Friday, September 18, 2009

Rally Round the Flag Pole

Yesterday, September 17, was Constitution Day and all federally funded education institutions were required to hold a celebration of sorts to honor it. At Central Alabama Community College, where I attend classes, the day was marked by a rally around the flag pole.

In the SGA meeting the day before I had volunteered to deliver an address on what Constitution Day is. The following is the text of the 2 1/2 minute speech I gave while wearing my 4th Amendment shirt. It was video taped but the dean asked me not to share it due to privacy concerns of other students. I will try and separate the audio and make my own video to go with it.

Constitution Day

On September 17, 1787 the delegates to the Constitutional Convention met for the last time to sign the document they had created. The constitution provides the basic law of a body politic. The constitution defines the government, describes how it is organized and how the people who make it up are to be chosen and specifies what powers the government can and cannot exercise.

Additionally, the Constitution contains a group of special freedoms called the Bill of Rights. These special freedoms were enshrined in the Constitution by the founders of the country in order that they always form a back-bone of liberty for America's citizens.

Of course, it is important to remember that the bill of rights was never intended to be a list of all the rights we have. As pointed out in the 9th amendment, the Bill of Rights is a list of certain things the government is not allowed to do to you. Just because a right is not listed does not mean you don’t have that right.

Included are freedom of speech, assembly, press freedom, the right to bear arms, freedom from unlawful search and seizure, freedom from having military troops quartered in your home just to name few.

Can any of you name another right enshrined in the Bill of Rights?
* Fifth Amendment – due process, double jeopardy, self-incrimination, eminent domain.
* Sixth Amendment – Trial by jury and rights of the accused; Confrontation Clause, speedy trial, public trial, right to counsel
* Seventh Amendment – Civil trial by jury.
* Eighth Amendment – Prohibition of excessive bail and cruel and unusual punishment.
* Ninth Amendment – Protection of rights not specifically enumerated in the Bill of Rights.
* Tenth Amendment – Powers of States and people.

Many of the rights that make up the bill of rights are infringed upon or outright violated every day by the government, both local and federal. For example, every time a police officer uses the words of a confidential informant in a drug case the 6th Amendment is violated. Drug defendants are never given the right to face their accuser because in drug a case police can claim that a confidential informant told them something but, because the informant is confidential, they are never identified and never have to testify under oath thereby denying the accused the Constitutional right to face their accuser.

The right to peacefully assemble is violated every time a government official requires you to acquire a permit to have a gathering.

The right to own a gun has been infringed upon in Washington DC, New York City and Chicago. The DC case recently went to the Supreme Court and was overturned and the right to own a gun was reinstated for those living there.

In Jefferson and Shelby counties the Eighth Amendment has been violated in an ongoing manner for some time. In those counties people have been held in jail with no bond on misdemeanor charges. Some were held over six months with no hearing before the judge. Some were told that if they didn’t pay thousands of dollars they would not get a hearing before the judge. One woman who was jailed on unpaid traffic tickets went through a 14 month ordeal in and out of jail. She lost her home, her job and she and her young children had to move to a homeless shelter. Some of my lawyer friends have now filed class action lawsuits in those counties.

And, rather ironically, this ‘celebration’ we are having today is unconstitutional. Constitution Day: (n.) Observed on September 17, the day on which federally funded American educational institutions, themselves unconstitutional, are unconstitutionally required to teach about the Constitution.

However, I see this day as a teaching opportunity to enlighten young Americans about the Constitution, how to exercise the rights enshrined in it, and I strongly encourage all of you to become intimately familiar with this incredible document. Yes you have rights but if you don’t know what they are or how to exercise them then they are worth no more than the paper they are written on. I’ve brought pocket Constitutions for all of you. Please read them and keep them handy.


The audience was stunned silent for a moment and then started clapping. A number of faculty and a few students complimented me on the speech. The SGA sponsor noted that I had done a lot of homework.

