A Socialist Approach to the Bill of Rights

BY:Indiana District, CPUSA| September 21, 2001

Proposed resolution submitted
by the Indiana District to the 27th National Convention of the Communist Party

There has been a great deal of discussion in the CPUSA, recently of the
concept of BILL OF RIGHTS SOCIALISM. Articles have appeared in our press,
the discussion bulletin, Pre-Convention documents, and on the Yahoo! e-board.
If this concept is adopted as a policy and/or project of the CPUSA, it
is imperative to develop a socialist approach to the Bill of Rights as
well, and

A positive beginning to this approach is found in the suggested new preamble
to the CPUSA constitution, which advocates: "…an expanded Bill
of Rights, the right to a job at union wages, free education through the
university level, free health care, decent housing, child care and security
in old age…" A similar approach is seen in some of the posts to
the Yahoo! board, and

The one clear example we have of what a socialist bill of rights would
look like may be found in the constitutions of the USSR and other socialist
countries, now and before the 1989-91 events, and

In both the Soviet Constitutions of 1936, and 1977, [articles 118 and
40 respectively] the very first right guaranteed to all is the right to
work, and choice of job or profession based on inclination, training,
etc. Rights guaranteed by the socialist system included free vocational
training, free health care, rest, leisure and free vacations at government
resorts, fully paid disability [and also the right of the disabled to
work if they choose ] social security, housing and education., and

Women were guaranteed equal rights in all spheres. The state protected
marriage and the family, and provided stipends for childbirth, while at
the same time guaranteed the right to return to work, day care, paid pre-
and maternity leave .There was no contradiction between protective provisions
and equal rights provisions, and remember, these were all constitutional,
not statutory guarantees. The constitution of the GDR abolished the concept
of illegitimacy, [a key ideological weapon of the ultra-right] and guaranteed
homosexual rights long before the modern LGBT rights movement. To this
day the FRG has neither provision in its constitution, and

All of the positive rights to speech, assembly, religion and due legal
process were present, but also rights of culture, cultural expression
in one’s own language, and privacy were there too, and

Many questions still remain about a bill of rights under socialism: do
we want to extend the freedom of assembly and speech to nazis and the
klan? Do we really want to extend freedom of religion to Christian identity
and hate churches? Do we really want to honor the "takings of private
property" clause? These are some of the questions that have made
the issue so contentious. One thing is certain: Communism is NOT 21st
century American Constitutionalism.

Be it Resolved:
In light of the possibility of this concept of Bill of Rights Socialism
becoming Party policy.

That any
notion of Bill of Rights Socialism adopted by the CPUSA be based on, but
not limited to, the political, economic and social rights guaranteed in
the existing socialist constitutions and in the pre-1989-91 socialist
constitutions too.

Be it further
That the U.S. constitution’s Bill of Rights has some valuable people’s
concepts that must be constantly and vigorously fought for under capitalism,
but that this Bill of Rights, rooted in capitalism, cannot serve as a
platform for socialism. The Party must fight for a Bill of Rights rooted
in Socialism.


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