Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Supreme Court Says Aliens Don't Have Constitutional Rights

At least not some Constitutional rights. (h/t Volokh Conspiracy) Apparently there is a difference between a citizen and an alien in the Constitution.

Volokh Conspiracy January 10, 2012


Yesterday, the Supreme Court summarily affirmed Bluman v. FEC (D.D.C. Aug. 8, 2011), an opinion by a three-judge District Court that upheld the ban on non-permanent-resident foreign citizens’ candidate campaign contributions and independent expenditures supporting or opposing candidates.

So we don’t know exactly what reasoning the Supreme Court used, but we do have the reasoning of the three-judge District Court (which may well have some persuasive precedential effect on other courts deciding on other restrictions on non-citizens’ speech and other activity, even though it has no binding precedential value). Here is what strikes me as the key part of the analysis:

We know from more than a century of Supreme Court case law that foreign citizens in the United States enjoy many of the same constitutional rights that U.S. citizens do. For example, aliens are generally entitled to the same rights as U.S. citizens in the criminal process, among several other areas.

From the affirmed lower court decision:

But we also know from Supreme Court case law that foreign citizens may be denied certain rights and privileges that U.S. citizens possess. For example, the Court has ruled that government may bar foreign citizens from voting, serving as jurors, working as police or probation officers, or working as public school teachers. The Court has further indicated that aliens’ First Amendment rights might be less robust than those of citizens in certain discrete areas. See Harisiades v. Shaughnessy, 342 U.S. 580, 591–92 (1952) (First Amendment does not protect aliens from deportation because of membership in the Communist Party). Beyond that, the Constitution itself of course bars foreign citizens from holding certain offices.

In those many decisions, the Supreme Court has drawn a fairly clear line: The government may exclude foreign citizens from activities “intimately related to the process of democratic self-government.”...

Now some, basically the La Raza types, Demoncrat mayors, and some gun nuts think that aliens, legal and illegal, have the same rights as citizens. The Supreme Court has affirmed again that is not true. Aliens don't have the same rights as Americans. Why, because they are not part of our nation. They are alien to it.

And it has just said that aliens may be not only deported for their political views, but that they may be barred from participating in the political process. Now the gun nuts say that the 2nd Amendment is the penultimate expression of self-government, it is the physical application of self-government. It is watering the Tree of Liberty with the blood of tyrants. As the gun nut Mike Vanderboegh says: "When Democracy Becomes Tyranny. I STILL get to vote." And by voting he means armed resistance to tyranny. Well, that is a right "intimately related to the process of democratic self-government." The ultimate expression of self-government, the application of armed violence for political ends. Power does come out of the barrel of a gun. As Jean Rasczak says, "Violence has resolved more conflicts than anything else."

That, of course, brings us to the other rights that the Supreme Court, in its error, says that aliens have, such as a free public education, the right of resident legal aliens to contribute to political candidates and groups, the right to judicial review of administrative decisions regarding deportation and immigration benefits, etc. The problem is that there is nothing in the Constitution that separates these conclusions by the Court that both grant rights and deny other rights enjoyed by citizens. If aliens can't vote, hold office, or contribute to politicians, then it is clear that they should have no rights at all. Much less that illegal aliens be allowed to exercise the most fundamental right of self-government, the application of violence for political ends.

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