Various Republican candidates attended a meeting of Club for Growth, and afterwards, National Review's Ramesh Ponnuru spoke to Cato Institute's President Ed Crane about what they said. This brief report from Ponnuru is simply extraordinary:Crane asked if Romney believed the president should have the authority to arrest U.S. citizens with no review.
So Crane asks GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney if he believes the president can nullify by fiat a United States citizen's rights of habeas corpus and a fair and speedy trial of his peers, a power no British king has had since the 12th century. Any person with American political sensibilities, especially, God bless him, a conservative, would be aghast at such a proposition, right? Romney's answer:
Romney said he would want to hear the pros and cons from smart lawyers before he made up his mind.
Apparently the issue of whether American citizens have the right to contest their charges is a little hazy for this Republican candidate.
What about leading GOP presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani?
Crane said that he had asked Giuliani the same question a few weeks ago. The mayor said that he would want to use this authority infrequently.
Giuliani promises he'll only occasionally strip American citizens of the most basic freedoms guaranteed them in the Bill of Rights.
There is no such thing as a democracy in which the Executive can imprison citizens without a fair trial. The law states that all citizens have rights, and in order for power to rest with the people (the definition of "democracy"), the rule of law must be upheld. If it is a president that rules, and not the law, then power rests with him and not with the people. And a president that can defy the Bill of Rights with impunity is not a president, but a dictator. After all, if a president can disregard amendments to the Constitution, what laws bind him?
Democracy and totalitarianism cannot exist side by side. Either the people rule, or the executive rules. I vote for the people.