Meanwhile in the States, it’s all about voting:
To review: There is no natural, unalienable right to vote; instead, voting is a civil right extended by society to certain citizens, as the society sees fit. The Constitution does not create the right, it presumes it already exists as a function of representative, republican government and only proscribes limits on voting based on “race, color, or previous condition of servitude” (15th Amendment), sex (19th Amendment), inability to pay a poll tax (24th Amendment) and a certain age range (26th Amendment). Outside these amendments, voting requirements are a function of state law.
A Governor’s Slapdown
Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe attempted to grant pardons (and thus restore voting rights) to 200,000+ Virginia felons in a brazen move to gain Democrat votes in November. Republicans in the Virginia Assembly sued and this week won a ruling by the Virginia Supreme Court that the Governor’s move was unconstitutional, such pardons can only be extended on a case-by-case basis. Undaunted, the Governor announced that those pardons already granted under his order (some 13,000 felons had already registered to vote) would be expedited and then he would proceed to grant the rest, one-by-one. That’s a lot of signatures. I don’t see what Virginia Republicans can do at this point. The liberal press, of course, painted the Court’s decision as a great travesty of justice.
A State’s Slapdown
The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down North Carolina’s new Voter ID Law, ruling it was intentionally discriminatory and reversing a District Court that had sustained it. With echoes of Justice Scalia, the Appeals court said: “In holding that the legislature did not enact the challenged provisions with discriminatory intent, the [District] court seems to have missed the forest in carefully surveying the many trees.”
Here’s what happened: In 2013, the day after the U.S. Supreme Court removed the requirement for certain states to get pre-clearance by the Justice Department for any new voting laws (in Shelby County v. Holder), the Republican leader of the NC Legislature announced he would propose an “omnibus” bill to simplify the state’s voter ID law. The new law removed many types of IDs from the “acceptable” list (along with making some other changes). The types of ID allowed under the new bill included:
- A North Carolina driver’s license, including a learner’s permit or a provisional license.
- A special identification card issued to non-drivers.
- A United States passport.
- A United States military identification card.
- A Veterans Identification Card.
- A tribal enrollment card issued by a federally recognized tribe or a tribe recognized by NC.
- A driver’s license or non-operators identification card issued by another state, the District of Columbia, or a territory or commonwealth of the United States (with certain restrictions).
Despite these multiple options of ID, the Appeals Court found that African-Americans disproportionately lacked IDs on the new list and thus were disproportionately denied access to the polls. Apparently, there could have been no other motive of the legislature in enacting the law than voter discrimination. In reaching its decision the Court placed great weight on the types of historical voting data the legislature requested as they crafted and passed the new bill; circumstantial evidence at best.
To give an idea of the significance of this case, read the list of organizations and states submitting amici briefs on both sides. If this ruling is not appealed to the Supreme Court and overturned it will certainly open up challenges of similar Voter ID laws in other states.
As you can see in this article, there are other challenges to Voter ID laws underway in other states, all timed to be complete before November. North Carolina was a key swing state that a candidate hoping to attain the Presidency simply must win. Texas (Veasey v. Abbott) is as well. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.
The two voter-related decisions featured today (VA and NC) both rested on politically appointed judges; in the Virginia case a judge appointed by the Republican-controlled Assembly cast the decisive vote; in the 4th Circuit it was federal judges appointed by President Obama that made the difference.
As I’ve said before and will say again, the election in November will decide the fate of liberty in this country for the next 30 years; somewhere from 2 to 4 Supreme Court Justices will be replaced by the next President. To quote Senator Lindsey Graham: “elections have consequences.” If you intend to sit this one out, think again.
Here’s a well-written essay by Richard Epstein of the Hoover Institute which takes on the question: “Are Voter ID Laws Racist?” Epstein discusses a lot of the relevant Supreme Court decisions. His focus is the 5th Circuit’s decision in Veasey v. Abbott. He forecasts: “[i]f Veasey survives [on appeal to the Supreme Court], it will be exceedingly difficult for any photo ID law to pass muster in the United States, at least in the absence of heavily documented instances of fraud, and perhaps not even then.”
What can you do? If you are concerned about opportunities for voter fraud, if you wish to keep voting as a privilege of citizenship and believe the concept “one-man(or woman)-one-vote” has value, then you best sit down with your state Senator and or Delegate and express your view. Make no mistake, there are people and groups in this country who believe removing any and all restrictions on voting is the key to winning elections.
