Archive for the ‘Constitutional Issues’ Category
The University of Mississippi’s student legislature, known as the Associated Student Body (ASB) Senate, meets weekly to draft policy recommendations for implementation within the University. Several ASB Senators are also active members of Young Americans for Liberty, and one of them recently took issue with the ASB’s practice of saying a Christian prayer prior to each session.
What follows is the text of Dan Blazo’s invocation before the Ole Miss ASB Senate:
” Please, keep your heads up and your eyes open.
I thought about giving an agnostic prayer tonight about how none of us know the answers to the big questions in life, but I realized that that would be wholly inappropriate. In fact, it would be inappropriate for the same reasons that giving a Christian prayer would be.
As senators, each of us took an oath to uphold the ASB Constitution to the best of our abilities. Accordingly, I’d like to direct your attention to Article 10, Section 7 of the ASB Constitution, which reads:
“The ASB shall not discriminate against any student based on race, gender, age, ethnicity, ability or disability, marital status, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, religious affiliation, or national origin. Respect, tolerance, and goodwill are the keystones to enjoying the diversity of our campus, and it is the duty of the ASB to encourage and promote these ideals. The ASB is committed to achieving an intellectual, cultural, and social environment on campus in which all are free to think and make their contribution. We will achieve an environment in which every student may think, learn, and grow without prejudice, intimidation, and discrimination. We will achieve an environment in which personal dignity and respect for the individual are recognized by all students.”
So according to the Constitution, it is our duty to encourage and promote respect and tolerance among our constituents, who comprise a beautifully diverse group of young people with many ethnicities, philosophies, and religious beliefs, including Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Agnosticism, Atheism, Christianity, and probably others as well. By praying to Jesus, we exclude all non-Christians from being represented by their government; we ostensibly represent only Christians. How does that promote religious tolerance? How is it respectful to our non-Christian constituents?
As representatives of a secular public university who would never trade our diverse community for one where everyone looks and talks and thinks more similarly, let us abstain from practicing any one religion at our Senate meetings. Let us open our hearts to the welfare of all people within our community by respecting the inherent dignity of us all, recognizing that our differences of race, religion, and party affiliation are only superficial.
If you wish to pray out loud together before the meetings, that’s great! I only ask that you do so on your own time. How would you feel if your student government opened every meeting with a prayer to a god you don’t believe in (say Allah, Yahweh, Krishna, or Zeus), a god who claims that all Christians are destined for Hell? Would you feel represented, or excluded and out of place? Whether or not you want to admit it, the Ole Miss Rebels don’t all pray in Jesus’ name. Our religious views are private matters. Senate meetings are inherently public affairs.
Let us separate church and government by removing the invocation from the Senate meetings. Let us remember that in the face of adversity, we need not close our eyes and look above for answers, but only recognize our own collaborative abilities to overcome any challenges that face us.
Thank you. “
Young Americans for Liberty salutes Senator Blazo for standing up for religious liberty.
“Believing that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their Legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church and State.” – Thomas Jefferson, in Letter to the Danbury Baptists, 1802.
James Robertson currently attends the University of Mississippi, where he plans to receive degrees in Political Science and English. He is the President of the Ole Miss Chapter of Young Americans for Liberty.
Tupelo, Mississippi has long been known as the birthplace of “The King.” Unfortunately, there’s a new king in town, and he’ll make sure you’re singing the “Jailhouse Rock” if you don’t recite a loyalty oath upon his command.
According to WTVA, an attorney was arrested and jailed for contempt of court after refusing to pledge his allegiance to the American flag upon the judge’s order. If this isn’t tyranny, what is? What is it the judge wanted the disobedient attorney to pledge his allegiance to? Authoritarian rule? That reminds me of a famous quote from a wise man:
He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would fully suffice. This disgrace to civilization should be done away with at once.
