"New Rights."

Judging by Scott Brown's victory speech, opposition to due process has become just another mundane element of the Republican platform:

And let me say this, with respect to those who wish to harm us, I believe that our Constitution and laws exist to protect this nation -- they do not grant rights and privileges to enemies in wartime. In dealing with terrorists, our tax dollars should pay for weapons to stop them, not lawyers to defend them.

Raising taxes, taking over our health care, and giving new rights to terrorists is the wrong agenda for our country. What I've heard again and again on the campaign trail, is that our political leaders have grown aloof from the people, impatient with dissent, and comfortable in the back room making deals. And we can do better.

This is the new normal for Republicans: You can be denied rights not through due process of law but merely based on the nature of the crime you are suspected of committing. Brown's rhetorical framing, that jettisoning the legal system we've had for 200-plus years represents "tradition" while granting suspected criminals the right to legal counsel represents liberalism gone mad is new, and I suspect we'll hear it again. "New rights" recalls the term "judicial activism," which conservatives have redefined to mean "decisions Republicans don't like" instead of decisions that overturn precedent. "New rights" can be broadly defined as upholding the legal rights of individuals based on the Constitution, rather than arbitrarily according to the whim of politicians. For Brown and the GOP, if you're accused of terrorism, you're automatically guilty, so legal representation is frivolous. These guys look at the Constitution like David Vitter and John Ensign look at the Ten Commandments.

Let's also be clear: Brown, a former military lawyer, isn't merely talking about denying people their day in court, he's talking about torturing people who are suspected of being terrorists. Brown says he doesn't think waterboarding is torture, which is on par with thinking evolution is fake and global warming is a hoax. He thinks not torturing people suspected of a crime or detained by the military is granting them "new rights." We know where this goes.

Bottom line: This wasn't just a win for the GOP; it was a win for the torture wing of the GOP. I can't stress enough that while the president seems to be winning the short-term political battle over national security, the larger argument over due process and human rights is being lost.

-- A. Serwer

You need to be logged in to comment.
(If there's one thing we know about comment trolls, it's that they're lazy)

Connect
, after login or registration your account will be connected.
Advertisement