Congress Actually Doing Something Meaningful?

Republicans weigh changes to US detention law

Facing a conservative backlash, House Republicans are working to change a new law that allows the indefinite detention without trial of terrorist suspects – even U.S. citizens seized within the nation’s borders.

Republicans and Democratic lawmakers said this week that the Republican majority on the House Armed Services Committee was weighing several proposals to revise the provision on indefinite detention that was part of the far-reaching defense bill that Congress passed in December and President Barack Obama signed into law.

Last year, Congress’ approach to handling terror suspects divided Republicans and Democrats, pitted the White House against lawmakers and drew fierce opposition from civil liberties groups. The anger lingers, and Republican leaders are under pressure from a number of rank-and-file members, tea partyers and libertarians to change the law………

When Obama signed the bill on Dec. 31, …….”My administration will not authorize the indefinite military detention without trial of American citizens,” Obama said in the signing statement. “Indeed, I believe that doing so would break with our most important traditions and values as a nation.”

No word about the constitutionality of the law from the former constitutional law professor as he signed the damned thing into law.  Here’s hoping to having U.S. law actually protecting U.S. citizens and even conforming to the U.S. Constitution. 

(emphasis mine)

Bills of rights are in their origin, stipulations between kings and their subjects, abridgments of prerogative in favor of privilege, reservations of rights not surrendered to the prince. Such was “Magna Charta“, obtained by the Barons, swords in hand, from King John.

I go further, and affirm that bills of rights, in the sense and in the extent in which they are contended for, are not only unnecessary in the proposed constitution, but would even be dangerous. They would contain various exceptions to powers which are not granted; and on this very account, would afford a colorable pretext to claim more than were granted. For why declare that things shall not be done which there is no power to do? ———- Alexander Hamilton

I wonder what he would think about all of this today.  Would he gloat and say “I told you so!”?  Or, would he withdraw in horror at what has happened to that marvelous document, would he writhe in revulsion from our judges and lawmakers today? ….. A social contract with the people now all but entirely ignored.  Heck, even when explicitly stated, “nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law;” (5th Amendment)….. “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial,…”  (6th Amendment)  and, indefinite loss of liberty without trial would violate the “nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” clause (the 8th Amendment) in any civilized society, the constitution is ignored.  And, exactly like Hamilton predicted, those rights not specifically enumerated were construed as the providence of the federal government. 

An aside………

When has there ever been a law overturned under the context of violating the 9th and 10th amendments?  Well, there has been, it was used to strike down a Georgia law in 1973.  If you want an interesting, yet horribly depressing story, read here.  I’ve just re-read it.  I’m getting me a beer or two.   

Read more: here.

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