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Friday Constitutional – Special Bonus Edition!

5:49 am in Uncategorized by Bill Egnor

Happy Friday and Welcome to a bonus installment of Friday Constitutional! This is the repost of my seemingly never ending series about the Constitution of the United States of America. Up to now we have focused on reading and giving a layman’s interpretation of the Constitution.

This week we will take a slightly new direction we will talk about some of the influences of on the construction of the Constitution itself. Specifically we are going to look at what role the governance of the Iroquois Confederacy or the Huadenosaunee had on the structure proposed and ratified by the Constitutional Convention in 1787. For those that have not been following this series and who are interested in the previous installments, you can find them at the following links;

Friday Constitutional 1 – Preamble, Article One, Sections 1 And 2
Friday Constitutional 2 – Article One, Sections 3 And 4
Friday Constitutional 3 – Article One, Sections 5 And 6
Friday Constitutional 4 – Article One, Sections 7 And 8
Friday Constitutional 5 – Article One, Sections 9 And 10
Friday Constitutional 6 – Article Two, Section 1 (Part One)
Friday Constitutional 7 – Article Two, Sections 1 (Part Two), 2, 3, And 4
Friday Constitutional 8 – Article Three, The Judicial Branch
Friday Constitutional 9 – Article Four, Relationships Between The States
Friday Constitutional 10 – Articles 5, 6 And 7
Friday Constitutional 11 – 1st And 2nd Amendments
Friday Constitutional 12 – 3rd And 4th Amendments
Friday Constitutional 13 – 5th And 6th Amendments
Friday Constitutional 14 – 7th, 8th, 9th And 10th Amendments
Friday Constitutional 15 – 11th And 12th Amendments
Friday Constitutional 16 – 13th And 14th Amendments
Friday Constitutional 17 – 15th, 16th and 17th Amendments
Friday Constitutional 18 – 18th, 19th And 20th Amendments
Friday Constitutional 19 – 21st, 22nd And 23rd Amendments
Friday Constitutional 20 – 25th And 25th Amendments
Friday Constitutional 21 – 26th And 27th Amendments

The idea that the Huadenosaunee structure of government between the nations that formed this body had an influence on the US Constitution is fairly contentious. I am sure that there will be those that want to dispute this connection, which is just fine, as long as we do not fall into the trap of either hero worship for the Framers or our abiding problem of American Exceptionalism.

As a process improvement guy I have found the best ideas are often ones you take from others who have been down the same road you are following, so if, as seems at least somewhat likely, the Huadenosaunee influenced the foundational document of our Republic, there is no shame in that, it just good resource management on the part of the Framers. Regardless of where the concepts came from, it was the Framers that gave us the Articles and the Bill of Rights, and these concepts have served us well (for the most part) for the last 224 years.
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Jethro Bodineism Watch – Rand Paul Edition

5:47 am in Uncategorized by Bill Egnor

Rand Paul - Caricature

Rand Paul - Caricature by DonkeyHotey,

 

To my great chagrin no one in the national media has picked up the Bodineism meme, but they are starting to get the picture that there are some elected officials, particularly Republican elected officials, are about as dumb as sack of hammers.

The particular Jethro that I am talking about today is Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky. Of all the folks that I have compared to Jethro Bodine, Sen. Paul is probably the closet to the mark. By all accounts he is a pretty genial guy with a good smile and a nice manner. He is also so clueless as to be a text book (given that all books are printed in text, wouldn’t that make them all text books?) example of self-satire.

Most recently Sen. Paul (gods greater and lesser that gives me chills just writing it, ugh) has managed to trample the 1st Amendment with his “ideas”. Some of us on the Left side of the Blogasphere were more than a little happy that he was holding up the PATRIOT act renewal, by wanting to insert some amendments that would lessen the ability of the government to spy on its own citizens.

