Skip to comments.Can Congress Steal Your Constitutional Freedoms?
Posted on 12/01/2011 6:19:22 AM PST by Kaslin
Can the president use the military to arrest anyone he wants, keep that person away from a judge and jury, and lock him up for as long as he wants? In the Senate's dark and terrifying vision of the Constitution, he can.
Congress is supposed to work in public. That requirement is in the Constitution. It is there because the folks who wrote the Constitution had suffered long and hard under the British Privy Council, a secret group that advised the king and ran his government. We know from the now-defunct supercommittee, and other times when Congress has locked its doors, that government loves secrecy and hates transparency. Transparency forces the government to answer to us. Secrecy lets it steal our liberty and our property behind our backs.
Last week, while our minds were on family and turkey and football, the Senate Armed Services Committee decided to meet in secret. So, behind closed doors, it drafted an amendment to a bill appropriating money for the Pentagon. The amendment would permit the president to use the military for law enforcement purposes in the United States. This, of course, would present a radical departure from any use to which the military has been put in the memory of any Americans now living.
The last time the federal government regularly used the military for domestic law enforcement was at the end of Reconstruction in the South, in 1876. In fact, the deal to end Reconstruction resulted in the enactment of federal laws forbidding the domestic use of American military for law enforcement purposes. This has been our law, our custom and our set of values to which every president has adhered for 135 years.
It is not for directing traffic that this legislation would authorize the president to use the military. Essentially, this legislation would enable the president to divert from the criminal justice system, and thus to divert from the protections of the Constitution, any person he pleases. And that person, under this terrifying bill, would have no recourse to a judge to require the president either to file charges against him or to set him free.
Can you imagine an America in which you could lose all liberty -- from the presumption of innocence to the right to counsel to fairness from the government to a jury trial -- simply because the president says you are dangerous?
Nothing terrified or animated the Founders more than that. The Founders, who wrote the Constitution, had just won a war against a king who had less power than this legislation will give to the president. But to protect their freedoms, they wrote in the Constitution the now iconic guarantee of due process. The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution says, "No person shall be ... deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law." Note, the Founders used the word "person." Thus, the requirement of due process must be accorded to all human beings held by the government -- not just Americans, not just nice people, but all persons. When Lincoln tried to deny this during the Civil War, the Supreme Court rejected him and held that the Constitution guarantees its protections to everyone that the government restrains, no matter the crime, no matter the charge, no matter the evidence, no matter the danger.
If this legislation becomes law, it will be dangerous for anyone to be right when the government is wrong. It will be dangerous for all of us. Just consider what any president could get away with. Who would he make disappear first? Might it be his political opponents? Might it be you?
What Good Can a Handgun Do Against An Army?
What important information is missing from this article?
More revisionist nonsense from the Federalists (so-called conservatives). The “founders” wrote and signed the Constitution without the 5th AMENDMENT. It was the antifederalists who got what little protection we have written into the Constitution, for what it’s worth.
The Constitution was written and passed to enlarge centralized power. It’s primary aim was to consolidate federal power at the expense of the states—and they succeeded.
A national government ought to be able to support itself without the aid or interference of the State governments, ...therefore it was necessary to have full sovereignty. Even with corporate rights the States will be dangerous to the national government, and ought to be extinguished, new modified, or reduced to a smaller scale.
— Alexander Hamilton
” I have well considered the subject, and am convinced that no amendment of the confederation can answer the purpose of a good government, so long as State sovereignties do, in any shape, exist.
— Alexander Hamilton
“I apprehend the greatest danger is from the encroachment of the States on the national government
“Conceiving that an individual independence of the States is utterly irreconcileable with their aggregate sovereignty, and that a consolidation of the whole into one simple republic would be as inexpedient as it is unattainable, I have sought for middle ground, which may at once support a due supremacy of the national authority, and not exclude the local authorities wherever they can be subordinately useful.”
“Under the proposed Govt. the powers of the States will be much farther reduced. According to the views of every member, the Genl. Govt. will have powers far beyond those exercised by the British Parliament, when the States were part of the British Empire.”
— James Madison, June 29, 1787
The Bonus Army was the popular name of an assemblage of some 43,000 marchers17,000 World War I veterans, their families, and affiliated groupswho gathered in Washington, D.C., in the spring and summer of 1932 to demand immediate cash-payment redemption of their service certificates. Its organizers called it the Bonus Expeditionary Force to echo the name of World War I's American Expeditionary Force, while the media called it the Bonus March. It was led by Walter W. Waters, a former Army sergeant.
Many of the war veterans had been out of work since the beginning of the Great Depression. The World War Adjusted Compensation Act of 1924 had awarded them bonuses in the form of certificates they could not redeem until 1945. Each service certificate, issued to a qualified veteran soldier, bore a face value equal to the soldier's promised payment plus compound interest. The principal demand of the Bonus Army was the immediate cash payment of their certificates.
Retired Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler, one of the most popular military figures of the time, visited their camp to back the effort and encourage them. On July 28, U.S. Attorney General William D. Mitchell ordered the veterans removed from all government property. Washington police met with resistance, shots were fired and two veterans were wounded and later died. President Herbert Hoover then ordered the army to clear the veterans' campsite. Army Chief of Staff General Douglas MacArthur commanded the infantry and cavalry supported by six tanks. The Bonus Army marchers with their wives and children were driven out, and their shelters and belongings burned.
A second, smaller Bonus March in 1933 at the start of the Roosevelt Administration was defused with promises instead of military action. In 1936, Congress overrode President Franklin D. Roosevelt's veto to pay the veterans their bonus years early.
Kent State - 1970
That’s an awfully open-ended question. I can’t guess what you have in mind.
names, thats whats missing
Yes, but the cost to the federalists of getting the states to ratify the Constitution was the integration of the ‘Bill of Rights’. It was achieved using the amending formula.
Ohio National Guard, not US Army.
A bill introduced by John McCain, up for a vote Tuesday supposedly, will do just that. Have a look at Senate Bill 1867, referred to as the National Defense Authorization Act bill. It was drafted in secret by Senators Carl Levin (D-Michigan) and John McCain (R-Arizona) and was scheduled for a vote by the full Senate on Tuesday.
Although Bradley’s were used, I’m not so sure US Army personnel were.
Shame on me. Though not in MY memory, I’m sure there are Americans alive who do remember.
“What important information is missing from this article?”
1. In general, information sufficient to make an intelligent evaluation.
2. The language of the proposed legislation.
3. That it reemphasizes Public Law 107-40 which was passed in 2001 in response to 911.
4. That maybe it’s just supposed to deal with belligerents engaged in hostilities against the United States, even if they are US Citizens, in accordance with the Law of War, and that if trials are necessary they may be conducted by the Military.
5. That belligerents captured during hostilities have frequently be kept indefinitely, that is till the end of hostilities.
6. That “they” could already hold people indefinitely without trial if they want to. (I’m not claiming they do, just that they could.)
7. Repeat 1 above.
But they both wore OD uniforms....;)
Good post. I notice that many who are against this laws and others like it in the past never offer any alternative law or a fix for the law. They simply want to do away with these type of laws all together thus provide an easier path for terrorists to once again mass murder innocent American civilians.
If libertarian losers such as Ron Paul or Jude Napolitano had their way we would be making it as easy as possible for terrorists before and after they committed acts of terrorism.