|© National Black Republican Association, 2010. All Rights Reserved.|
|© National Black Republican Association, 2010. All Rights Reserved.|
While most Americans were celebrating the holidays, President Barack Obama quietly signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), otherwise known as the “Indefinite Detention Act,” into law. Obama had initially said he would veto the bill which contains the draconian language authorizing the US military to seize and incarcerate US citizens without warrant, due process, trial, etc. Of course, Obama quickly changed his mind after the bill passed both houses of Congress.
When signing the NDAA into law, Obama issued a signing statement that in essence said, “I have the power to detain Americans… but I won’t.” See this report:
Americans should realize that, coupled with the Patriot Act, the NDAA, for all intents and purposes, completely nullifies a good portion of the Bill of Rights, turns the United States into a war zone, and places US citizens under military rule. And what is even more astonishing is the manner in which the national press corps, and even the so-called “conservative” talking heads, have either completely ignored it, or have actually defended it. The likes of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, et al., should be ashamed of themselves!
Other alternative parties have also spoken out against this legislation.
WASHINGTON, Jan. 2, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ — On Tuesday, January 3, representatives of the Libertarian Party and the Green Party will join the American Muslim Taskforce on Civil Rights and Elections (AMT*) — a national coalition of major Muslim organizations — and other civil liberties group leaders at a news conference in Iowa to express their opposition to the unconstitutional nature of the National Defense Authorization Act’s detention provisions.
This news conference is intended to convey a broad-based public response to President Obama’s signing into law of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that authorizes the military to arrest and indefinitely detain American citizens suspected of terrorism without charge or trial.
During 2011, this blog published many articles about the GOP’s push to pass legislation requiring one of a very limited selection of government-issued photo IDs (like a driver’s license, passport or gun permit) to vote.
The new laws require specific identification not carried by a disproportionate portion of certain demographic groups that tend to vote Democratic. These groups include Blacks, Hispanics, the poor, seniors, and the young.
Because such laws do have a disproportionate on certain demographic groups, the U.S. Department of Justice, last Friday, blocked South Carolina’s new voter photo ID law. It is widely thought the Justice Dept. will move to also block Texas’ new voter photo ID law in the coming weeks.
Two of our articles looked at the pending show down down between the U.S. Department of Justice and the conservative leaning justices on the Supreme Court of the United States overt the voter photo ID laws and possibly the 1965 Voting Rights Act, itself:
On Friday, Slate published an article that also looks at the pending USDOJ v. SCOTUS showdown:
On the Friday before Christmas Day, the Department of Justice formally objected to a new South Carolina law requiring voters to produce an approved form of photo ID in order to vote. That move already has drawn cheers from the left and jeers from the right. The DoJ said South Carolina could not show that its new law would not have an adverse impact on racial minorities, who are less likely to have acceptable forms of identification.
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley denounced the DoJ decision blocking the law under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act: “It is outrageous, and we plan to look at every possible option to get this terrible, clearly political decision overturned so we can protect the integrity of our electoral process and our 10th Amendment rights.” The state’s attorney general vowed to fight the DoJ move in court, and thanks to an odd quirk in the law, the issue could get fast-tracked to the Supreme Court, which could well use it to strike down the Voting Rights Act provision as unconstitutional before the 2012 elections.
The current dispute has an eerie echo. More than 45 years ago in 1966, South Carolina also went to the Supreme Court to complain that Section 5 unconstitutionally intruded on its sovereignty. Under the 1965 Act, states with a history of racial discrimination like South Carolina could not make changes in its voting rules—from major changes like redistricting to changes as minor as moving a polling place across the street—without getting the permission of either the U.S. Department of Justice or a three-judge court in Washington, D.C. The state had to show the law was not enacted with the purpose, or effect, of making minority voters worse off than they already were.