That was a good thing, but it does not mean that he was doing it from a deep understanding of the Constitution. You see after his ploy failed he went on Sean “The Manatee” Hannity’s radio show and said the following:

I’m not for profiling people on the color of their skin, or on their religion, but I would take into account where they’ve been traveling and perhaps, you might have to indirectly take into account whether or not they’ve been going to radical political speeches by religious leaders. It wouldn’t be that they are Islamic. But if someone is attending speeches from someone who is promoting the violent overthrow of our government, that’s really an offense that we should be going after — they should be deported or put in prison.

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Friday Constitutional 20 – 24th And 25th Amendments

5:30 am in Uncategorized by Bill Egnor

FridayConstitutional

Happy Friday and welcome to Friday Constitutional! We are getting very near the end of the repost of this series. If you have missed any of the previous installments you can find them at the links below:

Friday Constitutional 1 – Preamble, Article One, Sections 1 And 2
Friday Constitutional 2 – Article One, Sections 3 And 4
Friday Constitutional 3 – Article One, Sections 5 And 6
Friday Constitutional 4 – Article One, Sections 7 And 8
Friday Constitutional 5 – Article One, Sections 9 And 10
Friday Constitutional 6 – Article Two, Section 1 (Part One)
Friday Constitutional 7 – Article Two, Sections 1 (Part Two), 2, 3, And 4
Friday Constitutional 8 – Article Three, The Judicial Branch
Friday Constitutional 9 – Article Four, Relationships Between The States
Friday Constitutional 10 – Articles 5, 6 And 7
Friday Constitutional 11 – 1st And 2nd Amendments
Friday Constitutional 12 – 3rd And 4th Amendments
Friday Constitutional 13 – 5th And 6th Amendments
Friday Constitutional 14 – 7th, 8th, 9th And 10th Amendments
Friday Constitutional 15 – 11th And 12th Amendments
Friday Constitutional 16 – 13th And 14th Amendments
Friday Constitutional 17 – 15th, 16th and 17th Amendments
Friday Constitutional 18 – 18th, 19th And 20th Amendments
Friday Constitutional 19 – 21st, 22nd And 23rd Amendments
Today we will look at Amendments Twenty-Four and Twenty-Five.

Amendment Twenty-Four:

Section One:

The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.

As you can tell from the text of Section One this Amendment was enacted to combat the poll tax many Southern States had enacted to reduce the number of African Americans from voting. It is very clear; there can be no test for the right to vote based on taxes, either being paid at the time of the poll or being owed. You can be an indicted tax evader and still have the right to cast your vote.
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Friday Constitutional 19 – 21st, 22nd And 23rd Amendments

5:23 am in Uncategorized by Bill Egnor

FridayConstitutional

Happy Friday and welcome to the 19th installment of Friday Constitutional! As nearly everyone that is reading this knows by now, this the repost of my series looking at the Constitution of the United States. For those that missed any of the other installments or are coming in now, you can find all of the previous installments of this series at the following links (I just realized that the links for this series are longer than some folk’s essays. What does that say about me?):

Friday Constitutional 1 – Preamble, Article One, Sections 1 And 2
Friday Constitutional 2 – Article One, Sections 3 And 4
Friday Constitutional 3 – Article One, Sections 5 And 6
Friday Constitutional 4 – Article One, Sections 7 And 8
Friday Constitutional 5 – Article One, Sections 9 And 10
Friday Constitutional 6 – Article Two, Section 1 (Part One)
Friday Constitutional 7 – Article Two, Sections 1 (Part Two), 2, 3, And 4
Friday Constitutional 8 – Article Three, The Judicial Branch
Friday Constitutional 9 – Article Four, Relationships Between The States
Friday Constitutional 10 – Articles 5, 6 And 7
Friday Constitutional 11 – 1st And 2nd Amendments
Friday Constitutional 12 – 3rd And 4th Amendments
Friday Constitutional 13 – 5th And 6th Amendments
Friday Constitutional 14 – 7th, 8th, 9th And 10th Amendments
Friday Constitutional 15 – 11th And 12th Amendments
Friday Constitutional 16 – 13th And 14th Amendments
Friday Constitutional 17 – 15th, 16th and 17th Amendments
Friday Constitutional 18 – 18th, 19th And 20th Amendments

Amendment Twenty One:

Section One:

The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.

