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The Constitution Is Not A Menu

Just when we think we’ve plumbed the depths of Sarah Palin’s stupidity, she shows us she’s far more stupid than we could have ever imagined.

Like when she said the nation needs a commander-in-chief, not a law professor, as president. Or when she bemoaned the fact that the underwear bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, had had his Miranda rights read to him and had the opportunity to “lawyer up.”

I wish Ms. Palin had been as much of a barracuda in the civics classroom as she was on the basketball court or in beauty pageants.

You see, the U.S. Constitution, to my knowledge, is not a menu. You don’t get to order up the parts you like and leave out the ones you don’t. And it applies to everyone on U.S. soil, no matter how they got here. Why? Because the Constitution acts as a limitation on the powers of government to curtail the liberties and rights of the people in this country, no matter how they got here, even if they intended to bomb a few people during their stay. The principles embodied in the Constitution are not to be compromised in order to achieve an of-the-moment outcome. The reason that they are enduring and define us as a nation and as a people is because they are not easily compromised.

As an African American and an attorney, I am more keenly focused on the Constitution and its limits on government power than most because, to put it bluntly, my people have usually been on the stinky end of the stick when it comes to constitutional rights. We were defined as three-fifths of a person in the original document; we were “compromised” by the Hayes-Tilden compromise into Jim Crow, 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments be damned; and we gave full life to the civil liberties promised by the document thanks to the Civil Rights Movement. African Americans know what happens when a tyrannical majority can treat the Constitution as a menu and order up only the parts it likes.

And no, Ms. Palin, you don’t get to jerryrig the judicial system to get the results you want. Regardless of whether terrorists are tried in federal courts or military tribunals, the government doesn’t get to forum shop to get the outcome it wants. I’m sure if Ms. Palin had her way, the presumption of innocence unique to the American judicial system would go by the wayside for terrorists because it “gets in the way.” It is the very Constitution she would subvert that makes sure that we don’t compromise process or principles. What would be the point of having a Constitution if the very processes and principles we have held dear as a nation, albeit somewhat inconsistently, for more than 200 years could be compromised anytime the majority perceived a threat? What kind of nation would we be?

A nation that would order “some First Amendment, but only for Christians, with a heaping side of Second Amendment, hold the Fourth, Fifth, and Eighth Amendments, please . . . . “


Hi Foxwood,

For the record, I'm not publishing your comment because the language you used is objectionable. If you'd like to re-submit it with acceptable language, I'll consider posting it.


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