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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Wellington Kansas Passes Resolution Supporting the Second Amendment

On the evening of July 2, the City Council of Wellington, Kan., unanimously passed a resolution in Support of the Second Amendment.

The Tenth Amendment Center applauds every city, county, and state that proactively defends their citizens’ natural right to self defense by enacting state laws, city ordinances, and honorary resolutions which preserve and defend this unalienable right.

The resolution passed 6-0

In April of this year, with more than 50 co-sponsors, SB 102, was signed by Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback. The law declares “any act, law, treaty, order, rule or regulation of the government of the United States which violates the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States is null and void in the state of Kansas.”

This legislation has been deemed, “The Strictest Second Amendment Protection Law” in the nation. So, why exactly would a small town of 8,000 citizens go to the trouble of preparing a resolution, when their right of self defense is clearly protected by the new state law? Could it be Patriotism?  Perhaps Stick it to the Man Syndrome?

How about as a “jobs creation” resolution?

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Even a Blind Squirrel Sometimes Finds a Nut

The Supreme Court just released its opinion on DOMA, and Prop 8.  The justices showed some rare wisdom here, and even applied the Constitution in ways I never expected them to.  I suppose, just when you are certain of the utter uselessness of an organization, they can perform one righteous act to make a liar out of you.

First let me explain what the Constitutional position of the federal government should be on marriage.

None.

It’s that simple. Marriage is not mentioned once in the Constitution. It is not related to an enumerated power, and as a religious institution, it is arguably forbidden for the feds to pass laws concerning it under the First Amendment.

But, I will allow one disclaimer to this position: the full faith and credit clause in Article4:

“Full faith and credit shall be given in each state to the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state. And the Congress may by general laws prescribe the manner in which such acts, records, and proceedings shall be proved, and the effect thereof.”

Both gay rights activists and traditional marriage protectionists rely upon this clause to make the claim that America must either embrace or ban the practice of gay marriage across the nation.  This fight comes down to contract rights.  Gay marriage proponents ask: if marriage is a contract drawn up in one state, why is another state not bound to enforce it?   This is the same argument slave owners used to force the northern states to return runaway slaves during the ante-bellum American period.

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Spying on Kids to Improve Education?

Bill Gates has an idea.  In order to improve academic performance, teachers should be monitored all day, every day.  A preposterous waste of resources and manpower, you say?  Well, not to worry, because said monitoring will be done by video cameras.  Installed in every classroom in America.  And, if you act today, all this can…

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Heritage Foundation Questions Supremacy of Robed Federal Goons

If you follow conservative politics, you should be familiar with the Heritage Foundation.

Heritage was probably the most influential Washington D.C. think tank during the Bush Administration. It has long acted as a cheerleader for all kinds of federal power usurpations and rightfully received criticism for proposing legislation that was basically a forbearer for Obamacare. Heritage also frequently criticizes the principles of nullification. The organization often acts as a conservative wolf in sheep’s clothing, advocating for unlimited federal power.

That’s what makes Is the Supreme Court the Final Word? by Rich Tucker, extra surprising. Tucker writes, “Supreme Court decisions are crucial, but they are not the final word. It’s our duty as American citizens to keep pushing back, through all three branches of government, against any proposal that violates the Constitution. That’s the way to make sure our union can endure for another 225 years.”

The article gets even better from there. Tucker argues that pushback “works at the state level as well” listing ballot proposals as a way to circumvent Supreme Court rulings.

It’s unfortunate that he didn’t bring up the Jefferson-Madison-approved rightful remedy of nullification, but this is definitely a step in the right direction. Here we have a conservative think tank actually suggesting that Supreme Court justices are not our overlords, their words are not canon, and that we should fight for constitutional government regardless of what asinine opinions they might offer.

It is this line of thinking the Tenth Amendment Center has pushed since its inception. Still, we should remain skeptical and ask questions about this new tact from Heritage. You have to wonder, why is it opening its mind to the idea of resisting the courts all of a sudden? Why are these folks changing their tune? How come it has taken them so long to come to these conclusions when the answers are clear within the writings of the Founding Fathers?

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Tom Merchant Fails to Make the Sale

Tom Merchant, for the Sentinel Tribune, wrote an article called, “Between the Lines,” focusing on the recent NSA surveillance revelations. In his effort to defend the NSA’s actions, he listed a few of the amendments from the Bill of Rights and argues that many are now antiquated.

He made cases against the Second and Third Amendments to justify his position. There are elements of his arguments that are clearly debatable.

This kind of thinking is clearly dangerous. If we drop the “original intent” of the Constitution to keep up with “the signs of the times,” then none of our rights are truly protected. And if the Constitution needs to be updated, there is something called the Amendment Process.

