The Constitution Of The United States – Article V
The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress; provided that no amendment which may be made prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any manner affect the first and fourth clauses in the ninth section of the first article; and that no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.
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It was supposed to be a “neck-and-neck” race between Tea Party-backed candidate and political newcomer Matt Bevin and Democrat Jack Conway in the Kentucky gubernatorial race on November 3.
But Bevin crushed Conway by a whopping 9%, 52.5% to 43.8%. It was a bloodbath, with Bevin winning all but just a few counties.
If that wasn’t enough to twerk leftist Democrats and their establishment Republican brethren, the state elected another Tea Party champion, Jenean Hampton, the first black woman ever elected to statewide office in Kentucky.
But it’s not just Democrats and RINO Republicans who are threatened by these new anti-establishment, pro-liberty, pro-Constitution Kentucky leaders.
The unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats from Washington, D.C., who unconstitutionally pass rules, laws and regulations without any vote from Congress, were given a powerful two-word message from Governor-elect Matt Bevin.
The Tea Party favorite Bevin, fresh off his huge victory, appeared on The Glenn Beck Radio Program on Friday and said that in regards to the Obama EPA’s tyrannical and un-American efforts to shut down a great American industry – the coal industry – he will tell the controlist agency to “pound sand.”
“Why it is that we in Kentucky – that sit on two extraordinary basins, the Illinois basin and the Central basin, an abundance of this – how are we not participating in something that the world wants more of than they ever have?
And so, from my way of thinking, we will tell the EPA and other unelected officials who have no legal authority over us as a state, to pound sand.”
Bevin told Beck that the Constitution grants the EPA “no authority” over the state, because of the Tenth Amendment, and that the only thing the EPA can do is take the state to court because they have “no enforcement arm.”
Matt Bevin told Glenn Beck that he is fed up with the federal government “bribing us with our own money” and plans on putting a stop to it.
California Gov. Jerry Brown appears to have committed an impeachable offense in using state experts to study the potential for oil development on his private property, as uncovered by the Associated Press on Thursday.
California public ethics laws forbid elected officials from using state resources for personal or political gain.
Section 8314 of the California Government Code indicates: “It is unlawful for any elected state or local officer… to use or permit others to use public resources for… personal or other purposes which are not authorized by law.”
The term “public resources” includes equipment, vehicles, computers, and “state-compensated time.” The lawsuit that first exposed Gov. Brown’s personal use of state experts alleges that he diverted scarce state resources.
Violations are to be punished by civil penalties of $1,000 per day for each day of the offense, plus triple the value of the diverted resources.
Though not a criminal offense, Brown’s apparent violation would be an impeachable offense.
California Government Code Section 3020 specifies: “State officers elected on a statewide basis, members of the State Board of Equalization, and judges of state courts are subject to impeachment for misconduct in office.”
Another, more difficult option would be to recall the governor, who has enjoyed high approval ratings until now.
Just as in federal impeachment, articles of impeachment have to be filed in the lower house, the State Assembly, before moving to trial in the State Senate.
However, the Lieutenant Governor, not the Chief Justice, would preside.
Republican businessman Matt Bevin was elected Kentucky’s next governor on Tuesday, marking a setback for Democrats who had controlled the office in every election but one since 1971 and underscoring the party’s decline in the conservative US South.
Bevin, who rode Tea Party support to a narrow victory in a four-way Republican primary, soundly defeated State Attorney General Jack Conway, whose late October lead in the polls evaporated on election day.
“This is a chance for a fresh start,” said Bevin at his victory event, calling his candidacy an opportunity to change traditional politics. “It truly is, and we desperately need it.”
Republicans also were successful in securing a second term for Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant, who easily defeated a little-known opponent in the conservative southern state.
Kentucky’s more hotly contested race reflected the partisan divide seen nationally over gay marriage and President Barack Obama’s signature health care law in a contest to replace Democratic Governor Steve Beshear, who cannot run because of term limits.
Bevin, who has never before held elected office, won with 52.5 per cent of the vote, compared to 43.8 per cent for Conway, according to unofficial results with all precincts reporting.
His path to victory included courting religious conservatives after meeting with embattled Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis after she was jailed for defying a federal judge’s order to issue marriage licenses to gay couples.
“I am ecstatic,” Davis said in a statement released by her attorneys at the conservative Liberty Counsel, adding that Bevin had prayed for her. “I will be forever thankful that he came to visit me while I was in jail.”
A same sex marriage supporter waves a flag saying Born This Way along West Main Street during a protest in front of the Rowan County Courthouse in Morehead, KentuckyA same sex marriage supporter waves a flag saying Born This Way along West Main Street during a protest in front of the Rowan County Courthouse in Morehead, Kentucky Photo: Getty Images
While Tea Party leaders celebrated a win for Bevin, a conservative known to challenge establishment Republicans, he also benefited from a late infusion of cash from the Republican Governors Association. The organisation said it poured $2.5 million into the state during the final two weeks of the campaign and spent a total of $6 million on the race.
Bevin had pledged to roll back the expansion of Medicaid to provide health coverage to the poor under Obama’s health plan as started by the current governor, which Conway had supported.
Although Kentucky voters routinely send Republicans to Washington, DC, experts thought Conway had the advantage going into election day, given Democrats’ enduring state-level strength in recent decades.
Bevin’s lieutenant governor, Jenean Hampton, becomes the first African American elected to statewide office in Kentucky.
In Mississippi, Republicans also celebrated widely expected victories for party incumbents.
Gov Phil Bryant defeated truck driver Robert Gray, the surprise victor of a Democratic primary in which he did not spend money or seriously campaign. His low-budget campaign reflected the sorry state of the Mississippi Democratic Party, observers said.
Still, Democrats held off a challenge to one of the party’s last statewide elected officers in the Deep South. Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood won a fourth term in office, with his opponent conceding late Tuesday night.
Walker’s campaign called a 6 p.m. news conference in Madison for an undisclosed topic.
The most recent poll after the last Republican debate had Walker down to 0 percent.
