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Posts Tagged ‘Constitution’

Attack on Constitution’s First Amendment

Posted by Steve Markowitz on February 21, 2017

The U.S. Constitution is a remarkable document, including the United States’ supreme law. The Constitution initially paved the way for 13 diverse colonies to come together and form a Federation by preserving rights of each colony (state). Its fair and stable legal platform played a huge role in the Country’s success.

Amending the Constitution was purposely made difficult to inhibit changes made on the political whims of populists. Amendments require the calling of a Constitutional Convention or two thirds supermajorities in both houses of Congress. Still, the Constitution has been amended 27 times by Congress, including the pivotal Bill of Rights with its 10 amendments made in 1791.

The First Amendment under the Bill of Rights states:bill-of-rights

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

The First Amendment, free speech has come under attack in recent years through the use of political correctness with its social pressures. More recently, some on the Left have been more transparent in efforts to inhibit speech with increased ferocity since Donald Trump’s election.

This Blogger recently discussed the First Amendment with a slightly left-of-center acquaintance who would curtail speech in the name of public safety. In justifying the control of speech, he used the example of crying fire in a crowded movie theater and its risk of creating injury. He equates this example to those who take an anti-illegal immigrant philosophy in America, believing that it leads to attacks on immigrants or aliens. This author believes the comparison is a canard used to curtail the discussion of disagreeable ideas.

Inhibiting free speech, either through social pressures or the legal system, is a slippery slope traveled in the past. McCarthyism was a hammer used by the Right to inhibit the speech of liberals in the 1950s. A similar tactic is now in vogue by the Left, but for a different political agenda. For those who dare to discuss immigration policy, religion security issues, sexual mores, or social benefits, for example, are microphone labeled bigots, homophobic, Islamaphobic, or as Hillary said, “deplorable”.

The key issue with any attack on free speech should be how do we choose who gets to determine what constitutes calling the fire in a theater? Should the curtailing be to the benefit of ones’ political views, they are more likely to agree with the First Amendment attack. However, sooner or later the opposing side gains power and that is why the slippery-slope should concern all, irrespective of political views.

In a relevant example, a few years ago Harry Reid used the nuclear option in the Senate to allow Democrats to use a simple majority to get Obama appointments approved quickly. Previously this required a 60-vote Senate majority. Reid justified this drastic action claiming the Republicans to be the “party of no”, inferring that the step was required to keep government moving. Obama and fellow Liberals were all too happy to go along, irrespective of future consequences. Now, Trump and the Republicans have the use the nuclear option and the Democrats are screaming.

The Senate’s 60 vote requirement was created to make political appointments bipartisan, not easy. Similar to the Second Amendment, this rule had the long-term good of the Country behind it, with the goal of further legitimizing presidential power. The nuclear option has increased polarization and the divide in the Country and government. Instead of looking to Reid’s or Obama’s role in increasing political divisiveness, Trump is demonized for appointments.

Americans on the Left and Right would do well to look at the Constitution is a set of laws created to protect the long-term interest of all. Those that would mold it to fit their short-term agendas do so at the peril of their own future rights.

Posted in Constitution | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Making Sense of the Trump Election

Posted by Steve Markowitz on November 20, 2016

With the presidential election behind us, pundits attempt to analyze and explain the results.  Some on the Right interpret the Trump victory as a conservative mandate.  Others on the Left blame Hillary Clinton’s poor campaigning skills or the low intelligence of voters for the loss.  Such conclusions from both sides miss the greater meaning of the election, which is a continuation of the political paradigm shift worldwide.

In the United States the shift began with the Tea Party after Obama’s first election.  It continued with Democrats losing power in both subsequent mid-term elections.

trumpThe United Kingdom voted for Brexit, to disconnect themselves from the European Union.  Similar to the US presidential election, expert pollsters indicated Brexit would not occur.  Just like in the United States the People proved the experts out of touch.

The paradigm shift is the result of the failure of Progressive governments to meet the needs of the People.  While governments bailed out banks in 2009 to the benefit of the wealthy, and continually come up with social programs for the less fortunate, they have ignored the needs of the middle class whose financial well-being has been eroded.

The forces that led to Brexit and the election of Donald Trump will continue to pick up momentum.  As governments continue with the same failed policies, they will lose legitimacy and be voted out.  These forces will likely lead to the breakup of the European Union, as well as increased European nationalism.

John Mauldin recently published an article titled This Could Be Our 1989” that helps explain the eroding authority of Progressive governments.  He begins by quoting Jeffrey Tucker of the Foundation for Economic Education who correctly said:

“All these details of the Trump platform are still important, but strike me as less relevant to what we can expect going forward.  The more I look at it, the less it seems to me that the election results are less about what Trump believes and more about what he represents: a fundamental shattering of an old paradigm.  And I’m finding the widespread commentary that this represents some kind of triumph of racism, misogyny, etc. etc., to be superficial and even preposterous.  And you know this if you visit with any regular voter.

