Summary of 2nd Amendment & Gun Control Posts


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Rich Estes, one of my West Point classmates and with whom I more often than not agree on political issues, posted the following on Facebook today, saying, “… this pretty well sums up my understanding of the 2d Amendment. I’m interested to hear some rational, well informed comments, pro and con.”

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Thanks to The Knowledge Movement for sharing this...

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In response, I posted a summary of my blog posts here on the subjects of the 2nd Amendment and gun control.  Having done so, it occurred to me that re-posting that summary here might help others follow the discussion as well.  So, here it is:

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My first post on the subject was in 2008, shortly after the US Supreme Court decided in the Heller case and contrary to the interpretation contained in “What the 2nd Amendment REALLY Says”, that the “right to bear arms” is an individual right, independent of the establishment of any militia:

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https://freelegaladvice.wordpress.com/2008/06/26/supremes-uphold-individual-handgun-ownership-right/

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After taking a long break from blogging, I resumed in late 2012.  On December 29th, shortly after the Sandy Hook murders, I wrote in part:

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“… in the absence of an amendment to the Constitution modifying its terms, the Second Amendment means that the government (federal directly and state/local through the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment) has no authority to “infringe” (per Merriam-Webster online Dictionary:  “to encroach upon in a way that violates law or the rights of another”) on the right of individuals to keep and bear arms.  Period.  Not handguns.  Not rifles.  Not shotguns.  Not even “assault weapons”, regarding which, by the way, there really is no such thing.  When the federal government passed the so-called “Assault Weapons Ban” in 1994, Congress had to make up a definition of what constituted an “assault weapon” within the meaning of the law.”

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After discussing various gun control issues, I concluded: 

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“We should not be teaching our children to live in fear.  And, as horrific as were the events in Sandy Hook, the occasional occurrence of such events is one of the prices we pay … and must pay … to live in a truly free society.”

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The full discussion is here:

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https://freelegaladvice.wordpress.com/2012/12/29/what-now-for-the-second-amendment-gun-control/

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That discussion prompted a comments and questions by another classmate, Terry Atkinson, who’s opinions I value highly.  In response, I wrote a lengthy analysis of the language of the 2nd Amendment and what it meant at the time it was written:

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https://freelegaladvice.wordpress.com/2013/01/04/more-on-the-2nd-amendment-and-gun-control/

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I wrote there that my own “strict construction” interpretation of the 2nd Amendment would “… exclude from constitutional protection such weapons as fighter aircraft, naval ships and weapons, artillery pieces, napalm, nukes & other bombs, as well as even such lesser weapons as 50 caliber machine guns, shoulder mounted rocket launchers, flamethrowers, hand grenades and most other military-style weapons.”

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(As a side-note, I have since come to realize that the term “military-style weapons” is a poorly worded attempt to describe the kinds of weapons used by the military.  It is probably more useful to simply use the term “fully automatic”.)

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I also concluded there that “… a strict construction of the 2nd Amendment would also require that … the mentally ill, like convicted felons, can be thought of as not having any 2nd Amendment right to be infringed by governmental action.”

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Other gun-related discussions on my blog include:

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https://freelegaladvice.wordpress.com/2013/01/14/dispelling-the-myth-that-more-guns-more-murders/

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… in which I contend and explain the basis for the contention that:

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“… proponents of more restrictive gun control laws rely on a bald-faced lie to support their efforts to disarm law-abiding citizens.  That lie, of course, is the claim that possession of more guns by private, law-abiding citizens results in more violent crime and, in particular, more murders … and the corollary thereto, that reducing the number of guns in the possession of such citizens will reduce violent crime and murder.”

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This blog post motivated objections from classmate John Douglas, which led to an even more detailed discussion, which appears here:

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https://freelegaladvice.wordpress.com/2013/01/25/the-advocates-for-self-government-on-guns-gun-control/

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This post includes a number of contemporary (or shortly thereafter) historical references to the meaning of the 2nd Amendment, several of which make the point that the right to bear arms is as much for protection against the government as for any other purpose.  It also includes an analysis of gun violence statistics and their meaning.

