Consitutional Charge

I know that people use amendments to get cases thrown out because a lawsuit was infinging on the consistution. But what does someone get charged with if they violate the consitution? Say i tried to stop free speech by not letting someone with a particular viewpoint write somthing for a newspaper. If they complained, what would i be charged with?

Nothing, you are not the Government.

This happens all the time - the owners/publishers/editors of a newspaper can take any editorial line they like, and spike any copy which is contrary to that line. Or they can refuse to print copy which they think will upset advertisers. Or readers.

They aren’t charged with anything. It’s not a crime.

Which is not to say, of course, the violating somebody’s constitutional rights is *never *a crime. If I break into people’s houses and steal their goods, I am violating their “right . . . to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures”, and also committing the crime of burglary. I’ll be charged with the latter.

As a publisher, fine. As a private citizen trying to bully others to their POV like some psycho Koch brother? Depends what you did.

Are we talking stalking or harassment or invasion of privacy or possibly various domestic terrorism charges? Do you have others involved that you have have hired or encouraged or controlled to commit illegal acts?
Are you crossing state lines to accomplish this? Are they on your behalf?

Too many questions and ‘ifs’ to say with what you posted so far.

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution simply states that “Congress [emphasis added] shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press…”

It doesn’t say anything about whether or not you, a private citizen, can legally try to “stop free speech by not letting someone with a particular viewpoint write somthing for a newspaper.”

In other words, the First Amendment constrains the government, not you.

I’m trying to guess what you mean by this sentence. The Constitution sets up a framework for laws: the Amendments - which are as much a part of the Constitution as the original Articles - mostly tell Congress what laws it cannot pass. Sometimes it’s unclear exactly where the line is to be drawn, so courts often have to rule whether laws are constitutional or not. The First Amendment tells Congress it cannot make any law “abridging the freedom of speech.” But throughout history, various laws have been passed doing exactly that. You can’t violate national security, or incite people to crimes, or create imminent danger, or use hate speech, all of which have certain meanings in certain times and places. Absolutely none of these offenses are against the Constitution, though. They would be in violation of specific laws. A defense against the charge may use the argument that the law is itself unconstitutional, but you are always at least one level removed from the Constitution directly.

And this has the same lack of meaning. We have no written right to security in general. The people of the U.S. have a right that the government not use its power against them “unreasonably.” (A word with almost infinite latitude.) You as an individual citizen are given no such protection from other individual citizens in the Fourth Amendment. Any protection you have comes from laws, which may or may not provide full coverage.

Depends on how you stop him … behavior is regulated, it is speech that is free. If he’s on your own property, you can call the police and they’ll haul him away for you.

Gotta point out that, in marked distinction to the first amendment (“Congress shall make no law . . .”) the eighth amendment merely says that the right to be secure from unreasonable searches and seizures “shall not be violated” - passive voice, no agent identified. While the surrounding language does suggest that the framers were mainly concerned about violations by the government, the protection afforded by the amendment isn’t, on the face of it, limited to protection against violations by the government.

It’s a bit of a stretch, but imagine living in a society in which there were no laws against murder or kidnapping for fun or profit. You wouldn’t think, would you, that in such a society your rights to life and liberty were adequately vindicated or protected?

The Declaration of Independence lays out this philosophy very neatly. Rights to life and liberty (and other human rights) inhere in us naturally; they are not created or limited by government grant. (The corollary is that the Constitution doesn’t grant people rights; it recognises that they have rights.) And then the Declaration goes on to point out that governments are instituted among men to secure these rights. In other words, if the government doesn’t protect your right to life, liberty, etc then it’s not doing its job.

OK, the Declaration of Independence is not a legislative enactment. But it does provide a context within which the Constitution can be interpreted, and it certainly affords some support for an interpretation which says that, if protection of a particular right is not explicitly limited to protection against violations by the government, there is no need to imply such a limitation.

The OP isn’t super clear on what is being asked. Does anti-SLAPP statutes meet the criteria?

Gotta point out that this language appears in the Fourth Amendment. :slight_smile:

You’re not trying to suppress his constitutional right to say it’s the 8th Amendment, right? :smiley:

That is true (of the Fourth Amendment, which is presumably what you meant). But it has always been interpreted as a limitation on the government. The Thirteenth Amendment (“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”) is the only one that has been interpreted as a direct limitation on private actors, to the best of my knowledge.

What prevents states, counties, and municipalities from enacting laws that are unconstitutional for congress to enact?

Their own Constitutions. And provisions of the federal Constitution that apply to them also.

See the Incorporation doctrine for examples of what RNATB is talking about.

Thanks- I didn’t realize that this interpretation is so recent!

Just to muddy the waters further, you will often hear about the possibility of federal trials for “violations of civil rights”. For example, this was raised as a possibility after Missouri officials decided not to prosecute Darren Wilson for Michael Brown’s killing in Ferguson, MO. (In this case, Wilson was not ultimately charged.) But even in these cases, there is a specific law that is being violated; in this case, Wilson would probably have been charged for violating federal statutes barring “Deprivation of rights under color of law”, rather than for violating the Constitution. A fine distinction, to be sure, but a consistent one.

But does the Thirteenth Amendment apply directly to private individuals, or does it prohibit the gov’t from establishing and enforcing property rights in cases of slavery or other types of involuntary labor. For example, you never hear of the Thirteenth Amendment being invoked when a human trafficking, forced prostitution, etc., ring is broken up. Rather, it is treated as an enforcement of the various state and federal statutes that prohibit these activities against the private actors accused of engaging in them. Of course, it’s been a long time since I cracked open a con-law textbook.

It both applies directly to private actors, and empowers Congress to legislate against private actors. The reason you don’t see prosecutions under the 13th Amendment is because the Constitution does not provide for sanctions, but also because Congress has legislated extensively in the area and it’s not necessary to resort to the amendment itself.