The Constitution’s Week in Review – 30 Apr 2016

Article 2:  Qualifications of the President.

The Constitution is not a terribly complex document: seven articles and twenty-seven amendments.  At most, it takes perhaps a half hour to read.  Jim VandeHei, owner of the website Politico, says in a Wall Street Journal article[1] this week: “I have spent the past two decades in the Washington, D.C., bubble—the heart of Establishment America—covering politics and building a company, Politico, focused solely on politics.”  Apparently none of that political immersion required Mr. VandeHei read the U.S. Constitution.

One of the most basic pieces of constitutional information concerns the qualifications for elected office: Representatives must be 25 years old, Senators 30 and the President 35.  Representatives must have been a citizen of the U.S. for 7 years, Senators for 9 and the President a “resident” for 14.  See the progression meant to ensure increased experience and maturity in each office of higher responsibility?  These criteria are not that hard to remember once you’ve been exposed to them.  Mr. VandHei has not.  Yet despite his ignorance he plunged into the fray to promote Mark Zuckerberg, age 31, Gazillionaire owner of Facebook, as a potential third-party candidate for president.  The “good news” is that Zuckerberg will be eligible by 2020.

I’ll be sending Mr. VandeHei an invitation to attend my next seminar, absolutely free of charge, in Norfolk on May 21st (sponsored by Concerned Veterans for America; and its absolutely free to everyone, not just Mr. VandeHei, sign up here[2]).

Article 2:  Abuse of Executive Power.

We had a great time discussing this topic Friday on We the People, The Constitution Matters.  The podcast has already been posted[3] for your listening and/or download pleasure.

Article 5: Amending the Constitution.

March 23, 1971, was the last time Congress proposed an amendment to the U.S. Constitution and sent it to the States for ratification (the 26th).  That was 45 years ago (warning: math in public).  That 45 year period is not the longest we have gone without amending the document (from the 12th Amendment in 1804 to the 13th in 1865 was 61 years) but the current period recently moved into second place (the 15th Amendment was ratified in 1870 and the lovely 16th Amendment in 1913: 43 years).  Many say the Constitution is long overdue for an “upgrade.”

Washington has grown into a bloated, tyrannical, bankrupt mess, thanks to the “Supreme” Court’s successful demolition of the Constitution’s original limits.  Today we “enjoy” a federal government that “can do most anything in this country” (thank you Representative Peter Stark for those honest words).  Electing better representatives will not fix this mess; the vast majority of potential representatives have no idea what the root problem is or what needs fixing.  Nullification will not fix this; nullification is at best a temporary, limited measure.

The problem is the plenary power of the federal government and the only way to fix that is to restore what Jefferson called “the chains of the Constitution.”  Those “chains” no longer exist, but could be restored with targeted amendments.

Will Congress ever take on the task of reining in their own power, imposing fiscal restraints on themselves, imposing limits to the number of terms they may serve or the terms of federal judges?  Clearly, No!  We will wait in vain for such changes, each time hoping that maybe the next election will provide us a glimmer of hope.  Such “romantics” delude themselves.

This week, Oklahoma became the seventh State to realize that waiting for Congress to act is a pipe dream.  The Oklahoma legislature passed a resolution[4] calling for a convention under Article 5 of the Constitution, joining Florida, Alaska, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and Indiana.  Only 27 more states to go.

If you have a better plan to fix Washington, I’d like to hear it.  And by “plan” I mean an actual plan; you know, something that has been committed to paper, with funding, personnel, a timetable and an actual chance of success.  That’s what I call a plan.

While you contemplate what you can do to support the Convention of States effort, please enjoy this short video[5] explaining the federal government’s view of the debt limit.

First Amendment:  Establishment Clause.

Can a church be given state grant money to upgrade its playground equipment as are secular organizations?  At issue is the safety of children at play, at least that was the purpose of the grant program, certainly not the establishment or advancement of religion.  But objections were raised about violating the “Supreme” Court’s contrived “Wall of Separation” doctrine.  Apparently this doctrine trumps the safety of a church’s children. The Court has agreed to hear Lutheran Church v. Pauley[6] and is accepting amicus curiae briefs, such as one recently filed by the Family Research Council[7], to prepare them for oral arguments, not yet scheduled.  If you’ve never read amicus briefs, you should.  Read at least one from each side of the argument.

Meanwhile, in the states:

Civil Asset Forfeiture.  Carrying large amounts of cash is becoming evidence of a crime in this country, so be careful when you do so.  Some Sheriffs have called civil asset forfeiture “pennies from heaven.”[8]  I call it highway robbery.  You should not need an excuse to carry cash, even large amounts if you want to.  But time after time, citizens and foreign visitors get caught up in this thievery.  Sometimes there is a happy ending, as in this article[9] about a Christian musician who had $53,000 seized because it was “evidence of drug dealing,” Right.  Couldn’t be anything else?  Civil Asset Forfeiture Laws[10] should be removed from the law books of each state.  Do you know what the situation is in your state? Update: Nebraska and New Mexico recently passed laws that prohibit civil asset forfeiture until a conviction has been obtained.

