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Monday, January 30, 2006

Alito - It's the Constitution That's At Stake

Published on Sunday, January 29, 2006 by CommonDreams.org
by Thom Hartmann
 
Samuel Alito is a big booster of presidential power. Other "constitutional scholars" have been less sanguine.
 
On April 20, 1795, James Madison, who had just helped shepherd through the Constitution and Bill of Rights, and would become President of the United States in the following decade, wrote:
"Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes. And armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few."
 
Reflecting on the ability of a president to use war as an excuse to become a virtual dictator, Madison continued his letter:
"In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive [President] is extended. Its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force of the people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war...and in the degeneracy of manners and morals, engendered by both.
 
"No nation," our fourth President and the Father of the Constitution concluded, "could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare."
 
Since Madison's warning, "continual warfare" has been used both in fiction and in the real world.
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