Fourteenth Amendment

The Inexcusable Brennan Hearing

In light of a Department of Justice memo laying out the general rules for assassinating American citizens with drones via a presidential “kill list” - and consequently, without Due Process - it was believed yesterday’s confirmation hearing for John Brennan as Central Intelligence Agency Director, the architect of these strikes, would be contentious.  It sadly was not, and the Senate Intelligence Committee’s failure to press him on the assassinations of American citizens is nothing short of inexcusable.

As I stated in a post earlier this week, I did not expect the U.S. Senate to check the power it collectively usurped with the CIA; after all, they had a hand in constructing the legal framework for the extrajudicial assassinations of American citizens.  The precedence set by this policy endangers the checks-and-balances inherent within a typical constitutional republic.

Time, Place, and Free Speech

You would think the First Amendment is a relatively easy legal precept to grasp, and that the idea of free speech is an equally easy general concept to comprehend. Naturally, this being 21st century America, that just isn’t so.

Take this example from the Arizona Daily Star, this Tuesday:

Northern Arizona University students who were passing out American flags Friday in remembrance of 9/11 got a bigger response than they expected.

No fewer than four university officials and a police officer descended on the group, accusing them of hindering foot traffic and lacking an advance permit.

“9/11 is very important to me,” said student Stephanee Freer. “That’s why I do the event. Every year, I do something for 9/11 and it’s never been disrupted like this.”

University spokesman Tom Bauer said it had nothing to do with what they were saying and everything to do with keeping traffic moving.

“I don’t think that this is a freedom of speech issue. We were not asking them to be quiet. We were not asking them to leave,” he said. “We were asking them to move to a different location within the same area. This is basically clearing the walkways.”

Freer said she meant to pass out flags all weekend but canceled the rest of her plans after the dust-up.

Read the rest of the story. Read the arguments of both sides; the students basically say “First Amendment! Free speech!” while the school officials just say “time, place, and manner.”

“Clearing the walkways,” uh-huh.

The Post Where I Actually Agree With Mike Huckabee

It was bound to happen at some point, but I agree completely with Mike Huckabee’s take on the “birthright citizenship” debate:

(CNN) – Mike Huckabee says he’s against changing portions of the Constitution that automatically grant citizenship to children of immigrants born in the United States – a position that puts the potential 2012 Republican presidential candidate at odds some of his party’s most prominent figures.

In an interview that aired on NPR Wednesday, the former Arkansas governor and 2008 White House hopeful said the section of the 14th Amendment currently in question has long been held valid.

“The Supreme Court has decided that, I think, in three different centuries, said Huckabeee. “In every single instance, they have affirmed that if you are born in this country, you are considered to be a citizen. The only option there is to change the constitution.”

Asked specifically if he would favor such an effort to change the constitution, Huckabee said flatly, “No.”

“Let me tell you what I would favor. I would favor having controlled borders,” he said. “But that’s where the federal government has miserably and hopelessly failed us.”

I suspect my agreement with Huckabee will begin and end here.

Incorporation likely for Second Amendment

Based on news reports on today’s arguments in McDonald v. Chicago, it seems that the Supreme Court is going to incorporate the Second Amendment to the states through the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

The Court did punt on taking up incorporation through the Privileges and Immunities Clause, which as Ilya Shapiro calls “an unprincipled jurisprudence and one that hurts the rule of law.”

Here is rundown of today’s events at the Supreme Court from SCOTUS Blog (a more detailed account can be read here):

Comment Check: Ron Paul, States’ “Rights,” and Liberty

Recently, I’ve been having a running discussion on this blog about the US Constitution, the concept of “states’ rights,” and individual rights. It’s been very illuminating, as I’ve discovered that many so-called “libertarians” are in fact quite confused about what the US Constitution means, and have gotten mixed up in other ideas

Users such as “Jim” and “The Torch” (real name Johnny Storm, I’m assuming) have made the claim that the federal government should not, and is prohibited by the Constitution, from protecting people’s rights when they are being violated and trampled on by the state governments. Their reasoning is that the Tenth Amendment prohibits this, because the Founding Fathers were setting up a federalist system. This argument would actually hold water…if it was being presented on July 8th, 1868.

That’s because the next day, the nation formally adopted the 14th Amendment, which gives the federal government the power to enforce the Bill of Rights against the states, which now how to abide by it as well. (Little known fact: prior to the 14th Amendment, the Bill of Rights were not binding on the state governments; they only applied to Washington.)

These folks are both fans of Ron Paul, and have cited this column he wrote on Lew Rockwell’s site about state vs. federal:

Comment Check: Let’s Learn About the Constitution, Guys!


I think we need to have a big sit-down as libertarians and go back to one of the great libertarian texts, the big one that is cited by many fans of liberty today. Yes, I’m talking about the United States Constitution, and I think this is important because there seems to be a great number of libertarians who don’t understand it, and they have no idea what they’re talking about.