… In its 1966 South Carolina v. Katzenbach decision, the Supreme Court said the law requiring “preclearance” of voting changes, while an extreme intrusion on states’ rights, was necessary because lesser measures—like federal government suits over each discriminatory voting practice—had not worked. … Today, Some conservatives argue that Section 5 is no longer constitutional, because the states subject to preclearance don’t present a special danger of racial discrimination.
… If South Carolina argues in court [in 2012] that it is unconstitutional to require it to submit its voter ID law for federal approval, and the three-judge court rejects that argument, it is hard to imagine the Supreme Court conservatives refusing to hear that case.
… Why did the Obama DoJ deny preclearance, knowing it could well set up this massive confrontation and potentially lead to the downfall of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act? There are both principled and political reasons.
First of all, it was the right thing to do. As the DoJ letter explains, South Carolina presented no evidence that its law was necessary to prevent voter fraud, and the evidence was uncontested that minority voters were less likely to have ID
Second, if the Court is going to strike down Section 5, it might be politically better for this to happen before the 2012 elections, so that Obama can run against a Supreme Court, and the possibility that a President Romney could appoint a young version of Justice Scalia to take a retiring Justice Kennedy’s seat on the court, solidifying the court’s conservative majority for a generation.
It’s a gamble, both legally and politically, and no one knows for sure how it will turn out. But South Carolina may fare much better before the Roberts court this spring than it did before the Warren court in 1966.
Read the full article @ Slate.
The European Greens published the following press release on Tuesday, December 6:
According to the OSCE international observers, several violations of basic rights accompanied the elections in Russia, in particular irregularities in the election process.
“We are seriously concerned by what was observed by the OSCE international observers”, said Monica Frassoni, European Green party [...]
Green Party Watch
Attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the National Immigration Law Center announced Friday at the Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, Ala., they have filed a lawsuit challenging the new Alabama immigration law.
Karen Tumlin, the managing attorney at the National Immigration Law Center, told The American Independent that HB 56, the Alabama immigration law, “hearkens back to the days of Jim Crow” in that it attempts to restrict the rights of individuals to form contracts, protect themselves from unreasonable searches and have access to justice and equal protection under the law.
The Alabama law is by far the most stringent immigration enforcement measure passed by a state government. Like laws passed in Arizona, Georgia, Indiana and other states, the Alabama law requires that police check the immigration status of anyone detained for a traffic violation or greater infraction, so long as they have “reasonable suspicion” that the violator is undocumented. Unlike those laws, Alabama includes measures that criminalize renting housing to immigrants — meaning landlords that rent to the undocumented could face up to 20 years in jail — and also invalidates any existing contracts that undocumented immigrants are a party to. The state also banned undocumented immigrants from attending public colleges, and requires public schools to count the number of undocumented children that attend them.
As befits the unprecedented nature of the law, the lawsuit filed by the civil rights groups was equally broad in its list of challenges. The groups are challenging the law on the basis that it preempts the federal government’s exclusive power to regulate immigration, which has been the basis of all other court challenges to state-level immigration enforcement laws. But it also includes a Fourth Amendment challenge on the basis that the law would subject people to unreasonable search and seizures, a due process challenge, a First Amendment challenge on the basis that the law would restrict people’s access to the courts and a challenge to the law’s schooling measures, which Tumlin says, “fly in the face of thirty years of Supreme Court precedent saying schools cannot deny or chill access to a public education.”
Starting with Arizona’s SB 1070, which was passed last year, each of the state-level immigration enforcement laws have been blocked by judges in anticipation of a permanent resolution in court on the question of whether states should be allowed to enact their own immigration policies. But Tumlin points to the decision blocking Indiana’s law, where the judge who issued the injunction also said she believed the law probably violated due process and Fourth Amendment rights. Tumlin calls the degree to which the law violates constitutional rights “fairly stunning.”
The law is already having an effect on the immigrant population of Alabama, with anecdotal reports of Hispanics fleeing the state, indicating a lack of interest in sticking around to see whether the law will be overturned by the courts.