The New York Times was the first to report Walker was quitting the race. A Walker campaign representative did not return a request for comment from TheBlaze.
Walker has touted himself as the battle-tested conservative governor in a blue state who won three times in four years. He once led in Iowa and had polled well nationally, but neither of his debate performances were particularly strong.
Walker is the second candidate to drop out, leaving the still-crowded GOP presidential field with 15 candidates.
Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry was the first to depart, but his exit was less surprising, as he never caught fire – in contrast to Walker, who until recently was polling in the top three.
Walker was elected governor of Wisconsin in 2010, promising to reign in the state’s pension system. He gained national fame in battling state-employee unions. The unions pushed a recall election in 2012, which Walker won, then went on to get re-elected handily in 2014.
Ed Lists The 7 Other GOP Presidential Candidates Who Should Drop Out Of The Race Immediately
The governor of Arkansas has directed the state Department of Human Services to terminate its Medicaid contract with the abortion giant Planned Parenthood.
In compliance with the request, the department sent a letter to Planned Parenthood of the Heartland on Friday as notice that the contract was being terminated.
“[T]he Arkansas Department of Human Services is hereby exercising its authority to terminate its existing agreements with Planned Parenthood of Arkansas & Eastern Oklahoma,” the correspondence reads. “The termination… will be effective 30 days from the date of this letter.”
Gov. Asa Hutchinson has also released a statement about the move, remarking that the decision was influenced by the recent video exposes’ outlining Planned Parenthood’s apparent harvesting and sale of aborted baby organs.
“It is apparent that after the recent revelations on the actions of Planned Parenthood, that this organization does not represent the values of the people of our state and Arkansas is better served by terminating any and all existing contracts with them,” he said. “This includes their affiliated organization, Planned Parenthood of Arkansas and Eastern Oklahoma.”
Planned Parenthood likewise released a statement, stating that by revoking the agreement, states like Arkansas are aligning themselves with “extremists.”
“The politicians behind these reckless policies have allied themselves with extremists who will stop at nothing to end access to abortion – breaking laws, pushing misinformation, and violence and harassment of women and doctors,” it read in part.
Arkansas is the fourth state to pull funding to Planned Parenthood, following Alabama, Louisiana and New Hampshire. As previously reported, the New Hampshire State Executive Council voted earlier this month despite objections from Gov. Mary Hassan to cancel its $650,000 contract with the abortion giant. The funds will be reallocated to other women’s health facilities.
The day prior, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal announced that the state would terminate Planned Parenthood’s Medicaid contract.
“Planned Parenthood does not represent the values of the people of Louisiana and shows a fundamental disrespect for human life,” he said. “It has become clear that this is not an organization that is worthy of receiving public assistance from the state.”
The Obama administration has contended that it is illegal for states to terminate Medicaid contracts with Planned Parenthood because of its abortion services. Medicaid payments do not include abortions, but still provide support to the organization.
“Even though we anticipate a federal review, standing up for Arkansas values is most important to the governor,” spokesman J.R. Davis told the Arkansas Times.
“American tax dollars should not be used to subsidize billion-dollar corporations that inhumanely and illegally sell baby body parts,” Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) Senior Counsel Casey Mattox said in a statement. “Tax dollars that went to two Planned Parenthood clinics in Arkansas will be better used by the 179 community health centers and other clinics that actually provide comprehensive health care. We commend the governor and hope other states will follow his example.”
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal announced Tuesday he is directing his state’s Department of Health and Hospitals to launch an investigation into Planned Parenthood. This comes on the heels of the release of an investigative video by pro-life group Center for Medical Progress depicting the abortion giant’s chief medical officer speaking about how to abort a baby intact to harvest its body parts for sale.
“Today’s video of a Planned Parenthood official discussing the systematic harvesting and trafficking of human body parts is shocking and gruesome,” Jindal, a Republican presidential contender, said in a statement sent to Breitbart News.
“This same organization is seeking to open an abortion clinic in New Orleans,” he continued. “I have instructed Louisiana’s Department of Health and Hospitals to conduct an immediate investigation into this alleged evil and illegal activity and to not issue any licenses until this investigation is complete. I am also asking the FBI to assist DHH in investigating this alleged criminal activity by this organization.”
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is calling for a full investigation into Planned Parenthood after a high-level official was caught in an undercover video discussing the harvesting of aborted fetal tissue.
“Congress should immediately begin an investigation of Planned Parenthood’s activities regarding the sale and transfer of aborted body parts, including who is obtaining them and what they are being used for,” Cruz wrote in a statement late Tuesday.
The now-viral video, which was created by an anti-abortion group called the Center for Medical Progress, has inflamed conservatives on Capitol Hill since it surfaced early Tuesday. He is the third GOP White House hopeful to condemn the reported trafficking of “fetal parts.”
Earlier Tuesday, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, also a Republican, charged his state health department with investigating the issue.
Planned Parenthood, which receives some of its funding from the federal government, has acknowledged that the video includes one of its executives but denied that she was discussing the sale of fetal tissue. Instead, the group said she was “speculating on the range of reimbursement that patients can receive after stating they wish to donate any tissue after a procedure.”
Cruz also renewed calls for lawmakers to “fully defund” Planned Parenthood, a long-time rallying cry among anti-abortion Republicans.
“There is no place for taxpayer funding of organizations that profit from taking away innocent life, much less profiting off the bodies of the lives they have stolen,” he wrote in a statement.
On Tuesday, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval signed into law the nation’s fifth education savings account (ESA) program, and the first to offer ESAs to all students who previously attended a public school. Earlier this year, Sandoval signed the state’s first educational choice law, a very limited scholarship tax credit. Despite their limitations, both programs greatly expand educational freedom, and will serve as much-needed pressure-release valves for the state’s overcrowding challenge.
When Nevada parents remove their child from her assigned district school, the state takes 90 percent of the statewide average basic support per pupil (about $5,100) and instead deposits it into a private, restricted-use bank account. The family can then use those funds to purchase a wide variety of educational products and services, such as textbooks, tutoring, educational therapy, online courses, and homeschool curricula, as well as private school tuition. Low-income students and students with special needs receive 100 percent of the statewide average basic support per pupil (about $5,700). Unspent funds roll over from year to year.
