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Thursday, December 18, 2014

VIDEO: Constitutional ban on “cruel and unusual punishment” means torture is unconstitutional

Apparently, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia never learned about the Eighth Amendment in law school.

The conservative judge on the high court told Radio Television Suisse earlier this week that using torture doesn’t violate the Constitution, which implies that he believes it can even be used against Americans if the government so chooses.
“Listen, I think it’s very facile for people to say, ‘Oh, torture is terrible.’ You posit the situation where a person that you know for sure knows the location of a nuclear bomb that has been planted in Los Angeles and will kill millions of people. You think it’s an easy question? You think it’s clear that you cannot use extreme measures to get that information out of that person? … I don’t know what article of the Constitution that would contravene.”
Scalia made similar claims in 2008 during an interview on 60 Minutes when he used “24” character Jack Bauer in a pathetic effort to make a point. Here’s the video of those remarks via YouTube.

The part of the Constitution Scalia doesn’t seem to know about is the Eighth Amendment, which says:
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
Scalia also seems to be unaware of the 5th Amendment:
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
Furthermore, even the Founding Fathers were disgusted by torture. George Washington prohibited soldiers from using torture against prisoners of war and punished those who did.
Should any American soldier be so base and infamous as to injure any [prisoner]. . . I do most earnestly enjoin you to bring him to such severe and exemplary punishment as the enormity of the crime may require. Should it extend to death itself, it will not be disproportional to its guilt at such a time and in such a cause… for by such conduct they bring shame, disgrace and ruin to themselves and their country.” ~George Washington, charge to the Northern Expeditionary Force, Sept. 14, 1775
Furthermore, Patrick Henry, George Mason, James Madison, and Thomas Jefferson all opposed the use of torture. That’s precisely why Mason and Henry presented the Eighth Amendment to the Congress. Of the amendment, Henry wrote:
What has distinguished our ancestors?–That they would not admit of tortures, or cruel and barbarous punishment. But Congress may introduce the practice of the civil law, in preference to that of the common law. They may introduce the practice of France, Spain, and Germany.
In debate on the amendment Mason expressly stated why it needed to be included in the Constitution after a colleague argued that it could just be ignored.
Mr. Nicholas: . . . But the gentleman says that, by this Constitution, they have power to make laws to define crimes and prescribe punishments; and that, consequently, we are not free from torture. . . . If we had no security against torture but our declaration of rights, we might be tortured to-morrow; for it has been repeatedly infringed and disregarded.
And there you have it: the Eighth Amendment was specifically passed by the Congress in 1791 to ban the use of torture. The Bush administration ignored the Constitution anyway, but that doesn’t make the intent of the amendment less clear. It just means that Bush administration officials and CIA interrogators need to be prosecuted for violating constitutional law. And Justice Scalia should be impeached for not understanding what constitutional law is.

He has the nerve to call himself an “originalist,” which means that he allegedly interprets the Constitution as it was understood by the framers when it was adopted. As Scalia explained in 2008, “It’s what did the words mean to the people who ratified the Bill of Rights or who ratified the Constitution.”

Well, if that’s the case, he failed miserably at being an “originalist” considering that Mason and Henry clearly meant “cruel and unusual punishment” to include torture. Scalia should never have been allowed to serve on the bench, and the fact that he continues to do so is a cruel and usual punishment against the nation.