The Bill of Rights, reinforced by several important subsequent amendments to our Constitution, is expected to protect us as individuals from whims and abuses by government.
As our culture has placed increasing importance on the individual, it may be time to consider further reinforcing our rights. Individual liberties have recently come under severe stress, not only from the necessary war on terrorism but also from corporate misconduct and well-founded concerns about managing exploding technology, as well as more traditional questions about cultural traditions and family values.
Many of the affirmative protections in the original Bill of Rights are largely procedural. It would be well to list and review our fundamental rights with a conceptual bottom-up review. These rights would include psychological rights to express to others who we are as individuals and would invoke social rights to ensure basic fairness to all people.
How do we reinforce individual rights and, simultaneously, maintain stability, security and social justice in our society? With many issues, the free market provides a much more dependable means of regulation than can government. But there are some areas where law is essential to maintain real freedom.
We’ve become accustomed to using representative democracy to make things fairer and safer. But when government enforces moral assessments, it imposes upon individual choice and self-identification. Government can keep you from protecting your family and property; it can jawbone your choice of friends, partner or spouse; it can hinder your speech; it can tell you whom you may hire; if you are male, it can even force you to give up your life in war. True, oppression and unfairness are real, and the world is dangerous. Macro-morality matters. Where should we draw the line on government?
The following topics are covered in this monograph:
· The Winding Road Toward Liberty
· A “Bill of Rights II” Proposal
· Terrorism and Individual Liberties
· Can “don’t ask do tell” Really Be Constitutional?
· The Child Online Protection Act (COPA) of 1998
· Information Technology