Peanut Gallery column ‘political cheerleading’

In last week’s edition of The Poly, the College Republicans’ editorial piece trumpeted the election of Massachusetts republican Scott Brown and the end of the democrats’ supermajority hold on the senate.

Unfortunately, rather than contribute illuminating commentary about this turn of events, the Republicans’ column was little more than political cheerleading, liberally punctuated with exclamation marks. Worse still for members of a student organization which associates itself so strongly with this document, the College Republicans display a degree of irresponsibility in not actually knowing the origins or contents of the Constitution.

In one paragraph, the author writes, “To progressives, the Constitution is now apparently a debatable base point of the law, open to be changed and manipulated. They are not respecting its original intent, to define and protect forever our inalienable rights.”

First, the Constitution’s original intent was not to define our rights; it simply sets out how the branches of government are to be run. I understand that the College Republicans’ article probably refers to the Bill of Rights, which indeed defines some of the most important rights conferred upon Americans. However, the Bill of Rights was ratified in 1791, three years after the Constitution, and thus can hardly be considered to be part of its original intent. If the Constitution is not “open to be changed,” how, then, did those duplicitous 18th century progressives manage to manipulate it to include the Bill of Rights after the fact?

I refer the reader to Article V, which describes the process whereby amendments to the Constitution can be proposed and ratified—amendments like the 10 that comprise the Bill of Rights or the Federal Marriage Amendment, which seeks to deny marriage rights to same-sex couples, last brought before the House of Representatives in 2006 by a Republican congressman. Perhaps the College Republicans do not support this manipulation of the law either.

In fairness, I must concede that the Constitution did confer some rights prior to its incorporation of the Bill of Rights. Perhaps these were the inalienable rights that the column’s author alluded to. For example, Section 9 of Article I states that, “[t]he Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion …”

One might think, then, that the Military Commissions Act of 2006—introduced, passed, and signed into law by Republicans—was an attempt to sidestep the Constitution to suspend habeas corpus at a time of neither rebellion nor invasion. But as Attorney General Alberto Gonzales clarified to the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2007, “There is no express grant of [habeas corpus] in the Constitution. There’s a prohibition against taking it away.”

The Poly grants the College Republicans a column to voice their opinions once every three weeks. If the vacuous article that ran last week is the best use of this space they can come up with, I would recommend to the editors that, when the “Peanut Gallery” comes up for print two weeks hence, they find an article that shows at least two seconds’ thought went into it, and run that one instead.

Ryan Govostes

CSCI ’11