I've warned about this for a while now, that the Constitution is not an ala carte menu, and that efforts to pick and choose which amendments and freedoms are allowed would backfire on all of us. At the end of the day, all our rights and freedoms are just words on paper. Their only legitimacy is our interpretation of them and the respect we finally give them. And they will all be interpreted equally. If we overly parse and restrict individual freedom on one, we open the door to restrict all of them.
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.
Gun control advocacy groups have long argued that the 2nd Amendment does not grant individual but collective rights, and those only to members of large government run institutions such as the military and police. They point to the ‘well regulated Militia’ clause as proof that the founders never intended an individual right, for why else would they include such a qualifier? Advocates also point out that no other rights in the Constitution contain a similar qualifying phrase. But this is not true.
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.
Opponents of birthright citizenship have set upon the phrase and subject to the jurisdiction thereof as their legal avenue to strip citizenship from the American born children of illegal immigrants. They are claiming that citizenship is not an individual right, but a collective right bestowed by the government only to legal residents. Opponents point to this clause as their justification, for why else did the authors of the 14th Amendment include it? Some are now claiming that if an immigrant enters the country illegally and does not report herself as a legal resident, then she has actively sought to not be subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. Therefore Congress could pass legislation stating that her child is not a citizen per the wording of the 14th Amendment.
The Constitution can be interpreted in favor of individual rights or collective rights and this will be applied equally. If a cleaver parsing of one amendment finds that an individual right does not exist, nothing prevents the exact same thing from being done to another cherished right. The Constitution does not state one amendment is more sacred than any other. Use of the Well Regulated Militia argument is actually facilitating the right wing attack on birthright citizenship.
It doesn't end there. Legislators tired of political attacks from the blogosphere could similarly parse the 1st Amendment and claim that in the days of the founders, printing presses were large expensive pieces of equipment that were not widely owned. Limited ownership and the personal reputation of the wealthy press owners provided a check to irresponsible behavior that doesn’t exist today to the same degree. Freedom of the Press therefore applies only to large media organizations that can be effectively policed for slander, libel, morality and patriotism. That giving freedom of the press rights to any and all internet bloggers creates an unenforceable danger to the public good.
We have a choice to make: To accept individual rights and freedoms for all, to take the bad with the good, or accept collective rights and leave all of us subject to the tyranny of the majority. I choose individual freedom for all.