Earlier this week, I wrote about a ThinkProgress piece that was incredibly idiotic and misleading about a Rand Paul quote they just could not comprehend. Amazingly, a user by the username of “Jim” commented that I was a “leftist” for somehow wanting the federal government to mandate a right to birth control pills, i.e., have them paid for by the taxpayers and given to people.

Cue my standard reaction.

I actually wrote something similar to what I will write here last year, where I identified my own personal split with Ron Paul. I think that same problem, though, has cropped up not only with “Jim” but with a great many libertarians. Strangely (or not so strangely), a lot of them are the Ron Paul type of libertarians, which disturbs me.

Note to Birthers: Marco Rubio is a natural-born citizen (and so is Obama)

On my drive home on Tuesday, I tuned into a Sean Hannity’s show for a few minutes, managing to catch a couple of minutes of the conservative talk show host’s conversation with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).

Toward the end of the interview, Hannity brought up that “Birthers,” this strange group of folks that have questioned President Barack Obama’s eligibility to serve, are now raising Rubio’s eligibility now that he has beem mentioned as a possible running mate for the Republican nominee. Hannity was dismissive of Birthers, calling them “idiots,” which is really too kind of a characterization.

Among the group now target Rubio is Joseph Farah, a prominent Birther and editor of WorldNutDaily, spoke with Hannity on Wednesday after hearing his exchange the previous day; and, well, made absolutely no sense:

Conservative Joseph Farah on Tuesday evening predicted that “10 percent of the Republican vote” would fail to get behind Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) as the hypothetical vice presidential nominee because they will believe the circumstances of his birth make him ineligible.
“Rubio is not eligible,” Farah told Fox News host Sean Hannity. “He’ll lose 10 percent of the Republican vote because he is not a natural-born citizen. We’ve been through this with Obama now for four years.”

Rubio was born in Miami in 1971. Farah’s argument against Rubio’s “natural born” status relies on a strict definition also used by Farah and others who raised doubts over Obama’s eligibility. The strict definition requires that both parents be legal citizens at the time of the birth.

House Democrats to Obama: Ignore the debt ceiling

House Democrats are urging President Barack Obama to use the Fourteenth Amendment to raise the debt ceiling, even though such action would be constitutionally questionable (and yes, I’m aware of the arguments that the debt ceiling is unconstitutional):

Rep. James Clyburn and a group of House Democrats are urging President Barack Obama to invoke the 14th Amendment to raise the debt ceiling if Congress can’t come up with a satisfactory plan before the Tuesday deadline.

Clyburn, the third-ranking House Democrat, said Wednesday that if the president is delivered a bill to raise the debt ceiling for only a short period of time, he should instead veto it and turn to the phrase in the Constitution that says the validity of the U.S. government’s debt “shall not be questioned.”

“If that’s what lands on his desk, a short-term lifting of the ceiling, the debt ceiling, he should put it on his desk next to an executive order,” Clyburn said at a press conference. “He should sign an executive order invoking the 14th Amendment to this issue.” The Associated Press reported that he was applauded when he suggested the idea at a caucus meeting earlier in the day.

“I believe that something like this will bring calm to the American people and will bring needed stability to our financial markets,” Clyburn added, noting that President Harry Truman did it once during his presidency after Congress was unable to pass a bill to raise the debt ceiling.

Cherry picking the Constitution

The Huffington Post has a piece about how Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner plans to use the Fourteenth Amendment as at least part of his argument regarding the debt ceiling.  He even apparently has his copy of the Constitution paper clipped so that it can open it right to that section.

From the Huffington Post:

“I think there are some people who are pretending not to understand it, who think there’s leverage for them in threatening a default,” Geithner said. “I don’t understand it as a negotiating position. I mean really think about it, you’re going to say that– can I read you the 14th amendment?”

Geithner whipped out his handy pocket-sized Constitution. Allen tried to brush it aside. “We’ll stipulate the 14th Amendment,” he said.

“No, I want to read this one thing,” Geithner insisted.

“It’s paper clipped!” Allen observed, noting that Geithner’s copy of the Constitution was clipped so that it would open directly to the passage in question.

“‘The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for the payments of pension and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion’ — this is the important thing — ‘shall not be questioned,” Geithner read.

It’s funny how Geithner, a member of the Obama Administration, will look at an amendment and insist on the literal meaning of it.  I don’t think they’re not wrong either, we constitutionally can not default on our loans if at all possible to avoid it.  Personally, I don’t think it’s possible indefinitely, but he’s probably right about the meaning.  That’s how I take it anyways.

Economic liberty and the Fourteenth Amendment

In an interview with Reason TV, George Thomas, a professor at Claremont McKenna College, discusses the Fourteenth Amendment and how it was supposed to protect economic liberties as well as personal liberties and how the right to contract and other economic liberties have been tossed aside since the 1930s.

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