Sunday, June 24, 2018

Why You Should Care About Due Processs

Today President Donald Trump tweeted he wants to eliminate due process so he can deport illegal immigrants without notice (to have time to obtain legal counsel) or an opportunity to be heard at a court hearing to explain why they are seeking asylum: usually because they face death if returning to the country they've fled (or even allowed a "credible fear hearing" with an asylum officer).

This offends and concerns me, both as an American citizen, as an attorney who swore an oath to defend the U.S. Constitution, and as a former U.S. government employee because it is blatantly unconstitutional. More importantly, we have a president who doesn't care --  as his wife's jacket stated succinctly on her visit to an immigrant child detention center this week  -- and who thinks he's above the law. Donald Trump does not believe in the rule of law, which is the foundation of American democracy. Melania Trump's jacket asked, "I don't care. Do U?" Yes, I do... and here's why you should too.

Due process is the single most important right we have as individuals living in a free society and Donald Trump wants to eliminate it. Due process was literally created to be a check on the unlimited powers of an authoritative king. The elimination of due process will mean the end of democracy.

In England, King John like all the kings before him, had absolute unilateral power. As you know, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. In 1215, the British subjects had had enough of tyranny and forced King John to accept the Magna Carta, a 3,500 word document written in Latin. In English, Magna Carta means Great Charter -- an agreement between the government and the governed. The Magna Carta's most important provision was the concept of due process ensuring no one would be deprived of certain rights except “by the judgment of his peers and by the law of the land.”

The Magna Carta prevented the king from levying taxes without the consent of the kingdom. it declared “No free man is to be arrested, or imprisoned, or diseised [dispossessed], or outlawed, or exiled, or in any way destroyed, nor will we go against him, nor will we send against him, save by the lawful judgement of his peers or by the law of the land.” The Magna Carta was a document that for the first time demanded a nation be ruled by a set of laws fairly apply to everyone and not by the arbitrary and capricious whims of its ruler. This is what the talking heads on TV mean when they talk about the "Rule of Law".

America's founding fathers drew upon the Magna Carta when they drafted the U.S. Constitution. Two of the most important amendments to the Constitution were the Fifth Amendment which holds the federal government shall not deprive any person "of life, liberty or property without due process of law." and the Fourteenth Amendment, which provides: "No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." This introduced to fundamental concepts of freedom and democracy: the right to due process and equal protection under the law.

Due process is what protects you from the government knocking on your door in the middle of the night and carting you off to prison and leaving you there indefinitely. The Supreme Court has ruled due process requires the government to afford you two things: notice of any charges against you and an opportunity to be heard. Under due process, the government can't simply haul you away and throw you in some dark hole to be forgotten. Instead, due process gives you the right to know about such charges in order to find legal representation to defend against them and it gives you the right to your day in court to present your defense. No single right anywhere else in the Constitution is more important. For President Donald Trump to seek to eliminate this right is to go against the U.S. Constitution, every previous American president, every previous U.S. Congress, U.S. Supreme Court decisions, and the American people. Trump's call is unAmerican and unconstitutional, and as such an impeachable offense.

And yes, the Constitution does guarantee due process rights to illegal aliens present in the United States. The U.S. Supreme Court settled the issue more than a century ago and reiterated in Zadvydas v. Davis (2001) that "due process" of the Fourteenth Amendment applies to all aliens in the United States whose presence maybe or is "unlawful, involuntary or transitory." But one need look no further than to U.S. President James Madison, one of the men who wrote the Constitution, who also wrote "that as they [aliens], owe, on the one hand, a temporary obedience, they are entitled, in return, to their [constitutional] protection and advantage." That's what a real American president sounds like, not an ersatz TV reality version. Trump is wrong and dangerous and threatening to take away your rights one by one by disingenuously making it appear as these actions only apply to a specific group. Wrong: when a constitutional right is eliminated it's taken away from everyone, forever.

It's not about politics; it's about morality. It's not about Democrats or Republicans; it's about saving democracy and preserving our republic. This man is calling for violating the U.S. Constitution he swore to uphold when he was inaugurated, an impeachable offense. It is one of multiple illegal and or immoral acts he has committed. He has already proven himself a lackey of a hostile foreign government and has committed treason. He has deliberately harmed our economy with unnecessary and destructive trade wars, our alliances with other nations, and the security of our nation, including giving top-secret information to our enemies. Each day, as with this attempt to eliminate due process, he is attacking the very foundations of our democratic government and of democracy itself. It is the obligation of each and every American to take action to remove this man before he commits further crimes and attacks against our democratic institutions.

No comments:

Post a Comment