Section one is short and sweet; that mean old Amendment Eighteen is repealed. Twenty-four years after the Temperance Movement managed to impose its morality on the nation, we collectively wised up. The supposed cure for drinking was far worse in real terms than the disease. There should be a lesson here for both the supporters of the so-called War On Drugs and any other group that would try to legislate morality. It does not work and it often leads to other problems for your society.
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Friday Constitutional 16 – 13th And 14th Amendments

5:26 am in Uncategorized by Bill Egnor

FridayConstitutional

It is Friday, so it must be time for a Constitutional! Welcome to the 16th of my repost of my series on the United States Constitution. It is hard to believe that I have been writing about the Constitution for 4 months now, but as Mom said (with infinite and constant repetition) anything worth doing is worth doing correctly (she has a bit of a proper English fetish, I blame the Nuns). If you have not been reading this series or missed any of them, you can find all of the previous ones at the following links:

Friday Constitutional 1 – Preamble, Article One, Sections 1 And 2
Friday Constitutional 2 – Article One, Sections 3 And 4
Friday Constitutional 3 – Article One, Sections 5 And 6
Friday Constitutional 4 – Article One, Sections 7 And 8
Friday Constitutional 5 – Article One, Sections 9 And 10
Friday Constitutional 6 – Article Two, Section 1 (Part One)
Friday Constitutional 7 – Article Two, Sections 1 (Part Two), 2, 3, And 4
Friday Constitutional 8 – Article Three, The Judicial Branch
Friday Constitutional 9 – Article Four, Relationships Between The States
Friday Constitutional 10 – Articles 5, 6 And 7
Friday Constitutional 11 – 1st And 2nd Amendments
Friday Constitutional 12 – 3rd And 4th Amendments
Friday Constitutional 13 – 5th And 6th Amendments
Friday Constitutional 14 – 7th, 8th, 9th And 10th Amendments
Friday Constitutional 15 – 11th And 12th Amendments

Let’s get started! Today we will look at two of the three Reconstruction Era Amendments.

Amendment Thirteen:

Section One:

Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

This section of the 13th Amendment ended an argument that had raged from the very founding of the Republic. From December 6th 1865 forward, there would no longer be legal slavery in the United States. It was and is an amazing step forward in toward the ideals of our Declaration of Independents that said:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…”

We are still have not quite achieved that ideal, but our true journey towards it started the day that we added to our foundational legal document blunt words made clear that no person would be able to own another human being in our country.

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A Small Win On Sovereign Immunity At The SCOTUS

5:28 am in Uncategorized by Bill Egnor

Supreme Court

Supreme Court by Matt Ortega, on Flickr

As part of the Friday Constitutional series we recently talked about Sovereign Immunity. Basically it is the idea that a citizen or group can’t sue the government for the normal conduct of its work, even when they disagree with that conduct. It is basically designed to keep the gears of government from being gummed up with law suits from the opposition.

Sovereign immunity can be waived by the government in question (local, State or Federal) and is in a great number of cases. This idea, while part of the Constitution had decayed quite a bit by the late 1990’s when the Rehnquist Court brought it out of the ICU and back into mainstream legal thought with the Alden v. Maine decision.

The basic issue here was whether Federal law allowed private citizens to sue state government over issues of Federal law, even against an assertion of Sovereign Immunity by the State. The premise that the Rehnquist Court used to say that a SI claim could be made and upheld by a State was based on some really shaky legal reasoning. It basically held that because the original states had sovereign immunity prior to the founding of the United States that it should have continued even when they formed a new country.