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Other posts:

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https://freelegaladvice.wordpress.com/2013/01/19/assault-weapons-band-aid/

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… which is a discussion of why the 1994 so-called “assault weapons ban” was ineffective.

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https://freelegaladvice.wordpress.com/2013/01/25/the-advocates-for-self-government-on-guns-gun-control/

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… for the Libertarian view of guns & control.

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https://freelegaladvice.wordpress.com/2013/02/18/gun-control-and-your-right-to-defend-yourself-your-home-and-your-loved-ones/

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… regarding the use of firearms in self-defense and in cases of large-scale regional or national emergencies.

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https://freelegaladvice.wordpress.com/2013/02/18/no-one-is-coming-to-take-your-guns-yet/

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… on why we should be concerned about governmental confiscation of firearms.

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https://freelegaladvice.wordpress.com/2013/04/02/the-virtual-president-of-the-united-states-on-gun-control/

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… which discusses and links to the absolutely brilliant “Virtual President’s” state of the union address on guns.

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https://freelegaladvice.wordpress.com/2013/04/15/trashing-the-constitution-on-hbo-bill-maher-wrong-again-wrong-again/

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… a response to Bill Maher’s claim that “the Second Amendment is bullshit”.

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https://freelegaladvice.wordpress.com/2013/02/20/2nd-amendment-letter-to-the-editor-june-17-2000/

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… which reproduces a letter to the editor I wrote in 2000 regarding gun control.

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https://freelegaladvice.wordpress.com/2012/12/30/congressman-ron-paul-is-a-voice-of-reason/

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… on Ron Paul’s Libertarian take on gun control and personal security.

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… and finally:

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https://freelegaladvice.wordpress.com/2012/12/31/powerful-congressional-testimony/

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… a link to powerful congressional testimony about the 1991 Luby’s Cafeteria murders in Killeen, Texas.

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Would be happy to hear any response anyone might have to any of these discussions.

Trashing the Constitution on HBO: Bill Maher “Wrong Again, Wrong Again.”


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Just as Michael Bloomberg did recently …

https://freelegaladvice.wordpress.com/2013/03/31/trashing-the-constitution-in-new-york-city/

… Bill Maher has gone from Just Plain Incorrect …

https://freelegaladvice.wordpress.com/2013/04/07/bill-maher-just-plain-incorrect/

… to falling off the edge of the political table.

Friday night, April 12, 2013, on his HBO television show “Real Time”, Maher was discussing gun control with his guest panel.  After castigating “liberals” for what he perceived as their “weakness” in the gun control debate, Maher, not exactly making an insightful or clever  addition to the conversation, said:

“Everyone on the left is so afraid to say what should be said.  Which is, the Second Amendment is bullshit.”

http://www.guns.com/2013/04/13/bill-maher-the-second-amendment-is-bullshit-video/

Bill Maher 041213

Maybe so, though I disagree.  But if it is, anyone who thinks it is BS should have the courage to try to change the 2nd Amendment, rather than simply ignoring it and trying to enact legislation which violates its terms.

One of Maher’s guests on this show was David Stockman, former budget director for President Ronald Reagan.  Stockman, an ostensible conservative, commented that the idea of armed citizens rising in the face of the government is a modern day fantasy, saying:

“People who believe in liberty, like I do, we’re up against a 21st-century state equipped with drones, hundreds of satellites in the sky, watching everything we do.  Why would you believe that an 18th-century civilian militia equipped with the equivalent of muskets has anything to do with liberty? It doesn’t.”

Which, to be blunt, is just dumb.  For starters, no one involved in today’s gun control discussion is advancing the idea that an “18th century civilian militia” has anything to do with fighting “a 21st century state … watching everything we do.”  And if you think that a “well-armed civilian militia” equipped with modern weapons cannot resist a “21st century state”, please explain to me how a ragtag militia in Afghanistan has managed to resist the two most powerful military organizations in the world for a combined total of 21 years (the Russians for 9 years, the US for 12).

