An Impeachable Offense

by Jacob Hornberger, Future of Freedom Foundation

Make no mistake about it: President Obama’s 90-minute telephone conference call with a group of congressional “leaders” to consult about his plans to initiate a military attack on Syria does not comport with the U.S. Constitution, the higher law that the American people have imposed on federal officials.

The Constitution is clear: The power to declare war lies with Congress, not the president. Like it or not, under our form of government the president is prohibited from waging war without a declaration of war from Congress. If someone doesn’t like it, he’s free to start a movement to amend the Constitution to enable the president to both declare and wage war.

From a legal standpoint, it makes no difference that previous presidents have waged wars without the constitutionally required congressional declaration of war. Prior violations of the Constitution do not operate as an implicit amendment of the Constitution. If Obama proceeds to carry out his threat to initiate war against Syria, he will be committing a grave constitutional offense.

The Framers did not want President Obama or any other president to have the omnipotent, dictatorial authority to send the entire nation into war on his own initiative. They knew that rulers inevitably embroil themselves in things like “saving face,” “maintaining credibility,” and “showing toughness.”

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The Supreme Court as Accomplice: Judicial Backing for Executive Power

Lecture presented by Marshall DeRosa at the Ludwig von Mises Institute’s “Reassessing the Presidency” seminar. This lecture series addresses the much neglected reality that the executive department of the U.S. government has always been the sum total of the American welfare-warfare state. Event held at the Mises Institute in Auburn, Alabama, October 16-17, 1998. http://mises.org

Confession: I Supported Bush’s Wars

I have a confession.no syria

I supported the Bush wars. Actually, his daddy’s wars too. And Clinton’s wars. In fact, I pretty much supported all of the wars.

My worldview has shifted 180 degrees over the last five years.

Since the war drums started pounding out their cadence, driving the march toward Syria, I’ve spoken openly about my opposition to intervention. I even made a photo expressing my anti-war sentiment my Facebook profile pic.

I admit; it feels a little weird. A bit uncomfortable. Kind of like putting on a shoe that doesn’t quite fit. Or maybe putting on a shoe that fits just right after spending most of my life sporting ill-fitting footwear.

Here’s the thing: supporting war isn’t hard. Rage and hate come easily. War is bellicose and powerful. In my warmongering days, I could simply ridicule opponents. Shout them down. Paint them as unpatriotic, unamerican, cowards and trample over them. They were weak. I was strong.

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Fed. Judge Rules Oklahoma Challenge to ObamaCare May Proceed

In yet another indication that ObamaCare must be repealed, a federal judge ruled last week that a challenge to the healthcare “law” filed by the state of Oklahoma may proceed.

According to a report in the Washington Times, the suit filed by the Sooner State “claims the federal government is unlawfully extending tax credits to states that opted not to set up their own insurance exchanges under the new health care law.”

In his order, U.S. District Court Judge Ronald A. White refused to rule on the merits of the case, but simply permitted the challenge to proceed along the path of adjudication.

Although not all of the state’s assertions were accepted by White, among those that the judge did sign off on was the claim that the state as an employer would be harmed by the administration’s application of various provisions in the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Specifically, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt argues that President Obama is permitting federal healthcare agencies to ignore the letter of the law in order to benefit the federal government. The Washington Times explains the government’s alleged errant interpretation:

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The Dictatorial Power to Punish a Dictator

by Jacob Hornberger, Future of Freedom Foundation

President Obama is considering what military action the U.S. government should take against Syria in retaliation for its purported use of chemical weapons against the Syrian people. At the risk of asking an indelicate question, where in the Constitution does it authorize the president to undertake such action?

When our American ancestors were calling the federal government into existence, they had two basic ways to go: (1) give the president unlimited authority to do whatever he deems is right or (2) limit the authority of the president to undertake only certain actions.

The first option would obviously have vested dictatorial powers within the president. That’s what a dictatorship is all about — the ability of a ruler to undertake whatever actions he wants and whatever he deems is in the best interests of the country.

That’s not the type of government our American ancestors desired to bring into existence. Instead, they chose the second option — the one in which the ruler’s powers are limited in nature.

That’s what the Constitution was all about. At the same time it brought the federal government into existence, it also limited the powers of the president (and other federal officials) to those expressly enumerated in the Constitution. The idea was that if a power wasn’t enumerated, the president was not authorized to exercise it.