What lies in ruins here is not common decency and morality – much less the character of a whole people and nation – but rather an anachronistic, arrogant, entitled, smug, conceited ruling elite and ruling paradigm.  You can see this in the clues that show that the vote was not so much for a particular vision of one man, but against a prevailing model of managing the world.” [Emphasis added.]

Mauldin then goes on to offer some logical conclusions relating to not only the Trump election, but also the paradigm shift in political power unfolding before us.  This includes:

  • When I read (somewhat bemusedly) that the halls of power in Europe are in an uproar over our election, I think that they should be. Not because Trump is now president but because elites everywhere – the people who “know” how the world should be run and expect the “little people” to stay in line – are an endangered species”.  Yes, these elites have much to fear as they watch their base of power disintegrate.
  • “It is up to the leadership of countries and communities to make sure that everyone is protected – equally – and to do so without burdening future generations with the task of paying for the solutions they come up with.” For decades governments worldwide have ignored the plight of the middle class who are now revolting at the ballot box.
  • The old institutions are not up to the task of managing a world awash in massive and ever faster technological and social changes that are not leaving us enough time to adjust. We went from a world where 50% of us worked on family farms to where less than 2% do today, but that took 8-10 generations.”  Many of the institutions that Mauldin is referring to were created shortly after World War II.  It is not surprising that they are not working in this rapidly changing world.  Expecting the ruling political class to implement change that while necessary, would diminish their power, is illogical.  It is also not surprising that the old guard claims that incoming change endangers society.

Mauldin concludes that those shaking at the idea of a Trump presidency should “get a grip”, reminding us that the power of US presidents are quite limited by the Constitution.  While Progressives, including the current president, have suggested that the Constitution should be a living document that can be morphed to their political agenda, many in this country, including real conservatives, conclude otherwise.  Strict interpretation of the Constitution and the powers it gives the office of the presidency inhibits any president, including Trump, from significant overreach.

The American People have spoken.  They are demanding change and have elected Donald Trump to carry out that mandate.  Time will tell if he is up to the task.  Should he not, he will be voted out by the same group that have given him the office he will shortly command.

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Obama’s Legacy: Increased Executive Branch Power

Posted by Steve Markowitz on August 14, 2016

When asked about Barack Obama’s legacies, supporters will universally list Obamacare as number one.  As for the problems the country faces, Obama has had a Teflon coat with supporters either ignoring the issues or blaming them on his predecessors.  Problems include the growth of international terrorism, the Middle East in flames, and significantly increased racial tensions in the Country.  Under the radar is perhaps one of the most dangerous Obama legacy; significantly increased power within the presidency and executive branch of government.

The New York Times published an article by Applebaum and Schear titled Once Skeptical of Executive Power, Obama Has Come to Embrace It that chronicles Obama’s power grab.  The article concludes that Obama, who prior to becoming president was publicly critical of executive power, has since embraced it stating: “Mr. Obama will leave the White House as one of the most prolific authors of major regulations in presidential history.”

The Times also states:

  • “Blocked for most of his presidency by Congress, Mr. Obama has sought to act however he could. In the process he created the kind of government neither he nor the Republicans wanted — one that depended on bureaucratic bulldozing rather than legislative transparency.”
  • “The Obama administration in its first seven years finalized 560 major regulations — those classified by the Congressional Budget Office as having particularly significant economic or social impacts. That was nearly 50 percent more than the George W. Bush administration during the comparable period, according to data kept by the regulatory studies center at George Washington University.”
  • “The Obama Era …. And it has imposed billions of dollars in new costs on businesses and consumers.”

obamaThe Times offers concern with the growth of the executive branch and regulations quoting Robert Hahn, a regulatory expert at Smith School at the University of Oxford: “The big issue that I grapple with is that the regulatory state keeps growing.  And as it keeps growing, when does it become too much?”  We have already crossed that chasm.  On the economic front the country has been in the midst of the slowest recovery since the Great Depression.  Socially, the dissatisfaction in the inner cities is at a level not seen in decades.

Since embracing increased executive authority, Barack Obama has spoken arrogantly of this power stating: “an increasingly dysfunctional Congress: … Where they won’t act, I will.”  In addition: “Whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that’s what I’m going to do.”  These are remarkable statements from someone supposedly expert in the Constitution.  The Constitution divides our government into three branches, equally dividing power.  Its purpose is clear, to stop any branch or individual from having their way with law, irrespective of the validity or quality of their proposed action.

While the Obama power grab and myriad of regulations are negatively impacting the country now, there is a more sinister impact to come.  Future presidents will be intoxicated by power and likely bring more authority to the Executive Branch, at the expense of individual freedom for Americans.