Never mind the possibility that a time will come when there are no drones, satellites or 21st century weapons and we will have to protect ourselves against or without the aid of any government.  I have discussed this before:

https://freelegaladvice.wordpress.com/2013/02/18/gun-control-and-your-right-to-defend-yourself-your-home-and-your-loved-ones/

Scroll down to the second half of that discussion, “Self-Defense in Case of a National Emergency”, for a more complete discussion of this issue.  To briefly repeat the primary point, the book One Second After by William Forstchen, fictionalizes what might happen in the US in the aftermath of an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) event.  An EMP event (which could occur as part of a foreign attack or as a result of natural occurrences) could conceivably shut down all electricity in large portions of the US.  That would mean no electrically operated devices would work — some obvious examples, computers, televisions, radios and telephones.  Less obvious examples, refrigerators & freezers, microwave ovens, washers & dryers, both interior and exterior lighting, and even most modern motor vehicles (the engines of which are operated by electrical commands).

Should this happen, of course, most “21st century” weaponry, as well as drones and satellites, would be rendered useless.  And, as Forstchen says:

You are on your own … for weeks, maybe months.   Those of you living in Louisiana, Mississippi and coastal Texas know what I mean.  Don’t count on the government to come to your rescue in a post EMP America.  Consider yourself on your own from “one second after,” the event.  Those who realize that now have the greatest chance of survival.”

And, if you think his book is science fiction and farfetched, see the Wikipedia article on EMP:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electromagnetic_pulse

And this Heritage Foundation article about Congressional hearings on the subject:

http://blog.heritage.org/2012/09/11/congressional-hearing-raise-emp-awareness-now/

The possibility of an EMP event and the potential consequences thereof are science fact, not science fiction.

And keep in mind that an EMP event can also result from natural occurrences, such as a major solar flare, and not just as a result of a nuclear attack.  The website “Disaster Survival Resources” …

http://www.disaster-survival-resources.com/emp.html

… provides a relatively minor example of what can happen as a result of a solar flare:

“On March 13th, 1989 a huge solar induced magnetic storm that played havoc with the ionosphere, and the earth’s magnetic field. This storm, the second largest storm experienced in the past 50 years, totally shut down Hydro-Quebec, the power grid servicing Canada’s Quebec province.”

As we grow increasingly dependent on electronically controlled devices, we also become increasingly vulnerable to the adverse effects of an EMP event.  And, having the ability to protect ourselves in case of such an event becomes increasingly important.

So, I call bullshit on Maher, who is wrong again, wrong again.  And on Stockman, who is not just wrong, but dangerously so.

Bill Maher Just Plain Incorrect


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“Many years ago on a television network far, far away”, there was a show called “Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher“.  I was a big fan, rarely missed watching and was sorry to see the show cancelled, though I have to admit that the comment which led to its demise went beyond politically incorrect to politically just plain dumb.  See Note 1 below.

I do not subscribe to HBO, so have not had the opportunity to watch Maher’s current show, “Real Time with Bill Maher“.  Thanks to a Facebook post by “Can this poodle wearing a tinfoil hat get more fans than Glenn Beck?“, however, I became aware of this “New Rules” segment by Maher regarding libertarians:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b9PezT3n4To

One of the reasons I liked Maher was that he was a self-professed supporter of libertarianism.  As a libertarian myself, I usually found his “politically incorrect” commentary in tune with my political philosophy.  Apparently, however, as demonstrated by his “New Rules” on libertarians, Maher has deserted some of his libertarian ideals, no longer understands what drives the libertarian philosophy and/or simply can no longer recognize a libertarian when he sees one (or doesn’t).

As examples of “libertarians” who are ruining libertarianism, Maher cites Wisconsin republican congressman Paul Ryan and Kentucky republican senator Rand Paul.

