Compact for America Convention Bill Defeated in Arizona

The Compact for America’s drive to call a new constitutional convention was dealt a crushing blow in Arizona Monday.

By a vote of 3-6, Arizona HB 2328 was defeated by the House Rules Committee Monday.

This defeat must be particularly painful for the Compact for America considering it happened in the backyard of the Goldwater Institute — one of the compact’s chief supporters.

Standing before the committee for about 30 minutes, the committee’s legislative counsel, Tim Fleming, presented the outline of the con-con plan as set out in the Compact for America.

Numerous times, Fleming explained to members of the committee that the compact was unclear and led states into “unchartered territory” without the benefit of any “solid case law.”

Several of these shortcomings were additionally highlighted in questions put to Fleming by representatives on the committee.

For example, Representative Bruce Wheeler (D-District 10), asked Fleming whether delegates to the con-con created by the Compact for America would be allowed to propose amendments other than the balanced budget amendment that the Compact for America insists would be the only amendment allowed to be deliberated by the convention.

“I don’t know the answer to this,” Fleming responded, once again admitting the weaknesses of the Compact for America.

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Utah State Rep Introduces State Supremacy Firearms Act

originally published at The New American Magazine

Think Americans don’t care about the right to keep and bear arms? Think again.

In Salt Lake City, Utah, on January 19, nearly 3,000 liberty-minded Americans disregarded temperatures in the single digits to express their opposition to impending federal gun control programs and their support for a state bill that will stop all such efforts at the borders of the Beehive State.

The legislation in question, the State Supremacy Firearms Act, is the work of first-time state representative Brian Greene (R-Pleasant Grove).

“The Utah Legislature knows what is best with respect to gun safety in our state,” Greene told the crowd gathered on the steps of the State Capitol.

Greene also shared with the rally a letter from the Utah Sheriffs’ Association to President Obama that informs the president that “no federal official will be permitted to descend upon our constituents and take from them what the Bill of Rights — in particular Amendment 2 — has given them.”

The last line of the letter from the sheriffs brought the seriousness of the message home.

“And we are prepared,” the sheriffs write, “to trade our lives for the preservation of its traditional interpretation.”

As The New American has reported, similar statements in defense of the constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms are being issued by sheriffs all around the country.

In Utah, Representative Greene believes that sheriffs will arrest and detain any federal agent attempting to enforce any executive order or act of Congress that infringes on the right to purchase or possess firearms and ammunition.

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Oklahoma Legislator Joins Fight to Nullify ObamaCare

cross-posted from The New American Magazine

On January 16, Oklahoma State Representative Mike Ritze re-introduced a bill stopping the enforcement of ObamaCare at the borders of the Sooner State.

In a statement announcing the newest effort to protect citizens of Oklahoma from the devastating effects of the president’s healthcare law, Dr. Ritze quoted Thomas Jefferson is support of his right to reject unconstitutional federal acts. Said Ritze:

Thomas Jefferson made it perfectly clear in the Kentucky Resolution of 1799 when he wrote; “That if those who administer the general government be permitted to transgress the limits fixed by that compact, by a total disregard to the special delegations of power therein contained, annihilation of the state governments, and the erection upon their ruins, of a general consolidated government, will be the inevitable consequence.”

Jefferson’s Kentucky Resolution plainly sets forth his understanding of the source of all federal power. Later in that document, Jefferson wrote:

That the several states who formed that instrument, being sovereign and independent, have the unquestionable right to judge of its infraction; and that a nullification, by those sovereignties, of all unauthorized acts done under colour [sic] of that instrument, is the rightful remedy.

Simply stated, nullification is a concept of constitutional law that recognizes the right of each state to nullify, or invalidate, any federal measure that exceeds the few and defined powers allowed the federal government as enumerated in the Constitution.

Nullification is founded on the assertion that the sovereign states formed the union, and as creators of the compact, they hold ultimate authority as to the limits of the power of the central government to enact laws that are applicable to the states and the citizens thereof.

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Nevada Legislature to Consider NDAA-Nullifying Bill

On December 19, the Nevada chapters of People Against the National Defense Authorization Act (PANDA) announced the introduction of BDR 728, the Nevada Liberty Preservation Act. Sponsored by Nevada State Senator Don Gustavson, the bill will be presented to lawmakers in February, when the state legislature reconvenes.

In a statement announcing the impending introduction of the bill, the Nevada state coordinator for PANDA, Christopher Corbett, said,

I appreciate the community support backing up our efforts and the courage of those members of our governing bodies who are willing to actively protect the constitutional rights of their constituents. We need to restore the Constitutionally protected right to due process for every American.

