"The Constitution of the United States is a law for rulers and people, equally in war and in peace, and covers with the shield of its protection all classes of men, at all times and under all circumstances."
JAG HUNTER HERE:
Former Navy Hospital Corpsman Tom Overton, III remarked Wednesday during our phone conversation that "we (military members) all know we give up our constitutional rights (he should have said constitutional protections) when when we join the military." Mr. Overton and I were discussing former and recent criminal acts committed another Sweetwater resident, U.S. Ranger, Staff Sergeant Raymond L. Girouard.
I encounter this a lot and am more deeply dismayed at each instance America's demise is evidenced once more.
Tom Overton--today--publishes Sweetwater's local newspaper, The Monroe County Advocate & Democrat.
Irony o-o-z-e-s...The Advocate & Democrat!
I told Publisher Overton he was wrong and challenged him on the point. I'm happy for Mr. Overton, or any one else, to correct me by supplying the citation--with particulars--regarding the convention amending the Constitution whereupon American servicemen were stripped of their constitutional protections.
Just at that moment Overton's beeper alerted an incoming call (so he said), and whoops...gotta go...Publisher Overton was gone.
Mr. Tommy Millsaps and I had a similar phone conversation earlier in the same week. Mr. Millsaps is a reporter for The Advocate & Democrat (feel the o-o-z-e!).
Explaining to Reporter Millsaps--again--that Staff Sergeant Ray Girouard and Marine Corps Sergeant Lawrence Hutchins are protected by the Constitution I read Supreme Court Justice David Davis' majority ruling on point (Ex parte Milligan - 1866):
"The Constitution of the United States is a law for rulers and people, equally in war and in peace, and covers with the shield of its protection all classes of men, at all times and under all circumstances. No doctrine, involving more pernicious consequences, was ever invented by the wit of man than
that any of its provisions can be suspended during any of the great exigencies of government...Martial law cannot arise for a threatened invasion. The necessity must be actual and present; the invasion [or emergency] real, such as effectively closes the courts...Martial rule can never exist where the courts are open and in the proper and unobstructed exercise of their jurisdiction. It's also confined to the locality of the actual war."
In fairness to Publisher Overton, Reporter Millsaps, and Editor Mia Rhodarmer (who I also spoke with), nearly every media worker I've encountered believes the DURABLE MYTH that military personnel forfeit their constitutional protections when they pledge their lives in sacrifice promising to defend you and me...and oh yeah...the Constitution.
Think about it!
So...with the phrase invincible ignorance ringing in my ears it's appropriate and helpful to obediently accept that "there is...a time for war and a time for peace (Ecclesiastes 3:8)." There are brief and infrequent moments when the state of society is in a state of emergency. Moments that catastrophically alter human laws and human punishments and that must--as matters of necessity--transcend constitutional boundaries.
Courts-martial are desperate measures to be tolerated operative only in desperate times. Restating what's obvious Sir Matthew Hale correctly commented:
"Martial Law, which is built upon no settled principles, but is entirely arbitrary in its decisions is, in truth and reality no law, but something indulged in rather than allowed as law. The necessity of order and discipline...is the only thing which can give it countenance."
Self-preservation is also a core determiner in assessing whether it's necessary to invoke martial law and the courts-martial scheme.
The Constitution must be operative at all times excepting during those infrequent and brief instances--in times of invasion or other extraordinary emergencies that close courts--when the Constitution can't work.
As brief, as infrequent, as extraordinary a moment as would be our plight as lifeboat survivors with a bad actor among us. (See Alfred Hitchcock's film LIFEBOAT on DVD).
After all, Abe Lincoln is attributed in the observation that the Constitution is not a suicide pact.
I can't cure the invincibly ignorant.
For media professionals who persist in "holding their tongues" while watching in plain view senior military commanders perpetrate crimes against Ray Girouard, Larry Hutchins, and other innocent American citizens, self-censorship is more corrosive, more acid, more dangerous than forced censorship. You might just as well "make tooth picks of your pens." (Aurora General Advertiser Editor Benjamin Franklin Bache commenting on the Sedition Act of 1798--as quoted in Ian Toll's history: Six Frigates)
For the rest, your duty is a clear and plain as can be: Proverbs 31:8.
My constitutional challenge to Publisher Overton, by the way, is unanswerable. No federal army or navy existed from 1787 to mid-1789 and brief references to those institutions were written in the future tense. There is nothing--repeat--NOTHING in the Constitution as amemded that drops the its shield of protection for military personnel. Supreme Court Justice Davis' words are as appropriate and relevant and enforceable as law today as they were in 1866.
For Veterans who've not yet joined this fight...shame.
Here endth the lesson (for the moment).
BEWARE THE FURY OF THE PATIENT MAN!
©Copyright 2008 The JAG HUNTER
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