“If mankind minus one were of one opinion, then mankind is no more justified in silencing the one than the one – if he had the power – would be justified in silencing mankind.”
- John Stuart Mill
By R. Lee Wrights
BURNET, Texas (June 12) – It is popular and expedient in politics to champion taxpayer rights, state’s rights, patient rights, gay rights, people-with-disabilities rights, even animal rights. Name any group, or make one up, and undoubtedly someone will advocate for that group’s “rights.” The problem is – there is no such thing as “group rights.” Group rights are an illusion conjured up by politicians and special interests to increase their influence and power.
The simple, basic truth is that all rights belong to the individual. You are born with your rights and no power on earth can take them away from you. You cannot give your rights away. They end only when you die, and not a split-second sooner. Individual rights cannot be divided or multiplied; and, individual rights are superior to any other claimed rights.
Individual rights mean you can adopt whatever culture you want and live any lifestyle you choose to live. We have the individual right to worship or not worship whatever god we want without interference from anyone else, so long as we do not interfere with the rights of other individuals to do the same. It is the fundamental and universal concept recognized by our nation’s Founders. As a result of this recognition, the superiority of individual rights became the foundation of the United States government.
The view that our rights are granted to us by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights is equally incorrect and dangerous. As important and eloquently written as these two documents are, they grant us nothing. America’s founding documents merely recognized, and seek to guarantee the recognition, of the individual human rights shared by all of mankind. The Bill of Rights does not declare human rights are valid from a set date forward. The Bill of Rights is a proclamation to the world of something that has always been… the sanctity, superiority and supremacy of individual human rights. The Constitution is to serve as a warrantee of those rights, not a grant of privilege that allows us to embrace and enjoy them.
Individual rights are the “self-evident truths” Thomas Jefferson wrote about when he penned the words in the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” He was not expressing any new ideas or concepts. He was telling people something that had always been. Individuals have rights by birth that cannot be given or taken away.
Two people, 200 people, 2 million people, even the world’s populations combined do not have more rights than one person. There are no such things as “state’s rights,” there are only human rights possessed by people individually from birth. A “state” may have more influence, more power, and theoretically, a greater ability to protect individual rights. There is certainly strength in numbers, as they say. Labor unions have proven that numbers mean power in politics. But no group of individuals has more rights than any one individual, nor do groups acquire special rights by being organized.
Power and rights are simply not the same thing. The individual right to freedom of association allows people to band together to protect their individual rights. Such associations can become agencies designed to control, limit, restrict or even abolish the individual rights of people who don’t belong to that group. However, even if they are successful, any law that suppresses the rights of individuals can be nullified by the people.
As Jefferson wrote, “…law is often but the tyrant’s will and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.” It makes no difference if that tyrant is a single person or a group of people united under common cause. The rights of the many are never greater, can never be greater, than the rights of the few, or even the one. If we accept the illusion of group rights, we also accept the legitimacy of tyranny. That is why when it comes to human rights, no number is greater than one.
R. Lee Wrights, 53, a libertarian writer and political activist, is seeking the presidential nomination because he believes the Libertarian message in 2012 must be a loud, clear and unequivocal call to stop all war. To that end he has pledged that 10 percent of all donations to his campaign will be spent for ballot access so that the stop all war message can be heard in all 50 states. Wrights is a lifetime member of the Libertarian Party and co-founder and editor of of the free speech online magazine Liberty For All. Born in Winston-Salem, N.C., he now lives and works in Texas.
Huffingtonpost: Women’s reproductive rights are being seriously threatened by the Republican Party, according to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who said she is worried that many women are complacent about the possibility that they will lose the right to make their own reproductive choices.
“They’re advancing extreme legislation,” Pelosi said Thursday during a conference call with reporters. “It’s dangerous to women’s health, disrespects the judgment of American women — I don’t know if they even gave that a thought — and it’s the most comprehensive and radical assault on women’s health in our lifetime. It’s that bad.”
