The Demise of the U.S. Constitution

I wrote earlier today about the predicament of the English blogger Lionheart, who says he will be arrested for inciting racial hatred as soon as he returns to the UK.

On one of his more recent posts, Lionheart quotes from an email sent to him by the Bedfordshire Police:

For the public record, here is a full copy of the e-mail sent by Ian Holden of Bedfordshire Police to ‘Llionheart’ yesterday, Thursday 3 January 2008:


The offence that I need to arrest you for is “Stir up Racial Hatred by displaying written material” contrary to sections 18(1) and 27(3) of the Public Order Act 1986.

You will be arrested on SUSPICION of the offence. You would only be charged following a full investigation based on all the relevant facts and CPS consent.

I have no additional information yet on Lionheart’s situation. As Brian Micklethwait has pointed out at Samizdata, Lionheart is so far the sole source for this story. As a result, I don’t yet recommend a mass letter-writing campaign aimed at British embassies. Let’s wait for more data to come in.

In the meantime, go over to Transatlantic Conservative and watch an inspiring music video which TC has posted in solidarity with Lionheart. It’s Morrissey’s “Irish Blood, English Heart”, and my favorite line is: “I will die with both of my hands untied.”

Several commenters took issue with me for saying that the United States might not be so far behind Britain and other countries of the EU in the suppression of free speech. Our situation is not so bad, they say; after all, we have the First Amendment to protect us.

This is true. The First Amendment would indeed protect us, but only if the elites who govern us are willing to honor and enforce it.

Unfortunately, there is ample evidence indicating that those who enjoy the perks and privileges of power have no particular interest in the First Amendment when free speech threatens their own positions.

Here’s what I said in response to the commenters:

You are quite right that things are not as bad here. But 10 years ago in the UK free speech was not that different from it was in the USA. Things can change very quickly.

What is dangerous here is the utter disregard for the Constitution, which now means whatever the nine old men in DC say it means. For example, I refer you to Kelo, or campaign finance laws, or affirmative action laws (now renewed with a 25-year sunset, thanks to our friend Sandra Day O’Connor), or the abortion decisions. The justices have twisted the Constitution into a pretzel to ram these things through.

If Scalia were to die next January and Hillary were to appoint his successor, “hate speech” restrictions might well pass constitutional muster. Conyers and CAIR have been working on them for several years.

This is not an absolutely insane fancy; it’s quite possible.

– – – – – – – –

Which is what I meant in my post.

And the Republicans are only a hair’s breadth better. Consider McCain on the First Amendment or Giuliani on the Second.

We are no longer a nation under the rule of law. This has been true at least since Lyndon’s time, and probably all the way back to FDR.

We are ruled by a presbyter of judges, and their feelings determine the outline of our liberties.

A reader wrote and asked me for background on Rep. John Conyers’ (D-MI) hate speech resolution, so I ransacked my memory and resorted to Google to bring myself up to date on the “hate speech” legislation making its way through the United States Congress

The original Conyers resolution was H. Res. 288, which was proposed in 2005 during the 109th Congress. The full text — which is very similar to the resolution recently passed by the UN General Assembly, and may as well have been dictated by CAIR — can be found on Conyers’ blog:

Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives condemning bigotry and religious intolerance, and recognizing that holy books of every religion should be treated with dignity and respect.

Whereas believers of all religions, including the Abrahamic faiths of Christianity, Judaism and Islam, should be treated with respect and dignity;

Whereas the word Islam comes from the Arabic root word meaning “peace” and “submission”;

Whereas there are an estimated 7,000,000 Muslims in America, from a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds, forming an integral part of the social fabric of America;

Whereas the Quran is the holy book for Muslims who recite passages from it in prayer and learn valuable lessons about peace, humanity and spirituality;

Whereas it should never be official policy of the United States Government to disparage the Quran, Islam, or any religion in any way, shape, or form;

Whereas mistreatment of prisoners and disrespect toward the holy book of any religion is unacceptable and against civilized humanity;

