Tag Archives | Constitution

It’s Time for Us to Have a Modern (post-Confederate) Constitution

constitutionSouth Carolina’s battle flag may soon come down from the capitol flagpole, but other symbols of the Confederacy’s ideology remain in place. For example, consider the U. S. Constitution, which is another kind of symbol as well as a law.

All copies of the Constitution promulgate detailed instructions for the recapture of slaves who have run away from their owners. They also specify that slaves are to be counted as three-fifths of a person in the Census, giving a boost to the slave-owning states in the House of Representatives and the Electoral College.

One might justify this presentation of our national charter by saying that it commemorates an earlier time or instructs students on the nation’s political history. That kind of thinking has prevailed for a long time in Charleston, only recently yielding in the face of an atrocity.

We would all be better off if all such language were consigned to the back of the document, and Americans were presented with a modern constitutional text that truly portrays our system of government as it exists in the 21st century—a constitution that deserves to be read aloud each year when the House of Representatives begins its session.… Read the rest

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UN wants to bypass US Constitution to enforce climate rules

“Whether we like it or not, if it comes to the [U.S.] Congress, they will refuse” the French Foreign Minister said at a conference in Bonn, Germany. The United Nations and United States government have constantly butted heads with each other. Their principals are wholly incompatible. Whereas the U.S. First Amendment states “Congress shall make no law…,” the UN Declaration of Human Rights states “These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.” In short, freedom of speech cannot be used to criticize the UN.

France is slated to host the 21st United Nations Climate Change Conference from November 29 to December 11, this year. The ad-hoc Working Group has already drafted rather radical approaches to solving the world climate crisis:

“In reviewing and revising Annex I to the Convention, the total amount of greenhouse gases, expressed in carbon dioxide equivalent, emitted by a Party to the Convention since 1750 A.D.
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Things that are not in the Constitution

rights endowed

Seems like every day there is a new story about something some politician is doing or saying that isn’t in the Constitution. Just in case you’re losing track of exactly how many things are not in the constitution, there is a list linked below. Some of the things that are listed are implied powers. Others are powers that congress adopted through the necessary and proper clause. Some of the things listed are not in the constitution and are government policies that are outright unconstitutional. Others aren’t listed because they are considered state powers. Lastly, lots of the rights listed as not in the constitution are powers protected by the 9th and 10th Amendments. I just wish that they had mentioned that the word “democracy” isn’t in the Constitution.

Have you ever heard someone say, “That’s unconstitutional!” or “That’s my constitutional right!” and wondered if they were right? You might be surprised how often people get it wrong.

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Whistleblowers vs. ‘Fear-Mongering’

Photo of (left to right) Kirk Wiebe, Coleen Rowley, Raymond McGovern, Daniel Ellsberg, William Binney, Jesselyn Radack, and Thomas Drake by Kathleen McClellan (@McClellanKM) via Twitter

Photo of (left to right) Kirk Wiebe, Coleen Rowley, Raymond McGovern, Daniel Ellsberg, William Binney, Jesselyn Radack, and Thomas Drake by Kathleen McClellan (@McClellanKM) via Twitter

Seven prominent national security whistleblowers Monday called for a number of wide-ranging reforms — including passage of the “Surveillance State Repeal Act,” which would repeal the USA Patriot Act — in an effort to restore the Constitutionally guaranteed 4th Amendment right to be free from government spying.

Several of the whistleblowers also said that the recent lenient sentence of probation and a fine for General David Petraeus — for his providing of classified information to his mistress Paula Broadwell — underscores the double standard of justice at work in the area of classified information handling.

Speakers said Petraeus’s favorable treatment should become the standard applied to defendants who are actual national security whistleblowers, such as Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden and Jeffrey Sterling (who has denied guilt but who nevertheless faces sentencing May 11 for an Espionage Act conviction for allegedly providing classified information to New York Times reporter James Risen).… Read the rest

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Guide Dogs and Guns: America’s Blind Gunmen

Silhouette GunEven if you blindly support the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution (the right to bear arms and all that), does it follow that you let blind people own guns? From BBC News:

In the US, being blind is no bar to owning and carrying firearms. The blind people who do it say they are simply exercising their constitutional right, and present no danger to the public.

