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Join Us Saturday, June 4 VTPPF Summit!

 

HiltonGardenInnInnsbrook

 

This is always an inspiring and informative meeting!

Visit the event registration site for tickets and more information. 

~   http://www.eventzilla.net/web/event/2016-vtppf-june-summit-meeting-2138833188

Registration open at 9:15 AM; main program begins at 10:00 AM

Agenda: (Agenda subject to change without notice)

10:00 – 10:05 am  Opening Prayer and Pledge of Allegiance

10:05 – 10:30 am  Suzanne Shattuck: The Social Impact of Refugee Resettlement

10:35 – 10:40 am  Q&A with Suzanne

10:45 – 11:05 am  (Martha Boneta introduces) Craig Rucker: Climate Hustle

11:05 – 11:10 am  Q&A with Craig

11:10 – 11:30 am  Nelson Velez: Coalition Building

11:30 – 11:40 am  Q&A with Nelson

11:40 – 12:00 pm  Emma Capps: Blue Lives Matter Rally

12:00 –   1:00 pm  Blessing/LUNCH

12:15 – 12:30 pm  John Adams Candidate for Attorney General

12:30 – 12:45 pm  Chuck Smith Candidate for Attorney General

12:45  –  1:00 pm  Rob Bell Candidate for Attorney General

 1:00  –   1:15 pm  Gabe Hill & Reeve Ashcraft: Turning Point

1:15   –  1:20  pm  Q&A with Gabe & Reeve

1:20   –   1:30 pm  Break

1:30   –   2:00 pm  Dave Brat: TPP with Q&A

2:00   –   2:10 pm  Jill Soniker to introduce Cynthia Dunbar

2:10   –   2:40 pm  Cynthia Dunbar:  Truths That Unite Us

2:40   –   2:50 pm  Q&A with Cynthia

2:50   –   3:00 pm  BREAK

3:00   –   4:00 pm  Business meeting  **VTPPF member groups only

4:00 pm  Adjourned

Free Postcard for Attendees

Free postcard invitation

VA Senator Perpetuates LIE of Planned Parenthood: the REAL Inconvenient Truth!

The Role of the Supreme Court

The United States Constitution is a contract between the states giving the national government only limited and enumerate powers. (Most are found in Article One, Section Eight.) The Constitution is unique in that its creators recognized that rights are God-given and it is the function of government to protect those God-given rights. As with all contracts, it should always be interpreted as to the original meaning and intent.   If you buy something and sign a contract as to the payments, you don’t expect the terms to be changed. So it is with our Constitution.

But that has been greatly undermined by decisions of the Supreme Court.

Although Chief Justice John Marshall has been touted as a Supreme Court icon, his role has been less than desirable. In 1816 he made a ruling which was clearly a breach of constitutional limitation on congressional power. His ruling was based on the fallacy that “… let the end be within the scope of the Constitution, and all means which are appropriate … which are not prohibited but consistent within the letter and spirit of the Constitution …”   In other words, the federal government can do anything the Constitution does not specifically bar it from doing. This has set a precedent that has been destructive to our freedoms ever since. Example, because the Constitution doesn’t specifically say that the government can’t dictate medical care or that it can’t round up all people who pledge allegiance to the flag and put them in detention camps, it is entitled to do so.

Another departure is what is known as The Elastic Clause, which gives Congress the power “To make all laws necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers and all other powers vested in the Government of the United States, or any department or officer thereof.” This has been misconstrued to apply to any and all things considered to be “proper” totally ignoring the part that says that it applies “to the foregoing powers and all other powers vested “ – only the enumerated powers, but nothing more. The enumerated powers are the specific things listed in the Constitution that the states authorized the federal government to do.

Why would those who formed the Constitution list what the government could do if, according to adherents of Marshall’s philosophy or the “Elastic Clause”, government could do anything it wants?

And likewise, are those who use the “Welfare Clause” which authorizes Congress to “provide for the common Defense and general Welfare.”   The definition of welfare is key. At the time of the writing of the Constitution it meant that Congress was to arrange for the conditions throughout the nation that would allow every citizen to prosper. In no way did it mean government handouts.

