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TELECOMMUNICATIONS BILL RAISES CONSTITUTIONAL ISSUES

TELECOMMUNICATIONS BILL RAISES CONSTITUTIONAL ISSUES

BY JUANITA COX AND JERRY E. SMITH

 

[This was published in Sentinel of Freedom, a publication in cooperation with the Nevada and California Freedom Coalitions, Vol. 5, No. 1, Summer 1997]

  

"All laws which are repugnant to the Constitution are null and void."

Marbury vs. Madison, 5 US (2 Cranch) 137, 174, 176 (1803)

  

In the Supreme Court decision quoted above, the Court demonstrated that not all laws passed by Congress are in fact legal. This means that if Congress fails to keep within the bounds of the Constitution the repugnant laws so enacted can and must be challenged. Congress has shown its lack of understanding of the Constitution throughout this century, particularly with the sweeping New Deal legislation that was eventually shot down by the Supreme Court. In recent decades the Congress has passed many laws that, if challenged, will probably fail to pass constitutional muster. One such law is the clearly unconstitutional Laughtenburg Amendment which retroactively (a constitutional Bozo No No) stole the right to bear arms from citizens (also a probable unconstitutionality) who had been convicted of a misdemeanor charge of family violence. This illegal law has been blindly obeyed by law enforcement agencies across the country --with the result of several thousand peace officers with such convictions in their past having been driven from the force. The federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 is another spectacular example of an unlawful law.

 

The Telecommunications Act has two notable probable violations of our Constitution. The one most discussed in the patriot press, and one that should be well known to our readers, is the provision that requires all new telephones to be pre-wired for government wire taps by October 1998. This clearly violates the fourth amendment, the right to be secure in ones' person, house, papers, and effects, and casts a frightening chill over the first amendment right of free speech. Another, perhaps even more egregious "mistake," by Congress is a provision of that bill that bars local governments from banning cellular telephone towers or from restricting them because of radiation-associated health hazards. This violates the tenth amendment's protection of the rights and powers of the States from federal intrusion. This provision also illegally prevents cities and municipalities from exercising their rights and responsibilities to protect the health and well-being of their constituents.

 

Are there health risks associated with cellular telephones? --absolutely. Has the federal government got it all figured out? --definitely not, as we will show in a moment. A mobile, or cellular phone is a mini-radio transmitter that sends microwaves to a receiving point --usually a tower 50 to 300 feet tall --a few hundred yards to a few miles away. Reputable scientists working in a number of countries from Australia to Scandinavia have found links between these microwave transmissions and damage to brain cells and other side effects --in particular causing cancer, asthma and Alzheimer's disease.

 

For both the health of our Constitution as well as our own individual well being the Telecommunications Act is a law that must be challenged --and it is being challenged across this fair land. A class action suit has been brought against the FCC (as the implimentor of this Act) by over 50 cities in a number of states from Colorado and Texas to the Upper Mid-West. One example of fighting this law came just last night (August 25, 1997) when barely a dozen concerned citizens and "soccer moms" stopped the erection of a cell tower at Reed High School in the City of Sparks, Nevada. Cell tower operators have mysteriously targeted schools, parks and hospitals as prime locations for their microwave emitting communications equipment. In Washoe County, Nevada, home to the cities of Reno and Sparks, Pacific Bell wishes to place cell towers at nearly a dozen schools. Parents and residents in the vicinity of these schools were justifiably alarmed. A brief protest in front of Sparks City Hall last night was followed by several presentations, for and against the tower, to the City Council meeting. After learning of the "unmentionable" health risks, the possible deflation of property values, and the failure of the School Board to follow its own procedure to poll parents of their concerns about the tower, a visibly shaken City Councilwoman, Cindy Henderson, moved to have the decision to grant a special use permit to Pac Bell held until the city, and the parents of Reed High students could become properly informed on this issue. Not only did the protest table the action, but their presentations led to Bruce Breslow, the Mayor of Sparks, asking the Sparks City Manager, Terry Reynolds, to look into Sparks' joining in that national class action lawsuit to challenge the validity of the Telecommunications Act! Hurrah for Sparks!

 

Is this law tyranny? This act flatly states to the American people, and to their local and state governments, that the Federal Government does not want any back talk, it all but says: "we know what's best for you, so shut up and sit down." Is this democracy in action? Does the federal government really know all there is to know about the health issues associated with the proliferation of industries producing electromagnetic pollution? They told us DDT was safe. They told us above ground nuclear testing was safe. They told us cigarettes were safe. Now they tell us blanketing us in electromagnetic radiation (EMR) is safe. Do you feel safe from these assurances? We don't.

 

What, besides getting your city to join in the class action suit can you do? Since the bill forbids cities from stopping cell towers for health reasons you can get your City Council, or County Commission, to restrict them on other grounds. Cities all over these united States are indeed regulating cellular towers by ordinances and unified rules governing the industry --stopping them on a host of other pretexts.

 

For example, state and local governments have not only the right, but the obligation, to limit services--be it bars, pawn shops or (in Nevada) brothels. Cellular communications is but another service that can ruin property values and neighborhood esthetics. A December 8, 1993, article in The Wall Street Journal cites a study by a Houston appraiser showing that 10 properties bordering a transmission line sold for 13% to 30% less than 100 comparable properties away from the line, but in the same neighborhood. The article cites California homeowners who were unable to sell their homes after powerlines were erected nearby. Albeit these are not power lines, but they are just as unsightly and maybe even scarier.

