Caution, headache material ahead, for rational people, anyway.
If you’ve been paying attention, you know that the driving issue in the politics of the United States just now is money to build a wall at the border between the U.S. and Mexico, which the current occupant of the White House made a centerpiece of his misbegotten campaign to play at being president, which opportunity he secured after losing the popular vote through the operation of an antiquated, plainly incompetent feature of our Constitution.
An important constituency in the Republican Party just now is a group of members in the House of Representatives who style themselves the “Freedom Caucus.” “Freedom” is one of those words that has a highly elastic meaning, which some people, ahem, are only too happy to use to their advantage.
Define the term as you wish, but one suspects two things most people would not include in their definitions of “freedom” are the practice of asset forfeiture by any level of government, or any wall, whether at the Mexican border or anywhere else.
“Asset forfeiture” refers to the bad habit of too many law enforcement agencies of taking money and other property from suspects at arrest, before any hearing, much less a trial. This is a glaring, galloping violation of the principle of due process of law. What exactly “due process” means is an open question, but the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution plainly states that “No person shall be… deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law….” At a minimum, “due process” clearly means that no person shall be held guilty of any offense without first having a hearing before a judge which shall be the defendant’s opportunity to choose to plead guilty or to insist on a trial.
We do not let police officers determine guilt or innocence when they arrest a person. A criminal trial can be a long, drawn out process. Even entering a plea of guilty is a formal process that takes place in a courtroom before a duly authorized judge, usually with defense counsel present.
Arguably, given that, for criminal offenses, a potential penalty is imprisonment, due process of law is the ultimate guarantor of freedom in the United States. But members of the Freedom Caucus are willing to case it aside to build that impediment to freedom of movement that would be the wall at the border with Mexico.
Only a Republican, or U.S. “conservative,” could conjure up logic like that.