As a side note: be sure you know your rights concerning warrantless searches of your car on a public road.  In this case I’m certain the police preyed upon the good nature of a Christian musician unfamiliar with the law.  Unless a drug dog alerts at the side of your car or the police can see clear evidence of illegal goods or activities through the car windows, they must first obtain a warrant to conduct a search.  Don’t know your rights?  See the seminars discussed below.

Speaking of Constitutions, I’ll bet some of you didn’t know we have a Constitution Party[11] in this country.  It’s been around since 1992 and it secured a whopping 122,388 votes for its presidential ticket in 2012, partly because only about 50% of the country’s voters even saw the party nominees appear on their state’s ballot.  Their 2016 candidates, Darrell Castle for President and Scott Bradley for Vice-President, will appear on only 23 state ballots this November.  Check out the party’s platform[12] and see if you could subscribe to it.

Upcoming Events:

Lessons in Liberty.  If you read Mr. VandHei’s criteria for a presidential candidate in the first article I linked to, you may have finished feeling “Isn’t there more we want in a president than that he or she ‘be authentic and capable of having a rolling, candid, transparent conversation with voters on social and conventional media?’”  On May 16th join us to hear Dr. Jim Davids speak on “Choosing Godly Representatives,” from 7-9pm at the Foundation for American Christian Education.  Attend in person or online.  $10 either way.  Register at http://www.face.net/.

Constitution Seminar in Norfolk, VA.   Hampton Roads residents can learn what their Constitution says and means by coming to a CLI Saturday Seminar on 21 May sponsored by Concerned Veterans for America.  The seminar will be held from 8:30am-5:30pm (note new times) at the VFW Post 4809, 5728 Bartee St, Norfolk, VA 23502 (next to Military Circle Mall).  There is no charge for this event, but pre-registration is required through this Eventbrite link. Participants will receive a 150-page Student workbook, Pocket Constitution, and lunch.  There is no better deal around.  In an 1820 letter to William C. Jarvis, Thomas Jefferson wrote: “The people themselves,… their discretion [informed] by education, [are] the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.”  This class will equip you to identify and correct those abuses.

Constitution Seminar in Williamsburg, VA.  Hampton Roads residents will have a second opportunity to learn what their Constitution says and means by coming to a CLI Saturday Seminar on 11 June in Williamsburg, VA.  The seminar will be held from 9:00am-6:00pm at a location to be announced shortly.  Participants receive a 150-page Student workbook, Pocket Constitution, lunch and a chance to win valuable door prizes.  The seminar will cost $40 per person, but registrations prior to 7 June receive a $10 discount.  Due to venue size, this seminar is limited to 10 participants.  Pre-registration is required via email to gary@constitutionleadership.org.

Constituting America continues to post new essays in their 90-Day Challenge.  Hope you are enjoying this peak into American history.

The “Constitution’s Week in Review” is a project of the Constitution Leadership Initiative, Inc.  To unsubscribe from future mailings by Constitution Leadership Initiative, click here.

[1] http://www.wsj.com/articles/bring-on-a-third-party-candidate-1461624062

[2] http://cli-cva-constitution.eventbrite.com/

[3] http://www.1180wfyl.com/podcasts.html

[4] http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/capitol_report/oklahoma-joins-call-for-convention-of-the-states-on-balanced/article_d11daf38-96e8-51b2-bf29-0f991a27a0ce.html

[5] http://www.conventionofstates.com/video_managed_debt_like_the_federal_government

[6] http://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/trinity-lutheran-church-of-columbia-inc-v-pauley/

[7] http://www.christiannewswire.com/news/5329877775.html

[8] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ipHUN-xLLms

[9] http://dailysignal.com/2016/04/25/police-seized-53k-from-christian-band-fundraised-for-orphanage-school/?utm_source=TDS_Email&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Top5&mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiTVRVek9UYzVZMkl4WkRNNSIsInQiOiIzNktPeGE4ZW5JSDl0UURwalY0a1wvVEhsT2ttVEJwQUJlS2ZNdTU4UnhJWnpmVHZmVmxNQUZUemR6WllqTmhkSUJBSHlKcjA1NmRScSt5Rk9wYVZESUVxRnczbGI0RXJNd2cyMGxjZUhPM001U2tMcVRMYlJnd1wvQm1Hb1F4UUxwIn0%3D

[10] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_forfeiture_in_the_United_States

[11] http://www.constitutionparty.com/

[12] http://www.constitutionparty.com/our-principles/platform-and-resolutions/