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Too many Americans have deliberately been cut off from their heritage and no longer understand the set of ideas the country started with, or why the Founders' ideals remain important today. Understand these ideas and you will know more about your country than many politicians or college graduates. These ideas are simple to grasp, yet more powerful than the mightiest army. America is a special place. It’s the only country in all of human history founded on an idea – individual liberty. The Declaration of Independence states that you have the unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These rights are not something the government gives you. As an American, you are born with these rights. Some say these rights come from nature, and call them ‘natural rights’. Others say they come from God, and call them ‘God-given rights’. The point is, YOUR RIGHTS DON’T COME FROM GOVERNMENT, or even the Constitution. What the government cannot give, it cannot take away. This is the true meaning of the American Revolution, and it was truly astounding. For the first time ever, a government was instituted to protect the rights of the people, not the privileged few or those who would set themselves up as your rulers or benefactors. THE PURPOSE OF GOVERNMENT IS TO PROTECT YOUR RIGHTS. In fact, the Founders instituted a system of limited government so that your rights could never be taken away from you. Not only do your rights NOT come from government, the truth is that government’s rights come from US. In America, we live under the revolutionary idea that WE THE PEOPLE ARE SOVEREIGN. The federal government has only the enumerated powers expressly set forth in the Constitution. It has only the powers We the People give it. Under the 9th and 10th Amendments to the Constitution, all remaining rights and powers belong to We The People and to the states, not to the bureaucrats or politicians in Washington. The Founders were very far-sighted in instituting limited government. They knew that every now and then a charismatic demagogue would come along singing a siren song about how much the government could do for you if only you would surrender your liberty. The Founders knew that somebody would always want to be King George and that the inevitable tendency of government is to grow its power and expand its reach over the people. The system of checks and balances the Founders created will, if faithfully observed, forever prevent a tyrant or tyrannical government from emerging and ruling the land by personal whim or decree. The Founders' ideas are in accord with human nature and have stood the test of time. They are superior to all political theories that went before (might makes right, let them eat cake, the divine right of kings), and to every political ideology that has come along since (various forms of collectivism which destroy individual liberty and turn the clock back to when We the People were subjects, not sovereigns). Individual liberty is the only political idea that is humane, compassionate, and sustainable in the long run. So, as you celebrate Independence Day, remember the true meaning of this occasion and why we in America truly have cause for celebration. We the People are free – we live in a free country where the people are sovereign - and, sadly, that has not been the case for most human beings who have ever walked the earth. Congratulations, you have just graduated. Now go in liberty and cherish every minute of it. Use your freedom wisely; it's a great gift. And don't let anyone denigrate the magnificence of the Founders' ideals, confuse you with sophistry, or take away your liberty without a fight. It's your heritage and your foundation as an American living in this special place we are so incredibly fortunate to call home.
“[T]he public expression of ideas may not be prohibited merely because the ideas are themselves offensive to some of their hearers.” The Supreme Court wrote that in 1969 in a flag burning case, Street v. New York [394 U. S. 576, 592]. This week, we learned a little bit more about what those words mean.
In the flag case, the defendant not only burned the flag, he disparaged it. He was upset by the shooting of black civil rights leader James Meredith by a white gunman. The defendant in the flag case said, “If they let that happen to Meredith, we don't need an American flag.” The Court ruled that a state interest in protecting the sensibilities of passers-by who might be shocked by such words was not sufficient to justify a curb on free speech.
This week, the Supreme Court unanimously struck down a provision of federal law allowing the government to deny trademark registration for marks that people might find disparaging [Matal v. Tam]. The Asian rock band “The Slants” tried to trademark its name, but was refused because ‘slants’ is an offensive racial slur. In invalidating the government’s refusal to register, the Supreme Court made it clear that racially offensive speech is protected under the First Amendment. In his opinion for the Court, Justice Alito wrote:
In short, there is no ‘hate speech’ exception to the First Amendment. There’s a ‘fighting words’ exception and an ‘incitement to violence’ exception, but no ‘hate speech exception’ per se. Sorry, snowflakes.
