Efficient as ever, Hillary Clinton attacks 1st and 2nd amendments in one sentence

June 18, 2014

liberal tolerance

Hey, why only gut one amendment in the Bill of Rights when you can trash two at the same time? It’s a progressive win-win!

During a televised town hall, Hillary Clinton was asked about guns, and said that the viewpoint held by gun-rights advocates “terrorizes” the majority of Americans.

The town hall, broadcast live on CNN on Tuesday, closely resembled a commercial for Clinton’s new memoir, “Hard Choices.”

(…)

“We cannot let a minority of people – and that’s what it is, it is a minority of people – hold a viewpoint that terrorizes the majority of people,” said Clinton.

Get that? Not only are you allowed to own firearms only at the sufferance of the State, but you are not even allowed to hold a point of view that differs from the majority opinion, presumably as long as that majority happens to agree with the progressive statist position.

And “terrorizes?” Really, Hillary? I’m not allowed to hold the opinion that the natural right to self-defense allows me and all other Americans to arm ourselves and that the Bill of Rights recognizes that unalienable right against government power, because said opinion might make your neighbors in Chappaqua get the vapors? How weird. In all my reading about the American Founding and our constitutional settlement, I never ran across the part that talked about how we have free speech as long as it isn’t scary. I don’t recall Voltaire saying “I disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it, as long as it does not offend the majority.”

Hey, Hillary? What about other minorities? Blacks in the 1950s and 1960s were of the opinion that they held the same natural and civil rights as other Americans and loudly demonstrated to demand those rights be honored. That surely scared the majority Whites at the time, so should Blacks have not been allowed to hold those opinions? I’m curious for your thoughts on the matter.

File this away for 2016, folks, should Lady Macbeth decide to run: it is the opinion of a leading candidate for President of the United States, who swears an oath to uphold, protect, and defend the Constitution —including the Bill of Rights— that you are only allowed to express your own opinions as long as most people are comfortable with them.

Comforting, isn’t it?

h/t Bryan Preston

PS: Hillary is no outlier for her party: just the other day, President Obama was praising Australia’s draconian gun confiscation law. The simple truth is that the Left approves of the Constitution only when it is convenient to them.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)

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Unclear on the concept, 1st amendment edition

May 31, 2010

We revere free speech in the United States, rightly considering it one of the essential liberties of a free people. In fact, we consider it so important that our ancestors made the protection of free speech a part of the Bill of Rights:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

(Emphasis added)

So, I have to ask, what part of “no law … abridging” does Michigan State Senator Bruce Patterson not understand?

A Michigan lawmaker wants to license reporters to ensure they’re credible and vet them for “good moral character.”

Senator Bruce Patterson is introducing legislation that will regulate reporters much like the state does with hairdressers, auto mechanics and plumbers. Patterson, who also practices constitutional law, says that the general public is being overwhelmed by an increasing number of media outlets–traditional, online and citizen generated–and an even greater amount misinformation.

“Legitimate media sources are critically important to our government,” he said.

He told FoxNews.com that some reporters covering state politics don’t know what they’re talking about and they’re working for publications he’s never heard of, so he wants to install a process that’ll help him and the general public figure out which reporters to trust.

“We have to be able to get good information,” he said. “We have to be able to rely on the source and to understand the credentials of the source.”

There’s a face-palm moment in almost every paragraph. Does it not occur to the esteemed senator that giving government, over which the press exercises a watchdog function, the power to decide which is a legitimate source of information and which isn’t might have a bit of a chilling effect on that same free press? If you say or write the wrong thing, do you lose your license? And how has that “licensed journalism” thing worked out in, say, Cuba, Senator?

Patterson’s bill, for which he can find no co-sponsors (It seems some pols still have a sense of shame), would impose the following requirements:

According to the bill, reporters must provide the licensing board proof of:

  • “Good moral character” and demonstrate they have industry “ethics standards acceptable to the board.”
  • Possession of a degree in journalism or other degree substantially equivalent.
  • Not less than 3 years experience as a reporter or any other relevant background information.
  • Awards or recognition related to being a reporter.
  • Three or more writing samples.