It is generally believed that it is the function of the Supreme Court to “interpret the Constitution.” But actually it is their role to determine whether or not a law is constitutional. More often than not, they should declare it unconstitutional and send it back to the states or the people.

The first sentence of the Constitution clearly states that “All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States.“ Since all legislative powers are granted exclusively to Congress, none are given to the Judiciary. (For that matter that also applies to the President.)  Yet we are all too familiar with the many court rulings that are, in fact, the equivalent of a law.

Then, too, there is the disregard for the Constitution when it comes to Treaty Law.   The often heard “treaty law supersedes the Constitution and is the law of the land” is quite simply – NOT TRUE. What the Constitution states is that treaties that are pursuant to the Constitution are the law of the land. “Pursuant to the Constitution” makes the difference.   Only those treaties that are consistent with the terms of our Constitution are the law of the land.

One of the arguments used to promote a constitutional convention/Article V convention et al, which is a very risky measure, is that it is the only way to rein in the overreach of the Supreme Court. But, once again, that is not so.

Although we hear that “The Supreme Court Justices serve life terms,” more accurately, they only serve at the pleasure of Congress which has the responsibility, when needed, to impeach, try and remove them from office.

And, in another opinion, Marshall proclaimed that the Supreme Court would have the final say on what is constitutional and what is not. But this ignores constitutional checks and balances. .

One way that Congress can check the Supreme Court rulings is to exercise the power of the purse and refuse to fund their unconstitutional rulings. An example would be their ruling on ObamaCare. It is clearly unconstitutional; health care is clearly not listed as an enumerated power in the Constitution.  But government cannot carry out any actions supporting ObamaCare without funds.

Another way that the Constitution provides checks and balances in regard to the Supreme Court is that of limiting their jurisdiction of any particular matter. Article lll, Section 2 states that “the Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction, both as to law and fact, with such exceptions, and under such regulations as the Congress shall make.” A majority in the House and Senate could have prevented the court from ruling on such matters as housing, congressional district makeup, education, energy production and all other unconstitutional measures.

Then there is State Nullification. If a state should determine that a federal law is invalid because it steps outside the boundaries of the Constitution, then that state can determine that the law is invalid.

Those who disagree cite what is called the Supremacy Clause, which they interpret to say that federal law is supreme over state law. But, what does that clause say? Article Six, paragraph two states: This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof … shall be the supreme Law of the land. The unknowing – or perhaps deliberately misleading – contend that this clause says that U S law trumps state law. “Thereof” refers to the Constitution. Thus laws are to be made in pursuance to the Constitution. What about “shall be made in Pursuance”? Pursuance means following or in keeping with. Thus only those laws that are in keeping with the Constitution are the supreme law of the land. Those not in keeping with the Constitution are not valid laws. In order for them to be constitutional they must be found in the enumerated powers – those that are allowed and listed.

Whereas it is true that states cannot pick and choose which federal laws they choose to obey, the litmus test is whether the law is constitutional. And, who is to say what is constitutional? The states. It was the states that formed the contract that spells out the rules. If a law is found within the listed powers in the Constitution, then it is constitutional. That power was ceded by the states to the federal government. But, if a law is not found in the listed powers, powers that were not ceded, then it is unconstitutional and the Supremacy Law does not apply as trumping state laws.

Any law that abridges the right to keep and bear arms falls into the same category. The Constitution specifically prohibits Congress from making laws that infringe on the right to keep and bear arms. Any such law – or judicial ruling or executive edict – is unquestionably unconstitutional and does not have supremacy over state laws.

The better question would be: When does federal law trump state law? It is clear that it does so only when the federal law is constitutional, i.e., when it is found in the enumerated powers.

What can be done? Inform the electorate in order to elect members of Congress who will honor their oath of office and rein in the Supreme Court.

By Sue Long

The Committee for Constitutional Government, Post Office Box 972, Gloucester, VA 23061

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Constitutional Corner: Birthright Citizenship – Yes or No?

