US Supreme Court Rules 7-2 in Favor of Religious Expression

From Fox News:

The Supreme Court ruled in favor of a Colorado baker who declined to make a wedding cake for a same-sex ceremony.

The case – Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission – asked the high court to balance the religious rights of the baker against the couple’s right to equal treatment under the law. Similar disputes have popped up across the U.S.

The decision to take on the case reflected renewed energy among the court’s conservative justices, whose ranks have recently been bolstered by the addition of Justice Neil Gorsuch to the high court.

Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colo., declined to make a cake for the wedding celebration of two gay men in 2012. Phillips told the couple that he would make a birthday cake but could not make a cake that would promote same-sex marriage due to his religious beliefs…

The Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in favor of Masterpiece Cakeshop.

“The laws and the Constitution can, and in some instances must, protect gay persons and gay couples in the exercise of their civil rights, but religious and philosophical objections to gay marriage are protected views and in some instances protected forms of expression,” the Court said in its decision. “While it is unexceptional that Colorado law can protect gay persons in acquiring products and services on the same terms and conditions as are offered to other members of the public, the law must be applied in a manner that is neutral toward religion.”

Justice Anthony Kennedy said when the Colorado Civil Rights Commission made its decision “it did not do so with the religious neutrality that the Constitution requires.” The opinion says the Commission “violated the Free Exercise Clause, and its order must be set aside.”

In its decision, the Supreme Court did not decide whether a business has the right to refuse to serve gay and lesbian people outright.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor, two of the Court’s more liberal justices, dissented.

South Africa Moves to Allow Land Confiscation Without Compensation

From News24.com, National Assembly adopts motion on land expropriation without compensation

The National Assembly on Tuesday set in motion a process to amend the Constitution so as to allow for the expropriation of land without compensation.

The motion, brought by the EFF leader Julius Malema, was adopted with a vote of 241 in support, and 83 against…

Opening the debate on his motion, Malema said: “The time for reconciliation is over. Now is the time for justice.”

The committee has until August 30th to return a decision to parliament. If the committee decides that the constitution should be amended, it will draft the amendment. Then two-thirds of the National Assembly must vote to adopt the amendment and six of nine provinces must approve it. 267 National Assembly members must vote in favor of the amendment for it to pass.  The ANC currently has 249 parliament members and the EFF has 25.

‘You’re Fired, Judge’: Sanctioning Federal Judges for Bad Behavior

The subject of judicial misconduct having come up recently in local conversation, the following American Thinker article from last year provides some additional thinking/acting points.

The Constitution only allows federal judges to serve during “good behavior.” This “good behavior” limitation on judicial tenure derives from one of the oldest and most well-established legal principles of our founding and English legal history. This limitation on appointed officials holding office pervades our founding revolutionary-era state constitutions. It’s time for Trump to consider activating the power of the political branches to fire badly behaving judges. Time to drain the judicial swamp.

Recent Obama appointees, including associates of Obama since law school, earned the enmity of a wide range of legal and scholastic critics over their travel ban rulings. How bad was it? Even #NeverTrumpers and liberal lawyers came out in a chorus of condemnation against the Hawaii and Maryland judicial actions. #NeverTrump lawyer David French, lawyers at National Review, and liberal-leaning law professor Jonathan Turley each criticized the decision. Liberal Democratic law professor Alan Dershowitz noted that the judges would have never done this to Obama, even if the executive order was identical. Anti-Trump critic David Frum of the Atlantic criticized the decision. Even five Ninth Circuit judges, sua sponte, amended their prior statements to criticize these judges’ actions as without precedent.

Why the unison of condemnation? Because, as one law professor noted, much of the Hawaii judge’s actions were based on judicial acts of “misleading.” That’s polite, diplomatic, I-might-be-in-front-of-that-judge-someday way of saying that some of these anti-Trump, anti-travel ban judges were not honest. If private lawyers had acted the way these judges did, they could be sanctioned and could lose their license and livelihoods, be thrown out of court, or even charged with a crime. That is why Judge Alex Kozinski authored two amendments to his prior dissent to specifically criticize the basis of the Hawaii judge’s ruling.

What can Trump or Congress do about it, if they believe these federal judges exceeded their authority and engaged in disreputable conduct?

