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Old 09-30-2019, 12:35 AM
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Constitutional Rights: Do they apply to everyone inside the USA or just citizens?


If the answer is "everyone within the bounds of the USA",

a. Do unwanted visitors also have Constitutional Rights? (such as illegal immigrants who gained access by force or deception)
b. What about invading armies (organized armed soldiers who carry weapons. Last seen in ww2). Do they get Constitutional Rights?


Source for this question: https://www.insider.com/ismael-lopez...-rights-2019-9
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Old 09-30-2019, 12:57 AM
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From https://www.learnliberty.org/blog/t-...f-noncitizens/ :
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Immigration restrictionists sometimes claim that noncitizens have no rights under the Constitution, and that the US government is therefore free to deal with them in whatever way it wants. At least as a general rule, this claim is simply false.

Noncitizens undeniably have a wide range of rights under the Constitution. Indeed, within the borders of the United States, they have most of the same rights as citizens do, and longstanding Supreme Court precedent bans most state laws discriminating against noncitizens. There is little if any serious controversy among experts over this matter.
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The Constitution reserves a few rights for citizens alone. Most notably, the Privileges and Immunities Clause of Article IV, Section 2, and the Privileges or Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment both protect the “privileges” and “immunities” of US citizens against various types of interference by state governments.

<snip>

That a few constitutional rights may be specifically reserved to citizens underscores the broader principle that the vast majority are not. There would be no need to specify such a reservation if the Constitution had a default rule limiting rights to citizens.

In reality, the vast majority of rights outlined in the Constitution are phrased as general limitations on government power, not special protections for a specific class of people — be they citizens or some other group.

Not only does the Constitution grant noncitizens most of the same rights as citizens, but longstanding Supreme Court precedent also forbids many state laws discriminating against aliens. In cases such as Bernal v. Fainter (1984), the court has ruled that laws discriminating on the basis of alienage are subject to “strict scrutiny” — that is, they will be struck down unless the government can prove that they are “narrowly tailored” to the promotion of a “compelling state interest.”
From OP's cite:
Quote:
"Ismael Lopez may have been a person on American soil but he was not one of the 'We, the People of the United States' entitled to the civil rights invoked in this lawsuit," attorney Katherine Kerby wrote. "Ismael Lopez had insufficient connections with the United States of the type, dignity, and caliber required to attain standing for Fourth or Fourteenth Amendment protection."

In fact, immigrants — both documented and undocumented — are protected by the Constitution, as is anyone on US soil.

The Supreme Court has affirmed these protections before, such as in the landmark 1982 case Plyler v. Doe, which held that immigrant children are protected under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and therefore can't be barred from attending public schools.
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Old 09-30-2019, 06:40 AM
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The rights laid out by the Constitution are limits to the power of the federal government. Those limits apply to the government. It we say that only citizens have the right to due process, then there is nothing to stop the government from denying someone's citizenship, depriving them of due process, and executing them. Citizens only have rights if the government's power is limited.
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Old 09-30-2019, 06:54 AM
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In Mississippi, a municipality is arguing that an undocumented immigrant who was killed when the cops burst into the wrong house and shot him in the back of the head has no constitutional rights.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/natio...g-constitution
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Old 09-30-2019, 08:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Acsenray View Post
In Mississippi, a municipality is arguing that an undocumented immigrant who was killed when the cops burst into the wrong house and shot him in the back of the head has no constitutional rights.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/natio...g-constitution
Was reading the OP and the provided link that difficult of a task?
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Old 09-30-2019, 09:00 AM
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I was curious what sort of attorney would make such an absurd argument. I have found that it is the type of attorney who has this type of website to drum up business.

http://www.kerbylaw.com
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Old 09-30-2019, 09:02 AM
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The answer, as always, is "it depends." Noncitizens have most of the same rights as citizens. Obviously, we* can't vote, or hold most public offices, or become president even after attaining citizenship, but those are exceptions. However, SCOTUS has consistently held that the political branches (Congress and the POTUS) have broad authority over foreign policy and national security, and has deemed immigration to fall within those spheres. So the courts defer to the political branches on most immigration issues. Resultantly, many constitutional protections are limited for immigrants when it comes to their status as immigrants (mjmlab's link refers to this doctrine as the "plenary power" doctrine).

