I received an email asking me to "delve into Rental Inspection Programs." I have to admit, having lived my adult life in rural America and owning my own home for over 30 years, I haven't had to deal rental inspection programs. While I was researching these programs, I realized they may be just the tip of a truly large iceberg.
Imagine you have immunity for any bad actions you take. You’ve probably heard of diplomatic immunity, where officials of other countries are shielded from prosecution. Then there’s sovereign immunity, when the head of government cannot be charged. But in America, our legal system has come up with the idea of qualified immunity. While the idea of qualified immunity may make sense, like so many other things, it has been badly abused by those in government. The State of New York is considering legislation that may put the brakes on some of the abuses of qualified immunity. Would this make things better or worse?
In 1722, under the name Silence Dogood, Benjamin Franklin wrote: “Without Freedom of Thought, there can be no such Thing as Wisdom; and no such Thing as publick Liberty, without Freedom of Speech;" Why is freedom of speech so important? As Mr. Franklin stated, there is public liberty without it, but what does that mean. Yes, without freedom of speech people cannot express themselves, but there’s more. Without freedom of speech we would never be exposed to contradictory ideas, and we would never grow. The basis of the scientific method is the testing of contradictory ideas. If freedom of speech is so important, why do people keep tying to shut it down? Take New York State’s “Online Hate Speech Law”. Why is the State of New York attempting to get social media networks to act as government censors for them?
There are few things more universally feared and hatred than the IRS. When I’m asked about unconstitutional government agencies, and I point out that the IRS does exercise a power delegated to the United States, most people are gravely disappointed. While the IRS may legally exist, that does not mean that everything they do is constitutional. IRS’s rule to gather data from those in the gig economy went to far. While the Sixteenth Amendment does allow Congress to collect taxes on income from any source without apportionment to the states, the IRS used the threat of unreasonable searches to “encourage” compliance. But for those of us who read and study the Constitution, we can see that this is just the latest in a long line of abuses this agency has engaged in. Let’s face it, this $600 reporting requirement is less about collecting taxes and more about gathering intelligence on the American population.
When the Framers were drafting the Constitution, they had several examples both for how to create laws and execute them. Would the President be an executive or a king? Read Article II and you’ll see that we have an executive not a king. But is that how modern Presidents act? Alexander Hamilton discussed this in Federalist Papers #69. Let’s look at The Real Character of the Executive, then decide for ourselves whether the current and recent occupants of the office are worthy of it.
We all indulge in wishful thinking from time to time. What would happen if that wishful thinking made it all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States? That may be just the case with Brunson v. Adams, et al. Mr. Brunson has petitioned the Supreme Court to hear his case against 388 federal officers, including President Biden, Vice President Harris, former Vice President Pence and 385 members of the U.S. House and Senate. Does his case have a constitutional leg to stand on, or is it just wishful thinking?
In every dystopian novel or movie I can think of there is either an oppressive government or not functioning government at all. As we travel this road of life, we should be asking ourselves, does this head to more liberty or more control? Take for example Central Bank Digital Currencies, or CBDCs for short. Would this new currency allow Americans more liberty or would it give government more control of our lives. To understand this, we first need to look at what are CBDCs. Then we can look at both sides of this preverbal digital coin and decide for ourselves, do the benefits outweigh the costs.
I hear this all the time, how does homosexual marriage impact your marriage. This platitude has a small grain of truth, but it only works if you ignore the rest of reality. It's not that recognizing other marriages changes your own, but how allowance morphs into coercion and then extortion. For almost a dozen years there's been a feud between the State of New York's Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) and New Hope Family Services (New Hope). New Hope was granted a perpetual corporate authorization as an adoption agency by OCFS. However, between January 2011 and November 2013, OCFS created policies and rules that would require that New Hope place children with couple that would violate their religious beliefs. The suit New Hope filed in December of 2018 has been through ups and downs. With the latest court orders, it appears New Hope is currently enjoying the protection of their religious liberty. Will it be challenged again?
