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Showing posts with label Bill of Rights. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bill of Rights. Show all posts

Monday, June 24, 2013

Supreme Court Bombshell: No Right to Remain Silent

By Joe Wolverton, II, J.D.


The Supreme Court handed down a decision on June 17 that has been ignored by most media outlets, despite its devastating effect on one of the most fundamental rights protected by the Constitution.

In a 5-4 ruling, the justices ruled that a person no longer has the right to remain silent as guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment. In relevant part, the Fifth Amendment mandates that no one “shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.”

Thanks to the Supreme Court’s decision in Salinas v. Texas, that part of the Bill of Rights has been excised — and has joined the list of so many other fundamental liberties that now lie on the scrap heap of history. 
 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Dr. Gordon Lloyd: The Bill of Rights and George Washington's Acts of Congress - Session 1


As a result of a partnership between the Reagan Foundation and the Ashbrook Center at Ashland University, Dr. Gordon Lloyd gave a series of six lectures on The Bill of Rights. As a renowned expert on the founding of the United States of America, Dr. Lloyd has compiled an amazing internet based resource on TeachingAmericanHistory.org. In this lecture, entitled "Bill of Rights: English and Colonial Origins," Dr. Lloyd traces the origins of each right in the Bill of Rights to its first appearance in either English or Colonial documents.


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Lindsey Graham: Obama's Useful Idiot or Partner in Treason?

Gives Obama the Right to Ignore Sixth Amendment, Jail American Citizens Without Trial


By Joe Wolverton, II

President Barack Obama signed a law on New Year's Eve granting himself absolute power to indefinitely detain American citizens suspected (by him) of being "belligerents." He promises he won't use it, however. 

On December 31, 2011, with the President's signing of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the writ of habeas corpus — a civil right so fundamental to Anglo-American common law history that it predates the Magna Carta — is voidable upon the command of the President of the United States. The Sixth Amendment right to counsel is also revocable at his will.

The United States, as Senator Lindsey Graham declared during floor debate in the Senate, is now a theatre in the War on Terror and Americans "can be detained indefinitely ... and when you say to the interrogator, 'I want my lawyer,' the interrogator will say, 'You don't have a right to a lawyer because you're a military threat.'"

Don't worry, though. Although the President now wields this enormous power, he adamantly denies that he will ever "authorize the indefinite military detention without trial of American citizens." That guarantee is all that stands between American citizens and life in prison on arbitrary charges of conspiring to commit or committing acts belligerent to the homeland.

Friday, June 27, 2008

McCain's Day of Repudiation


From Real Clear Politics
By George Will

Two of Thursday's Supreme Court rulings -- both decided 5-4, and with the same alignment of justices -- concerned the Constitution's first two amendments. One ruling benefits Barack Obama by not reviving the dormant debate about gun control. The other embarrasses John McCain by underscoring discordance between his deeds and his promises.

The District of Columbia's gun control law essentially banned ownership of guns not kept at businesses and not disassembled or disabled by trigger locks, even guns for personal protection in the home. The issue in the case was: Does the Second Amendment "right of the people to keep and bear arms" guarantee an individual right? Or does the amendment's prefatory clause -- "A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state" -- mean that the amendment guarantees only the right of a collectivity ("the people," embodied in militias) to "bear" arms in military contexts?

In an opinion written by Justice Antonin Scalia, who believes that construing the Constitution should begin, and often end, with analysis of what the text meant to its authors, the court affirmed the individual right. Scalia cited the ancient British right -- deemed a pre-existing, inherent, natural right, not one created by government -- of individuals to own arms as protection against tyrannical government and life's other hazards. Scalia also cited American state constitutional protections of the right to arms, protections written contemporaneously with the drafting of the Second Amendment.

Scalia's opinion, joined by John Roberts, Sam Alito, Clarence Thomas and Anthony Kennedy, radiates an understanding that the right to arms is the right of each individual to protect his rights to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." Hence the Second Amendment is integral to the Bill of Rights and is, for weighty reasons, second only to the First.

Obama benefits from this decision. Although he formerly supported groups promoting a collectivist interpretation -- nullification, really -- of the Second Amendment, as a presidential candidate he has prudently endorsed the "individual right" interpretation. Had the court held otherwise, emboldened gun-control enthusiasts would have thrust this issue, with its myriad cultural overtones, into the campaign, forcing Obama either to irritate his liberal base or alienate many socially conservative Democratic men.

The McCain-Feingold law abridging freedom of political speech -- it restricts the quantity, timing and content of such speech -- included a provision, the Millionaires' Amendment, that mocked the law's veneer of disinterested moralizing about "corruption." The provision unmasked the law's constitutional recklessness and its primary purpose, which is protection of incumbents.

The amendment, written to punish wealthy, self-financing candidates, said that when such a candidate exceeds a particular spending threshold, his opponent can receive triple the per-election limit of $2,300 from each donor -- the limit above which the threat of corruption supposedly occurs. And the provision conferred other substantial benefits on opponents of self-financing candidates, even though such candidates cannot be corrupted by their own money, which the court has said they have a constitutional right to spend.

Declaring the Millionaires' Amendment unconstitutional, the court, in an opinion written by Alito, reaffirmed two propositions. First, because money is indispensable for the dissemination of political speech, regulating campaign contributions and expenditures is problematic and justified only by government's interest in combating "corruption" or the "appearance" thereof. Second, government may not regulate fundraising and spending in order to fine-tune electoral competition by equalizing candidates' financial resources.

The court said it has never upheld the constitutionality of a law that imposes different financing restraints on candidates competing against each other. And the Millionaires' Amendment impermissibly burdened a candidate's First Amendment right to spend his own money for campaign speech.

This ruling invites challenges to various state laws, such as Arizona's and Maine's, that penalize private funding of political speech. Those laws increase public funds for candidates taking such funds when their opponents spend certain amounts of their own money or receive voluntary private contributions that cumulatively exceed certain ceilings. Such laws, like McCain-Feingold, rest on the fiction that political money can be regulated without regulating political speech.

The more McCain talks -- about wicked "speculators," about how he reveres ANWR as much as the Grand Canyon, about adjusting the planet's thermostat, etc. -- the more conservatives cling to judicial nominees as a reason for supporting him. But now another portion of his signature legislation has been repudiated by the court as an affront to the First Amendment, and again Roberts and Alito have joined the repudiation. Yet McCain promises to nominate jurists like them. Is that believable?