Questioning Congress’s legislative authority to implement treaties

by Amanda Frost, SCOTUSblog

Bond v. United States is back before the U.S. Supreme Court, and this time it raises a question that has long interested academics:  What are the limits on Congress’s power to implement treaties?  Missouri v. Holland, decided in 1920, held that Congress could enact legislation implementing a treaty even if such legislation was otherwise outside the scope of its Article I, Section 8 authority.  The decision is now canonical, and it has been widely accepted by most academics and followed by courts.  Then, in a 2005 article in the Harvard Law Review, Professor Nicholas Quinn Rosenkranz challenged Missouri v. Holland’s rationale and asserted that it should be overruled.  His arguments are now front and center before the Court in Bond.

The facts of Bond are unusually colorful.  After Carol Anne Bond’s husband had an affair, Mrs. Bond sought revenge by sprinkling toxic chemicals around the car and mailbox owned by the woman involved.  Prosecutors charged her with violating a federal statute implementing the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling, and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction (also known as the “Chemical Weapons Convention”), to which the United States is a signatory.  Mrs. Bond argued that Congress lacked the authority to criminalize her conduct, asserting that the statute is a “massive and unjustifiable expansion of federal law enforcement into state-regulated domain.” 

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Time to Shift Gears

As the state legislative session in Salem, Orgeon comes to an end, it’s time to wrap up a few things – time to shift our focus to the very local -?- (Sheriffs, County Councils, City Councils), as opposed to the somewhat remote (Salem).  This means that for the next several months, the focus of activism in Oregon needs to be on the local.  This is not to say that we’re giving up on Salem, on the contrary, any local successes we have will feed into the momentum towards nullifications at the state level!

As kind of an end-of-session wrap up, I’d like to just recap what has been accomplished here in Oregon:

The Good

The Drone bill

HB2710 and SB71 both passed their respective houses of the legislature – unfortunately, they were not signed into law, but at the next full session, they will be more likely to pass.  These are bills that would extend the normal requirements for a mandatory warrant for the Federal Gov’s surveillance performed with a drone, as well as place controls upon federal drones in the state of Oregon.  Hopefully, in 2015, it will get further, but just having it passed in both houses shows that there is enough courage to defy the feds, as well as respect for privacy rights here in Oregon.

The Pot bill

HB3371 was introduced in the House, and even got through committee.  It was referred to revenue, and there it died.  However, I think the bill will be back and will have more success in 2015; this is, after all, Oregon- and if there is one thing ‘we’ don’t like being last in line for, it’s pot.  Washington has legalized it, and so has Colorado.  Please understand, I am not condoning pot use, I am simply backing this measure because it is not a federal issue.  Although I do not believe in prohibition, or government in control of consumption in any way (and of course I counsel my children against it), If there is to be prohibition laws, the legal way to accommodate these is at the state level (or through a constitutional amendment).  This bill would have legalized pot use, and treated it as it does alcohol (although it added an awful lot of layers of regulation).  I am still hoping for a pot bill that will not erect enormous amounts of government, but maybe we are not to that stage yet.

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It’s All About Liberty

The founding generation had many reasons for wanting to form a ‘more perfect union.’

Having fought a long bloody war for freedom, many recognized the advantages the union offered in terms of mutual defense. At the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Benjamin Franklin famously quipped, “We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.”

Along those same lines, many founders believed the states would fare better in international relations interacting with other world powers as a united entity. Even operating as a union, the Americans were at a significant power disadvantage when dealing with England, France, Spain and other European powers. Separately, they would have virtually no power.

Then there were the economic advantages of a union. In much the same way unity increased diplomatic power, it also increased the America’s economic power.

Alexander Hamilton even argued that a single general government would conserve American resources.

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Tenther Mayor Leading Kansas Back to Liberty

Last May, Herndon, Kansas, Mayor Kenny Chartier introduced an ordinance nullifying federal gun laws in his town. The legally binding ordinance prohibits “any agency or person in the employ of the City of Herndon from enforcing, providing material support for, or participating in any way in the enforcement of any act, law, treaty, order, rule or regulation of federal government regarding personal firearms, firearm accessories, or ammunition with the city limits.”

The city council unanimously adopted it.

Chartier took action after Kansas Gov. Brownback signed a state Second Amendment Protection Act into law last April. The state law nullifies a wide range of unconstitutional federal gun laws. Passage represented a huge step in protecting the right to keep and bear arms in Kansas, but Chartier understood local support would play a vital role in the ultimate success of the new Kansas law, and he did his part to add another layer of protection for citizens in his town.

And the Herndon mayor didn’t stop there.

Recently, Chatier sent an email to “every town, city and municipality in the state of Kansas that had an e-mail address,”urging them to pass similar Second Amendment Preservation ordinances supporting the state law.

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