Individual rights need to be upheld

DAILY SUN NEWS EDITORIAL

Four men accused in the so-called “Battle of Bunkerville” will remain in custody for the weekend awaiting a verdict in the second conspiracy case against them.

Agree with their political message and tactics or not, Americans should be paying attention to this case and the outcome; the case itself has far-reaching constitutional implications.

The 6th Amendment guarantees defendants the right to a speedy trial, the right to an impartial proceeding and the right to defend oneself as well as challenge the testimony of witnesses. But from the looks of the proceeding, those rights have been stripped away through potential prosecutorial and judicial misconduct or overreach.

The defendants themselves, including at lease one from the Pacific Northwest, were not allowed to explain their beliefs and actions. They were not allowed to tell jurors why they legally carried firearms or what brought them to Bunkerville, Nev. Despite the fact multiple federal agencies were armed on-scene, they were not allowed to cite self defense in their actions.

Heck, even though the government is using their speech and firearms possession to set the stage for the case, the defendants weren’t even allowed to claim they have rights to free speech or to keep and bear arms.

In the four defendant’s first go-round, they were allowed to defend themselves, cite the constitution and provide their non-governmental view of what happened. The result was a mistrial. This time around, with their constitutional rights denied, the deck is clearly stacked against them.

Still, the jury began deliberations on Tuesday and continued all day Wednesday and Thursday before recessing for the weekend. The fact that the jury hasn’t come to a quick guilty verdict is telling.

Regardless what the jury returns in the coming days, this case is far from over. And the ramifications of a single judge’s decision to try to take away constitutional rights will resonate for years to come.

If America is to remain a free and lawful nation, rights guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution and its amendments must be upheld, especially in court. They must not be allowed to be taken away by anyone or any branch of government.

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