Washington Examiner: Dems have a problem with the whole Bill of Rights

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Washington, June 20, 2016 | comments

Last Thursday, Democratic senators took control of the floor of the legislative chamber and spent nearly 15 hours discussing gun control.

There’s nothing odd about this, except for the proposal they were insisting on.

They hope to cross out the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution, and perhaps other amendments as well.

The most charitable thing we can say about their latest gun proposal is that it’s a cheap political gimmick. It was first rolled out after the San Bernardino terrorist attack, intended apparently to deflect attention from the problem of radical Islamic terrorists and use their handiwork as an excuse to take away rights from Americans they care for nearly as little.

More importantly, it’s an obvious attack on the constitutional rights of American Muslims and everyone else besides. It would allow federal law enforcement to deprive American citizens of constitutionally protected freedoms without any legal process at all.

The bill would prevent anyone placed on the Terrorist Watch List – a secret list kept by law enforcement that contains as many as a million names – from purchasing firearms. That may sound OK, until you realize that anyone can end up on this list, including U.S. citizens who have never committed or been charged with any crime.

Even worse, people removed from the list would be barred from buying a gun for five years, meaning that even those whose names are added wrongly would remain deprived of full constitutional rights long afterward. Note that innocent American Muslims are probably in greater danger of ending up on this list wrongly than the average person.

So this bill doesn’t just create a Second Amendment problem – it creates a Fifth Amendment problem. The Fifth Amendment is perhaps best known for protecting defendants from testifying against themselves in court (or in the case of Obama administration officials before Congress). But even more importantly it provides that no one else can be “deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law.”

If law enforcement can create a secret list of Americans and then use it as a basis for depriving them of liberties guaranteed under the Constitution and the law without any conviction or appropriate judicial process, then there is effectively no Fifth Amendment.

Why does this matter? Just imagine what a future president with no respect for civil liberties could do if secret lists suddenly became the basis for depriving people of liberty.

Remember — Cuban dictator Raul Castro is able to claim that his government does not have any political prisoners because he jails political dissenters on official charges of terrorism or treason. If any American can officially become a terrorist just because someone behind a desk in Washington says so, then there is no rule of law in America.

The Democrats' watch-list bill also violates the Sixth Amendment, because those who face a deprivation of rights for crimes like terrorism are guaranteed a trial by jury, in which they can confront and question accusers, compel witnesses to testify in their defense and be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

In addition to those in the original Bill of Rights, the bill arguably also violates the 14th Amendment in failing to grant "equal protection" to different citizens' rights under the law.

So there are four constitutional amendments that Senate Democrats are now trying to undermine for the sake of their cheap post-Orlando political gimmick.

And we haven't even gotten to the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.

Not that Senate Democrats ever need an excuse to assail the Bill of Rights. In 2014, all 54 Senate Democrats (not all of whom are still in office) voted to weaken and undermine the First Amendment's protection of political speech. They backed a constitutional amendment that would have allowed both Congress and state legislators to pass laws regulating the freedom of speech.

So in short, Senate Democrats are fine with the Bill of Rights, except for the First, Second, Fifth, and Sixth amendments.

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