Blogs > Liberty and Power > Juan Cole's Incomplete Bill of Rights

Jan 21, 2005 1:16 pm

Juan Cole's Incomplete Bill of Rights

I read Juan Cole's blog almost every day. It is the best single source for keeping track of, and interpreting, ongoing news developments in Iraq. Today's blog, however, was a disappointment, not so much because it was wrong but because it was incomplete.

He starts strongly enough. Quoting George Bush's appeal to the"durable wisdom of the our Constitution" in his inaugural speech," Cole urges readers to" consider the durable vision of our Constitution and the commitments that unite us as Americans, viz., the Bill of Rights. And let us ask whether Bush's first term left it intact."

Cole then juxtaposes the wording of amendments in the Bill of Rights with pictures showing"no protest zones," John Ashcroft, the abuse of the right of Iraqis, and other illustrations that seem to contradict Bush's claim to uphold the Constitution.

Strangely, however, Cole chooses, for reasons he never explains, to omit several amendments in the original Bill of Rights from his list. After Amendment I, he inserts ellipses. Completely missing are Amendment II (right to keep and bear arms) and Amendment III (quartering troops in times of peace without permission of the owner). After the ellipses he gives a complete rendition of five other amendments in the original Bill of Rights: Amendment IV-VIII. He ends there. He fails to include Amendment IX (the other rights of the people are not to be disparaged or denied) and Amendment X (the rights reserved to the states and the people).

The effect of Cole's editing is to completely undermine his closing bi-partisan appeal in which he urges Republicans and Democrats to join together to oppose Bush's shredding of the Bill of Rights.

The omissions are unfortunate for other reasons. Had he looked, he could have found numerous examples of how Dubya has violated the inalienable (e.g. universal) rights of Americans and Iraqis as outlined in Amendment II-III, Amendment IX-X.

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Roderick T. Long - 1/23/2005

On second thought, rather than send people elsewhere via links I thought I'd paste the relevant sections from my blog in a new post in the main section of L&P.

Roderick T. Long - 1/23/2005

Not only does U.S. policy in Iraq violate the spirit of the Bill of Rights, I've argued elsewhere (see here and here) that it even violates the letter -- because the Constitution specifies that Congress has jurisdiction over any territory occupied by the U.S., and also specifies that Congress is bound by the Bill of Rights.

Anthony Gregory - 1/22/2005

People might not like all my arguments here, but I documented a while back many of the ways Bush has flouted and attacked the entire Bill of Rights.

David T. Beito - 1/21/2005

Cole is implying in his blog that these are universal rights which apply (at least in a rough sense) to Americans as well as Iraqis. I generally agree. I suspect there have been plenty of examples of U.S. troops quartering troops in Iraqi homes without permission of the owner. It is true that the amendment specifies in "time of peace" but literalists like me would respond by pointing out that this is not a declared war.

Grant Gould - 1/21/2005

Um, call me uninformed, but I wasn't aware of any Third Amendment issues recently. I panicked momentarily and checked my back porch, but didn't find any soldiers there. What am I missing here?