On Tuesday night, August 18th, Fox’s Bill O’Reilly interviewed presidential candidate Donald Trump and immediately challenged Trump’s position that illegal immigrants must be deported. O’Reilly stated “the 14th Amendment says that if you’re born here you’re an American and you can’t kick American’s out.” “Even if you wanted to try,” continued O’Reilly, “each and every one is entitled to due process and that would take decades, that would cost gazillions of dollars and the courts would block you at every turn. You must know all that.”

Trump answered calmly “Bill, I think you’re wrong about the 14th Amendment.”

O’Reilly then offered to read the Amendment and repeated: “If you’re born here you’re an American, period – Period!”

Trump responded: “Many lawyers are saying that’s not the way it is….[The lawyers] are saying [the idea of anchor babies] is not going to hold up in court. It’s going to have to be tested.”

Who’s right? O’Reilly or Trump?

Since the Trump interview I received a couple of queries on this subject, so here goes.

At issue is Section 1, Clause 1 of the 14th Amendment, which states: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.” (emphasis added)

Why was Clause 1 even necessary?

Prior to 1868, when the 14th Amendment was ratified, citizenship was a singular concept: you were a citizen of your state of residence and each state individually defined its citizenship and naturalization requirements. National citizenship was assumed to be an extension of state citizenship, if it was considered at all.

In the Dred Scott decision of 1857, Chief Justice Roger Taney announced that any person descended from Africans, whether slave or free, was not a citizen of the United States and thus did not possess the legal standing to bring suit in a federal court. With the successful ratification of the 13th Amendment in 1865 freeing the slaves, Congress realized that they should now be entitled to enjoy the rights of citizenship but lacked that status in the eyes of the Court. States could and did continue to deny their freed slaves citizenship. This gave birth to the 14th Amendment.

The debate and modification history of the 14th as it made its way through the Congress shows there was much difference of opinion as to what the Congressmen were trying to accomplish with the amendment as a whole as well as what we now call its “Citizenship Clause.” TheHeritage Guide to the Constitution has a nice summary of the “wordsmithing” that went on and I won’t take the time to repeat the details.   It all comes down to what is called the “jurisdiction clause.”

The proposed amendment began life without the “jurisdiction clause,” but when it emerged from the Joint Committee on Reconstruction it contained the clause and that was the version sent to the states for ratification (I’m going to ignore here all the sordid history concerning the supposed “ratification” of the 14th Amendment, as well as the immense damage done to the Constitution through the Court’s contrived “Incorporation Doctrine,” based in the 14th. Both these issues are discussed in my Constitution Seminar if you are interested in the detail).

What does “and subject to the jurisdiction thereof“ mean? The record shows that the Congressmen were clearly were trying to exclude native Americans from automatic U.S. citizenship — they were considered citizens of their tribal nation. But who else?   Children born in America to foreign diplomats and children born to unnaturalized aliens were the other two categories to be considered.

The case of children born of foreign diplomats has been made clear by the courts: such children are not automatically U.S. Citizens because their parents are clearly not subject to the full jurisdiction of the United States. That leaves the children of un-naturalized aliens, whether in the country legally or illegally.

In 1898, the Supreme Court ruled in United States v. Wong Kim Ark, 169 U.S. 649 (1898), that by virtue of the first clause of the 14th Amendment, a person born in the United States becomes a citizen of the United States at the time of birth, if any of the following criteria are met. The person must:

  • Have parents that are subjects of a foreign power, but not in any diplomatic or official capacity of that foreign power, or
  • Have parents with permanent domicile and residence in the United States, or
  • Have parents that are in the United States for business.

The first criteria listed above would, on its face, seem to include the case of illegal immigrants but the specifics of the Wong case argue otherwise: Wong Kim Ark’s parents were in the United States legally.

The Supreme Court has never explicitly ruled on whether children born in the United States to illegal immigrant parents are entitled to birthright citizenship via the 14th Amendment.[1] The present administration, however, has been operating as though this is the interpretation.

So, Bill O’Reilly is entitled to his opinion that this is an open and shut case. But Donald Trump is right to say that this is “going to have to be tested [in the Courts].”

I find nothing in the Founders’ view of law and government, or the Constitution itself which suggests that birthright citizenship should be extended to children whose parent or parents have broken the law to gain entry into this country, or any country An amendment which was originally intended to right one of the wrongs of slavery has been used I our time to undermine our national integrity, our national sovereignty, the rule of law and to push us ever closer to the progressives’ “utopia” of borderless nations. I’m with Trump on this.