That is not true of state and local governments, and there is absolutely no legal support for the argument that a local law enforcement agency can shoot an undocumented worker in the head because the Fourth Amendment doesn't apply. I am not sure that is the exact argument actually being made; the reporting on the Lopez case provides only snippets without the full context.
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Old 09-30-2019, 09:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Ravenman View Post
I was curious what sort of attorney would make such an absurd argument. I have found that it is the type of attorney who has this type of website to drum up business.

http://www.kerbylaw.com
Ugh. Having a site design like that violates my VIII amendment rights.
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Old 09-30-2019, 11:29 AM
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As for the OP's b), I would assume that enemy soldiers' rights are dictated by the Geneva Convention, which were applied to the many prisoners of war housed in the U.S. Trying to apply rights to an invading army before they are captured is obviously meaningless.

I have no idea what the OP means by invading armies carrying weapons in WWII. A small number of German spies were caught trying to infiltrate, but by definition, spies out of uniform are not soldiers. They are covered by the Espionage Act of 1917, and first amendment speech does not apply. At the same time, U.S. soldiers are tried according to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which has its own set of rules and procedures.
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Old 09-30-2019, 11:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Exapno Mapcase View Post
I have no idea what the OP means by invading armies carrying weapons in WWII. A small number of German spies were caught trying to infiltrate, but by definition, spies out of uniform are not soldiers. They are covered by the Espionage Act of 1917, and first amendment speech does not apply. At the same time, U.S. soldiers are tried according to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which has its own set of rules and procedures.
Just a guess, but there were pilots that crashed and were eventually captured during the battle of Pearl Harbor. Also, Japan occupied two Aleutian Islands during the war. I'm not sure if the Aleuts knew they were American at the time.

As both of these happened in territories and not in states, I can see overlooking them as instances of one imperial force replacing another.
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Old 09-30-2019, 12:22 PM
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This is a deep and somewhat murky part of the law. I believe that Hawaii and Alaska were incorporated territories during WWII. That's an important distinction, because unincorporated territories, such as Puerto Rico, are not entitled to full constitutional rights.

I'll let SamuelA define what he meant, rather than trying to guess.
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Old 09-30-2019, 01:10 PM
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Originally Posted by l0k1 View Post
Just a guess, but there were pilots that crashed and were eventually captured during the battle of Pearl Harbor. Also, Japan occupied two Aleutian Islands during the war. I'm not sure if the Aleuts knew they were American at the time.
One could argue POWs were treated in accordance with the Constitution, anyway. They were treated humanely, and were incarcerated after a form of "due process" - it wasn't the kind you'd process a car thief through, but identifying a man as an enemy soldier and then detaining him in accordance with the Geneva Convention is due process of a sort.
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Old 09-30-2019, 01:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Exapno Mapcase View Post
because unincorporated territories, such as Puerto Rico, are not entitled to full constitutional rights.
Is this really what you meant to say? Does it mean Puerto Rico can adopt some laws that would be (federally) unconstitutional? Certainly Puerto Ricans are citizens and entitled to all Constitutional rights when in one of the 50 states.
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Old 09-30-2019, 01:39 PM
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Is this really what you meant to say? Does it mean Puerto Rico can adopt some laws that would be (federally) unconstitutional? Certainly Puerto Ricans are citizens and entitled to all Constitutional rights when in one of the 50 states.
That didn't make sense to me either. I always thought the Constitution applied to the territories just as much as the states.

I don't think there's a question that the Constitutional rights apply to everyone in the US. If a Canadian in the US is charged with a crime, he has the same Miranda rights and right to trial by jury and a court-appointed lawyer as anyone else. If they did not, then any non-citizen could be jailed without cause and imprisoned indefinitely without due process.
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Old 09-30-2019, 01:59 PM
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One could argue POWs were treated in accordance with the Constitution, anyway. They were treated humanely, and were incarcerated after a form of "due process" - it wasn't the kind you'd process a car thief through, but identifying a man as an enemy soldier and then detaining him in accordance with the Geneva Convention is due process of a sort.
Plus the Constitution explicitly provides for Congress to make rules concerning captures on land and water.
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Old 09-30-2019, 02:27 PM
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Is this really what you meant to say? Does it mean Puerto Rico can adopt some laws that would be (federally) unconstitutional? Certainly Puerto Ricans are citizens and entitled to all Constitutional rights when in one of the 50 states.
After the Spanish-American war, there was a series of court cases that dealt with this issue. They are called the "insular cases" because they dealt with the new territory the US acquired from Spain, which were islands, like Puerto Rico and the Philippines. The issue was whether he US Constitution fully applies in the territories.

