An important citizen protection against government is the rule that in criminal prosecutions, criminal statutes are interpreted strictly. In other words, if the government wants to punish someone for violating a statute, it has to show that the defendant’s behavior was illegal beyond a reasonable doubt under the clear wording of the statute. Citizens are not held criminally responsible for guessing “wrong” about the meaning of an ambiguous law.Details
Although I’ve often criticized the constitutional tone-deafness of “progressives,” conservatives can sometimes exhibit such tendencies as well. Over atThe Seventh Amendment Advocate, Andy Cochran points out why trial by jury in civil cases—as guaranteed by the Seventh Amendment—is important, and how some conservatives disregard it.Details
I’m pleased to report that this past week the brilliant Justice Clarence Thomas cited my work on the Necessary and Proper Clause in his concurring opinion in Town of Greece v. Galloway, an Establishment Clause case that received wide publicity. This was the thirteenth citation in the third Supreme Court case in the past 11 months.Details
Earlier this year, the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy published my article showing that the Constitution’s Recess Appointments Clause limits presidential vacancy appointments far more than President Obama (and most prior Presidents) have claimed. I posted earlier on the same subject here.
The issue is before the Supreme Court right now.Details
Congress had authority to build the interstate highway system. But the construction of other roads and of ground transportation facilities was reserved to the states. The debates over the Constitution’s ratification amply confirm these conclusions.Details
Not raising the debt limit is simply running a balanced budget.
Yes, that’s right: The President and Congress may have to balance the federal budget in the next few days! Horrors!
Let’s get some clarity here. When the federal government hits the debt limit it does NOT mean that it can’t borrow or that it can’t pay existing debts. It just means it cannot continue to run a deficit. Spending becomes limited by revenue, and existing debt may be replaced by new debt. The government just can’t add MORE debt.Details
Freedom and popular government in Britain and America became possible because over the course of many years the English House of Commons, and later the American colonial legislatures, were willing to exert the power of the purse to discipline an overreaching executive.
In Britain, the House of Commons—Parliament’s lower chamber—sometimes defunded the executive in order to curb it. The House was willing do this despite threats from the Crown and “bad press” from the English establishment. In America, the colonial assemblies were willing to defund the king’s governors to check their power.
Freedom likely would have been impossible without the constancy of the “people’s houses,” led by great parliamentary leaders like Edward Coke in England and Patrick Henry in America.Details