Bill of Rights

Cruz Explains Tough Questioning of Feinstein on the Bill of Rights

Ted Cruz

On Monday, Sean Hannity talked with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) about his exchange last week with Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), during which he asked the fierce gun control advocate if she would support banning certain books that maybe deemed dangerous or contain explicit messages. Feinstein didn’t react well to the line of question, angrily stating that she’d served on the Senate Judiciary Committee for 20 years and didn’t need a lecture.

In a calm manner, Cruz explained that he appreciated her “sincerity and passion,” but noted that she didn’t answer the question. Feinstein fired back, “The answer is obvious – no.”

Cruz, who served as a clerk for then-Chief Justice William Rehnquist, told Hannity that more of his colleagues should question what Congress does. “For a long time, a whole bunch of Democrats and, unfortunately, even some Republicans have been passing laws in this body without even asking where the basis is in the Constitution,” said Cruz. “And I think the Constitution should be the starting point for everything Congress does.”

Hannity asked Cruz about the First Amendment analogy he used with Feinstein. Cruz explained that his question was based in the text of the Constitution that refers to the “right of the people.”

“The reason is if you look at the text of the Constitution — and I always think the text of the Constitution should be the starting point — the Second Amendment provides the ‘right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed,’” noted Cruz. “And the point I made in my question is that language — the ‘right of the people’ — is a term of art that the framers of the Constitution used in other places in the Constitution.”

ICYMI: Ted Cruz Fires Up Conservatives in CPAC Keynote Speech

Ted Cruz

In case you missed it, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) gave fiery, red meat keynote speech last night at CPAC. He started off by talking about Sen. Rand Paul’s filibuster, noting that his participation in it was the first time he’d spoke on the Senate floor. He responded to Sen. John McCain’s post-filibuster comments, in which the Arizona Senator called them “wacko birds.” Sen. Cruz declared, “If standing for liberty and standing for the Constitution makes you a ‘wacko bird,’ then count me a proud wacko bird.”

Noting the shift in the narrative over the last few weeks, Sen. Cruz told CPAC, “We’re winning right now.” He then went on to discuss the need to repeal ObamaCare, and slammed Senate Democrats for unanimously voting to maintain funding the law.

Sen. Cruz outlined two things that Republicans need to do. First, Sen. Cruz said, is “Defend the Constitution.” Liberty is under assault from every direction.” He knocked Senate Democrats — with the exception of Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) — for sitting out Sen. Paul’s filibuster. Sen. Cruz defended the First Amendment, noting campaign finance laws are pushed by politicians who don’t want to be held accountable for their actions, and Second Amendment. Sen. Cruz defended due process and called for repeal of the NDAA and criticized the indefinition detention provision of the law.

Rand Paul Lights Up the Crowd at CPAC

Rand Paul speaks at CPAC

In what was likely one of the most anticipated speeches of the weekend, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who raised concerns about President Barack Obama’s drones policy last Wednesday during a 13-hour filibuster, offered conservatives a new brand of conservatism.

Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” played as Sen. Paul took the podium in an electric atmosphere where half the auidence was standing as a nod to the #StandWithRand theme. He noted that he only had 10 minutes to speak. “But just in case, I brought 13 hours worth of information,” Sen. Paul said as he held up two large binders to rousing applause. “I also came with a message for the President. A message that is loud and clear. A message that doesn’t mince words,” he added.

“Don’t drone me, bro!” someone shouted from the audience Before he went back into his speech, Sen. Paul replied, “Thats not exatly what I was thinking. However, I may have distilled my 13-hour speech into three words.”

“The message to the President is that no one person gets decide the law. No one person gets to decide your guilt or innocence,” he said. “My question to the President was about more than just killing American citizens on American soil. My question was about presidential power has limits.”

Sen. Paul hit on President Obama’s civil liberties record. “If we destroy our enemy but lose what defines our freedom in the process, have we really won,” he asked. “If we allow one man to charge Americans as enemy combatants and indefinitely detain or drone them, then what exactly is it that our brave young men and women are fighting for?”

Chatting with Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT)

Mike Lee

“[T]he powers of government must be restrained. They’ve got to be restrained in terms of what they do in administering government programs, they need to be restrained as far as how much money they take from the American people, and they need to be restrained in terms of how much they interfere with the liberty of individual Americans.” — Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT)

Back in 2010, conservatives trained their focus on Sen. Bob Bennett (R-UT), who had positioned himself over the years as a big government Republican. Bennett had backed billions in corporate welfare for private companies, including the TARP bailout, and supported a healthcare proposal that was considered by some to be worse than ObamaCare.

Bennett was unable to gain enough support during the 2010 Utah GOP convention to win the nomination, setting the stage for a primary between Tim Bridgewater and Mike Lee.

Lee would go on to edge out his primary opponent thanks to his strong constitutional and fiscally conservative message and support from grassroots organizations, and he easily defeated his Democratic opponent in the historic 2010 mid-term election.

Graham and McCain Missed the Point. Completely.

John McCain

Rand Paul’s epic filibuster was bound to draw some criticism.  I’m sure he didn’t expect it from his own side of the aisle though.  John McCain and Lindsey Graham took aim at the Kentucky Senator earlier today in what looks like a couple of peons scurrying for scraps from President Obama’s table.

Graham put up a poster that showed a body-count comparison of people killed on US soil — al-Qaeda: 2,958, as opposed to none killed by drones.  Of course, no one is arguing anything else.  In fact, I challenge Graham to provide a single instance of Rand Paul saying anyone in this country has been killed by a drone.

Rand Paul’s mission?  To keep it that way.

