Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Right to Keep and Bear Cellphones

Many times since the Supreme Court’s decision in DC v. Heller, I have found myself mulling over the ramifications of the following quote:

If, as they believe, the Second Amendment right is no more than the right to keep and use weapons as a member of an organized militia, it does not assure the existence of a “citizens’ militia” as a safeguard against tyranny.
- U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008)

Although the quote applies directly to the constitutional language referring to the right to “keep and bear arms,” what are the broader implications? Is there a citizen’s right to other means of safeguarding against tyranny?  For instance, this article documents the governmental practice of prosecuting persons who use their cell phones to videotape police officers publicly performing their duties. In some instances, the language of statutes designed to combat wiretapping or voyeurism is tortured to the extreme to support a prosecution. If the right to bear arms is a personal right in order to guard against tyranny, then can it not also be argued that there is a right to record allegedly tyrannical conduct for the same purpose? When a citizen is faced with conduct from a government official that the citizen believes is dangerously tyrannical, which response contributes more effectively to an orderly society; the citizen organizing a militia to start a revolution, or the citizen recording the allegedly wrongful conduct on her cell phone for later use in legal proceedings or for media scrutiny?

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