Sorry, Bill, but Paul Ryan is mostly a flat out right wing conservative and not a libertarian at all — see this Mother Jones webpage for a 2012 venn diagram showing just how little overlap there is between modern libertarian ideals and Paul Ryan’s political positions:

http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2012/08/paul-ryan-libertarian-chart

And Rand Paul is no Ron Paul; nor is he anything like real libertarians like two-time Libertarin Party presidential candidate Harry Browne or Judge Andrew NapolitanoSee Note 2 below.

In his monologue, Maher says he once supported libertarianism because he didn’t want “big government in my bedroom, my medicine chest and especially not in the second drawer of the night stand on the left side of my bed”.  (Exactly what do you keep there, anyway, Bill?)  Though professing to still believe in those ideals, Maher charged that libertarianism has “morphed into this creepy obsession with free market capitalism based on an Ayn Rand novel called ‘Atlas Shrugged'”.

Sorry again, Bill, but those of us who are still truly libertarians base our political beliefs on such foundational documents as the Declaration of Independence and (especially) the Bill of Rights to the US Constitution, not “Atlas Shrugged” (or any other work of fiction).  Ayn Rand, by the way, in “Atlas Shrugged” or otherwise, was no libertarian (and, contrary to appearances, Rand Paul was not named in honor of Ayn Rand — his first name is actually Randal).

Ayn Rand in her time was extremely critical of libertarians, and once explained that she disapproved of them because they are “a monstrous, disgusting bunch of people” and “perhaps the worst political group today”.  See note 3 below.

Anyone who wants to learn what modern libertarianism is really about can do so by going to the Libertarian Party website here:

http://www.lp.org/

… or by visiting the Facebook page of The Advocates for Self-Government here:

https://www.facebook.com/SelfGov

The Advocates for Self-Government publish a libertarian newsletter, The Liberator Online, the most recent edition of which is available online here:

http://us2.campaign-archive2.com/?u=8f8d44f1fc10bd074f648a4de&id=6039093196&e=16f5dddde4

The Liberator Online is also distributed by email, for which you can sign up on this page.

And, to see if you are a libertarian, go here and take The World’s Smallest Political Quiz:

http://www.theadvocates.org/quiz

It’s just 10 questions (5 on personal issues and 5 on economic issues) and can be completed in a few minutes.  Perhaps Bill Maher should take it as a refresher course on what libertarianism really is.

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Note 1:  For a brief explanation of how and why “Politically Incorrect” crossed over into “Politically Stupid” and got cancelled, see:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Maher#Politically_Incorrect_with_Bill_Maher

Note 2:  For more on Judge Andrew Napolitano, see this earlier “Free Legal Advice” blog:

https://freelegaladvice.wordpress.com/2013/01/26/lies-the-government-told-you/

and his own website:

http://www.judgenap.com/

Note 3:  For a detailed explication of Ayn Rand’s views on libertarianism, see this Q&A page on the Ayn Rand Institute website:

http://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer?pagename=ar_libertarianism_qa

The Worst President of My Lifetime


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I was born in 1945, not long after Harry Truman succeeded Franklin Delano Roosevelt as President of the United States.  Thus, in my lifetime, 12 different men have held that office.  I recently had occasion to post a Facebook comment and engage in a conversation about the one I consider the worst of the 12.

Sadly, as presidents go, it has been pretty much downhill slide since 1945.  Only 2 of the 12 presidents since then make it into the Top 10 all time in the collective opinions of presidential scholars and surveys … and they are the first 2 of my lifetime, Harry S. Truman (7th) and Dwight D. Eisenhower (tie for 8th).  See Note 1 below.

The first 4 of the 12 are also the top 4 on my personal list of Best Presidents of my lifetime (I disagree with the collection of scholarly surveys only in the reversed rankings of Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy):

1st — Harry S Truman

2nd — John F. Kennedy

3rd — Dwight D. Eisenhower

4th — Lyndon B. Johnson

Which is why it’s been pretty much downhill ever since.  However, it is not the top of my list that concerns me here — rather it is the bottom, the Worst President of my lifetime.