Posted in Governmental Intervention, President Obama | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Department of Homeland Security Tramples Over U.S. Constitution

Posted by Steve Markowitz on December 13, 2015

There is a well needed debate ongoing in the Country concerning the rights of individual US citizens versus the need for protective measures against worldwide terrorism.  On the one side are those who would give the government nearly unlimited powers in the name of “safety”.  On the other are those who would strip the government of any power not specifically granted in the U.S. Constitution.  This is a complex argument with reasonable people on both sides.  While compromise is in order, rarely does the government and its bureaucrats relinquish power and authority.

Below is a video exchange between Republican Congressman Trey Gowdy and Department of Homeland Security official Kelli Ann Burriesci.  The discussion involves Americans’ individual rights under the Constitution, specifically one of the most important ones, due process.  This exchange is of concern for not only because it does it shows shallowness of one important bureaucrat, but also her seeming lack of concern for rights given all Americans under the Constitution.

As Ben Franklin warned: “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

Posted in Constitution | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Senator Coburn Understands Constitutional Responsibilities

Posted by Steve Markowitz on December 12, 2014

Senator Tom Coburn, Republican from Oklahoma, is doing what few professional politicians do today; retiring after a mere 20 years in Congress.  Few politicians are willing to leave the perks of office that comes with being a member of Congress.

Those that know Coburn’s record are not entirely surprised he would retire while on top of his game.  He is been a staunch opponent of government overspending and pork, irrespective of the constituents that benefit from the spending.

Coburn’s departing speech, video below, to Senators was not only emotional, but also a jab at the key problem of the government.  After reciting the oath of office that all congressmen swear to, Coburn chastises his fellow senators saying:

Your state is not mentioned one time in that oath.  Your whole goal is to protect the Constitution and its liberties.  It’s not to provide benefits for your state.  That’s where we differ.  That’s where the conflict with my colleagues has come.”

While Coburn’s comments are on point, it is unrealistic to expect politicians to act honorably.  Most either enter office because of the privileges it offers, or become corrupted by the power once arriving in Washington.  There are two simple items required to constrain inappropriate spending by Washington politicians: 1) term limits, and just as important, 2) a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.  As long as politicians have the ability to print money they will continue bringing to their constituents the bacon to the detriment of the Country’s interest.

Posted in Constitution | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Washington Post Criticizes Obama on Power Grab

Posted by Steve Markowitz on September 29, 2014

Throughout much of his first six years in office criticism of President Obama has often been blamed on partisan politics. This is a red herring. Political opponents are always partisan and adversarial, no matter which party they belong to.

In recent months, Obama’s ineptness and overreach of executive power have drawn criticism from liberals. Last month, The Washington Post, known for its liberal bent, wrote an editorial highly critical of the President’s overreach stating:

Obstinate, hopelessly partisan and incapable of problem-solving, Congress is a mess,” but that doesn’t grant the president license to tear up the Constitution.”

“… some of the same Democrats and pro-immigrant advocates urging would be outraged if a Republican president took a similarly selective approach to enforcing the laws.”

Mr. Obama now seems to be jettisoning that stance in the name of rallying his political base. He is considering extending temporary protection from deportation to millions of illegal immigrants, including the parents of U.S.-born children and others who have lived in the United States for years. Conceivably, this would give Democrats a political boost in 2016. Just as conceivably, it would trigger a constitutional showdown with congressional Republicans, who could make a cogent argument that Mr. Obama had overstepped his authority.”

These strong words from the Post should be of concern to all Americans, both on the Left and Right. Obama has traveled further down a slippery slope of executive overreach that future presidents will likely take advantage of. This is a very dangerous path for our democracy.

Posted in President Obama | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Professor Jonathan Turley’s Scolds Obama on his Unconstitutional Power Grab

Posted by Steve Markowitz on July 19, 2014

Professor Jonathan Turley is a well-respected constitutional law expert. His credentials include currently holding the Shapiro Chair for Public Interest Law at The George Washington University Law School. In addition, he was youngest professors to be offered tenure at Tulane University School of Law.

Turley’s politics are liberal and he is stated: “I happen to support most of the changes that President Obama has ordered. I voted for him. I voted for him in 2008.” In adding to his liberal credentials, he sought criminal prosecution of the Bush administration for torture and is vocally against the death penalty.

Turley has recently testified before Congress on perhaps the most important constitutional issue facing the country. He expressed strong intellectual concerns about the increasing power of the Executive Branch and more specifically the unconstitutional power grab by President Obama. Turley’s testimony included in the video posted below is chilling and in fact he proffers the view that Congress’s current lawsuit against Obama is not only appropriate, but necessary to protect the Constitution stating: “You asked if I think a lawsuit would be a good idea? I do.” Included below are additional quotes from that testimony.