The Constitution provides two restrictions on the tenure of a federal judge: first, if they misuse or abuse their office, then the Constitution, under Article II, section 4, authorizes Congressional quasi-criminal remedies of impeachment. The impeachment provision applies to the President “and all civil officers of the United States” whenever their conduct constitutes “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” Historically, the latter provision has been rejected for purely private conduct. That is why both Alexander Hamilton and Richard Nixon were not impeached for either tax evasion or financial misdeeds, though both were accused of one or the other. Bill Clinton successfully argued against conviction on the grounds his perjury, though in office, derived from a purely personal matter, rather than a presidential one.

 The Constitution provides a second, separate restriction on the tenure of a federal judge: Article III of the Constitution limits a judge’s tenure to continuous “good behavior…”

Continuing reading the article at American Thinker by clicking here

The Heritage Foundation has its own brief essay on the good behavior clause .

…Still, both the language and the weight of historical evidence indicate that the Good Behavior Clause was intended to refer to life tenure rather than to a distinct standard for removal. However, just as the Good Behavior Clause reminds the other branches that the judiciary is truly independent, it also reminds judges that life tenure is not a license for the wanton or the corrupt. It is in this sense both a shield and a sword—an affirmation of judicial independence and a reservation for judicial removal.

CSG: WA Constitution Classes for Jan. 2018

The announced Center for Self-Governance classes for January and February appear to have changed.  Currently the only online class listed is the WA Constitution 200: Legislative class, on Thurs., Jan. 25th.

You do not have to be a CSG student to attend.  You do not have to take the Constitution classes in sequence.

This is a 4 hour online lecture-style class.  Supplies to bring include: paper, pen, a copy of your state constitution and your enthusiasm! This is an interactive class and we look forward to hearing from you.

There is no workbook.

Tuition: $25

Bill of Rights Day, Dec. 15, 2017

On December 15, 1791, Virginia became the 10th of 14 states to approve 10 of the 12 amendments, thus giving the Bill of Rights the two-thirds majority of state ratification necessary to make it legal. The Bill of Rights consists of the first ten amendments to the Constitution. They were added at the request of several states who desired greater constitutional protection to individual liberties. Some, mainly Federalists, argued that a bill of rights was not necessary because the people and the states retained any rights and powers not delegated  to the federal government. Others, mainly anti-federalists, argued that a list of protected rights was necessary to safeguard individual liberty.

The House of Representatives approved seventeen amendments. Of those, the Senate approved twelve. Those twelve were sent to the states, and the states ratified ten.

The original seventeen amendments as passed by the House (source):

“Congress of the United States.

In the House of Representatives. Monday, August 24, 1789.

            Resolved, by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, two thirds of both Houses deeming it necessary, that the following articles be proposed to the several states, as amendments to the constitution of the United States; all, or any of which articles, when ratified by three fourths of the said legislatures, to be valid, to all intents and purposes, as part of the constitution.

Articles in addition to, and amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, proposed by Congress and ratified by the legislatures of the several States, pursuant to the 5th article of the original constitution.

            Article I.   After the first enumeration required by the first article of the constitution, there shall be one representative for every thirty thousand, until the number shall amount to one hundred, after which the proportion shall be so regulated by Congress, that there shall be not less than one hundred representatives, nor less than one representative for every forty thousand persons, until the number of representatives shall amount to two hundred, after which the proportion shall be so regulated by Congress, that there shall not be less than two hundred representative [sic] [the usual “nor less than one representative” is omitted either by mistake or for brevity’s sake] for every fifty thousand persons.

[First Amendment in the second draft: not ratified.]

            Art. 2.   No law varying the compensation to the members of Congress shall take effect, until an election of representatives shall have intervened.

[Second Amendment in the second draft: modified version ratified May 7, 1992 as the Twenty-Seventh Amendment.]

            Art. 3.   Congress shall make no law establishing religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, nor shall the rights of conscience be infringed.

[Part of Third Amendment in the second draft: modified version ratified as part of the First Amendment]

            Art, 4.   The freedom of speech, and of the press, and the right of the people peaceably to assemble and consult for their common good, and to apply to the government for redress of grievances, shall not be infringed.

[Part of Third Amendment in the second draft: modified version ratified as part of the First Amendment]

            Art. 5.   A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, being the best security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, but no one religiously scrupulous of bearing arms, shall be compelled to render military service in person.

[Modified version is Fourth Amendment in the second draft: modified version ratified as the Second Amendment]

            Art. 6.   No soldier shall in time of peace be quartered in any house without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner prescribed by law.

