Have nothing to do with the [evil] things that people do, things that belong to the darkness. Instead, bring them out to the light... [For] when all things are brought out into the light, then their true nature is clearly revealed...

-Ephesians 5:11-13

Tag Archives: Bill of Rights

Constitution Quiz #1: Where do Executive Orders Fit In?

John Birch Society – Can You Answer 24 Questions About the Constitution?

This testament to American freedom is understood as being the framework of our government, but how many Americans can say they know what the Constitution contains other than the Bill of Rights?

English: Detail of Preamble to Constitution of...

Detail of Preamble to Constitution of the United States (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This Constitution Quiz is a good test for those of us who think we know a little, or perhaps more than a little, about the Constitution. It was a good test for me.

Question No. 1: Has the Constitution Always Guided the Country?

Answer: No. Originally the nation functioned under the Continental Congress and the Articles of Confederation. But after 11 years under the Articles, the U.S. Constitution was written, agreed to, and ratified by nine states (all eventually ratified but only nine were needed to have it take effect). On September 13, 1788, the Continental Congress proclaimed that the Constitution had been properly ratified and it ordered the new government to convene on March 4, 1789.

Question No. 2: Does the Constitution allow the Supreme Court to make law?

Answer: No. The beginning of Article I states, “All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States.” Any Supreme Court decision is the law of the case and it binds only the plaintiff and the defendant. The meaning of the word “all” has not been changed.

This corrects the popular misconception that the Supreme Court is the law of the land. It is not. It is the law of the case.

Question No. 3: Does the Constitution allow the President to make law?

Answer: No. Executive Orders issued by the President that bind the entire nation are illicit because, as noted above, “All legislative powers” reside in Congress. An Executive Order that binds only the employees of the federal government is proper because the President should be considered to hold power much like the CEO of a corporation who can issue rules to his employees.

But the entire nation is not in the employ of the President. The President does have a role in lawmaking with his possession of a veto. He can veto a measure produced by Congress (which can still be overturned), sign a law produced by Congress, or simply allow a measure to become law by doing nothing within ten days “Sundays excepted.”

This is critical in understanding Executive Orders. King Obama has issued more than 900 of them, many of them draconian and totalitarian in nature. It’s nice to know, at least in theory, that they are “illicit.”

Now if Congress would just grow a backbone and challenge them…

More Q and A on the Constitution tomorrow!

Finish taking the Constitution Quiz here:

Constitution Quiz #2: Where Does the Fed Fit In?
Constitution Quiz #3: Where Does Democracy Fit In?

Our Constitution is Gun Control On Government

George Reisman: Gun Control — on the Government’s Guns

Literally everything the government does is ultimately a threat to point a gun at someone and use it if necessary. If this were not the case, the law, regulation, ruling, or whatever, would be without force or effect. People would be free to ignore it if they wished. Because of the government’s implicit threat to use deadly force to uphold its decisions, any meaningful program of gun control must above all focus on strictly controlling and regulating the activities of the government. (emphasis in the original)

Summer's End. Lexington Green, 11 September 20...

Summer’s End. Lexington Green, 11 September 2002. Photo taken in Minute Man National Historical Park. Sculpture : “Minuteman” by sculptor Henry Hudson Kitson (1863-1947), dedicated April 19, 1900. Erected 1899 : SIRIS (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I think Reisman makes a very good point here, one that we tend to forget. George Washington said it well: “Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force. Like fire, it is both a dangerous servant and a fearful master.”

The Constitution is designed to control government, and its guns.

Reisman adds:

The threat of deadly force is implicitly present in every law, regulation, ruling, or decree that emanates from any government office, at any level. The threat of such force is what compels obedience on the part of the citizens.

Even such an innocuous offense as a parking violation is capable of resulting in death if a person persists in not paying the fine imposed and, when ultimately confronted with arrest, resists by physically defending himself.

He’s very good at explaining what the Constitution really does: it controls the government’s guns:

Our entire Constitution and Bill of Rights are essential measures of gun control — this time, gun control directed against the government.

For example, the First Amendment prohibits the government from using its guns to abridge the freedoms of speech or press.

The Second Amendment prohibits the government from using its guns to abridge the freedom of the citizen to keep and bear arms.

