Requiem for the Fifth Amendment–Magna Carta to the Rescue (?)

England to the rescueShow of hands…how many of you know that the President of the United States has the legal authority to detain you without a trial? What about the Fifth Amendment you say? Well, you better take the time to read up. No, not an Amendment to the Constitution. No, not a highly publicized, debated and vetted new law. No…the Defense Authorization Act of 2012, Title 10, subtitle D, subsection 1021 and 1022. Death of your 1,000 year old rights by bespectacled bureaucrat and college intern. And nary a peep.

Of course, upon signing the law which was passed by a Republican House and a Democrat Senate, President Obama promised (in a suspiciously Gertrudian betrayal of his protesting too much) not to invoke this provision, but apparently his lawyers didn’t get the memo. They are arguing in federal court that the President indeed has this authority and can wield it at will. Setting aside why one would find it necessary to defend an authority one has no intention of using, and setting aside the pathetic fact that it took a citizen of the UK to defend the US Constitution, the Administration refused to certify that they have never and would never use it. In attempting to persuade Judge Forrest to stay her injunction, the Administration refused to concede that unlimited detention without trial is not within Presidential authority, and even went on to suggest that it was within its legal authority to ignore the court. Please read that again–ignore the court.

In more learned times, what would have been a Constitutional crisis doesn’t even make the pages of any media outlet.

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