When Carey McWilliams went to the sheriff’s office in Fargo, North Dakota, to fill out the paperwork for a permit to carry a concealed weapon, the staff immediately noticed he was holding the harness to a guide dog.

The woman behind the desk pointed out that he would have to pass a shooting test before being granted the licence, but McWilliams said he knew that. He told her not to worry.

“So then she took a picture of me, and my application then went up through the ranks – it got the signature of the chief of police of Fargo, the sheriff and the state attorney general’s office – and they kept calling me and calling me, saying: ‘There’s a shooting test, there’s a shooting test.'”

The day of the test came, and McWilliams duly went along to the police firing range with a friend who was also trying for a permit.

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The Feinstein Syndrome: ‘The Fourth Amendment for Me, But Not for Thee’

Diane Feinstein

Diane Feinstein

Who knows, soon we might see headlines and cable TV shows asking: “Is Dianne Feinstein a whistleblower or a traitor?”

A truthful answer to that question could not possibly be “whistleblower.” It may already be a historic fact that Senator Feinstein’s speech on March 11, 2014 blew a whistle on CIA surveillance of the Senate intelligence committee, which she chairs. But if that makes her a whistleblower, then Colonel Sanders is a vegetarian evangelist.

In her blockbuster Tuesday speech on the Senate floor, Feinstein charged that the CIA’s intrusions on her committee’s computers quite possibly “violated the Fourth Amendment.” You know, that’s the precious amendment that Feinstein — more than any other senator — has powerfully treated like dirt, worthy only of sweeping under the congressional rug.

A tidy defender of the NSA’s Orwellian programs, Feinstein went on the attack against Edward Snowden from the outset of his revelations last June.… Read the rest

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Big Brother’s Loyal Sister: How Dianne Feinstein Is Betraying Civil Liberties

Diane Feinstein

Diane Feinstein

Ever since the first big revelations about the National Security Agency five months ago, Dianne Feinstein has been in overdrive to defend the surveillance state. As chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, she generates an abundance of fog, weasel words, anti-whistleblower slander and bogus notions of reform — while methodically stabbing civil liberties in the back.

Feinstein’s powerful service to Big Brother, reaching new heights in recent months, is just getting started. She’s hard at work to muddy all the waters of public discourse she can — striving to protect the NSA from real legislative remedies while serving as a key political enabler for President Obama’s shameless abuse of the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments.

Last Sunday, on CBS, when Feinstein told “Face the Nation” viewers that Edward Snowden has done “enormous disservice to our country,” it was one of her more restrained smears. In June, when Snowden first went public as a whistleblower, Feinstein quickly declared that he had committed “an act of treason.” Since then, she has refused to tone down the claim.… Read the rest

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Photographer Detained by LAPD for ‘Interfering with Investigation’

“Interfering with an investigation” is one of those wondrously ambiguous catch-alls that law enforcement uses with impunity to restrict people’s constitutional rights. Award-winning documentary photographer Shawn Nee is only the latest to get shut down by camera-phobic cops.Good thing he has back-up cameras on his person – something I’d recommend for anyone who may have cause to question “authori-tah“.

Bonus: ACLU’s Photographer’s Rights page.

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Federal Judge Rules NYPD Stop-and-Frisk Violates Rights

Photo: longislandwins (CC)

Photo: longislandwins (CC)

About time! From NBC New York:

A federal judge ruled that the contentious NYPD tactic known as stop-and-frisk violates constitutional rights, appointing a monitor to oversee reforms and ordering the department to test body cameras for officers.

U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin wrote in the opinion released Monday that she was not ordering an end to the practice, but was seeking to provide remedies “to ensure that the practice is carried out in a manner that protects the rights and liberties of all New Yorkers, while still providing much-needed police protection.”

She said the practice violates the Fourth Amendment, the right to be secure against unreasonable search and seizure, and the 14th Amendment, which forbids the denial of life, liberty or property, without due process.

Mayor Bloomberg said the city would appeal, and accused the judge of ignoring “the real-world realities of crime.” He said the judge’s orders, if implemented, would make New York “a more dangerous place.”

“This is a very dangerous decision made by a judge that I think just does not understand how policing works,” he said…

[continues at NBC New York]

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