June 17, 2016 by Ashe Schow
Due process isn’t the sexiest part of the Constitution. It doesn’t get all the attention like the First or Second Amendments. But it is so incredibly important to the foundation of our country that it’s painful to see the hits it’s been taking these past few years.
The latest attempt has been incredibly direct, with Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., declaring that “due process is what’s killing us right now.” Manchin’s comments came in response to the Orlando terrorist attack that killed 49 people and injured 53 more. Speaking on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Manchin said that due process was keeping legislators from banning those on the Terrorist Watch List from purchasing guns.
“The problem we have, and really the firewall we have right now, is due process,” Manchin said Thursday. “It’s all due process.”
Darn that pesky due process and its constitutional protections!
Manchin is just the latest Democrat to explicitly trample on Americans’ constitutional rights. On Wednesday, a number of Democrats told my colleague Joel Gehrke that the presumption of innocence was unnecessary when government seeks to deprive someone of a constitutional right.
“I don’t think that innocent until proven guilty is the standard that applies here,” Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., said. “We’re talking about owning a gun, not being convicted of a crime.”
Grayson was talking about the Democratic proposal to ban those on the Terror Watch List from being able to obtain a firearm. Never mind that innocent people end up on the list or mistaken for someone on the list, or that the process for putting someone on the list is opaque, and there’s no meaningful way for those on the list to get themselves taken off (even if they’ve done nothing wrong). Also, never mind that at the time of the shooting, the Orlando terrorist was not even on the list.
But guns are scary, and people on this list are scary in the abstract, so Democrats are trying to use it to take away the constitutional right to gun ownership.
“Geez, it’s just stopping suspected terrorists from buying a gun, it doesn’t stop them from anything else,” one might say. But taking away any constitutional right without due process is unconstitutional. This is exactly why due process is important, to make sure that no rights are taken away arbitrarily.
As I argued on Wednesday, taking away rights of someone you merely suspect of something, but have no proof of them doing anything wrong, is pretending to predict what a person may do in the future.
At this point we’re just back to mob justice or introducing the concept of “Pre-Crime.” The American system doesn’t punish those it thinks might do something at some future date.
It’s not just guns, either. In America’s colleges, students – especially male students – are learning that their constitutional rights end once they set foot on campus. Thanks to federal and mob pressure, being accused of sexual assault has come to imply a presumption of guilt, since we must all believe every accusation. Innocent until proven guilty means nothing anymore.
Without due process, we have no civil society. Anyone accused of anything is automatically tarred and feathered (or worse) based on what they’re accused of and how effectively their accuser can mobilize supporters.
This is 2016, not 1602. But you wouldn’t know it if you’re watching the American Left.
Ashe Schow is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.