NSA Seizures: Papers, Effects, and the Constitution

Randy Barnett has an interesting op ed in the Wall Street Journal arguing that the NSA’s seizure of voluminous data on U.S. citizens was unconstitutional and that the approval of the seizure by the secret FISA court was also unconstitutional.

Randy makes several important points:

1. “By banning unreasonable “seizures” of a person’s “papers,” the Fourth Amendment clearly protects what we today call ‘informational privacy.’”

2. The FISA Court’s approval of the “blanket seizure of data on every American” represents “indiscriminate data seizures” that “are the epitome of ‘unreasonable,’ akin to the ‘general warrants’ issued by the Crown to authorize searches of Colonial Americans.”

3. The program’s approval by the FISA Court violates due process, because “secret judicial proceedings adjudicating the rights of private parties, without any ability to participate or even read the legal opinions of the judges, is the antithesis of the due process of law.”

These are powerful arguments and the entire essay is well worth reading.  I am not entirely sure if Randy is using an originalist methodology here.  If he is, here are my thoughts regarding each of his three points.

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Action Alert: Nullify Federal Gun ‘Laws’ Locally in the state of Maine

Unlike most New England states, Maine has relatively relaxed state gun laws. Mainers value their right to keep and bear arms and their elected representatives reflect those values. This year, the Senate voted down two anti-gun bills. Even the governor has professed that he will never sign any anti-gun legislation.

While the state does show some respect to the right to keep and bear arms, there’s much more that needs to be done.  The federal government violates the 2nd Amendment daily, and action should be taken on the local level to help protect it.

Starting today, and all the way through the rest of the year, local governments around the state need to be pressed to take action – passing legislation in support of the right to keep and bear arms locally.  And at the same time, calling on the state legislature to do the same.  When the state is blanketed with local communities willing to nullify violations of the Second Amendment, the state legislature will be on notice.  Do your job, or else.

It’s going to take work to ensure that this is how things play out.  Here’s what you can start doing right now.

1.  Contact your local legislators – County, City, Town – and urge them to introduce an ordinance in support of the Second Amendment.

local ordinance here: http://tenthamendmentcenter.com/legislation/2nd-amendment-preservation-act/

2.  Become a local leader.   If you’re dedicated to the right and keep and bear arms, we’ll provide you with the tools you need to not only act on your own, but to organize and lead others to help support these efforts. 

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Nullification Is The Answer!

via NullifyNow.com

Plain and simple, Washington D.C. is never going to fix Washington D.C.

Not today.

Not next week.

Not even after November 2014.

If you’re going to depend on a political campaign to get (R)’s or (D)’s elected to fix this problem, then you’re destined to be disappointed – and enslaved. The simple fact is that everyone in Washington, Republican and Democrat alike, now believes that they work for a benign, but totalitarian government. They are determined to use their power “for good,” as they define it, but they’re not about to give up their power under any circumstances.

Hell, it took the House an entire year just to bring contempt charges against Attorney General Holder for his stonewalling in “Operation Fast and Furious”. And we know that the Senate will do nothing, even with all of the new revelations concerning the IRS, NSA wiretapping, Benghazi and on and on. It’s all a masquerade. Do we really want to count on these people to protect our Liberty? The idea of a limited government with enumerated powers is not even on their radar.

We burned two entire years waiting for the Supreme Court to save us from Obamacare only to have them betray our trust. How long will we wait for Congress to betray us this time around?

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Stop Following the DC Playbook!

via NullifyNow.com

What do we do when the federal government exercises powers it does not rightly possess, or when it violates basic rights protected by the Constitution?

Most Americans have been trained to turn to Washington D.C., pinning their hopes on the next election, or on a favorable Supreme Court ruling to check federal power. But when you really think about it, this fails the logic test. We are asking the federal government to interpret and limit its own power! This is kind of like letting a Duke University player referee a game between the Blue Devils and the Tar Heels. Probably wouldn’t turn out too well for the boys in Carolina Blue!

The founders of the United States fought a bloody war to free themselves from a king who believed he had absolute authority to dictate anything he pleased. It seems more than a little unlikely that these same men would create a new system in the image of the old. In fact, they adamantly opposed it. Therefore, some mechanism must exist to stop the federal government from grabbing power it was not intended to have.

Ink on paper cannot not enforce itself.

The states hold that enforcement power.

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Give ‘Em an Inch

Operating pretty much in the shadows, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA Court) has issued a series of rulings vastly expanding National Security Agency power.

The New York Times reports that the secret court has issued hundreds of rulings creating a vast body of law empowering the NSA to gather all kinds of data on Americans. The FISA Court initially limited itself primarily to approving wiretaps in foreign intelligence investigations. But the court has gradually taken on a much broader role, even assessing and ruling on broad constitutional issues. According to the Times, the FISA Court has gone as far as carving out an exception to the Fourth Amendment.

In one of the court’s most important decisions, the judges have expanded the use in terrorism cases of a legal principle known as the “special needs” doctrine and carved out an exception to the Fourth Amendment’s requirement of a warrant for searches and seizures, the officials said.

