Tag Archives | Constitution

The Battle for the Soul of the Republic

RepublicRobert David Steele Vivas writes on Reality Sandwich:

The National Security Agency (NSA) mega-data center, combined with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) special relationship with Google, and the federalization of local police using Department of Homeland Security (DHS) funds to pay for monitoring both the locations and the conversations of anyone they wish — without a warrant — suggest that the government of the United States of America (USA)-from local to national-is no longer in friendly hands.

As a professional intelligence officer and a retired Marine Corps officer, I am deeply offended, personally threatened, and patriotically alarmed. Evil has triumphed across the United States of America. Every single institution — from academies to civil society to commerce to the government and law enforcement at all levels, the media, the out of control military-industrial complex, and the bottom-feeding non-governmental and non-profit organizations that suck at the federal government tits gorged with printed money — has failed to respect the Constitution.

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Why Doesn’t The U.S. Just Start Electing Its Supreme Court Justices?

SCOTUSMichael Lind writes on Salon:

On Monday, we had another example of the Supreme Court’s ideological division: a 5-4 ruling, along partisan lines, giving police the right to conduct strip searches for any offense. This came on the heels of last week’s oral arguments before the Supreme Court about the constitutionality of the individual mandate provision of the Affordable Care Act, which led many observers to predict that the nation’s highest judicial body will strike down part or all of the controversial healthcare reform package.

But the hearings were instructive in other ways. They showed once again that political partisanship is closely correlated to a justice’s view of the law. And they proved that the Supreme Court once again is functioning, not as a court, but as a third house of the federal legislature.

The U.S. Constitution, like many state constitutions, really is two constitutions in one. There is the black-letter constitution, which consists of rules about which there is little or no dispute.

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The Right to Sell Kids Junk

Froot-Loops-Cereal-BowlFood critic and blogger extraordinaire Mark Bittman makes the point that a Constitution protecting corporations’ right to inundate children with junk food is wack (especially because the obesity and other health problems it leads to will require health care, which the Constitution may or may not allow the government to provide), in the New York Times:

The First Amendment to the Constitution, which tops our Bill of Rights, guarantees — theoretically, at least — things we all care about. So much is here: freedom of religion, of the press, of speech, the right to assemble and more. Yet it’s stealthily and incredibly being invoked to safeguard the nearly unimpeded “right” of a handful of powerful corporations to market junk food to children.

It’s been reported that kids see an average of 5,500 food ads on television every year (sounds low, when you think about it), nearly all peddling junk. (They may also see Apple commercials, but not of the fruit kind.) Worse are the online “advergames” that distract kids with entertainment while immersing them in a product-driven environment.

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The Drone War on Journalists

Anwar al-Awlaki (CC)

Anwar al-Awlaki (CC)

Scott Horton wrote in Harper’s Magazine:

… I wrote about how the Obama Administration has insisted that its deal with Yemen’s dictatorship concerning the use of drones there is a secret, and how it has been wielding that specious claim to justify withholding publication of a controversial Justice Department memo that outlines the president’s supposed authority to order the assassination of an American citizen abroad. Jeremy Scahill has published an important study of what the Obama Administration is prepared to do to journalists who expose its hit operations in Yemen:

On February 2, 2011, President Obama called Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh. The two discussed counterterrorism cooperation and the battle against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. At the end of the call, according to a White House read-out, Obama “expressed concern” over the release of a man named Abdulelah Haider Shaye, whom Obama said “had been sentenced to five years in prison for his association with AQAP.” It turned out that Shaye had not yet been released at the time of the call, but Saleh did have a pardon for him prepared and was ready to sign it.

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Virginia Senate Passed NDAA Nullification Bill

Seal of VirginiaOne of those rare, rare moments when you see federalism actually work. Joe Wolverton writes in the New American:

On January 16, Virginia Delegate Bob Marshall (left) introduced HB 1160, a bill designed to “prevent any agency, political subdivision, employee, or member of the military of Virginia from assisting an agency or the armed forces of the United States in the investigation, prosecution, or detainment of a United States citizen in violation of the Constitution of Virginia.”