Here at the Constitution Study, we spend a lot of time discussing the legal and societal cost of ignoring the Constitution. Have you considered the financial costs though? Sure, we all complain about the size of government, usually around tax season. But of the trillions of dollars spent every year, how much of it is spent on unconstitutional government agencies and programs? Let's take some time and look at the 2023 budget for the government of the United States, see how much is being spent on these agencies that do not legally exist, and consider the costs of our lack of constitutional literacy.
There is legislation working its way through Congress called the Respect for Marriage Act. But does this act respect marriage or redefine it? Let's face it, the definition of marriage has been changing for centuries. Marriages used to include polygamy and other relationships that are no longer legal. But does this act respect the institution of marriage, change it to make it better, or merely open the door to its degradation. Does Congress even have the legal authority to pass such legislation.
While writing my last two articles about the Virginia Bill of Rights, I became more and more impressed by the person who had written them. I decided to do some research on this little know but extremely important Founding Father, and what I found did not diminish my opinion of him. So today, let's take a closer look at George Mason, the man known as the Father of the Bill of Rights.
Last week we looked at the first eight sections of the Virginia Declaration of Rights. This predecessor to the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights not only gives us some ideas about what Thomas Jefferson was thinking when he wrote the Declaration, but why George Mason refused to sign the Constitution when the other framers did. Let's finish the job by going through the last eight sections.
Prior to the Declaration of Independence being adopted, Virginia adopted their Declaration of Rights. **A Declaration of Rights** Is made by the representatives of the good people of Virginia, assembled in full and free convention which rights do pertain to them and their posterity, as the basis and foundation of government. George Mason wrote this declaration, but its impact goes far beyond the Commonwealth of Virginia. We can see the influence of this document on Thomas Jefferson in the opening paragraphs of the Declaration. Let's take some time and look at this predecessor of our Declaration of Independence.
In the latest example of government bureaucrats attempting to take over our lives, the CDC has added an experimental treatment to their "Vaccine for Kids" program. This program provides eligible children free vaccines. What makes this decision truly awful is the vote to add these treatments to the children's vaccine schedule. Many schools and other children's programs require children to receive the vaccines on the CDC's schedule in order to attend. All of this under the guise of a medical emergency that does not exist.
You may have heard about Texas bill H.B. 20, an attempt by the government of Texas to prevent censorship by social media companies. You might also have heard about the case making its way through the federal judicial system regarding this particular law. The central question we should be asking is, when is freedom of speech not freedom of speech? Put another way, can government, either legislatively or judicially, force private companies to share communication they disagree with?
"Operation Crossfire Hurricane", or as it is colloquially known "Russia-gate", seem to be the gift that keeps on giving. Six years after its inception and still it keeps making the news. This time it is a lawsuit filed by Carter Page, an information advisor to the Donald Trump campaign. Recently, a District Court judge for the District of Columbia has dismissed Mr. Page's case. The reasons why are both interesting and informative, making it worth taking a closer look at.
If you spend any significant time discussing court opinions, you've encountered the concept of "Judicial Review". What is judicial review, where does it come from, and is it used today the way it was originally defined? These are the questions every American should have a basic understanding of if they wish to live free. So that is what we are going to look at in this article.
None of us want to be judged by our race, sex, or how we live our lives. But what right do we have to impose our views on others, even to the point of controlling their private property. That is the question in a complaint against Yeshiva University. Does the City of New York have the legal authority to make a private university recognize a student group? Can the state order a religious school to violate its core beliefs to accommodate the wishes of a student? If we wish to live at liberty, doesn't that mean we have to allow others to enjoy their own liberty, even if we disagree with it?
"By hook or by crook", that seems to be the sentiment of some who promote abortion in this country. When they could not get their way by federal law, they engaged the federal judiciary. When the judiciary abandoned them, they went back to using state law to get their way. And when state law didn't get them all they wanted, they used regulation to "back door" themselves around the law. Such seems to be the case in California.