Many have pointed out that the government will likely have to reverse its cancellation of the Washington Redskins trademark because of the outcome in The Slants case. Can you imagine a team called the Cleveland Crackers or the Jacksonville Jigaboos? ‘Redskins’ is overtly racist, but that’s what our First Amendment protects. The alternative is to shut down the marketplace of ideas and have the government prescribe the bounds of what is offensive and what is acceptable. Trust me, you don’t want to go down that road.
There’s another situation lurking, and I predict it will eventually end up in the Supreme Court. In his opinion in The Slants case, Justice Alito referred to speech that demeans on the basis of gender, indicating that such speech is protected. Canada just passed a law jailing and fining people who fail to refer to transgender people by their pronoun of choice. There are municipalities in the U.S. that have adopted similar transgender speech codes. The Slants case indicates that such speech codes are unconstitutional in the U.S. but, hey, this is today’s politicized Supreme Court. It can turn night into day and day into night anytime it wants to. Transgender speech codes should fall, but.… Litigation? Anything can happen.
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Senator Mike Lee, Republican of Utah, has introduced a bill to allow states to create their own college accreditation bodies. Currently, six nongovernmental accreditors vet schools in a process that is in some ways too lax but, in others, too harsh. “Our higher education system should not be held captive to 100-year-old institutions that were never intended to be regulatory gatekeepers in the first place,” Lee wrote.
Editor's Note - Young evangelicals should be reliable allies for freedom given their views on social issues, but some are being wooed away by the Left’s social justice happy-talk. The Special Report below – by a recent college graduate - indicates how to keep young evangelicals in the fold by addressing their social justice concerns. It is not a matter of pandering to them or becoming Democrats in our core beliefs; it is an exercise in effectively articulating our long-standing principles: why we emphasize economic growth, the fact that capitalism has produced more prosperity for more people than any other system, ‘a rising tide lifts all boats’, Reagan’s formulation ‘the best welfare program is a job’, the fact that private charity has proven more effective than government handouts, etc.
Memo to the Right on Attracting Young Evangelical Voters
by Greyson Peltier
Evangelical Christians have long been a key demographic for the Republican Party and showed very high support for President Trump in the presidential election - over 80% for white evangelicals. However, there has been question as to whether or not this would carry over to younger evangelicals, and for good reason. Younger Americans are one of the most socially conscious segments of our society, reflected in preferences toward brands with social causes and support for candidates like Bernie Sanders. Obviously, this pattern of political thinking would not bode well for conservatives. The politics of young evangelicals have not been adequately analyzed, so as a political science student at the University of Southern California, I decided to survey fellow Christians on-campus to determine if these trends toward social justice were present in young evangelicals and if they led to reduced turnout, or worse, less participation in their faith. In my opinion, the latter is the worse outcome, as my principal concern as a Christian is that the souls of those around me were not being jeopardized by anything, even ideas about politics, and that all of God’s commands would be lived out in His church. Hence, I decided to study the possibility of alternative pathways that could include both a conservative political identification and addressing social justice issues being supported by young evangelicals. This is a possible win-win situation for conservatives, churches, and younger individuals.
The study included 24 participants between the ages of 18-34 surveyed online. Over 90% of our sample was registered to vote and over 79% voted in the last election, which is much higher than the overall participation rate of 58%, showing promise for participation in a demographic that is oft ignored by campaigns. 58% identified as Republicans, 29% as Democrats, showing the GOP still has an advantage, though not large. There’s a disconnect between identification and voting, as only 30% voted for President Trump and 50% voted for Clinton. This may be attributed both to the qualms many Republicans had about President Trump and the particular antagonism of younger individuals to the President’s ideology. On social issues, the majority opposed same-sex marriage (58.33%) and abortion (62.5%). I paid special attention to income inequality, finding that 78% believe it is at least moderately important and 45% saying it’s extremely or very important. Given this, the vast majority of respondents had a discontinuity between their policy preferences for social issues (GOP-leaning) and income inequality (Democrat-leaning).
The main takeaways for conservative leaders are that young evangelicals (at least in our sample) are willing to identify with the GOP at a lesser, but still good, rate and are aligned with conservatives on social issues but place great value on the income inequality issue, which isn’t seen as the GOP’s strong suit. They also show a high propensity to vote, making them strong prospects for outreach efforts.