Gun control tends to be one of those topics where arguing for the individual’s inherent and Constitutional right to own firearms is a tough sell. Many anti-gun advocates do not care that the 2nd Amendment protects this right. They seek to improve society by making everyone safer. However, many anti gun advocates only look at the surface of the problem rather than the root. The generic anti gun reasoning is that gun control is necessary because too many dangerous people own guns. The question then becomes, how do you decide which individuals are inherently dangerous? The most common answer is individuals convicted of felonies. Who comprises the majority of convicted felons? Easy answer, people convicted of drug and/or gang related crime, about 50% of US inmates are drug offenders.
This is the root of the issue. If the desired outcome of gun control is less gun crime, then the answer lies not with guns, but with those using the guns to commit crimes. In this case, the majority of crimes are gang related. Why do gang members commit so many violent crimes with guns? They do so because gun crime is an inherent aspect of any black market. The current black market is primarily comprised of the production and distribution of illegal drugs. The profits of this trade are then used by gang members to purchase firearms and thus ensure their ability to continue their trade. Keep in mind that the government has outlawed the products they are providing. But wait, outlawing something is supposed to make it go away, right? Two reasons exist as to why it is impossible to deny an individual access to something he or she desires. First, natural law dictates that as long as what you do does not hurt or infringe on the rights of someone else, it is permissible. This logic can be extended to the mere ownership of guns as well as the consumption of drugs (the government does not own your body, you do). The second is demand. As long as a demand for something exists, there will be a supply.
Here is where it all ties together. Gun crime is so high because prohibition of drugs has created an enormous black market. Black markets deal with illegal products; calling the police when your drugs have been stolen is out of the question. You need to build an army and then arm it. Currently these armies are called gangs, while during the prohibition of alcohol they were called mafias. Just as gun crime sky rocketed during alcohol prohibition, so has it during drug prohibition. When you ban a substance or product, you create an environment where gangs and mafias can thrive. The only competition they have is with each other, and since what they are doing is already illegal, guns provide a quick and easy solution to their problems.
So why shouldn’t we ban guns? Banning guns will create a black market that sustains itself through gun violence. Banning guns to eliminate gun crimes ignores the reasons the crimes are being committed in the first place. You want to reduce gun crime? End drug prohibition, thereby eliminating the primary purpose gangs exist and the funds they require to purchase guns to commit gun crimes. Think about it and ask yourself: Which came first, the gun or the crime?
Stats are always fun:
- In 2004, estimated gang members totaled 2,000,000
Justice Policy Institute report, Gang Wars 2004
- Total Prison population is around 2,400,000
- 51.4% of inmates consist of drug offenders
- Only 7% of nonfatal violent crimes involve firearms
Bureau of Prisons Website, 2010
- United States has the highest prison population rate in the world, 756 per 100,000
- Russia is second with 629, followed by Rwanda at 604
International Centre for Prison Studies, 2007
- According to the American Corrections Association, the average daily cost per state prison inmate per day in the US is $67.55. State prisons held 253,300 inmates for drug offenses in 2007. That means states spent approximately $17,110,415 per day to imprison drug offenders, or $6,245,301,475 per year.
US Department of Justice, 2007
Glenn Greenwald reports that Obama has authorized the murder of a US citizen. Civil liberties, trial by jury, rule of law? Who needs them. Tyranny greater than Bush offered? Yes, we can.
Read Greenwald’s disturbing article here.
Writing an article explaining the meaning of the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution was on my to-do list for this week. But then I found this superb article. Not only does it save me the trouble, Dr Brion McClanahan writes far more effectively than I, so…
To read real history, click here.
Democrats have just provided us with the largest expansion of the welfare state since Republicans did the same under George W Bush. But why, exactly, is Obamacare so atrocious?
For one, it represents a transfer of wealth. The many are taxed to pay for health insurance premiums for the few. Thirty-five million people (and Big Insurance) will enjoy the benefits of the money earned by the over two hundred million who actually worked for it.
Professor of History Clyde Wilson writes a brief history of the principles of nullification. In this great article, he demonstrates Jefferson’s life-long devotion to the principles of state sovereignty, a necessary component of liberty.
Read Dr Wilson’s fantastic article here.