I have to say though, that the setting was bizarre. The attendees were mostly fortunate, comfortable white kids who have probably never had a hard day in their life, standing by the flag pole and worshiping the flag and the government and all of the wonderful freedoms we have, while in the background and all around us were state work release prisoners, all black, dressed in white prison clothes, raking leaves and planting flowers. It reminded me of the old South and made me uncomfortable. I wonder what the prisoners performing slave labor thought about all the freedom praise going on around them? I hope they took note of my part of the speech about the 6th Amendment and how it is violated in every drug case where a confidential informant is used to get a conviction. I assume some of them were in state custody on drug charges.

Anyway, it was an interesting day. I enjoyed speaking to my fellow students and faculty and am even happier some of the prisoners were able to hear what I had to say. I look forward to shaking things up even more as time goes by.

DIGG this!


sixstring said...

Excellent speech!

Don said...

Food for thought.

Anonymous said...

An excellent leap forward. These are the steps that you need to make.

John Little said...

awesome speech... that is the first time I've ever really thought about that 6th amendment argument, but I was a healthcare regulatory lawyer, not criminal, prior to my current endeavors... It makes sense. Has a conviction ever been reversed on those grounds?

Loretta Nall said...

John...I do not know of any conviction that has been reversed on those grounds.

Loretta Nall said...

In my own marijuana possession case there was a supposed confidential informant. When my lawyer asked that the name of the confidential and a list of what he/she might have said be given to the judge for an in-camera review the DA refused. After more poking and prodding from my attorney the DA admitted that no such list existed.

The whole confidential informant thing really lights my fire. The cops lied about having one in my case and I bet there are tens of thousands of other cases where they have lied and the lie has never been discovered.

sixstring said...

There are most certainly tens of thousands of cases where the cops lied. It's a standard accepted investigatory technique and they are so used to getting away with it in legal procedings they think nothing at all about doing it. And lying is only a small part of police misconduct.
Most people never get to assert their constitutional rights at trial because most are bullied into accepting a plea deal. Ask Marc.

Nick said...

Excellent speech :) You should for Governor ;) (psst, again).

Anonymous said...

they were stunned silent because you are CRAZY. seriously. and if you havent noticed, because youre too worried about your stupid blog, there are also white state work release prisoners at cacc! also, the flag pole gathering was advertised throughout the school. anyone could have attened it besides the "comfortable" white kids!! and by the way, it is wrong and hypocritical of you to assume that none of the students there have been through any type of hardships. you dont know any of those students!! for you to be such a liberal, you sure do have a narrow mind-set when it comes to judging people or putting them into classifications! how dare you say something like that about the students or any of the other ridiculous stuff you blog about. you need to get a life.

Loretta Nall said...

Settle down anon or you might birth that duck right here in front of everybody. And you obviously have a reading comprehension problem.

In my extensive experience people don't give resounding applause if they think someone is crazy. They also don't approach someone they think is crazy and tell them what a great job they did, or how excellent and on point their words were. Those who made it a point to speak to me afterward included many members of the faculty. Are they crazy too for agreeing with someone 'crazy' like me? Maybe you should inform them since you are so sane and well grounded and all. I'm sure they'd be thrilled to know that an anonymous douche bag on the internet, who hasn't the testicular fortitude to use their real name, thinks they are crazy.

Please explain what part of my speech was crazy?

Second, no where in my blog post did I say that all of the state work release inmates at CACC were black. What I did say was that all of those planting flowers and raking leaves around us that day were black. I have the video to prove that.

No where in my post did I say anything about the people who attended being the only ones who were allowed to attend or that the event wasn't publicized so I'm not sure where you came up with that bit. It's that whole reading comprehension thing again. you should take care of that as soon as possible or it will continue to embarrass throughout life.

As to the kids who attended being fortunate I prefaced that with the word PROBABLY, which means I didn't say it with absolute authority. In other words that is just my perception of the attendees.

Liberal? Now that's hilarious. I'm actually very the true meaning of the word...which you probably don't know the definition of. Nothing I said denigrated anyone attending the event that day in any way.

Lastly, I will write what I want to write on my website. If you don't like it then feel free not to visit again. You won't be missed.

sixstring said...

Crazy, dope smoking, atheist animal husbandry practitioner! How dare you blog about the ridiculous stuff that's going on.

I meant crazy in a positive way.