The Constitution’s Week in Review – 25 June 16

Article 1, Section 5, Clause 2: Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings

Our Infantile Congressmen (some of them at least)

House Rule XXIII: “A Member, Delegate, Resident Commissioner, officer, or employee of the House shall behave at all times in a manner that shall reflect creditably on the House.”[1]

Democrats, upset at not being allowed to vote on gun control legislation they have proposed, threw a childish temper tantrum[2] on Wednesday by “occupying” the floor of the House.  Taking their cue from the Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter movements, the Congressmen and women attempted to shut down House business and were ruled out of order.  I suspect they will not be censured for their violation of rules of decorum.

Article 3 – The Judiciary

On Thursday, the Supreme Court announced opinions in five cases.

In what was described as a “crushing blow” to the Obama administration, the court’s 4-4 opinion in United States v. Texas left intact a lower court ruling that the Obama administration had exceeded its authority in deferring the deportation of millions of illegal immigrants.[3]  Scalia’s vote would have made this 5-4, with the same immediate result, although the tie vote allows the court to revisit the decision after they fill the empty seat.

The Court affirmed the lower court in Fisher v. University of Texas at AustinThis allows the University of Texas to continue discriminating against qualified applicants in the name of diversity without having to demonstrate whether that diversity is needed or has improved the educational experience.  Interestingly, when I heard the decision announced on the radio driving around town Thursday there was great confusion over whether Justice Kagan had recused herself; some thought she had, some that she had not.  The 4-3 decision reveals she did, in fact, recuse herself and SCOTUSBlog confirms.  Kagan’s vote would almost certainly have made it 5-3 with the same result.  Scalia would have brought it up to 5-4 but that would not have changed things.

In three related cases,[4] the Justices ruled that imposing criminal penalties for refusing to take a breath test when suspected of drunk driving is OK but that criminal penalties for failing to take a blood test violate the Constitution.  I’ve not yet had time to read the decisions to see what logic produced the different results, but I suspect the intrusive nature of the blood test over the largely non-intrusive breath test was the discriminator.

1st Amendment – Right of Conscience

We experienced an amazing four-day mini-course at the Foundation for American Education this week as Dr. Gai Ferdon of Liberty University spoke on “The Welfare State – $20 Trillion Later.”  I anticipate FACE will make recordings of the four sessions available in the near future, and you should consider purchasing after-the-fact access.  Dr. Ferdon, covered all the history and the principles of good government that have been violated over the years as the U.S. has moved inexorably to The Welfare State.  A related topic, covered on the last night, is the wholesale violation of Right of Conscience. Right of Conscience is supposedly secured by the First Amendment and Dr. Ferdon took us through some of the arguments that helped shape the exposition of the right during the Founding Period.

Right of Conscience is dying a slow death in this country, as I discussed on my radio show this morning (the podcast should be up on Monday or you can listen to a re-broadcast on Saturday (11:00 am) or Sunday (2:00pm).  Now comes news that California (who’d have guessed?) is requiring churches to pay for abortions[5] for staff members.

2nd Amendment – Never Let a Shooting Go To Waste

The Supreme Court rejected an opportunity[6] to address a state “assault gun” ban, leaving New York’s and Connecticut’s onerous bans in place.  This was most likely done because Chief Justice Roberts foresaw an expected 4-4 tie that would have left the lower court ruling in place.

The quest for a “compromise” bill to prohibit the purchase of guns by those on the No fly List continued this week with Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) introducing a supposedly “bi-partisan” bill[7].  Question: was Omar Mateen on the nation’s No-fly List?  I’ve not seen anything that suggests he was, so this is just one more attempt at gun control unrelated to recent incidents.  The linked article contains a point-by-point rebuttal of the features of Collins’ bill.

Recommendations:

Constitution Seminars.  I have no Constitution Seminars scheduled at the moment.  If you have a group of 10 or more individuals within a day’s drive of Yorktown, Virginia, and would like one presented, let me know via email to: gary@constitutionleadership.org.   Keep in mind that I’ll be unavailable from 1 August to 18 September.

Lessons in Liberty.  On Monday, July 11, from 7:00-9:00 p.m. EDT, The Foundation for American Christian Education’s Lessons in Liberty series will welcome Jim Wallis, who will speak on the topic: Was Jesus a Socialist?  You can attend in the FACE classroom in Chesapeake, Virginia, or live online via Livestream.

This lecture explores the divergence of both Christianity and the Jewish people from their covenantal, Hebrew roots. And will take on a related questions such as, “Was the early church communal in the modern Marxist sense?” and “How about the Moses/Joshua Hebrew model, was it a republic or a theocracy?”

The cost to attend, either in the classroom or online, is $10.  Register at http://www.face.net/.

STAND Awakening Conference.  Those of you who live in the Tidewater area should try not to miss the STAND Awakening Conference, 1-3 Jul,y here in Chesapeake, VA.  I’ll see you there.

We the People – The Constitution Matters.  On July 1st, I’ll be interviewing Denver, Colorado lawyer and author Jenna Ellis about her recent book: The Legal Basis for a Moral Constitution.  In the book, Jenna lays out a rock-solid case that the Constitution is a moral document and must be interpreted as such.   You can listen to the pre-recorded interview at www.1180wfyl.com on Friday from 7-8am EDT.  On 8 July, we’ll resume our discussion of the principles of the Declaration of Independence.

 

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[1] Rules of the House of Representatives, One Hundred Fourteenth Congress, January 6, 2015.

[2] http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/dems-shut-down-house-floor-to-protest-for-gun-control/article/2594589

[3] http://kfor.com/2016/06/23/supreme-court-announces-split-decision-on-controversial-immigration-programs/

[4] Birchfield v. North Dakota, Bernard v. Minnesota, and Beylund v. Levi

[5] http://www.lifenews.com/2016/06/21/obama-administration-forces-california-churches-to-pay-for-abortions

[6] http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-court-guns-idUSKCN0Z61JE

[7] http://townhall.com/tipsheet/katiepavlich/2016/06/22/the-susan-collins-gun-control-bill-is-a-nightmare-for-innocent-americans-n2182134