Whereas the infringement of an individual’s right to freedom of religion violates the Constitution and laws of the United States: Now, therefore, be it

1 Resolved, That the House of Representatives —

(1)   condemns bigotry, acts of violence, and intolerance against any religious group, including our friends, neighbors, and citizens of the Islamic faith;
(2)   declares that the civil rights and civil liberties of all individuals, including those of the Islamic faith, should be protected;
(3)   recognizes that the Quran, the holy book of Islam, as any other holy book of any religion, should be treated with dignity and respect; and
(4)   calls upon local, State, and Federal authorities to work to prevent bias-motivated crimes and acts against all individuals, including those of the Islamic faith.

Notice that the resolution offered recognition and protection specifically to the Koran. All this coming from the party that has the vapors whenever the Bible is even mentioned near federal government property!

As it turned out, H. Res. 288 was never enacted. Various other proposals have been aired since. The latest is H.R. 1592, which is a “hate crimes” bill similar to other laws that have previously been enacted.

What distinguishes them from Conyers’ bill (and the UN resolution, as well as the EU’s Framework Decision) is that “hate” doesn’t rise to the level of a crime unless it accompanies an actual crime (rape, murder, spitting on the sidewalk, etc.).

This obstructionist distinction is due to that pesky ol’ First Amendment, which assures the citizens of the United States that they are free to say what they like, even if it is hateful.

However, the Supreme Court has demonstrated over the last thirty or forty years that it considers the First Amendment to be quite fungible on the issue of free speech. George W. Bush cynically signed the McCain-Feingold bill and thereby abrogated his oath to uphold the Constitution . His reasoning was that the Supreme Court would surely strike down such a blatantly unconstitutional law, apparently not realizing how far into its dotage the institution really is.

The court, the president, and Congress consider the United States Constitution to be a mere advisory document, not something that rises to the status of a binding legal instrument.

The Constitution means whatever those nine black-robed people sitting in that imposing and drafty building on Capitol Hill say it means.

That’s why I say that it could happen here.

23 thoughts on “The Demise of the U.S. Constitution

  1. Free speech about Islam is being suppressed even at the Department of Defense. Stephen Coughlin, a Pentagon expert on Islam, has just been canned after a clash with Hasham Islam, a key aide to Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon R. England, who took him to task for writing “a memorandum several months ago based on documents made public in a federal trial in Dallas that revealed a covert plan by the Muslim Brotherhood, an Egyptian-origin Islamist extremist group, to subvert the United States using front groups. Members of one of the identified front groups, the Islamic Society of North America, has been hosted by Mr. England at the Pentagon.” The story is at JihadWatch.

    In an earlier post, JihadWatch quoted the Washington Times to the effect that

    “Mr. England has been a leading advocate of what critics in the Pentagon say is a misguided attempt to reach out to the wrong Muslims, regardless of their views, in an effort to counter Muslim extremism.

    “That approach has kept military and civilian officials from conducting much-needed assessments of how Muslim extremists are waging war because doing so would involving analysis of Muslim religious tenets, a politically taboo subject area.”

    Write your congressmen. This needs to elicit an uproar.

  2. Constitutionally, what appears to have happened to us is that the judicial branch has arrogated to itself the power of the Legislature. The Supreme Court is no longer a court, applying and construing the laws of the State, as enacted by the Legislative bodies, but it is what amounts to a House of Lords.

    It is unelected, membership in practical terms limited to a robed aristocracy produced by the elite law schools and firms; membership for life; with its own rituals and traditions that it protects from outsiders. No law may be enacted without its sanction, it may amend the Constitution; and in addition to the powers it exercises under color of law, it derives even greater power and influence by the respect the rest of the legal clersy gives it, and the eagerness with which the clersy defends its prerogatives (this last terms is usually associated with royal power, but it applies here). The Constitution and the people acting through their elected representatives are no longer sovereigns, the clersy is.

    Yes, by all means, write your Congressman. But the constitutional scheme is now unbalanced, and until the political branches combine against the Court, it is likely to remain so.

