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The Constitution’s Week in Review – 25 June 16

June 27, 2016



 Article 1, Section 5, Clause 2: "Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings"
Our Infantile Congressmen (some of them at least)

House Rule XXIII: “A Member, Delegate, Resident Commissioner, officer, or employee of the House shall behave at all times in a manner that shall reflect creditably on the House.”[1]
Democrats, upset at not being allowed to vote on gun control legislation they have proposed, threw a childish temper tantrum[2] on Wednesday by “occupying” the floor of the House.  Taking their cue from the Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter movements, the Congressmen and women attempted to shut down House business and were ruled out of order.  I suspect they will not be censured for their violation of rules of decorum.

Article 3 – The Judiciary
On Thursday, the Supreme Court announced opinions in five cases. 
In what was described as a “crushing blow” to the Obama administration, the court’s 4-4 opinion in United States v. Texas left intact a lower court ruling that the Obama administration had exceeded its authority in deferring the deportation of millions of illegal immigrants.[3]  Scalia’s vote would have made this 5-4, with the same immediate result, although the tie vote allows the court to revisit the decision after they fill the empty seat.

The Court affirmed the lower court in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin.  This allows the University of Texas to continue discriminating against qualified applicants in the name of diversity without having to demonstrate whether that diversity is needed or has improved the educational experience.  Interestingly, when I heard the decision announced on the radio driving around town Thursday there was great confusion over whether Justice Kagan had recused herself; some thought she had, some that she had not.  The 4-3 decision reveals she did, in fact, recuse herself and SCOTUSBlog confirms.  Kagan’s vote would almost certainly have made it 5-3 with the same result.  Scalia would have brought it up to 5-4 but that would not have changed things.

In three related cases,[4] the Justices ruled that imposing criminal penalties for refusing to take a breath test when suspected of drunk driving is OK but that criminal penalties for failing to take a blood test violate the Constitution.  I’ve not yet had time to read the decisions to see what logic produced the different results, but I suspect the intrusive nature of the blood test over the largely non-intrusive breath test was the discriminator.

1st Amendment – Right of Conscience

Right of Conscience is supposedly secured by the First Amendment Right but is dying a slow death in this country. Now comes news that California (who’d have guessed?) is requiring churches to pay for abortions[5] for staff members.

According to LifeNews,[5] in 2014 the California Department of Managed Health Care reclassified abortion as a “basic health service” under the Affordable Care Act and ordered all insurance plans in the state to begin covering surgical abortions. Churches were not exempt from funding abortions. They argue that the insurance companies are the only ones that could be exempt via “Right of Conscience,” not the purchasers of the insurance plan.

2nd Amendment – Never Let a Shooting Go To Waste

The Supreme Court rejected an opportunity[6] to address a state “assault gun” ban, leaving New York’s and Connecticut’s onerous bans in place.  This was most likely done because Chief Justice Roberts foresaw an expected 4-4 tie that would have left the lower court ruling in place. 

The quest for a “compromise” bill to prohibit the purchase of guns by those on the No fly List continued this week with Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) introducing a supposedly “bi-partisan” bill[7].  Question: was Omar Mateen on the nation’s No-fly List?  I’ve not seen anything that suggests he was, so this is just one more attempt at gun control unrelated to recent incidents.  The linked article contains a point-by-point rebuttal of the features of Collins’ bill.


[1] Rules of the House of Representatives, One Hundred Fourteenth Congress, January 6, 2015.
[2] http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/dems-shut-down-house-floor-to-protest-for-gun-control/article/2594589
[3] http://kfor.com/2016/06/23/supreme-court-announces-split-decision-on-controversial-immigration-programs/
[4] Birchfield v. North DakotaBernard v. Minnesota, and Beylund v. Levi
[5] http://www.lifenews.com/2016/06/21/obama-administration-forces-california-churches-to-pay-for-abortions
[6] http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-court-guns-idUSKCN0Z61JE
[7] http://townhall.com/tipsheet/katiepavlich/2016/06/22/the-susan-collins-gun-control-bill-is-a-nightmare-for-innocent-americans-n2182134

Copyright ©2016

Gary Porter is Executive Director of the Constitution Leadership Initiative, Inc., a project to inform Americans about the Founder’s view of their Constitution.  In addition to being a regular contributor to CT, he writes regularly for the Fairfax Free Citizen of Fairfax Virginia. Mr. Porter also teaches at various locations around Virginia.
Visit Gary Porter's website at http://constitutionleadership.org/

 


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