Thursday, March 8, 2012

Re: Can the President Kill You? by Andrew P. Napolitano

The venerable Judge Andrew Napolitano has written another great piece titled "Can the President Kill You?" in which he raises the question of authoritarian rule, as embodied in secret and arbitrary decision making by few in government versus the rule of law embodied in due process. Napolitano summarizes his point when he says:
The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution states that the government may not take the life, liberty or property of any person without due process. Due process has numerous components, too numerous to address here, but the essence of it is "substantive fairness" and a "settled fair procedure." Under due process, when the government wants your life, liberty or property, the government must show that it is entitled to what it seeks by articulating the law it says you have violated and then proving its case in public to a neutral jury. And you may enjoy all the constitutional protections to defend yourself.  
My experience has taught me that the deviation from the rule of law inevitably leads to abuse of power by government officials.

The Judge makes the argument that "without the requirement of due process, nothing would prevent the government from taking anything it coveted or killing anyone – American or foreign – it hated or feared." This in fact happened to my family in Macedonia: my father was declared a threat to the constitutional order of the country in secret, by a number of officials of the executive branch of government, and my family's persecution was justified on unsupported basis. Specifically my father was accused to be a secret agent of a foreign service whose business dealings were a front to cover his subversive activities. In this the government agents found the excuse to thwart his purely commercial activities, as a means to "prevent" his "future anti-constitutional activities." The documents that these officials have subsequently disclosed show that my father never undertook any actions that were contrary to the laws of the land. However, by being an entrepreneur unconnected to the government ambit, his commercial activities were seriously cutting into the profits of those who were.

What's to stop the CIA or FBI from being used in similar ways against strictly commercial competitors of some wealthy donor to a presidential campaign?

To say that similar fate cannot strike someone in the US once the rule of law gets set aside simply on the argument that American officials are somehow made of better stock than Macedonian, is nothing short of lunacy. Even the most advanced and civilized of nations such as was the case of Germany succumbed to the undeniable lure of the Siren of autocratic power. In deed, the answer to Napolitano's question is that, yes, the government, when allowed by the people to ignore the rule of law has used its power to kill.

I strongly recommend the article.

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