  3. The problem with these threats to free speech is not necessarily that they are going to arrest us, it is that we are self censoring by threat of litigation as it is. CAIR has made free speech untenable to anyone they have cast their jaundiced eyes towards under the threat of lawsuits. If you don’t believe that you ought to check out the CAIR backed harassment campaign against Michael Savage. Whatever happened to “I may not agree with what you say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it” Governments and corporations have to toe the politically correct line. I have to watch what I say everyday in public and if I have to live in fear while I am at home and blogging, then I say Live free or Die. That is it.

  4. Jefe —

    It’s not just that the Supreme Court has arrogated power unto itself. Congress and successive presidents have also abdicated their own power.

    Remember this?

    “John Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it!”

    Those days are gone for good. The president and Congress have agreed that the Supreme Court is The Boss.

  5. The Supreme Court recently decided that carbon dioxide is a pollutant.

    This despite the fact that it is a naturally-occurring chemical which is vital to life on Earth.

    We all expel carbon dioxide into the air every time we exhale.

    But now the government has the power to regulate it. Each and every one of us is now officially polluting the air every time we breathe.

    Why? Because nine judges in black robes said so.

  6. [sigh] This kind of nonsense is really tiring. When we see the way that EUrope will have gone it will be too late to change here by protest or elections alone. The night of the long knives will be on us, if we still have the guts.

    OR, OR……

    We get out on the streets and campaign our butts off for a strict Constitutionalist in this election cycle. (And there is only one so far as I can tell.) We must become involved – donate money, time if you do not have the money and even time if you do. Canvas the neighborhoods (we could all use the exercise). Put a sign in your front yard space.

    Go Fred!

  7. So, kids;

    Are we ready to start using Hate Speech and Hate Crimes legislation against Jihadis and those who inspire them?

    Are we going to let those laws be used against us?

    Or shall we begin insisting that those laws be removed altogether and that our jurisprudence simply focus on actions?

    Is this not enough of a wake-up call?

    What more would you need?

  8. Jefe, the comparison is interesting but not entirely apt. The Lords serve a role similar to the Senate, and probably closer to the model of the Senate that existed prior to it’s transformation into an elected body. They aren’t paid, either. They’re expected to do their job for free and since most of the aristocracy are land rich but don’t have much income from it they tend to have jobs, and so tend to have a more realistic view of the world than the elected lifetime politicians in the commons. The Lords don’t make law, either, they advise on law. Even in their neutered current form it’s been the house of lords that has saved us from the worst excesses of the Blair government… granted, largely out of self-interest, it has to be said.

    But, I see why you made the comparison. The popular view of the Lords as a bunch of toffs making life hard for the common man is hard to brush aside.

    Our legislative and judicial branches are so tightly blended that it’s hard to make comparisons anyway, though it seems to work somehow. Judges don’t legislate from the bench the way they do in the states or in the EU courts.

  9. Lionheart, a well known British Blogger is under arrest warrant in Britain and has fled to the USA for political asylum.

    Lionheart’s offense: Telling the truth about Islam on his Blog.

    My advice to Lionheart is to stay in the USA and ask for political asylsm and fight the charges on this side of the Pond.

    Cheers, Ronbo

  10. I think there’s also an element of lazyness, cowardness or even ignorance to our free speech problems:

    For so many decades our politicians have not needed to make efforts, take risks or make controversial decisions in order to defend our freedoms.

    Our politicians may:

    1) Ignore the problems and hope they fade away themselves. Laziness.

    2) Be afraid to aim directly at the cause of the trouble, and prefer to shoot at all the wrong targets. The Iraq war is a nice example of how this can be done on a grandiose scale.

    3) Be flat-out ignorant about what defending freedom means. Bush and his cronies may be so utterly clueless that they are being led astray by their advisors, lobbyists and influentual friends (Bush & bin Laden family, anyone?)

    Crappy situation. But certainly a good time for a few good people to stand the ground and be heroes.

  11. I was imprisoned by the Feds for over four years (1994 to 1998) for speaking my mind about Bill and Hillary Clinton at a party at my house by an informant who taped my remarks without a warrant that made the tape illegal under the Florida law.