The eligibility requirements for ESA programs in other states are more restrictive. In Florida, Mississippi, and Tennessee, ESAs are limited to students with special needs. Arizona initially restricted ESA eligibility to students with special needs, though lawmakers have since expanded eligibility to include foster children, children of active-duty military personnel, students assigned to district schools rated D or F, gifted students, and children living in Native American reservations.
Research shows that parents in Arizona are overwhelmingly satisfied with the state’s ESA program and, as Lindsey Burke and I recently explained, ESAs are a significant improvement over school vouchers:
ESAs offer several key advantages over traditional school-choice programs. Because families can spend ESA funds at multiple providers and can save unspent funds for later, ESAs incentivize families to economize and maximize the value of each dollar spent, in a manner similar to the way they would spend their own money. ESAs also create incentives for education providers to unbundle services and products to better meet students’ individual learning needs.
One disappointing limitation of Nevada’s ESA is that it is restricted to students who previously attended their assigned district school for at least 100 days. This eligibility requirement unnecessarily excludes students whose assigned school is low-performing, unsafe, or simply not a good fit for that student. It also excludes families and communities who object to what is being taught at the district schools. Hopefully the legislature will expand the ESA eligibility to include all Nevada students in the near future.
On Tuesday night, Fox News’s Megyn Kelly conducted an incisive interview with Senator Rand Paul (R., Ky.) about his opposition to the National Security Agency’s metadata-collection program under Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act (the business-records provision). The abbreviated version of the interview as aired is on the Kelly File website, here; the full interview (which runs about 13 minutes and also features Kelly Paul, the senator’s wife) has been posted on Fox News’s blog, here.
I have been making the argument that, while there is a serious question about whether the metadata program violates the statutory limitations spelled out in Section 215, Senator Paul’s claim that it flouts the Constitution is frivolous. It was on this point that Ms. Kelly pressed him Tuesday night. I will address two of the senator’s constitutional claims: the “general warrant” objection and the notion that the Fourth Amendment protects private confidentiality arrangements. I will then add some closing thoughts on other misleading and misguided elements of Paul’s argument.
The senator contends that a court order directing a telecommunications company to turn over the records of usage by its customers is a “general warrant,” an evil the Fourth Amendment was designed to prevent. He evidently does not understand the concept he is invoking.
A general warrant is a government grant of authority to search and seize unspecified persons or places without limitation. To prohibit it, the Fourth Amendment requires that a search warrant describe with particularity “the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
There are two fatal flaws in Paul’s general-warrant claim.
One: The Fourth Amendment requires the government to obtain a judicial search warrant only if it wishes to search or seize categories of very personal property that are spelled out explicitly in the amendment – namely, one’s “person, house, papers and effects.” Business records that are the property of a third party (namely, a telecom) do not constitute the customer’s person, house, papers, or effects. You do not have a constitutional privacy interest in property that belongs to a third party. (You may have a statutory privacy interest . . . but I’ll come to that in due course.)
Consequently, to obtain a customer’s phone records, the government is not required to secure a search warrant. Indeed, in ordinary law enforcement, the government commonly compels the production of copious quantities of business records (very much including telephone records) by mere subpoena.
Note that this means the PATRIOT Act, which requires the government to go to court first and highly regulates what the government may do with the phone records it collects, provides more privacy protection than Americans get in everyday law enforcement. Prosecutors, for example, do not need court permission to issue subpoenas, and they may make unlimited use of phone records they gather, including scrutinizing the information that identifies the customers. By contrast, as Rich Lowry observed in his column a couple of days ago, the metadata program under the PATRIOT Act does not collect personal identifying information.
Two: Senator Paul confuses a demand for a large amount of information with a lack of specificity. The fact that Section 215 orders require the telecoms to produce lots of data does not mean the orders do not particularize what data is sought.
Again, because we are not dealing with matters that trigger Fourth Amendment protection (one’s person, house, papers, and effects) there is no requirement for a Section 215 order to comply with the Fourth Amendment’s specificity mandate. Yet it is quite specific nevertheless. The order does not tell the telecom, “Provide all your records, of any kind”; it directs the telecom to provide for all subscriber numbers (but not names, addresses, or other identifying information) records showing what numbers (not names) were called, plus the date, time, and duration of the calls. Yes, it is a lot of information, but the orders are particular about what may and may not be collected. Clearly, they are not “general warrants.”
Note that under Paul’s analysis, a prosecutor or FBI agent would not be able to subpoena, say, the ledgers kept by drug traffickers. After all, those ledgers might contain records pertaining to hundreds or thousands of drug transactions involving dealers and customers whose names are not specified in the subpoena and whose private activities the government would be able to pry into. Of course, this would be untenable: We all know that we do not have a property right in another person’s belongings, and if his papers and effects happen to detail activity in which we’ve been involved, we do not have a constitutional right to shield that information from government agents conducting legitimate investigations.
Private Confidentiality Arrangements
Senator Paul acknowledges that the Supreme Court, in Smith v. Maryland (1979), held that the Fourth Amendment is not implicated by a service provider’s records of the customer’s telephone usage. (Again, we’re talking here about subscriber numbers, numbers called, date, time, and duration – not the content of conversations.) From a constitutional standpoint, that should be the end of the matter. Yet Paul makes some futile efforts to distinguish Smith.
He claims, for example, that Smith is an old case (not from “modern times”), and that it involved the records of a single person who was suspected of crimes, not – as in the metadata program – the records of millions of people who are not criminal suspects. These assertions are at once irrelevant and odd.
First, the Smith Court’s rationale was that third-party business records do not trigger Fourth Amendment privacy protections. The question was not whether the customer at issue was a criminal; it was whether he had a cognizable privacy interest – his status as a suspect was beside the point. Second, what is Paul relying on to show that the 36-year-old Smith ruling is obsolete? Why, it’s the 226-year-old Fourth Amendment. Even if Smith really were ancient history (and it’s not), the justices were relying on an understanding of technology and privacy that was over two centuries more modern than that of the Framers.