[Fifth Amendment in the second draft: modified version ratified as the Third Amendment]

            Art. 7.   The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated; and no warrants shall issue, but [partly trimmed: upon probable cause supported by oath or affirmation, and par-ticularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

[Sixth Amendment in the second draft: modified version ratified as the Fourth Amendment]

            Art. 8.   No person shall be subject, except in a case of impeachment, to more than one trial or one punishment for the same offence, nor shall be compelled in any criminal case, to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty or property, without due process of law, nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

[Part of Seventh Amendment in the second draft: modified version ratified as part of the Fifth Amendment]

            Art. 9.   In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation, to be confronted with the witnesses against him, to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favour, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defence.

[Modified version is Eighth Amendment in the second draft: modified version ratified as part of the Sixth Amendment]

            Art. 10.   The trial of all crimes (except in cases of impeachment, and in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia when in actual service in time of war or public danger) shall be by an impartial jury of the vicinage, with the requisite of unanimity for conviction; the right of challenge and other accustomed requisites; and no person shall be held to answer for a capital or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment by a grand jury; but if a crime be committed in a place in the possession of an enemy, or in which an insurrection may prevail, the indictment and trial may by law be authorized in some other place within the same state.

[Modified version part of Seventh and Eighth Amendments in the second draft: modified version ratified as parts of the Fifth and Sixth Amendment]

            Art. 11.   No appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States shall be allowed, where the value in controversy shall not amount to one thousand dollars; nor shall any fact triable by a jury according to the course of common law, be otherwise re-examinable, than according to the rules of common law.

[Modified version is Ninth Amendment in the second draft; modified version ratified as part of the Seventh Amendment.]

            Art. 12.   In suits at common law, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved.

[Modified version part of Ninth Amendment in the second draft; ratified as the Seventh Amendment]

            Art. 13.   Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

[Tenth Amendment in the second draft: ratified as the Eighth Amendment]

            Art. 14.   No state shall infringe the right of trial by jury in criminal cases, nor the rights of conscience, nor the freedom of speech, or of the press.

[Dropped in the second draft. Modified version passed by Congress on June 13, 1866; ratified July 9, 1868 as part of the fourteenth Amendment]

            Art. 15.   The enumeration in the constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

[Eleventh Amendment in the second draft: ratified as the Ninth Amendment]

            Art. 16.   The powers delegated by the constitution to the government of the United States, shall be exercised as therein appropriated, so that the legislative shall never exercise the powers vested in the executive or judicial; nor the executive the powers vested in the legislative or judicial; nor the judicial the powers vested in the legislative or executive.

[Dropped in the second draft.]

            Art. 17.   The powers not delegated by the constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively.

[Modified version is Twelfth Amendment in second draft: ratified as the Tenth Amendment]

CSG: WA Constitution – Executive, Online Class Dec. 28, 2017

The Center for Self Governance is hosting an online class on the Executive portion of the Washington State Constitution on December 28th, 2017. Tuition is $25.

Click here to register.

State Constitution 300: Executive

NOTE:  This class is a LEVEL 300 WASHINGTON STATE CONSTITUTION CLASS.

You do not have to be a CSG student to attend.  You do not have to take the Constitution classes in sequence.

This is a 4 hour online lecture-style class.  Supplies to bring include: paper, pen, a copy of your state constitution and your enthusiasm! This is an interactive class and we look forward to hearing from you.

KrisAnne Hall Speaks in Idaho, Oct. 16-18th, 2017

Constitutional Attorney, Author, Speaker, and Radio Host KrisAnne Hall will have three speaking engagements in Idaho in October, 2017. KrisAnne Hall is an attorney and former prosecutor who travels the country teaching the Constitution and the history that gave us our founding documents. KrisAnne will connect the dots for you like no one else can! Details of the talks still to come.

Sandpoint, ID – Oct. 16th. 6:00pmArticle V & Nullification, Sandpoint Community Hall

Bonners Ferry, ID – Oct. 17th 6:00pm4th Amendment, Providence Bible Presbyterian Church

Coeur d’Alene, ID – Oct. 18th 6:00pm  4th Amendment, Lordship Church, Dalton Gardens, ID

 

If you’re going to travel from out of the area, you could consider staying at Huckleberry Mountain Homestead and Breakfast in Cocolalla, ID which is between Sandpoint and Coeur d’Alene.