As a prologue, The Supreme Court’s decision, announced yesterday, to strike down the portion of DOMA defining marriage as between a man and a woman was a huge leap forward for gay rights. Unfortunately, most of the rest of their decisions have been even larger steps backwards in terms of equality, and even staying within a reasonable interpretation of the Bill of Rights.
To begin with, the right to remain silent, based upon the fifth amendment right which allows citizens not to incriminate themselves, has been almost entirely gutted. According to The New American, “Guilty or not, suspects in the United States no longer have the right to remain silent. If they remain silent, moreover, that silence will now be interpreted as guilt and will indeed — despite what you see on television court and cop dramas — be used against that person in a court of law.” Essentially, the decision has stated that, unless a person explicitly says, “I’m choosing to use my right to remain silent,” that person’s silence – and everything that person does while choosing to remain silent – can be used as evidence. This means that, even if you flunked out of school in sixth grade and never learned anything about the constitution, even if you’re just being approached for casual questioning (no warrant, no subpeona), and regardless of whether you’re in custody, or have a lawyer, without being informed of your rights, the police are now permitted to function as though you do know your rights, and unless you tell them you want to use those rights, you don’t actually have any.
The problems with this decision are so numerous, I can’t even begin to organize my thoughts in a way that won’t get confusing. This decision, alone, makes me want to charge the street and start protesting, and I’m usually too lazy to even get up to use the bathroom. When we couple the idea that refusing to speak in an informal interview can now be considered evidence of guilt, which could permit a wrongful arrest, with the fact that SCOTUS also recently decided that it is constitutional to take routinely take DNA swabs during booking, a completely innocent person could inadvertently end up with fingerprints, likeness, and DNA all neatly within their file, along with that charge, and entire phone and internet history at the 5 zettabyte data storage facility in Utah. Alright, that’s pushing into the realm of things Mel Gibson might say to Julia Roberts while they’re running from the big bad wolf (I just hope someone doesn’t blow my car up when my boyfriend starts it up to keep me silent!), but the reality is it’s getting a little too close to the dystopian future those YA authors keep warning us about.
Perhaps it is my inner conspiracy theorist, but all the NSA scandal from recent news, wasn’t really news to me. I always assumed that we were being watched, our emails read, messages scanned. Whatever, it’s written, it’s admissible in court, don’t say stupid things in writing. Here, however, is where I’m drawing my personal line in the sand: The Voting Rights Act of 1965 has been gutted this week, as well.
Well, it means that there is officially nothing stopping all of the states that have been trying to pass laws which would severely restrict the abilities of people within certain demographics to exercise their right to vote. It means a de facto reinstatement of poll taxes, shutting down or moving polling places to inconvenience certain citizens, and a general disregard for policing states who have a history of making really questionable decisions about voters’ rights.
“Now many of our Christians have what I call the ‘goo-goo syndrome.’ Good government. They want everybody to vote. I don’t want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people. They never have been from the beginning of our country, and they are not now. As a matter of fact our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.” —Paul Weyrich, 1980
The point of my rant is that I think we all need to be aware this is happening. We need to be aware, and the internet needs to react the way that it did when it wanted SOPA to disappear. This information, and the appropriate outrage, outrage that our rights are being taken away in droves, needs to be viral, it needs to be known by everyone, and everyone needs to use this moment in time to say, “Enough.”
As I write this article, I am more terrified for our future than I ever imagined I would be. I want a life with kids and a home and emotional and financial stability someday. It’s bad enough there isn’t enough money in the middle class anymore, and it’s bad enough that my generation has the worst employment prospects since the The Great Depression, do we really need to witness the end of our personal rights, too?
I just can’t. I don’t want to tell my hypothetical grandchildren that I was there when The Bill of Rights lost all of its meaning, and I really don’t want to say that I silently allowed it to happen. Do you?
- Supreme Court Bombshell: No Right to Remain Silent (thenewamerican.com)
- Supreme Court Bombshell: No Right to Remain Silent (humboldtdems.wordpress.com)
- Supreme Court Bombshell: No Right to Remain Silent (thelibertybeacon.com)
- Police Officer Tobler Blows His Top Because Citizen Knows His Rights (dailypaul.com)
- Supreme Court Bombshell: No Right to Remain Silent (rinf.com)
- Goodbye 5th Amendment? Supremes rule silence can be used in court (communities.washingtontimes.com)
- Texas Democrats laud same-sex marriage decisions, Republicans remain silent (chron.com)
- Supreme Court Bombshell: No Right to Remain Silent (grumpyelder.com)
- Supreme Court Bombshell: No Right to Remain Silent (nvrdc.wordpress.com)
- Recent Supreme Court decision significantly undermines your right to remain silent (EndtheLie.com)