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Hope for the Dead

Judge Andrew P. Napolitano on

That God, which ever lives and loves,
One God, one law, one element,
And one far-off divine event
To which the whole creation moves.
-- Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892)

When American colonists were oppressed by governance from Britain, the word most frequently uttered in pamphlets and editorials and sermons was not "safety" or "taxes"; it was "freedom." Yet, two intolerable acts of Parliament so assaulted personal freedom that they broke the bonds with the mother country irreparably.

The first was the Stamp Act of 1765, which required colonists to have government stamps on all documents in every household. It was enforced by British soldiers who used general warrants, issued by a secret court in London, to rummage through colonists' possessions, ostensibly looking for stamps.

These general warrants, like the ones the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court issues in Washington, D.C., today, did not specifically describe the place to be searched or the person or thing to be seized. Rather, they granted authority for the bearer to search wherever he wished and seize whatever he found -- as FISA warrants do currently, in direct contravention of the Constitution.

The second intolerable act was the Revenue Act of 1767, the proceeds from which the king used to pay the salaries of colonial officials and the king's clergy, thereby securing their loyalty.

The Stamp Act assaulted the right to be left alone in the home, and the Revenue Act forced colonists to pay for a religious establishment. These two British laws caused many colonists to realize they needed to secede from Britain and form a new country, in which the government would protect freedom, not assault it. Fifteen years later, they won the American Revolution.

 

Today, the loss of freedom comes in many forms.

Sometimes it is direct, as when Congress dictates how to acquire health insurance and imposes taxes on those who don't comply.

Sometimes it is subtle, as when the government borrows $3 trillion a year and, as a result, our money and assets lose much of their value and our descendants will be taxed heavily to repay the loans.

Sometimes it is secret, as when the government reads emails and text messages and follows the movements of cellphones, all without search warrants. And when it uses drones to kill people the government hates or fears, without a declaration of war or any due process.

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