"Restore(s) a little sanity into current political debate" - Kenneth Minogue, TLS "Projects a more expansive and optimistic future for Americans than (the analysis of) Huntington" - James R. Kurth, National Interest "One of (the) most important books I have read in recent years" - Lexington Green
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Still the Constitution does not always demand that we and our government act wisely. And that is the situation here. The Foreign Gifts Clause provides that “no person holding any office of profit or trust under them (i.e., the United States) shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.”
Does the Foreign Gifts Clause and its office under the United States language apply to the presidency? There are three good reasons to believe that it does not.
Making a nomination to the Supreme Court to fill the Scalia seat is easy, and it will permit Trump to control the news cycle. Trump will be tempted to make this his first substantial order of business, but it is a temptation to which the future president ought not succumb, even if he risks losing some political popularity while delaying the eventual nomination.
In The Ship Money Case [R v Hampden 3 State Trials 825 (1637), superseded by Act Declaring the Illegality of Ship-Money, Aug. 7, 1641, 17 Charles I, chapter 14], a bare majority of the judges of the Court of Exchequer Chamber voted for the Crown and against Hampden, the tax payer, who objected to being forced to pay purported taxes absent parliamentary consent.
A. Are there restrictions on the voter registration drive offering something of value to a person in
exchange for completing a voter registration application?
It is a felony under New York law to pay, lend or contribute, or offer or promise to pay, lend or contribute any money or other valuable consideration to or for any voter, or to or for any other person, to induce such voter or other person to place or cause to be placed or refrain from placing or causing to be placed
his name upon a registration poll record.14
Federal law states that whoever pays or offers to pay or accepts payment either for registration to vote or for voting shall be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned not more than five years. 15 At least one federal appellate court has interpreted payment as intended to include forms of pecuniary value offered or given directly to an individual voter, and indicated the value should be based on an assessment of the monetary worth of an item from the perspective of the voter receiving the item. That case held that food vouchers could be payment.16
I believe this is a common sense proposition. You should never define a military force without it having a purpose.
You would think that there would be nobody on the other side of this question. Who would do such a crazy thing as to define a military force, but just have them milling around without a purpose or a mission? It’s ridiculous. Or is it?
(a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.
(b) The classes of the militia are—
(1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and
(2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia.
What is the purpose of the military force called the unorganized militia? What is their mission? What is its proper scope of activity? I think that even people who generally support the 2nd amendment do not have a consensus and certainly have not thought much about it.
As an aside, it’s straight up sexism for female citizens to be included in only one of these two forces. A smart Republican would introduce legislation to fix that.
Don’t you think the Democratic National Committee, Vice President Biden, and Senator Tim Kaine, the Democratic Party’s candidate for VP, each already have on file a full-length memorandum on these questions? Maybe the mainstream media could “obtain” copies for the rest of us?
Would not this make a suitable—if not outstanding—law journal mini-symposium issue: “The Hillary Clinton Candidacy: The Legal Issues”? Any takers? An impromptu mini-symposium could be organized, held, and published on line prior to the November election, particularly where all articles are kept to a maximum of 7 pages (footnotes included).
The “natural born citizen” issue generated several timely full-length articles. Surely there is time and means to do this too. The on line supplements to the primary student-edited print journals are particularly well suited for this task. Any takers?
Trump is the first presidential candidate of my lifetime who has been regularly criticized for making public statements conforming to rule of law principles. Part of the confusion in the minds of his many critics arises from simple confirmation bias. But another part comes from an inability of his critics to plainly discuss what they mean by the rule of law. No doubt much of it is simply disagreement with the man’s over-the-top style and his political orientation—but normal disagreement about political principles, absent clear on point evidence, ought not lead to claims that one’s opponent is a threat to the rule of law.
So what is the “rule of law”? Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to that query. I well remember my graduation from law school. A thoughtful fellow behind me said, as we waited on line to receive our degrees: “Seth, after three years of law school, as far as I can tell, the rule of law is what a prosecutor says is at risk if he loses a criminal case heard by a jury.” That answer of convenience will not do. Other people fill in the rule of law with all good and noble principles: the rule of law is human rights, separation of powers, democracy, etc. This approach is not helpful either, for even if the virtues of these other principles were contestable, their content and optimal scope remains deeply contested.