Another claim that Paul posits warrants a bit more discussion because it has some surface appeal. The senator observes that a service provider has a contractual duty of confidentiality to the customer: It could be sued if, for example, it sold or gave away the customer’s calling data to another private party without permission. From this premise, Paul reasons that (a) this confidentiality duty is breached when the telecom gives this same information to the government pursuant to a court order, and (b) this purported breach somehow rises to the level of a constitutional violation.
The suggestion has populist appeal: The senator is tapping into the outrage we’d all feel if a phone company gave out information regarding our personal calling habits to just anyone. But legally, his contention, as applied to lawful investigative demands by the government, is specious.
There are some private confidential relationships our law protects by shielding communications from even judicial proceedings – e.g., privileges against disclosure for married couples, and for persons in a priest-penitent, doctor-patient, or attorney-client relationship. Other than these longstanding exceptions, however, the rule is that private confidentiality arrangements must yield to lawful investigative demands.
If you and I agree to share a secret, but you get subpoenaed to a grand jury, neither of us has an enforceable legal privilege that would allow you to refuse to disclose the secret. Even journalists, whose critical function in a democracy is recognized by the First Amendment’s nod to freedom of the press, are nevertheless required to disclose communications with their confidential sources if compelled by grand jury or trial subpoena. (That is why, to take a prominent example, reporter Judy Miller spent many weeks in jail upon refusing to honor a subpoena seeking information about her conversations with a source, then-government official Scooter Libby. The press has lobbied for a “shield law” precisely because the Constitution does not immunize reporters from investigative demands for information.)
Telecoms do and should have contractual and even statutory obligations to keep customer information confidential – not to mention having a competitive business interest in doing so. But those obligations have always been trumped by lawful investigative demands for information.
When, as we’ve seen, the information at issue is not itself protected by the Fourth Amendment, it is silly to argue, as Paul does, that a confidentiality agreement between the service provider and the company changes the Fourth Amendment analysis. The Supreme Court’s “expectation of privacy” jurisprudence involves one’s expectation of privacy from government intrusion. No one has a reasonable expectation of privacy that the government will not seek a corporation’s business records in an investigation. A confidentiality arrangement gives the customer an expectation that the corporation will refrain from irresponsible disclosures to private parties, but not from disclosures based on lawful demands made by government agencies pursuant to court process or federal statutes.
Finally: Honesty, Capability, and Regularity
Three last points.
One: Senator Paul repeatedly and disingenuously blends together his claim that the metadata program violates the Constitution with the fact that the federal appeals court for the Second Circuit recently ruled that the program is “illegal.” Transparently, he is implying that the court concurred in his legal analysis – an effort to give his Fourth Amendment claims the patina of judicial heft. But as the senator well knows, the Second Circuit did not hold that the metadata program violates the Constitution; it concluded that the program transgressed the limitations of a statute – Section 215.
That is a debatable conclusion. The Second Circuit makes a strong case, but the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (which Congress created to specialize in intelligence issues) clearly disagrees, having issued Section 215 metadata orders over two dozen times. The statutory issue is a complicated one (I’ve addressed it here), but it is statutory. Senator Paul should stop suggesting that the courts have found merit in his constitutional claims.
Two: Senator Paul and like-minded critics of government counterterrorism authorities misleadingly conflate government capabilities with government action. Paul, for example, told Megyn Kelly that an academic study of metadata showed that, by scrutinizing it, researchers could figure out personal information like what religion a person belonged to and what medicines the person took. As Ms. Kelly pointed out, the government’s program does not permit metadata to be scrutinized that way; access to the information and the manner in which it may be searched are tightly controlled by statute and court-ordered minimization rules.
Now, to be sure, the government has the capability to abuse the metadata program just as it can abuse any other government program or power. Senator Paul’s argument is akin to saying that because the enormous power of our armed forces could enable a rogue executive branch to take over American cities and impose martial law, we should disband the armed forces.
As I have frequently argued (and made a theme of Faithless Execution), it is a mistake to repeal government powers just because they can conceivably be abused. The powers exist because they may be needed to protect the country in a crisis. The objective should be to get rid of government officials who abuse their power, not to get rid of the power. Rogues will be rogues no matter what the rules are. When we repeal or hyper-regulate national-security authorities, we are simply making it harder for the law-abiding officials to do the job of protecting us; the rogues are largely unaffected.
In any event, when critics like Senator Paul inveigh against counterterrorism measures, it is a good idea to ask: “Is he talking about what they could do if they were of a mind to be abusive, or is he talking about what they are doing?” It is easy to spin imaginary worst-case scenarios, but we should be focused on what actually happens in the real world, especially in a program that features court supervision and congressional oversight.
Three: Finally, Senator Paul is entirely right that we need legal privacy protections that evolve with modern technology and societal views of what should be private. As a self-proclaimed constitutionalist, however, he should understand how the Framers thought this evolution should occur. In the Fourth Amendment, they gave us a core of protection from government intrusion on specific, intimate privacy interests – our physical persons, our homes, and our private papers and effects. But that core of protection is only the bare minimum of what we now call our “privacy” rights; it was never meant to be the totality of those rights.
We were always meant to have additional privacy protections beyond the Fourth Amendment. But those protections are supposed to be enacted by Congress, which can weigh competing concerns and strike the right balance between liberty and security. They are not supposed to be judicially manufactured by pretending that the Fourth Amendment is “organic” and that it says things it plainly does not say.
Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act attempts to strike the right balance. Even though the Supreme Court has said phone data are not protected by the Fourth Amendment, and therefore that investigators could scrub it for all kinds of personal information without violating the Constitution, Section 215 sharply limits the government. Investigators may only collect metadata, not scrutinize it, and they are prohibited from collecting personal identifying information. If they want to scrutinize the data, they must have just cause (e.g., known terrorist phone numbers calling various other numbers) and they must follow strict court-imposed rules for conducting their search – rules that are designed to minimize the chance that innocent people’s records will be analyzed. And they must destroy data periodically to minimize the amount of time the records of innocent people are retained.
