natural right.
This is a dangerous trend. Reversing it is a noble cause.
Related Articles :