Subject BILL OF RIGHTS - A CLOSE CALL IN 1990 Written 425 pm Feb 25, 1991 by christic in c
Subject: BILL OF RIGHTS - A CLOSE CALL IN 1990
Written 4:25 pm Feb 25, 1991 by christic in cdp:christic.news
THE BILL OF RIGHTS HAD A CLOSE CALL IN 1990
Project Censored: Nomination for the "Ten Best Censored Stories of 1990"
An anti-crime bill was introduced in both the U.S. Senate and House in
1990 which, had it been enacted and signed into law, would have essentially
nullified the Bill of Rights. Neither the Senate version, S. 2245,
introduced by Senator Phil Gramm (R-Texas), nor the House version, H.R.
4079, introduced by Representative Newt Gingrich, (R-Georgia), the minority
whip, passed either chamber.
The Gramm-Gingrich bills both start out stating that the U.S. criminal
justice system is failing to achieve the "basic objective of protecting the
innocent and punishing the guilty." Both bills call for "A Declaration of
National Drug and Crime Emergency."
The legislation stated: "Guided by the principles that energized and
sustained the mobilization of World War II, and in order to remove violent
criminals from the streets and meet the extraordinary threat that is posed
to the nation by the trafficking of illegal drugs, the Congress declares the
existence of a National Drug and Crime Emergency beginning on the date of
enactment of the act and ending on the date that is 5 years after the day of
enactment of this act."
Both bills have provisions for utilizing tents and various others
shelters, including unused military facilities, for the confinement of state
and federal "violent criminals."
The bill prescribes mandatory incarceration, for at least five years, of
"every person who is convicted in a federal court of a crime of violence
against a person or a drug trafficking felony, other than simple
possession." A crime of violence "has as an element the use, attempted use,
or threatened use of physical force against the person or property of
another; or by its nature, involves a substantial risk that physical force
against the person or property of another may be used in the course of
committing the offense." The bills also would suspend protection from
unreasonable search and seizure, excessive fines, bail, or punishment and
the right to be brought to trial.
Civil libertarians claim that a number of Executive Orders, issued by
presidents since World War II, which would suspend civil rights and
liberties, could take effect in the event of "any national security
emergency situation that might confront the nation." It also appears that
president's signature would declare the state "national security emergency"
necessary to empower the Federal Emergency Management Agency "to take over
government, suspend the Constitution and do what it wants." Oliver North,
former National Security Council aide, revealed during the Iran-contra
hearings, that plans had been formulated to suspend the constitution.
While the legislation was not enacted during the 1990 session, obervers
fear that oppressive parts of the Gramm-Gingrich bills may be added to the
omnibus anti-crime bill which is slowly working its way through Congress.
Nonethless, despite the extraordinary attack on the Bill of Rights, and
despite the support of a number of Representatives and Senators (including
California's newly elected governor, Pete Wilson), the oppressive
legislation was not put on the national agenda by the mass media for
discussion by the public. In fact, the widest, ongoing coverage of the
progress of the two bills in 1990 was found in a controversial weekly
publication called The Spotlight.
SOURCES: THE SPOTLIGHT, 8/6/90, "Repressive Gingrich Bill: Dangerous
Attack On Rights," p 1, and 10/15/90, "Danger To Bill Of Rights" pp 1,
14-15, both by Mike Blair.
End of text from cdp:christic.news
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