Tag Archive: US Constitution

Jun 10 2019

Equal Rights Amendment – One State From Ratification

On June 4th, one hundred years ago, congress passed the 19th Amendment which gave women the right to vote after it was ratified by the states one year later. While the amendment was a huge step for women’s rights, it did not protect them against discrimination. It did not guarantee equality with men. That brings …

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Feb 15 2011

The US Constitution Has Been Suspended by the GOP

While we were watching the Egyptians take back their country, our so-called representatives in the House were destroying ours. From John Nichols at The Nation:

House GOP Rejects Requirement That PATRIOT Act Surveillances Be Conducted in Complaince With Constitution

Less than a month after making a show of reading the U.S. Constitution into the Congressional Record, the leaders of the Republican-controlled U.S. House enginnered a vote to extend the surveillance authorities that both the Bush and Obama administrations have used to conduct “roving surveillance” of communications, to collect and examine business recordsand to target individuals who are not tied to terrorist groups for surveillance.

While most Democrats opposed the extension of the surveillance authorities — rejecting aggressive lobbying by the Obama administration and its allies in the House GOP leadership — overwhelming Republican support won approval of the legislation on a a 275-144 vote. Thus, the supposedly Constitution-obsessed House has endorsed a measure that is widely seen — not just by Democrats and progressives but by Republicans and conservatives — as a constant threat to privacy protections outlined in the document’s 4th Amendment.

As Michelle Richardson, the legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, noted Monday night: “It has been nearly a decade since the Patriot Act was passed and our lawmakers still refuse to make any meaningful changes to this reactionary law. The right to privacy from government is a cornerstone of our country’s foundation and Americans must be free from the kind of unwarranted government surveillance that the Patriot Act allows. If Congress cannot take the time to insert the much needed privacy safeguards the Patriot Act needs, it should allow these provisions to expire.”

The 275 votes for extending the surveillance authorities came from 210 Republicans and 65 Democrats.

snip

More remarkable was the House vote on a motion offered by the Democrats, which sought to recommit the bill with instructions to add language ensuring that surveillances would only be conducted in compliance with the U.S. Constitution.

That motion lost on a 234-186 vote.

144 Americans stood up against this, 127 Democrats that included Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Michigan’s John Conyers, and 27 Republicans. Patriots all.

Sep 15 2010

In Prison Forever Without Trial

If this sounds like something out of a Dumas novel, imprisoned on the word of an unknown person without charges, no legal representation or trial, held on an isolated island in a tiny cell with the only contact your jailers who are free to torture and torment you and your fellow inmates, you’d be wrong.  This is the military prison at Guantanamo Naval Base in Cuba where the United States has held people from all over the world who have been charged as enemy combatants since 9/11 during the never ending, nebulous “war on terror”. President Obama promised during his campaign to close it and after his inauguration, he set a deadline of one year to shut it down that has come and gone months ago.

In a Washington Post Op-Ed, Jack Goldsmith, a Harvard Law School professor who served as an assistant attorney general in the George W. Bush administration, has some suggestions for the dilemma that Guantanamo poses, not all of them are legal or constitutional. There are two problems that Mr. Goldsmith attempts to address, closing Guantanamo and trials for the detainees.

Jack Goldsmith: A way past the terrorist detention gridlock

Nine years after Sept. 11 and 20 months into the Obama presidency, our nation is still flummoxed about what to do with captured terrorists. The Obama administration is stuck about where the Bush administration was, with little hope in sight for progress.

Guantanamo Bay has proved harder to close than the Obama administration anticipated. Many terrorists there are too dangerous to release and, for a variety of evidentiary reasons, cannot be brought to trial. Our allies have taken fewer detainees than we would like. These men will thus have to be held in U.S. custody. But neither Congress nor the American people is keen on transferring them to the United States…..

Difficulties with trials have left the Obama administration, like its predecessor, relying primarily on military detention without trial to hold terrorists. Courts have given their general blessing to military detention as a legitimate form of terrorist incapacitation. But military detention still raises hard legal questions, about which Congress has said practically nothing. As a result, unaccountable judges are making fateful detention decisions, demanding release of some whom the administration thinks are dangerous terrorists. President Obama pledged last May to seek congressional clarity on detention but has yet to follow through. The abundant dysfunctions in our system for incapacitating terrorists have led to increased reliance on targeted killings and outsourced renditions, neither of which is optimal from an intelligence-gathering perspective. . . .

First, give up on closing the Guantanamo Bay facility.

Second, acknowledge that military detention will remain the primary basis for holding terrorists, and strengthen the system.

Third, stop using military commissions, which are a good idea in theory but have for nine years proved unworkable in practice.

Fourth, separate the legitimacy of civilian trials from the security of such trials.

Fourth, separate the legitimacy of civilian trials from the security of such trials.