Sen. John McCain Needs a Constitutional Refresher

John McCain wants to appear tough on terror. Instead, he just looks like he’s never read the Constitution.

Over at The Hill today, Michael O’Brien notes that McCain believes  it would have been a “serious error” to read Miranda rights to Faisal Shahzad, the suspected Times Square car bomber.

And while the years since 9/11 have taught us that all’s fair in love and the War on Terror, there’s one big problem here: Shahzad is a naturalized U.S. citizen. 

Now, I’m no Constitutional scholar, but the last time I checked the 14th Amendment, it stated:

Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.  (emphasis mine)

Due process of law, as decided in Miranda v. Arizona (1966) means that a suspect taken into custody is to be informed of his 5th and 6th Amendment rights prior to questioning. And while Miranda rights are customarily extended (as I understand it) to anyone detained in the U.S. – citizen or not – there have been exceptions made for non-citizens during times of war. But to the best of my knowledge, not for citizens. Not ever. 

This isn’t rocket science. As I’ve noted, I’m for strong immigration laws , but whatever crime Shahzad has committed, the man has gone through the process to become a U.S. citizen, and should therefore receive all the privileges and protections thereof. End of story.


Steve Skojec serves as the Director of Community Relations for a professional association. He is a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, where he earned a BA in Communications and Theology. His passions include writing, photography, social media, and an avid appreciation of science fiction. Steve lives in Northern Virginia with his wife Jamie and their five children.

  • Jesse

    Some would say we can’t “enhanced interrogate” him with a rubber hose since he was Mirandized. They would be the ones who would miss the good old “Unlawful Enemy Combatant” days.

    Interestingly, NRO’s The Corner tells us:
    “At a press conference today, Attorney General Eric Holder said that Faisal Shahzad was questioned for a number of hours under the ‘public safety exception’ before being Mirandized.”

    So Miranda is not an absolute even for the Obama administration.

    And on cue, Senator Joe Lieberman chimes in:
    “I think it’s time for us to look at whether we want to amend that law to apply it to American citizens who choose to become affiliated with foreign terrorist organizations, whether they should not also be deprived automatically of their citizenship, and therefore be deprived of rights that come with that citizenship when they are apprehended and charged with a terrorist act.”

  • Stuart

    Being that Shazad is a naturalized citizen of the U.S. and accorded all the rights and privileges thereof, why not then try him for treason? After all, he was clearly aiding and abetting the Taliban in Pakistan–a known enemy of the United States which harboring our biggest enemy of all: Osama bin Ladin.

  • Austin

    This guy is a traitor, but of course, the Feds want to get a conviction and make it stick. You also have the problem of trying to get information out of him, such as who else is involved. I am not in law enforcement or a prosecutor, so I will withhold second guessing the FBI, etc.

    One amusing note: McCain used to be an open borders advocate, who seemed to want to flood the US with illegals, but now, given the political realities in Arizona, he wants to get tough with the illegals. It’s time for McCain to retire. He has been in the Senate for almost 24 years and he has had his day. It’s time to retire John, you are not going to be President, so give it up and give us all a break. He won’t though: he will become like Strom Thurmond, Robert Byrd, Arlen Specter and the rest of the living dead [although Thurmond did finally die] in the Senate. Did the Founding Fathers intend for the US Senate to become a nursing home?

  • Brian

    A lifetime of law enforcement experience and a politcal position solidly on the right might indicate that I would appose the Miranda warning in this case. Quite the reverse. The constitution clearly and unequivocally grants the protections to this suspect. It isn’t convenient or helpful, but it is the law of the land. The choices are change it or live with it. No one incident or series of incidents should cause us to play fast and loose with the constitution. It is all we have and what sets us apart.

  • MargaretMN

    I recall from reading my father’s naturalization papers that the right of citizenship is not irrevocable. I forget what all of the reasons it can be revoked are but treason is probably one of them.

  • Gerry