I frequently hear people talk about how many “constitutional rights” we have lost under (fill in whichever President’s name). This brings up a very interesting misunderstanding about the origin of our rights… For one thing, our rights don’t come from the Constitution; the Constitution merely recognizes that our rights preexist it.
For instance, in the 2nd Amendment it goes like this:
“A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”
It says “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed” ..not “the people shall have the right to keep and bear arms” – this is a very important difference in syntax! This is true throughout the document, and the document even recognizes in the 9th Amendment that we have all the rights not specifically mentioned.
“The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”
If the Constitution gave rights, then the syntax of the 9th would say something like “that the people shall enjoy” or “that the people shall have” instead of “retained by the people.”
The meaning of the subtle difference here is profound, and has vast implications! For instance, if the Constitution does not give us our rights, then what does it do? All that the Constitution does is give some very limited powers to the Federal Government, and it restricts some very limited items from the States as well. So a person who simply picks it up, and is told that this is your charter would have to assume that this document simply tells the feds what they CAN do. By the rules of construction (enumerated powers doctrine), these are the only things they can do as well… So if they can only do what is in the document, then those limits apply to their actions with respect to foreigners as well. So YES everybody including foreigners do have “Constitutional rights” as far as such a thing exists (because as I already stated, rights preexist the Constitution. They are part of our humanity).
This means that the idea that the Government can ship prisoners out of the country to be “interrogated” or that they may behave as if they are beyond the jurisdiction of the Constitution and US courts simply because they are operating outside the boundaries of the U.S., are false. The limits to them apply regardless of their location. The Constitution was passed immediately after a rebellion, and they understood that wars happen. If they wanted the Government to be able to suspend the limits of it’s powers during wartime, they would have included that in the document (as they did with Habeas Corpus privileges):
“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, with this Clause (Article I Section 9), they had in mind giving some powers during wartime – and did so. Now, what is the argument again… as to why we give them so much leeway during wartime? ..Something about.. “’they’ never could have imagined what we are facing today,” or something like that? The Constitution must protect every person in every article, or it protects nobody in any article! If the government ‘can’ violate the Constitution in small ways, then they subsequently WILL violate it in whatever way they want to!
It’s time for the people to succumb to the realization, that when they make arguments for diminished rights of others’ whom they deem less important, or the surrender of rights they view to be less important, they’re paving the way for the infringement of their most sacred rights!
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