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Tea Party Caucus Supports the Detain-People-Without-Charges-Forever kind of Freedom

“I formed the Tea Party Caucus in the House of Representatives in July 2010 because Congress had strayed from the fundamental principles of the Constitution,” explains Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, chair of the Tea Party Caucus in Congress. “Sadly, it seems today that the Constitution is no longer at the forefront guiding Congress,” Bachmann continues. “This caucus will espouse the timeless principles of our founding, principles that all Members of Congress have sworn to uphold. The American people are doing their part and making their voices heard and this caucus will prove that there are some here in Washington willing to listen.”

It’s heartening to see a caucus that cares so dearly about the Constitution, isn’t it? Let Freedom Ring!

But let’s not stop there. Let’s also take a moment to consult this Constitution Michele Bachmann and the Tea Party Caucus hug and kiss in public. The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution reads:

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.

No person in America is supposed to be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process. In America, the government can’t just throw someone into jail forever because it wants to. According to the Constitution, the government must accuse a person of something, and it has to provide evidence to back up that accusation. Finally, a jury of the accused person’s peers is supposed to decide in a public trial whether the evidence proves what the government says it does. That’s all in the next clause of the Constitution, the Sixth Amendment:

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

I mention these clauses because if the Tea Party Caucus was really formed “because Congress had strayed from the fundamental principles of the Constitution,” then it had a perfect chance to spring into action a week ago. On December 14 2011, the House of Representatives voted to pass H.R. 1540, a bill that grants government agents the power to detain people without placing them under arrest, to imprison a person without charge, and to keep them there until they die without ever granting them their right to a trial, or even the chance to learn what their rights are. This is a power that stands in contradiction of the 5th and 6th amendments to the U.S. Constitution. If the Tea Party Caucus is all about preserving the freedoms in the Constitution, then its members should have voted NO, against the passage of H.R. 1540.

Here’s how Tea Party Caucus members actually voted on passage of H.R. 1540 last week:

Tea Party Caucus members voting NO on H.R. 1540, AGAINST Indefinite Detention of People without Charge in America
Rep. Michael Burgess (Republican-TX, District 26)
Rep. Dan Burton (Republican-IN, District 5)
Rep. Mike Coffman (Republican-CO, District 6)
Rep. Jeff Duncan (Republican-SC, District 3)
Rep. Tim Huelskamp (Republican-KS, District 1)
Rep. Tom McClintock (Republican-CA, District 4)
Rep. Mick Mulvaney (Republican-SC, District 5)
Rep. Mike Pence (Republican-IN, District 6)
Rep. Phil Roe (Republican-TN, District 1)
Rep. Edward Royce (Republican-CA, District 40)
Rep. Timothy Walberg (Republican-MI, District 7)
Rep. Joe Walsh (Republican-IL, District 8 )

Tea Party Caucus members voting YES on H.R. 1540, FOR Indefinite Detention of People without Charge in America
Rep. Sandy Adams (Republican-FL, District 24)
Rep. Robert Aderholt (Republican-AL, District 4)
Rep. Todd Akin (Republican-MO, District 2)
Rep. Rodney Alexander (Republican-LA, District 5)
Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (Republican-MD, District 6)
Rep. Joe Barton (Republican-TX, District 6)
Rep. Gus Bilirakis (Republican-FL, District 9)
Rep. Rob Bishop (Republican-UT, District 1)
Rep. Diane Black (Republican-TN, District 6)
Rep. Paul Broun (Republican-GA, District 10)
Rep. John Carter (Republican-TX, District 31)
Rep. Bill Cassidy (Republican-LA, District 6)
Rep. Ander Crenshaw (Republican-FL, District 4)
Rep. John Culberson (Republican-TX, District 7)
Rep. Blake Farenthold (Republican-TX, District 27)
Rep. Stephen Fincher (Republican-TN, District 8 )
Rep. John Fleming (Republican-LA, District 4)
Rep. Trent Franks (Republican-AZ, District 2)
Rep. John Gingrey (Republican-GA, District 11)
Rep. Louis Gohmert (Republican-TX, District 1)
Rep. Vicky Hartzler (Republican-MO, District 4)
Rep. Walter Herger (Republican-CA, District 2)
Rep. Lynn Jenkins (Republican-KS, District 2)
Rep. Steve King (Republican-IA, District 5)
Rep. Doug Lamborn (Republican-CO, District 5)
Rep. Jeff Landry (Republican-LA, District 3)
Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (Republican-MO, District 9)
Rep. Kenny Marchant (Republican-TX, District 24)
Rep. David McKinley (Republican-WV, District 1)
Rep. Gary Miller (Republican-CA, District 42)
Rep. Randy Neugebauer (Republican-TX, District 19)
Rep. Richard Nugent (Republican-FL, District 5)
Rep. Steven Palazzo (Republican-MS, District 4)
Rep. Stevan Pearce (Republican-NM, District 2)
Rep. Ted Poe (Republican-TX, District 2)
Rep. Tom Price (Republican-GA, District 6)
Rep. Dennis Rehberg (Republican-MT, At Large District)
Rep. Dennis Ross (Republican-FL, District 12)
Rep. Steve Scalise (Republican-LA, District 1)
Rep. Pete Sessions (Republican-TX, District 32)
Rep. Adrian Smith (Republican-NE, District 3)
Rep. Lamar Smith (Republican-TX, District 21)
Rep. Clifford Stearns (Republican-FL, District 6)
Rep. Allen West (Republican-FL, District 22)
Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (Republican-GA, District 3)
Rep. Joe Wilson (Republican-SC, District 2)

12 members of the Tea Party Caucus voted against H.R. 1540, and they should be commended for it. But their actions are far outweighed by the 46 Tea Party Caucus votes cast for indefinite detention without charge, for H.R. 1540.

If the Tea Party Caucus supports constitutional freedom, it must be the detain-people-forever-without-charges kind of freedom, the not-free-freedom that must be written about in somewhere else in the Constitution. I can’t find that clause, but it’s got to be in there because the Tea Party Caucus says it’s all about defending the Constitution. Maybe the Founding Fathers wrote Amendment Seven-and-a-Half in between the lines, in lemon juice. That must be it.

P.S. What about Michele Bachmann, the founder of the Tea Party Caucus, stalwart defender of freedom everywhere? You know, that Michele Bachmann? She didn’t show up for the vote.

1 comment to Tea Party Caucus Supports the Detain-People-Without-Charges-Forever kind of Freedom

  • Rich Roth

    I consider myself to hold Tea party principles but this certainly is not one of them. Even my own congressman voted for it. I am more convinced every day that most of the politicians seem to be in it for themselves regardless of party.

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