Without attempting to fully define the rule of law, I will put forward some minimal necessary (but not sufficient) conditions associated with the “rule of law”. A person’s conduct is inconsistent with the rule of law, if he knowingly disobeys established law without seeking a change in the law from the legislature (including referenda where permitted by law) or validation of his specific conduct from the courts. On the other hand, a person’s conduct is consistent with the rule of law, if he obeys the judicial orders of lawfully constituted courts, and if he obeys the rules associated with the conduct of litigation in those courts.*
Immigration is defined in law in a pretty straightforward manner. If you cross US borders, you are defined as an immigrant unless you fit into one of twenty two different non-immigrant categories defined in 8USC§1101(a)(15). Each letter subsection of that section corresponds to the more familiar letter codes for non-immigrant visas. Most people are not familiar with all of them but the definitions aren’t particularly complex or confusing. If you’re seeking to cross the border as an immigrant, there are several sections under 8USC Subchapter II that apply. If you are a citizen, you’ve got to have a passport to leave or return.
Neither side in the immigration debate seems to want to lay out, specifically, what sections of the law they wish to change and how exactly they want to change it. Are there extremist imams getting R visas and endangering the safety of americans (mostly muslims)? That’s not the way we talk about immigration. Why,exactly, is the secretary of Labor involved in the issuance of visas?
We’d be a lot better off if discussion of the law had a lot more law in it.
As to the Article XII argument …. In a peer reviewed journal article, Professor Somin wrote: “[T]he Privileges and Immunities Clause requires states to treat migrants from other states on par with their own citizens, thereby facilitating interstate mobility.” Somin cites U.S. Const. Art. IV, § 4. See Ilya Somin, Book Review, 28 Const. Comment. 303, 305 & n.5 (2012) (reviewing Michael Greve, The Upside-Down Constitution (2012)). But that’s not right: Article IV, Section 4 is the Guarantee Clause, not the Privileges and Immunities Clause. Now just to be clear: my point isn’t that both Trump and Somin are equally dopes. Rather my point is that anyone can miscite the Constitution, and we should be loathe to call someone “profoundly ignorant” just because they cite to the wrong article or the wrong clause. Anyone can make a mistake.
Jonathan adds: It’s not just academia. The media, and in my (and probably your) experience Trump opponents in private conversation, apply different and much harsher standards to Trump than they do to Hillary. One of the current memes is that Trump isn’t stable enough to have his finger on the nuclear button. Yet Hillary, whose gross negligence made her and our secrets available to hostile foreign powers, and who appears literally to have sold out her country in exchange for donations to the Clinton Foundation, gets a pass.
Free speech…free expression generally…is under attack in America and throughout the Western world to a degree not seen in a long time. I think there are seven specific phenomena, incarnated in seven (partially-overlapping) categories of people, which are largely driving this attack, to wit:
The Thugs. As I pointed out in my recent post The United States of Weimar?, illegal actions against political opponents–ranging from theft of newspapers to direct assault and battery–have in recent decades become increasingly common on university campuses, and now are well on track to being normalized as aspects of national political campaigns.
The Assassins. These individuals go beyond the level of violence practiced by the Thugs, and make credible death threats…which they attempt to carry out…against those whose actions or believe they view as unacceptable. The majority of threats and attacks falling in this category have certainly been the doing of radical Muslims; however, some of the more extreme ‘environmentalist’ and ‘animal rights’ groups have also demonstrated Assassin tendencies. At present, however, it is those Assassins who are radical Muslims who have been most successful in inhibiting free expression. Four years in hiding for an American cartoonist.
The Wimps. It seems that among the younger generations in America, there are a disproportionate number of people whose ‘self-esteem’ has been raised to such lofty but brittle levels that they cannot stand any challenge to their belief systems. Hence they are eager to sacrifice their own freedom of speech, as well as that of others, on the altar of ‘safety’ from disturbing words and thoughts.
The Bureaucrats. Bureaucrats, especially in the universities but also increasingly in the private sector, are eager to provide the altars for the sacrifice of free speech, with Star Chamber proceedings and various forms of witch-burnings.
The Regulatory State. The vast expansion of Federal regulatory activities and authority enables a wide range of adverse actions to be taken against individuals without the checks and balances of normal judicial proceedings. Witness, for example, the IRS persecution of conservative-leaning organizations (possibly extended to pro-Israel organizations as well.) And the Bureaucrats in nominally-independent organizations are really often acting as agents and front men for the Regulatory State. (Consider the 2011 ‘Dear Colleague’ letter sent from the Department of Education to colleges and universities, regarding the handling of sexual assault allegations–which has had, the linked article argues, serious negative impact on free speech and due process.)
