Posted by Olivia LaRosa
On Tuesday, Republican Sens. John McCain, Ariz., and Rand Paul, Ky., went head to head about an amendment to a proposed defense authorization bill.
The amendment in question would potentially deny a civilian trial to American citizens who have been suspected of terrorism.
According to The Hill, McCain argued that any “individual, no matter who they are, if they pose a threat to the security of the United States of America, should not be allowed to continue that threat.”
But how does denying a citizen of the U.S. the constitutional right to a civilian trial help to ensure that a threat does not continue?
In fact, the U.S. Constitution guarantees that anyone, citizen or not, has the right to a civilian trial. This was correctly interpreted by the Supreme Court in Boumediene v. Bush in 2008, ruling that the writ of habeas corpus applies to Guantanamo Bay detainees.
From a philosophical standpoint, it would be unjust to deny rights to non-U.S. citizens. The Bill of Rights is based on the idea of natural rights, which apply to every human based upon their nature.
To deny noncitizens the rights in the Bill of Rights would be to deny the existence of natural rights altogether. Instead, rights would not come from man’s nature but from the government where that person lived. This would make rights arbitrary and subject to the whim of the politicians in power.