The Supreme Court held that the Constitution does not fully apply. It drew a distinction between incorporated territories, like the territories in the continental US, which were on the road to statehood, and unincorporated territories, the conquered islands, which were not. The US Constitution therefore doesn't fully apply in Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa and any other little bits of the US empire.

See the wiki article on it:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Insular_Cases
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Old 09-30-2019, 02:28 PM
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That didn't make sense to me either. I always thought the Constitution applied to the territories just as much as the states.

I don't think there's a question that the Constitutional rights apply to everyone in the US. If a Canadian in the US is charged with a crime, he has the same Miranda rights and right to trial by jury and a court-appointed lawyer as anyone else. If they did not, then any non-citizen could be jailed without cause and imprisoned indefinitely without due process.
Or just shot on sight.
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Old 09-30-2019, 03:04 PM
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I'll let SamuelA define what he meant, rather than trying to guess.
I meant at the instant the u boat soldiers came ashore, but before they changed clothes and buried their uniforms, they were an invading army. A really small one. And I just wondered which Constitutional rights applied.

Also some conservatives see an army of illegal migrants who broke in with force or deceit (cutting fences or sneaking) as Invaders, though the difference is they are each individually doing this or in relatively small family units.
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Old 10-01-2019, 09:07 AM
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That didn't make sense to me either. I always thought the Constitution applied to the territories just as much as the states.
It applies to citizens of the territories, but not to the territories themselves, except to the extent that Congress chooses. So Puerto Ricans are guaranteed a trial by jury when they are in the mainland U.S., but they are not guaranteed a trial by jury in Puerto Rico (except to the extent that Puerto Rico's own constitution guarantees one).
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Old 10-01-2019, 12:56 PM
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My understanding was that the rights enumerated in the constitution were inherent in the nature of man, rather than being granted by any document. In this light, citizens of China or wherever are entitled to all the rights that Americans are (other than the specific exclusion noted by previous posters) and it's just their government's refusal to protect/support those rights that prevents them from exercising those rights. By this, it would stand to reason that when anyone comes under the control/protection of the US Government, their existing rights should instantly be recognized and protected by the US government, right?
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Old 10-01-2019, 01:00 PM
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My understanding was that the rights enumerated in the constitution were inherent in the nature of man, rather than being granted by any document.
That's clearly nonsense, though. Nature doesn't give a shit about rights. They're only something human beings care about, and only exist to the extent that human beings make sure they exist.
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Old 10-01-2019, 01:35 PM
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"This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the land...."


"Land" means territory, doesn't it? So I'd say that the Constitution applies to anyone standing on U.S. soil.
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Old 10-01-2019, 01:47 PM
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That's clearly nonsense, though. Nature doesn't give a shit about rights. They're only something human beings care about, and only exist to the extent that human beings make sure they exist.
Yes, but it's better to say "people have rights because they are people" rather than "people have rights because of the circumstances of their birth and residence".
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Old 10-01-2019, 02:00 PM
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Yes, but it's better to say "people have rights because they are people" rather than "people have rights because of the circumstances of their birth and residence".
Even though the latter is the statement that's actually true?
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Old 10-01-2019, 02:20 PM
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Well, at least one country has claimed, in writing, that some rights are "inalienable."
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Old 10-01-2019, 02:26 PM
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It applies to citizens of the territories, but not to the territories themselves, except to the extent that Congress chooses. So Puerto Ricans are guaranteed a trial by jury when they are in the mainland U.S., but they are not guaranteed a trial by jury in Puerto Rico (except to the extent that Puerto Rico's own constitution guarantees one).
As an example, Guam has a representative in the US House, but the person is a non-voting delegate. US states on the other hand all have full representatives that can vote. US citizens resident in Guam don’t really have a vote in presidential elections; they are polled to see who they support but since they have no electoral votes they don’t affect the outcome of the race in any way.

(I use Guam as an example because I used to live there, so I’m familiar with it.)