The Theoreticians. Various academics have developed the concept of ‘oppressive speech’ and have developed models which attempt to break down the distinction between speech and action. Since everyone agrees that actions must be regulated to some degree, this tends to pave the way for tightened regulation of speech. (I think the conflation of speech with action is particularly sellable to those who in their professional lives are Word People and/or Image People. To a farmer or a machinist or even an electrical engineer, the distinction between speech and action is pretty crisp. To a lawyer or an advertising person or to a professor (outside the hard sciences), maybe not so much. And the percentage of Word People and Image People in the overall population has grown greatly.)
The Fragility Feminists. Actually, the word ‘Feminists’ should probably be in quotes, because the argument these people are making is in many ways the direct opposite of that made by the original feminists. There is a significant movement, again especially on college campuses, asserting that women are such fragile flowers that they must be endlessly protected from words that might upset them. See the controversy over the name of the athletic center at the Colorado School of Mines…here I think we have the Bureaucrats and the Fragility Feminists making common cause, as they so often do. For another (and particularly bizarre) case, read about professor Laura Kipnis, whose essay decrying ‘sexual paranoia on campus’ resulted in a Title IX inquisition against her. In a particularly disturbing note, when Kipnis brought a ‘support person’ to her hearing, a Title IX complaint was filed against that person.
In 1995, the Amars (as have others before and since) argued that James Madison opposed legislative officer succession on constitutional grounds. This is a legal and historical meme or myth. Madison never stated that he thought that legislative officer succession was unconstitutional, at least as far as our historical records show. The original source involved indicates only that Congressman Madison was relaying news from the capital to Pendleton in Virginia—in private correspondence. Madison merely transmitted to Pendleton several arguments touching upon the constitutionality of the 1792 Act which had been made by others on the House floor during debate on the 1792 Act. There is no reason to believe that Madison agreed with any one or more of the particular arguments he transmitted to Pendleton.
There are those today who wish to impugn the constitutional bona fidés of the modern 1947 Act, which like its 1792 predecessor, provides for legislative officer succession. There are some policy grounds for objecting to the 1947 Act—I do not suggest that all the policy arguments go in one direction. But I do state that rooting a modern constitutional objection in Madison’s voice or that of the Framers as a group is entirely ahistorical. In these circumstances, one cannot appeal the judgement of the Second Congress (as a whole) to the Framers (as a group), and if that appeal—for whatever reason—has, in the past, convinced some unwary authors and consumers of prior legal scholarship, it is only because some originalists cannot count.
In Western societies, there is now a tremendous disconnect between the traditional political and business elites and the citizenry. The populations of the West now find themselves ruled by a transnational elite who see tradition, loyalty, and patriotism as primitive, and whose promoters within academia, nonprofits, government bodies, labour unions, NGOs, and the media teach that nations, citizenship, borders, and law defined by elected parliaments are irksome problems to be overcome.
I cannot say exactly when I saw these symptoms first arise in the United States. But more than a decade ago, I was clerking in a federal courthouse. It was a good gig. I was glad to have it. The public—litigants, lawyers, jurors, witnesses,** and visitors—went through the front entrance with a security check. Court officials and employees (including judicial law clerks) went through a back entrance, also, with a security check. One day, early in my tenure, I was going through the security check, and an older man went around me and bypassed screening. The security officer waved him through. After I went through security, I asked the security officer:
The federal Code of Judicial Conduct applies to all Article III judges—except members of the Supreme Court of the United States. Is that because Supreme Court justices do not need ethics? No. Is it because they are better human beings, citizens, and jurists than their lower court colleagues? No.
I’ll be socratic here, asking questions to illuminate my hunches.
I’m seldom fully convinced by anything that comes from the left and reads the way I’d expect the left to read, and seldom convinced by anything that comes from the right and reads the way I’d expect the right to read, so I don’t take the left’s assertions downplaying H Clinton’s security behavior with reflex belief, and on the whole I’m inclined to follow John Schindler, who — both as an ex-NSA analyst and as a regular at The Observer — takes a very hard line on Clinton’s security behavior, writing just a couple of weeks ago under the title, The Coming Constitutional Crisis Over Hillary Clinton’s EmailGate.
I also follow War on the Rocks, though, and was struck a while back by a post there from Mark Stout, drawing some interesting distinctions in line with its subtitle, “A former intelligence analyst who worked at both the CIA and the State Department explains how different approaches to classifying information sits at the heart of the scandal that threatens to undo Hillary Clinton.”
