Letters to the Editor

Wednesday, Jan 30 2013 11:00 PM

We're always balancing rights of one vs. many

By The Bakersfield Californian

According to columnist Ric Llewellyn ("Is it a gun problem or a violence problem?," Jan. 26), there is a devil's bargain to be made when approaching the limitation of rights.

"It comes down to this: Are we good with sacrificing any of the rights protected by the Bill of Rights?" Implicit in Llewellyn's statement is the idea that any limitation on a right is a "sacrifice" of the entirety of said right. This interpretation is counter to the basic, fundamental principles of the social contract our nation is founded on.

We, the people, have come together in agreement that we must give up our absolute rights and allow limitations for the protection of the whole of our society. Anyone read the Preamble lately? Llewellyn references specifically the First and Fourth amendments, stating that if they were ever limited, oh, my, what a ruckus the press and others would raise.

In actuality, any government student here in Kern County can explain to you the limitations on First Amendment rights, including time, place and manner restrictions, prohibition of defamation speech, content-based regulations of obscenity, and many others. The same is true for the Fourth Amendment, where students might reference the long list of exceptions to the warrant requirement and the courts' framework for a "reasonable" search.

Indeed, this balance between the rights of the individual and the protection of the community's rights is at the heart of any civics course. You can also find this idea of limitation in the majority opinion of the landmark Supreme Court case District of Columbia v. Heller, where Justice Antonin Scalia affirms that the right to bear arms established in the Second Amendment has limitations.

Terri Richmond

Bakersfield

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