Carroll County Times

Letter: Rights are being quickly eroded

A study of British history shows the careful evolution of the recognition and protection of our God-given, constitutionally-recognized rights and liberties.

Throughout the second millennium, certain principles of law, certain legal practices, were founded in Britain and respected in order to recognize and protect our God-given rights.

These legal principles were well-known and alluded to as the Rights of Englishmen. These rights created a justice system containing principles very familiar to us: habeus corpus, trial by jury, right to council, attorney-client privilege, the right to face your accuser, innocent until proven guilty, etc.

The Rights of Englishmen enabled even the poorest coal miner to enjoy safety under the law. The law wasn't there to eliminate economic differences between the poor laborer and rich aristocrat; instead, it existed to provide equal justice and protection of person and property, no matter their economic station.

The shield law provided was something foreign to the continent, where torture, threatenings, bribery and lies were prevalent in those justice systems.

The preservation of the Rights of Englishmen is what our founders fought for in the War for Independence.

Since America's founding, those precious rights have been forefront in our legal system, providing a shield of justice and freedom. But only until recently.

Within the past several decades those celebrated rights have been under attack and almost eliminated. Three of the most insidious acts passed by Congress are the Asset Forfeiture Act under Ronald Reagan, Patriot Act under George W. Bush, and National Defense Authorization Act under Barack Obama. In short, the first enables police and prosecutors to take property from individuals without a trial of any sort and where no proof of crime has occurred. The second enables the government to spy on peaceful citizens who hold differing views on present-day issues than the present administration. The third enables the government to indefinitely detain citizens without charge or trial and to keep them in an unknown location.

There are countless pages of documentation showing how these three acts are among numerous pieces of legislation that have erased a thousand years of precious history. The Rights of Englishmen which our Founders fought for and which many have since died for, have been twisted by a now corrupt legal system. We are no longer living in a country where there is protection under the law. Instead, the fears of injustice prevalent on the continent centuries ago now reign in America.

Rebekah Forney