Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Newt the Dope

Newt Gingrich was on the Daily Show and got in trouble for claiming that Richard Reid was read his Miranda rights because he was a US citizen while the underpants bomber was not. So Bush got it right and Obama got it wrong. Turns out that Reid is not an American citizen so Gingrich tried to claim that he confused Reid with Padilla. Well, that might work except that the 5th Amendment, upon which the Miranda warning was based [to protect against self-incrimination], applies to all "persons" within the jurisdiction of the US. The Constitution knows only two categories of human beings, as originally written, "persons" and "citizens." Most of the protections in the Bill of Rights apply to "persons", that is, to all human beings within the jurisdiction of the United States. This is certainly true of the 5th Amendment and the protection against self-incrimination. So it would not matter if Reid was a citizen or not, so long as he committed his crime within the jurisdiction of the United States.

It is quite interesting how little, say, basketball coaches know about the rules of basketball. But it is even more interesting how little our politicians know about the Constitution. But then they, like Gingrich, treat the Constitution as an interesting artifact, as if it were something in a museum. And, of course, to them it is something that is dead enough to be put in a museum.

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