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Tuttle

It's time the Bill of 'Rights' got an overhaul

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July 4, 1776, gets the hoopla and the holiday, but it's Dec. 15, 1791, we should be celebrating. On that day, the Bill of Rights, after being ratified by the requisite number of states, went into effect. But the proposals experienced a bumpy ride along the road to adoption as the first 10 amendments to the Constitution.

The motion for a Bill of Rights, originally made by Virginia's George Mason in 1787, was at first rejected by some delegates to the Constitutional Convention. When it became apparent ratification of the new Constitution hinged on the support of those states that insisted on the amendments' inclusion, opponents relented.

So while independence has its perks, it's the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution that define, to a large extent, what America is all about. Or perhaps we should say was all about. Since the days of Thomas Jefferson's pastoral vision for the nascent nation are long gone, and with terrorists now lurking behind laptops and lattes at every Starbucks, a revised set of amendments seems long overdue.

Originally conceived as a bulwark against the threat of government morphing to tyranny, an up-to-date version of the Bill of Rights will protect us from persons with unpronounceable names who want to crush America as one would crush a cockroach. The following revisions will allow us to sleep soundly at night, knowing our lives, if not our liberties, are safe.

Amendment I: Congress shall, at its discretion, and whenever deemed necessary for the safety and welfare of the people, make laws abridging the freedom of speech and of the press, as well as the right of the people to assemble and petition government for a redress of grievances.

Amendment II: Each town, village and city shall be required to organize and maintain a militia, and every able-bodied adult shall be required to keep and bear arms at all times.

Amendment III: Each town, village and city shall be required, at their own expense, to make quarters available at all times for a contingent of troops permanently stationed at each locale for reasons of national security.

Amendment IV: The people are subject to random searches of their persons, houses, papers and effects as required by law-enforcement officials, and solely at the discretion of said officials. Said searches and/or seizures require neither warrant nor disclosure of intent.

Amendment V: Persons suspected of treason, or otherwise infamous crimes against the state, shall be held to answer for said crimes without the necessity of indictment by a grand jury and, if deemed necessary for reasons of national security, without due process of law. Persons in criminal cases shall be compelled to provide testimony whether or not said testimony may be construed as self-incriminating. Private property may be taken for public use without just compensation when either said compensation shall prove to be a financial burden for the state or municipality taking such property, or when property is taken for reasons of national security.

Amendment VI: In all criminal prosecutions wherein the accused is suspected to be an enemy of the state, secret trials at undisclosed times and locations shall take place at the discretion of the authorities. Said accused shall have no process of obtaining witnesses in his favor, nor shall the accused be permitted to have the assistance of counsel for his defense except at the pleasure of the prosecuting authorities.

Amendment VII: The rules of common law are herewith declared null and void and shall no longer pertain in any court of the United States.

Amendment VIII: The amount of bail required or fines imposed shall be left to the discretion of the Court, and punishments inflicted shall be in proportion to the crime committed.

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

Amendment X: The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the president.

Desperate times call for desperate measures, and though these revisions may seem draconian, they have been painstakingly drafted with one objective in mind: the survival of the United States of America as the world's standard-bearer of liberty and democracy. We're sure Thomas Jefferson would understand.

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