Express Lanes

There is a slight WTF! going through the foaming-at-the-mouth liberal community this weekend.

Alberto Gonzales (you remember the Attorney General without clear legal immigration records for his grandparents?) managed to leave the Republican Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) groping for words (not pages) or at least gasping for breath on Friday. But the topic being discussed wasn’t building fences to control immigration, but about who can be put behind fences and what rights those individuals have.

Mr. Gonzales points out, correctly I might add, that the constitution does not specifically grant habeas corpus rights. Indeed while that mythical right might be specifically taken away as per constitution during times of invasion or rebellion, it was never actually granted in the first place.

You can watch the video and the read the entire transcript over at ThinkProgress, but the money quotes follow,

SPECTER: Well, you’re not right about that. It’s plain on its face [the Supreme Court] are talking about the constitutional right to habeas corpus. They talk about habeas corpus being guaranteed by the Constitution, except in cases of an invasion or rebellion. They talk about John Runningmeade and the Magna Carta and the doctrine being imbedded in the Constitution.

GONZALES: Well, sir, the fact that they may have talked about the constitutional right to habeas doesn’t mean that the decision dealt with that constitutional right to habeas.

SPECTER: When did you last read the case?

GONZALES: It has been a while, but I’ll be happy to — I will go back and look at it.

SPECTER: I looked at it yesterday and this morning again.

GONZALES: I will go back and look at it. The fact that the Constitution — again, there is no express grant of habeas in the Constitution. There is a prohibition against taking it away. But it’s never been the case, and I’m not a Supreme —

SPECTER: Now, wait a minute. Wait a minute. The constitution says you can’t take it away, except in the case of rebellion or invasion. Doesn’t that mean you have the right of habeas corpus, unless there is an invasion or rebellion?

GONZALES: I meant by that comment, the Constitution doesn’t say, “Every individual in the United States or every citizen is hereby granted or assured the right to habeas.” It doesn’t say that. It simply says the right of habeas corpus shall not be suspended except by —

SPECTER: You may be treading on your interdiction and violating common sense, Mr. Attorney General.


This for me is an Ah Ha! moment. Now I get it. All those liberal ideals I had thought were embedded in the constitution are just fantasies. The constitution isn’t about talking about what you have but about when the government can taking those things away that you didn’t have in the first place. I suspect Mr. Gonzales views habeas corpus like having a constitutional proscription that the right to having an express lane in diamond shops for those who have 8 items or less could be taken away in times of invasion or revolt.

Mr. Gonzales, for the record, I’d would like to expressly register my revulsion at this idea. Nice try. When will you start wearing Bagdad Bob’s beret? I’m sure there is an express lane open somewhere.

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