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Old 10-01-2019, 02:33 PM
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Even though the latter is the statement that's actually true?
I disagree that the latter is true, but that's probably due to differences in what we mean by "having a right" and "because". I'll stipulate it's true if we use your definitions.

But beyond that, the point is "it's better to say" the former because it stresses that it's our respect of another's humanity that demands we treat each other as humans. The latter implies another's circumstances determine how they should be treated.

Or, to put it another way: "people have rights because they're people" is a moral stance. "People have rights because of circumstances" is a legal stance. I don't think how people should be treated depends on the law; it depends on doing the right thing.

Furthermore, it's old politics, but still important. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness" is the liberal, fundamental philosophy of the American revolution. It means everyone has rights, not just those granted by a sovereign power. Even if that sovereign power is the People. We ignore that at our own peril.
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Old 10-01-2019, 02:37 PM
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"This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the land...."


"Land" means territory, doesn't it? So I'd say that the Constitution applies to anyone standing on U.S. soil.
Yes, but why should it extend benefits to Invaders who are standing on U.S. soil by force or deception?


You would agree if somehow the Soviet Army had managed to land a massive army on US soil, those combatants would not get the benefit of Constitutional rights, right?

Arguably, illegal immigrants are also invaders.
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Old 10-01-2019, 02:56 PM
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Yes, but why should it extend benefits to Invaders who are standing on U.S. soil by force or deception?


You would agree if somehow the Soviet Army had managed to land a massive army on US soil, those combatants would not get the benefit of Constitutional rights, right?

Arguably, illegal immigrants are also invaders.
If you would care to argue that migrants are enemy combatants, feel free.

If you would rather rest your case on confusing those two disparate definitions of "invaders," well, most Dopers will see that for the sophistry it is.

(If you copy the phrase "by force or deception" from whatever talking-points website you got it from once more, I shall point and laugh in the privacy of my home.)

Last edited by mjmlabs; 10-01-2019 at 02:57 PM. Reason: grammar
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Old 10-01-2019, 03:17 PM
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But beyond that, the point is "it's better to say" the former because it stresses that it's our respect of another's humanity that demands we treat each other as humans. The latter implies another's circumstances determine how they should be treated.

Or, to put it another way: "people have rights because they're people" is a moral stance. "People have rights because of circumstances" is a legal stance. I don't think how people should be treated depends on the law; it depends on doing the right thing.
"People have rights because they're people" is a fairy tale. "Everyone deserves rights," is a moral stance. "Not everyone has rights" is a simple fact.

Quote:
Furthermore, it's old politics, but still important. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness" is the liberal, fundamental philosophy of the American revolution. It means everyone has rights, not just those granted by a sovereign power. Even if that sovereign power is the People. We ignore that at our own peril.
What am I supposed to make of that statement if I don't believe in a Creator?

And I think the bigger peril is forgetting that the rights we have are incredibly fragile, and can be taken away from us from us very, very easily, which is something the concept of "natural rights" elides.

Last edited by Miller; 10-01-2019 at 03:17 PM.
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Old 10-01-2019, 03:43 PM
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"People have rights because they're people" is a fairy tale. "Everyone deserves rights," is a moral stance. "Not everyone has rights" is a simple fact.
I think this is a definitional thing. Lots of rights can be defined as negative or positive duties: my rights impose a duty on you not to do certain things, or to do certain things.

And duties are inextricably bound up with the word "should."

Saying that everyone has rights doesn't mean these are things that can be picked up and examined, or even that they are universally respected. It means that everyone should be treated in certain ways, whether or not they actually are.

I'm not always gonna reference Wikipedia, but in this case, the article section Natural versus legal rights may help clarify the conversation.

Constitutional rights, of course, are legal rights, but they're intended to reflect natural rights. The OP only makes sense if it's addressing the legal rights.

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Old 10-01-2019, 04:29 PM
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Yes, but why should it extend benefits to Invaders who are standing on U.S. soil by force or deception?