“Constitutional Corner” is a project of the Constitution Leadership Initiative, Inc. To unsubscribe from future mailings by Constitution Leadership Initiative, click here.

[1] I recognize the irony of citing a Court that in recent opinions (ex: Burwell v. King, Obergefell v. Hodges) has rendered its “judgement” increasingly irrelevant. There is at present a long-overdue move in the United States to put SCOTUS opinions in their proper perspective relative to God’s natural and revealed law, as Blackstone proposed so long ago.

Constitutional Corner – Reflections on Obergefell

On the evening of Monday, July 1st, 1776, Caesar Rodney, sick in bed with skin cancer and asthma, received word that the two-person Delaware delegation at the Continental Congress in Philadelphia had earlier that day split their vote on Virginia’s resolution that the thirteen colonies declare their independence from Great Britain; one delegate had voted in favor, one opposed it. Caesar had been appointed as the third Delaware delegate, but his poor health had instead kept him home. The Delaware delegates’ votes nullified each other and Delaware was recorded as a null vote. The Pennsylvania and South Carolina delegations both voted “Nay.” John Adams’ impassioned speech had not persuaded. The New York legislature’s instructions to its delegation withheld authority to even vote on the question of independence, so New York could only “abstain.” Nine votes in favor would be enough to pass the resolution when the Committee of the Whole re-formed as the Congress, but this was well short of the unanimous vote the leaders of the independence movement were seeking.

South Carolina asked that the formal vote, when convened as the Congress, be delayed until the following day, suggesting they wanted time for further discussion and reflection.

The next morning, Tuesday, July 2nd, as the meeting was called to order, the sound of horse’s hoofs was heard outside on the cobblestones. Moments later, a mud-splattered Caesar Rodney walked into the room, spurs clanking on the wooden floor, bandages covering his cancerous cheek. Rodney had ridden all night, covering the 80 miles from his home to Philadelphia in record time, and earning himself the distinction as Delaware’s favorite son (and a place on Delaware’s state quarter 233 years hence).

Once re-convened as the Congress, the decisive vote was taken. Caesar Rodney’s “Aye” changed the Delaware delegation to an affirmative vote. At the Pennsylvania table, two chairs, occupied the previous day by John Dickinson and Robert Morris who had both voted against the measure, were mysteriously empty. Missing these two “Nays,” Pennsylvania’s negative vote of the previous day changed to the affirmative. South Carolina now voted in favor as well. The New York delegation had received no new instructions and could once again only abstain.[1] This was close enough. Richard Henry Lee’s resolution for independence was passed and the delegates turned their attention to the draft of a declaration prepared by John Adams’ committee and presented to the Congress the previous Friday. The words of the Committee’s reluctant Virginian rang like a bell: “When in the Course of human events…”

Question: Where are today’s Caesar Rodneys?

America is going to need more Caesar Rodneys, more people willing to discomfort themselves in order to do what must be done; many, many more, if we are to survive as a free republic. The die has nearly been cast, our metamorphosis from Christian nation to secular state is nearly complete.

Friday’s Obergefell v. Hodges decision ― which, unfortunately, does not roll off the tongue quite like “Roe v. Wade” but will hopefully become as familiar ― is indeed a watershed event, not because five Justices on the Court replaced their jurist robes for the clipboards and pen protectors of social scientists, the Court has done that all too often in the past; but rather because the decision will produce a veritable deluge of litigation as secularists use it to try to finally render moot (as well as mute) the Bible-believing Christian church in America, an objective they have pursued with focus and determination for more than 100 years.

By now you’ve read, at least those with an interest in the future of their nation have read, the decision itself, the dissents, and the multitude of critiques that have followed. You know how vacuous was the legal reasoning of Justice Kennedy and how sharp were the dissents. And you know what many predict will follow: the demands for even more grotesque forms of “marriage,” the demands to dismantle the tax-protected status of churches that dare oppose the “new social order,” the demands to de-license ministers who refuse to bow before the state, the barrage of Christian business bankruptcies that will come to those who choose to follow God rather than man.

