The Constitution of the United States of America
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"If 2019 was the year of the street protest, of tear gas and rubber bullets,
2020 might be the year the street protest died, or perhaps fell into a deep sleep, and went online." ~~Journalist Christopher Miller
Despite all appearances to the contrary, martial law has not been declared in America.
We still have rights.
Technically, at least.
The government may act as if its police state powers suppress individual liberties during this COVID-19 pandemic, but for all intents and purposes, the Constitution -- especially the battered, besieged Bill of Rights -- still stands in theory, if not in practice.
Indeed, while federal and state governments have adopted specific restrictive measures in an effort to lock-down the nation and decelerate the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the current public health situation has not resulted in the suspension of fundamental constitutional rights such as freedom of speech and the right of assembly.
Mind you, that's not to say that the government has not tried its best to weaponize this crisis as it has weaponized so many other crises in order to expand its powers and silence its critics.
All over the country, government officials are using COVID-19 restrictions to muzzle protesters.
It doesn't matter what the protest is about (church assemblies, the right to work, the timing for re-opening the country, discontent over police brutality, etc.): this is activity the First Amendment protects vociferously with only one qualification -- that it be peaceful.
Yet even peaceful protesters mindful of the need to adhere to social distancing guidelines because of this COVID-19 are being muzzled, arrested and fined.
For example, a Maryland family was reportedly threatened with up to a year in jail and a $5000 fine if they dared to publicly protest the injustice of their son's execution by a SWAT team.
If anyone had a legitimate reason to get out in the streets and protest, it's the Lemp family, whose 21-year-old son Duncan was gunned down in his bedroom during an early morning, no-knock SWAT team raid on his family's home.
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John W. Whitehead is an attorney and author who has written, debated and practiced widely in the area of constitutional law and human rights. Whitehead's aggressive, pioneering approach to civil liberties has earned him numerous accolades and (more...)