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Next President Must Fill Supreme Court Vacancies with True Constitutionalists

May 7, 2014 in Economics

By Nat Hentoff

Nat Hentoff

On Monday, April 28, the Supreme Court unanimously refused to hear Hedges v. Obama, a case that includes the most broadly dangerous attacks on citizens’ individual constitutional liberties in our history. Not a single justice was sufficiently shocked to sign a dissent against this grim silence, and the media have been largely indifferent.

The plaintiffs brought the lawsuit in protest of sections of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that were signed into law by President Barack Obama in December 2011. Read this part of Section 1021 of the NDAA and judge for yourself if I am exaggerating the far-ranging unconstitutionality of this law:

The Armed Forces of the United States, at the behest of the president, has the power to indefinitely “detain” without trial “a person” (including any American citizen) “who was a part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners, including any person who has committed a belligerent act or has directly supported such hostilities in aid of such enemy forces.”

Take note: The word “detain” is Obama’s euphemism for “imprison.”

John Whitehead’s Rutherford Institute filed an amicus brief in a lower court on behalf of the plaintiffs in Hedges v. Obama. The brief explained how the Supreme Court abandoned our First Amendment and other constitutional rights:

“Nobody — including the Government arguing in favor of this provision — can define the terms ‘belligerent act,’ ‘substantial support’ and ‘associated groups’ with any precision …

“Unlike the definition of ‘material support’ in the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, which lists specific forms of prohibited assistance such as giving money, arms, or training to terrorist groups, the broad term ‘substantial support’ in the NDAA could be read to encompass an enormous range — not only of conduct but of political speech and journalism.

“For example, would a journalist interviewing an al-Qaeda member be ‘substantially supporting’ al-Qaeda by giving that terrorist a media voice? What if the journalist were to ask a question or to make a comment that the Government deemed sympathetic to the interviewee? The terms of the statute could be read to penalize such press activities with indefinite detention without trial.”

In fact, as this Rutherford Institute amicus brief indicated, the term “substantial support” could apply to this journalist: “Could someone protesting the detention of a terrorist held without trial, or even assisting in …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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