Indirectly, the Second Amendment also operates to limit the government’s use of its guns to abridge freedom in general. This is because, in our system of checks and balances, an armed citizenry constitutes a check on the possibility of the government becoming tyrannical and attempting to use its power to threaten the citizens’ lives and property. It should be understood as protecting a balance between the power remaining in the hands of the people and the power they have delegated to their government.

Indeed, the language of the Second Amendment — “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed” — should be understood in this way.

Thanks for the reminder.

Charles Koch: Covert Libertarian No Longer

A statement for the Koch Brothers at the Occup...

A statement for the Koch Brothers at the Occupy Wall Street protests. (Photo credit: Caroline Schiff Photography)

In Jane Mayer’s expose of Charles Koch, the billionaire conservative running Koch Industries in Wichita, Kansas, she made it sound as if she were shedding the light on Koch’s political activities for the very first time. Titled “Covert Operations,” Mayer noted that the growth of Koch Industries since Charles and his brother David took over its operations after the death of their father, Fred Koch, in 1967, has made each of them multi-billionaires—somewhere in the neighborhood of $25 billion each. Koch Industries operates oil refineries in Alaska, Texas, and Minnesota, 4,000 miles of pipeline, along with Brawny paper towels, Dixie cups, Georgia-Pacific lumber, Stainmaster carpets, the spandex product Lycra and generates an estimated $100 billion a year in revenues.

But the real lowdown, according to Mayer, is how they are investing their wealth:

The Kochs are longtime libertarians who believe in drastically lower personal and corporate taxes, minimal social services for the needy, and much less oversight of industry—especially environmental regulation.

And they are doing it with a flourish. Mayer quotes Charles Lewis, the founder of the Center for Public Integrity—calling it a “non-partisan watchdog group” which in fact is funded by internationalist socialist George Soros’ Open Society Foundation and the Ford Foundation, among others, to “reveal abuses of power, corruption and dereliction of duty by powerful public and private institutions…”—as saying:

The Kochs are on a whole different level. There’s no one else who has spent this much money. The sheer dimension of it is what sets them apart…

Charles Koch’s efforts are based on both the short-run—determined to keep President Obama a one-term president and turn control of the Senate back to the Republicans, as well as the long-run—by

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Romney Expected to “Reassure” NRA on Second Amendment

Summer's End. Lexington Green, 11 September 20...

On Friday, April 13, apparent Republican front-runner Mitt Romney will address the national convention of the National Rifle Association (NRA) in St. Louis where a nervous audience will seek “reassurance” on his stand on the Second Amendment. Said NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam, “I think what the members are looking for is reassurance. I think they are looking for a statement of support for the Second Amendment from Gov. Romney and we are confident that is what we will get.” Words of such support from Romney may be enough to persuade doubters to vote from him if he gets the Republican Party’s nomination.

Joe Tartaro, president of the Second Amendment Foundation, says the alternative would be a disaster: “If President Obama is re-elected as a lame duck there would be no political restraints on him.” He would be free, according to Tartaro, to push through a long list of anti-gun measures just waiting to be enacted, including reinstatement of the federal “assault-weapons” ban that expired in 2004.

Democrats defending Obama say he has no such agenda. Matt Bennett, an official in the Clinton administration and now head of the progressive think tank Third Way, said “There is zero appetite for new gun laws in Congress, and the president cannot act on his own.” Alan Gottlieb, the founder of the Second Amendment Foundation, disagreed, reminding Bennett that Obama’s expanded use of executive orders are likely to impinge on those gun rights regardless of lack of “appetite” for such measures in Congress. Obama could use executive orders to curb the import and export of guns and ammunition, for example. And, given the opportunity, Obama could try to pack the courts with judges favorable to further restrictions on the Second Amendment. Said Gottlieb:

With all the Second Amendment litigation going on right now, if Obama is able to stack the courts with his kind of judges, he basically will be slamming the courthouse doors in the face of gun owners.

Some observers are expressing doubt that Romney, if elected, will be any better. In 2007 David Kopelwriting for National Review, questioned Romney’s veracity about his claim to being “a hunter pretty much all my life” when it was learned later that he had

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Courts and Dept of Justice Agree: Videotaping Police is OK

March 3, 1991: Rodney King being beaten by LAP...

Ken Paulsen, president and CEO of the First Amendment Centerwrote in USA Today that “just as police officers use technology to watch citizens, including patrol car cameras, traffic light cameras and radar to track speeding, the public [also] has a right to monitor the work of officers on the public payroll.”

