New Amendments - Future Amendments

Essay by Darrens1luv December 2006

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The Constitution has been amended 26 times since 1789, and it is likely to be further revised in the future. The most sweeping changes were made within two years of its adoption. In that period, the first 10 amendments, known collectively as the Bill of Rights, were added. They were approved as a block by the Congress in September 1789, and ratified by 11 states by the end of 1791. The courts have already substantially reinterpreted the Constitution to reduce protection of economic liberties. Thus, scholars interested in constitutional protection of freedom must act as historians, and must attempt to determine what forces caused existing constitutional changes.

USA Patriot Act

On October 26, 2001, President Bush signed into law the USA PATRIOT Act (acronym for "Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism"). Passed hurriedly (many Congressmen stated later they had not even had time to read the law) it creates a new crime, "domestic terrorism," so broadly defined that it could conceivably apply to acts of civil disobedience.

The USA PATRIOT Act gives the FBI and the CIA greater rights to wiretap phones, monitor e-mail, survey medical, financial and student records, and break into homes and offices without prior notification. It creates a new crime of domestic terrorism that is so broadly defined that it may be applied to citizens acting legally to express their dissent. Under this Act and other legislation, noncitizens are being deported or detained indefinitely without judicial appeal.

There is a lot of concern that the government is not only using its new powers but is refusing to provide unclassified information on how it is using them under the Freedom of Information Act, such as who is being detained. The refusal prevents anyone, including citizens, the media, federal judges...