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Professors express opinion on new bill

January 12, 2012

PIGG

RICHARDSON

ALWAYNE GREEN
Staff Reporter

 

The National Defense Authoritative Acts of 2012 greets American citizens with many questions surrounding the visible breach of The United States Constitution.

 

Particularly in sections 1031 and 1032 of the Act, which allow the US military the power to indefinitely detain anyone, including Americans suspected of terrorist involvement.

 

Jason Pigg, an associate professor of political science, specializes in The Constitution and said he views the act of U.S. citizens being held indefinitely without trial as borderline unconstitutional.

 

“This is something that is extremely problematic, and the idea that congress would pass legislation that allows the president to do this,” Pigg said. “These are important values you can’t override them because of fear.”

 

President Barack Obama said he would never deny any American due process, however, Pigg said that promise is not solid enough to guarantee Americans that the next president will not deny citizens that right.

 

“It’s a dangerous precedent to put that much trust in the executive, and it’s something the founders didn’t do in writing The Constitution,” he said. “I think that’s something they would have been concerned about.”

 

Pigg also explained briefly why he disapproved of these sections of the Act.

 

“First of all it seems to give up quite a bit of legislative authority to the president,” Pigg said. “Secondly, this is a basic fundamental constitutional right of citizens to have their day in court, to be charged with something, to be able to know what they are being charged with and to contest that charge before a judge.”

 

Jo Richardson, associate professor of political science, said she agrees with the act and is more sympathetic toward the president because she said he was doing this in response to the war in the Middle East.

 

Richardson said that whenever there is a debate between the individual right versus the state in a time of war the state usually wins.

 

“It’s a terrible denial of rights, but they get away with it because of the war situation,” she said. “What clouds it up even more is that a war hasn’t been declared so that makes it even cloudier that we are fighting a war.”

 

Richardson also said that Obama is interested in this act because he wants to prevent another occurrence similar to 9/11. She said he does not want to go down like his predecessors as not trying hard enough to prevent terrorist attacks.

 

However, Pigg said that he wished people would stop being so afraid of terrorism because Americans have allowed this danger in some cases to eclipse their normal concern for civil liberties.

 

“I think the judicial system has shown it can handle terrorism cases and if you have something that is that serious where a person is suspected to be a terrorist, our judicial system can handle it,” he said.

 

Pigg said he believes that it is not necessary at this time to deprive Americans of their right to a trial while being detained indefinitely as a terrorist suspect.

 

“To remove that is something which is extremely serious,” he said. “And it’s disappointing that the debate about the legislation hasn’t been taken more seriously by most members of congress.”

 

Email comments to ahg007@latech.edu.

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