Secretary of the Navy and Former Mississippi Governor Ray Mabus recently testified before the Senate Armed Services Committe on the question of repealing the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. Mabus said that he supports the repeal of the policy while acknowledging that since the policy was matter of law, any potential change would rest in the hands of the Congress. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is widely considered a discrimatory policy, and rightly so. Mabus represents the Navy and the state of Mississippi well by supporting its repeal and recognizing the cosntitutionally correct avenue through which such a repeal should emerge. You can watch a short clip of the proceedings below.
The freedom movement has stated as its central goal the return to a strict adherence of the Constitution. Ron Paul, the godfather of the modern movement, consistently introduces himself as a “constitutionalist.” Numerous states throughout the Union have passed resolutions affirming their states rights as guaranteed by the Constitution.
By: James Robertson
President Obama’s summit on health care reform today marks an unprecedented move by the administration to offer Republicans a final say on proposed health care legislation before it is inevitably forced through a divided Congress. While Obama claims that the summit represents a move by Democrats to “reach out” to Republican opposition and allow them to reconcile their differences with the reforms, the meeting more obviously represents a last-ditch effort on the part of the administration to ensure that their top domestic priority doesn’t die on Capitol Hill. Such a failure would undoubtedly cripple the public’s faith in the current administration and significantly reduce its ability to govern. Of greater importance, though, is not the success of health care reform for the sake of this administration, but the success (or failure) of this summit for the sake of policymaking in the American republic.
The founders established democracy in the America by vesting the main legislative power in a national congress. The bicameral design of the U.S. Congress evolved to ensure equal representation of individuals and states in the policymaking process. Today, the Congress finds itself plagued with a mountain of debt and deeply divided along partisan lines, seemingly incapable of addressing public concerns or accomplishing much of anything at all. While not advertised as such, Obama’s summit represents an executive effort to counter the legislature’s ineptitude by removing the policy discussion from the halls of Congress itself to an executive suite in the Blair House, right across the way from the Oval Office.
This summit carries with it the message of hope that pervaded Obama’s campaign for the presidency; a sentiment that has been called into question recently due to the stalling of health care reform. The President clearly seeks to portray the message that, although the legislature as a whole has proven itself unable to deal with the issue, he is willing to take matters into his own hands and force Congressional leaders from both parties to hammer out a proposal, compromised or otherwise. While this move might appear noble and altruistic on the President’s part, its inherent disregard of Constitutional structure poses some dangerous implications for the future of democracy in America.
The U.S. Constitution establishes Congress in Article 1, then moves on to lay out Executive powers in Article 2. This order was not coincidental. The Founders recognized the danger of an over-powerful executive and, for that reason, gave the Executive few explicit duties and left policymaking to Congress. In Constitutional debates, James Madison was quick to note the dangers of a ruling majority. The presidential veto, the bill of rights, and the senate filibuster rule are just a few safeguards that protect Americans from the tyranny of a malevolent majority. Moving policymaking outside of the Congress and into the realm of the executive ignores this structure, bypassing these protections and perilously endangering liberty.
Many will note that Presidents have long involved themselves in the formulation of American policies. The increasing use of Presidential signing statements most clearly reflects a Presidential attempt at policymaking. These informal declarations have become the President’s way of directing, or in some cases limiting, Congress’ actions. Also, legislators judge Presidential proposals on different merits due to their possible political ramifications. However, removing debate on an issue from the floor of the Congress itself and into an executive conference room adjacent to the White House lawn not only symbolizes more executive interference, but very clearly increases Executive influence over the crafting of domestic policies.
This problem, like most facing America today, could easily be resolved by simply obeying the Constitution. Failure to recognize and abide by Constitutional guidelines led Congress to subsidize and socialize American industries while sustaining a Cold War-era empirical foreign presence, both of which contributed to the current debt of astronomical proportions. Exceeding their Constitutional boundaries allowed Congress to act in ways that immediately benefited many Americans and bought them some good will in the short run. Ultimately, though, by ignoring their Constitutional mandate, Congress damaged this brilliant structure of American government and led us to the broken system we have today. The answer to this problem lies not in an Executive takeover of the legislature, but rather in a return to the rule of law and a government that acts within the limited structure set forth by the Constitution.