Any day now, President Obama is expected to sign into law the 2013 version of the NDAA. The president signed the 2012 bill into law on December 31, 2011.

The NDAA contains several unconstitutional provisions that are opposed by a broad spectrum of political action groups.

For example, Sections 1021 and 1022 of the 2012 act declare the United States to be a battlefield in the “War on Terror” and authorize the president of the United States to deploy the armed forces to arrest and indefinitely detain any American he suspects of supporting al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or “associated forces.”

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Federalization of State Militias: Another Attack on the Second Amendment

Since the soul-shaking murder of 20 children and six adults at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, one week ago, thousands of articles have been written calling for increased federal control over the right of an individual to own a gun. Such proposals are perhaps an expected though ineffectual and unconstitutional reaction to an event so horrific and inexplicable.

Of course, the right to “bear arms” is explicitly protected by the Second Amendment to the Constitution and should not be subject to arbitrary and knee-jerk abridgment by those who wrongly believe that limiting access to weapons would effect a proportional decrease in violent crime.

There are many who insist that safety at school, specifically, and at home, generally, would increase were we to impose tighter restrictions on the ability to obtain firearms.

For example, in his statement following the rampage in Newtown, President Obama hinted that such stricter proposals will be forthcoming:

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South Carolina Bill Proposes Jail Time for Feds Trying to Enforce Obamacare

South Carolina may soon join the ranks of states struggling to reclaim their constitutional sovereignty stolen from them by the federal government.

On December 11, South Carolina State Representative William Chumley pre-filed a bill in the South Carolina General Assembly that would prevent the enforcement of ObamaCare within the borders of the Palmetto State.

Using language that would prohibit state officials from participating in the implementation of state healthcare exchanges or from enforcing the individual mandate that are key elements of ObamaCare, Chumley’s measure — the South Carolina Freedom of Health Care Protection Act — requires state lawmakers to “prevent the enforcement of the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” [ObamaCare] within the limits of this state.”

South Carolina, a state with a long history of resisting federal despotism, joins three other states currently considering bills nullifying ObamaCare. The state legislatures of Maine, New Jersey, and Oklahoma have also had bills introduced aimed at stopping ObamaCare at the state border.

Simply stated, nullification is a concept of constitutional law that recognizes the right of each state to nullify, or invalidate, any federal measure that exceeds the few and defined powers allowed the federal government as enumerated in the Constitution. Nullification is founded on the assertion that the sovereign states formed the union, and as creators of the compact, they hold ultimate authority as to the limits of the power of the central government to enact laws that are applicable to the states and the citizens thereof.

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s ObamaCare decision, state legislators and governors are boldly asserting their right to restrain the federal government, and are accordingly considering bills that will stop ObamaCare’s multitude of mandates at the state border.

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Drone Makers Push Congress to Move Up Domestic Deployment Date

The day of deployment is drawing nearer. Soon, thousands of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) unmanned aerial vehicle license holders will launch their drones into the skies over the United States.

Despite the delay of lawmakers to establish constitutionally sound guidelines for the use of these eyes in the sky, a handful of congressmen are pushing to move forward the date of deployment.

Why would legislators — typically not the most hurry-happy group — be interested in accelerating the drive to permit civilian drone use?

Money.

A collaboration between Hearst Newspapers and the Center for Responsive Politics paints the pecuniary picture:

The drone makers have sought congressional help to speed their entry into a domestic market valued in the billions. The 60-member House of Representatives’ “drone caucus” — officially, the House Unmanned Systems Caucus — has helped push that agenda. And over the last four years, caucus members have drawn nearly $8 million in drone-related campaign contributions….

And:

House members from California, Texas, Virginia and New York on the bipartisan “drone caucus” received the lion’s share of the funds channeled to lawmakers from dozens of firms that are members of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, Hearst and CRP found.

Eleven drone caucus lawmakers from California, where many aviation firms are located, received more than $2.4 million from manufacturers’ political action committees and employees during the 2012 and 2010 election cycles, according to CRP tabulation of Federal Election Commission reports.

Eight Texas House members in the caucus received more than $746,000. And four caucus members from New York got more than $185,000 from companies connected to the business of unmanned vehicles.

The big winner of the drone manufacturer lobbying lotto was Representative Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-Calif.). According to the investigation, McKeon — cochairman of the House Unmanned Systems Caucus — received $833,650 in contributions from the drone industry. 

