This just in from the Little Blue State newspaper (names have been changed to protect the innocent) --
216th anniversary of Bill of Rights celebrated in Capital City
By M M, The News Paper
Posted Sunday, December 16, 2007
Capital City – Ruby, executive director of the Super Duper Civil Rights Organization of Little Blue State, said it used to be that she would give talks and point to civil rights abuses that occurred historically.
Someone in the audience would always say: "We're not like that. We won't do that," she said.
But Saturday, as she spoke at Bill of Rights Day in the Little Blue State, she focused on the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution -- the right of people to be protected from unreasonable search and seizure.
Ruby described it as "a bedrock of our government."
And she gave the crowd some timely examples that she said raise questions about how far a government can and should go: detention of suspected terrorists at Guantanamo, the government's use of security letters to get information about individuals and the FBI files on a pacifist group that is opposed to the War in Iraq.
Her fear, she said, is "at the end of the day, there will be a government that will be stripped of funding ... with nothing left but police powers."
Her organization is often widely criticized when attorneys defend unpopular positions.
"We only have one client," she said. "And that's the Constitution and its Bill of Rights."
When conflicts arise, "most of the time there's somebody out there who wants to limit those rights," she said.
Ruby was one of two speakers at the Capitol City Bill of Rights Day. The event marks the 216th anniversary of the adoption of the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution on Dec. 15, 1791.
Even before it was adopted, Ruby said, the document was controversial.
The guarantees outlined in the Bill of Rights "were already widely acknowledged in the colonies," she said.
In fact, the Little Blue State already had its own Declaration of Rights -- a document from 1776 that is "almost completely forgotten today," said state archivist, Document Man.
One argument opposing the Bill of Rights was that it covered rights the people already had or natural rights that couldn't be taken away, he said.
"The Bill of Rights was kind of an exclamation point," he said. "It confirmed what people believed."
Another argument against the document was that the fledgling nation didn't have a person with the power of a king who would hold so much power over the people, he said.
For Ruby, protection of the Constitution and Bill of Rights is not a partisan issue.
On Saturday, a member of the audience asked Ruby why her organization takes on cases like the Little Town, Pa., municipal ordinance that proposed punishing landlords and employers for doing business with undocumented immigrants.
The ordinance was struck down in July.
"The Constitution protects everyone in the United States whether they are a citizen or not," she explained.
Those who attended the anniversary got two special treats. First, they got to see the Little Blue State's copy of the Bill of Rights.
Document Man also brought out Little Blue State's signed ratification of the Constitution.
The document, written in faded brown ink, is an important part of Little Blue State's history, Document Man said.
"I pulled it out of the vault this morning," he said.