The article goes on to say registration with the state would be voluntary and that no one would be barred from acting as a journalist in Michigan without a license, but, come on. Inevitably, some schmuck legislator who’s mad at the press would want to make registration a requirement “for the public good.” And the very act of registration almost certainly will create a legitimate/illegitimate distinction in the mind of the public that in turn will put pressure on journalists (staff or independent)  to submit to licensing in order to maintain credibility.

Even if this doesn’t violate the letter of the 1st Amendment, it sure as the Devil goes against its spirit. And this guy practices constitutional law? Between him and con-law professor Barack Obama, maybe we should consider licensing constitutional lawyers, instead.

Really, Senator, I think the good people of Michigan are smart enough to decide what is a legitimate news source and what isn’t without the state’s help.

(via Big Journalism)


A constitutional perfect storm?

April 6, 2010

At American Thinker, Larrey Anderson takes a cautious view of the chances for success in the suits by state Attorneys General against ObamaCare, especially the individual mandate, because the states have since the Great Depression largely cooperated in the cession of power to Washington. It’s a point well-taken, though I disagree with his example of the interstate highway system; I think that clearly falls under the Commerce Clause.

However, Mr. Anderson does believe that a combination of suits from the states and individuals harmed by ObamaCare might well have a chance. In a rather shotgun approach, he argues for relief based on more than half the Bill of Rights, specifically the 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th amendments. Follow the link above for the full article, but I want to quote his argument regarding the 5th amendment, which quite matches my own thinking. The hypothetical situation is that of a woman who chooses not to get insurance for herself, and then contests the penalty the IRS assesses against her:

The “penalty” is a violation of the young mother’s 5th Amendment rights: “No person shall … be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” [Emphasis mine.]

Since the IRS will garnish the mother’s wages, there will be no due process for the mother without a protracted legal battle through many strata of bureaucracies. The woman’s money is her private property. It is being taken from her, for public use, without any (let alone “just”) compensation.

I think this is inherently correct, though an attack based on this reasoning would likely meet a lot of resistance, because it could be interpreted as a challenge to the whole of the IRS’ administrative enforcement powers.  However, by combining the the taking of private property without just compensation condition with the lack of due process, an argument can be made limited to the specific abuse of power, not the structure of IRS enforcement in total.

Anderson also makes an interesting and ironic argument related to the 9th amendment, which protects the unenumerated rights of the people.

Finally, the mother could sue under the 9th Amendment. The 9th Amendment is short and sweet:

  • The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.


What is interesting about the possibility of a 9th Amendment challenge to ObamaCare is that previous “progressive” decisions issued by the Supreme Court could offer some of the best ammunition for the case that the legislation is unconstitutional.

Anderson cites the precedent of Griswold v. Connecticut, a birth-control case that laid the legal foundation for Roe v. Wade, and which relied heavily on 9th amendment protections. He again makes an interesting argument that the same 9th amendment reasoning applied in Griswold also applies against the Federal government’s claim to the power to enforce an individual mandate. Since Griswold and the cases based on it are darlings of the progressive Left, it would be ironic indeed if the same amendment and constitutional logic were used to undo the Left’s golden-calf legislation.

RELATED: Some earlier thoughts on the matter.


WTF?? Obama gives Interpol powers American cops don’t have?

December 23, 2009

The Obama administration last week rescinded restrictions on the operation of Interpol agents on US soil, giving them privileges US law enforcement doesn’t have and placing it above the US Constitution:

You just can’t make up how brazen this crowd is. One week ago, President Obama quietly signed an executive order that makes an international police force immune from the restraints of American law.

Interpol is the shorthand for the International Criminal Police Organization. It was established in 1923 and operates in about 188 countries. By executive order 12425, issued in 1983, President Reagan recognized Interpol as an international organization and gave it some of the privileges and immunities customarily extended to foreign diplomats. Interpol, however, is also an active law-enforcement agency, so critical privileges and immunities (set forth in Section 2(c) of the International Organizations Immunities Act) were withheld. Specifically, Interpol’s property and assets remained subject to search and seizure, and its archived records remained subject to public scrutiny under provisions like the Freedom of Information Act. Being constrained by the Fourth Amendment, FOIA, and other limitations of the Constitution and federal law that protect the liberty and privacy of Americans is what prevents law-enforcement and its controlling government authority from becoming tyrannical.

On Wednesday, however, for no apparent reason, President Obama issued an executive order removing the Reagan limitations. That is, Interpol’s property and assets are no longer subject to search and confiscation, and its archives are now considered inviolable. This international police force (whose U.S. headquarters is in the Justice Department in Washington) will be unrestrained by the U.S. Constitution and American law while it operates in the United States and affects both Americans and American interests outside the United States.

The author, former federal prosecutor Andy McCarthy, asks some very good questions, among them why we need to elevate a foreign police service above our own legal protections and why does Interpol need an untouchable repository for documents? Essentially this means that someone arrested under an Interpol warrant in the US can be denied the right to see the evidence used to swear out the warrant against him (presumably at an extradition hearing), a discovery process that’s considered a fundamental protection against tyranny under our Anglo-American system.

Steve Schippert and Clive Middleton at Threats Watch think they see a reason: this amendment of the Reagan-era order may be preparatory to once again subjecting the United States to the International Criminal Court and surrendering sovereignty:

In light of what we know and can observe, it is our logical conclusion that President Obama’s Executive Order amending President Ronald Reagans’ 1983 EO 12425 and placing INTERPOL above the United States Constitution and beyond the legal reach of our own top law enforcement is a precursor to more damaging moves.

The pre-requisite conditions regarding the Iraq withdrawal and the Guantanamo Bay terrorist detention facility closure will continue their course. meanwhile, the next move from President Obama is likely an attempt to dissolve the agreements made between President Bush and other states preventing them from turning over American military forces to the ICC (via INTERPOL) for war crimes or any other prosecutions.

When the paths on the road map converge – Iraq withdrawal, Guantánamo closure, perceived American image improved internationally, and an empowered INTERPOL in the United States – it is probable that President Barack Obama will once again make America a signatory to the International Criminal Court. It will be a move that surrenders American sovereignty to an international body who’s INTERPOL enforcement arm has already been elevated above the Constitution and American domestic law enforcement.

For an added and disturbing wrinkle, INTERPOL’s central operations office in the United States is within our own Justice Department offices. They are American law enforcement officers working under the aegis of INTERPOL within our own Justice Department. That they now operate with full diplomatic immunity and with “inviolable archives” from within our own buildings should send red flags soaring into the clouds.

I don’t know if Middleton and Schippert’s analysis is correct, but I do find it more than a bit disturbing that a foreign law-enforcement agency would be allowed to operate on American soil and not be subject to the same constitutional restraints as the FBI or DEA. That’s an unacceptable slight to American sovereignty. And, to give my inner-conspiracy theorist full sway, isn’t it convenient that there’s now an archive within the Justice Department that’s protected by diplomatic immunity, so that no documents in it are available to Congress or a US court? What a perfect place to lose embarrassing documents Obama and Attorney General Holder would rather never see the light of day.

Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised. After all, Obama thinks the Constitution is fundamentally flawed. So what’s the problem with giving extra-constitutional privileges to a foreign police agency?

Is it November, 2010, yet?  At wits end

LINKS: More at Hot Air, The Anchoress, Brutally Honest, Noisy Room, Pax Parabellum , Bob Owens, & Baldilocks.

UPDATE: Welcome readers of Patterico’s Pontifications. Thanks for the link, DRJ!


Why do Democrats hate the Bill of Rights?

October 13, 2009

The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States reads:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

And yet the Democratic* majorities in the House and Senate are set to pass the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which will, if not stopped or struck down, limit our natural right to free speech by violating the First Amendment.

*(Insert irony as needed)

How will this happen? Byron York at the Washington Examiner has the story:

The crime bill — which would broaden the protected classes for hate crimes to include sexual orientation and “gender identity,” which the bill defines as a victim’s “actual or perceived gender-related characteristics” — passed the House earlier this year as a stand-alone measure. But it’s never had the votes to succeed by itself in the Senate. So over the summer Democrats, with the power of their 60-vote majority, attached it to the defense bill.