Now, it is entirely possible that people will conclude these protections are insufficient to justify the collection of data on tens of millions of Americans, only a statistically negligible number of whom will have any connection to terrorism. As I’ve contended before, proponents have not done a good job of convincing people that the program materially advances our security. I happen to believe the program is important and that its privacy intrusions are trivial (and mostly theoretical). But if my side cannot persuade the public, then the program will be repealed or reformed in a way that ratchets up privacy protections. That is the way a problem left to the wisdom of legislators in a free society is supposed to be resolved.
As any real constitutionalist should recognize, that is the way the Framers designed it.
On April 30, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam (R) signed Senate Bill 1110 – a bill which bars state cooperation with federal gun control laws.
Sponsored by Senator Richard Briggs (R-Dist. 7), SB 1110 “prohibits the use of any public funds, personnel, or property to enforce any federal law or regulation that regulates the ownership, use, or possession of firearms, ammunition, or firearms accessories.”
SB 1110 passed the house by a margin of 74 to 20 and the senate by a margin of 24 to 1.
According to the Tenth Amendment Center, the measure was “originally introduced in the House as HB1341 by Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver.” At that time, Weaver said, “I’m from the cut that there is no need for Washington D.C. to be the end all and be all with regards to the regulatory world. We should respect our 10th Amendment and shift the power back to the states and that’s what House Bill 1341 does.”
What was true for HB 1341 is also true for SB 1110.
This law comes on the heels of another blow to federal gun control signed by Indiana Governor Mike Pence (R) last week. On April 29, Pence signed Senate Bill 433 – a bill that “repeals the prohibition against manufacturing, importing, selling, or possessing a sawed-off shotgun.”
SB 433 addresses the ban on short barreled, modified shotguns and will also present a challenge to the federal government’s “title II firearm” policy requiring registration fees and transfer records each time the firearm changes hands.
“It is appalling that President Obama would cut off federal healthcare dollars to Florida in an effort to force our state further into Obamacare,” a furious Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) said Thursday as he announced that he plans to sue the Obama administration.
“It’s outrageous,” Scott told Fox News Thursday night.”The federal government started a program in our state in 2006. It’s called the Low Income Pool. It’s (health care) for low income families,” Scott explained. “Now, what they are saying is they are not going to keep that program going unless the state expands Obamacare (Medicaid). So this, first off, is horrible.”
“It sounds like extortion,” Fox News’s Kimberly Guilfoyle told Scott.
“Absolutely,” the governor agreed. “First off, you think about the families in our state that are relying on this. Second, (Supreme Court Chief) Justice Roberts said…that it’s not lawful for the federal government, for the Obama administration, to use coercion tactics, basically held a gun to our head, if we don’t expand Obamacare. They say they can’t do that.”
The Supreme Court in 2012 upheld Obamacare’s individual mandate, but it also said the federal government could not compel the states to expand Medicaid coverage for low-income people. As of this writing, 28 states and the District of Columbia have ageed to expand Medicaid. The federal government has agreed to pay 100 percent of the expansion costs through 2016, but after that, the states must pick up a larger share of the costs, and that’s what worries Scott and other governors.
In July 2012, shortly after the Supreme Court ruling, Gov. Scott announced that Florida would “opt out of spending approximately $1.9 billion more taxpayer dollars required to implement a massive entitlement expansion of the Medicaid program.”
“Floridians are interested in jobs and economic growth, a quality education for their children, and keeping the cost of living low,” Governor Scott said at the time. “Neither of these major provisions in Obamacare will achieve those goals, and since Florida is legally allowed to opt out, that’s the right decision for our citizens.”
He also noted that “Florida already has health care safety net programs for those with the greatest need.”
Scott told Fox News on Thursday that he and his attorney general are working on a lawsuit right now.
He questioned whether President Obama really cares about the low-income families in Florida for whom the federal government created the LIP program in the first place.
“And doesn’t everybody now understand that this is an administration that’s going to use coercion tactics, and when it’s appropriate, they’ll cut back funding if you don’t do another program they want?”
“One, they don’t care about the low income families because they are willing to walk away from a program. And then, two, they are using bully – this is a Sopranos. They are using bullying tactics to attack our state. It’s wrong. It’s outrageous just that they’re doing this.”
A White House spokesman, asked for his reaction to the anticipated Florida lawsuit, said he hadn’t seen “specific details.”
“But what is true is that expanding Medicaid in the State of Florida would ensure that 800,000 Floridians would get access to quality health-care coverage,” Josh Earnest said on Thursday.
Earnest noted that under Obamacare, the federal government picks up the full cost of expanding Medicaid through 2016.
“So there’s not a good reason why anybody in Florida would be in a situation of trying to block a policy that would benefit 800,000 Floridians. In fact, they would have a positive impact on the finances in the State of Florida.
“And it’s difficult to explain why somebody would think that their political situation and their political interest is somehow more important than the livelihood and health of 800,000 people that they were elected to lead.”
In a message on his website Thursday, Scott said the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) sent him a letter this week, saying that “the furture of LIP’ and “Medicaid expansion are linked.”
“We will fight to protect the healthcare of Floridians, and their right to be free from federal overreach,” Scott said. “Our citizens already pay federal taxes that go into the federal LIP program. Now, President Obama has decided that the state must take on a larger Medicaid program, forcing our taxpayers to pay even more to government, before they get their own federal tax dollars back. This is outrageous, and specifically what the Supreme Court warned against.”
Last month, the New Mexico legislature unanimously passed a bipartisan bill essentially abolishing civil forfeiture in the Land of Enchantment (yes, that’s what they call themselves). But weeks went by and it looked like Gov. Susana Martinez was going to “pocket veto” the bill. If she hadn’t signed the bill by noon Tuesday, it would have expired and forfeiture reform would have been dead until next year.
But she signed it Tuesday at the eleventh hour (literally), making New Mexico the latest state to reform its asset forfeiture laws. Kudos to Gov.Martinez!
