The new literalism

And you thought the old literalism was bad (courtesy of Crooks and Liars):

>Specter: Now wait a minute, wait a minute. The Constitution says you can’t take it [habeas corpus] away except in the case of invasion or rebellion. Doesn’t that mean you have the right of habeas corpus?

>Gonzales: I meant by that comment that the Constitution doesn’t say that every individual in the United States or every citizen has or is assured the right of habeas corpus. It doesn’t say that. It simply says that the right of habeas corpus shall not be suspended.

On that reading of the Constitution, they’re are no rights that are not positively expressed: You might have thought you had a right to free speech, for instance:

>Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

But on Gonzales’s interpretation, you don’t have a right to these things. Congress just can’t “abridge” them.

One thought on “The new literalism”

  1. Ah, Gonzales’s Orwellian “newspeak.” Can we arrest Gonzales and hold him for twenty years without charges or access to a lawyer, and during that time play a looping recording of his comment back to him!

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