Wednesday, May 16, 2012

What Constitutes a Fair Trial?

by Andrew Napolitano

The trial of the alleged masterminds of 9/11, which began last week at the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, will address some of the most profound issues of our era. Are natural rights truly inalienable, as Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence, or can the government take them away from those it hates or fears? Does the Constitution protect the rights of all persons who come in contact with the government, or does it protect only certain Americans, as the government argues? Can the government deny a person due process by changing the rules retroactively, or is the Constitution’s guarantee of due process to all persons truly a guarantee?

These are all questions that the government does not want to answer. But it should know better, because by structuring the trial after the crime was committed and by establishing retroactive rules – which are prohibited by the Constitution – that have never before been used in any American civilian or military court, Congress has created and the Obama administration will conduct a trial that will resemble none in our history.

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