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Individual Rights

March 8, 2013
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) waged a 13-hour filibuster on the Senate floor this week in a futile effort to set clear limits on the administration's use of covert military force. Specifically, Paul wanted the administration to concede that it couldn't legally assassinate Americans on U.S. soil. The idea that a president would approve a drone strike on a citizen sitting at a cafe in Boston or San Francisco or Wichita seems far-fetched, but even the least paranoid among us can't help but be troubled by the administration's less-than-definitive assurances.
June 6, 1996 | RON MANUTO and SEAN PATRICK O'ROURKE, Ron Manuto, formerly on the faculties of Texas Pan-American and Oregon State universities, is a consultant who lectures on civil rights. Sean Patrick O'Rourke is an assistant professor at Vanderbilt University, where he teaches a course on American legal discourse
Amid the election-year push to get tough on crime and appoint judges who will "put criminals away," it has become unfashionable to speak of the rights of the accused. From O.J. Simpson to Timothy McVeigh to the Unabomber, the cry is for vengeance. Indeed, in a country where the constitutional protections of the rights of the accused have advanced beyond those of any other nation, the public views these rights skeptically, even cynically. The complaint is not new.
"Classifications and distinctions based on race or color have no moral or legal validity in our society," Thurgood Marshall wrote in a 1948 brief to the Supreme Court. Nearly 40 years later, Clarence Thomas declared: "I firmly insist that the Constitution be interpreted in a colorblind fashion." Over the last decade, Supreme Court nominee Thomas has espoused an old-fashioned legal view of individual rights and equality--one that is today considered conservative.
A few days after achieving independence from Brussels in the summer of 1960, the Belgian Congo fell apart. Plagued by a series of army mutinies and local rebellions and, finally, the secession of its mineral-rich Katanga province, the Congo's young government appealed for international help. The United Nations responded by dispatching a force of 20,000 troops from 26 member states to the large central African nation, now known as Zaire.
One of the nation's leading experts on the Bill of Rights proposed Tuesday that the U.S. Constitution be amended in order to preserve privacy and other individual rights threatened by the spread of computer technology. In a speech punctuated with references from John Locke, Lily Tomlin, Albert Einstein and Darth Vader, Harvard law professor Laurence H. Tribe called for a 27th Amendment at the First Conference on Computers, Freedom & Privacy.
August 10, 2010
Ever since the attempted Christmas Day airliner bombing, a debate has raged over whether the U.S. criminal justice system is equal to the challenges posed by international terrorism. This page has long believed that it is, but Rep. Adam Schiff (D- Burbank) has a different view, reflected in a bill known as the Questioning of Terrorism Suspects Act of 2010. As we see it, the legislation gives needlessly short shrift to individual rights. The bill would do two things. It would express a nonbinding "sense of Congress" about how the Miranda rule should be applied to terrorist cases, and it would provide a terrorism exception to current practices that exist to ensure that suspects are brought before a magistrate without "unnecessary delay.
December 15, 2009 | By Jonathan Estrin and Marshall Croddy
Watching the often vitriolic debates in Congress these days can be disturbing. But disagreement and debate are part of our national DNA. Consider the Bill of Rights, which was as controversial when it was first debated as parts of it still are today. FOR THE RECORD: Rights: An Op-Ed article Monday on the Bill of Rights said it was ratified 118 years ago. It was ratified 218 years ago. — The founders of our country, united in the revolution, were divided over the issue of including a bill of rights in the Constitution of 1787.
August 21, 2012 | By David Horsey
Many Republicans believe theirs is the party of Jesus Christ, but, in practice, they are the party of an atheist, Hollywood intellectual named Ayn Rand. After establishing a career as a screenwriter, Ayn Rand authored two novels, “The Fountainhead” and “Atlas Shrugged,” that are the intellectual bibles of libertarian conservatives, corporate executives and callow undergraduates. Among the many aspirational young conservatives inspired by Rand's philosophy was a kid named Paul D. Ryan . “The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand,” Ryan said in a 2005 speech.
June 4, 2001
Two letters published May 30 assert that the 2nd Amendment is a collective right and not an individual right. This is a curious approach and interpretation that, if applied to the rest of the Constitution, would mean that individuals do not have any rights, only state governments. The Supreme Court has asserted that "the people," as used in the Constitution, describes individual rights. The 2nd Amendment assigns rights to the people, which means individual citizens. You can't have it both ways, assigning individual rights in all cases except the 2nd Amendment.
October 8, 1988
Your editorial "A Matter of Principle" in support of the ACLU could not be more incorrect in its basic philosophy (Sept. 28). You state that you "cannot imagine any idea . . . more American" than maximum individual rights. However, our modern democratic society is ultimately based on the sacrifice of some individual rights in order to sustain and protect the collective whole--a concept stated by Thomas Hobbes over 300 years ago. I do not see anything American about legalization of drugs, public sexual solicitation, the Nazi Party, or, for that matter, furloughs for convicted murderers.
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