The Constitution’s Week in Review – 4 June 2016

The Constitution’s Week in Review – 4 June 2016

The Declaration of Independence

Everyone who has attended my seminar can tell you that there are four documents that have been declared by Congress to be the “Organic Laws of the United States.”  They include the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the Northwest Ordinance of 1787.  I remind my students: it is dangerous to try to interpret the Constitution separate from the philosophy of the Declaration (and the Supreme Court would agree).  But our children in public schools are not always taught the true meaning of the Declaration and how it came to be.  Even some adults have a skewed view of the document.

To try to correct our national ignorance, at least in her state, Louisiana House Republican Valarie Hodges introduced a proposal[1] to have the state’s public school kids recite some portion of the Declaration each day after they recite the Pledge of Allegiance.  Democrats in the legislature pounced on the idea, among them Democratic Rep. Barbara Norton.  She was quoted as saying: “One thing I do know is, all men are not created equal. When I think back in 1776, July the 4th, African-Americans were slaves, and for you to bring a bill to request that our children will recite the Declaration, I think is a little bit unfair to us to ask those children to recite something that’s not the truth.”

Now, I’ve never met Rep. Norton, nor do I know how/where she was educated.  But like many Americans, she has an incomplete view of American history.  One of the casualties in the Boston Massacre was one Crispus Attucks[2] a free black man who decided to stand up for his country instead of submit to British tyranny.  Blacks fought alongside whites[3] in the Continental Army, in state militias, and in the navy.  Yes, there were black slaves in most of the southern states.  Some were given their freedom in exchange for joining the army, but most remained enslaved.  As we know, that wrong was eventually righted.

Rep. Norton has obviously never stepped back and given much thought to Jefferson’s words, studied the complete history of the Revolutionary War, nor read Jefferson’s condemnation of the slave trade[4] that was deleted from the final draft of the Declaration.  Perhaps in Rep. Norton’s eyes we are not created equal, but in God’s eyes, we are, and Jefferson knew it.

Article 2:  Abuse of Executive Power

Organized Theft by the IRS

Be careful how and when you withdraw your own money from the bank; if you do something suspicious the IRS might just swoop down and take everything you have by claiming it is “drug money.”  This blatant theft is called civil asset forfeiture based on “structuring” your deposits[5] or withdrawals to avoid mandatory reporting of those over $10,000.  So if you like your privacy and don’t think the government has any business monitoring your use of it, think again.  Thanks to our wonderful Congress and their having passed the Bank Secrecy Act[6] in 1970, you can be fined or even jailed without having done anything wrong.

Article 3:  What’s up at the Supreme Court?

Here’s a nice summary[7] of the cases the Supreme Court is yet to issue rulings on this term.  It shouldn’t be much longer before we hear about some of them.

First Amendment

Sometimes we should look outside the U.S. for trends headed our way, and this is certainly one that should concern us.  Londoners are getting arrested for their social media posts.[8]  We’ve already seen the start of censorship of social media by Facebook and others; and that’s OK, those are privately owned forums and not subject to Constitutional constraints.  But arrests based on some government officials idea of what is “hateful” is another matter entirely.  Can’t happen here?  It easily could with the wrong people in charge of our government.  Stay alert.

Fourth Amendment

Sooner or later criminals will figure out that they shouldn’t carry GPs tracking devices — opps, I mean cell phones — during planned criminal activity.  The way courts are deciding[9] on police access to cell phone location data obtained from the phone companies, it doesn’t look good for the law breaker. Of course, the police would never ask for the location information on law-abiding citizens, would they?

Meanwhile in the States:

The saga continues in Alabama over whether State Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore will be able to continue on the bench.  Based on his order for state judges to ignore the Obergefell v. Hodges opinion, Moore has been suspended while an investigation is conducted.  Rightfully miffed, Moore has sued the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission. It appears the JIC is operating within the Alabama State Constitution, so we’ll have to see how this sits with the federal court.

Upcoming Events:

Last Call for the Constitution Seminar in Williamsburg, VA.  Hampton Roads residents will have a final opportunity (at least this summer) 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 133 Waller Mill Road, Williamsburg, Va.  Due to room size, this seminar is limited to 10 participants, but is not yet full.  Cost is $30 if registered by 7 June – $40 thereafter.  Pre-registration is required via email to:

Lessons in Liberty.  At the Foundation for American Christian Education, the Lessons in Liberty speaker for June will be Dr. Gai Ferdon, Professor at Liberty University.  Dr. Ferdon will speak on the topic of “The Welfare State: $20 Trillion Dollars Later.”  Asked to speak on this subject, Dr. Ferdon replied that it would be an impossible task to cover in a single night, thus this event will be a four-night seminar held at the Foundation in Chesapeake, VA, from 20-23 June, 7-9pm each night.  Participants may attend either in the FACE classroom or online via Livestream.  The cost for the four-day seminar is $35 instead of the normal $10 for a single presentation.  Register at

Besides their wonderful 90-Day Challenge,[10] Constituting America[11] sponsors an annual contest for young Americans (there’s a Seniors category as well) to create videos, Public Service Announcements and essays aimed at informing and exciting Americans about their Constitution.   Here’s a  wonderful video essay by a college student.

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