Thursday, February 11, 2010

Reiding His Rights

Newt Gingrich is being laughed at for telling Jon Stewart that the reason Richard Reid, the shoe-bomber of 2001, was mirandized was because “he was an American citizen.” No, actually, he’s British. (Mr. Gingrich later corrected himself — sort of — via Twitter.) Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) made a complete fool and hypocrite of himself yesterday on MSNBC’s Daily Rundown by asserting that mirandizing Richard Reid was a bad idea on the part of the Bush administration. It only took him eight years to come to that conclusion, and only because the exact same thing happened under a Democrat.

Actually, it doesn’t really matter whether or not Mr. Reid — or Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the undie bomber — is or isn’t an American citizen. The Constitutional protections apply to all suspects arrested in the United States regardless of their citizenship. What leftie-ACLU-hugging-weak-kneed trial lawyer said so? Well, that would be James Madison, one of the writers of the Constitution.

Again, it is said, that aliens not being parties to the Constitution, the rights and privileges which it secures cannot be at all claimed by them.

To this reasoning, also, it might be answered, that although aliens are not parties to the Constitution, it does not follow that the Constitution has vested in Congress an absolute power over them. The parties to the Constitution may have granted, or retained, or modified the power over aliens, without regard to that particular consideration.

But a more direct reply is, that it does not follow, because aliens are not parties to the Constitution, as citizens are parties to it, that whilst they actually conform to it, they have no right to its protection. Aliens are not more parties to the laws, than they are parties to the Constitution; yet, it will not be disputed, that as they owe, on one hand, a temporary obedience, they are entitled in return to their protection and advantage.

If aliens had no rights under the Constitution, they might not only be banished, but even capitally punished, without a jury or the other incidents to a fair trial. But so far has a contrary principle been carried, in every part of the United States, that except on charges of treason, an alien has, besides all the common privileges, the special one of being tried by a jury, of which one-half may be also aliens.

What I take from that is that if we expect non-citizens to conform to our laws here, then they are entitled to the protection of the same laws.

You would think that someone like Newt Gingrich, who was at one time a professor of history, would know that, wouldn’t you?