On Friday, 29 July, on “We the People,” we discussed the portion of the Declaration where Jefferson complains that appeals to the British people, accompanying those sent to the British government, went unanswered, ignored. In his original draft of the Declaration (the sentence didn’t make the cut) he implies that the British citizens should have tried to unseat or otherwise remove those members of Parliament who were causing the colonies the most trouble. Instead the voters returned them to office. In my comments, I pointed to contemporary complaints from all around the U.S. over the leadership by certain Republicans in Congress, yet the constituents of these gentlemen keep returning them in office as well. History repeats itself, particularly if you ignore it. At what point do you stop warning your fellow citizens and just go for the separation, vis-à-vis 1776?
Jefferson points out the principle: a people contemplating separation from their government have a responsibility to communicate their frustrations and complaints to that government as well as to the general public.
This agrees with the guidance found in Matthew 18 (which Pastor David Whitney mentioned on the show) concerning the handling of complaints; we have a responsibility to communicate our grievances in an increasingly more public way.
Thus I’m waiting with baited breath to hear the complaints of the people of Texas, California and other states talking of seceding from the Union, their efforts have been invigorated by the successful BREXIT vote.
An article this week in Fortune magazine outlines some of the more prominent secessionist movements, surprisingly found in states as diverse as California and Texas, Alaska and Vermont. If Clinton wins in November, the movements in Alaska and Texas will probably grow in strength, while if Trump wins, it will be movements in California and Vermont that benefit. The article cites Texas v. White where the Court ruled that a state couldn’t unilaterally leave the union, while hinting that a “negotiated” secession would be viewed as constitutional.
What do you think? Can there come a point where continuing to remain part of the Union becomes untenable? Can a state or even a portion of a state secede, or did the Civil War settle that question? I’d love to hear from my readers on that question. Leave comments on Fairfax Free Citizen or send me an email.
Recommendations and Events:
Book Recommendation – “American Underdog,” by Congressman Dave Brat
Those fed up with establishment politics will find the recounting of Congressman Dave Brat’s upset victory over House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the 2014 election edifying. And although the retelling of his come-from-behind victory makes interesting reading, the greater value of his book is not just in seeing that the people of Virginia’s Seventh District were able to “buck the machine” and send someone to Washington, but that Brat understands and respects the principles that made America successful as a nation. Those can be organized into three categories: our Judeo-Christian tradition and all it entails, the rule of law/constiutionalism, and free market economics.
I’ve been taking the time on my radio show to discuss the numerous principles we find in the Declaration of Independence and, before that, in a series on “American’s Fundamental Principles,” because I truly believe that the mess we find our country in today is largely if not completely the result of ignoring those principles. If I’m right, true reform and prosperity will only come through re-incorporation of those principles into the way we run our governments, at all levels. Congressman Dave Brat agrees.
But how do you do that without completely upsetting the apple cart? How do you restore these principles to full operability? Ah, there’s the rub. But Brat has a plan, and a scant twelve years to make it work (he has pledged to be a 6-term Congressman, no more). Get the book and see what he has in mind.
We The People – The Constitution Matters Radio Show.
On Friday, 5 August, Pastor David Whitney will host “We the People – the Constitution Matters” as I recover from some surgery. The scheduled topic is the phrase in the Declaration which reads: “Appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions…” I hate to miss that one, but I’m confident David and Phil will cover the ground admirably. Perhaps I’ll call in if I feel well enough Please join the discussion by browsing to www.1180wfyl.com (Friday, 7-8am EDT). If you miss the recorded show, aim for the re-broadcast Saturday at 11am or Sunday at 2pm, or download the podcast at leisure.
Lessons in Liberty – Preserving America’s Religious Liberty.
On August 18th, the Foundation for American Christian Education’s Lessons in Liberty series will play host to Mrs. Victoria Cobb, President of the Family Foundation of Virginia, located in Richmond, Virginia. Victoria will speak on “How We Can Preserve America’s Religious Liberty.” How do Christians navigate a world trying to redefine marriage and even gender? Victoria will discuss how we got to where we are and how she believes Christians should respond. The event, as all Lessons in Liberty presentations, will be livestreamed. Registration and cost information can be found on the FACE website at www.face.net.
Lessons in Liberty – Preserving America’s Religious Liberty.
Looking ahead a bit further, on Monday, 12 September, I’ll be the Lessons in Liberty presenter, speaking on: “The Genius of the Electoral College.” More details later.
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