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OPINION

In Case You Haven't Noticed, Constitution Vanishing

bill of rights of the united states
(Maria Dryfhout/Dreamstime.com)

Tom Del Beccaro By with Douglas T. Burns Tuesday, 25 June 2024 11:27 AM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

The American experiment with Freedom began with a Constitution based on the consent of the governed — not the edicts of a monarch who claimed unlimited, divine rights.

Paired with that radical concept of self-governance, the Founders sought to protect citizens from the arbitrary actions of rulers, including guaranteeing them protection from arbitrary prosecutions.

Dangerously, however, those legal protections, which are embodied in the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendments, appear to be vanishing right before our eyes.

The American colonists revolted intellectually and in practice from England.

They had been subject to an arbitrary and political "justice" system that saw the King and Parliament declare guilt without what we know as "due process."

Using Bills of Attainder, with a simple vote of politicians, a person could be declared guilty without judicial process and sentenced – even to death.

Often, that was the fate of a political opponent of the King.

In response, America established safeguards, including the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth Amendments. The Fourth Amendment guaranteed "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause."

Among other things, the Fifth Amendment guaranteed due process of law.

Just as importantly, the Sixth Amendment guaranteed that, "In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy . . .  an impartial jury . . . and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation."

With those legal protections, and others, Americans were to be insulated from arbitrary prosecutions. They were a direct response to the political prosecutions of England, empowered freedom of speech, and were to guard against America slipping back into the tyranny of monarchal rule.

Over 200 years later, however, those protections and, therefore, the American experiment with freedom, are under assault.

Exhibit "A" to that had been the prosecutions of Donald J. Trump.

We cannot forget that New York Atty. Gen. Leticia James, and Manhattan Dist. Atty. Alvin Bragg, campaigned on targeting Donald Trump.

During her campaign, James exhibited her political purpose by stating that she "will never be afraid to challenge this illegitimate president." She further campaigned on "Shining a bright light" on all of his dealings.

According to The New York Times, "Alvin Bragg, the Manhattan D.A., campaigned as the best candidate to go after the former president."

They both sought political office to criminally charge a political opponent.

Probable cause was never cited, only the strong desire to go after a person.

By any other name, it was a modern-day Bill of Attainder.

It should be more than intolerable that candidates for public office, particularly lawyers, run on such a platform.

As for the trial of Donald Trump by Bragg and Judge Merchan, the Fifth and Sixth Amendment violations were self-evident as well.

Again, the Sixth Amendment guarantees that, "In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation."

At no time, however, prior to the reading of the jury instructions, was Trump advised of the full "nature and cause of the accusation."

Of course, the purpose of the Sixth Amendment is so that every defendant knows how to defend himself or herself.

If they say you robbed a home on May 10 in Philadelphia, your defense is that you weren’t in Philadelphia that day. If you are not informed of the nature and cause of the accusation, you have no ability to do that.

Note that the Judge in Atlanta case against Trump dismissed some counts because they didn't sufficiently inform the accused as required by law.

According to Judge McAfee, "As written, these six counts contain all the essential elements of the crimes but fail to allege sufficient detail regarding the nature of their commission, i.e., the underlying felony solicited. They do not give the Defendants enough information to prepare their defenses intelligently."

In the New York trial of Donald Trump, that same deficiency was present throughout the case. At no time did Bragg name the secondary crimes, which Bragg claimed Trump violated.

Judge Juan Merchan knew that, but in the same manner of the old English system where Judges had inquisitorial power and wide discretion, Merchan waited until the reading of his jury instructions (the charge to the jury) to let the world and Donald Trump know, for the first time, the charges against him.

In plain terms, that was both a due process violation (Fifth Amendment) and a Sixth Amendment violation.

Finally, we note that the American system of justice relies on "precedent."

According to Black’s Law dictionary, precedent is defined as "An adjudged case or decision of a court of justice, considered as furnishing an example or authority for an identical or similar case afterwards arising or a similar question of law."

Unless the courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, overturn the process by which James and Bragg sought to go after Trump, and the other constitutional violations committed during his trial, a critical blow to the American Republic will become precedent.

In our view, no politician should proceed on basis of using the courts for political prosecutions and no Judge should be allowed to deal a death sentence to the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendments.

Tom Del Beccaro is an acclaimed author, speaker and national columnist. Tom makes over 400 radio and TV appearances per year, nationally and globally. He's heard and seen by millions, inclusive of Newsmax. Mr. Del Beccaro is the former Chairman of the California GOP and a former U.S. Senate Candidate. His is the author of the book, "The Divided Era." His acclaimed new book, "The Lessons of the American Civilization," tells the story of the rise of the American civilization and societal changes it faces today, along with lessons for America’s future.

Douglas T. Burns is a former federal prosecutor for the Criminal Division of the Eastern District of New York.

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.


TomDelBeccaro
Unless the courts, including the Supreme Court, overturn the process by which James and Bragg sought to go after Trump, a critical blow to the American Republic will become precedent. No politician should proceed on basis of using the courts for political prosecutions.
amendments, bragg, james
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2024-27-25
Tuesday, 25 June 2024 11:27 AM
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