Civil liberties are a variety of rights guaranteed by the US Constitution, the Bill of Rights and several other amendments to the Constitution, and by international treaties that have the force of US law after their approval by the Senate. Some of these rights extend only to citizens of the United States, and some to non-citizens as well, both inside the US and in various other places, including the battlefield. The Founders of the United States fought a war to sever the thirteen colonies of that time from the arbitrary and capricious authority of King George III, and of the British Parliament in which they had no representation. The Declaration of Independence contains a lengthy list of complaints about such matters.
The Bush Administration has systematically denied and sought to curtail those rights, including, but not limited to, offenses against
- Freedom of Speech
- Freedom of Religion
- Freedom of Assembly
- Security in one's house and possessions against unreasonable searches and seizures
- Right to a speedy and public trial by jury and to legal representation
- Right not to testify against oneself
- The writ of Habeas Corpus, requiring that the accused be confronted by his or her accusers and shown the evidence against him or her.
- Freedom from torture
- Right to vote
- Equal protection of the laws
The Administration is, however, keen on the right to keep and bear arms even if the bearer is not a member of a well-ordered militia. Unless, of course, the bearer is identified by the Administration as a terrorist or "enemy combatant".
Freedom from slavery and involuntary servitude are no longer problems, although they persisted for some time after the Civil War in forms such as sharecropping. Issues such as attainder of treason and ex post facto laws have very rarely arisen. A number of other rights, such as the right not to have soldiers quartered in one's house, have not been called into question under the Constitution.