Republicans ask Supreme Court to block redistricting map drawn by state court, allege violation of Constitution’s Elections Clause
20 states sue to end Obamacare; upheld as a tax but, after individual mandate repealed, all that’s left is unconstitutional affront to the Commerce Clause
Idaho lawmakers reject call for convention of states to amend Constitution
Federal appeals court puffs up Title VII gender discrimination to include sexual orientation, protects gays against workplace discrimination. Supreme Court will have to decide this.
1A,14A: Libertarian, Constitution Parties win suit against South Dakota restrictions on ballot access
1A: Major suit filed against Twitter’s political censorship; California has legal doctrine recognizing some private facilities as public forums
1A: Rhode Island proposal to tax violent video games probably unconstitutional as a tax on protected speech
1A,8A,14A: proposed trespassing law in Idaho possibly overbroad; would criminalize innocent actions, critics say
1A Religion: Does Obamacare violate the free exercise clause by preventing people from turning their healthcare over to the Lord?
14A EP/DP: 5th Circuit gives anti-bail movement partial victory. Defendants must be given opportunity to show what they can pay.
14A: federal judge strikes Colorado provision requiring signatures of 2% of voters in each district for ballot initiatives; violates one-person, one-vote rule
Lawsuits filed in 4 states challenging ‘winner-take-all’ method of Electoral College
Copyrights and patents vital to success of the country; Founders far-sighted in giving Congress the power to grant them (Article 1, Section 8)
‘Dormant Commerce Clause’ theory has enabled courts to strike many restrictive state laws and create nationwide free trade zone
Thomas: rely on the text of a statute, not committee reports. Sotomayor: legislative history can be helpful
Gorsuch one year on: has voted with Thomas every time; looks to be a strong originalist.
‘United States of the Earth’ among proposed Constitutional amendments that never made it
Senator Rand PaulVerified account @RandPaul Feb 8
Government's job is not to get you stuff, or to get somebody else's stuff for you. It's to preserve your liberty.
Shame: “Leftists Demand Revolutionary War Reenactors Use Sticks Instead of Guns”. Another attack on the founding.
Framers celebrated newly finished Constitution with $15,000 worth of beer and wine
The tragedy in Parkland, Florida has been blamed on, among other things, the FBI, video games, and the Second Amendment. Blaming the Second Amendment for the shooting is like blaming the First Amendment for the New York Times always slanting stories against Trump, as they admitted they do in a James O’Keefe undercover video. The responsibility for how a right is used rests on the person exercising the right, not on the right itself. It would make no more sense to take away everyone’s Second Amendment rights, because of the Parkland shooting, than it would to take away the right to a free press from everyone just because of the despicable acts of the New York Times.
Now is a good time to remember why we have a Second Amendment right to bear arms. In 2008, the Supreme Court ruled in the Heller case that there is an individual federal constitutional right to have guns for self-defense and other personal purposes.
But the Heller case doesn’t get to the heart of the matter. We have the Second Amendment so the citizens can defend liberty and prevent tyranny. We have the Second Amendment so that, if we ever had a Hitler who tried to impose a dictatorship on us, we could stop that person. That’s the true meaning of the Second Amendment. James Madison wrote about this in the Federalist Papers, No. 46, saying that armed citizens fighting for their liberty are a barrier to “schemes of usurpation”.
Madison was writing in the context of state militias, but the Heller Court found evidence establishing an individual right to bear arms in the historical record, all the way back to 17th–century England. That puts to rest any argument that the Second Amendment is only about arming state militias. Besides, if the Founders had wanted to limit the Second Amendment to militias, they easily could have written ‘the right of the states to arm a militia shall not be infringed.’ Instead, they wrote, ‘the right of the PEOPLE shall not be infringed.’
History proves that guns in the hands of citizens deter would-be dictators and we also know what dictators do when guns are taken away. A friend of mine, who is originally from Ukraine, just sent me a Soviet-era poster urging all Ukranians to turn in their weapons. They did, and this is how 25,000 Bolsheviks with guns were able to subdue 25 million Ukranian peasants who had previously given up their guns. The result was the Holodomor, where a dictatorship deliberately starved 7 to 10 million of those peasants to death.