Civil asset forfeiture is a law enforcement tool enabling authorities to seize property permanently if the property is allegedly related to a crime. However, at the state and federal level numerous examples of abuse have come to light in recent years, and various states (and the District of Columbia) have ramped up due process protections for property owners.
The new law in New Mexico is comprehensive, but here are some highlights:
* A criminal conviction is required before property could be forfeited
* Provides additional due process protections to property owners, such as codifying an “innocent owner” presumption
* Places forfeiture proceeds in the general fund
* Requires additional reporting and transparency to allow better oversight of forfeiture process
As forfeiture reform continues to sweep the states and the federal government, New Mexico today stands as yet another example of bipartisan work getting things done. The next example might be Florida (join us for an event in Tallahassee next Monday!) or it might be your state.
On Saturday, a small group of activists carrying yellow Gadsden flags now associated with the Tea Party, assisted by a trooper from the Washington State Police, removed the flag of Communist China from the state capitol building in Olympia, Washington. The flag, according to reports, was placed between the U.S. flag and the state flag in honor of a meeting with Chinese Ambassador Cui Tiankai, the News Commenter said.
“That’s an officer I can support,” one person said of the trooper providing assistance. The officer remained unidentified in the video, but one activist said he was an Oath Keeper.
“Whoo,” one person cheered as the red Chinese flag began to be pulled down. Others stood on either side of the flagpoles, dipping their flags as the red banner was brought down. But as one commenter on YouTube noted, one activist incorrectly dipped the U.S. flag, something that goes against protocol.
According to the flag code, “no other flag or pennant should be placed above or, if on the same level, to the right of the flag of the United States of America, except during church services conducted by naval chaplains at sea, when the church pennant may be flown above the flag during church services for the personnel of the Navy.” Additionally, the code says that flags of the United Nations or other national or international flags shall not be placed “equal, above, or in a position of superior prominence or honor to, or in place of, the flag of the United States…”
“Looks like Governor Jay Inslee needs to resign from office,” one commenter said at YouTube. Another suggested the Chinese flag be burned.
“We now know where the loyalties of our liberal, communist loving Governor are,” one person said on Facebook. “The people of Washington State has asked the governor to address our list of grievances and yet we have heard nothing from him.”
Inslee, the poster added, planned to discuss a range of issues related to trade, foreign direct investment and ongoing educational and cultural exchanges. “Washington currently exports more goods and services to China than any other state and it is our largest trading partner,” the post said.
A search of Inslee’s official government page revealed no mention of a meeting with Cui Tiankai. A Google search also revealed no mention of the meeting. Video of the flag being lowered can be seen above.
More of that classiness we’ve come to expect from the “progressive” left.
Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) abruptly ended a town hall event Thursday evening after a former state lawmaker threw a jar of Vaseline at him.
Former state Rep. Joanne Twomey (D) missed LePage with the petroleum jelly. She was immediately escorted out of the auditorium by security and LePage ended the event, which had been intended to sell his budget plan.
Video of the encounter shows members of LePage’s security detail blocking Twomey as she tries to approach the stage while arguing with the governor. Then Twomey takes something from her purse and throws it at LePage.
Towney, who served in the Maine House of Representatives from 1998 until 2006, told WGME she chose Vaseline as a reference to LePage’s 2013 comments about state Sen. Troy Jackson, a Democrat.
“Sen. Jackson claims to be for the people, but he’s the first one to give it to the people without providing Vaseline,” LePage said in 2013. “He is bad. He has no brains, and he has a black heart.”
Twomey said after she was kicked out of Thursday’s town hall that she didn’t find the event “very Democratic.”
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) says his state has been hit by an “avalanche of intolerance” ever since he signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act last week.
“George, look, the issue here is, you know, is tolerance a two-way street or not?” Pence told ABC’s “This Week” with George Stephanopoulos on Sunday.
“I mean, you know, there’s a lot of talk about tolerance in this country today having to do with people on the left. But here Indiana steps forward to protect the constitutional rights and privileges of freedom of religion for people of faith and families of faith in our state, and this avalanche of intolerance that’s been poured on our state is just outrageous.”
Pence said the bill he signed is not about discrimination, nor is it about disputes between individuals unless government action is involved. He said the law is intended to empower individuals (as well as churches and businesses) when they believe the government is trampling on their religious freedom by requiring them to do things they oppose on religious grounds.
Critics say the new law will sanction discrimination against homosexuals.
“The Religious Freedom Restoration Act was signed into federal law by President Bill Clinton more than 20 years ago,” Pence noted. “And it lays out a framework for ensuring that a very high level of scrutiny is given any time government action impinges on the religious liberty of any American.”
Indiana is the 20th state to enact a law modeled after the federal legislation. Barack Obama voted for a similar law when he served in the Illinois State Senate.
Stephanopoulos asked Pence if the law will allow Christian florists who oppose same-sex marriage to refuse to serve homosexual couples, for example:
“George, the – the question here is if the – if there is a government action or a law that an individual believes impinges on their religious liberty, they have the opportunity to go to court, just as The Religious Freedom Restoration Act that Bill Clinton signed allowed them – go to court and the court would evaluate the circumstance under the standards articulated in this Act.
“That’s all it is. And when you see these headlines about – about Indiana, a license to discriminate in Indiana and – and – it just – I’m telling you, George, it is a red herring and I think it’s deeply troubling to millions of Americans and – and, frankly, people all across the state of Indiana who feel troubled about government overreach.
“This isn’t about disputes between individuals, it’s about government overreach. And I’m proud that Indiana stepped forward and I’m working – I’m working hard to clarify this.”
On Monday, Republican lawmakers in Indiana said they plan to add language to the state law to clarify that it doesn’t allow discrimination against gays and lesbians.
But neither Pence nor those Republican lawmakers support the inclusion of language making homosexuals a protected class under the state’s civil rights laws.
Indiana’s Tony Katz was on NewsMax earlier today to talk about the idiotic backlash to the new Religious Freedom law in Indiana. One of the things he mentioned was how despicable and horrible it was for George Stephanopoulos to try and make the law about sexual orientation when he says it has nothing to do with that.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott declared February 2nd to be “Chris Kyle Day” to honor the Texan who became known the most lethal sniper in American history. Kyle was also recently immortalized in the blockbuster film “American Sniper.”
