The Constitution’s Week in Review – 23 Apr 2016

The Constitution’s Week in Review – 23 Apr 2016

Article 2:  Faithfully Execute the Laws.

All eyes were on the Supreme Court on Monday as oral arguments were heard in the case of Texas v. U.S. over whether President Obama overstepped his authority in issuing instructions to defer deportation of a whole class of illegal immigrants, amounting to about 4.3 million persons.  To courtroom observers,[1] the Justices questions appeared to reveal a 4-4 split.  Such a decision will leave intact the injunction against the President’s action imposed by a District Court Judge and sustained by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The chickens have flown the coop, the horses have fled the barn, and Elvis has left the building, but apparently House Republicans think it is finally time to investigate the President’s flagrant abuses of the Constitution.[2]  Some will say: “Better late than never.”  Perhaps.  It will be an interesting summer in more ways than one.

First Amendment:  Establishment Clause.

The Tennessee legislature voted to designate[3] the Bible as the state’s “official book.”  The Governor vetoed the bill and the legislature failed to muster the votes to override the veto, even though the bill initially passed with an apparent veto-proof majority.  Was the Holy Bible being “demeaned” by such an act or merely being recognized for its impact in the formation of our republic and states?  Would declaring the Bible as the state’s official book “establish” Christianity as an official state religion?  Does the First Amendment prevent a state from declaring an official state religion? (Careful on this one!)  You decide.

Fourth Amendment: Illegal Search?

On Wednesday, 20 April, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments[4] in the case of Birchfield v. North Dakota. That case will determine whether a state can penalize a driver who asserts a Fourth Amendment constitutional right not to have his blood drawn or breath analyzed without his consent.

Is driving a car on a public road a right or a privilege?  The states of North Dakota and Minnesota think it is a privilege which entails forfeiting your 4th Amendment right against warrantless search and seizure.  Those states (and others) enacted laws making refusal of a breathalyzer or blood test a crime, allowing for immediate arrest. Those laws are now being challenged.

A 4-4 tie vote is likely in this case, leaving intact the lower court decision which upheld the constitutionality of the state laws.

Fifth Amendment:  A Government Land Grab?  You and your wife buy an attractive plot of land along the St. Croix River,[5] put a vacation cottage on it, and then buy an adjacent lot as an investment, hoping to sell or develop the second lot later.  The state then changes the rules on lot development making it impossible to develop the second lot, by either you or a future buyer.  The state has effectively “taken” your property by rendering your investment worthless, right?  You are due just compensation for this taking, right?  But then the state announces it will not recompense you for making the second lot nearly worthless because it considers both your lots as one, not two.  Folks, you can’t make this stuff up.  But this is what happens when you vote people into office who have no idea what is the purpose of government.  The Supreme Court has agreed to hear Murr V. State Of Wisconsin and St. Croix County.  Perhaps they will bring reason to the fore.

14th Amendment:  Coming to a School Near You.  Gloucester County, Virginia, school district has been ordered[6] by a 4th Circuit Court of Appeals panel (2-1) to allow a gender-confused female to use the boy’s bathroom at her school. The panel concluded that Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex—should be interpreted as prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity, as a Department of Education letter suggested in 2015.  The school board has asked the full 4th Circuit[7] to review the panel’s decision en banc (meaning by the full court).  I’ll keep you posted.  Seriously, if you think your local school district is somehow going to avoid this issue, you are mistaken.  It is coming and you better prepare to defend what you believe in.

Meanwhile, in the states:  I’ve discussed thie issue of secession several times in the past in some detail (re-posted here), so I won’t elaborate once again, but if the November election puts a Democrat in the White House, expect talk in Texas to get serious.[8]  Just saying.

Other states are putting in place some significant safeguards for individual freedom:

The Tennessee legislature blocked any attempt[9] by the federal government to attempt an end-run around the 2nd Amendment through international law or treaties.
Nebraska ended civil asset forfeiture[10] in that state.

The Illinois Senate voted unanimously[11] to prohibit police spying through use of “stingray” devices (AKA “cell site simulator”). The measure still has to pass the House, but this is pretty huge, in my book.

The Louisiana Senate voted to allow some raw milk sales[12] in the state.

Upcoming Events:

Lessons in Liberty.  On May 16th you can hear Dr. Jim Davids speak on “Choosing Godly Representatives” from 7-9pm at the Foundation for American Christian Education.  Attend in person or online.  Register at

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 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 Eventbrite. 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 participantsPre-registration is required via email to

We’re halfway through the Constituting America 90-Day Challenge.  Hope you are enjoying this peak into American history.

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