Saturday, May 15, 2010

Some Things Can't Be Compromised

One of the things about the Obama administration that has disturbed me greatly is the drive for "bipartisanship," which is newspeak for "Give the GOP what it wants." While I do admit that there are often grounds for compromise on some issues, I have trouble with a strategy that opens the negotiations with a compromise position (vide, healthcare reform). More importantly, certain issues cannot and should not be compromised. Constitutional rights are just such issues, and any attempt to water them down should be vigorously opposed by Americans.

In a commentary written for The Fort Worth Star-Telegram and featured at McClatchy DC, Bob Ray Sanders makes just that argument with respect to pre-Miranda questioning, and does so with passionate, patriotic fervor.

Under the "pubic safety" exemption that grants pre-Miranda questioning in special cases, Holder suggested possibly limiting the rights of terrorism suspects even if they are American citizens like Shahzad.

"If we are going to have a system that is capable of dealing in a public safety context with this new threat, I think we have to give serious consideration to at least modifying that public safety exception," Holder said. "And that's one of the things that I think we're going to be reaching out to Congress to do: to come up with a proposal that is both constitutional but that is also relevant to our time and the threat that we now face."

No! No! No!

The administration's new position borders on the worst kind of pandering and makes me wonder whom it's trying to appease. ...

Members of Congress must not let this administration or any other chip away at our constitutional rights under the guise of fighting a formidable enemy who hates us simply because of who we are and what we stand for.

If we give up our liberties in fear of what some crazed individual or group may do, then the terrorists win without even striking another blow.

I'm more fearful of losing my freedom than I am of any potential terrorist, no matter how great the threat.

So, Mr. President and Mr. Holder, just do your jobs of trying to protect our country without trying to accommodate your critics by tampering with the Constitution.
[Emphasis added]

Broadening that very narrow exception has the effect of saying that for some crimes there will be no constitutional protections, and the government will have the power to determine which crimes those are. Our founders knew this and designed the Bill of Rights to prevent just that kind of governmental behavior.

The assertion by the Attorney General that we need additional, extra-constitutional exceptions in cases of terrorism smacks of the Bush era in which the Constitution was considered just a piece of paper, quaint, but no longer relevant. If Mr. Holder and his boss truly believe that, then they have violated their oaths of office and should be removed from office forthwith.

As I have said many times, the only exceptional thing about this country is its Constitution, and it is indeed exceptional. To downgrade it for use only when it is convenient is a travesty and a tragedy, one that we cannot allow to happen on anyone's watch.

Well said, Mr. Sanders.

And thank you.

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Blogger JTQuirk said...

I haven't read it yet. I will. But, compromise is what democracy must be about. To deny that is to be anti-democratic. I think this is obvious but not readily recognizable. I also think when Atrios praises democracy as "messy," he is aware of this. It is why I am becoming more and more Socratic in my distrust of democracy.

12:38 PM  

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