The Constitution’s Week in Review – 5 Feb 16

The Constitution’s Week in Review – 5 Feb 16

Article 2. Natural Born Citizen Clause.

As I’ve said before, this one’s not going away anytime soon, and until there is a permanent resolution, I’ll continue to report developments.

Lost in the news of Ted Cruz’ victory in Iowa was the fact that he also received a favorable decision from the Illinois Board of Elections, which confirmed his U.S. citizenship met the state’s primary ballot requirements. The Board announced:

“The Candidate is a natural born citizen by virtue of being born in Canada to his mother who was a U.S. citizen at the time of his birth,” he “did not have to take any steps or go through a naturalization process at some point after birth.”

I hesitate to point out that the Board of Elections is not the Supreme Court; nevertheless, a small victory for Cruz, but certainly not the definitive opinion he will eventually need.

Article 3.

“The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish.” Article 3, Section 1, Clause 1.

As we all know, the Constitution itself only created a single court, the Supreme Court; but it also authorized Congress to establish a system of inferior courts, which they began to do in 1789. The Judiciary Act of 1789 was followed by others over the years and gradually the court system expanded and took form. Today there are 94 District Courts across the U.S., with at least one district court in each state, as well as the District of Columbia. The 94 federal judicial districts are organized into 11 regional circuits, each with a court of appeals (plus one each for the District of Columbia and a Federal Circuit makes 13 Courts of Appeals).   Due to the appointment of liberal federal judges by certain liberal Presidents (with confirmation by the Senate, of course) some Courts of Appeal have tended to reflect decidedly liberal viewpoints, particularly the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The eight states which make up the 9th Circuit run the gamut of liberal (ex: California, Oregon) to conservative (ex: Arizona, Alaska). Arizona, tired of unfavorable rulings from the 9th Circuit judges, wants out, and is preparing to petition the Congress to create a 12th regional circuit consisting of Nevada, Arizona, Montana, Idaho, and Alaska. As this article points out, 78% of the 9th Circuit’s decisions have been overturned on appeal to the Supreme Court; not a very good track record. You would think the 9th Circuit judges would realize they are out of touch with the Supreme Court, if not mainstream America; but no, I suspect they are unconcerned. Good luck, Arizona!

Speaking of judicial nominations, after not answering questions about abortion the way some on the Senate Judiciary Committee were hoping they would, two of Obama’s nominations to federal judge positions failed to secure an up vote from the Committee (in the picture, that’s Senator Mike Lee of Utah over Senator Chuck Grassley’s left shoulder, you’ll hear about him in a moment). Good on Senator Grassley for applying some pressure, what little can be brought to bear.

I don’t consider myself a “court watcher,” but I’m glad we have people who do pay close attention to what the court is doing. Alliance Defending Freedom is one such group (there are others, of course) and they have put together a list of five important cases the Supreme Court has agreed to take up this term. Several religious freedom cases, a freedom of conscience case and one on abortion should make for an interesting term.

1st Amendment.

Free Speech. When I report on a controversy I like to then keep people abreast of subsequent developments. I’ve reported more than once on the continuing saga of Bob Wilson, one of Central Radio’s owners in Norfolk VA. What began as an eminent domain fight morphed into a free speech fight (I reported on both aspects) when Norfolk City Council objected to the way Central radio was protesting their actions (Central erected a 375-square-foot sign on the side of their building). Victory came this week in a 3-0 decision in the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals (remember those 13 Circuits?) which decided that Norfolk’s sign ordinance discriminated based on content (content which it obviously found embarrassing) and that is an abridgement of free speech.  Occasionally the good guys win one.

Freedom of Religion. Our public schools never cease to amaze me. Naiveté concerning Islam is hard to excuse these days, so I can only believe this teacher had his students recite the words of the shahada in order to pull them surreptitiously into the religion of Islam.   When a student balked at reciting this religious oath she was failed, and the parents sued.

What made the school district’s actions most egregious was their blatant attempt to deceive the parents through use of near-duplicate history books, “one of which contained the Islamic teachings and which students were required to leave at school,…[t]he other, which did not contain the teachings, was allowed to be taken home,” as the article explains. “The school also excised the Islamic teachings from the course syllabus.” Amazing.

Do you monitor the textbooks of your public school student? You should, but it also looks like you need to ask your kid whether certain materials have been restricted from parental view.

2nd Amendment.

Two items to discuss. Virginia’s Attorney General Mark Herring, the same man who refused to defend Virginia’s Constitutional prohibition of homosexual marriage, shocked everyone in December by announcing that Virginia would no longer grant reciprocity to 25 other states’ concealed carry permits, meaning the citizens of those states would have to leave their weapons at home if traveling in or through Virginia. Herring had found a “loophole” in a statue passed by the Virginia Assembly, and with Governor Terry Mcauliffe looking for some way to repay Michael Bloomberg for the millions in anti-gun money Bloomberg had spent to try to flip the Virginia Assembly into Democrat hands (unsuccessfully as it turned out, the Assembly stayed Republican) it appeared to be the best that Mcauliffe could do.