These things will surely come, and worse; and the attempt to protect the Christian communityat the federal level, while welcome, will have limited effect, even if this President signs it, which he will not. The bulk of the challenges will come at the state and local level, and churches best prepare for them unless they decide to fall in line with the new prime directive: “if it feels right, it must be right.”

It would serve to consider how we got here, how less than 3% of Americans were able to change the legal status of an institution whose definition had been otherwise immutable for millennia. Succinctly, we got here because the church was largely silent; the pulpits were silent and the congregants were silent. Certainly some spoke out, but not clearly or loudly enough. For fear of offending or being seen as “intolerant,” we allowed the Court to “sanctify” a relationship that embodies a practice the Bible condemns as sin.

But we also got here through the law of unintended consequences. By letting government bestow benefits (tax benefits primarily) on couples, we created a “prize” to be sought by others who were denied it. Some are now calling for the end of such benefits; sorry, too late for that.

We also got here by allowing the Supreme Court to take license with the Constitution in the past without complaint. I ask in every one of my seminars, multiple times throughout the day, “Whose Constitution is it? Is it the Court’s Constitution? Is it Congress’? Is it the President’s?” The answer is no, it is the people’s Constitution and the people have been “asleep at the switch” for far too long.

Our schools no longer teach an original understanding of the Constitution and, once free from the formal education system, only a handful as adults take the time to go back and fill in what the schools omitted. We must fix this.

It is also important to discuss, with friends, neighbors, pastors and church members, what should be our response to this terrible decision (a discussion of the equally terrible Obamacare decision will await another day).

One response is to just accept the decision and “move on.” That would be a mistake. Not only will Progressives not stop with this victory, invigorated, they will push for the other changes previously mentioned. Already, some are calling for an end to all lawmaking based on religious reasoning. This would come as a shock to the Founders, for sure, but fits precisely with the attempt to render the Christian church a quaint relic of a bygone era, sort of like Amish buggies.

A second response is to dig in our heels and defy this decision at every opportunity. Speak out against it, march in support of Biblical marriage, refuse to implement the new policy. The Right to Life community did not fold their tents and go home, they continue to fight to this day, and have achieved some success. The Texas Attorney General is encouraging state officials with religious qualms over the ruling to defy it, and some are doing so. Ted Cruz thinks states that find the decision offensive should just ignore it unless they were a party to the particular Obergefell suit. This relies on the reasoning that a Supreme Court opinion is simply that: an opinion concerning two particular litigants. We’ve been taught to believe, unfortunately, that a Supreme Court decision ends the matter. As Jefferson wrote in an 1820 letter to William C. Jarvis: “To consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions [is] a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy.” Oligarchy indeed. That’s what we’ve become; is it what we want?

A third response, not necessarily exclusive of the two previous ones, is to repeatedly show the American people, in vivid detail, the implications of allowing such poor performance by the Court to continue. It’s nice when you’re on the winning side of a Supreme Court decision, not so much fun when you’re not. The next time, progressives may not be so jubilant (could another Citizens United be lurking around the bend?). Nevertheless, we should insist on the highest standards of legal reasoning from our Supreme Court and when we don’t get it, as we did not this time, we should move to impeach those jurists responsible. There is an unwritten “agreement” that jurists will not be impeached for their decisions. I’m fine with that, but this reasoning, as the dissents vividly pointed out, was greatly flawed.

The final response is to realize there are some fundamental, structural problems with our Constitution; problems that the Founders in their haste at the end of four months of Philadelphia summer did not properly address. Article III was not written with the precision of Articles 1 & 2; the Judiciary was not well thought out. Term limits for federal judges must now be considered, with great urgency. We can no longer afford lifetime service (essentially) by unelected federal judges who have no appreciation for the Founders’ Constitution. Too much is at stake. The problem lies in how best to advance such an amendment to the Constitution. Congress has repeatedly demonstrated they are unwilling to take up this issue. The people must demand it be drafted in an Article V convention.

Gary Porter is Executive Director of the Constitution Leadership Initiative, Inc., a project to inform Americans about the Founder’s view of their Constitution. Comments on this essay and ideas for future essays should be sent to constitutionlead@gmail.com.