My Facebook comment was motivated by this graphic from DemocraticUnderground.com …Iraq 10 Years Later 2003-2013

http://www.democraticunderground.com/1017106524

… which prompted me to observe that George W. Bush is the worst president of my lifetime.  Of course, I also lived through the presidency of Richard Nixon and once thought I would never see a worse excuse for president than Tricky Dick.  Unfortunately, my expectation in that regard was not very prescient.

I fault Nixon largely for his duplicitous and condescending attitude toward the American people and the disgrace he brought to his office.  Ultimately, I rank him ahead of Bush II largely because of his foreign policy accomplishment of visiting China and opening up an economic dialogue between the U.S. and China.  Bush had no such saving grace and not a single presidential accomplishment of historical note.  See Note 2 below.

On the other hand, his duplicity matches or exceeds that of Nixon in audacity and scope.  By far the most significant (and ultimately horrific) of his deceptions were the falsities upon which he justified the invasion of Iraq.

Bush and his cronies advanced two major themes in support of this war — first, that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (WMD) which posed a threat to the security of the United States;  and second, that Saddam Hussein was somehow in league with al-Qa’ida and played a role in the 9-11 attacks on the U.S.

Neither claim was true and there is good reason to believe that Bush knew that the supposed intelligence on which these claims were based was exaggerated, misleading or downright false.

In the recently aired documentary “Hubris: Selling the Iraq War”, MSNBC provided the best look to date at just how the people of this country were mis-led by the Bush administration:

http://tv.msnbc.com/shows/hubris-selling-the-iraq-war/

In the documentary, declassified documents — and insiders talking on camera for the first time — reveal details on how President Bush and his team justified and marketed a war they had already decided to wage.

As more and more classified materials are declassified, and as insiders speak out, the truth will show Bush for what he was … and the picture will not be pretty. “Hubris: Selling the War in Iraq” is just the beginning of that process.

And for those who dislike or don’t trust MSNBC as a source of accurate information, how about the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, which in 2006 issued its “Report on Postwar Findings About Iraq’s WMD Programs and Links to Terrorism and How They Compare with Prewar Assessments”?  This bi-partisan committee was initially chaired by republican Pat Roberts of Kansas and later by democrat Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia.

This press release by the committee discusses the report …

http://intelligence.senate.gov/press/record.cfm?id=298775

… and the entire 153 page pdf version of it is available here for review:

http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CRPT-109srpt331/pdf/CRPT-109srpt331.pdf

In the press release, the Senate committee, among other things, says:

“Before taking the country to war, this Administration owed it to the American people to give them a 100 percent accurate picture of the threat we faced. Unfortunately, our Committee has concluded that the Administration made significant claims that were not supported by the intelligence,” Rockefeller said. “In making the case for war, the Administration repeatedly presented intelligence as fact when in reality it was unsubstantiated, contradicted, or even non-existent. As a result, the American people were led to believe that the threat from Iraq was much greater than actually existed.”

“It is my belief that the Bush Administration was fixated on Iraq, and used the 9/11 attacks by al Qa’ida as justification for overthrowing Saddam Hussein. To accomplish this, top Administration officials made repeated statements that falsely linked Iraq and al Qa’ida as a single threat and insinuated that Iraq played a role in 9/11. Sadly, the Bush Administration led the nation into war under false pretenses.”

The Committee’s report cites several conclusions in which the Administration’s public statements were NOT supported by the intelligence. They include:
 
Statements and implications by the President and Secretary of State suggesting that Iraq and al-Qa’ida had a partnership, or that Iraq had provided al-Qa’ida with weapons training, were not substantiated by the intelligence.

Statements by the President and the Vice President indicating that Saddam Hussein was prepared to give weapons of mass destruction to terrorist groups for attacks against the United States were contradicted by available intelligence information.

Statements by President Bush and Vice President Cheney regarding the postwar situation in Iraq, in terms of the political, security, and economic, did not reflect the concerns and uncertainties expressed in the intelligence products.

Statements by the President and Vice President prior to the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate regarding Iraq’s chemical weapons production capability and activities did not reflect the intelligence community’s uncertainties as to whether such production was ongoing.
 
The Secretary of Defense’s statement that the Iraqi government operated underground WMD facilities that were not vulnerable to conventional airstrikes because they were underground and deeply buried was not substantiated by available intelligence information.
 
The Intelligence Community did not confirm that Muhammad Atta met an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague in 2001 as the Vice President repeatedly claimed.

It is clear beyond any reasonable doubt that there were no WMD’s in Iraq and that Iraq was not allied with al Qa’ida in its terroristic attacks on the US. Furthermore, no one in the Bush administration had any viable plan for what should be done in Iraq once military operations ended.

The DemocraticUnderground.com graphic reproduced above also actually underestimates the total costs of the war in Iraq.

The Office of Management and Budget now estimates that the cost of combat operations will total approximately $822 billion; another $733 billion has been spent on care for wounded veterans and homeland security expenses related to the wars; future medical care of veterans is estimated to total $490 billion; and the interest on the money borrowed to fund the wars will total approximately $4 trillion by the time the debt is repaid sometime after 2050.

It has also proved not to be the case, as some in the administration claimed, that Iraqi oil would pay for the cost of the war.

And none of that includes the costs of foreign aid for rebuilding Iraq or the foreign aid paid to Afghanistan, Pakistan and other countries in the region to secure their cooperation (such as it is) in the war effort.

The death toll cited in the Democratic Underground article is very conservative; some estimates of the civilian death toll in Iraq and Afghanistan are as high as 330,000 or more.

There are other reasons to consider the Bush administration the worst of my lifetime: his tax policies have led to an economic crisis in the country; the response of his administration to Hurricane Katrina was a disgrace; and he vetoed a stem cell research bill that might have provided medical and health benefits to Americans for generations to come.  See Note 3 below.

A long time friend of mine criticized my Facebook comments about Bush and asked me what I would have done in response to the 9-11 attacks.

What I would have done is of no real consequence. But, I would rather have seen our president respond with an all-out effort to find Osama bin Laden and others who were responsible for that attack, rather than going off on a wild tangent in Iraq, a country which had no connection whatsoever with 9-11.

There is no doubt that the world is better off without Saddam Hussein and his sons. That, however, can be said about hundreds, perhaps thousands or even millions of people — does that mean the US government should summarily go around killing people that we think are “bad” for the world? I think not. And there is flip side to that question — is the world better off without the 330,000 or more other Iraqis who were killed in the war? Was it worth all of those lives (and those of the Americans and our allies) who were killed? I think the answer to that question is a clear and unequivocal “no”.

With respect to radical Islam, protecting ourselves against radicals of any stripe is a proper governmental function and I support all reasonable efforts to do so.  The war in Iraq was just not such a reasonable effort. Saddam Hussein was a Sunni Muslim, but was not a radical Islamist. Rather, he was a secular ruler who ruthlessly suppressed Shi’a Muslims and elevated minority Sunnis to power only if they were also members of the Ba-athist party (a secular, rather than religious, organization). Ergo, invading Iraq and removing Hussein from power had absolutely nothing to do with any perceived need to protect the US against radical Islam.

Thus, taking everything into consideration, it is an inescapable conclusion that George W. Bush was the worst president of my lifetime.

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Ranking all of the presidents of my lifetime:

1st — Harry S Truman — See Note 4 below.

2nd — John F. Kennedy

3rd — Dwight D. Eisenhower

4th — Lyndon B. Johnson

5th — William J. Clinton

6th — Ronald Reagan

7th — George H. W. Bush

8th — Barack H. Obama

9th — Gerald R. Ford

10th — Jimmy Carter

11th — Richard M. Nixon

12th — George W. Bush

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Note 1 — For a comprehensive listing of presidential rankings, see this Wikipedia article:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_rankings_of_Presidents_of_the_United_States

Scroll down to the rankings chart and see the final column of the aggregate ranking of each president based on these various scholarly surveys.

Note 2 — Bush ranks 34th of 43 presidents on the aggregate scholars list.  I suspect that as we gain historical perspective, his position will solidify in the bottom quarter of presidents and that his stature will, if anything, decline.

Note 3 — For another view on the deficiencies of the Bush presidency, see this website, which cites 31 reasons why Bush was a bad president:

http://www.bengarvey.com/2008/08/07/31-reasons-why-bush-is-a-bad-president/

I don’t personally agree with all of the reasons stated in this litany of deficiencies.  For example, I don’t fault any president for taking vacation time, as the presidency is a stressful job that always goes with the president and everyone needs to be able to relax and get away from that kind of pressure.

Obviously, however, I do agree with his ultimate conclusion.

Note 4 — Truman had only a middle initial — “S” — and no middle name.  He also used no period after that initial;  hence, Harry S Truman, not Harry S. Truman.

Trashing the 1st Amendment in North Carolina


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North Carolina state representatives have introduced legislation that would, if adopted, purport to exempt the state from the strictures of the 1st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and would allow North Carolina to establish an official state religion.

The proposed legislation, reported today on HuffingtonPost.com …

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/03/north-carolina-religion-bill_n_3003401.html#slide=467436

… is co-sponsored by state representatives Carl Ford (R-China Grove) and Harry Warren (R-Salisbury) and is backed by nine other republican representatives.

The proposed laws read as follows:

SECTION 1. The North Carolina General Assembly asserts that the Constitution of the United States of America does not prohibit states or their subsidiaries from making laws respecting an establishment of religion.

SECTION 2. The North Carolina General Assembly does not recognize federal court rulings which prohibit and otherwise regulate the State of North Carolina, its public schools, or any political subdivisions of the State from making laws respecting an establishment of religion.

The name of the bill is “A JOINT RESOLUTION TO PROCLAIM THE ROWAN COUNTY, NORTH CAROLINA, DEFENSE OF RELIGION ACT OF 2013” and is denominated House Joint Resolution DRHJR10194-MM-54.  The full text of the resolution is here:

http://www.ncleg.net/Applications/BillLookUp/LoadBillDocument.aspx?SessionCode=2013&DocNum=2501&SeqNum=0

The introduction to this bill acknowledges that the “Establishment Clause” of the 1st Amendment says “… Congress shall make no law respecting an Establishment of Religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ….”  It goes on, however, to declare that “… this prohibition does not apply to states, municipalities, or schools ….”

Supporters of the bill cite the 10th Amendment …

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

… for the proposition that the federal government cannot expand its powers beyond those specifically enumerated in the Constitution.  They also also assert that the Constitution does not authorize either the federal government or federal courts to determine what “is or is not constitutional” and that, consequently, the ability to determine constitutionality is reserved to the states and the people thereof.

Apparently, these state legislators stopped reading when they finished with the 10th Amendment.  They certainly didn’t get to section 1 of the 14th Amendment, which says in part …

No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

… and which has been repeatedly held to mean that all of the protections of the Bill of Rights apply as to the states as well as the federal government.  In other words, the Constitution of the United States of America does “prohibit states or their subsidiaries from making laws respecting an establishment of religion”.

And it does require the North Carolina General Assembly to “recognize federal court rulings which prohibit and otherwise regulate the State of North Carolina, its public schools, or any political subdivisions of the State from making laws respecting an establishment of religion”.

Thus, the state of North Carolina cannot constitutionally declare a state religion, whether this resolution passes or not.