    The informant also edited the tape. As is well known anyone can be edited to say anything. The District Court, however, allowed this tape to be entered into evidence and the Appeals Court in Atlanta voted 2-1 to allow my conviction to stand.

    I used to think what happened to me for my exercise of free speech was the exception, however, I read more and more of others being thrown into the GULAG simply for being vocal about their politics, so the obvious conclusion is that the exercise of freedom of speech is by itself grounds for a prison sentence, and that the “United States of America v. Barbour” in 1994 was an attempt to fine tune the imprisonment of political opponents.

    Coming soon: The United Socialist States of America?



  12. The US Constitution is designed to stand as an obstacle to zealotry. It has been under assault since it’s inception, so this is nothing new. But it is a continuous and eternal battle to defend it. The only way it will meet it’s demise will be if we fail in our generational obligation to defend it by going silent when we should be speaking out.

    The assault on Freedom of Speech is THE biggest issue of 2008 in my mind. Use it or lose it!

  13. “Hate Speech” legislation is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Any attempt at abridgement of the First Amendment must be resisted. How curious, the ACLU does not appear concerned.

    Mark Steyn is facing a “Human Rights” star chamber in Canada. He is being prosecuted under a law passed in the 1950s to “protect” Jews. Now that legislation is being used against individual freedom and national survival.

    America is next in line.

  14. Two thoughts here: First off, recall which party does most of the anti-free speech legislation. The one which also gets millions of dollars in donations from the legal business. The lawyers, for all their “cleverness” are nothing but useful idiots for the radical left.

    The other thought is about an amazing coincidence. As near as I can tell, whenever word surfaces of a piece of legislation with fascist intent, the same name crops up: John Conyers.

    Heil Conyers! Head of the American Fascist coalition. And the slimiest MoFo to ever sully the sewers of D.C.

  15. Charles:

    What you ask is covered in the newspaper article by Billy Cox that I linked earlier in this discussion.

    The important point is that I never said I was going to shoot Bill Clinton…Also the audiotape where I allegedly made this remark was illegal and should never have been admitted to evidence.

    In regards to freedom of speech:

    The only way for the Leftards to triumph is by ending freedom of speech and controlling the flow of information to the public.

    If you notice when the Communists of the Cold War days took over a country about the first thing they did was to seize the Media, and afterwards censor all news, books, movies and so forth to conform with the Party line.

    Today the New Bolsheviks of the Democommie Party are lose in the USA and we are only about one Supreme Court decision away from the GULAG.

    The machinery of oppression is ready, experienced in these matters, well oiled and needs only to be placed in gear by the Department of Justice.

  16. Graham,

    I think what I was driving at in making the comparison to the House of Lords was that the Court acts as a sort of super-Senate. The original Senate here, since it is now directly elected, and no longer reflects local distributions of power within the several States to the degree it formerly did – is now more like the House of Representatives, with longer terms and bigger districts.

  17. Paul Green: “That approach has kept military and civilian officials from conducting much-needed assessments of how Muslim extremists are waging war because doing so would involving analysis of Muslim religious tenets, a politically taboo subject area.”

    This is Political Correctness gone totally amok. It seeks to disarm us of even the most basic investigative tools required to identify our enemies. Such obfuscation goes to the very core of political Islam’s masquerade as a religion. The diabolical fashion by which Islam avoids scrutiny even as it attacks its victim host goes beyond evil. It is one of the most shrwedly calculated forms of treachery and sedition known to mankind. Taqiyya is the outward manifestation of this self-sanctioned perfidy.

    Bilgeman: Are we ready to start using Hate Speech and Hate Crimes legislation against Jihadis and those who inspire them?

    Give the man a Kewpie Doll! How is it that the average person is prohibited from making disparaging remarks about an organization that, at its core, holds the most genocidal and duplicitous doctrine to be holy writ? This is why we need to immediately strip away all of Islam’s religious protections.

    Anyone not familiar with Anti-CAIR lawsuit should go to the linked article. Anti-CAIR was sued by CAIR for making the following statements.