[1] When New York’s delegation received new instructions on 19 July permitting them to vote for independence, the Congress was finally able to record New York’s affirmative vote and declare the “Unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America.”

The Constitutional Corner – Is This Insanity?

 

Last Friday, I attended a debate between Virginia Delegate Bob Marshall and Patrick Henry College Chancellor Mike Farris over what else? the Convention of the States (COS) issue.  It was not the first time these two men had debated this issue (somehow they remain friends despite these heated debates), nor is it likely to be the last.  The event was hosted by the Norfolk Chapter of The Federalist Society on the campus of Regent University, which made it possible for Regent Law Schoolstudents to attend.  I didn’t get an exact count, but it appeared about thirty attended.

 

I’ll admit upfront to a certain bias, as anyone who has read my previous columns knows; but let me try to summarize the main points each side made (BTW, I was disappointed in both).

 

Farris (in my estimation) wasted much of his allotted opening statement time by establishing his credentials – to a group that was largely already familiar with them.  He then framed his argument around this point: the framers understood that three elements were required for good government: good people, good policy and good structure.  They knew that “good people” would forever be illusive; all men (and women) were sinful and not to be trusted with too much power.  So they tried their best to give us a structure which recognized that reality.

 

Unfortunately, that structure has been abused to create our greatest national problem: $18 Trillion in “official” national debt (and an additional $148Trillion in unfunded liabilities) — amounting to $500,000 for every man, woman and child in America.  This problem won’t be fixed by electing “good people.”  A few good people, like recently retired Senator Tom Coburn, who repeatedly highlighted fraud, waste and abuse in his annual “Pig Book”, simply aren’t able to change things.  Coburn was not able to get even one of the $400 Billion in wasteful spending projects stopped.  “We’re living in political fantasy land if we think electing more good people is going to solve this problem, said Farris.”

 

Farris next unloaded both barrels: “The people that are helping to kill liberty in this country are two: the people who are doing everything they can in Washington, D.C. to abuse their power, and the people in the state legislatures, like Delegate Marshall, who are propping them up by defeating the only structural limitation in the text of the constitution to stop them.”  Marshall acted like he’d heard that before.

 

Farris then indicated he would address the fear factor of a convention but instead spent considerable time demonstrating why the 1787 Convention was not a “runaway convention” as many opposed to a COS insist (although why they do so is unclear to me, what happened in 1787 has little bearing on what might or might not happen in 2015).  Farris then eviscerated the credibility of Justice Warren Burger’s (now) famous letter to Phyllis Schlafly warning that there would be no way to limit a constitutional convention (Burger makes the oft-repeated mistake that an Article V convention is a “constitutional convention,” it clearly does not fit Black’s Law Dictionary’s definition – an Article V convention has no the power, in and of itself, to “frame, revise, or amend” our Constitution).

 

One bit of new information that Farris presented (new at least to me) was that there had been 20 state applications for an Article V convention specifically to reverse Roe vs Wade (http://articlevlibrary.org only lists 19) and that the John Birch Society had been instrumental in getting at least six of the state legislatures to repeal their applications.  That was sad to hear.

 

Bob Marshall began his opening statement by reading Article V, which had already been read by the moderator, more time wasted.  He then proceeded to demonstrate from Madison’s 1787 notes that the convention method was a “last-minute” addition to the Constitution, although why this was important was lost on me.  Next, Marshall went through a litany of the features of the Articles of Confederation that were changed by the new Constitution to demonstrate that they were indeed significant changes.  He seemed to be trying to counter a Farris point that the changes were otherwise, except Farris had never made such a point (and I recorded the debate).

 

Marshall did demonstrate, from the Congressional record, that there were at least some in 1787 who thought the convention had been an act of the Congress and not of the States, and that they thought it had been limited to revising the Articles.  Indeed, this last point was debated immediately after the new Constitution was received by Congress, but the debate did not conclude that a breach of the convention’s authority had taken place.  Marshall then quoted Hamilton from June 18, 1787 to prove that Hamilton acknowledged the delegates were exceeding their authority.  And perhaps in Hamilton’s mind they were; Farris had already pointed out that the New York delegation’s instructions contained confusing references to both revising the Articles and rendering them “adequate to the exigencies of the Union.”  Once again, why do we think the actions of 1787 presage those of a convention held today with delegates instructed quite differently?  Marshall then quoted from Federalist 40; interestingly, Farris had referred to the same essay to make some of his points.  I guess I need to read that one again.

