by Jack Hunter

EDITOR’S NOTE: Jack Hunter will be a featured speaker at Nullify Now! Jacksonville.  Get tickets here – – or by calling 888-71-TICKETS

The United States Constitution is the law of the land. Our nation’s founding  charter was intended to reflect our British common law heritage, the lessons of  Greek democracy, and the principles of the Roman Republic. It contains historic  civil liberties protections that date back to the Magna Carta.

The founders were keen on making sure the federal government’s powers were  limited and few, and given their recent experience with King George III, they  made a particular point to balance and restrain the power of the executive  branch. Unlike in other countries and certainly unlike in 18th-century England,  in America even the head of state would not be above the law.

At the time, many observers saw our Constitution as the crowning achievement  of the West. It was the grand culmination of philosophies on governance that  spanned centuries. It wasn’t simply a statement of law; it was an affirmation of  proper civilization.

President Obama has never seemed too bothered by constitutional restraint. To  be fair, neither have most of his modern predecessors, who steadily expanded  executive power far beyond its constitutional bounds. Liberals viewed President  George W. Bush as one the worst enemies of civil liberties, because he supported  legislation such as the Patriot Act, policies such as indefinite detention, and  legal redefinitions of torture. Yet despite promising “change,” Obama has  maintained most of Bush’s anti-civil liberties policies, even expanding them in  some cases.

Now, Obama has lowered the bar even further. When American-born al Qaida  collaborator Anwar al-Awlaki was assassinated by a U.S. drone strike in Yemen  last week, The New York Times noted that “it is extremely rare, if not  unprecedented, for an American to be approved for targeted killing.” There is  little question that al-Awlaki was as bad as most reports indicated. He was  inspiring radical jihadists to take up arms against the United States. There is  also little question that the war against radical Islamists is a war unlike any  other in our country’s history.

The problem with killing al-Awlaki is the precedent it sets. If President  Obama’s overall domestic and foreign policies weren’t already bad enough, he has  now taken the United States to a new civilizational low by undermining the most  basic purpose and precept of American law: the protection of citizens’ rights  through due process.

When, in 2004, the Supreme Court ruled against a father who was seeking  constitutional protections for his American-citizen son who had been imprisoned  as an enemy combatant without charge or trial, conservative Justice Antonin  Scalia dissented, arguing: “Where the Government accuses a citizen of waging war  against it, our constitutional tradition has been to prosecute him in federal  court for treason or some other crime …”

Obviously Scalia believes our Constitution and legal traditions should have  some bearing on such matters. Later in his dissent, Scalia quoted 18th-century  British judge Sir William Blackstone, widely considered to be an authority on  English common law:

The very core of liberty secured by our Anglo-Saxon system of separated  powers has been freedom from indefinite imprisonment at the will of the  Executive. Blackstone stated this principle clearly: “Of great importance to the  public is the preservation of this personal liberty: for if once it were left in  the power of any, the highest, magistrate to imprison arbitrarily whomever he or  his officers thought proper … there would soon be an end of all other rights and  immunities. … To bereave a man of life, or by violence to confiscate his estate,  without accusation or trial, would be so gross and notorious an act of  despotism, as must at once convey the alarm of tyranny throughout the whole  kingdom. …”

It’s easy to imagine what liberals would have said if George W. Bush had  ordered the assassination of al-Awlaki — certainly “despotism” and “tyranny” would’ve been some of the more pleasant words thrown around. But while Bush was  rightly criticized for imprisoning some citizens without due process, Obama is  now applauded for killing them.

Read the entire column at The Daily Caller

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