The Constitution’s Week in Review – 30 Apr 2016

May 2, 2016


Article 2:  Qualifications of the President.
The Constitution is not a terribly complex document: seven articles and twenty-seven amendments.  At most, it takes perhaps a half hour to read.  Jim VandeHei, owner of the website Politico, says in a Wall Street Journal article[1] this week:
“I have spent the past two decades in the Washington, D.C., bubble—the heart of Establishment America—covering politics and building a company, Politico, focused solely on politics.” 
 
Apparently none of that political immersion required Mr. VandeHei read the U.S. Constitution. One of the most basic pieces of constitutional information concerns the qualifications for elected office: Representatives must be 25 years old, Senators 30 and the President 35.  Representatives must have been a citizen of the U.S. for 7 years, Senators for 9 and the President a “resident” for 14.  See the progression meant to ensure increased experience and maturity in each office of higher responsibility?  These criteria are not that hard to remember once you’ve been exposed to them.  Mr. VandHei has not.  Despite his ignorance he plunged into the fray to promote Mark Zuckerberg, age 31, Gazillionaire owner of Facebook, as a potential third-party candidate for president.  The “good news” is that Zuckerberg will be eligible by 2020.

Article 5: Amending the Constitution.

March 23, 1971, was the last time Congress proposed an amendment to the U.S. Constitution and sent it to the States for ratification (the 26th).  That was 45 years ago. That 45 year period is not the longest we have gone without amending the document. Many say the Constitution is long overdue for an “upgrade.” 

Washington has grown into a bloated, tyrannical, bankrupt mess, thanks to the "Supreme" Court’s successful demolition of the Constitution’s original limits.  Today we “enjoy” a federal government that “can do most anything in this country” (thank you Representative Peter Stark for those honest words).  Electing better representatives will not fix this mess; the vast majority of potential representatives have no idea what the root problem is or what needs fixing.  Nullification will not fix this; nullification is at best a temporary, limited measure.

Will Congress ever take on the task of reining in their own power, imposing fiscal restraints on themselves, imposing limits to the number of terms they may serve or the terms of federal judges?  Clearly, No!  We will wait in vain for such changes, each time hoping that maybe the next election will provide us a glimmer of hope.  Such “romantics” delude themselves.

This week, Oklahoma became the seventh State to realize that waiting for Congress to act is a pipe dream.  The Oklahoma legislature passed a resolution[4] calling for a convention under Article 5 of the Constitution, joining Florida, Alaska, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and Indiana.  Only 27 more states to go.

Convention of States, a project of Citizens for Self-Governance believes,

“Everyone knows the feds waste taxpayer money and spend beyond their means. What many don't know is that there's a way to force them to stop.
An Article V Convention of States can propose constitutional amendments that mandate responsible fiscal policy. These amendments can impose balanced budget restrictions as well as spending and tax regulations.”

And they released a video that puts it all in perspective.




First Amendment:  Establishment Clause.

Can a church be given state grant money to upgrade its playground equipment as are secular organizations?  At issue is the safety of children at play, at least that was the purpose of the grant program, certainly not the establishment or advancement of religion.  But objections were raised about violating the “Supreme” Court’s contrived “Wall of Separation” doctrine.  Apparently this doctrine trumps the safety of a church’s children. The Court has agreed to hear Lutheran Church v. Pauley[6] and is accepting amicus curiae briefs, such as one recently filed by the Family Research Council[7], to prepare them for oral arguments, not yet scheduled.  If you’ve never read amicus briefs, you should.  Read at least one from each side of the argument.

First Amendment: Freedom of Speech and Political Activity

The Supreme Court ruled this week on public employee’s rights to free speech without retaliation. A cop in New Jersey was rumored to have been campaigning for the opponent of the sitting Mayor, and was demoted. The cop simply was picking up a campaign sign for his elderly Mother who requested it. The Court ruled he could sue, because it was the intent of his employer to punish him for exercising free speech, even though they were misinformed. Yes, now public servants are protected of their right to help elect anyone they chose, within the rules, even if their boss doesn’t like it.

