Constitution

Rights Belong to Individuals

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If you want insight into the mentality of the intellectual elite, observe the hysterical reaction to the Bush administration’s declaration that the right to keep and bear arms is — horror! — an individual right. In two U.S. Supreme Court briefs filed by the Justice Department on May 6, Solicitor General ... [click for more]

Freedom and Campaign-Finance Reform

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Amidst not very much fanfare, President Bush has signed the new campaign-finance reform bill into law. This one closes the so-called soft-money loophole that permits large donations to be injected into federal campaigns through contributions to political parties. There are two big problems, however, with this most recent attempt to end corruption in the political process: First, it won’t work ... [click for more]

Bush’s Contempt for Trial by Jury

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BOWING TO PUBLIC PRESSURE, the Bush administration has modified its rules for the trials of suspected terrorists captured abroad. Included among the new rules are: (1) the accused will be presumed innocent rather than guilty; (2) the government will be required to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt; (3) the defendant will have the right to have an attorney ... [click for more]

Civil Liberty and the State: The Writ of Habeas Corpus

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LIMITING THE POWERS OF GOVERNMENT has been one of the leading struggles in the history of mankind. Through most of man’s time on earth, governments have presumed to rule, command, order, and threaten multitudes of human beings — to make the mass of humanity bend to the will of their political masters. The political rulers have often considered themselves to ... [click for more]

Declaring and Waging War: The U.S. Constitution

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Excuse me for asking an indelicate question in the midst of war, but where does President Bush derive the power to send the United States into war against another nation? The question becomes increasingly important given that the president has indicated that once the Afghan War has been brought to a conclusion, he intends to ... [click for more]

Thank Goodness for the Bill of Rights!

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Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s recent admission that a U.S. raid in Afghanistan mistakenly killed 16 innocent people suggests how grateful Americans should be that their ancestors insisted on the inclusion of a Bill of Rights as a condition of adopting the U.S. Constitution. While the U.S. raiders were convinced that the victims of the ... [click for more]

Did the Framers Forget the Bill of Rights?

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AFTER THE CONSTITUTION WAS RATIFIED in 1788, the states adopted the first 10 amendments, which became known as the Bill of Rights. Given the importance of the provisions in those amendments, an obvious question arises: Why didn’t the Framers of the Constitution include those provisions in the original Constitution, thereby obviating the need to amend the document so soon ... [click for more]

Declare War before Waging War, Part 2

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Part 1 | Part 2 Naturally, presidents and their aides have been creative in coming up with reasons to short-circuit the Constitution’s clear requirement. Those who thus torture the Constitution include many conservatives who normally proclaim the importance of “original intent. ” Except when they want to empower politicians to do what they want. One ... [click for more]

Declare War before Waging War, Part 1

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Part 1 | Part 2 LIKE MOST CRISES, the shocking attack on the World Trade Center caused a rush to government for protection. People seemed willing to accept almost any new restriction on liberty or new spending program in the name of fighting terrorism. Few seem willing to criticize the president should he decide to expand the war to Indonesia, ... [click for more]

Emergencies, Military Tribunals, and the Constitution

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President Bush has ordered that people he suspects of being "terrorists" will be tried before military tribunals rather than indicted and prosecuted in the customary judicial manner. Judges and juries (which will consist of the same people) will be appointed by the secretary of defense, trials will be held in secret, and convictions will ... [click for more]

Remembering the Constitution

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CONSTITUTION DAY — September 17 — came and passed without fanfare. That is the day that commemorates the signing of one of the two most important documents in our nation's history. (The other one, of course, is the Declaration of Independence, which we celebrate on the Fourth of July.) In the midst of a crisis in which Congress has vested ... [click for more]
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