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On No-Fly and Emanuel & Lautenberg's "New Due Process"

Remind me again how Obama and the hyper-liberal Congress were going to usher in a new civil libertarian paradise where basic constitutional rights are actually acknowledged and respected?

[I]f you’re on that no-fly list, your access to the right to bear arms is cancelled, because you’re not part of the American family; you don’t deserve that right. There is no right for you if you’re on that terrorist list[.]

That was Rahm Emanuel back in 2007. You can watch the video here.

That stupid, un-American and downright evil statement had been (quite properly) dismissed and forgotten, along with most of Emanuel’s hyper-partisan, Rovian blather.

Unfortunately, there are plenty of other hyper-partisan, Rovian blatherers:

Citing a “terror gap,” Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) … introduced legislation yesterday to give the U.S. attorney general authority to stop the sale of guns or explosives to terrorists.

Just one problem: Lautenberg’s proposal does not concern “terrorists,” but people on the no-fly list.

Some are quick to point out that the no-fly list (now over one million names and rising) is teeming with false positives — including children, generals and several members of Congress.

True that. But one must go further and ask why there are so many false positives on the list. As I noted elsewhere:

False positives aren’t even the issue — true positives are just as problematic.

Suppose for the sake of argument that the no-fly list is constitutional, reasonable and inoffensive to libertarian sensibilities (big assumption, I know).

What Emanuel proposes here is that the (hypothetically appropriate) denial of a privilege (i.e., non-right), without traditional notions of due process (notice and a hearing before a neutral magistrate), be used to bootstrap to the denial of a full-fledged constitutional right (the Second Amendment right to bear arms).

This the Fifth Amendment simply does not allow. Not even close.

Keep this important point in mind as the hyper-partisan Rovian blather continues: This is not a Second Amendment issue — it is a Fifth Amendment issue. Anyone who supports the Lautenberg bill opposes the Fifth Amendment. The Second Amendment is entirely ancillary.

(Lautenberg, fully aware that his proposal is unconstitutional, nevertheless pretends that his plan comports with due process because anyone on the no-fly list can challenge the denial of her Second Amendment rights after the fact. This would be akin to saying that a couple convicted for violating an unconstitutional sodomy statute aren’t denied their rights, because they are still entitled to appeal to have the conviction overturned after the fact. That’s absurd, of course: Being forced to sue for rights wrongly denied you under an obviously unconstitutional law is still a due process violation. There is, in essence, a right not to have to sue for your rights.)

So I ask again: what happened to that new civil libertarian paradise that Obama and the hyper-liberal Congress were going to usher in?

It’s probably in that same alternate reality where DOMA and DADT have already been repealed.

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One Response to “On No-Fly and Emanuel & Lautenberg's "New Due Process"”

  1. […] Constitution, it said that the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. It also had that pesky little clause about due process in the Fifth Amendment. One wonders if the Obama administration is using the same Constitution the […]

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