The first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution, known as the "Bill of Rights," guarantee freedom of speech, religion, association, assembly and due process of law. I fear these rights have become temporary privileges, which is why I introduced Senate Bill 999, The Liberty Preservation Act.
In 1942, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, which moved 110,000 American citizens into internment camps. These American citizens were forced out of their homes and into internment camps based upon their Japanese heritage.
Until Feb. 18, 1942, these citizens had the same rights as other Americans. On Feb. 19, these same 110,000 people -- who did nothing wrong -- were forced into internment camps by their government. There rights were stripped -- no right to lawyer, no right of due process of law -- the only right they had was "right this way" into the internment camp.
When will our modern-day Feb. 19 come, and what will the government use to determine how our rights will be restricted? Race? Religion? Age? Wealth?
When Japanese-Americans most needed their rights, their government took them away. "Rights" are not "rights" if your government can take them away.
In 1942, the government said they were able to take rights away because of the fear of Japanese spies in our country. Those of Japanese heritage were stripped of their rights as American citizens. Did we do the same with people of German heritage (we were also at war with Germany)? The government chose who they wanted to persecute and used the fear of war to justify their actions.
I fear the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) takes us down the same road by allowing the U.S. government to legally hold citizens in detention -- without due process of law -- as guaranteed to Americans by the Bill of Rights.
My legislation exempts Pennsylvania from complying with NDAA as it relates to the "indefinite detention" of certain persons by the U.S. government. A number of other states have taken similar action, including Wyoming, which was the model for my legislation.
Protecting our rights makes sense, right?
-- State Sen. Mike Folmer is a Republican serving District 48, which in cludes parts of Berks, Chester, Dauphin, Lancaster and Lebanon. He will rep resent parts of York County when red istrcting takes effect next year.