If Stalin doesn’t do it for you, maybe Hitler will. In a YouTube video, a survivor of the Nazi occupation of Austria talks about how the Germans pointed to accidental shootings and the need to track criminals by the serial number of their guns. So they asked people to register their guns. Before long, the Nazis were saying, ‘that didn’t work, so bring in your guns.’ But they knew who had them because people had already registered them. In other words, they made the same arguments about safety that you hear from the gun control lobby today, and used them to take over a country.
A third example comes from our own American history. You might recall the Zimmerman Telegram from World War I where Germany asked Mexico to invade the United States. Mexico’s leaders asked their generals for an opinion, and the answer came back that invading the U.S. would be a bad idea because it would be too difficult to subdue a population that possessed guns.
The current wave of enthusiasm for gun control may have started with the Parkland students, but it didn’t take long for the organized Left to take over. George Clooney’s publicist arranged media interviews for Parkland students. Michael Bloomberg is funding a new group called Everytown for Gun Safety. The group took out a two-page ad in the New York Times. Big money has also poured into the movement from Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, and George Clooney. Organizers are renting 14 Jumbotrons and thousands of chairs for a gun control rally on March 24th in Washington, D.C. The radicals behind the Women’s March are behind a national school walkout scheduled for March 14th. A Democratic political action committee has put up billboards.
Democrats in various states want new laws requiring the licensing of gun stores, and banning AR-15s, high-capacity magazines, and gun assembly kits. Trump himself has called for “comprehensive background checks” and observers are worried that may lead to a gun registry, the first step to confiscation of all guns.
The Second Amendment protects our right to have guns. But we don’t let people have tanks or rocket-propelled grenades. So where do you draw the line? Bump stocks? High-capacity magazines? Reasonable people can differ, but here’s the problem: gun control advocates are not reasonable people. They’re playing for all the marbles. They won’t be satisfied until guns are completely taken away from everyone and the Second Amendment is no more. They’ll keep salami-slicing the issue until there’s no salami left.
I’ve said many times that the rise of the authoritarian Left is the central challenge of our time. The authoritarian Left wants ALL of your freedom. So why should you give them ANY of it? They have made discussion and compromise impossible. They’re not interested in saving lives. If they were, they would be engaging us on ideas like metal detectors, armed security guards and teachers, and police substations in schools. But, no, they have a one-track mind: gun control. It’s their way or the highway.
The only rational response to these budding tyrants is ‘no deal’ – winner take all. If we settle for gun store licenses, universal background checks, and gun registries, it won’t be long before all of our freedoms are gone.
The only reliable guarantee against tyranny in the U.S. is the Second Amendment. It deters wannabe dictators and keeps us free. It’s up to every thinking person in America to keep the Second Amendment top of mind and strong.
2A: Supreme Court lets stand California law that requires a 10-day waiting period after all gun sales; won’t hear case
2A: Justice Thomas dissents from Supreme Court’s denial of certiorari in California gun control case; calls 2A a “disfavored right”
1A (Religion): 4th Circuit rules against Trump’s latest travel ban – “animus towards Islam”; ban in effect while Supreme Court deliberates
1A (Association): Nonprofits in NY must turn donor names over to the state; landmark case NAACP v. Alabama doesn’t apply because not same prospect of violent retaliation (2nd Circuit)
4A: Hospital’s running extra tests, notifying child services in suspected child abuse case not an unreasonable search (6th Circuit)
14A EP: ‘Free the NIP!’ Women in Ft. Collins fight for equal right to brandish their breasts (case on appeal) http://thefederalist.com/2018/02/15/federal-judge-rules-unconstitutional-forbid-women-going-topless-public/
14A EP: No, you cannot form a new mostly white school district to exclude minorities (11th Circuit)
14A DP: prosecutor showing two-third’s completed picture of Space Shuttle to jury, asking what is it?, made inappropriate analogy to explain reasonable doubt
Limited Government: “Constitutional role morality” - legislators who complain about judicial activism should respect their own constitutional limitations
Quill Project launches new collaborative research platform featuring original texts of historical documents such as constitutions and treaties
Shame: “CA High School Bans ‘Racist’ National Anthem from Pep Rallies”. Inclusiveness is one thing; sacrificing all other considerations including the Constitution for the sake of diversity is quite another.