Kyle was credited with 150 sniper kills during his four tours of duty in Iraq as a Navy Seal. He was tragically shot and killed on February 2, 2013, while trying to help a fellow veteran who was allegedly suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Taya Kyle, the widow of Chris Kyle, was recently honored by the organization AmericanSnipers.org with a donation of $62,000. According to a Breitbart News article by AWR Hawkins, the group raised the money by raffling a McMillan .338 Lapua sniper rifle. She also recently made news by shooting an antelope on a hunting trip taken to honor her late husband.
After his death, Kyle was honored with a memorial service in the Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The service along with the miles-long funeral procession were also featured in the movie honoring Kyle.
During that service, then Governor Rick Perry said, “Chris Kyle was the public face of an anonymous breed of American warrior who are handed the hardest missions and assume the largest risks,” Former Governor Rick Perry said. “Chris was among the very best at what he did, and he saved countless American lives in the process. Our state and our nation suffered a profound loss with his passing. I am honored to have known Chris and to have called him my friend. Anita and I send our deepest condolences to his wife, Taya, his children and the thousands of service members that were his extended family.”
Illinois’ newly elected Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner attacked labor unions during a speech Tuesday, saying they are responsible for many problems that plague his state.
Throughout his speech, Rauner took aim at “government union bosses,” calling them corrupt for contributing to Democratic candidates in return for favorable deals.
“The taxpayer’s on the outside,” Rauner said during his speech in Decatur, according to Northern Public Radio.
“It’s a conflict of interest. It’s a closed loop. This is what’s going on,” Rauner continued. “It’s driving up our bureaucracy and jobs are leaving.”
“The unions that contract with the state: I think it’s the No. 1 conflict of interest in our state today,” Rauner declared.
Rauner pointed towards Prevailing Wage Laws and Project Labor Agreements as some of the few examples of how labor unions drive up costs through unfair laws.
According to The Illinois Policy Institute, the state is struggling in jobs and education, two areas vital to economic growth and stability.
“Illinois’ low standing for total job growth is unusual given that Illinois has the largest population in the Midwest and the fifth largest nationally,” the Institute noted in a report for 2014. “It takes a particularly toxic combination of bad policy and corrupt dealings to hinder such a large and talented workforce from keeping up with the likes of Kentucky and Connecticut.”
“Illinois tracks last of all states for private-sector job creation in 2014, one of only four states to be negative for jobs on the year,” the report added.
The governor also addressed right-to-work legislation. Though he is hesitant to support it as a state law, Rauner does say local leaders should decide for themselves if they want such legislation. Under a right-to-work law, workers cannot be forced into a union as a condition of employment.
“I’m not advocating Illinois becoming a right-to-work state, but I do advocate local governments being allowed to decide whether they’re right-to-work zones,” Rauner said according to The Associated Press.
Some union leaders are already attacking Rauner for deceiving voters during the election last year: While running for governor, Rauner said he was not anti-union.
“It’s taken him less than two weeks to show his true colors,” Sean Stott of the Laborer’s International Union told Northern Public Radio.
Scott says the governor’s plans will drive down wages and lead to a loss of jobs, and not just for union members.
Illinois AFL-CIO President Michael Carrigan, called the governor’s speech, “failed right-wing economic policy.”
“The Bruce Rauner that managed to mask his true feelings about working families for most of last year showed his true agenda today,” Carrigan told Insurance News Net in a statement. “Much like his past proposal to cut the minimum wage, he is now going after workers on all fronts by supporting right to work, attacking unemployment insurance and workers compensation, as well as prevailing wage and project labor agreements that benefit both workers and the taxpayers.”
A veteran of the U.S. Navy and decorated retired police detective is suing New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other state officials for infringing on his constitutional rights after his pistol permit and four handguns were confiscated after he voluntarily sought hospital treatment for insomnia.
Donald Montgomery filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York in Rochester on Dec. 17.
He alleges that his constitutional rights were violated by New York’s SAFE Act – a law Cuomo signed in Jan. 2013 that is considered one of the toughest gun control laws in the U.S.
Montgomery’s woes began on May 6 when he sought treatment from his primary care physician for insomnia, which he said he had been experiencing following a move from another state.
Montgomery and his wife had moved from several hundred miles away in order to be closer to their adult child and grandchild. The move involved the purchase of a new home and the sale of an old one, Montgomery’s complaint states.
Several days after his initial doctor visit, Montgomery went to the emergency room at Eastern Long Island Hospital, still complaining of insomnia.
Staff there diagnosed Montgomery with “Depression; Insomnia” and he was prescribed medication and told to report back to his primary care physician if symptoms worsened over the next several days.
Montgomery went back to the hospital on May 23 with the same complaint. He stayed at the facility for 48 hours.
Though Montgomery voluntarily sought treatment, he alleges in the suit that staff at the facility erroneously listed him as an involuntary admission – a designation that appears to have put the SAFE Act’s wheels in motion.
The SAFE Act created a new section under New York’s Mental Hygiene Law which requires mental health professionals to report individuals who are deemed threats to others or to themselves to mental health directors who in turn report serious threats to the department of criminal justice services.
But none of the records or diagnoses from Montgomery’s hospital visits support that criteria, the suit claims.
“Nurse’s notes” from Montgomery’s stay show no documentation of mental health issues.
“Patient has no thoughts of hurting himself. Patient has no thoughts of hurting others. Patient is not having suicidal thoughts. Patient is not having homicidal thoughts,” the notes read.
A psychological assessment labeled him “mildly depressed,” but otherwise determined “there is no evidence of any psychotic processes, mania, or OCD symptoms.”
“Insight, judgment, and impulse control are good,” the assessment reads.
Montgomery’s suit also states that a hospital psychiatrist told him “You don’t belong here” and “I don’t know why you were referred here.”
Montgomery’s suit states that he was not labeled a mental defective, nor did he meet the criteria for an emergency mental health admission.