Merchant writes:

NSA is not actually listening to peoples conversations, but if the government wants to know where I am going out to eat and other mundane things, I really don’t care. It is probably unfortunate that we must give up some of our privacy, but that is just a sign of the times

I really don’t see anything in the amendments that relates to personal privacy, other than the Fourth Amendment preventing the government from unreasonable search and seizure.

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Language Should Be For Communication, Not Control

The people we elect and the ones who they appoint cannot be allowed to redefine the meanings of the very words that are intended to limit their power. If they are, then language becomes their tool for controlling us. If they have this tool, they will use it. There is only one answer. The language of the Constitution means what it meant when it was ratified. Any attempt to alter the meaning of the language of the Constitution is, fundamentally, a power grab which must be rejected. If the government really believes it needs a new power, the Congress can submit a Constitutional amendment to the states for ratification. There is no other Constitutionally valid method for the federal government to increase its power and the states and the people must learn to insist that the Constitution be followed – to the letter.

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Should ALL laws be enforced? Madison said NO!

In a day and age when the federal government is despised, out-of-control and has so many laws on the books that it makes your head spin, there is at least one ‘conservative’ who is concerned that the federal government isn’t dishing out enough law and order.

In a recent post at the conservative legal blog Volokh Conspiracy, Todd Zywicki finds it appalling that the Department of Justice is celebrating the fact that the Defense of Marriage Act was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. He doesn’t feel this way because of his opinion on DOMA, but rather he is concerned that the law is being disrespected by the Obama administration.

“I am clearly not alone in being concerned about the unwillingness of state and federal officials to defend the duly-enacted laws of their states. Indeed, refusing to defend the law and acquiescing in an adverse judgment against it seems tantamount to a retroactive veto by the Executive Branch. If Eric Holder is ‘delighted’ that the law is invalid, wouldn’t the appropriate response in our system of government be for the President to propose the repeal of the law with which he disagrees, rather than effectively retroactively vetoing it?”

Zywicki has a point about the law being disrespected by the Obama administration. From drone murders, to illegal surveillance, to arming drug gangs as a pretense to curtail gun rights, to funding Islamic extremist dictators, the Obama administration has made a complete mockery of the rule of law in America. But the recent DOMA ruling isn’t the case to complain about. Whether you support the decision or not, the idea of state non-compliance with federal laws shouldn’t be on trial here. The problem with our country clearly isn’t the fact that too many states have rebelled against the edicts of the federal government. On the contrary, it has been the states routinely jumping into the federal snake pit that has gotten us into this mess.

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Sheriff to the Feds: You are on Notice

News outlets in El Dorado County, California, report that a county sheriff has stripped state law enforcement authority from the US Forestry Service.

Sheriff John D’Agostini made the move in response to a high number of complaints coming to his office. He will not go into details about the complaints received, but says he gave the US Forestry Service plenty of opportunity to respond to the complaints.

“The U.S. Forest Service, after many attempts and given many opportunities, has failed to meet that standard.”

The sheriff has sent a letter to the US Forestry Service stating officers will no longer be able to enforce state law in his county.

“The U.S. Forest Service, after many attempts and given many opportunities, has failed to meet that standard.”

CBS 13 in Sacramento contacted a law professor to ask him if the sheriff’s actions are legal.

“Looks to me as though the sheriff can do this,” he said. “They don’t have state powers in the first place, but essentially the sheriff can deputize individuals to have authority in his or her jurisdiction.”

Fact: federal agencies do not have state powers. Due to the Constitution’s structure of dual sovereignty, the feds have no authority to enforce state laws. Furthermore, states cannot be compelled to enforce federal laws.

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The Florida NAACP Embraces State-Based Solutions

“No we don’t trust the legislators, No we don’t trust our government in Florida or DC either, to do the right thing,” said Adora Nweze, president of the Florida State Conference of NAACP.  The group started a mobilization process in response to the Supreme Court ruling that found section 4 of the Voting Rights Act to be unconstitutional.  The plan includes educating voters and contacting law makers who will now control what ever new voting rules are created.–WWSB My Suncoast news story

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When I heard this story  on the radio my first thought was , “A light went on at the NAACP!”

This statement by Florida NAACP president Adora Nweze could have been made by any Tenther or liberty person discussing the proper role of government and the lost federalism of the ratifiers.

Ms. Nweze went on.

” the Supreme Court ruling is “a step back,..   We will require we roll up our sleeves and get busy making sure that our governor, our state legislators and our congresspersons understand the role each of them has in ensuring that this decision does not throw us back to the 60s.”

No rational person feels anything but repugnance  towards Jim Crow laws. I also doubt that a return to those days has any chance of occurring. Tenthers and liberty people would be among the first to join against such laws and move against the state if even the shadow of Jim Crow hinted of a comeback, state sanctioned or otherwise.

This SCOTUS decision is not in fact a step back, but a step forward in what must be a long term reclamation of federalism–keeping the federal government and its courts restrained to their  enumerated powers; leaving to the states the vast residuary mass of  infinite powers reserved to them.

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