Perhaps the most memorable and life-altering event in the history of citizens recording police behavior was that moment on the evening of March 3, 1991, when George Halliday, using his Sony video recorder, taped the beating of Rodney King in Los Angeles. By the time the dust had settled, two of the four officers charged in the beating were found guilty, 53 people were dead, 2,383 people were injured, more than 7,000 fires had been set, 3,100 business establishments had been damaged or destroyed, $1 billion in losses had been sustained, and police behavior was permanently altered.

As Joel Rubin noted in his article commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Rodney King incident in the Los Angeles Times

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One Lonely State Representative Opposes Indefinite Detention

UPDATE 1/17/2012: Correspondence with Daniel Gordon

Dear Rep. Gordon:

It was my privilege to write this article about your efforts which appeared yesterday at The New American. I hope you find it a fair treatment.

May I call you in a day or so to do a follow-up on your resolution?

Respectfully,

Bob Adelmann

 

Dear Mr. Adelmann,

The article you penned on the topic was nothing short of outstanding, and I am proud to have had my efforts published by you and your excellent publication. Please do feel free to call for a follow up. There has been some very exciting developments over the past couple of days. The number in my signature is my cell and you are free to use it. Thank you.

Best Regards,

Dan

A cell inside the detention facility in the Pa...

Rhode Island Representative Daniel Gordon has drafted a resolution to express his opposition to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) “that suspended habeas corpus and civil liberties” under Section 1021.

That section of the act, signed into law by President Obama on New Year’s Eve:

provides for the indefinite detention of American citizens by the military on American soil, without charge, and without right to legal counsel and [the] right to trial.

Given the fact that the constitutions of Rhode Island and that of the United States are replete with guarantees of individual liberties, right to habeas corpus, and right to freedom of speech, the offending sections of that law are repugnant to the sensibilities of anyone [who] has a basic understanding of the foundation of this country….

When I took the oath of office, I swore that I would support the constitutions of Rhode Island and the United States. And before one constituent of mine is snatched up in the dead of night, without due process under our laws, they’ll have to pry those documents from my cold dead hands.

Gordon has a lot of company in his opposition to the NDAA. Pastor Chuck Baldwin, the Constitution Party’s candidate for President in 2008, wrote: “Americans should realize that, coupled with the Patriot Act, the NDAA, for all intents and purposes, completely nullifies a good portion of the Bill of Rights, turns the United States into a war zone, and places US citizens under

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Oath Keepers Launches Effort to Recall Members of Congress

Oath Keepers 1_2

In response to the passage by the House and the Senate of the National Defense Appropriations Act of 2012 (NDAA), Stewart Rhodes, founder of Oath Keepers, announced a national effort to recall every member who voted for the act.

Oath Keepers was founded by Rhodes to encourage current members of the military services and veterans to keep their oath to protect and defend the Constitution against “all enemies, foreign and domestic.” Members commit to following certain “orders we will not obey,” including, as especially relevant to NDAA, Number Three:

We will NOT obey any order to detain American citizens as “unlawful enemy combatants” or to subject them to trial by military tribunal.

One of the causes of the American Revolution was the denial of the right to jury trial, the use of admiralty courts (military tribunals) instead, and the application of the laws of war to the colonists. After that experience, and being well aware of the infamous Star Chamber in English history, the Founders ensured that the international laws of war would apply only to foreign enemies, not to the American people. Thus, the Article III Treason Clause establishes the only constitutional form of trial for an American, not serving in the military, who is accused of making war on his own nation. Such a trial for treason must be before a civilian jury, not a tribunal.

The international laws of war do not trump our Bill of Rights. We reject as illegitimate any such claimed power, as did the Supreme Court in Ex Parte Milligan (1865). Any attempt to apply the laws of war to American civilians, under any pretext, such as against domestic “militia” groups the government brands “domestic terrorists,” is an act of war and an act of treason.

What appears to be reasonable on the surface is complicated by the actual “Oath of Enlistment” sworn by members of the military, to wit:

I, (NAME), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.

Oath Keepers has taken the position that when the President gives an order not in compliance with the Constitution, their members should

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Bill of Rights Day: Celebration or Mourning?

English: The Bill of Rights, the first ten ame...