On Thursday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Virginia ruled against President Trump’s latest travel ban on six largely Muslim countries, plus North Korea and Venezuela. The appeals court found that the ban unconstitutionally discriminates against Muslims.
In December, the 9th Circuit in California found that Trump had exceeded the scope of his authority in issuing the ban. However, also in December, the U.S. Supreme Court said the ban can be fully enforced while the legal challenges work their way through the courts. The Supreme Court will hear the case in April.
On one side are groups saying the ban has a devastating impact on U.S. residents who want to reunite with their family, and on foreign students seeking higher education in the U.S. On the other side is the Trump administration which has said the ban is necessary to protect national security. The latest ban is nuanced, blocking business travelers and tourists to varying degrees in the named countries and allowing students from some.
Before the 4th Circuit judges, the administration had argued that the President has broad authority to bar foreign nationals who might be detrimental to the interests of the U.S. A multi-agency review had found that the countries specified do not share enough security-related information with our government.
The appeals court said it was free to go outside the four corners of the ban, look behind it, and consider Trump’s statements on the campaign trail and thereafter as evidence of Trump’s motive to discriminate. [opinion, pp.40-42] Trump himself called it a “Muslim ban”. The court concluded that the ban is “unconstitutionally tainted with animus toward Islam." [p. 28]
The court rejected the government’s security rationale as weak. The multi-agency review was not sufficient evidence of national security concerns because it was not made public and, therefore, cannot be examined. Moreover, the countries selected for the ban reportedly don’t fit the criteria specified in the multi-agency review. [pp. 50-51]
The addition of North Korea and Venezuela to the ban didn’t cure its constitutional defects because only a handful of people from those countries were actually affected, compared to tens of thousands from the six Muslim countries, leaving the ban with largely an anti-Muslim focus. [p. 50]
It all sounds plausible until you realize you’re in a funhouse of mirrors and shifting floors created by the Supreme Court. The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion….” I showed you in December how the Supreme Court has expanded this clause way beyond its original meaning which was directed towards preventing the government from establishing an official church. The clause now prevents the government from preferring or advancing one religion over another in any way, or attempting to suppress any particular set of religious beliefs. [opinion, p. 27] The Supreme Court has embroidered the Establishment Clause with all kinds of fancy filigree over the years.
As a result, it’s not enough that the travel ban doesn’t mention religion or is neutral on its face. [pp. 45-46] It’s also not enough that the ban protects national security. The government has to prove that an action’s secular purpose – national security in this case - is the PRIMARY purpose, not just ONE purpose among many, of the action. [Lemon, McCreary cases, opinion p. 44-45]
The two cases from the 4th and 9th Circuits are likely to be heard together. Some have taken the Supreme Court’s letting the ban go into effect in December as a sign it will uphold the ban when it decides the case. As the Justices like to say up there, the Constitution is what they say it is. We’ll have to wait until after April to find out what’s in it.
This is another reason why we need a constitutional amendment to allow super-majorities of state legislatures to overrule the Supreme Court on constitutional questions, but more on that at a later date.
A couple weeks ago, a writer by the name of Ryan Cooper published an article calling on Americans to “[t]row the entire Constitution in the garbage.” “The American Constitution is an outdated, malfunctioning piece of junk — and it's only getting worse,” Cooper writes. If we don’t change our entire system of government, we are headed for a constitutional collapse, he maintains.
One way of pushing back on this is immediately apparent. Throw out the ENTIRE Constitution, he says, so I guess that means we can start with his own freedom of the press by which he makes his living. Also, a lot of people fought and died for his Constitutional right to sneer at the Constitution and be well paid for it, but he doesn’t thank them in his article.
