Our country is founded on the law. The Constitution is the most essential check on government. We need it or else politicians can do whatever they see fit — which has happened in several instances, such as Watergate or the most recent police treatment of the Occupy Wall Street protesters. Some in our government don’t understand that the law applies to all.
Occupy Wall Street is an obvious victim. Look at their handling of University of California’s treatment of the Occupy Wall Street Movement protesters (http://goo.gl/adc9a). No matter what opinion one holds, that person has a right to speak their mind. Yet there’s been a settlement of $1 million to all the students who were pepper-sprayed. The bad thing is that a million dollars doesn’t make up for disregarding the law. No sum of money can make up for ignoring the law. The protesters’ rights were taken away by brute force.
Police treatment of members from the Occupy Wall Street Movement is deplorable to say the least. The police went out of the boundaries of the law. As much as I may disagree with the movement, they have a right to participate in our political environment. Just like the Tea Party has the right to hold rallies against Obamacare, then so should Occupy have the right to speak their own ideas. It’s true that the Occupy Movement needs to come up with an agenda in order to put their protest into action, just like the Tea Party did by winning big Republican majorities for the 2010 election, but their lack of goals doesn’t justify their treatment.
However, the issue here is not solely on the Occupy Movement. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. The issue here is the lack of respect of our founding document. Both parties are to blame here. The Patriot Act is a great example of one instance in which both Republicans and Democrats worked together in bipartisan support. This controversial law allows the government to confiscate “any tangible things” that can be viewed as a matter of national security (http://goo.gl/gtcsD). Along with that provision, the Patriot Act allows “roving” surveillance which permits the government to carry out any surveillance without telling the court of the facilities, places or any “particular instrument” that would be searched (http://goo.gl/0vjvT).
Both of these go against our Fourth Amendment. For example, the Fourth states that before giving any warrant, the place being “searched, and the persons or things to be seized” need to be described by oath (http://goo.gl/jdx9n). That’s just one law.
Look at President Obama’s mandate on contraception. Setting women’s rights and religious beliefs aside, this is about forcing a private institution to provide for a service (http://goo.gl/ygwjOl). No matter what the Catholic Church believes, it should have a right to provide whichever kind of medical coverage it wants to its employees. If this was such a significant issue, then Obama should have complied with our legislative powers where Congress is bound by our Constitution to make law. The same can be said of many other presidents when they bypassed our legislature and overused executive orders. Both Republicans and Democrats are clearly to blame.
Both parties take advantage of war powers as well. Congress hasn’t declared war on a country since World War II (http://goo.gl/VefBU). How about the Korean War? War in Vietnam? The Gulf War? Afghanistan? Iraq? Even our current Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, said that the U.S. will invade Syria without approval from Congress (http://goo.gl/kEEAD).
Congressional approval must be sought when it comes to military conflicts. After all, Congress has the powers of war and the purse.
The bottom line is that our elected officials believe they are above the law. The problem with that is that they feel entitled to do whatever they see fit just like the cops at the University of California. Yes, the pepper-spraying was shocking — but so are the rest of these offenses to our law. Let’s look deeper.