Turley’s unquestionable liberal credentials should remove from the discussion of Obama’s unconstitutional power grab the claim that it is a partisan political issue. It is that only if the Constitution is ignored and one happens to agree with the Uber-president’s policies. To my liberal friends, as Turley correctly points out, there are going to be other presidents in the future. Once we travel down this slippery slope of the executive branch trampling on the Constitution, the consequences are scary, but unfortunately predictable.

Professor Turley’s statements before Congress:

  • There’s a growing crisis in our system, a shifting of the balance of power within the tripartite system in favor of now dominant chief executive.
  • Our system is changing and his body is the one branch that must act if we are to reverse those changes.
  • We are seeing the emergence of a different kind of government, a model long ago rejected by the framers.
  • The President’s pledged to effectively govern alone is alarming, and what is most alarming is his ability to fulfill that pledge. When a president can govern alone, he can become a government in itself, which is precisely the danger the framers sought to avoid.
  • What we are witnessing today is one of the greatest crises that expect the members of this committee and his body will face.
  • People misconstrue the separation of powers regularly. It is not there to protect the institutional rights of the branches. It is there to protect individual liberty. It was created by the framers to prevent any branch from aggregating enough power to be a danger to liberty.
  • This is not a question of what should be done. . It is a question of how it should be done and more importantly who should do it.
  • The framers repeatedly rejected that type a notion that the executive has to essentially rework legislation, to use what we would call an executive prerogative.
  • As much as I respect the President, the arguments he is making over presidential authority are extreme …

Posted in Constitution, President Obama | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

2008 Candidate Obama Criticizes his own Future Actions

Posted by Steve Markowitz on July 8, 2014

Is remarkable watching the video below in which then candidate Barack Obama in 2008 showed a clear understanding of the Constitution and the separation of powers demanded by within its framework.  Comparing Obama’s 2008 comments with his unilateral actions since becoming president and becomes clear that he understands the abuse of power that he is carrying out.

Posted in Constitution, President Obama | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Supreme Court Hammers Obama on Constitution

Posted by Steve Markowitz on June 28, 2014

This week the United States Supreme Court ruled that President Obama exceeded his constitutional authority in a 9-0 decision in the case of National Labor Relations Board v. Noel Canning.  The ruling found that the President’s 2012 recess appointments for three members of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) were not valid as he exceeded his authority.  This is more than merely a slap in the rest to the President.  It invalidates hundreds of NLRB decisions made after the illegal appointments, which now must be resolved causing significant litigation expenses and other problems for businesses and greater society.

In typical Obama fashion, when the Congress or Senate does not act, he will exceed his Constitutional powers and act unilaterally.  In this case, he made recess appointments without any authority to do so.  This is a larger issue than merely an out-of-control president.  When the Commander-In-Chief flouts the law it has ripple effects throughout the entire society.

The fact that Supreme Court unanimously ruled against the President is telling.  Four of those votes came from liberal members of the Court who are inclined to agree with Obama philosophically.  This raises questions concerning the motivation behind Obama’s disregard of the Constitution.  Is it a result of lack of knowledge from a supposedly constitutional lawyer or of a man who has no regard for the Constitution/law?  Either answer is very troubling.

Posted in NLRB, President Obama | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Supreme Court Justices Serve too Long

Posted by Steve Markowitz on May 7, 2014

Supreme Court Justices are appointed by our presidents and are given lifelong tenure. The logic behind this tenure was in the effort to keep the Court from being politicized. Unfortunately, that has not been the result.

For at least recent decades, sitting Justices of the Supreme Court have been divided into two main groups, the liberal and conservative wings. They often vote as a block that results in many fairly evenly split decisions. This reality is evidence of a politicized court that makes decisions based on biases in interpreting the law, rather than objective interpretations of it or the Constitution.

ruth-bader_ginsburgIn addition, the lifelong tenure for Justices results in decisions being made by legal minds that are often long pass their prime. For example, former Justice Jon Paul Stevens stepped down from the Court in 2010 at the age of 90. While Stevens may have been sharp for his age, it is reasonable to conclude that his last years in the Court were hindered by declining capabilities.

Currently, the Court’s oldest Justice is Ruth Bader Ginsburg who is 81 years old. In addition, Ginsburg has had serious and ongoing health issues including two bouts with cancer. Again, it is reasonable to conclude that her intellectual capabilities have been declining. However, during a recent interview Ginsburg said: “I do know that once I feel I am slipping, I will not stay here, because this is a very hard job. But that time, thank goodness, has not yet come.” With all due respect Ms. Ginsburg is not capable of making that call.

Progressives like former Justice Stevens and current Justice Ginsburg take the view that the Constitution needs to be a dynamic document, especially with changes in society. Taking such a view seems in conflict with remaining on the Court so late in life when their own values have been so ingrained.

Posted in Supreme Court, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »