Lesson from the Internment of Japanese Americans: Limit Power

NOTE: December 18, 1944, the Supreme Court ruled that Japanese concentration camps were “constitutional” in the Korematsu case.

Americans often downplay dangerous expansions of federal power, arguing that we should have faith our government officials to exercise that power in the best interest of the people.

In other words, they trust their “leaders” and those appointed to positions of authority.

I’ve heard this argument used to refute those warning about the dangers of detention provisions without due process written into the NDAA and targeted drone kill lists.

“These powers are meant to protect us from terrorists. We can trust the president and our military leaders to exercise their authority. We have nothing to worry about.”

Never mind the fact that this particular president won’t hold office forever; history teaches that we simply cannot trust those who hold power.

None of them.

The experience of some 120,000 Japanese-American locked up in camps behind barbed wire illustrates what can happen when you combine acts granting sweeping powers with people in authority lacking moral fiber.

Executive order 9066 authorized the Secretary of War and the U.S. Army to create military zones “from which any or all persons may be excluded.” The order left who might be excluded to the military’s discretion. When President Franklin D. Roosevelt inked his name to EO9066 on Feb. 19, 1942, it opened the door for the roundup of some 120,000 Japanese-Americans and Japanese citizens living along the west coast of the U.S. and their imprisonment in concentration camps.


A Professor’s Defense of Nullification

Supporters of nullification cannot have a conversation on the topic without quickly encountering three arguments: that the actions of the federal government are supreme, that the Supreme Court is the final determiner of constitutionality and that the way to reject unconstitutional legislation is to elect more of “the right people” to positions in the federal government.

As reported by Tom Woods, these objections were recently and ably swept aside by Donald Livingston, a professor of philosophy at Emory University.  Livingston provided written testimony to the South Carolina House Judiciary Committee in defense of nullification.  In response to the above objections, here are Livingston’s answers:

On the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution

“State nullification is not a violation of the supremacy clause of the Constitution. That clause says that laws made by the United States “in pursuance” of the Constitution are the supreme law of the land which means that acts not in “pursuance” of the Constitution are not laws at all.”

“Consequently, state nullification is not an act whereby a state refuses to comply with a federal law that it doesn’t like. Nullification is the claim that the supposed law is not a law at all because it is unconstitutional.”


Tennessee Medicaid Expansion Amendment Becomes the New Bill in Both House and Senate

Two hearings took place today in Nashville regarding the Medicaid Expansion. Those bills include Senate Bill 804 sponsored by Senator Kelsey and House Bill 937 sponsored by Representative Durham. Earlier this morning Governor Haslam had stated that he would not expand Medicaid this year.

During the hearings, the amendment was being distributed. It had been formulated this afternoon after the Governors speech. This amendment rewrites the bill by stating that if the Governor decides that he (or future Governor) would like to expand the Medicaid provision of the Affordable Care Act, he will need the legislatures approval first.

House Bill 937, by Representative Durham, was heard in the House Insurance and Banking Subcommittee. The chairman received the amendment and was asking if this was his plan for the affordable care act since they didn’t have the amendment this morning?

Representative Durham, didn’t have the answer. He knew that Governor Haslam “didn’t want to proceed at this time. When you get into budget amendments, an issue that is such importance, the entire legislature should get to hear that. When you are talking about a 33 billion dollar state budget, I just feel if it is of such importance like Medicaid expansion then we should be hearing just that. So the bill wouldn’t make expansion legal. But if we are going to do it we will do it by a joint resolution. I want everyone to be heard on that”

The chairman was confused by the amendment since the amendment deletes the bill and replaces it with how Representative Durham stated. He wanted the attorney to explain it for the record.

The Attorney stated (she had no prior notice of this amendment), “From looking upon it, it looks as though this with drafting code 5824 saying the Governor would not allow him to make any decision or obligate Tennessee with regards to the expansion of Medicaid Program without approval by a joint resolution from the general assembly. This is how I’m reading it. This (the amendment) would make up the new bill since it is deleting everything after the caption.”


Bill to Implement Arkansas Firearms Freedom Act

Arkansas Bill SB1088 ,An Act concerning the regulation of firearms to be known as the Arkansas Firearm Freedom Act; and for other purposes introduced Senator Bryan King on March 11 and referred to the Senate Committee on State Agencies and Governmental Affairs, withdrawn from the committee for Amendment #1, and re-referred to the committee again on March 13.

 A personal firearm, a firearm accessory, or ammunition that is manufactured commercially or privately in Arkansas and that remains within the borders of Arkansas is not subject to federal law or federal regulation,  including registration, under the authority of the United States Congress to regulate interstate commerce, as those items have not traveled in interstate commerce.

This chapter applies to a firearm, a firearm accessory, or ammunition that is manufactured in Arkansas from basic materials and that can be manufactured without the inclusion of any significant parts imported from another state.

Firearms accessories that are imported into Arkansas from another state and that are subject to federal regulation as being in interstate commerce do not subject a firearm to federal regulation under interstate  commerce because they are attached to or used in conjunction with a firearm  in Arkansas.

Section added as Amendment 1:

Do not codify.  Effective Date: This act shall not become effective until July 1, 2015.