The National Pulse

Democrats Threaten Americans’ Liberty with Attack on Due Process Rights

This article is part of a series focusing on Lens of Liberty, a project of the Vernon K. Krieble Foundation.

While the Democratic Party continues to fight for faux rights like the “right to receive a free college education,” “right to have one’s abortion paid for with tax dollars,” and “right to force Christians to take part in a same-sex marriage,” it is simultaneously continuing its relentless assault on authentic constitutional rights.

In her Liberty Minute titled “That Pesky Due Process,” Helen Krieble rebukes certain lawmakers who, though well-intentioned in their desire to reduce mass shootings, lack any appreciation for the constitutional right of due process.

We are all saddened when we hear about random shootings, but we must be careful how we react. One senator recently said that due process is one of the big problems standing in the way of legislation that would keep bad guys from purchasing firearms. He actually argued that the Fifth Amendment is killing us. He wants to give government officials the power to deny basic constitutional rights without due process of law to anyone they think might be a threat.

He ought to look through the lens of liberty, read the Declaration of Independence, and recognize that the very purpose of government is to protect our essential rights. As Ben Franklin warned, ‘They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary security deserve neither liberty nor security.’

Many politicians from the Democratic Party have voiced similar opinions, including the former Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, who once told his colleagues “there is no excuse for allowing suspected terrorists to buy guns.”

Charles C.W. Cooke of National Review wrote an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times responding to Reid’s comment:

Superficially, such a measure sounds welcome. There is, after all, virtually nobody in America who hopes to make it easy for terrorists to obtain firearms. And yet, once one focuses in on the key term in Reid’s sentence, ‘suspected,’ all sorts of alarm bells should start to go off in one’s mind.

By blurring the lines between “suspected” and “criminals,” these politicians are violating a principle the Founding Fathers held dear — that liberty must not be restricted without due process of law. The American understanding of freedom entails the guarantee that citizens be treated as if they are innocent until proven guilty. But Reid and his colleagues apparently deny that.

Cooke goes on to point out, “When Reid and his accomplices argue that nobody on the ‘terror watch list’ should be permitted to buy a gun, they are saying in effect that the government should have the power to deprive you of your enumerated constitutional rights purely by entering your name into a database.”

Indeed, that “terror watch list,” or “no fly list,” contains over 700,000 people, roughly 40 percent of whom have zero links to terrorist groups at all. Therefore, under such a plan, hundreds of thousands of innocent Americans would be unconstitutionally deprived of their Second and Fifth Amendment rights.

As Krieble suggests, anyone who proposes implementing such a policy ought to take a long look through the lens of liberty until he realizes that doing so would not only be unconstitutional, but utterly unjust as well.

Terry Schilling

Terry Schilling is executive director of the American Principles Project.