Republicans argued that the two measures had nothing to do with each other. Beyond that, GOP lawmakers feared the new bill could infringe on First Amendment rights in the name of preventing broadly defined hate crimes. The bill’s critics, including many civil libertarians, argued that the hate crimes provision could chill freedom of speech by empowering federal authorities to accuse people of inciting hate crimes, even if the speech in question was not specifically related to a crime.

Republican Sen. Sam Brownback offered an amendment saying the bill could not be “construed or applied in a manner that infringes on any rights under the First Amendment” and could not place any burden on the exercise of First Amendment rights “if such exercise of religion, speech, expression, or association was not intended to plan or prepare for an act of physical violence or incite an imminent act of physical violence against another.”

The Senate passed Brownback’s amendment. After that, several Republicans, their fears allayed, voted for the whole defense/hate crimes package, which passed the Senate last July.

Meanwhile, on the House side, representatives passed their own version of the defense authorization bill, which did not contain the hate crimes measure.

Then it was time for the House and Senate bills to go to a conference committee, where the differences between them would be ironed out. That’s where the real action began.

First, the committee — controlled by majority Democrats, of course — inserted the hate crimes measure into the House bill, where it had not been before. Then lawmakers made some crucial changes to Brownback’s amendment. Where Brownback had insisted, and the full Senate had agreed, that the bill could not burden the exercise of First Amendment rights, the conference changed the wording to read that the bill could not burden the exercise of First Amendment rights “unless the government demonstrates … a compelling governmental interest” to do otherwise.

That means your First Amendment rights are protected — unless they’re not.

Emphasis added.

Let’s set aside the sneaky tactic of attaching unrelated bills that can’t pass on their own merits to other bills in order to bull-rush the opposition; that’s a tactic used by both sides, probably since the early days of the Republic. It needs to stop, but that’s not the point.

The key issue here is the willingness of the Democrats to play fast and loose with the Constitution and individuals’ rights in order to buy the votes and contributions of one or more client groups by granting the group a special protected status. In this case, the right of free speech is subordinated to some made-up right “not to be offended.”

Let’s be clear: what happened to Shepard and Byrd were grotesque crimes, and the perpetrators deserved the death penalty. But the law already adequately covered what happened in these cases, because they covered the physical acts: kidnapping, torture, and murder. The law the Democrats seek to pass, however, goes far beyond criminalizing a physical act to criminalizing speech itself. While it’s true that there are accepted limits to free speech (the famous “yelling fire” example, or the fighting words precedent of Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire), unless the speaker is threatening violence or directly inciting violence, free speech is free speech and cannot be restrained by Congress.

Just as dangerous to civil liberty is the bolded clause above, allowing the government to determine when speech crosses the line and needs to be limited to protect a “compelling government interest.” Even if such limitations were constitutional (and they’re not), just how will the Justice Department determine this? What standards will they use? How will they guarantee that whatever standards they use are applied equally? If I am to be prosecuted for saying Islam threatens democracy, will an imam be prosecuted for saying that Jews are the enemies of God? This provision appears to leave it to the whim of the Attorney General.

Free speech means nothing if it does not protect speech that we may find objectionable or offensive. It is the bedrock and foundation of Anglo-American liberty, and this measure by the Democrats, while proposed for nominally noble purposes, is a huge step toward shattering that foundation.  It shackles the natural rights of individuals, all for the sake of pandering to yet another set of groups that are willing to sacrifice their own individual rights. Again I ask: Why do Democrats hate the Bill of Rights?

The Founders would be spinning in their graves.

(via Power Line. Cross-posted at Sister Toldjah)

LINKS: More at Big Government.

UPDATE: If you want to read a very good book on the Bill of Rights, I recommend Levy’s Origins of the Bill of Rights.

UPDATE II: At Reason.com, Jacob Sullum points out that the proposed law could land the defendant with longer sentences for his thoughts and speech than he’d get under state laws for the physical crime: The Bigot Bonus.