Ever since Truman decided in 1946 that intelligence gathering is a civilian, peacetime activity rather than one restricted to wartime, we’ve quietly succumbed to a creeping loss of Fourth Amendment rights. I keep thinking of the old Steve McQueen movie, “The Blob”. The Blob was a slow-moving, gooey…well, blob. The unwary that merely touched the creature would be inexorably sucked in and consumed. Sort of a mobile La Brea tar pit. So goes the federal government. Give ’em and inch, they’ll take a mile. Perhaps two.

In this case, we see court-creep. In 1989, the Supreme Court allowed drug testing of railroad workers, reasoning the “minimal intrusion” on privacy was outweighed by the need to keep people safe.  Who can argue with keeping drugged up engineers from running trains, right? Fast forward 24 years and we have a super-secret court building on the precedent to allow the NSA to gather up every American’s phone calls and Internet data. Of course there were in-between stretches of that 1989 ruling. There were airport security checkpoints and DUI roadblocks. That raised some eyebrows, but really – it was just to keep us safe.

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Iowa Action Alert: Nullify Federal Gun Control Locally

In Iowa, most of the worst anti-gun legislation never moves forward once introduced in the state legislature.  But it seems that the good ones fail too.  In the 2013 legislative session, 18 gun bills were introduced (five of which were anti-gun legislation). Every single bill stalled and died. Importantly, a Second Amendment Preservation Act (HF170 ) stalled and died.

What was most lacking – beyond political courage in the legislature – was strong grassroots organization behind the bill well in advance.  Iowa lawmakers need to be on notice for months in order to get this important legislation passed.  With your work and dedication, liberty will win.

In order to take this to the next level and get a victory, your action is needed right now.  Starting today, and all the way through the rest of the year, local governments around the state need to be pressed to take a similar action – passing legislation in support of the right to keep and bear arms locally.  And at the same time, calling on the state legislature to do the same.  When the state is blanketed with local communities willing to nullify violations of the 2nd Amendment, the state legislature will be on notice.  Do your job, or else.

It’s going to take work to ensure that this is how things play out.  Here’s what you can start doing right now.

1.  Contact your local legislators – County, City, Town – and urge them to introduce an ordinance in support of the Second Amendment.

local ordinance here: http://tenthamendmentcenter.com/legislation/2nd-amendment-preservation-act/

2.  Become a local leader.   If you’re dedicated to the right and keep and bear arms, we’ll provide you with the tools you need to not only act on your own, but to organize and lead others to help support these efforts. 

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Economic Development Administration Goes ‘Rambo’ on Itself

There exists in the Department of Commerce an irrelevant Great Society relic called the Economic Development Administration. With a relatively small budget of around $400 million, the EDA acts as a slush fund for Congress to shovel subsidies to their districts for projects that should be funded locally or privately.

That’s why it’s been hard to kill. Indeed, last year 175 Democrats and 104 Republicans teamed up to defeat an amendment introduced by Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) that would have finally put the EDA out of its misery.

Around the same time that the EDA came under attack from Rep. Pompeo, the agency believed that it had also suffered a cyber attack on its IT infrastructure. National Review Online’s Kevin Williamson has the story, which has to be one of the all-time greatest examples of bureaucratic ineptitude:

The trouble began in December 2011, when the Department of Homeland Security alerted Commerce that it had discovered a possible malware infection in the department, specifically within the network located within the Hoover Building. The EDA’s immediate reaction — based on absolutely nothing — was: cyberwar! According to the [Dept. of Commerce inspector general] audit, the main concern among the EDA’s top brass was that the agency was under attack by a nation-state actor. There was no evidence to support that fear, and a good deal of evidence to the contrary, but the EDA basically went to whatever is the Commerce Department’s version of DEFCON 1.

As Kevin deftly wise-cracks, “If the Chi-Coms wanted to hurt the U.S. economy, they wouldn’t attack EDA; they’d hire a lobbyist to increase its funding.” But, after all, we’re talking about an agency that has an amazingly inflated sense of self-worth. And so the EDA decided that it wasn’t taking any chances – the agency’s entire IT infrastructure had to go: 

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California “Nullify NDAA” Bill Keeps Moving Forward

The following was written by California State Assemblymember Tim Donnelly, sponsor of Assembly Bill 351, legislation that addresses the “indefinite detention” powers of the 2012 NDAA and other federal “laws.” 

I find it absolutely amazing how far our country has digressed politically since its founding in 1787. Take, for example, the latest Obama Administration scandals: Soylndra, Benghazi, Fast & Furious, the IRS profiling various Conservative political organizations, domestic wiretapping probes on AP journalists, and the PRISM program run by the NSA.

There comes a time when you have to take a stand against a government that has grown far beyond its morally and constitutionally justifiable authority; a government that is making confident legislative strides to seize more power which it should not have; and a government that is increasing regulations left and right.

Concurring in my prescription, Alexander Hamilton once said: “If the federal government should overpass the just bounds of its authority and make a tyrannical use of its power, the people, whose creature it is, must appeal to the standard they have formed, and take such measures to redress the injury done to the Constitution as the exigency may suggest and prudence justify.”

In my capacity as a state assemblyman in California, I have spearheaded legislation that would decrease the size of government and preserve our freedoms. One such example would be Assembly Bill 351, which I introduced in mid-February.

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