Apr 19, 2013

Lindsay Graham: Cafeteria Constitutionalist

During the manhunt for the second Boston marathon bomber today, Lindsay Graham, senior Senator from South Carolina, tweeted the following:
Graham's oath of office requires him to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States". That Constitution requires that citizens of the United States be afforded due process when accused of a crime. Dzhokhar "Jahar" Tsarnaev, one of the two suspected bombers, became an American citizen on September 11, 2012, and the crime he is accused of committing occurred in this country. Regardless of how horrible that crime was, he has the right to be arrested, accused, have evidence presented against him, and defend himself against such in a court of law.

If, as Graham suggests, and "the homeland is the battlefield", then the protections guaranteed to citizens and limits place on government in the Constitution no longer exist. In extending the war on terror within our borders, he is explicitly calling for a police state.

Anyone who witnessed Graham's treatment of Rand Paul after his filibuster over drone use should not be surprised by his flippancy with the civil liberties of American citizens. However, every voter of South Carolina and citizen of the United States of America should be horrified by it.

This should be especially chilling to his conservative constituents. Conservatism is supposed to be about limited government and maximum personal freedom. Graham instead actually calls on the federal executive to exert direct power over what should instead be a local or state criminal matter, presumably because of, what, the ethnicity of the suspect? I assume during the Obamacare debates Graham objected to the interstate commerce justification for the individual insurance mandate. The irony of intrastate police activity being co-opted by the federal government is surely lost on him, but it shouldn't be to his base.

It's a shame that Graham will likely have no significant challenger in his 2014 primary and general election. The people of South Carolina, the rest of the United States, and the Constitution itself deserve better.

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