On the other hand, I have to admit that it might be fun to watch them trying to do so.  Fewer than 48% of all North Carolinians consider themselves active participants in any religion.  The most popular religion in the state is Southern Baptist;  however, just 19% of people in the state are active Baptists.  Methodists total 9% and Roman Catholics (the fastest growing religion in the state) just over 4%.  Other Christian denominations, including Episcopalian, Pentecostal, Lutheran, Presbyterian and Latter Day Saints (Mormon), range down from less than 3% to less than 1% each.  All other splinter Christian denominations combined make up roughly 7% of the population.

Jews, Muslims and adherents of Eastern religions (who together total less than 1% of the state’s population) may, in any discussion of this subject, be voices in a Christian wilderness.  However, adherents of which of the various Christian denominations do you suppose are going to stand idly by while some other denomination is declared to be the official religion of the state of North Carolina?  Even if the proposed state religion is Baptist, will this be acceptable to the other 30% of North Carolinians who actively practice some other religion (never mind the 52% of the people in the state who are not active in any religion)?

And then, even if the North Carolina legislature is able to pass this resolution and declares an official state religion, we’ll have the consequent litigation and inevitable smackdown by the U.S. Supreme Court, the members of which — contrary to the beliefs of the sponsors of this legislation — believe it does have the authority to determine what “is or is not” constitutional.  And which will certainly find any “establishment” of a state religion violative of the 1st Amendment.

Oh, by the way, one more thing — it appears that the sponsors of this bill have not even recently read their own state constitution, since the proposed bill violates Article 1, section 5 of the North Carolina  constitution.  This provision requires the state and its citizens (presumably including its legislators) to comply with federal laws:

Every citizen of this State owes paramount allegiance to the Constitution and government of the United States, and no law or ordinance of the State in contravention or subversion thereof can have any binding force.

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For other interesting (and somewhat amusing) discussions of this proposed legislation, see these articles on TheAtlantic.com website:

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/04/north-carolinas-proposed-state-religion-isnt-as-unprecedented-as-it-sounds/274646/

… which notes, in part:  “You can safely file this under Not Gonna Happen. Even if the state passes the law, there’s no chance it would be upheld. Phillip Bump at The Atlantic Wire explains the fun circular logic going on: Yes, Marbury v. Madison established federal judicial review, but it was a federal decision so it’s not binding. (The Tar Heel State could of course try seceding, but that didn’t work out so well for them the first time around.)”

and:

http://www.theatlanticwire.com/national/2013/04/north-carolina-official-government-religion/63833/

… which opens:  “Let’s say you’re a state and you want, for some reason, to declare an official government religion. You’d probably recall that such behavior runs a bit afoul of the First Amendment to the Constitution. Leaving you with only one option: Decide that your state gets to interpret the Constitution however it sees fit.”

… adds:  “Yes, the 1803 case of Marbury v. Madison clearly settled the issue of the primacy of federal judicial review, but that was decided by the Feds and they don’t have the right, so it doesn’t count. As WRAL notes, this strategy has been tried before to block federal measures that any particular state didn’t like at any particular time. Never, we should point out, successfully.”

… and concludes:  “Anyway, the bill will never ever pass and if it did would quickly be struck down by the federal courts, since they have complete authority to do so. The end.”

The Virtual President of the United States on Gun Control


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This is absolutely brilliant.

Click on the following link or the picture of Virtual President Bill Whittle below:

http://www.mrvirtualpresident.com/blog/article/guns-virtual-state-union-2013

Mr. Virtual President headerMr. Virtual President on 2nd Amendment & Guns

For additional virtual speeches, see the main page of the Virtual President here:

http://www.mrvirtualpresident.com/

On that page, you can also sign up for “Virtual Updates”, so as not to miss future offerings of the Virtual President.  I did.

You can also download a pdf version of the text of the gun speech by clicking on the link on the site — or here:

http://www.mrvirtualpresident.com/sites/default/files/transcripts/SOTU2013%20GUNSv3.pdf