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The Second Amendment is Not Your Gun Permit

Fact: the Second Amendment does not grant you the right to keep and bear arms.

I’m probably going to make a few enemies here, but it’s about time to correct this common misnomer. You probably have seen this message a million times, especially on Facebook,  in some ad for a gun rights group, or a meme, or some person commenting in opposition to state concealed carry permits. They almost always say something like, “the Second Amendment is my only gun permit.”

Erroneous.

First off, the Constitution does not grant us rights. The Constitution serves as a rule book. It delegates power to the federal government, outlines its responsibilities and declares its restrictions.

Second, the Bill of Rights protects natural rights and privileges from federal government usurpation. That’s it. It further defines the limits of federal authority. It doesn’t give you a right. And it doesn’t stop other governments from infringing on them. It certainly doesn’t turn the federal government into a liberty enforcement squad.

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President Puffs on Marijuana: “No Change in Law”

President Obama has brought neither change nor hope when it comes to federal marijuana prohibition and its constitutional ramifications.

But you’d think the Evolver in Chief would have second thoughts after his own former favorite for US Surgeon General, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, recently changed his mind on the issue.

Following the CNN documentary “Weed,” hosted by Gupta, in which he presents a case to lift marijuana from the Schedule 1 federal classification, White House deputy press secretary Josh Earnest stuck to the script.

“The administration’s position on this has been clear and consistent for some time now. While the prosecution of drug traffickers remains an important priority, the president and the administration believe that the targeting of individual marijuana users, especially those with serious illnesses and their caregivers, is not the best allocation of federal law enforcement resources.”

Where is the hope in continuing policies that have doubled marijuana-related incarceration, contributing to the largest imprisoned population in the world? There’s certainly no hope for the young African-American male, who is arrested 3-4 more times more on average than his white counterparts. In Obama’s own home state of Illinois, 58 percent of those arrested for possession are African-Americans, who make up just 15 percent of the population.

Judging by Obama’s record on marijuana prosecutions, his definition of “drug traffickers” is about as clear as his definition of “terrorist” or “transparency.” Federal agents have stepped up aggressive enforcement, targeting medical marijuana dispensaries in several states.  But statistics are proving that no matter how much they increase enforcement, the federal government is failing in its effort to stop the state nullification efforts against their national prohibition scheme.

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Ruling Reveals NSA Lies to Courts, Congress About Scope of Surveillance

originally posted at The New American

The National Security Agency was forced to de-classify a document, the contents of which make it easy to see why the snoops wanted it kept secret.

In an 85-page ruling handed down by Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (commonly known as the FISA court) judge John D. Bates, the NSA was called out “for repeatedly misleading the court that oversees its surveillance on domestic soil, including a program that is collecting tens of thousands of domestic e-mails and other Internet communications of Americans each year,” the New York Times reported on Thursday.

Bates found that the NSA routinely misled the court as to the scope of its domestic surveillance activities.

“The court is troubled that the government’s revelations regarding N.S.A.’s acquisition of Internet transactions mark the third instance in less than three years in which the government has disclosed a substantial misrepresentation regarding the scope of a major collection program,” former FISA court chief judge Bates wrote in his ruling.

Most of the secret NSA programs recently brought to light by the Edward Snowden leaks are mentioned by Bates as being evidence of the NSA’s blatant disregard for the Constitution and for legal limits on its surveillance authority.

As reported by the New York Times:

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A Long History of Constitutional War Power Violations

Barack Obama is clearly not the first president to ignore the framers’ intent regarding the executive’s war powers. In many ways Obama is merely building upon the framework of George W. Bush, whose many foreign interventions were based on, at best, faulty evidence, and even worse constitutional reasoning.

Believe it or not, it is not constitutional for Congress to officially hand over its war responsibilities to the president. This was the basis for Bush’s interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq.

But even George W. “If You’re Not With Us You’re Against Us” Bush didn’t lead the way in trailblazing the path of presidential war powers. Harry Truman kicked it off with his “police action” in Korea. The reasoning back then was pretty much the same as it is today. If war was redefined as a “police action,” it wouldn’t have to be declared by Congress and the President could wage it on his say-so alone.

If you or I tried to redefine the law like that we’d end up in jail. But when a president does it we’re supposed to fall in line with a chorus of “Yes, sir.”

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