 

Marshall next suggested that the delegates to a convention will be some of the same people (judges, governors, congressmen) who got us into our current problems, inferring that they should not be trusted.   As to Farris’ contention that the COS will operate under one-state-one-vote rules, Marshall countered that everything he could find through an internet search suggested voting at the convention would instead be proportional.  What Marshall didn’t reveal is that Republican-controlled legislatures have nearly the same voting advantage either way.

 

Perhaps the most remarkable of Marshall’s statements was that he would support a lot of the ideas behind the amendments being proposed by Mark Levin and others today, but that these changes could be passed by statute.  Left unsaid was why they haven’t been.  “The states caved (on the 16th and 17th Amendments)… Our “guardians” (i.e., in the states) are toothless, bark-less and brainless.  Why should you trust these people to protect you when they clearly didn’t do it in the past.”  Good point.  Why indeed?  To that point, if there is no one who can be trusted, why do we even go through the motions of government?  Why bother electing anyone?

 

Marshall then insisted that the Constitution wasn’t the problem, there are plenty of controls available to keep government in check –they are simply not used.  He made a reference to Article 3’s “jurisdiction stripping” power.   “It’s not the policy, it’s not the structure, it’s the people.  You need better people.”

 

So Marshall leaves us with a conundrum:  he insists all we need are “better people,” but he then implies such people don’t exist (he and Virginia Senator Black excepted, of course).

 

Albert Einstein is often quoted defining insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  We’ve been trying to elect “better people” for how long now?  Apparently not long enough, so let’s keep trying some more.  Meanwhile, the debt clock’s ticking getting louder and louder.

 

Am I suggesting it is insane to want better people in government or that trying to find and elect them is a useless enterprise?  Certainly not.  The insanity comes, in my estimation, with expecting that good people alone will fix our myriad problems.

 

 

Gary Porter is Executive Director of the Constitution Leadership Initiative, Inc., a project to inform Americans about the Founder’s view of their Constitution.  Comments on this essay and ideas for future essays should be sent to constitutionlead@gmail.com.

Constitutional Corner – Freedom of Conscience

Who can forget the despair, the hopelessness we felt when Jack Nicholson’s character in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” came out of the lobotomy lab exhibiting the zombie-like expression that confirmed the procedure was a success; one more “rebel” brought into line by the power of the state; one more mind turned to mush.

 

We are starting to see the signs that some today would use the power of the state to turn us all into “right-thinking” zombies spouting the party line.  Some who dare think certain activities un-natural or, dare we say it, “sinful,” must be brought into line.

 

While actual lobotomies are, to the best of my understanding, illegal today, the same result can be achieved through the skillful use of language.  Consider how suddenly a centuries old definition of the word “marriage” has been rendered almost meaningless. Now we have talk of fathers demanding to “marry” their daughters and others “marrying” their cats.

 

“Newspeak,” George Orwell fans will recognize, is the fictional language in the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. It is a language created by Orwell’s totalitarian state as a tool to limit freedom of thought.  Any ideas that pose a threat to the regime; such as freedom, self-expression, individuality, and peace are not to be condoned, but rather co-opted through language. Forms of thought which do not comport with the party’s PC-correct concepts are classified as “thoughtcrime.” Although Orwell missed his timing mark by a mile, his idea is being implemented as I write, little by little.

 

 “Whereas, Almighty God hath created the mind free;…”so begins the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom, enacted on January 16, 1786 after seven long years of foot-dragging by the Virginia Assembly.  Thomas Jefferson, its primary author, thought it one of his three greatest accomplishments (along with the Declaration of Independence and founding the University of Virginia), which speaks volumes considering his lifetime of honorable service in a veritable cornucopia of elected and appointed offices.

