by Jacob G. Hornberger via the Future of Freedom Foundation
When defenders of civil liberties condemn President Obama’s assassination program, some of them place a greater emphasis on the constitutional right of American citizens to be protected from assassination as compared to foreigners. However, as much as they might wish that the Constitution limits its protection to citizens, such is simply not the case. In protecting people from being deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, our American ancestors did not distinguish between citizens and non-citizens. Under the express terms of the Fifth Amendment, whatever protections inure to Americans inure equally to non-citizens.
Here’s the Fifth Amendment in pertinent part: “Nor shall any person … be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.”
Notice that the amendment does not say: “Nor shall any citizen … be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.” It says person.
Keep in mind that the Constitution was originally enacted without any amendments. Calling the federal government into existence, the idea was that the government would not have the power to do whatever federal officials wanted to do. Instead, the idea was that the federal government’s powers would be limited to those enumerated within the document itself. If the power wasn’t enumerated, the federal government could not exercise it.
Why were Americans so concerned about limited the powers of the federal government? Because they were concerned about calling into existence a national government that would end up doing bad things to them — such as enslaving them, confiscating their money and property, or taking them into custody, torturing them, and killing them.
Many Americans were opposed to calling the federal government into existence precisely for that reasons. They were content to continue living life under the Articles of Confederation, which had a federal government whose powers were extremely weak.
Finally, Americans went along with the deal, but only on the condition that as soon as the Constitution was adopted, it would be amended to provide for express restrictions on the powers of the federal government.Details