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A Return to the Constitution?

Posted by Rick · April 5th, 2005 · No Comments

Arturo Gonzales — sporting the smirk made famous by George Bush — is preparing to go to Congress to defend the need to renew the unconstitutional

He will support giving someone who receives a secret warrant under the provision the right to consult a lawyer and challenge the warrant in court, and will back slightly tightening the standard for issuing subpoenas, the official said. — “Patriot Act Debate Heads To Hill” (April 5, 2005) CBS News (emphasis added).

In a fit of liberalism, Gonzales says he supports the idea of not completely ignoring the Constitution of the United States.

For those who are unaware — which near as I can tell means “most Americans, including members of Congress” — the Constitution of the United States is the document that constituted, or created, our nation. And that almost didn’t happen. Remembering the abuses of King George III (no relation to the current King George, sometimes known as “Bush II”), a large number of the People — dangerously close to a majority — would not agree to approve the Constitution until a Bill of Rights was added.

One of the primary things that concerned them was the way the government of King George III reacted to people whom the King decided were “enemies” — the shortened, archaic term for “enemy combatants.” Back then, the government would just show up at somebody’s house, or business, and grab (seize) them and any “evidence” the government thought might be relevant. Even if the individual was never charged, his (colonial “terrorists” were almost always male) life was pretty much ruined. And even if he was released, that didn’t mean his property would be returned.

And so it was that various Amendments to the Constitution — Amendments now known as the Bill of Rights — came into existence.

One of those was the Fourth Amendment.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. — U.S. Const. Amend. IV (emphasis added).

Under the USA PATRIOT Act, though, “the FBI now has the power to access your most private medical records, your library records, and your student records…and can prevent anyone from telling you it was done.(“USA PATRIOT Act” ACLU (last visited April 5, 2005)(emphasis added).) “[T]he usual requirements for a police search — probable cause to believe a criminal act had occurred and a warrant — would be unnecessary[.]” (Dahlia Lithwick and Julia Turner, “A Guide to the Patriot Act, Part 2” (September 9, 2003) Slate.)

But now future Supreme Court Chief Justice Alberto Gonzales is willing to support restoring — well, “slightly” — the Fourth Amendment.

If this trend continues, constitutional law observers predict he may one day come out in favor of the Sixth Amendment, as well.

No word yet on whether, while Gonzales is defending the USA PATRIOT Act, any congressional representatives will be defending the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Categories: Constitutional Issues


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