 

Industry experts estimate there are more than 30 million cellular phone users in the United States. That number is expected to exceed 100 million by the year 2000. In the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, one communications company expects to place 400 antennas around the region. It estimates that 80 of these will be on stand-alone towers. In Chicago, two cellular companies have a combined total of about 850 cell sites in the region. Each puts up an additional 40 to 70 per year. With increasing competition, each city may have eight or nine cellular companies building towers. "How many more towers can Palm Beach County take before it starts looking like a Tulsa oilfield?" said Palm Beach County Commission Chairman Burt Aaroson. This is an aesthetics question, one that can be used to reduce the number of towers, forcing "co-habitation" on poles by several companies. This is a play off, trading one undesirable for another, as it admittedly could increase the field strength of the EM radiation around such crowded poles --but at least it "messes" with the offending companies and gives the city as least some so-say in the event. After your city has flexed its muscles a little like this it may then feel bold enough to really take them on.

 

Another approach you could use would be to demand guarantees from the cellular communications companies. Ask them, "Will you guarantee the safety of the tower?" "Will you foot the medical bills for any and all local citizens who develop illness or disease as a result of being in proximity of your facilities?" Many of these towers are going up at schools --can they guarantee that children will not dare each other to climb these towers, or assume the costs for injuries resulting from such children's pranks? Will they guarantee property values? Will they purchase homes and property, at fair market value, if such property becomes devalued or unsaleable as a result of the facility? As a consumer, do you purchase products without a guarantee? most likely not. If the cellular industry is asked to guarantee their products with no strings attached they may change their tune.

 

Even if the local government is prevented by this unlawful law from banning cell towers on health grounds, that does not prevent you from testifying before them on these issues. If you can get just a few of these councilpersons concerned about the health aspects, they may then look for other, "legal" grounds to oppose the tower, or towers in question.

 

The industry will tell your local officials how safe the tower's emissions are. They might even tell them that they are "hundreds to thousands of times" below standards set by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). However, cellular towers are so new, of the many studies being done, no studies have yet measured the long-term health effects; much less have they studied the effects of the combined wash of EMR we are bathed in daily. We live in a soup of non-ionizing radiation coming from hundreds of radio and television broadcasts, the electromagnetic grids of the power lines in the walls of our homes and above and below our streets, from TV sets, home computers and microwave ovens. Individually, each meets some arbitrary Threshold Limit Value (TLV) set by some government engineer in some federally funded lab, but collectively we know zip about their combined effects.

 

Even if cell phones do meet the FCCs TLVs that does not mean that they are safe. In America alone dozens of people have brought personal injury claims against cellular phone companies in suits totaling millions of dollars. In response, the industry has set up a fund for research into the health effects of cellular transmissions, one financed to the tune of over $25 million --are they worried? You bet they are!

 

In 1996 the prestigious British television program Watchdog HealthCheck aired a show detailing the work of several scientists who were concerned about exposure to microwave radiation from cell phones. Neuroscientists at the University of Washington, Seattle, reported discovering damage to DNA in the brain cells of rats exposed to microwave radiation similar to that emitted by mobile phones. Their work suggested that "hot-spots" can develop inside the brain, causing cell damage. That same year The London Times reported that Volkswagen UK began placing warnings in each new car sold. These warnings advised to all new car buyers not to use mobile phones inside the vehicle because the company believes that the electromagnetic fields generated are injurious to health!

 

There are, of course, conspiracy theories surrounding cell towers and microwave transmissions (I bet you thought we'd never get to 'em, huh?). Why are these industries so interested in putting cell towers up at schools? Is it because every kid these days has a cell phone? no? then what? Researchers say that this technology will be obsolete in five years when telecommunications will go to satellite based systems, rendering these towers useless. Useless? What if these are sub-let to (dare I say it?) the CIA? Those who have studied the intelligence community know that the spooks have spent millions, perhaps billions of dollars working on broadcast energy mind control experiments and devices. Could our children be their next intended guinea pigs? We know that the government, particularly the Department of Energy, the FBI, and the CIA have conducted tests on unwitting citizens, like the syphilis tests on blacks that President Clinton recently apologized for. The Energy Policy Act of 1992, failed to prohibit involuntary human experimentation with non-ionizing forms of radiation. Could this, combined with the Telecommunications Acts prohibition on regulating cell towers on health grounds, be the laying of a "legal" groundwork for another round of such tests?

 

In summation, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to: 1) become an information agent to your community, alerting your friends, neighbors and groups to the dangers of EMR pollution, particularly the treat to our physical and Constitutional health posed by cell towers; and 2) to be a voice before your local government, goading them into challenging the legality of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, or, if they insist on blindly following orders (remember Nuremberg?), then push for them to consider what the rest of the world is doing and restrict towers from being in residential areas. As was demonstrated last night at the Sparks City Council meeting, and at similar city council and county commission meetings around the country of the past few years, concerned citizens can fight this battle and win. We will win and we must for our children's sake. We can plan for our future and the future of our children by working with government on laws and ordinances to prevent the cellular industry from encroaching out of industrial areas and not on or near schools, day care centers, parks, playgrounds, hospitals, nursing homes or other places. Praise your local elected officials when they question the Constitutionality of laws like these, support them in their efforts to fight for our rights and the preservation of our Constitution --and turn the bastards out of office if they fail to work to secure life and liberty for us all!


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