The Constitution’s Week in Review – 19 March 2016

The Constitution’s Week in Review – 19 March 2016

Article 2. Natural Born Citizen Clause (to be continued until it is definitively settled).

Finally! A judge has ruled on Ted Cruz’s status as a Natural Born Citizen and not dismissed the case on procedural grounds.

Pennsylvania Judge Dan Pellegrini wrote that a natural born citizen “includes any person who is a United States citizen from birth,” and ordered Pennsylvania’s Secretary of the Commonwealth to keep Cruz’s name on the April 26th primary ballot. You can download the Judge’s ruling here.[1] Judge Pellegrini’s decision will not appease those clinging to Vattel’s definition nor those who subscribe to the British Natural Born Subject criteria with its paternity element for those born “outside the realm,” but it certainly sets an important precedent for the two cases that remain pending in Texas and Utah. The Judges’ opinion is also worth reading for its treatment of the “political question” doctrine. I doubt that Judge Pellegrini’s definition is what the Founders had in mind, at least not his specific wording; I’m waiting to see whether this opinion gets appealed higher.

Article 3. Replacing Scalia

One of my regrets since starting to study the Constitution is that I never took time to travel to Washington to hear Supreme Court oral arguments. I’m reading a biography on Antonin Scalia and I realize what a pleasure it would have been to hear him jousting from the bench. I’m going to try to remedy that while Justice Thomas remains on the Court.

If I had heard Scalia “live” I suspect I would feel much like this writer,[2] who notes the blandness she felt at a recent hearing on abortion. Attending oral arguments at the Supreme Court is, I’m led to believe, worth the trouble it involves. The procedures are spelled out on the Supreme Court’s website[3] and elsewhere.[4]

So the waiting game is over, for now: President Obama has nominated Judge Merrick Garland of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. The Judge was appointed to the D.C. Circuit in 1997 by Bill Clinton and enjoyed bi-partisan support at his confirmation. Appearing primarily as a moderate (as I predicted Obama would nominate), Garland is already being criticized for an appearance of being far-left on gun control, a touchstone issue for conservatives. The New York Times thinks “A Supreme Court With Merrick Garland Would Be the Most Liberal in Decades.”[5] The Times article comes complete with an interesting graph showing the supposed effect of each replacement that has occurred since the 1930s.

You will find a variety of links to reporters’ views of the nominee on SCOTUSBlog.[6] Read a few and decide for yourself what kind of a Supreme Court Justice Garland would make, keeping in mind that many Justices have turned out quite differently once they took their seat.

Meanwhile, Mitch McConnell and Chuck Grassley have affirmed their commitment[7] to not hold any confirmation hearings until after the November election; but many are calling the agreement by a handful of Republicans to speak privately with the judge a capitulation.

Meanwhile in the States:

The Idaho Senate has passed a Constitutional Carry bill[8] that would allow open or concealed carry in the state without a permit. .

The New Hampshire House passed a Jury Nullification bill[9] that would require juries in the state to be instructed that they are to decide on both the facts of a case as well as the constitutionality of the law in question. The critical wording of the bill: “Even if you find that the state has proved all of the elements of the offense charged beyond a reasonable doubt, you may still find that based upon the facts of this case a guilty verdict will yield an unjust result, and you may find the defendant not guilty.”

Both bills now go to the opposite chamber for consideration.

Constituting America’s 90-Day Study

The Civil War was not precipitated overnight. Many trace its roots all the way back to 1787 and the way the Constitution accommodated the continuance of slavery. Nevertheless, ther were certainly other issues involved, beginning in 1836 with tariffs imposed by Congress that the South felt patently unfair. Read more about the issue and its effect on the 1836 election here[10] as part of Constituting America’s 90-Day Study.

 Upcoming Events.

Constitution Seminar for adults – 26 March. Only a few days left to save $10 on your registration for the 26 March Constitution Seminar in York County, VA. Space will be limited. Cost is $30 per adult until 23 March , which gets you a 150-page student workbook, pocket Constitution, 150-page workbook and a whole lot of Constitutional knowledge. Email to register.

Constitution Seminar for Youth – 9 April. Don’t you want your kids (or grandkids) to understand their Constitution better? Here’s an opportunity. On 9 April I’ll teach from Juliette Turner’s “Our Constitution Rocks” at the Foundation for American Christian Education classroom in Chesapeake, VA. There is a nominal $5 charge for students and parents are encouraged to attend as well. Register through email to

Constitution Seminar – 16 April. On Saturday, 16 April, I will be teaching at Pottstown, PA, at the request of WFYL Radio. Valley Forge, PA was CLI’s inaugural 1-day seminar, the success of which led me to adopt the format as my standard. $30 per person until 13 April then it goes to $40. Register for this event as well through email to

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