Now if we can get this message to the Union workers. Yes, you can vote, and even campaign, for a non-Democrat candidate, and you can not be fired for it, despite what your family has been told for generations. [Added by the Editor]

Rule Change on FBI Hacking Computer Networks

The FBI has been after this ruling since 2013 and got their wish. The ruling, a change to the Federal Rules of criminal procedure, states that U.S. Judges can issue search warrants for access to computers in any jurisdiction. A slight change, this will not affect searches that are not already legal, it just increases the boundaries, allowing the Justice Department access to computers networks with a proper warrant.

Congress has until December 1st to either change the rule or formally reject the change. Hopefully Congress has learned the importance of our intelligence community’s access to technology in the fight on terrorism and will give the FBI the tools it needs to keep us safe. [Added by the Editor]
 
Meanwhile, in the states: Civil Asset Forfeiture. 

Carrying large amounts of cash is becoming evidence of a crime in this country, so be careful when you do so.  Some Sheriffs have called civil asset forfeiture “pennies from heaven.”[8] I call it highway robbery.  You should not need an excuse to carry cash, even large amounts if you want to.  But time after time, citizens and foreign visitors get caught up in this thievery.  Sometimes there is a happy ending, as in this article[9] about a Christian musician who had $53,000 seized because it was “evidence of drug dealing,” Right.  Couldn’t be anything else?  Civil Asset Forfeiture Laws[10]should be removed from the law books of each state.  Do you know what the situation is in your state?

As a side note: be sure you know your rights concerning warrantless searches of your car on a public road.  In this case I’m certain the police preyed upon the good nature of a Christian musician unfamiliar with the law.  Unless a drug dog alerts at the side of your car or the police can see clear evidence of illegal goods or activities through the car windows, they must first obtain a warrant to conduct a search.  Don’t know your rights?  See the seminars discussed below.

Third Party -
Speaking of Constitutions, I’ll bet some of you didn’t know we have a Constitution Party[11] in this country.  It’s been around since 1992 and it secured a whopping 122,388 votes for its presidential ticket in 2012, partly because only about 50% of the country’s voters even saw the party nominees appear on their state’s ballot.  Their 2016 candidates, Darrell Castle for President and Scott Bradley for Vice-President, will appear on only 23 state ballots this November.  Check out the party’s platform[12] and see if you could subscribe to it.

Sources:

[1] http://www.wsj.com/articles/bring-on-a-third-party-candidate-1461624062
[2] http://cli-cva-constitution.eventbrite.com/
[3] http://www.1180wfyl.com/podcasts.html
[4] http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/capitol_report/oklahoma-joins-call-for-convention-of-the-states-on-balanced/article_d11daf38-96e8-51b2-bf29-0f991a27a0ce.html
[5] http://www.conventionofstates.com/video_managed_debt_like_the_federal_government
[6] http://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/trinity-lutheran-church-of-columbia-inc-v-pauley/
[7] http://www.christiannewswire.com/news/5329877775.html
[8] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ipHUN-xLLms
[9] http://dailysignal.com/2016/04/25/police-seized-53k-from-christian-band-fundraised-for-orphanage-school/?utm_source=TDS_Email&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Top5&mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiTVRVek9UYzVZMkl4WkRNNSIsInQiOiIzNktPeGE4ZW5JSDl0UURwalY0a1wvVEhsT2ttVEJwQUJlS2ZNdTU4UnhJWnpmVHZmVmxNQUZUemR6WllqTmhkSUJBSHlKcjA1NmRScSt5Rk9wYVZESUVxRnczbGI0RXJNd2cyMGxjZUhPM001U2tMcVRMYlJnd1wvQm1Hb1F4UUxwIn0%3D
[10] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_forfeiture_in_the_United_States
[11] http://www.constitutionparty.com/
[12] http://www.constitutionparty.com/our-principles/platform-and-resolutions/
Added by Editor – Protection for Public Employees, Review of Case
Added by Editor – FBI Hacking

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 writing "The Constitution's Week in Review" at www.ConservativeTruth.org, he writes regularly for the Fairfax Free Citizen of Fairfax Virginia. Mr. Porter also teaches at various locations, as well as hosting a weekly radio broadcast ("The Constitution Matters"). The program can also be heard live on the Internet every Friday morning at www.1180WFYL.com. 
Visit Gary Porter's website at http://constitutionleadership.org/