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Front Page » July 17, 2007 » Opinion » Letter to the Editor: a Question Of Constitutionality
Published 3,512 days ago

Letter to the Editor: a Question Of Constitutionality

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Salt Lake City


I would never have the hubris to believe my viewpoint was the only one based on facts as apparently Patrick Sundstrom believes of his own. After his June 26 editorial retorting my apparently fact-less June 19 opinion regarding Mitt Romney, you'd think I"d be set straight by all of his so-called facts. But perhaps, before I realize the errors of my ways, maybe I should throw a few more facts Sundstrom"s way.

Sundstrom states, "I know how liberals hate facts because they tend to get in the way of everything they believe." In case you were name-calling, Mr. Sundstrom, as a matter of fact, I'm not a liberal. you'd probably be surprised how many points I would agree with you (assuming you are a conservative). The Progress's opinions are generally filled with a conservative bias. I like providing a counter opinion and to not go along with the masses.

But for your information, I wish for a smaller government. I agree with the Constitutionally protected right to bear arms. I think socialism is a bad idea. I believe in funding for a strong military. I believe in the strength of families. My list could go on. But these beliefs make for a pretty boring opinion in a conservative-biased paper.

Fortunately, I don't have one political party telling me what to believe. I think for myself and see good and bad points from all political opinions. I even get something useful out of your opinion. I like reading the Emery County Progress, but I also listen to CNN. I'm not sure how you define liberal, but it sounds like, "anything that doesn"t agree with your opinion."

Sundstrom chastised me for letting my (supposedly) liberal viewpoint get in the way of what he calls the facts. He says, "The first fact is that this country was founded by men with a deep faith in God. They spelled this out many times and made sure to mention in our founding documents that our rights as Americans derived from God. Nowhere in the Constitution do the words separation of church and state appear." Thank you for your wonderful facts regarding this phrase. Unfortunately, I never said that the phrase is written in the Constitution. I said, "I find it deplorable how many [LDS] members don't believe in the separation of Church and State. Our LDS doctrine teaches that." If you are not LDS, Mr. Sundstrom, my entire line of reasoning does not apply to you. But if you have issue with what I said, take it up with the LDS church. I was merely quoting their official documents. That is what the LDS church teaches. I"d call that a fact.

Ironical to your point, however, the word "God" also does not exist in the Constitution, either. Nor in any of our founding documents. And unless you mistake your belief for a fact, the Declaration of Independence is not a founding document. We also store the Magna Carta in the National Archives, but it"s not a founding document, either. The Supreme Court does not deem legislation as un-Declaration-of-Independence. They deem legislation as un-Constitutional. Perhaps Sundstrom should check a few facts as well.

Consequently, while the specific words don't, the principle of separation of church and state does exist in the Constitution. The first amendment states, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." This clause has come to be known as the Establishment Clause and has been proven time and again to Constitutionally uphold the principle of separation. The letter you quoted from Thomas Jefferson (a founding father) was his explanation of that very clause. But it"s not Jefferson"s quote that became law; it was already law since the adoption of the Bill of Rights (which is a founding document) in 1791.

Sundstrom then went on to bash the Supreme Court as though the President"s actions are completely Constitutional, but the recent Supreme Court decisions related to the Guantanamo detainees are not. He said, "The Supreme Court overstepped its authority in this matter as they are not the branch of government that conducts war." Your second point is true, Mr. Sundstrom, but it doesn"t disagree with anything I said. No one stated that the Supreme Court is conducting war. The supreme court"s proper function is to test the Constitutionality of the actions of the other branches of government. Once again, the fact of the matter is that the Supreme Court has merely ruled on a case that was brought before it. This is a proper function of government the court provides, as granted to it in the third article of the U.S. Constitution.

I find it interesting, however, that you can so easily believe the case decisions of the Supreme Court unconstitutional, but is there anything you can see that the President has done that"s unconstitutional? Do you believe the President is even capable of doing anything unconstitutional? We have laws (created by Congress) for how to conduct war. The President"s job is to follow those laws. Or do you believe it is the right of the Executive Branch to overstep the law? I don't, but I base my opinion on the text of the Constitution and the law, not on what I wish the Constitution and law said. Kind of like what the Supreme Court did when they ruled. If you have a problem with the law, take it up with Congress, not the Supreme Court. They"re just doing their job. Remember, this is a conservative-biased court, and they think what the President is doing is unconstitutional. Also remember, George Bush appointed two of those justices.

Then Sundstrom posed a hypothetical question related to the reliability of the US government to do the job for which we"ve hired them. He asks, "Do you really want to let the same justice system that couldn"t even convict OJ Simpson of murdering his wife deal with these terrorist animals?" While I personally believe (only my opinion) that lack of faith in our Constitution and its system of government, including the court system, is quite possibly the most un-American belief an American can hold, I'll still answer the question.

1. We don't know the people being held at Guantanamo are terrorists. Calling them terrorists is not factual. That would be your opinion. This is the whole reason we, as Americans, have trials. Without granting them a trial, the best you could legally call them is alleged terrorists. Many detainees have been released expressly because the government knows they are not terrorists and would not have a factual case against them. (But after the way the US government treated them, they might become terrorists.)

2. While your opinion of the OJ case appears to lead you to lose faith in our system of government, I don't believe your opinion would lead me to lose the same faith, whether he truly killed his wife or not. The fact of the matter is he was acquitted. If the government cannot make a case beyond a reasonable doubt, they don't have a case.

3. In answering this question, I would tend to agree with General Colin Powell, the man who used to work for George Bush as Secretary of State. When asked a similar question as the one you are now posing to me, he stated, "We can handle bad people in our system." Is Republican Colin Powell too liberal for you, Mr. Sundstrom?

4. Lastly, I might ask you, if the government is so sure these people are terrorists, then why are you afraid of having them tried? Are you afraid Bush is as wrong about the detainees as he was about the weapons of mass destruction?

In addition to true terrorists, I don't want a plain old murderer walking around on the street, either. But if I was the one arrested for an alleged crime, I also don't want to be imprisoned unjustly and not given a trial for more than three years. Fortunately, right now, our system of government protects me from this. At least for now, alleged murderers also have rights and protections afforded by the Constitution (not by the Declaration of Independence). Even Timothy McVeigh, convicted terrorist of Oklahoma City bombing fame, was afforded this right. Hopefully we learn quickly enough that once rights have been taken from one person, it is a slippery slope until those rights are taken from you.

I'm sure that you love your "Superior Commander in Chief" (as you call him) and don't believe he is capable of doing wrong, but I'm sure Germans in the 30"s believed would never do the wrong thing either. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. That"s why our rights are protected by the Constitution. That"s why the President does not have absolute power. Let"s keep it that way. Let"s keep speedy trial, habeas corpus, and trial by jury (rights that are Constitutionally protected) for everyone. Even for people who we may fear. To do otherwise would be un-American.

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