Doug Casey’s REAL State of the Union – The 5th Amendment
Joel: G’day, Doug. How are things down on the southern tip of the Americas this morning?
Doug: Quiet and peaceful, Joel. Actually, just as you called, I was writing a passage in Assassin, the third book in the High Ground series I’m penning with our mutual friend and partner, John Hunt.
[Ed. Note: Readers can check out the first two books in the series – Speculator and Drug Lord – here.]
The passage has to do with lies and, specifically, the morality of lying. Basically, I’ve come to the conclusion that telling the truth is mainly an advantage for the truth teller, for a number of reasons. In other words, it’s better to tell the truth because it’s to your advantage. Which is perhaps counterintuitive, since humans lie constantly, even enthusiastically.
Joel: Those who would peddle untruth soon discover the attendant liability in doing so. As they say, reputations are hard won, but easily lost.
Doug: That’s right. At the same time, you’re not obligated to tell anybody the truth. They have to deserve the truth. Sometimes even earn the truth. It’s complex; all moral issues are complex. As is the Bill of Rights, which is really a document of moral philosophy.
Joel: Well, the concept of truth is actually germane to our topic for today, which is the 5th Amendment to the Constitution.
As regular readers of these communiqués know, we’ve been working our way through the Bill of Rights, using it as a kind of ethical yardstick against which to measure the present day “State of the Union,” as it were.
Most people recognize the 5th Amendment as the one pertaining to “due process,” which is partially true. The whole text 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.
For ease of discussion, we can probably break this Amendment up into three separate clauses; the Due Process Clause, the Takings Clause and the Criminal Procedure Clauses, which is really three clauses bundled into one.
That first clause, which most people take for granted, is in many ways the very bedrock of Anglo-American law, going back all the way to the Magna Carta, from which we get the phrase “the law of the land.”
Do you want to talk a little about what exactly “due process” is, why it’s so important and why we discard it at our peril?
Doug: It’s difficult to overstate the importance of the Rule of Law, or the “law of the land,” as it was worded in the Magna Carta. Incidentally, that phrase derives from a verse that was well known over the centuries. It reads, “[n]o free man shall be arrested or imprisoned . . . except by lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land.”