You would agree if somehow the Soviet Army had managed to land a massive army on US soil, those combatants would not get the benefit of Constitutional rights, right?
No, but under those circumstances one would assume that a state of war would exist between the United States and the Soviet Union. That's the whole point of war - it means you can kill people from another country. To the best of my knowledge, the only country the U.S. is currently in a state of war with is North Korea, and seeing as I haven't heard of boatloads of North Koreans landing on American shores, I don't really see how that applies. The people arriving in the United States are not citizens of enemy nations, nor are they crossing any hostile borders (which the U.S. doesn't have), so in my opinion they cannot be considered invaders.
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Old 10-01-2019, 04:34 PM
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It we say that only citizens have the right to due process, then there is nothing to stop the government from denying someone's citizenship, depriving them of due process, and executing them.
Exactly where an Constitution say only citizen have some right?
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Old 10-01-2019, 04:43 PM
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I think this is a definitional thing. Lots of rights can be defined as negative or positive duties: my rights impose a duty on you not to do certain things, or to do certain things.

And duties are inextricably bound up with the word "should."

Saying that everyone has rights doesn't mean these are things that can be picked up and examined, or even that they are universally respected. It means that everyone should be treated in certain ways, whether or not they actually are.

I'm not always gonna reference Wikipedia, but in this case, the article section Natural versus legal rights may help clarify the conversation.

Constitutional rights, of course, are legal rights, but they're intended to reflect natural rights. The OP only makes sense if it's addressing the legal rights.
I'm not confused by the definition of "natural rights," I'm saying the definition is ridiculous, and does not apply to any real world concept or situation. No part of the definition of natural rights is accurate or realistic. Rights are not handed down by God; God does not exist. They aren't provided by nature; nature does not give a shit about your rights. They are certainly not inalienable; billions of people are deprived of things we call "natural" rights every day. And they are absolutely the product of laws and customs - there's literally nothing else they could be a product of.

And I don't see how the OP makes any less sense if we're talking about "natural" rights. "Do non-citizens have the right to freedom of speech?" is a perfectly sensible question, and one that has a different answer depending on what nation's laws you're looking at.
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Old 10-01-2019, 04:44 PM
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Exactly where an Constitution say only citizen have some right?
Mockery for a single-adjacent-letter typo seems a bit harsh. Let those without typos cast the first snark, and all that ....
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Old 10-01-2019, 04:55 PM
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Mockery for a single-adjacent-letter typo seems a bit harsh. Let those without typos cast the first snark, and all that ....
Yeah, "it we say that" is not a one-letter typo, it signals the incoherence that follows in saying that the government can pretty much execute anybody it wants.

Thanks for playing though, always fun to see a spectator jumping in with the adults.
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Old 10-01-2019, 04:57 PM
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Yeah, "it we say that" is not a one-letter typo, it signals the incoherence that follows in saying that the government can pretty much execute anybody it wants.
"It" and "if" are only one letter off...

Last edited by Miller; 10-01-2019 at 04:57 PM.
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Old 10-01-2019, 04:58 PM
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Exactly where an Constitution say only citizen have some right?
The Fifteenth, Nineteenth, Twenty-fourth, and Twenty-sixth Amendments all explicitly protect the voting rights of citizens of the United States:
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Originally Posted by Fifteenth Amendment
The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude
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Originally Posted by Nineteenth Amendment
The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.
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Originally Posted by Twenty-fourth Amendment
The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Twenty-sixth Amendment
The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age.

As already noted, the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments clearly protect the rights of all persons when it comes to the deprivation of "life, liberty, or property" (which can only be done with "due process of law"), and the Fourteenth Amendment also forbids denying any person "the equal protection of the laws".

And also as already noted the protection of many other enumerated rights are phrased as limitations on government power: "Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech" doesn't say "Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech [of citizens of the United States]".
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  #39  
Old 10-01-2019, 05:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Miller View Post
"It" and "if" are only one letter off...
... and on a QWERTY keyboard, the keys for "f" and "t" are, in fact, adjacent.

Last edited by mjmlabs; 10-01-2019 at 05:01 PM.
  #40  
Old 10-01-2019, 05:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Miller View Post
"It" and "if" are only one letter off...
Does it say "if we say that" or "it says that?" or "it we say that?"

Why make such a stretch to clarify a bumbling subject of an incoherent and demonstrably wrong predicate?
  #41  
Old 10-01-2019, 05:07 PM
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I took:
Quote:
Originally Posted by l0k1 View Post
I[f] we say that only citizens have the right to due process, then there is nothing to stop the government from denying someone's citizenship, depriving them of due process, and executing them.
to mean that of course the Constitution doesn't say "only citizens have the right to due process" because not only would that be atrocious from a human rights standpoint, and plainly contradicted by the plain text of the Constitution itself (as amended), but it would also essentially nullify the rights of citizens as well.