The Virginia Assembly Republicans sprang into action and came up with a compromise that will restore CHP reciprocity in exchange for the addition of totally-voluntary background checks for private sellers at gun shows (there are some other details in the deal, such as persons subject to a permanent domestic violence protection order will be prohibited from possessing firearms until the order expires). The Virginia State Police will now be required to set up a booth at all gun shows and run the checks for any seller who requests them. The infamous “gun-show loophole” has been closed (with voluntary compliance).

This next item tripped my cow-pie detector (check out the article’s headline). Barack Obama obviously couldn’t be so naïve to think an Executive Order limiting Americans to three guns would remain unopposed. But it appeared to come from ABC News (but check the URL carefully), a reputable if not reliable news source, so I investigated and found the claims to be –– totally bogus, a deliberate hoax. Back to whatever you were doing, folks. But don’t relax, if the President thought he could get away with such restrictions through Executive Order, they would already be in place.

4th Amendment.

We’ve all heard it: “Congress is a bunch of crooks, they’re all scoundrels with no respect for the Constitution.” Not true, by any stretch. I divide Congressmen into three groups: Patriots, The Nice People But Uninformed, and, yes, The Scoundrels. Senator Mike Lee of Utah is the Patriot’s Patriot. Not only is his book “Our Lost Constitution” a must-read, he fights tirelessly to champion individual liberty. Lee is promoting Senate Bill 356, also known as the Electronic Communications Privacy Amendments Act, a provision of which would require government officials to get a warrant or court order before they access private citizen emails, just as they currently do to search our snail mail or enter our homes. If you like this idea, perhaps a call or email of support to your senator would be in order. Almost makes me want to move to Utah just to be able to call this guy my Senator. Lee is certainly a better Senator than either of mine.
The Administrative State. Ever heard of the Lacey Act? Few have. Ask Gibson Guitars about this act and you’ll get an earful (it didn’t help that Gibson was a Republican donor while their chief competitor, Fender Guitars, donated primarily to Democrat candidates).

We have a company headquartered nearby, Lumber Liquidators, which markets and installs hardwood flooring. Various wood varieties are normally available, both domestic and foreign-grown.

Lumber Liquidators was convicted of violating the Lacey Act by importing Mongolian oak that had been farmed from an area in eastern Russia that serves as the last known wild habitat of Siberian tigers. Who knew? I’m sure Lumber Liquidators didn’t, nor should they have had to ask.

Thanks to the Lacey Act, it is no longer safe to just meet a foreign supplier, find out what they offer, and make your order. You now have to investigate, on your own dime, where and how the supplier obtained his products and whether any foreign or international laws were transgressed in the process. If you wonder why your foreign product is so expensive, perhaps there is a link to the army of lawyers and investigators a company must pay to become expert in the laws of every country in which they do business.

Yes, Lumber Liquidators’ antenna should have gone up when their supplier provided “Mongolian oak” ostensibly sourced in “Germany.”

Who looks for violations of the Lacey Act? I’d start with the Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Fund and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, who stand to benefit richly from this conviction.

Reforming Government. We’ve heard the sad refrain all too often: “No one in Washington cares about what is happening to the country.” Well, now we learn there is someone, several actually, who care – deeply about our broken government; and they aim to do something about it. I encourage you to listen to this entire video discussing the Article 1 Project. You will be encouraged.

Upcoming Events

Constitutional Conversations – 8 February. For my local subscribers, the next “Constitutional Conversations” will be coming up at 7pm on Monday, 8 February, at Christopher Newport College, Newport News, VA (Freeman Center Room 201). The topic: “Freedom of Speech.” Nowhere is Freedom of Speech more imperiled today than on college campuses, thus I hope for a good turnout and a lively discussion. Hope to see you there.

Lessons in Liberty – 15 February. For those both local and not, on Monday, 15 February you will have a wonderful opportunity to hear Pastor David Whitney, Senior Instructor at the Institute on the Constitution, speak on the subject: “The Most Powerful Vote You Will Ever Cast – Your Vote As A Juror.” The presentation will be held at the Foundation for American Christian Education classroom but will also be Livestreamed to anywhere you happen to be. Cost to attend, either locally or via Livestream is a whopping $10. Most Americans know little to nothing of the real power of a jury, and judges have a vested interest in seeing it stay that way. You should become informed in case you are ever called to serve. Go to to register.

Constitution Seminar – 26 March. Mark your calendars; I’ll be holding a Constitution Seminar on Saturday, 26 March from 9am to 6pm, here in York County, VA. Space will be limited. Cost is $30 per adult, which gets you a 150-page student workbook, pocket Constitution, box lunch and a whole lot of Constitutional knowledge. Reserve your spot by sending me an email or calling.

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.