Hey, kids, it’s Constitution Day again! And boy, have we learned about the application of the foundation of the United States in the past year or so, or what?
Article I, Section 8. The Congress shall have Power
 To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.
The notion of “limited” gets longer every revisiting of the Copyright law, contrary, in my opinion, to the original intent of the Founders.
Article II  No person except a natural born Citizen…shall be eligible to the Office of President
Yes, don’t hear as much about them lately, but the birthers, who claim President Obama is not eligible to be President, are still out there.
Amendment I Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof
This, of course, is at the heart of the so-called “Ground Zero mosque” debate; the usual line about this is that they have a RIGHT to build the Islamic center but that they OUGHT NOT TO.
There are some other interesting sidelights, such as some politicians suggesting that they should investigate the financing of the facility. This is right and proper as long as they likewise check out the funding of every new church, synagogue, and temple, and existing ones, while they are at it.
Amendment I Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech
Interestingly, action has been defined as “speech”; e.g. flag burning. So the Koran-burning controversy falls here. Again, people used the RIGHT TO/OUGHT NOT to conversation.
Amendment II A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
The Supreme Court’s ruling a couple of years ago protecting personal gun ownership, not just the militia part, has meant that jurisdiction after jurisdiction with gun control laws are having them challenged, forcing them to more narrowly define the restrictions on gun ownership, such as insanity of the would-be owner.
Amendment IV The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
There was a truly horrific ruling by the US Ninth Circuit Court in August 2010 allowing warrantless GPS tracking by law enforcement. Other courts have ruled otherwise, as this TIME magazine article notes. What’s REALLY irritating about the Ninth’s decision is this:
The courts have long held that people have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their homes and in the “curtilage,” a fancy legal term for the area around the home. The government’s intrusion on property just a few feet away was clearly in this zone of privacy.
The judges veered into offensiveness when they explained why Pineda-Moreno’s driveway was not private. It was open to strangers, they said, such as delivery people and neighborhood children, who could wander across it uninvited.
Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, who dissented from this month’s decision refusing to reconsider the case, pointed out whose homes are not open to strangers: rich people’s. The court’s ruling, he said, means that people who protect their homes with electric gates, fences and security booths have a large protected zone of privacy around their homes. People who cannot afford such barriers have to put up with the government sneaking around at night.
Judge Kozinski is a leading conservative, appointed by President Ronald Reagan…
The conflicting rulings at the Circuit level make this almost a certain Supreme Court case in the future.
Amendment XIV – The Fourteenth Amendment was proposed on June 13, 1866, and ratified on July 9, 1868.
Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.
This WAS initially all about slavery. This IS, suddenly, about illegal immigrants coming to the United States and have their babies here, making the children U.S. citizens. How frequently this is happening is an open debate.
There have been other fun Constitutional issues, such as Arizona’s immigration law, in probable violation of Article I, Section 8, but this has gone on long enough. US citizens: go read your Constitution, while you still can.