If "only citizens have the right to due process" then when the government gets tired of Gadfly Gary going on about no-bid contracts at every council meeting, the government could just say "Hey, we just found out Gadfly Gary is an illegal alien!" And when Gadfly Gary says "What?!? No I'm not! I was born right here! Here's my birth certificate!" the government could say "You're an illegal alien, that means we don't have to prove anything, and we don't even have to let you prove anything, HAW HAW HAW! Boys, take this 'illegal' out back and shoot him!"
  #42  
Old 10-01-2019, 05:10 PM
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Originally Posted by HMS Irruncible View Post
Does it say "if we say that" or "it says that?" or "it we say that?"

Why make such a stretch to clarify a bumbling subject of an incoherent and demonstrably wrong predicate?
Do you really not understand this??

Try it like this:

"If we say that only citizens have the right to due process, then there is nothing to stop the government from denying someone's citizenship, depriving them of due process, and executing them."

Differences between that and what you mocked? One single-adjacent-letter typo. One that spellcheck wouldn't catch. A "t" instead of an "f."

I really do not know how I could explain this any more simplistically, although I fear that such may prove necessary.
  #43  
Old 10-01-2019, 06:20 PM
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Originally Posted by mjmlabs View Post
Do you really not understand this??

Try it like this:

"If we say that only citizens have the right to due process, then there is nothing to stop the government from denying someone's citizenship, depriving them of due process, and executing them."

Differences between that and what you mocked? One single-adjacent-letter typo. One that spellcheck wouldn't catch. A "t" instead of an "f."

I really do not know how I could explain this any more simplistically, although I fear that such may prove necessary.
I made a dumb mistake. It's as you said. My apologies.
  #44  
Old 10-01-2019, 06:58 PM
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Originally Posted by MEBuckner View Post
I took:

to mean that of course the Constitution doesn't say "only citizens have the right to due process" because not only would that be atrocious from a human rights standpoint, and plainly contradicted by the plain text of the Constitution itself (as amended), but it would also essentially nullify the rights of citizens as well.

If "only citizens have the right to due process" then when the government gets tired of Gadfly Gary going on about no-bid contracts at every council meeting, the government could just say "Hey, we just found out Gadfly Gary is an illegal alien!" And when Gadfly Gary says "What?!? No I'm not! I was born right here! Here's my birth certificate!" the government could say "You're an illegal alien, that means we don't have to prove anything, and we don't even have to let you prove anything, HAW HAW HAW! Boys, take this 'illegal' out back and shoot him!"
I agree that this is a problem. The flaw is that "rights" aren't actually natural and they aren't free. To give people rights has a cost. (holding court hearings, etc). And so at a minimum it seems like rights shouldn't go to outright hostile actors (lawless invaders who sneak in or shoot their way into the borders of the continental USA).

And at a minimum it seems like it should be quid-pro-quo. If the USA is going to respect the civil rights of citizens of Mexico who are uninvited residents of the US, at a minimum it seems like the Mexican government needs to agree (and actually grant in practice) civil rights to American citizens in return. Which it doesn't do.

Last edited by SamuelA; 10-01-2019 at 06:58 PM.
  #45  
Old 10-01-2019, 07:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Pleonast View Post
Or, to put it another way: "people have rights because they're people" is a moral stance. "People have rights because of circumstances" is a legal stance. I don't think how people should be treated depends on the law; it depends on doing the right thing.
Then why do we have courts and laws? Why isn't the moral stance "people have rights because they're people" enough? Why do you have a Bill of a Rights,declared to be the supreme law of the land, and enforced by government agencies, notably courts? If the moral stance is all that's needed, why not abolish courts and repeal the Bill of Rights?