But Montgomery’s records were somehow referred to the Mental Hygiene Legal Service, which is an agency which represents and litigates on behalf of individuals receiving services for mental disability.
Four days after leaving the hospital, New York State police sent a letter to the Suffolk County clerk’s office stating “has been adjudicated as a mental defective or has been involuntarily committed to a mental institution” and that he was prohibited from possessing any firearms.
The next day, Montgomery received a call from an officer at the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department informing him that his guns would have to be confiscated.
Montgomery says that on May 30, the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department showed up to his house and confiscated his pistol license and four handguns – Colt .38 revolver, Derringer .38, Glock 26 9mm, Smith & Wesson Bodyguard 380.
Montgomery, a 30-year police veteran who had reached the rank of detective sergeant and had won a Bravery medal, had obtained the four guns through various means over the years.
One was issued to Montgomery by his police department; Montgomery won another at police academy for being the top recruit; he bought another in 1975; he purchased the last one two years ago.
In early June, the sheriff’s department notified Montgomery that his pistol license had been suspended. By September, he was notified it had been terminated – making it officially illegal for him to own a firearm.
Montgomery’s suit alleges that his Second, Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment protections were violated and that the hospital violated his privacy rights by sharing his medical information with state police. He demands that a judge strike down New York’s Mental Hygiene Law and that the state issue written notification to all individuals whose health information has been collected under the state law.
Maine state police were stationed outside the home of Ebola nurse Kaci Hickox Wednesday as Gov. Paul LePage said he was seeking legal authority to force the “unwilling” health workers to remain quarantined for 21 days.
The 33-year-old nurse, who has shown no symptoms of the deadly virus, arrived in Maine on Monday after being forcibly held in an isolation tent in New Jersey for three days under that state’s strict new law for health workers who have recently treated Ebola patients in West Africa.
Over Hickox’s objections, Maine health officials insisted that she stay in her home in Fort Kent for 21 days until the incubation period for Ebola had passed.
“I don’t plan on sticking to the guidelines,” Hickox tells TODAY’s Matt Lauer. “I am not going to sit around and be bullied by politicians and forced to stay in my home when I am not a risk to the American public.”
Maine Gov. Paul LePage, however, said Wednesday that Hickox has been “unwilling” to follow state protocols and that he will seek legal authority to enforce the quarantine.
The governor’s office said state police were stationed outside her home “for both her protection and the health of the community.”
“We hoped that the healthcare worker would voluntarily comply with these protocols, but this individual has stated publicly she will not abide by the protocols,” LePage said in a statement on the governor’s website.
“We are very concerned about her safety and health and that of the community,” he said. “We are exploring all of our options for protecting the health and well-being of the healthcare worker, anyone who comes in contact with her, the Fort Kent community and all of Maine. While we certainly respect the rights of one individual, we must be vigilant in protecting 1.3 million Mainers, as well as anyone who visits our great state.”
Hickox, according to her attorney, had only agreed to remain home for two days after traveling from New Jersey on Monday.
The nurse for Doctors Without Borders was the first person pulled aside at Newark Liberty International Airport on Friday under new state regulations after her return from Sierra Leone, where she was working with Ebola patients.
After speaking out publicly, Hickox was allowed to leave for Maine, where health officials have said they expect her to agree to be quarantined for a 21-day period, The Bangor Daily News reports.
Hickox said she believes the quarantine policy is “not scientifically nor constitutionally just.”
She tells TODAY she will pursue legal action if Maine forces her into continued isolation.
“If the restrictions placed on me by the state of Maine are not lifted by Thursday morning, I will go to court to fight for my freedom,” she says.
Her attorney, Steven Hyman, told CNN Wednesday that his client had received no mandatory orders and that “the next step is up to Maine.”
“The only reason that there is a cry for quarantine is because the political side has decided that it would just be better if she stayed home and lost her civil right so we could all feel more comfortable, which is not supported by any medical evidence,” Hyman said.
Without naming Hickox specifically, Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew said Tuesday evening that the state has the authority to seek a court order to compel quarantine for individuals deemed a public health risk.
“We have made the determination that out of an abundance of caution, this is a reasonable, common-sense approach to remove additional risk and guard against a public health crisis in Maine,” said Mayhew, WLBZ-TV reports. She did not mention Hickox by name.
Hickox’s high-profile campaign from isolation in New Jersey, including a first-person account in The Dallas Morning News, underscored the shifting response to the Ebola crisis by state and federal authorities.
On Friday, New York Gov. Chris Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a plan of mandatory quarantine for health workers back from Africa who’d been exposed to Ebola but showed no symptoms.
It was in part a reaction to the case of Craig Spencer, a New York City physician who tested positive for Ebola, but acknowledged he had left his apartment and moved around the city just before experiencing Ebola symptoms.
Saying they couldn’t rely on voluntary self-reporting, the governors pronounced themselves resolved to err on the side of caution and monitor people like Spencer under confinement. Cuomo, however, quickly eased those rules, allowing such health workers to self-quarantine at home.
The White House also weighed in, saying it had conveyed concerns to the governors of New York and New Jersey that their stringent quarantine policies were “not grounded in science” and would hamper efforts to recruit volunteers to fight the epidemic in Africa. Christie said he had not heard from the White House before the plan was announced.
After the uproar in New Jersey, Hickox was allowed to leave on Monday, but Christie insisted that it did not represent a change of policy.
“I didn’t reverse any decision,” he said Tuesday. “She hadn’t had any symptoms for 24 hours. And she tested negative for Ebola. So there was no reason to keep her. The reason she was put into the hospital in the first place was because she was running a high fever and was symptomatic.”
“If people are symptomatic they go into the hospital,” Christie said. “If they live in New Jersey, they get quarantined at home. If they don’t, and they’re not symptomatic, then we set up quarantine for them out of state. But if they are symptomatic, they’re going to the hospital.”
Hickox told The Dallas Morning News that her brief fever spike, recorded by a forehead scanner at the airport, was the result of being flushed and angry over her confinement and that an oral temperature reading at the same time showed her to be normal.