After being passed on Valentine’s Day by an overwhelming majority (96–4) in the House, the bill was sent to the Senate for deliberation by that chamber. In a telephone conversation with this reporter, Delegate Marshall broke the latest news of the procedural progress of his very important legislation …

… Marshall’s bill is the first measure in the nation that is based on the Liberty Preservation Act. This model legislation (a copy of which is available from the Tenth Amendment Center) is designed to block the enforcement of the provisions of the NDAA authorizing the apprehension and indefinite detention of citizens of the United States …

… Most of what is contained in the over-500-page NDAA is in fact “inimical to liberty.” For example, under the provisions of Section 1021 of the NDAA, the President is afforded the absolute power to arrest and detain citizens of the United States without their being informed of any criminal charges, without a trial on the merits of those charges, and without a scintilla of the due process safeguards protected by the Constitution of the United States …

Read More: New American

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The Declining Influence of the U.S. Constitution

Joel S. Hirschhorn writes at Common Dreams:

Among Americans there remains strong pride about the US Constitution, even though there is widespread support for creating reform amendments to it. Globally, however, what should surprise Americans is a significant loss of respect for it. Other nations, especially those creating new democracies, see better constitutions elsewhere.  This is not opinion. It is fact.  And it is important to understand this historic shift.

new university study sends a disturbing message to all Americans that want to hang on to the fiction that the US constitution is not only the world’s best one, but does not need to be improved.  Do not mentally block this finding: “The U.S. Constitution appears to be losing its appeal as a model for constitutional drafters elsewhere,” according to the study by David S. Law of Washington University in St. Louis and Mila Versteeg of the University of Virginia.

What exists today is far different than what was proudly proclaimed in 1987, on the Constitution’s bicentennial, by Time magazine which calculated that “of the 170 countries that exist today, more than 160 have written charters modeled directly or indirectly on the U.S. version.”

Why has the US Constitution lost standing abroad even though Americans cling to their belief that it is sacred and the world’s best constitution?

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FBI Claims Presidential Assassination Orders Could Apply Within the U.S.

Robert MuellerVia Russia Today:

United States Attorney General Eric Holder recently explained how the president can order the assassination of his own citizens abroad. But did his rationalization justify executions within the US? Apparently, the FBI wouldn’t exclude it.

Responding to a congressional inquiry this week on the rationale of assassinating Americans, Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Robert Mueller affirmed that he himself isn’t too clear on the what Holder explained.

The attorney general addressed an audience at Northwestern University in Chicago this week with an explanation for US President Barack Obama’s killing of three American citizens overseas last year. Alleged terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki and two other US-born citizens were executed in a drone strike last year in Yemen, a kill that the White House has been reluctant to discuss in detail until just recently. Speaking from Northwestern this week, Holder insisted, however, that the details the president acted on were “sufficient under the Constitution for the United States to use lethal force against a US citizen abroad.”

Following up on Wednesday, US Congressman Tom Graves, a Republican from Georgia, asked the FBI’s Mueller if Holder’s qualifications for an ordered kill could be applied domestically.

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Constitutional Amendment Proposals That OccupyWallStreet Should Consider

ConstitutionOur current constitution which was written during the summer of 1787 and implemented in 1789 needs, at the very least, to be updated and written in simple and clear words that empower today’s citizen. Much of our current constitution deals with matters that are no longer relevant, such as the embarrassing references to any slave as being counted as 3/5 of a person.

Before I propose my Twenty-Eighth Amendment which simplifies and revises Article V of our current Constitution, I will print Article V immediately below, so that you can be reminded of its tortuous, vague, and confusing words:

The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.

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The Waning Influence Of The United States Constitution

Photo: Terry Miller

Photo: Terry Miller

Adam Liptak describes the decline of the United States Constitution’s global popularity in the New York Times. (If the U.S. adopted Roger Copple’s Third Constitution might the American model become more popular?)

The Constitution has seen better days.

Sure, it is the nation’s founding document and sacred text. And it is the oldest written national constitution still in force anywhere in the world. But its influence is waning.

In 1987, on the Constitution’s bicentennial, Time magazine calculated that “of the 170 countries that exist today, more than 160 have written charters modeled directly or indirectly on the U.S. version.”

A quarter-century later, the picture looks very different. “The U.S. Constitution appears to be losing its appeal as a model for constitutional drafters elsewhere,” according to a new study by David S. Law of Washington University in St. Louis and Mila Versteeg of the University of Virginia.

The study, to be published in June in The New York University Law Review, bristles with data.

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