Which does somewhat complicate matters, while somewhat helping us understand them.
I’m neither an American nor a lawyer, and as someone who is generally inclined more to bridge-building than to taking sides in any case, I don’t feel qualified to debate the Comey-Clinton affair – but was interested to see emptywheel’s Marcy Wheeler, whom I take to be leftish, coming out today describing Comey’s decision as an “improper public prosecutorial opinion”. She writes:
Understand, though: with Sterling and Drake, DOJ decided they were disloyal to the US, and then used their alleged mishandling of classified information as proof that they were disloyal to the US ..Ultimately, it involves arbitrary decisions about who is disloyal to the US, and from that a determination that the crime of mishandling classified information occurred.
Comey, in turn, seems to have made it pretty clear that “Secretary Clinton or her colleagues“ were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information” – specifically:
.. seven email chains concern matters that were classified at the Top Secret/Special Access Program level when they were sent and received. These chains involved Secretary Clinton both sending emails about those matters and receiving emails from others about the same matters.
Is there, in your views, special treatment in this matter for persons of high rank present here?
And out of curiosity, if so, do you see a similar case of special treatment for persons of high rank over in the UK, known to be substantially less Israel-friendly than the US, where Scotland Yard wanted to question Tzipi Livni about alleged Israeli war crimes in Gaza under her watch as Foreign Minister, and “after diplomatic talks” Livni was “granted special diplomatic immunity”?
On the one hand, I don’t like show-trials, trials-by-press, banana courts or mob justice, and far prefer just laws justly applied – and on the other, I can understand that the scrutiny those in high office find themselves under can render them legally vulnerable in ways that may unduly influence their decision-making – and justice may be platonically blind, but is not always uniformly applied in practice. Such, it seems to me, is the human dilemma.
Posted by Trent Telenko on 5th July 2016 (All posts by Trent Telenko)
FBI Director James Comey today in a Washington DC news conference confirmed what many have suspected.
The Rule of Law in America is now strictly a political football for those who are in power.
The FBI has refused to indict ex-Sec of State Hillary Clinton for multiple clear violations of Federal law by hosting an unsecured e-mail server with classified data off-site from the State Department. A server that was know to have been hacked by most of America’s foreign enemies.
NRC’s own Seth Barrett Tillman recently appeared on Ireland’s RTÉ Radio One Late Debate. [The Irish media apparently plays by the same rules of engagement as CNN and the rest of the American media–4 out of the 6 participants were left-to-far left.]
But Seth pretty much won the “debate” at the outset [it was pretty much a Donald Trump ‘racism’ bash] by pointing out that in 2004, Ireland herself voted 80-20 for their constitutional Amendment Twenty-Seven, which abolished “birthright citizenship.”
The Pacific Legal Foundation, who last year at the Supreme Court won the right of citizens to challenge EPA rulings, has now won the right of citizens to challenge the determinations of the US Army Corps of Engineers.
It is not enough that agencies pass rulings and regulations that amount to law without their ever going through Congress or being voted on. Increasingly, the Administrative State takes the approach that you will do whatever they say without recourse, under penalty of egregious fines or imprisonment. Your tax dollars at work.
And what does it say about the current ideological makeup of the court that half the justices think this is a valid and legal course of action for a president? And assuming that Hillary is our next president and will appoint at least one far left justice, what is the likelihood the Constitution means anything at all anymore? Are we moving into the endgame, the first tentative steps of dictatorship, fully blessed and sanctified by the US Supreme Court?
Finally, the same 1869 federal statute which mandated a 9-member Supreme Court has also established a quorum of only 6 members. Thus, there is no rush to fill any Supreme Court vacancy, in spite of the fact that some future cases might end up tied 4-to-4. Given that Congress has set a quorum of 6 members, it stands to reason that Congress expected some Justices: to recuse themselves in specific cases; to take temporary leave to fulfil other government duties; to recuperate for a reasonable time if ill; and to die. The Court, as a functioning institution, goes on, at least, as long as it has 6 members, and surely Congress must have understood that a 6 or 8 member Court can deadlock. Indeed, historically, there have been lengthy periods of time where the Court, by statute, was expressly composed of an even number of members. For example, when Chief Justice John Marshall was appointed to the Supreme Court, its size was set to 6 members by statute. To the extent worries about deadlock are a consideration, it is a political consideration for the American People, not a legal consideration, constitutional or otherwise.