John McCain says he opposes the Supreme Court decision striking down provisions of the Military Commissions Act and restoring habeas corpus rights, even though he hasn’t actually read the decision yet (read it for yourself here). Why? Because, McCain says, “these are unlawful combatants; they’re not American citizens.”
Pay attention: John McCain is contending here that constitutional protections do not apply to people who are “not American citizens.” But when the Constitution declares in Article 1 Section 9 that
The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it…
it does not limit the privilege of habeas corpus to citizens only — and the Constitution makes distinct reference to the protections that apply to “citizens” only. Indeed, the Constitution applies itself to “persons,” not “citizens,” when determining the jurisdiction of American law, when discussing the structure of the separation of powers, and in the 5th and 14th Amendments that centrally provide for the protection of those who are imprisoned under American jurisdiction. The majority opinion spends some space (see especially pages 8, 28-36, and 72-73 of the opinion) on this subject, reasserting that constitutional protections are given according “not to the petitioners’ citizenship but to the place of their confinement and trial,” a place which according to the court has been under uninterrupted American jurisdiction for over a hundred years.
John McCain has been a politician in Washington for more than 25 years. If he doesn’t know this basic feature of the Constitution by now, he will never know it. The last thing this country needs is another president who doesn’t know the Constitution shoving our country around in his ignorance.