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Posts Tagged ‘USA PATRIOT ACT’

Barack Obama signing the Patient Protection an...

The constitutional way of signing a bill -- with a pen in your own hand

It wasn’t enough for President Obama to illegally go to war against Libya.

No, he had to violate another part of the Constitution. This time, by indirectly signing a four-year extension to the so-called Patriot Act with an autopen.

Article I, Section 7 of the U.S. Constitution states:

Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States; If he approve he shall sign it

The clear meaning of this requirement is that the bill that has passed the House and Senate, which is to be presented to the President, has to be signed by him, and only him, and not some autopen based on his order.

If they can’t get the bill to him on time, then that should say something about the perils of waiting until the last minute, and about too many bills being passed by Congress. Taking shortcuts is no excuse, since the bill will become law if it’s still unsigned 10 days later (excluding Sundays).

The Constitution’s language also makes it clear that line-item vetos aren’t constitutional, and the U.S. Supreme Court ruled as such in 1998, after such a provision was signed into law in 1996 by President Clinton.

Therefore, we don’t need a Supreme Court decision to tell us what should be obvious by a plain reading, and the former Attorney General under George W. Bush, Alberto Gonzales, is no authority on the Constitution, in arguing autopen signings are constitutional, since he was the one who claimed that there was no constitutional habeas corpus protection in the constitution for Guantanimo detainees, despite Article I, Section 9 of the U.S. Constitution already recognizing a pre-existing writ of habeas corpus, in saying:

The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.

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On April 30, 2010, Dr. Stan Monteith of Radio Liberty interviewed Tom DeWeese of the American Policy Institute, and they analyzed the “10 Amendments For Freedom” proposal.

They are:

  • A balanced budget, repaying the national debt in 50 Years, government transparency, a line-item veto, term limits for Congress, controlling illegal immigration, formal declaration of being an English-speaking nation, no binding foreign laws, government restraint – no socialism, and an “In God We Trust” declaration.

The following concerns about a Constitutional Convention were raised, which I paraphrase here:

  • How likely are the same members of Congress who violated their constitutional oath of office by voting for unconstitutional legislation, such as the 2001 USA PATRIOT ACT and the 2006 Military Commissions Act, likely to respect new amendments to the Constitution?
  • The precedence of the 1787 Constitutional Convention that violated the existing Articles of Confederation, by adopting a new Constitution for the United States without the required ratification of every State, as required by the Articles. Despite requiring three-fourths of the States to ratify any proposed amendments under the existing Constitution, the ratification rules could once again be violated, citing this precedence.
  • The Speaker of the House, a partisan, would get to decide the rules for conducting the Convention, for those aspects that aren’t spelled out in Article V of the Constitution, which are numerous.
  • Phyllis Schafly, opponent of the proposed Equal Rights Amendment, succeeded in her attempts to thwart the required three-fourths support of the States, in part, due to the roadblocks and legally questionable tactics employed by some state legislatures, including the rescission of previous ratification.
  • Bill Benson was given $100,000 to go to each of the State legislatures and determine whether a sufficient number of them ratified the 16th and 17th amendments, and he discovered they hadn’t. If the 16th and 17th amendments were never properly ratified, yet are being enforced by the nation’s courts, what will stop them from enforcing new amendment proposals that aren’t properly ratified?

Now, I’ll examine each of the proposed amendments in detail:

1. Balanced Budget
– Balanced budget legislation has been shelved by other countries, such as provincially in Canada, when their deficits skyrocketed, or when it was politically expedient to do so.

2. Repay National Debt in 50 Years
– Repaying the $14 trillion dollar debt in 50 years would take $280 billion a year in payments even at 0% interest over that time, requiring an additional $1.4 trillion in revenue for 2010 alone.

3. Government Transparency
– I argue that the best way to make government more transparent is to reduce its size and decentralize its power as much as possible without compromising its intended function of protecting rights.

4. Line-Item Veto
– For historical reference, a line item veto was made law in 1996, but was ruled unconstitutional by a federal court and the ruling later upheld by the Supreme Court.

5. Term Limits for Congress
– Terms limits were included in the Republican’s 1994 Contract With America, but never passed the House with the required two-thirds support.

6. Control Illegal Immigration
– There are existing laws to control illegal immigration that are being deliberately unenforced by both Democrats and Republicans, with the example of proposed amnesty legislation during the Bush and Obama administrations, after Democratic and Republican administrations following the latest amnesty by Reagan.

7. English-Speaking Nation
– I argue that English’s place in the United States is secure, by being the language of the Constitution — the supreme law of the land, which requires that all federal and state laws be in support of. Such an amendment could breach the First Amendment protection of freedom of speech.

8. No Foreign Laws Will Bind Us
– This would fix what I see as a problem with the Constitution not explicitly requiring that Treaties be in support of the Constitution, as it says about all laws. Given the Vienna Convention, which holds that where there is a difference between national laws and treaty provisions, treaty provisions can be held superior to any national and state laws.

9. Government Restraint – No Socialism
– Much of the socialist agenda being pushed at the federal level today is being carried out through the misapplication the commerce clause, which was clearly intended by the Founding Fathers, as outlined in the Federalist Papers, to apply to regulation of trade among the several States, and not permit unfettered socialism by controlling the means of production and distribution. An example of this is the regulation of CO2 emissions by the Environmental Protection Agency. Without such a misapplication, the Tenth Amendment reserves such powers to the States or to the people.

10. In God We Trust
– Could breach the First Amendment protection of the freedom to practice no religion. Also, despite the religious character of many of the Founding Fathers, they intentionally made no direct reference to God in the Constitution, and, as such, such an amendment would be contrary to their intentions of discouraging the influence of religious sectarianism in such a religiously diverse country as the U.S. was even in 1787.

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