Find out more →

Get unlimited access. Become a digital member!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Tom Cotton's attack on the Constitution

Posted By on Thu, May 23, 2013 at 6:48 AM

TOM COTTON
  • TOM COTTON: Proposes automatic conviction of families of Iran lawbreakers.
Several people sent links this morning to yet another odd performance by U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton, already distinguished by his opposition to replenishing the country's disaster aid money unless it can be taken out of some other recipient's hide.

His no-aid-for-storm-victims stance was plain old greed and obedience to the Club for Growth masters who elected him and plan to pay for his campaign against U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor.

But this latest is weirder still, so weird that even fellow Republicans suggested he back off, which he eventually did. From Huffington Post:

Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) on Wednesday introduced legislation that would "automatically" punish family members of people who violate U.S. sanctions against Iran, levying sentences of up to 20 years in prison.

The provision was introduced as an amendment to the Nuclear Iran Prevention Act of 2013, which lays out strong penalties for people who violate human rights, engage in censorship, or commit other abuses associated with the Iranian government.

Cotton also seeks to punish any family member of those people, "to include a spouse and any relative to the third degree," including, "parents, children, aunts, uncles, nephews nieces, grandparents, great grandparents, grandkids, great grandkids," Cotton said.

"There would be no investigation," Cotton said during Wednesday's markup hearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. "If the prime malefactor of the family is identified as on the list for sanctions, then everyone within their family would automatically come within the sanctions regime as well. It'd be very hard to demonstrate and investigate to conclusive proof."

Another congressman likened the measure to visiting the sins of an uncle on a nephew. Weird stuff. Cotton — a Harvard educated lawyer — proposed it even though the Constitution explicitly prohibits "corruption of blood" in treason cases and even though the Fifth Amendment prevents deprivation of liberty or property without due process of law, even for non-citizens. (Republicans tend to sneer at people who invoke the 5th Amendment, holding it less valuable than the 2nd Amendment.)

PS — Facebook commenter raises a question. Given the Republican view on personhood — the minute an egg is fertilized — would Cotton automatically criminalize in utero nephews, too?

UPDATE: I gather Cotton is feeling the sting. I had a rare communication from his office. Points made:

1) Offering an amendment to legislation is not legislation. I differ; at a minimum it's a distinction with no practical difference.

2) It was withdrawn. All have noted this. It's the thought that counts.

3) The penalties he proposed would be financial and travel, not jail. I thought Republicans held property to be sanctified above just about everything. Taking money by force of law sounds pretty severe to me. Sounds a lot like a "fine."

4) Constitutional points aren't relevant because he would punish only non-citizens. Yes, but our courts have held the Fifth Amendment protections can apply to non-citizens.

5) Here's his statement on the point.

Tags: , , , ,

Speaking of...

  • The Gilbert Baker Is a Slimeball Edition

    August 1, 2014
    New political polls, Gilbert Baker and newly released ethics commission investigative files on campaign contributions to Mike Maggio, the hypocrisy of Big River Steel’s John Correnti, the LRPD’s move to encrypt its radio broadcasts, a Little Rock City Board proposal to rollback closing time for private clubs and the Little Rock Planning Commission once again going against professional staff recommendations — all covered on this week's edition. /more/
  • Polling the alcohol question — and the U.S. Senate race

    July 31, 2014
    New polling from the campaign to legalize alcohol sales in all 75 Arkansas counties shows support for the measure and, in an added question, a two-point lead for Mark Pryor in the race for U.S. Senate. /more/
  • Standing invitation to Tom Cotton

    July 30, 2014
    As the campaign teams of incumbent Sen. Mark Pryor and challenger Rep. Tom Cotton continue the tedious election cycle tradition of debating over the format of debates, the Times continues its offer to have Cotton and Pryor join our unedited, free-form weekly podcasts. /more/
  • U.S. appeals court ruling preserves Mississippi's last abortion provider

    July 29, 2014
    A federal court has struck down a Mississippi law aimed at closing the state's only abortion clinic. It comes as a radical anti-choice politician in Arkansas, Tom Cotton, gets an endorsement from anti-abortion groups. /more/
  • Pryor campaign: Cotton fronting for insurance industry

    July 26, 2014
    Pryor campaign response to straw man Obamacare ad is that Tom Cotton is a tool of the insurance industry. Maybe a reporter with an invite to his news conferences could ask him about that. /more/
  • The Mystery of Tom Cotton Edition

    July 25, 2014
    Arkansas Times Senior Editor Max Brantley and Editor Lindsey Millar talk about Tom Cotton and the latest in election news, the fight over public schools and broadband, talk of toll roads along I-40, a legal claim that could keep votes on alcohol and the minimum wage off the ballot and the state Republican Party embracing D.C. politics — all covered on this week's edition. /more/
  • In which Tom Cotton goes Obama bonkers

    July 25, 2014
    U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton is an extreme right-wing Republican. We all knew that. It might even make him electable in Arkansas. But his Obama mania apparently has developed to the point of irrationality. Among others, he seems to blame the president for the downing of a passenger jet over Ukraine on the president. /more/
  • The Pryor-Cotton debate open line

    July 24, 2014
    The open line includes our daily video news roundup as well as the Arkansas Times Weekly Podcast challenge for Senate candidates Tom Cotton and Mark Pryor. So far, no response from Cotton and a tentative positive response from Mark Pryor to our invitation to both men to chat one Friday afternoon — together preferably but also singly — before Nov. 4. /more/
  • Is Tom Cotton too extreme? Too robotic? Or the next big thing in Arkansas politics?

    July 24, 2014
    Tom Cotton has a golden resume, but questions linger about whether his style and politics fit Arkansas. /more/
  • Tom Cotton is perfect — for Arizona

    July 21, 2014
    The Kochs' political group, Americans for Prosperity, loves Tom Cotton. Too bad its blog doesn't seem to konw where he lives. Not that it matters, so long as he votes right. And he does. /more/
  • More »

Comments (48)

Showing 1-48 of 48

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-48 of 48

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Guilty plea in Forest Place arsons

    Lacy Rae Moore has pleaded guilty to two counts of arson, a plea that included starting a fire that destroyed the north building of Forest Place Apartments on University Avenue.
    • Aug 1, 2014
  • An open line, with the floor to Justice Ruth Ginsburg

    The open line includes an interview with Justice Ruth Ginsburg that touches on her tenure, the Hobby Lobby decision and same-sex marriage.
    • Aug 1, 2014
  • More »

Readers also liked…

People who saved…

Event Calendar

« »

August

S M T W T F S
  1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30
31  

Blogroll

 

© 2014 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation