To 3rd world countries:"Need a Constitution? We're Not Using This One" [View all]
This column is a very erudite and, I think, powerful discussion of the intersection between today's activist Supreme court, Americans' civil liberties, the Bill of Rights and the fact that things can get a lot worse
"Because the Constitution, far from the plain and simple, absolute and immutable road map to democracy that the Pharisaic right wing seems to perceive, is a remarkably brief and, perforce, very general document whose meaning is what the Supreme Court says it is."
I include here just a few excerpts - hope you will read the entire column.
Re: The Fourth Amendment:
Now it is the government that has privacy – quite a great deal of it – and the citizens who have none at all. This not because the Constitution has changed or the courts have failed to read it. It is because judges have chosen to interpret its elegant but easy language in ways that turn it on its head. Just a few examples:
It continues with many examples - here is just one of them:
* The history of war powers is complex and fraught with differing interpretations from the beginning. Still, it is difficult to picture any of the Founders contemplating a president who would maintain a “kill list” in the absence of a declared war. This is part of what John Marshall, later to become chief justice, said in support of ratifying the Constitution: “Shall it be a maxim that a man shall be deprived of his life without the benefit of law? Shall such a deprivation of life be justified by answering that a man’s life was not taken secundem artem, because he was a bad man?”
And he wraps it up:
"The next presidential election is crucial because the next president will determine the kind of Supreme Court we have. Candidates who are on record as supporting the Patriot Act, the prison at Guantanamo Bay and the National Security Agency’s warrantless surveillance of domestic electronic communications should be summarily dismissed from consideration. Unfortunately, the only likely candidate who has stepped forward so far and supported the common-sense constitutional view of these things is Rand Paul. Paul is a Libertarian, and that is a dangerous form of political lunacy. Paul’s view of the matter does, though, serve to illustrate a very important point: if ever there was a nonpartisan, purely American issue on which left and right could agree, this is surely it."