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Will Americans Be Stripped of Citizenship Based on Accusation?

In a recent op-ed published in Jurist, St. John’s University School of Law student Christopher Elsee described a scenario he believes threatens the civil rights of his fellow citizens.

Writes Elsee:

Imagine you have just written a check to an organization that sends mechanical engineering textbooks to students in Afghanistan or Iraq. Now further imagine that you have been engaged in this practice for well over a decade because you are interested in helping individuals in developing countries to improve their technical knowledge, with the hopes of enabling them to better themselves. Are you supporting terrorists? According to a proposed piece of legislation, you may very well be.

The legislation Elsee mentions is the Terrorist Expatriation Act. This bill, proposed in 2010 by Senator Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), would strip any American accused of terrorism of his citizenship. This would place the suspect outside of the jurisdiction of the U.S. Constitution’s Article III courts and assign the trial on his alleged crimes to a military tribunal.

As Elsee explains:

The act adds offenses such as providing material support to foreign terrorist organizations, engaging in or purposefully and materially supporting hostilities against the US or any country engaged in hostilities alongside the US or providing direct operational support to the US. Another section of the act explains that “material support or resources” means, among other things as the list goes on, property, services, training, expert advice or assistance, communications equipment and facilities.

This illustrates why the person in Elsee’s hypothetical would face expatriation.

A central point of the act not specifically addressed in Elsee’s article is the provision specifying the burden of proof in a case brought under its authority.

Under the Terrorist Expatriation Act, anyone stripped of his citizenship could appeal his expatriation to a federal court, where the federal government would have to demonstrate by “a preponderance of the evidence” that the accused committed the offense with the purpose of relinquishing his citizenship.

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Switching Deck Chairs on the Titanic?

When asked on October 22 during the final presidential debate what he thought about the use of drones, Mitt Romney responded:

Well I believe we should use any and all means necessary to take out people who pose a threat to us and our friends around the world. And it’s widely reported that drones are being used in drone strikes, and I support that and entirely, and feel the president was right to up the usage of that technology, and believe that we should continue to use it, to continue to go after the people that represent a threat to this nation and to our friends.

It could not be put much plainer: If Republican candidate Mitt Romney becomes president, the United States will continue spreading democracy to the Middle East one Hellfire missile at a time.

Perhaps worse than Romney’s express commitment to carry on disregarding due process by blowing up those he deems “threats,” is the fact that, as with the current occupant of the White House, critical terms such as “threat” will go undefined. By keeping the legislative lines blurry a greater number of targets can be absorbed by the steady creep of a growing grey area.

There are so many problems with this policy and this attitude. First and foremost as pertains to the president’s constitutional authority is Romney’s presumption of the president’s right to act as judge, jury, and executioner of anyone at anytime. This is a fatal misconception — one of many — that he shares with President Obama.

Regardless of who sits in the Oval Office, when the judicial and executive powers of government are consolidated and restraints on the exercise of power are cast aside, it can be expected — based on both our knowledge of history and the nature of man — that power will be abused and no one’s rights or life will be safe from elimination by despots.

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“Disposition Matrix”: President’s 10-Year Plan for the Kill List

originally published at The New American Magazine

There will be no end to the War on Terror and the targeting of “suspected militants” will continue and become more sophisticated, according to an article published in theWashington Post on October 23.

In the piece, Greg Miller describes a project the Obama administration has been developing for a couple of years called — in true Orwellian fashion — the “disposition matrix.”

Glen Greenwald at the Guardian (U.K.) describes the matrix’s chain of command:

The “disposition matrix” has been developed and will be overseen by the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC). One of its purposes is “to augment” the “separate but overlapping kill lists” maintained by the CIA and the Pentagon: to serve, in other words, as the centralized clearinghouse for determining who will be executed without due process based upon how one fits into the executive branch’s “matrix”.

According to reports, the plans for perpetuating and perfecting the death-by-drone program “contains the names of terrorism suspects arrayed against an accounting of the resources being marshaled to track them down, including sealed indictments and clandestine operations.”

The article quotes “U.S. officials” saying that the matrix will improve the existing pair of kill lists (one maintained by the President, the other kept by the CIA) by “mapping plans for the ‘disposition’ of suspects beyond the reach of American drones.”

Readers unfamiliar with the argot of the White House and the intelligence community should understand that the phrase “plans for the disposition” of someone means plans for summarily executing a person who has never been accused of a crime and who has never been proven to have any plan to attack the United States or its interests.

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