His main beef is gridlock. We don’t have a way to break legislative deadlocks, like calling snap elections the way they do in some other countries. Bipartisan compromise used to keep the U.S. government functioning, but now such compromise is nearly impossible, he says. Nearly impossible? He’s way overstating the case. Just this week, Congress passed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 that the President signed into law. It was obtained fairly easily. No one had to move mountains to get it done.
Cooper recommends that America more closely resemble a parliamentary democracy like they have in the U.K. He says we should get rid of the Senate filibuster because it leads to legislative stand-offs and not much gets done. But the filibuster is not in the Constitution. It’s a Senate rule that can be changed or modified at any time. How is that an argument for throwing out the Constitution? It’s not.
We should also change the way House members are elected, Cooper says, not one to a district, but three in much larger districts to give third parties a better chance at getting seats. Again, the Constitution doesn’t say a word about political parties. So, again, he’s not shooting straight. We could do more to encourage the rise of third parties - and even evolve into a European-style system where lots of small parties form governing coalitions. We could do all this without changing a word of the Constitution. States and locales could change their threshold requirements, for example, to make it easier for third parties to get on the ballot. It wouldn’t take a Constitutional amendment to do that.
Cooper also wants us to change elections for the House from every two years to every four years. But he doesn’t say a word about why the Framers chose every two years – to keep the People’s House closer to the people. Important values would be lost if House elections were held every four years, but Cooper doesn’t even mention them.
Next, he argues the Senate is undemocratic because senators from small states can use various means to block the wishes of the majority of the U.S. population. Cooper wants to change the Senate into a House of Lords-style assembly with no power to vote on anything. Again, he is showing he is profoundly ignorant of important values. We don’t have a democracy in this country, and for good reason. We have a Republic to help keep a mob from controlling public policy. That’s the way the Founders set it up, but the word ‘republic’ is not even mentioned, much less discussed, in his article.
His biggest recommendation is to elect the President from among the members of the House – institute a parliamentary system of government, in other words. In a parliamentary system, the dominant party in a legislative chamber chooses the executive from among its members. In this, Cooper contradicts himself. Earlier, he was all hep on democracy when it came to the Senate, but he doesn’t mind denying ordinary people a say in choosing who will lead the country. He wants to take away their right to vote. That doesn’t sound democratic to me.
Separation of powers would be lessened under a parliamentary system, but that would be a good thing, in Cooper’s view. Separation of powers actually increases tyranny, he argues, because it sets up a strong executive and leads to runaway imperial Presidents. Maybe in some cases, but a parliamentary system increases the chances that a single political party can march us off a cliff. A House dominated by a single party electing a President from among its own members has no counterweight in the executive to prevent bad law from being made.
Cooper’s argument about separation of powers shows his profound ignorance once again. Read the Federalist Papers and you will understand that the main aim of the Founders was to prevent the concentration of too much power in too few hands. Clearly separating the executive from the legislative branch helps accomplish this because there are two competing centers of power instead of just one. A parliamentary system mingles the two branches, weakening separation of powers and leading to scenarios the Founders would have wanted to avoid, like a President and a House of the same party ganging up on the Senate to ram things into law. Heck, in Cooper’s ideal system, the Senate wouldn’t even have a vote. There would be no way for the Senate to stop anything.
We have enough problems with legislation being rammed down our throats, like Obamacare. We don’t need more problems along those lines. With Obamacare, one party controlled the House, the Senate, and the Presidency – a unified government, just like Cooper wants. The Democrats got their way and we’ve been fighting about it ever since. That’s better? I don’t see how. We don’t need more situations like that. A parliamentary system would make the President MORE powerful in many cases, not less.
We may not like gridlock, but it has its virtues. As the Founders knew, divided government is far preferable to the undue concentration of power or the tyranny of the majority. So embrace gridlock; gridlock can be good.
One final point: If you let assaults on the Constitution like this go unanswered, you will wake up one morning and the Constitution will be gone and all your rights with it – including freedom of the press. Please activate your networks when you see the Constitution being attacked like this, and push back.