The Cato Institute’s newspaper ad reminding citizens that December 15th was Bill of Rights Day summarized the desperate shape those first ten amendments to the Constitution of the United States is in, thanks to an overweening government and an uninformed citizenry. Reviewing each of the amendments, Cato pointed  to specific infringements of each of them, concluding that “It’s a disturbing picture, to be sure, but not one the Framers of the Constitution would have found altogether surprising. They would sometimes refer to written constitutions as mere “parchment barriers” [to totalitarian government].

The erection of the original “parchment barrier,” the Bill of Rights, was initially considered unnecessary because the language of the Constitution explicitly enumerated limited powers to the newly created government and why should further protections against powers not even granted be needed? As “Brutus,” one of the authors of the Anti-Federalist Papers, wrote: 

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Institute for Justice: Licensing Tour Guides is Unconstitutional

Tour guide at Paul Revere's Grave, Boston MA

In its press release on Tuesday the Institute for Justice announced it is going to bat for the freedom of tour guides in New Orleans to speak. The city currently has a law in place that says that “no person shall offer to act as a sightseeing tour guide on the roads, sidewalks, public spaces, or waterways of [the city] unless the person holds a valid sightseeing tour guide license.” Violation of the ordinance can result in a fine up to $300 and five months in jail.

Matt Miller, the lead attorney in the case brought by the public interest firm, stated firmly that “the government cannot be in the business of deciding who may speak and who may not. The Constitution protects your right to communicate for a living, whether you are a journalist, a musician or a tour guide.”

Under the law being challenged in court, freedom of speech isn’t free as obtaining a license to speak requires tour guides to take and pass a history exam, undergo a drug test and submit to an FBI criminal background check — every two years. Candance Kagan, the lead plaintiff in the case, survived Hurricane Katrina, but says now “I’m being knocked out of business again, this time by the city I love.”

The Institute for Justice has been fighting battles like these for 20 years with a remarkable, and reassuring, degree of success. They have a similar case pending in Washington, D.C. where local laws make it illegal for

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Tea Party Cements Patriot Act Into Place

"A Patriot Act"

Image by basykes via Flickr

In light of recent extensions of the Patriot Act, it can be concluded that many Tea Partiers are reneging on parts of the Tea Party agenda. Of the 41 Tea Party-backed candidates, 31 voted to extend the Patriot Act, eight voted against it, and one did not vote. As John Tyner stated at Lewrockwell.com: “Despite the eight nea votes, Tea Party-backed candidates overwhelmingly backed an extension of the Patriot Act.”

It took Congress scarcely six weeks after the 9/11 terrorist attacks to write, deliberate, and then overwhelmingly pass the Orwellian-named USA PATRIOT Act on October 26, 2001, and the Bill of Rights hasn’t been the same since. In its chilling summary of the law, Wikipedia noted

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Bill of Rights Slows Government Probe of WikiLeaks

Julian Assange

Image by Poster Boy NYC via Flickr

On Tuesday, the quiet subterranean fishing expedition by the government into the WikiLeaks document disclosures last fall came to light for the first time in the courtroom of U. S. Magistrate Judge Theresa Carroll Buchanan in Alexandria, Virginia. In its search for incriminating evidence, the government demanded that Twitter release information about three suspects linked to WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange:

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Gun-Control Laws Challenged After Supreme Court Ruling

Pistol Horhe mirror

Image via Wikipedia

On June 28, the day the Supreme Court ruled in McDonald v. Chicago that individuals have the right to keep and bear armsBob Unruh wrote that the decision “has opened the door for a long list of legal challenges to city, county and other rules and regulations that may now infringe on the 2nd Amendment.”

Although both the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence applauded the ruling by the Supreme Court, they differed in how that long list of legal challenges will play out in the courts.

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TSA Catches More Flak

Seal of the United States Department of Homela...

Image via Wikipedia

The new DVD Please Remove Your Shoes, to be released on July 1, was reviewed by Scott Mayerowitz at ABC News, who asked rhetorically, “Do You Really Believe You Are Safe at the Airport?” and then answered “No.”

Fred Gevalt paid for this documentary out of his own pocket because “our real security at the airport…appears to be worse than ever. Clearly something has to be fixed. We have given TSA sufficient time since their creation to establish their merit and they haven’t. It’s time to call for a rethink of the whole security system, and now is as good a time as any. We certainly shouldn’t allow this farce to continue.”

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Chicago Shootings and McDonald v. City of Chicago

Cover of "More Guns, Less Crime: Understa...

Cover via Amazon

When it was learned that more than 50 people were shot, some fatally, over Fathers Day weekend in the poorer sections of Chicago, it didn’t even make the front page of Chicago newspapers.

