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America's Debate > Archive > Policy Debate Archive > [A] Constitutional Debate
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surreality
I've seen a lot of controversy over this topic, and have never been able to get a clear, solid viewpoint.

So the questions I pose are these:

1) Does the United States Constitution apply to merely US citizens, or does it apply to everyone within our borders?

2) Who should it apply to?
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PiedPiper
The Constitution which is a Law, protects the Citizens of the United States of America. Other more specific law protects or subjects people who are not citizens to our laws. For example you cannot deport a U S Citizen but you can deport a non citizen.

Have you noticed that the Constitution is primarily a means of protecting the Citizens from the power of the State of America not some other entity.

Who does the Constitution apply to, only U S citizens, for example to run for some political office requires Citizenship, to vote requires citizenship and in the case of the President you must be a natural born citizen.
nikachu
Who should the constitution apply to?

IMO everyone in the world should have constitutional rights similar to the ones that US citizens have (with exceptions being made for different cultures etc). Then every country should agree to respect the rights of non-citizens within its borders...

This works because everyone gets treated roughly the same, regardless of which country they are in.

It also means that you cannot have situations such as Guantanamo Bay, where non US citizens are held by the US and have extremely limited rights. So you have a trade off between fairness & security, but then thats nothing new...
NiteGuy
QUOTE(PiedPiper @ Jan 14 2004, 04:56 AM)
The Constitution which is a Law, protects the Citizens of the United States of America.  Other more specific law protects or subjects people who are not citizens to our laws.  For example you cannot deport a U S Citizen but you can deport a non citizen.

Well, not yet anyway. One of the provisions in Patriot II, if it had passed would have allowed deportation of US born citizens.

If you had been found to have "supported terrorism" by contributing to a Muslim charity that turned out to be a front for financing terrorists, for example, a provision in the new law would have allowed the government to strip you of your citizenship, and have you deported. And this could have been accomplished, like with Patriot I, with out your having access to an attorney, or having the chance to defend yourself in a public trial.

I guess you are right to some extent though. If they are stripping you of your citizenship first, they are no longer deporting an "American citizen".
astronerd
QUOTE(surreality @ Jan 14 2004, 09:23 AM)
I've seen a lot of controversy over this topic, and have never been able to get a clear, solid viewpoint.

So the questions I pose are these:

1) Does the United States Constitution apply to merely US citizens, or does it apply to everyone within our borders?

2) Who should it apply to?

The U.S.Constitution applies ONLY to the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. It is a document that restricts what powers are given to that government and how they are used. The grantors of that power to the Federal Government are the citizens of the United States... PERIOD!
It is a wrong-headed idea that insists that the U.S. Constitution applies to any citizen or group of citizens that are NOT in the Federal Governing body.
PiedPiper
Astronerd: Can you explain what you mean by this

It is a wrong-headed idea that insists that the U.S. Constitution applies to any citizen or group of citizens that are NOT in the Federal Governing body.

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Do you mean "Person" or group of Persons, if your a citizen you are in the Federal Governing body.

I am not nit picking you, just asking for clarification.

I also think your not quite accurate with your statement, The Constitution is not just a restrictive Law, that comes under the Bill of Rights which was added to the Constitution, The Constitution is our Government Charter so to speak. It attempts to spell out what laws are reserved for the Federal government and which are reserved for the States.
Julian
The Declaration of Independence talks about "all men" being equal. Allowing for the gender neutral meaning of "men", implying "human" rather than "males", this does not limit the inalienable rights to those people with a specific geographic origin or political affiliation.

The Bill of Rights says that the Federal government "shall make no law" infringing the inalienable rights etc. - it talks in terms of the limits on the power of the Federal government, it doesn't exhaustively list all the people who will or will not be covered by these limitation.

Far as I can see, the constitution therefore covers everyone in the USA, be they adult citizens, minors, foreign tourists or businessmen, and all criminal suspects no matter what their nationality.
astronerd
QUOTE(PiedPiper @ Jan 15 2004, 07:04 AM)
Astronerd:  Can you explain what you mean by this

It is a wrong-headed idea that insists that the U.S. Constitution applies to any citizen or group of citizens that are NOT in the Federal Governing body.

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Do you mean "Person"  or group of Persons,   if your a citizen you are in the Federal Governing body. 