Justice Souter really went to town in his dissent in the 5-4 decision, from that dissent:

It is symptomatic of the weakness of the structural notion proffered by the Court that it seeks to buttress the argument by relying on “the dignity and respect afforded a State, which the immunity is designed to protect”…Apparently beguiled by Gilded Era language describing private suits against States as “ ‘neither becoming nor convenient,’ ”the Court calls “immunity from private suits central to sovereign dignity,” and assumes that this “dignity” is a quality easily translated from the person of the King to the participatory abstraction of a republican State…The thoroughly anomalous character of this appeal to dignity is obvious from a reading of Blackstone’s description of royal dignity, which he sets out as a premise of his discussion of sovereignty:

“First, then, of the royal dignity. Under every monarchical establishment, it is necessary to distinguish the prince from his subjects… . The law therefore ascribes to the king … certain attributes of a great and transcendent nature; by which the people are led to consider him in the light of a superior being, and to pay him that awful respect, which may enable him with greater ease to carry on the business of government. This is what I understand by the royal dignity, the several branches of which we will now proceed to examine.”

It would be hard to imagine anything more inimical to the republican conception, which rests on the understanding of its citizens precisely that the government is not above them, but of them, its actions being governed by law just like their own. Whatever justification there may be for an American government’s immunity from private suit, it is not dignity.

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Friday Constitutional 15 – 11th And 12th Amendments

5:21 am in Uncategorized by Bill Egnor

FridayConstitutional

Happy Friday and welcome to the 15th installment in the repost of the Friday Constitutional series. Does this feel like a 30 year mortgage to anyone else? Anyway this series is designed to take a look at the United States Constitution and discuss each part from a layman’s point of view. If you missed in of the earlier installments, you can find them at the links below:

Friday Constitutional 1 – Preamble, Article One, Sections 1 And 2
Friday Constitutional 2 – Article One, Sections 3 And 4
Friday Constitutional 3 – Article One, Sections 5 And 6
Friday Constitutional 4 – Article One, Sections 7 And 8
Friday Constitutional 5 – Article One, Sections 9 And 10
Friday Constitutional 6 – Article Two, Section 1 (Part One)
Friday Constitutional 7 – Article Two, Sections 1 (Part Two), 2, 3, And 4
Friday Constitutional 8 – Article Three, The Judicial Branch
Friday Constitutional 9 – Article Four, Relationships Between The States
Friday Constitutional 10 – Articles 5, 6 And 7
Friday Constitutional 11 – 1st And 2nd Amendments
Friday Constitutional 12 – 3rd And 4th Amendments
Friday Constitutional 13 – 5th And 6th Amendments
Friday Constitutional 14 – 7th, 8th, 9th And 10th Amendments

We have completed the Articles and the Bill of Rights and are now working on the last 16 Amendments of the Constitution. Today we will start with Amendment 11.

Amendment Eleven:

The Judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State.

By itself this Amendment is a little impenetrable. It was passed as a clarification of Article 3, Section 2 of the Constitution, specifically Clause One which reads:
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9th Circuit Slaps Down AZ “Papers Please” Law!

5:49 am in Uncategorized by Bill Egnor

Papers Please [Explored Apr 28, 2010 #43]

Papers Please Explored Apr 28, 2010 #43 by DrCuervo, on Flickr

It has been a real whirlwind of a year. Anyone remember the Arizona “Papers Please” law? I know you all do, but given the BP disaster, the midterm elections, the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords and the killing of others that day, the Union Busting bills in the upper Midwest and the Arab Spring, it is easy to let something like that slip from our minds.

While the wheels of justice grind slow, they do grind exceedingly fine. That pernicious and probably unconstitutional law was blocked by a temporary injunction last July. The injunction prevented the implementation of the law, but of course, Gov. Jan “No Transplants for You” Brewer appealed that injunction.

Yesterday the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals slapped that appeal down and slapped it hard. In a 2-1 decision the appellate court found that the injunction should stand as there is good cause to think that the United State Government will win its case.

