Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Non-Citizens Have Rights

Our constitutional rights benefit anyone in this country, citizen or not. You wouldn't know it because Newt Gingrich and other republicans claim that those rights apply only to U.S. citizens. That assertion is a lie.

Huffington Post makes a big deal about Gingrich falsely stating that "shoe bomber" Richard Reid is an American citizen and was therefore entitled to his rights against self-incrimination. Reid is a citizen of the U.K., but outrage shouldn't be directed at Gingrich only because he told a bald faced lie about Reid's nation of origin.

I have had my issues with Salon's Glenn Greenwald, but he is an attorney and he makes the best case I have heard so far against the GOP's most recent attempt to keep the nation stupid.

"The Boumediene Court held that it was unconstitutional for the Military Commissions Act to deny habeas corpus rights to Guantanamo detainees, none of whom was an American citizen (indeed, the detainees were all foreign nationals outside of the U.S.). If the Constitution applied only to U.S. citizens, that decision would obviously be impossible. What's more, although the decision was 5-4, none of the 9 Justices -- and, indeed, not even the Bush administration -- argued that the Constitution applies only to American citizens. "

" see how false this notion is that the Constitution only applies to U.S. citizens, one need do nothing more than read the Bill of Rights. It says nothing about 'citizens.' To the contrary, many of the provisions are simply restrictions on what the Government is permitted to do ('Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion . . . or abridging the freedom of speech'; 'No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner'). And where rights are expressly vested, they are pointedly not vested in 'citizens,' but rather in 'persons' or 'the accused' ('No person shall . . . . be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law'; 'In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed . . . . and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense').

So there you have it. The underwear bomber and the shoe bomber had the right to remain silent. Republican demagogery on the subject is just that.