On the other hand, the South African constitution enshrines such entitlements as “adequate housing,” “reproductive health care,” and education (including “adult basic education”) as constitutional rights, along with creating a constitutional right to a clean environment.
Would it really be wise for Egypt to follow South Africa’s example and create loopholes in the protection of free expression, as well as to elevate a whole set of expensive entitlements to the status of constitutional rights when Egypt cannot even meet the most basic needs of its citizens such as food? The U.S. Constitution may be “old,” but its principles remain relevant today as the best model for protecting the liberties of the people from an overly powerful government.
Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms more closely resembles our Bill of Rights, with one notable exception. Under Section 33. (1), parliament or the legislature of a province may, through legislation, effectively override the various rights and freedoms enumerated in the document such as freedom of religion, freedom of expression, protection from unreasonable searches and seizures, the right against self-incrimination and the like. In other words, the legislature is supreme. In Egypt’s case, if it followed the Canadian model, that would mean the ascendancy of the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated parliament passing laws based on sharia.
The European Convention on Human Rights, like the South African constitution, contains basic rights but with restrictions on the exercise of such rights even more far-reaching than South Africa’s restrictions. For example, Article 10 states that “[E]veryone has the right to freedom of expression,” but that right can be restricted for such reasons as “the protection of health or morals” and “the protection of the reputation or rights of others.” This loophole is large enough for gaggles of European Union bureaucrats to walk through.
Ironically, as Justice Ginsburg philosophizes to her Egyptian audiences, Egyptian authorities have rounded up 43 Non-Governmental Organization workers, including Americans, and are planning to put them on trial before a criminal court for allegedly using illegal foreign funds to foment unrest.
Finally, it seems that Justice Ginsburg has forgotten that sharia law will remain the foundation for all Egyptian laws, including the constitution that will be prepared under the watchful eyes of the Muslim Brotherhood. Sharia law, which separates Muslim believers from nonbelievers, sanctions inferior status for women, and criminalizes blasphemy and apostasy, will trump any constitution that Justice Ginsburg recommends as a model for the Egyptians to follow.
The United States Constitution is one of the greatest documents for freedom and liberty that has ever been written and is still the premier model for other nations truly interested in building a durable democratic republic. Justice Ginsburg should unequivocally reaffirm her oath to “to support this Constitution” or resign.
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