Is Constitutional Government Dead?

Posted by – October 15, 2006

Is Constitutional Government Dead?

A Look Back At That Quiant Document

While I’ve recently been ranting against “mainstream American culture” as being evil, because it’s become dominated by Fox News and Britney Spears, I do love this country. I love America because it’s based not on shared origins or royal blood, but on wonderful ideas, like all men are created equal, inalienable rights and justice for all. Coequal branches of government wherein the legislature creates the laws, the executive executes the laws and the judiciary reviews and safeguards our rights in those laws, with each branch checking the others to prevent tyranny is truly great. While Americans are incredibly ethnically diverse, we buy into common high-minded ideals, and that makes the American enterprise succeed. But now I face the unyielding truth that these ideals have been left behind. The Constitution no longer applies, and our founders are no longer mainstream.

Let’s take a cursory scan of the law we used to believe in:

The United States Constitution

Article I
Section 8 gives Congress the authority:

To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

Now our president signs laws with “signing statements” saying he will not follow huge parts of the law, thus rendering the legislative branch’s powers moot. The most recent case of this is with the FEMA bill. Bush cites authority to bypass FEMA law – The Boston Globe

Article I
Section 9:

…The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.

Obviously this is shredded. When Senator Specter proposed an amendment to the detainee bill to allow detainees (who may, according to the new law, be American citizens) habeas corpus, it was shot down. Despite the fact that the right to challenge your detention before a judge is a fundamental principle enshrined in our constitution, this evidently no longer applies, and has now been legislated against.
The current regime denied American citizen Jose Padilla habeas corpus, held him without charge and tortured him for over three years.

No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.

This is out; the detainee bill retroactively immunizes torturers from prosecution.

Article VI

…all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

This is gone. We made the Geneva Conventions the law of the land when we ratified that treaty in 1949, but the detainee bill effectively ends this.

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble.

Americans are now being arrested for simply wearing anti-Bush T-shirts (full story) at presidential speeches, or are fenced in “free speech zones” blocks away from the event. I thought our constitution made the whole f***ing country a “free speech zone.” Silly me.

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Warrantless wiretapping of citizens is now routine.

Amendment V

No person shall be … deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law….

Jose Padilla was held without charge for three and a half years.

Amendment VI

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.

After four years in military prison, Jose Padilla and none of the Gitmo detainees have stood trial.

Amendment VIII

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

The authorities tortured American citizen Jose Padilla for three and a half years (full story). I’m not saying he should get hotel treatment or that he’s not guilty, but we are a nation of laws, dammit. If we don’t act within our law, what have we become? Torture is now legal, even on Americans.

These examples are just the tip of the iceberg; I could go on forever. May we never forget.

What happens when the values our nation was founded on are alien to “the mainstream?” What happens when the ideals that form the premise of the American enterprise are rendered moot, are lies? What’s it mean when we’re in a climate wherein an Aramaic-speaking, olive-skinned Jesus of Nazareth would never be allowed on an airplane, and the libertarian insurrectionist Thomas Jefferson would get waterboarded? If we abandoned the ideals that made us so great, does that make us just a piece of land below Canada and above Mexico? Have we become just another Great Empire that exists not in pursuit of higher ideals, but only for dominance?

Is constitutional government dead?

Nick

Filed under: Politics and Government

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  • tjallen54

    Excellent work, Nick. Thanks.

    I hadn’t even considered how many different clauses of the 6th Amendment have been undermined – there will be secret trials, not open to the public, where detainees are not allowed to examine or even have knowledge of the evidence against them, cannot confront the accusers, cannot compel some witnesses to give evidence, cannot have private counsel…

    The Constitution and especially the Bill of Rights have been universally acclaimed as radical documents, and I guess most Americans now find them too radical to follow. What a shame – we used to be so proud of ourselves, and our high principles. All gone, flushed down the toilet by this administration, and by their enablers of both parties. I am ashamed, and I, for one, apoligise to the world. Sorry. We couldn’t live up to our principles. 🙁

  • Deborah

    Wonderful work, Nick. You really nailed down his abuses. I hope it’s okay…I forwarded your link to several yahoo groups I belong to. I figure you want to get the word out even more than I do.
    Deb.