If Republicans and conservatives wish to engage young evangelicals, they should appreciate and capitalize upon the advantage of identification on social issues among those who have that preference, though not excessively as there is waning interest compared to older evangelicals shown in other studies, but also work creatively with strong preferences on social justice issues. Rhetoric delegitimizing these issues and/or simply avoiding them doesn’t change the preferences of young evangelicals, hence the best option is to accommodate, not rebuke, these ideas. Conservatives can accomplish this by first explaining their economic policy as being beneficial not just for the somewhat nebulous end of “economic prosperity,” which liberals think means “making the rich richer,” but for helping the less fortunate. However, such is only the beginning. Conservatives, particularly those who emphasize the Christian faith, should emphasize and embrace (not just passing mention of) private sector-oriented approaches to income inequality and other social justice issues. Though the majority did rank the government as being most important in addressing income inequality, over 80% believe that actions of Christians in private spheres can make a significant difference. It may also help to make things personal and address the economic straits of many younger individuals who are having trouble securing good-paying employment, which may make this issue more important.
Overall, conservatives will face some considerable challenges reaching young evangelicals as they are not as attached to the GOP, show inconsistencies in voting versus identification, have a lesser rate of opposition for social issues, and have preferences on income inequality that are inconsistent with the perception of the GOP’s positions. However, there is hope for those young evangelicals who hold conservative social issues positions to come to the Republican side should their social justice-related preferences be adequately addressed.
The full study is available here. Survey questions as displayed to respondents and complete survey results are also available.
Greyson Peltier is the founder of Off Speed Solutions and a graduate of the University of Southern California with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science.
After President Trump announced the U.S. will withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, the three Governors of New York, California, and Washington State said they would form the ‘United States Climate Alliance’ to comply with the terms of the Paris agreement on their own.
It could all just be political posturing but, if this is a binding commitment, the arrangement may well run afoul of the Interstate Compacts Clause found in Article I, section 10, clause 3 of the U.S. Constitution. Generally speaking, that clause prevents states from entering into agreements among themselves or with foreign powers without consent of Congress. Not all interstate compacts require Congressional approval, but those that increase the power of the states at the expense of the federal government do. [Virginia v. Tennessee] A state Climate Alliance that looks like a treaty and smells like a treaty would be the kind of separate arrangement diminishing federal power that the Constitution was intended to prevent.
The interstate compact is another tool in the toolbox of our Republic. As with other tools, interstate compacts can be used for good or ill. Interstate compacts have been used to establish government agencies to deal with common problems faced by several states, such as with the Colorado River and the Great Lakes.
The proposed Health Care Compact was popular in Tea Party circles some years ago. If approved by Congress, it would transfer control over healthcare programs and funding to signatory states. More recently, Progressives have talked about using an interstate compact to preserve Obamacare in signatory states if the law is repealed.
Also, there’s been renewed interest lately in the National Popular Vote interstate compact plan. That plan would require participating states to cast their electoral college votes for the presidential candidate who wins the national popular vote. The compact would not go into effect until enough states ratified it to create a majority – 270 votes – in the electoral college. The plan has been adopted in enough states to get to 165 electoral college votes. The Oregon House voted last month to join the plan. That would be seven more electoral college votes if adopted. The interesting wrinkle here is that, for the first time, the matter would be put to all Oregon voters by way of ballot initiative. Supporters hope that passage by popular vote in Oregon would inspire similar referendum efforts in red states.
The interstate compact is a tool for good or ill. Compacts can be used to frustrate tyranny – as in blocking Obamacare – or to destroy essential features of our Republic and usher in direct democracy – the National Popular Vote plan – something the Founders thought would be a very bad idea. The National Popular Vote compact would use the Constitution to destroy the Constitution. Fiendishly clever, don’t you think? But that’s the Progressive Left for you.
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The Constitution protects many valuable rights we often take for granted. The 6th Amendment guarantees a speedy trial by jury, with assistance of counsel. The 14th Amendment provides for due process of law which includes the presumption of innocence. You are innocent until proven guilty, a cornerstone of criminal law.
The Supreme Court recently held that Colorado may not require people whose convictions are overturned to prove they are innocent before they can recover any court fees or restitution they may have paid. The legal basis for requiring the payment of money was the conviction. But if the conviction is overturned, the presumption of innocence once again attaches, so people should not have to prove they are innocent to get their money back, the Court reasoned.