Quote:
Furthermore, it's old politics, but still important. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness" is the liberal, fundamental philosophy of the American revolution. It means everyone has rights, not just those granted by a sovereign power. Even if that sovereign power is the People. We ignore that at our own peril.
Which is why, from July 4, 1776, all men in the United States had fully equal rights, right? Regardless of skin colour, ethnic origins, or property ownership? You didn't need a sovereign power, like, say, an Army, to establish racial and ethnic freedom, right? And you didn't need the Commander-in-Chief to order the Army to free certain people in certain parts of the country (but not other people, in other parts of the country)? And you didn't need the people's represntatives, jointly exercising the sovereignty of the People, to pass three constitutional amendments to guarantee equality, regardless of race or previous condition of servitude? And then you didn't need a century of fighting for civil rights? It all just happened naturallly on July 5, 1776, right? Everyone free and equal?

And that reference to "all men" was just a typo, right? Jefferson meant to say "all men and women, including the black slave that I'm having carnal relations with, are created equal"?

Any theory of natural law breaks down pretty quickly as soon as you ask that sort of question. Don't get me wrong - I agree with the "should be equal" as a basic moral, organizing principle for my society. But it doesn't create rights.

Put another way: what country meets the test set out in the opening words of the Declaration, in your view? Not as a moral aspiration, but as a real, working society? And since when? Because if natural law works, that should be the basic state of humanity everywhere, throughout history. But it isn't and hasn't been. It's only in the last two centuries that some societies have tried to put those moral aspirations into practice, through laws, codes and constitutions. Two centuries is just the blink of an eye in the history of Homo sapiens sapiens. If natural law is the source of rights, it sure hasn't been very efficient at implementing those rights.
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Last edited by Northern Piper; 10-01-2019 at 07:39 PM.
  #46  
Old 10-01-2019, 07:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HMS Irruncible View Post
Yeah, "it we say that" is not a one-letter typo, it signals the incoherence that follows in saying that the government can pretty much execute anybody it wants.

Thanks for playing though, always fun to see a spectator jumping in with the adults.
That's enough of that. No more shots at other posters by anyone, please.
  #47  
Old 10-01-2019, 07:52 PM
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Originally Posted by BrianDime View Post
My understanding was that the rights enumerated in the constitution were inherent in the nature of man, rather than being granted by any document. In this light, citizens of China or wherever are entitled to all the rights that Americans are (other than the specific exclusion noted by previous posters) and it's just their government's refusal to protect/support those rights that prevents them from exercising those rights.
Why is the US Constitution the standard? My country's Constitution recognizes rights that are unknown in the US Constitution, notably in regard to language rights, voting rights, gender equality, and religion in the schools. Why isn't my country's Constitution the real example of the rights which are inherent in the "nature of man humanity", and it's just the refusal of the US governments to protect/support those rights that prevents Americans from exercising those rights?
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  #48  
Old 10-01-2019, 08:29 PM
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Originally Posted by BrianDime View Post
My understanding was that the rights enumerated in the constitution were inherent in the nature of man, rather than being granted by any document.
If we really believed this the "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness" clause in the bill of rights would make abortions illegal.
  #49  
Old 10-01-2019, 08:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Miller View Post
I'm not confused by the definition of "natural rights," I'm saying the definition is ridiculous, and does not apply to any real world concept or situation.
...
And I don't see how the OP makes any less sense if we're talking about "natural" rights. "Do non-citizens have the right to freedom of speech?" is a perfectly sensible question, and one that has a different answer depending on what nation's laws you're looking at.
I know you're saying you're not confused by the definition of natural rights, but I kinda think you are. If a right is inalienable, then it makes no sense to ask whether one class of humans has it and another doesn't. That question makes sense if you're talking legal rights, though.

Quote:
They are certainly not inalienable; billions of people are deprived of things we call "natural" rights every day.
That's not accurate. Rights may be violated, but still possessed. An inalienable right means that no matter what, the right shouldn't be violated.

Quote:
And they are absolutely the product of laws and customs - there's literally nothing else they could be a product of.
They needn't be a product at all. Rather, they may be a dynamic that arises naturally when sentient entities with desires exist around one another, a way of explaining their relationships.

Very crudely:
I have desires. I experience those desires as what I "should" do.
I recognize that other beings have desires. I think they have the same experience of "should" as I have.
While I can think of rational arguments for prioritizing my own desires, my own "shoulds," I can't think of convincing arguments for ignoring the "shoulds" of other entities.
Thus, my behavior becomes informed by the desires of others.
  #50  
Old 10-01-2019, 08:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elfkin477 View Post
If we really believed this the "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness" clause in the bill of rights would make abortions illegal.
#notinthebillofrights
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