Friday, April 26, 2013

When did Following the Constitution become Optional?

Could someone please tell me exactly when following the constitution became optional?  In the last week I have heard Senators openly call on the president to violate a citizen's rights.  Some prominent figures have demanded that the government act like following the Bill of Rights is optional and can be decided on a case by case basis.  It is my humble opinion that every American citizen has certain unalienable rights that cannot be taken away without due process.  I never thought that would be a controversial opinion to hold in the United States, but apparently it is now.

I think we have all been horrified by the Boston Marathon bombing.  Made even worse by the high profile manhunt that resulted in shootout and dead police officers.  Because of the heinous nature of the crimes and the high profile, Senators and media figures are calling to throw away the constitution when dealing with the American citizen that did these awful things.  I'm going to type that again, because it is an important point.  Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is an American citizen.  And that (should!) guarantees him the right to due process - no matter how terrible his crimes.

Yet, we have yahoos lie Senator Lindsey Graham calling for him to have his citizenship revoked and treated lie an 'Enemy combatant' so that there doesn't have to be a trial.   John McCain and others has called for not giving an American citizen his Miranda rights.  For McCain, this is not the first time he has done so.  Sean Hannity wants to torture an American citizen and do so without a trial.  So much for the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 8th amendments in the Bill of Rights... (try to walk past the Ann Coulter Statement in that last link where she wants an American citizen  arrested for what they wear - that absurdity is WAY beyond the scope of this post)

To be clear, I think that the Boston Marathon bombers are horrible people that deserve whatever they get.  Thanks to the high profile of the case, I can be reasonably certain that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is one of those bombers.  I shouldn't have to say this, but I have to, to keep people from accusing me of being a "terrorist lover" or "America hater".  I will not get emotionally upset if bad things happen to him.  It is the next person, the less high profile case, that I'm concerned about.

Our rights don't exist to protect guilty parties such as Tsarnaev, they exist to protect the innocent and falsely accused.  If the government has the power to take away certain rights from the guilty - without trial - what prevents it from doing the same to the innocent and falsely accused?  We cannot let the government say that since somebody is a horrible person they don't deserve his constitutionally guaranteed rights. Why? because without a trial how do we know he is guilty?  That is my concern and is the thing that everyone should be concerned about.

If the president has the power to declare a guilty person an "enemy combatant" and swooped off to a secret prison to be tortured - all without a trial -, he also has the power to do it to an innocent person.  If we give the president that power, that means we are only one sociopath getting elected president away from a dictatorship.  If the president can declare ANYBODY an "enemy combatant" what is to stop him from doing that to his political enemies?

I am not an expert in liberty, constitutional law, or history, but these are very basic arguments.  These are foundational principles of our country. These arguments can be grasped by any middle schooler in a basic government class.  These are the things that concerned our founding fathers and lead them to create the Bill of Rights.  It scares me that they aren't grasped by prominent members of the media and long time U.S. Senators.  An even scarier thought is the possibility that they do know them and are purposely ignoring them.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev must have his full rights as a U.S. citizen(because he IS a U.S. citizen) protected because it is the only way to guarantee that the rest of us will have them.  Any arguments about denying Tsarnaev his rights because he's a bad person or a public danger is, at best, an extremely short-sighted view.  At worst it is emotional manipulation by a future dictator.
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