    “Let their [sic] be no doubt that CAIR is a terrorist supporting front organization that is partially funded by terrorists, and that CAIR wishes nothing more than the implementation of Sharia law in America.”

    CAIR is an “organization founded by Hamas supporters which seeks to overthrow Constitutional government in the United States and replace it with an Islamist theocracy using our own Constitution as protection.”

    “ACAIR reminds our readers that CAIR was started by Hamas members and is supported by terrorist supporting individuals, groups and countries.”

    “Why oppose CAIR? CAIR has proven links to, and was founded by, Islamic terrorists. CAIR is not in the United States to promote the civil rights of Muslims. CAIR is here to make radical Islam the dominant religion in the United States and convert our country into an Islamic theocracy along the lines of Iran. In addition, CAIR has managed, through the adroit manipulation of the popular media, to present itself as the ‘moderate’ face of Islam in the United States. CAIR succeeded to the point that the majority of its members are not aware that CAIR actively supports terrorists and terrorist supporting groups and nations. In addition, CAIR receives direct funding from Islamic terrorists supporting countries.”

    “CAIR is a fundamentalist organization dedicated to the overthrow of the United States Constitution and the installation of an Islamic theocracy in America.”

    We must quickly evolve a set of terminology designed to expose Muslim complicity that has its basic defense in fact. Statements like, “Islamic shari’a law is a direct attack upon our Constitution.”

    As to the Anti-CAIR case: Rather predictably—when the court reached the discovery stage of its proceedings—CAIR suddenly got cold feet and managed to quell its outrage at being so accurately characterized. The real fireworks will begin with Michael Savage’s lawsuit against CAIR. No longer a plaintiff, CAIR will not have the luxury of modifying or dropping charges once discovery begins. I can only hope that Savage’s legal team are prepared for proctological levels of inquiry into CAIR’s financing and general operations.

    Saudi financed Islam must be banned in America as a prelude to the eventual legal prohibition of Islam in any form. This will serve as a basis for reverse immigration and final identification of the Islamic enemy we face.

  18. Correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t the shortest road to loosing the protection of the Constitution the demise of the USA?
    Hasn’t your president recently signed another agreement with Canada and Mexico on the road to a North American Union?
    What’s happening in Europe – our governments signing away our sovereignty and independence against the will of their people – is surely threatening America too!?

  19. Paardestaart said “What’s happening in Europe – our governments signing away our sovereignty and independence against the will of their people – is surely threatening America too!?

    Sure looks that way.

    zenster states “As to the Anti-CAIR case: Rather predictably—when the court reached the discovery stage of its proceedings—CAIR suddenly got cold feet and managed to quell its outrage at being so accurately characterized. The real fireworks will begin with Michael Savage’s lawsuit against CAIR. No longer a plaintiff, CAIR will not have the luxury of modifying or dropping charges once discovery begins. I can only hope that Savage’s legal team are prepared for proctological levels of inquiry into CAIR’s financing and general operations.”

    Don’t worry about Savage’s procto skills – he’s quite capable.

    Is it coincidence –

    * US Airways (6 imams lawsuit)is demanding a jury trial

    * CAIR’s officials are bailing out . . .
    ——–like Ahmad Al-Akhras is set to flee the country for Dubai ———-and Arsalan Iftikhar is now referred to as the ‘former’ national legal director for CAIR ?

  20. HerRoyalWhyness: Don’t worry about Savage’s procto skills – he’s quite capable.

    Given the overabundance of Islamic fecal matter involved, Savage will certainly have his hands full, so to speak. CAIR needs to be dissected like a biology class frog. Or, in more polite terms:

    “Sunlight is the best disinfectant,”

    — U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis —

  21. Actually, the surest road to the loss of civil rights, including the right to free speech, is to disarm the populace. While I have my doubts about the motivations of groups like the NRA, this is the reason that I support them and strenuously oppose gun control.
    An armed citizenry helps keep the government in line. An educated citizenry terrifies them. Be both.

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