As ABC News put it, “Most of the weekend shootings took place in poor neighborhoods on the city’s south and west sides. Those areas are away from downtown and tourist attractions, perhaps one reason much of the city seemed to shrug its shoulders at the violence.” Jim O’Shea, editor of Chicago News Cooperative, said, “I think people just say, ‘Ah, it’s a bunch of gang bangers shooting each other.'”

Police and other officials put the blame on gangs and easy access to guns despite one of the strictest bans on handguns in the country. It is that very ban that is being challenged in a Supreme Court case, McDonald v. City of Chicago, with a decision to be announced very soon.

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Sharron Angle vs. Harry Reid and the GOP

Senator Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader

Image via Wikipedia

Sharron Angle is going to have to learn how to fight with both hands in Nevada’s general election battle against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, as Manu Raju explains in two articles appearing at Politico.com here and here. With her left hand she will be busy fending off attack ads from the Reid camp for her “extremism,” and with her right hand soothing sitting Senators with whom she might well be working after the election.

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50-year-old Book is Amazon Bestseller

Cover of "The Road to Serfdom: Text and D...

Cover via Amazon

When Glenn Beck urged his listeners, “Please, pick it up. The Road to Serfdom. Make it part of your essential library,” sales of Austrian Economist Frederick von Hayek’s book at Amazon.com pushed it to Number 1 the next day. Prior to the election of President Obama, “The book sold respectably at a clip of about 600 copies a month,” according to Bruce Caldwell, editor at the University of Chicago Press. “But then, in November 2008, sales more than quadrupled, and they haven’t slowed down since.”

When John Stossel, host of Fox Business, featured the book on his show on February 21, sales jumped again.

Opinions as to the remarkable interest in a book published in 1944 by an obscure economist vary, but most center on the book’s uncanny prediction that is now being fulfilled in the United States:

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Media Calls the Tea Party Patriots “Seditious”

Joe Klein David Shankbone 2010 NYC

Image by david_shankbone via Flickr

When Joe Klein of Time magazine was forced to defend his comments about Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck coming “close to being seditious,” he backed off—a little. His original statement was made on the NBC’s “The Chris Matthews Show” on Sunday, April 18th:

I did a little bit of research just before this show—it’s on this little napkin here.  I looked up the definition of sedition, which is conduct or language inciting rebellion against the authority of the state.  And a lot of these statements, especially the ones coming from people like Glenn Beck and to a certain extent Sarah Palin, rub right up close to being seditious.”

He posted his backpedal on Time’s “Swampland” blog:

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ObamaCare: The Final Nail, or the Last Straw?

Barack Obama addressing a joint session of Con...

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In responding to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) incredulous “Are you serious?” about the constitutionality of Obamacare, many have written persuasively that the healthcare law is in fact unconstitutional.

Michelle Morin in her blog reminded her readers that Article 1, Section 8 limits the federal government to specific and enumerated powers, with all other unenumerated powers being left to the states or to the people. Michael Boldin of the Tenth Amendment Center analyzed the purpose of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights as limitations and restrictions on the power of the federal government. He concludes his analysis with these words:

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Financial Reform: Pressing On, Regardless

Bob Corker

Image via Wikipedia

Last month, Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) pushed back against the Obama administration’s plans to create a “standalone” Consumer Financial Protection Agency, and some Washington-watchers held their breath to see if Corker would hold his ground.

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A Closer Look at the GOP Litmus Test

Senator Arlen Specter while he was being inter...

Image via Wikipedia

Now that the GOP has all but shelved the litmus test for candidates to receive money and support for their mid-term election campaigns, a closer look at that “test” reveals a tepid attempt to reinvigorate “conservative” principles into the big tent GOP.

The Republican National Committee, meeting in Hawaii to hammer out their platform, briefly considered a resolution from James Bopp, an RNC vice-chairman from Indiana and general counsel for National Right to Life, requiring candidates to state publicly their agreement with at least eight of ten listed “conservative” positions. Bopp said that his resolution was “designed to bring conservatives, some of whom have gravitated to the independent ‘tea party’ movement, into the GOP fold.” He expressed concern that “disaffected conservatives” would back third-party candidates and take support away from Republicans running in the same race. He added:

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Many of the articles on Light from the Right first appeared on either The New American or the McAlvany Intelligence Advisor.