They based this decision on primarily on the Supremacy Clause which gives all Federal law supremacy over State law. Since immigration matters are something granted to the Federal Government by the Constitution specifically, Arizona’s attempt at separate and stronger enforcement of immigration status would be a usurpation of the national governments prerogatives.

This has been the argument against this frankly racist bill from the start. As much as Gov. Brewer and her allies in the State Senate would like to think they can make Arizona a hostile place for informal immigrants, the reality is they don’t have the authority to regulate immigration, except where Washington grants them the authority.
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Friday Constitutional 13 – 5th And 6th Amendments

5:21 am in Uncategorized by Bill Egnor

FridayConstitutional

Happy Friday, and welcome to the 13th Friday Constitutional! We are just about halfway (baring a major case of wordiness) through the series. For those who might not have seen this series before it is a repost of my layman’s look at the Constitution of the United States. Each week I takes part of the Constitution and explains what it seems to mean. If you happen to be a lawyer or a Constitutional Scholar and see something that is wrong, please feel free to correct it in comments. The main point of doing this is learning, so the more that we all learn the better. If you would like to re-read or catch up on any of this series you can find the previous articles at the following links:

Friday Constitutional 1 – Preamble, Article One, Sections 1 And 2
Friday Constitutional 2 – Article One, Sections 3 And 4
Friday Constitutional 3 – Article One, Sections 5 And 6
Friday Constitutional 4 – Article One, Sections 7 And 8
Friday Constitutional 5 – Article One, Sections 9 And 10
Friday Constitutional 6 – Article Two, Section 1 (Part One)
Friday Constitutional 7 – Article Two, Sections 1 (Part Two), 2, 3, And 4
Friday Constitutional 8 – Article Three, The Judicial Branch
Friday Constitutional 9 – Article Four, Relationships Between The States
Friday Constitutional 10 – Articles 5, 6 And 7
Friday Constitutional 11 – 1st And 2nd Amendments
Friday Constitutional 12 – 3rd And 4th Amendments

We are still in the Bill of Rights and will start off this week with the Amendment Five:

Amendment Five:

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

There is a lot of important things in this Amendment so we will break it down into parts and look at each.

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Breaking News: Eric Cantor And Jethro Bodine Separated At Birth!

5:34 am in Uncategorized by Bill Egnor

Bodineism started as a way for me to highlight the nitwittery of the Republicans in the 111th Congress. They say and do really gob smacking things and I post about comparing them to that gormless but loveable hillbilly Jethro Bodine. But I have to wonder if I have actually, through some unintended and accidental sorcery called this disease into reality (I’m probably taking too much on myself with that, still)?

It is one thing to misinterpret the Constitution, it is open for interpretation and people can be honestly wrong, but it is quit another for a Member of Congress in a leadership position to propose action that is completely outside the boundaries of the Constitution. Which is exactly what Eric Cantor is doing.

He is proposing and will force the House to bring to a vote a measure he is calling the “Government Shutdown Prevention Act”. What this Act will say is that if the Senate does not pass a budget measure by April 6th, then HR 1, the Republicans draconian and job slaughtering bill (which, by the way the Senate has already voted down) will become the law of the land.

I hear you all going “But, but, but… Doesn’t the Senate have to pass a bill and the President sign it for it to be law?” Why, yes, yes it does. It seems that the raven haired, square jawed Virginia Republican who is the House Majority Leader does not understand how the body he has been part of for a decade now works.

If there were an “All Time Jethro Bodineism Award” it is certain that Rep. Cantor would be earning himself a place in the nominees. It is easy to dismiss this as insane and a stunt, but I see a bigger picture emerging among Republicans nation wide.

The lawless behavior of Gov. Scott Walker in Wisconsin has shown that he and his Republicans have a shocking disregard for the laws of their state. They have broken and bent the rules to pass their union busting bill and have even defied a court order in the implementation of the law.
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