 

After declaring the mind free, and reminding us of the reason this is so, Jefferson next warns of the danger posed by attempts to change this truth:

 

“That all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burthens, or by civil incapacitations tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and therefore are a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, who being Lord, both of body and mind yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was in his Almighty power to do.

Colorado’s Civil Rights Commission  should take a lesson from Mr. Jefferson, but I doubt they are interested.  The Commission’s focus seems to be on making everyone think alike on a certain issue, and if someone doesn’t, well, “there’s an app for that,” or as Jefferson would say: a “civil incapacitation.”

 

Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, in Lakewood, Colorado, had the audacity to think homosexuality sinful and, in a fit of individuality, chose not to celebrate it with his cakes.  As a result he was directed by the Commission to attend, along with the rest of his staff, sensitivity training sessions; his mind, it seems, was entirely too free for the liking of the Commission.

 

In addition to the sensitivity training, for the next two years Phillips is also required to “submit quarterly reports to the commission confirming that he has not turned away customers based on their sexual orientation.”

 

I hope that at the end of his time in the “penalty box,” Mr. Phillips mind is just as free as it once was to think as he chooses; at least I pray that it is.

 

Virginia had its version of Colorado’s Civil Rights Commission.  Established in 1987, the Virginia Human Rights Council was created to “enforce the policy of the Commonwealth to safeguard individuals from unlawful discrimination.”  In 2012, the functions performed by the Council were transferred to the Office of Attorney General under our good friend Mark Herring. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your point of view, the policy to be enforced does not include sexual orientation as a protected class.  “Unlawful discriminatory practices” are confined to “conduct which violates any Virginia or federal Statute or regulation governing discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, age, disability.”

 

The Framers didn’t mention freedom of conscience when they drafted the Constitution or the “Bill of Rights,” most certainly because they considered it to be such a fundamental concept — akin to stating that the Congress should use “quill and ink” when crafting legislation.  The concept, of course, can still be found with little effort imbedded in the right of free speech, religious expression, and others.  If you don’t see it there, try the Ninth Amendment.

 

The Oxford Dictionary defines Freedom of Conscience as “The right to follow one’s own beliefs in matters of religion and morality” (emphasis added), and this definition is rigorously defended by those on the left — so long as the beliefs in question conform to their own.

To “follow” implies action, i.e., putting “legs” on one’s beliefs.  That’s why the Left holds up as heroes domestic terrorists such as Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn, they were only following their conscience, you see.  But let someone on the right take less deadly actions of conscience, such as demonstrating outside abortion clinics, or refusing to help celebrate homosexual weddings, and up pop the “re-education camps.”

 

The Hobby Lobby decision proved that the Supreme Court still feels freedom of conscience should be protected, at least as regards those opposed to compelled purchase of abortificants in healthcare plans.  I wonder when the court will get around to extending the same protections to those opposed to same-sex “marriage?”

* * *

The WFYL “Constitution Matters” panel will be discussing essays live on Friday morning, 7-8am EDT. You can listen to the live broadcast via www.1180wfyl.com.  Click on “Listen Live.”  Podcasts also available.

 

Gary Porter is Executive Director of the Constitution Leadership Initiative, Inc., a project to inform Americans about the Founder’s view of their Constitution.  Comments on this essay and ideas for future essays should be sent to constitutionlead@gmail.com.

Republican Party of Virginia: Ally of ‘We the People’?

John Whitbeck, the recently elected Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia, spoke at the Virginia Tea Party Patriots’ Federation Summit last week.  Pete Snyder admitted on John Frederick’s radio show this morning that the donor class has pulled its support from the party and while the RPV is working to get them back, they are left with the DOERS. These happen to be the very folks who carried Ted Cruz and folks like him across the finish line in TX while the moneyed class opposed him.

Personally until I see evidence that the RPV will not desert its conservative constituents the first chance it gets – like John Boehner has done on several occasions since the landslide election of Republicans in the last election, I’m keeping a skeptical eye on the party and writing checks to individual CONSERVATIVE candidates who care more about the Constitution than connections: candidates like Susan B. Stimpson in VA’s 28 House District (Fredericksburg/StaffordCounty).

Josie the Outlaw on Gun Control