The Court weighed three considerations. First, there is a significant private interest in getting one’s money back. Second, the risk of a bad outcome under Colorado’s procedure was great because proving innocence is hard to do and the cost of doing so might be greater than the sum involved. Third, the governmental interest in keeping the money is low because the state really has no rightful claim to it. The third point seems weak and tautological to me, what lawyer’s call a ‘make-weight’ argument.
Notice that the presumption of innocence is not just for criminal cases. Colorado’s refund procedure was civil in nature. As the Court said, “[U]nder the Due Process Clause, [an individual] who has not been adjudged guilty of any crime may not be punished.” Even civilly.
So much for the twists and turns of the case, but don’t lose sight of the big picture: The purpose of government is to protect our rights. The Constitution plays an important role in doing just that. The presumption of innocence is foundational to our criminal justice system and we should be on guard against its erosion.
“We are in the midst of a college hoax epidemic, and it shows no signs of getting any better. Just last week at St. Olaf College, a racist note placed on a black student’s car was revealed as a hoax, written by someone who wanted to “draw attention to concerns about the campus climate.” At USC last month, someone hung a “no black people allowed” sign outside of a residence hall; the fellow who hung this reputable message turned out to be…a black person himself. At Indiana State University, a professor was arrested for “reporting phony anti-Islamic threats.” At the University of Michigan, a young woman revealed that she had lied about a pro-Trump hate crime and made up an attack on herself. At Capital University in February, a student admitted to fabricating a hate-filled note that was posted to his dorm’s door.”
More from the College Fix
The violent attempts to shut down free speech at UC Berkeley and Auburn University did not come out of nowhere. In 1965, the Left took a left turn towards authoritarianism. Herbert Marcuse, a committed Marxist, wrote an essay with the oxymoronic title “Repressive Tolerance” in which he advocated “the withdrawal of toleration of speech and assembly from groups and movements which promote aggressive policies, armament, chauvinism, discrimination on the grounds of race and religion, or which oppose the extension of public services, social security, medical care, etc.“ In other words, if the Left doesn’t agree with what you say, you can’t say it. Marcuse went on to advise restrictions on what universities can teach.
How do you repress your way to tolerance? George Orwell observed that the use of incongruent means ensures you will never reach your stated ends, but let’s play along with Marcuse. His problem is that most people have a ‘false consciousness’ inculcated by the ruling class and its values. The only way to get people’s heads’ straight, i.e., to agree with the hard Left, is to ban all other points of view so that people only get all Left all the time, in terms of ideas. “Liberating tolerance, then, would mean intolerance against movements from the Right…,” Marcuse went on to say.
Methods of intolerance used by today’s Thought Police include intimidation, disruption, and even violence. Hence, former Mizzou prof Melissa Click’s call that fateful day for “muscle” to “get this reporter out of here.”
Even if you agree with the Left’s policies, that is not the end of the inquiry. You have to go on and decide whether you are willing to use violence, if necessary, to shut everyone else up. Maybe so, but then you would have to come face-to-face with your own authoritarianism and barbarism.
Marcuse promises free speech in the long run, after all heads have been cracked, false consciousness scrubbed, human nature changed, and all toe the authoritarian Left’s party line. Good luck with that. Makes about as much sense as Marx’s promise that the state will ‘wither away’ after socialism progresses to communism. Name one communist dictator who ever gave up power willingly. Just one. Then ask yourself how likely it is that the authoritarian Left, if allowed to grip the reins of power, would ever restore free speech to anyone who wants to criticize their orthodoxy. Paradigm shifters and anyone interested in human progress need not apply.
There is a reason we have the Constitution – to keep a tiny group or even a majority from amassing that kind of power – and a reason we have the First Amendment – so you can generally say what you like without being silenced or coerced into saying things you don’t believe.
More here (“A New, Old Challenge” p. 5) and here.
A recent student article recommended the supposed fact-checking website Snopes. Before you believe everything Snopes tells you, here are some things you ought to know:
And Snopes is one of the organizations Facebook uses to sniff out fake news? Wow.
Like George Orwell said, ‘everybody is lying to you.’