Tag Archives | Constitution

Obama’s Willing Executioners of the Fourth Amendment

Picture: National Archives and Records Administration (PD)

Picture: National Archives and Records Administration (PD)

It’s now painfully clear that the president has put out a contract on the Fourth Amendment. And at the Capitol, the hierarchies of both parties are stuffing it into the trunks of their limousines, so each provision can be neatly fitted with cement shoes and delivered to the bottom of the Potomac.

Some other Americans are on a rescue mission. One of them, Congressman Justin Amash, began a debate on the House floor Wednesday with a vow to “defend the Fourth Amendment.” That’s really what his amendment — requiring that surveillance be warranted — was all about.

No argument for the Amash amendment was more trenchant than the one offered by South Carolina Republican Jeff Duncan, who simply read the Fourth Amendment aloud.

To quote those words was to take a clear side: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.Read the rest

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Obama’s Escalating War on Freedom of the Press

Newseum 5 Freedoms 1st AmendmentThe part of the First Amendment that prohibits “abridging the freedom … of the press” is now up against the wall, as the Obama administration continues to assault the kind of journalism that can expose government secrets.

Last Friday the administration got what it wanted — an ice-cold chilling effect — from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled on the case of New York Times reporter James Risen. The court “delivered a blow to investigative journalism in America by ruling that reporters have no First Amendment protection that would safeguard the confidentiality of their sources in the event of a criminal trial,” the Guardian reported.

The Executive Branch fought for that ruling — and is now celebrating. “We agree with the decision,” said a Justice Department spokesman. “We are examining the next steps in the prosecution of this case.” The Risen case, and potentially many others, are now under the ominous shadow of the Appeals Court’s pronouncement: “There is no First Amendment testimonial privilege, absolute or qualified, that protects a reporter from being compelled to testify … in criminal proceedings.”

At the Freedom of the Press Foundation, co-founder Trevor Timm calls the court ruling “the most significant reporter’s privilege decision in decades” and asserts that the court “eviscerated that privilege.” He’s not exaggerating.… Read the rest

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Illinois Teacher In Trouble For Informing Students Of Fifth Amendment Rights Prior To Drug-Screening Survey

drug screening surveyThe things you learn in school aren’t supposed to be applicable in real life. Via the Chicago-area Daily Herald:

A Batavia High School teacher’s fans are rallying to support him as he faces possible discipline for advising students of their Constitutional rights before taking a school survey on their behavior.

John Dryden, a social studies teacher, told some of his students April 18 that they had a 5th Amendment right to not incriminate themselves by answering questions on the survey, which had each student’s name printed on it.

The survey is part of measuring how students meet the social-emotional learning standards set by the state. The school district bought the survey from a private company, Multi-Health Systems Inc.

The survey asked about drug, alcohol and tobacco use, and emotions, according to Brad Newkirk, chief academic officer. The results were to be reviewed by school officials, including social workers, counselors and psychologists.

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Attorney General Eric Holder Says Drone Killings On U.S. Soil Are ‘Hypothetically’ Doable

Will lethal drone strikes someday come home? Business Insider reports:

Attorney General Eric Holder said in a letter Tuesday that Obama administration believes it could “hypothetically” carry out drone strikes against Americans on U.S. soil, but “has no intention of doing so.” The letter was sent to Republican Senator Rand Paul in response to his question about the constitutionality of drone strikes on U.S. soil.

But what is truly alarming about Holder’s letter is not his position, but his vague, almost supercilious, dismissal of the drone question itself:

The question you have posed is therefore entirely hypothetical, unlikely to occur, and one we hope no president will ever have to confront. It is possible to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate under the Constitution…for the President to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States.

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Napa Woman Faces Vandalism Charges for Chalking 9/11 Truth Messages on Sidewalk

Picture: Keith Rowley (CC)

According to the Napa Valley Register, a local woman is facing vandalism charges after chalking “9/11 Truth” on a public sidewalk:

Amy Larson readily admits writing “9/11 Truth” and “9/11 Truth Now” in chalk on the First Street sidewalk over Napa Creek.

“I just want people to think for themselves,” said Larson, 29. “I believe we’ve lost a lot of civil liberties since the 9/11 attacks. I’m really concerned about that.

“This is political free speech,” added Larson, who says the investigation into the terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C. should be reopened.

Her chalk writing — which occurred Sept. 11, the 11th anniversary of the terrorist attacks — got Larson arrested on suspicion of vandalism.

Read more at Napa Valley Register.

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Are Free Speech Zones Really Free?

Raul654 (CC)

The recent DNC and GOP conventions had so-called free speech zones, but there wasn’t much freedom on offer. Ann O’Neill reports for CNN:

Shane Brown squeezed through a gap between sections of a steel security fence 9 feet high, picked his way across a vacant lot infested with fire ants and climbed atop a rickety wooden platform. He stepped up and spoke into the microphone:

“God is a good, good God.”

His words were amplified over a hardscrabble patch of earth wedged against a highway the locals call the inner loop. White plastic trash bins stood sentry against litter, but there was no one there to fill them.

Brown, the first speaker to take the platform Wednesday at the official “free speech zone” of the Democratic National Convention, had an audience of just three — two city workers and a reporter. It was shortly before 3 p.m., and the place had been deserted since it opened five hours earlier.

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