I am not nit picking you,  just asking for clarification. 

I also think your not quite accurate with your statement,  The Constitution is not just a restrictive Law,  that comes under the Bill of Rights which was added to the Constitution,   The Constitution is our Government Charter so to speak.   It attempts to spell out what laws are reserved for the Federal government and which are reserved for the States.

We vote to send representatives to the Legislative branch of the Federal Govt. We are not part of that govt. body. We vote to send Electors to Washington, DC to select the President, the head of the Executive branch of the Federal govt. We are not a part of that branch, either. The Judical branch is appointed by the President with the Advice and Consent of the Senate. We are not a part of that body.

The Constitution essentially defines just what the Federal govt. can and CAN'T do. I.E. Article I Section 9 (2) The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shal NOT be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it. THAT'S ALL it does... It restricts what the Feds can do.
PiedPiper
Well I have to admit this discussion has forced me to think about this issue in more depth than ever before. I may have to back away from my original post somewhat.

1. I think the Constitution does apply to all, Citizen or not.

(why) At the time the constitution was written, my guess is half the people in
America were not yet Citizens.
And it begins with the Declaration of Independence, and it states , "We the People in order to create a more perfect Union" etc. It does not begin with We the Citizens or the United States etc.

2. There is unlimited opportunity to use Citizen in every article, but yet they choose to use "Person" and they are specific when it comes to Elected Office, in the use of Citizen, but not so in other catagories.

I can only conclude that the meaning and intent was, if you are on U S soil, you are subject to both Privalige and Punishment spelled out in the Constitution.

It has to be from a standpoint of logic, simply because so much of the population were not yet Citizens when it was written. We are a nation of immigrants, so why would our Constitution not apply to them.
ConservPat
1. The Constitution is applicable in restricting the size/power of the Federal gov't and to protect the freedoms of AMERICAN CITIZENS, no one else.

2. See last ten words of answer to question 1.

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Billy Jean
I would have to agree with Conservpat on this. If you aren't a LEGAL citizen, then our immigration laws, geneva convention or international laws would apply, depending on the circumstance. But the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are for Citizens of the USA.
Fife and Drum
QUOTE(astronerd @ Jan 15 2004, 03:01 AM)
It is a wrong-headed idea that insists that the U.S. Constitution applies to any citizen or group of citizens that are NOT in the Federal Governing body.

While I would agree with your point that the Constitution is the blue print for how our government is to conduct their affairs, there are instances where it very specifically addresses issues pertaining to the citizens (about as close to actually writing a law).

Article 3
Section 3
Clause 1: Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.


This does not apply just to members of the federal government.

Clause 2: The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.

This is where Congress based their power to create the Patriot Act.

Back to the question asked: Who does it apply to? In this instance it applies to anyone who commits treason against the Unite States. The Patriot act (based off Clause 2) takes a broader sweep and applies to “basically” anyone regardless if you’re a citizen, or if you’re a citizen living abroad. Enforcing those laws internationally is based on the legarl reciprocation agreements with each country.

QUOTE
2. There is unlimited opportunity to use Citizen in every article, but yet they choose to use "Person" and they are specific when it comes to Elected Office, in the use of Citizen, but not so in other catagories.


PiedPiper – when this country was formed and this document created, we obviously didn’t have the naturalization laws that exist now. At that time if you had permanent residence here then you were considered what we now clearly define as a citizen and covered by all laws, both Federal and State. There just simply wasn’t a need to explicitly spell it out.

I’m often amazed at the impact of how one word or phrase in this document could have impacted our history.
cultureofgreed
QUOTE(surreality @ Jan 14 2004, 09:23 AM)
I've seen a lot of controversy over this topic, and have never been able to get a clear, solid viewpoint.

So the questions I pose are these:

1) Does the United States Constitution apply to merely US citizens, or does it apply to everyone within our borders?

2) Who should it apply to?

The US Consitution was originally only intended to protect rich, white, male, land owners. Its hard to see any diffenence today.
Jaime
cultureofgreed - please be constructive in your posts. One-liners are too difficult to debate.
Brinczer
The ultimate sovereignty lies with the people. Therefore, the government is given its power by the people. Having non-citizens give the government power does not make any sense. Therefore, the specific rights protected (not granted) by the Constitution need not apply to non-citizens. However, if we the people choose to grant them, we may.
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