March 02, 2004

Too Cute by Half I

I had my own entry in this category earlier so I understand that such things can be done in fun or as a fantasy. Here's one that just hit my mailbox where the writer says "In case it isn't clear, I'm dead serious about every word of this.":

A Petition to the United States Congress on behalf of John F. Kerry

Whereas section 3 of the 14th amendment to the United States Constitution states:

“No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.”

And whereas John F. Kerry, United States Senator and contender for the office of President of the United States, did swear an oath as an officer of the United States Navy to support the Constitution of the United States, and did subsequently organize and participate in street demonstrations which comforted the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam), whose forces were then in actual combat against the forces of the United States, and which had the affect of aiding them in the defeat of the Republic of Vietnam, then allied to the United States, Mr. Kerry is ineligible under the Constitution for the office of President and for the office of Senator to which he was elected by the people of Massachusetts.

Whereas Mr. Kerry served honorably in combat against the enemies of the United States, and whereas his subsequent actions were protected by the 1st Amendment to the Constitution, both as free speech and as an exercise of the right to petition for redress of grievances, and whereas Mr. Kerry’s actions do not rise to the level of treason, defined in Article 3, Section 3 as requiring adherence to the enemies of the United States, and testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, as well as providing both aid AND comfort to these enemies, I hereby petition the Congress to exercise its power under the Constitution to remove Mr. Kerry’s disability to hold office under the United States. Furthermore I ask that Congress formally establish the precedent that all other persons who actively supported the enemies of the United States during the war in Vietnam by street demonstration or similar act, but who were not convicted of any related crime, will also have such disability removed.

The problem starts with the assumption of guilt. This is simply unamerican. I happen to think that what John Kerry has done regarding war crimes accusations is despicable and that depending on further evidence, it is possible that he might have violated his oath and committed treason to the United States. However, you just don't assume such things.

The presumption of innocence is too important to be thrown overboard for mere political advantage and prosecutorial discretion is an important ancillary principle of US law. If the full time professionals think that it'll do the country more harm than good to prosecute, I am willing to go along with that. Those that disagree need to petition for a prosecution. If they're feeling forgiving afterwards they can petition for a removal of the disability. This is worse than the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland. It's not verdict first, trial afterwards. This is clemency first, then verdict, then trial, a most bizarre and uniquely destructive concoction.

I suspect that the "Too Cute by Half" title is going to get a workout during this election season. It's too bad.

Posted by TMLutas at March 2, 2004 09:09 PM