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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Habeas Corpus and Gun Control: More Hypocrisy from the Far Left

Smart aleck liberals sometimes ask me why I am a conservative. I tell them that I believe in smaller government, lower taxes and traditional values over secular progressivism. Furthermore, when government shrinks it focuses on its main duty, protecting its citizenry. As far as protecting its citizenry, the government should be as large as it needs to be to get the job done. This is the philosophy I take with most political issues, and I usually come to my conclusions based on those principles.

Sometimes, I wonder what philosophy drives certain ideologues because often times their belief systems have no consistency. I have already highlighted the inconsistent position that some liberals take toward abortion and gun control here. In much the same way, the far left's dual position on gun control and habeas rights for terrorists is equally hypocritical and inconsistent.

The far left was up in arms over the revelation that the Bush administration dared to hold terrorists at GITMO without giving them habeas rights. (in other words without charging them) When that program was overturned they cheered. Here is an example.

The Boumediene opinion that was published ten days ago, as you might imagine, has been a step back onto the road of Restoring Our Constitution. Much has been written about what Boumediene has to say about habeas corpus, and the geographical reach of Constitutional rights, and whether aspects of the ersatz system set up within the Executive Branch to respect those rights passes Constitutional muster.

In other words, folks on the far left see habeas corpus a fundamental CONSTITUTIONAL right. So much so they see it that they believe even terrorists deserve such rights. (Now, I am of the opinion that habeas is a right given to criminals not enemies in war but let's leave that for a minute.) In fact, in the mind of the far left, habeas is so fundamental that they would be willing to threaten national security in order to maintain it.

So, how do many of the same folks on the far left see the 2nd amendment? Here is an example.

A true originalist approach might look to the weapons preferred by the Founding generation to determine what is protected. That's not what the Court did, perhaps fearing the logical consequence that a handgun ban might be permitted in light of the Founding generation's preference for the more reliable and accurate long gun.

So what is protected and what is not protected? That is where the Second Amendment rubber hits the road. The real meaning of the Second Amendment is in what the Court reads that Amendment to prohibit or allow. But here the opinion does not provide tremendous guidance, failing to articulate a standard of review to help the lower courts soon to face numerous Second Amendment suits. More importantly, the guidance it does give is not grounded in original meaning at all.

The Court says that it is not calling into question longstanding prohibitions on possession by felons and the mentally incompetent, bans on guns in sensitive places, and restrictions on sales and purchase. In another passage, the Court suggests that "dangerous and unusual" weapons and concealed weapons can be banned. Why doesn't the Second Amendment call those laws into question?

The Court provides no answer other than that they are "longstanding." But this is not the same as "part of the original public meaning" of the Second Amendment. Indeed, many of these types of laws are modern inventions and - while reasonable and appropriate - had no analogy in the Founding era. The Founders didn't require background checks, require sellers to be licensed, or ban guns in schools. Mental incompetence was not even something recognized in the law until the 19th century. Meanwhile, the types of gun control laws the Framers did have would be unacceptable: requirements that all able-bodied men turn up for mandatory musters or that all gun owners take an oath of loyalty to the state.

Here is how kooky far left commentator sees the issue of habeas corpus and other anti terror measures...

They were seeking out terrorists, which is what they called the people in South Africa who actually lived there, who were the majority. The blacks in South Africa, who were trying to fight for their own civil rights, were called terrorists and the government was allowed to arrest them at will and interrogate them, no matter what they did, just on the suspicion. Very similar today to what we have in the United States, thanks to the Patriot Act."


What they did–what they did that was similar was, they threw out due process. They threw out the right to attorney."

O’Donnell: "Habeas corpus."

Robbins: "And they allowed the, the government and actually required people like this guy I play to torture people. And I’m, so, so what it does to the individual is it, it puts an incredible moral burden on the agent of the government, the, the soldier or the policeman–"

So, of course, one would expect Rosie to be totally behind the 2nd amendment because after all it is a Constitutional right. Wrong...

I think the horror of imagining six to thirteen-year-old girls handcuffed together and shot execution style, one by one, is perhaps enough to awaken the nation that maybe we need some stricter gun control laws."

To some folks, some rights are just more important than others.

So, many of the same folks that find habeas so sacrosanct that it even applies to terrorists themselves, see the 2nd amendment as something "evolving". In other words, there should plenty of limits placed on the second amendment even though it is right there in the Constitution. After all, in their view, guns are dangerous and thus that freedom ought to be curbed. Never mind that this freedom is right out of the Constitution. If Americans might be killed by guns, then we must curb that freedom.

So, on the one hand, habeas is a concept so sancrosanct it can never be curbed even if it threatens Americans' lives. On the other hand, guns are dangerous so even if their ownership is protected by the second amendment we should disregard it in the name of safety. How's that for consistency? As for me, I believe that Americans deserve both and terrorists neither. That's consistency.

The far left on the other hand...this is the sort of lack of consistency and hypocrisy that makes me wonder if these folks have a political philosophy.


Zeno said...

I personally believe that small government and the promotion of "traditional values over secular progressivism" to be incompatible. I am more generally a moderate libertarian, and as such I support the gun ruling in favor of individual rights, and the habeas corpus ruling. There is a philosophy that can link support or opposition for the two positions. Let's not make the mistake of assuming that some gun-shy liberals somehow invalidate all of liberal political philosophy.

mike volpe said...

You may personally believe that small government and traditional values are incompatible however you are actually going to have to back up that assertion if you are to have any credibility,

As for liberals, I certainly didn't mean to imply that all liberals dually believe in habeas rights for terrorists and gun control, but those that do are hypocritical.