Former presidential candidate John McCain had the following to say against Sen. Paul:

“Calm down, Senator,” [John] McCain said, in an apostrophe to Paul. “The U.S. government cannot randomly target U.S. citizens.”
[…]
McCain, a staunch foreign policy hawk, said Thursday that Paul’s warnings that the U.S. could target “Jane Fonda” or “people in cafes” bring the debate into the “realm of the ridiculous.”

“If Mr. Paul wants to be taken seriously he needs to do more than pull political stunts that fire up impressionable libertarian kids,” McCain said, adding: “I don’t think what happened yesterday is helpful to the American people.”

Well, allow me to tell you to “Calm down, Senator”!

You see, the problem isn’t that he believes President Obama will do such things.  It’s that President Obama doesn’t believe that he can’t do things like this.  Sens. Graham and McCain are clearly missing the point of what Sen. Paul did last night.

Eric Holder to Rand Paul: No, the President can’t Kill Americans on American Soil

Hours after Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) ended his 13-hour filibuster of John Brennan, President Obama’s nominee to lead the CIA, Attorney General Eric Holder finally responded with a definitive statement. Here is a screenshot of the letter, which was released by Politico.

Holder's letter to Rand Paul

Sen. Paul — and more importantly, the Constitution and Bill of Rights — just won a big battle in a much larger fight.

Eric Holder: The President Can Conduct Drone Strikes Inside the U.S.

drones

The Justice Department has already laid out a questionable legal case asserting that a president can use drone strikes to take out anyone merely accused of being a terrorist. For the last several weeks, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has been seeking answers from the White House about the program, including whether or not the a president can use drones inside the United States’ borders to kill an American citizen.

When asked about the drones program during a Google+ Hangout, Obama deflected, merely stating that “[t]here has never been a drone used on an American citizen, on American soil.” He also explained that the rules for the program abroad would be different than inside the United States. Of course, he never explained that those rules were. He simply said he’d work with Congress to provide “mechanisms to make sure the public understands.”

After wrangling with the White House and threatening to hold up John Brennan confirmation as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Sen. Paul finally got an answer, and it confirms the worst.

“As members of this administration have previously indicated, the US government has not carried out drone strikes in the United States and has no intention of doing so,” wrote Attorney General Eric Holder in a letter to Sen. Paul. “As a policy matter moreover, we reject the use of military force where well-established law enforcement authorities in this country provide the best means for incapacitating a terrorist threat.”

DNA and Doctrine in the Supreme Court

Written by Jim Harper, Director of Information Policy Studies at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.

This week, the Supreme Court considered whether collecting DNA from an arrestee was an unreasonable Fourth Amendment search.

Or at least that would have been a good way for the Court to frame the question.

Instead, much of the oral argument in Maryland v. King dealt with the question whether swabbing the cheek of an arrestee to take a DNA sample upsets one’s reasonable expectations of privacy. The “reasonable expectation of privacy” test is doctrine that arose from Justice Harlan’s concurrence in Katz v. United States. The test asks whether a person claiming the Fourth Amendment’s protections had a subjective expectation of privacy and whether it is “one that society is prepared to recognize as ‘reasonable.’”

The government’s case rests on that framing, which is why Deputy Solicitor General Michael Dreeben began his argument by saying that arrestees are “on the gateway into the criminal justice system. They are no longer like free citizens who are wandering around on the streets retaining full impact Fourth Amendment rights. The arrest itself substantially reduces the individual’s expectation of privacy.”

It’s true that an arrestee has his privacy and other liberties invaded various ways. What problem is it if a bit of DNA is collected at the same time? It’s pretty much like finger printing, the argument goes…

Oliver Stone says Americans are living in an “Orwellian state”

Oliver Stone

While he isn’t exactly friendly to the free market point of view, you have to hand it to Oliver Stone, at least he’s consistent in his criticism of presidents who overstep their constitutional boundaries.

During a recent interview, Stone, who directed JFK and Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, told the Russia Today that the United States “has become an Orwellian state” and called President Barack Obama a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

While many on the Left have given silent consent to the policies of the current administration, including reauthorization of the PATRIOT Act and robbing Americans of due process through indefinite detention and drone strikes, Stone expressed shock and outrage at Obama, who was supposed to be “a great hope for change.”

“I think under the disguise of sheep’s clothing [Obama] has been a wolf,” Stone told the Russia Today. “That because of the nightmare of the Bush presidency that preceded him, people forgave him a lot.”

He added, “He has taken all the Bush changes he basically put them into the establishment, he has codified them.”

Stone, who has recently co-authored a new book with Peter Kuznick, The Untold History of the United States, showed concern for what contempt President Obama has shown during his first term and what his second term may have in store. He explained, “[W]e are going into the second administration that is living outside the law and does not respect the law and foundations of our system and he is a constitutional lawyer.”

“Without the law, it is the law of the jungle,” Stone noted. “Nuremburg existed for a reason and there was a reason to have trials, there is a reason for due process – ‘habeas corpus’ as they call it in the United States.”

Bruce Willis opposes gun control proposal

Bruce Willis

During an interview with Associated Press, Bruce Willis, who stars in the upcoming film, A Good Day to Die Hard, gave his opinion on the Second Amendment and the gun control proposals that have been introduced in Congress.

Willis explained that the conversation may start with guns, but eventually other rights would be put in jeopardy after the time of a crisis or a tragedy. “I think that you can’t start to pick apart anything out of the Bill of Rights without thinking that it’s all going to become undone,” said Willis. “If you take one out or change one law, then why wouldn’t they take all your rights away from you?”

You can watch more of his thoughts below:


The views and opinions expressed by individual authors are not necessarily those of other authors, advertisers, developers or editors at United Liberty.