DOJ: Some Constitutional Rights Can't Be Tested In Courts, Like Our Ability To Kill You With A Drone

from the say-what-now? dept

Another day, another crazy claim from the DOJ. The latest concerns a legal challenge to the administration’s ability to use drone strikes against US citizens abroad. The US has been arguing that this issue cannot be tried in court because it’s outside the court’s jurisdiction and because of national security reasons. Most ridiculously of all, the DOJ has argued that there are Constitutional rights that cannot be challenged in court:

Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian Hauck argued there was a difference between having a constitutional right—which he said could be protected by the executive and legislative branches—and being able to make constitutional claims in court.

Think about that statement for a second. It’s not just legally wrong, it’s horrifying. Thankfully, Judge Rosemary Collyer found this claim equally bizarre.

“I’m really troubled…that you cannot explain to me where the end of it is,” Collyer said. “That, yes, they have constitutional rights but there is no remedy for those constitutional rights.”

In case you’re wondering, Hauck apparently is relying on the Political Question Doctrine, which tends to be applied very narrowly and is only supposed to mean that courts should not take on cases that present a “political” question rather than a “legal” question. But, a Constitutional issue over whether or not the US government has the right to kill a US citizen like that certainly seems like a legal question, not a political one.

Hauck further argued the executive and legislative branches could be trusted to protect the rights of citizens. In other words: “Hey, courts, don’t worry about US drone strikes killing US citizens, Congress and the administration have this one covered.” But, um, that’s not how it works. We have three branches of government for a reason, and the checks and balances they provide is the key reason. Having an administration that is in charge of using the drone strikes, along with a very compliant Congress, as the only ones capable of determining if the use is appropriate seems to completely ignore the basic premise of the checks and balances of government, especially when it comes to the Constitutional rights of US citizens.

“The problem is, how far does your argument take you?” Collyer said, adding that she found it “a little disconcerting” that the government was arguing that there could be no court review of a decision by the executive and Congress to target American citizens abroad.

It’s good to see the judge is concerned, but this case has a long, long way to go, and the administration is going to try as hard as possible to keep this issue out of court entirely.

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Comments on “DOJ: Some Constitutional Rights Can't Be Tested In Courts, Like Our Ability To Kill You With A Drone”

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28 Comments
Cloudsplitter says:

Re: Re:

Already happened in Washington DC on Mass Ave a part of Embassy Row, Argentine Ambassador Letelier in exile after the coup, and his american assistant Ronny Moffit, both working in the Human Rights area, were blown up in a car bomb as they drove around one of the circles that grace this avenue. An investigation lead back to the junta.

Bergman (profile) says:

Re: Test killer drone on Snowden in 3..2.1

The thing is, the laws that prohibit such an action (both constitutional and statutory) don’t specify a territorial limit. The prohibition is attached to the government officials, not the target or the ground that target is standing on.

The DOJ has a page that explains Title 18, Chapter 13, Section 242 of the US Code. Nowhere does it say that the statute only applies on US soil, it simply makes it a criminal act for a government official to do such a thing ANYWHERE.

http://www.justice.gov/crt/about/crm/242fin.php

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Stand your ground laws now needed!

No that isn’t an adequate comparison. You’d have to be able to send assassins or personally killing drone pilots for it to be accurate. Or perhaps officials signing off on them. Killing in advance is justifiable as fear for your life as they plan on assassinating you from beyond line-of-sight.

Anonymous Coward says:

If others use drones against the US

It is only a matter of time before others start making their own drones. They’re cheaper than aircraft and more expendable. Logic dictates that with the US setting the rules of engagement with drones what goes around will come around – especially if the source of the drone ends up deniable. Aside from the obvious chaos that scenario would cause a question remains – would this still be enough to put an end to their breathtaking hypocrisy?

Cloudsplitter says:

Re: If others use drones against the US

Anyone can build a Drown, 99% of the components are off the shelf, and gettable from around the world, cost is low, war heads do not have to be big, depending on the target, a half to one pound of C4, or other type mil grade explosive, or commercial, or home made equivalent, fusing is just as easy, consider it a Kamikaze. Off the shelf small commercial drown buys now can carry five pounds plus, I have seen vids of small drowns carrying as much as forty pounds. While small, range is limited onlt by fuel and engine efficancy, guidance by GPS, radio control or both, and laser targeting is possible. I am just supprised we have not seen more of them, our opponant clearly have the skill level to make them, and have used them in military actions.

Lurker Keith says:

Right to petition the Government

Doesn’t the First Amendment guarantee us the right to petition the Government? & isn’t the court part of the Government (common phrasing is “petition the court”)?

So, we have a First Amendment right to question things like this.

Also, killing an American remotely like they want is clearly a violation of the Constitution (guarantee to Life) & a number of Amendments, especially Due Process, which is in the 5th & 14th Amendments.

Glad the Judge appears to see through the DoJ’s overreach attempt.

Rumplestiltskin (profile) says:

The amazing stupidity of the DOJ

What the DOJ and that lady judge do not understand, is that our constitution does not grant rights. We do not have “Constitutional Rights”.

Our Constitution was written to put limits on government, enumerating what God Given rights humans have that a government cannot take away.

Yes, that is correct, we have God Given Rights that no state can twist into a privilege such that it believes it has the right to dictate what privileges you do or do not have.

Those smarmy jerks at the DOJ are just floating a concept to see if we will buy into it, thus setting precedent that they will then use against us.

I hate lawyers ! ALL OF THEM !

Law has become the scourge of humanity, in that belief in a law written on paper, supersedes our rational thinking processes. The laws are written by lawyers in legalese such as the 73,954 page tax code which is so convoluted that hardly a person can know even a small smidgeon of that BS legalese, let alone the lawyers.

IE: Lawyers write the laws such that only they are able to discern the laws convolutions, thus forcing us to pay them to untwist the BS from rational thought.

In believing in their superiority, they choose to not understand one of the basic tenants of human activity, which is, that there is no solid foundation that laws can be based upon because humans are capricious in nature.

Sooooo, every law is left up to interpretation, and that is where lawyers make their money, as they BS us into believing that their interpretation is the correct one.

Our court system is broken beyond repair and needs a complete overhaul, because every human endeavor reaches a point of entropy. As humans evolve, so must our rules for law also evolve, but when laws become so convoluted that no one can understand its premise, it needs to be done away with, as evidenced by thousands of passe laws on the books that most do not know exist.

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