Monday, December 12, 2005
The "Patriot" Act versus The People of Texas
When the Constitutional Convention of 1787 proposed a Constitution to the people of the new nation known as the United States of America, the people demanded that a Bill of Rights be added, or else the Constitution would not be ratified. Thus we have the First Ten Amendments, the majestic Bill of Rights of the American Constitution. The Americans of 1787 intended the Bill of Rights to endure for all time, as the untouchable covenant ensuring that the people would be the masters and government the servant.
In the Bill of Rights, our forebears of yesteryear gave one of the greatest gifts that any people has ever given to all the people of the world. They intended that the protections of the Bill of Rights would belong to all succeeding generations of Americans as their national birthright, never to be taken away or given away. Many brave Americans have fought and bled on foreign shores in order to assure the fulfillment of the Founders' intent.
The American Bill of Rights is just as much a birthright of the people of Texas as it is of the people of Boston or Philadelphia. Texas has joined the United States of America twice, first through the Treaty of Annexation of 1845, and then upon readmission to the Union in 1866 after the ill-conceived affiliation with the so-called Confederate States of America. Every citizen of Texas is also a citizen of the nation. In every way, the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution belongs to every Texan.
When the Founders of Texas created a Constitution for their new republic after winning their independence from the dictator Santa Anna in 1836, they included a Bill of Rights, making it the first article of the Constitution of the Republic of Texas. Article 1, the Bill of Rights, of the Texas Constitution has continued since that time down through the centuries and decades of Texas history, even from nationhood to statehood, and through successive rewrites of the State Constitution, as a virtually unchanged, magnificent covenant of liberty belonging to all the people of Texas, protecting their rights and liberties in ways that are both similar to and in some cases even stronger than the protections of the U.S. Constitution.
These great covenants of liberty were intended to be permanent. They are supposed to be permanent for as long as our peoples endure. For any U.S. Congress or President to try to nullify anything in the American Bill of Rights is a betrayal of every reason that the public offices they hold even exist. For any Texas public official to sit still for nullification of anything in either Bill of Rights is a betrayal of the People of Texas.
Yet today, the United States Congress is on the verge of re-enacting, at the request of the Bushite president, a detestable legislative act that they have the gall to call the "Patriot" Act, and that on its face seeks to nullify Constitutional protections that were written for the very purpose of protecting the people from the very government action that is about to take place.
Under the misnamed Patriot Act (actually one of the most unpatriotic laws ever enacted), agents of the Federal Government will claim the right to seize private papers, records, and belongings of American citizens without obtaining warrants from judges, and without having to demonstrate probable cause to suspect the commission of crimes -- in direct contradiction to one of the very reasons the American Revolutionaries rose against the British Empire to create our nation.
As if that were not bad enough, agents of the Federal Government will also claim the right to compel librarians to inform the government what books an American citizen has checked out of a library -- as if we all lived in George Orwell's nightmarish Big Brother society instead of the United States of America. These provisions were abominable when the Patriot Act was first enacted four years ago. It would be even more abominable today to re-enact them, after so many voices in America have been raised against doing such damage to fundamental protections that were intended to protect us from tyranny for all time.
A small coalition of Senators from both parties, including Democrats Feingold (Wisconsin), Salazar (Colorado) and Durbin (Illinois), and Republicans Murkowski (Alaska), Craig (Idaho) and Sununu (New Hampshire), is threatening to filibuster these measures. Their battle is an uphill one, as majorities from both parties support these eviscerations of our liberties, with most Senate Republicans displaying their usual blind lemming obedience to their White House master, and most Senate Democrats once again running in fear from a Bushite play of the terrorism card. The opposition Senators need all the support we can give them. Nevertheless, the police-state provisions may pass; but if they do, there are other lines of defense against them that do not depend upon the votes of Senators.
After the voters of Texas choose me to serve them as Attorney General in next November's elections, before I can take office I will have to swear an oath to the Constitutions of the United States and Texas. In obedience to that oath, my highest duty will be to honor and protect the fundamental birthright of the people of Texas to their Constitutional protections.
No government agent has the Constitutional authority to seize your private possessions without a warrant or probable cause, no government agent has the Constitutional authority to pass judgment on what books you choose to read in a public library, and no pack of scaredy-cat politicians has the Constitutional authority to give any government agent such powers.
Let there be no doubt about it -- as Texas Attorney General, chief legal advisor to all the officers of State Government, and the People's Lawyer, I will apply every effort and resource of my office to defending the Constitutional rights of the people of Texas against these or similar provisions of the so-called Patriot Act or any other such legislation, no matter how many gutless politicians of no matter what political party enact them or seek to apply them.
posted by snarko! at 4:33 PM
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