Most Americans celebrate the Signing of the Declaration of Independence, but very few celebrate the signing of the Constitution of the United States? Why is that? Sure, we celebrate Independence Day with cookouts and fireworks, but there's nothing preventing us from celebrating Constitution Day the same way? Could it be that this union of states, like an old married couple, has become complacent and bored? Come with me while I examine this phenomenon in preparation for my own celebration of Constitution Day.
When a government agent stands at your door asking to come in, do you know what your rights are? What would you do if that agent tries to enter your house illegally? If that day comes, the difference between liberty and incarceration may well depend on how well you know your rights and how prepared you are to assert and defend them.
Most of us are aware of Double Jeopardy, the right to not be tried for the same crime twice. But the courts have adopted a "dual sovereign" doctrine to get around this pesky little problem. Two Supreme Court cases out of Oklahoma show the problems with the court making up the rules as they go along, and how this concept of dual sovereignty violate both your rights and the Constitution of the United States.
In Federalist Papers #78, Alexander Hamilton said that the the federal judiciary would be the branch of government least dangerous to our rights. But is that how the courts are working in the 21st century? What makes the courts today so injurious to our rights? We get a clue from current Associate Justice Elena Kagan in a speech she gave at a judicial conference in Montana this July. By comparing her statements to the Constitution and the writings of those who helped frame it, we should not only be able to answer what makes the court dangerous to our rights, but how to protect our rights from them.
After years of trying to pack the Supreme Court, there's a new attempt to take control of the third branch of government. Rather than placing extra justices on the court, (all of which would be appointed by the current President), they want to set term limits for, and a complicated method of appointing justices. But is any of this constitutional? How will Congress and the courts react to this of power? Will the American people meekly sit back and watch while the Constitution is once again set aside by Congress for political ends? What would happen to America if this legislation is allowed to see the light of day?
When parents saw what their children were being taught during the COVID-19 school shutdowns, school choice has been a topic of interest lately. If government schools were going to substitute political theory for reading, writing, and arithmetic, parents wanted another choice. Most people cannot afford private schools, and others cannot dedicate the time to home schooling. Since the people pay for these government schools through their taxes, shouldn't they be able to use that money for better options?
Most of us have heard of the case where the Supreme Court placed limits of freedom of speech. However most people don't know the name of the case and frequently misquote it. A recent case out of Kansas once again brings into question the government's ability to criminalize certain types of speech. From the Schneck case in 1919 to the Hernandez-Calvillo case in 2022, when the government tries to make speech it doesn't like criminal, We the People must stand up to the tyranny.
A high-school coach was denied his freedom of religion and speech based on a a more than 50 year old lemon of a court opinion. In the case Lemon v. Kurtzman, the Supreme Court claimed that your right to freely speak and exercise your religion must yield to the government's "interest" in avoiding violating the establishment clause. But the standard "Lemon" put in place put the government's interest above your rights protected by the Constitution. In this years case Kennedy v. Bremerton School District, the court took this Lemon and turned it into lemonade.
Did you ever imagine a question about air pollution could end up changing the way governments work? That may be exactly what happened with the Supreme Court's opinion in West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency. What started as a question of whether or not the EPA's plan to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions from the electric grid was constitutional into a statement about the limits of discretion that executive agencies can exercise.
Can a state arbitrarily decide whether or not you get to exercise a right protected by the Constitution of the United States? That is the question in the case New York State Rifle and Pistol Association (NYSRPA) v. Bruen, Superintendent of the New York State Police. New York State is a "may issue" state, meaning that you did not get your carry license even if you met all of the legal requirements, you had to show you had a "good cause" to carry a firearm in public. But self-defense was not considered "good cause" by the New York courts. You had to show you had a special need for self-defense, greater than the general public. Does that sound like infringement on your right to keep and bear arms to you?