If this presidential election season has revealed anything it is that we live in a very polarized society. People feel disenfranchised, not cared for by elected officials, discriminated against, violated and left out. Expressions of frustration, discrimination, racism, anti-semitism, and just plain hate could be heard from supporters in both political parties. The fringe right and left in particular have not only advocated positions antithetical to the constitutional freedoms that make up the bedrock of our American values but have also engaged in disruptive and violent behavior. As a lawyer in the trenches it is this expression against our constitutional freedoms both in words and deeds that concern me the most.
It is this denigration of our constitutional rights and the deprivation of our freedoms that pose the greatest threat to our society. In the name of national security, in the name of public safety, in the name of a political position, in the name of profit we have permitted government and the private sector to erode our constitutional freedoms and especially our right to privacy. And now we hear candidates and their supporters openly express views that amount to nothing less than a conscious disregard for our constitutional freedoms. Yet, we seem relatively undisturbed by these authoritarian expressions.
My response to this dangerous trend is to remind everyone what American freedoms are all about. For the value, the virtue of our freedoms seem lost. The freedom of speech, press, religion, to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures, the right to bear arms, the right of privacy, the right to due process of law, we must get reacquainted on an intimate level with all of these constitutional rights. We must once again learn to cherish their virtues. That is why in the next few months I will do something quite simple: I will outline our Bill of Rights, amendment by amendment in very basic terms. In this way, I hope to remind if not reintroduce to all those who bother to read my newsletter what freedoms we have and why they are important.
With this awareness of our constitutional freedoms in mind I propose a very simple test to judge any political candidate and for that matter, any court judge. Does he or she express positions that would strengthen or weaken our constitutional freedoms? If overall, a politician’s positions amount to a dilution of our constitutional freedoms then such a person should not be supported. Thus, my test is based on the fundamental principle that any elected official, any judge should be a strong supporter of our bill of rights both in principle and in practice. That’s how our freedoms are protected. And that’s way if a politician advocates the dilution of our constitutional rights in the name of national security, public safety, or for any other reason for that matter, such a politician should be rejected. For the weakening of our freedoms is precisely what undermines the fundamental principles that make up our society. Unless the virtue of our constitutional freedoms is valued we as a society will turn into the very totalitarian state that we claim to fight against.