There are three pieces of legislation that U.S. House Republicans are currently trying to advance to limit abortion access. Arguably the most high-profile of those is H.R. 3, the No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion Act, introduced by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.). Current law already bars federal money from being used to directly pay for abortions, but H.R. 3 would also deny tax credits and benefits to employers who offer health insurance to their staff if that coverage includes abortion access.
Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) has introduced H.R. 217, which would deny federal family-planning funds under Title X to groups that offer abortion access — a measure that would devastate groups like Planned Parenthood.
Meanwhile, a bill introduced by Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.), H.R. 358, would allow hospitals to turn away women who need to terminate a pregnancy in order to save their own lives. Federal law currently requires hospitals receiving Medicaid or Medicare funding to provide emergency care to all individuals, regardless of the patient’s ability to pay. If the facility can’t provide the necessary care, it must transfer the patient to someone who can. Under Pitts’ bill, hospitals would not have to perform abortions or even transfer the pregnant woman.
Pelosi said Pence’s bill could come up for a vote in the House as early as next week. While it’s likely that Republicans, who are now in the majority, will have enough support to pass the three measures, she said there might be some Tea Party-affiliated members who will realize that abortion access is different than access to family planning and contraception.
Patrick isn’t hiding his hope that if the bill passes, it will prompt some women to change their minds, “My belief is that some women, when they see that sonogram and see that baby and hear that heartbeat, if they choose to do so, may change their minds and say ‘You know what? That’s my baby.’”
Opponents of Patrick’s bill, including several doctors, said this morning that the bill is an overreach that would erode the relationship between a patient and a doctor. They said it’s a potential waste of resources if the patient has already had a sonogram performed by her primary care physician. The ACLU of Texas in a statement said: “If ever there was an example of government overreach, here it is. If this bill becomes law, government will essentially be in the doctor’s office with the women of this state.”
While Republican lawmakers seek to force women to have unwanted children, they turn their backs on those children once they are born. As Republican lawmakers cut billion from the state budget this session they are giving little thought to children in need.
Foster children in Texas could have trouble finding placement in foster care because of budget cuts proposed by Texas lawmakers, the commissioner of the Department of Family and Protective Services, told Senators Tuesday.
The Senate’s current draft budget does not provide funding for caseload growth and would force investigative caseworkers to take on 15 percent more cases, Commissioner Anne Heiligenstein, said. The proposed budget also would cut funding to the Relative and Other Designated Caregiver program and reduce CPS units by 66, which means the department may not be able to offer financial assistance to families adopting children under the proposed Senate bill. Heiligenstein said these subsidies have historically been a good tool for encouraging families to adopt.
Texas State Republican lawmakers also plan to cut education by 10 percent and health and human services by 7.7 percent. Lawmakers will also cut 13 percent from spending on higher education and cut funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program and food stamps.
“We have to make this issue too hot to handle,” said Pelosi, adding, “I would like to make the fight in the House and see where some of these Republicans are — maybe we could win it on Title X. I can’t believe that everybody who is anti a woman’s right to choose is anti-birth control and contraception and family planning. But we don’t know that, and we don’t have any idea — or I don’t, anyway — where the Tea Party people come down in all of this.”
The minority leader said educating the public about the proposed legislation is important, “because win or lose in a given day, they’ll be back, because this is their cash political cow for certain aspects of their constituency. So I think what we have to assume is they’ll pass whatever they want in the House. We have to make it easier for the Senate to reject all of this because we know how masterful Republicans are at misrepresenting.”
Both Pelosi and Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), the co-chair of the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus, stressed that they believe H.R. 3 amounted to a tax increase on women and small businesses, given that a large majority of employer-based plans currently offer some coverage for abortions.
“We’ve been hearing from many businesses who say, we are struggling right now to provide insurance policies for our employees,” DeGette said. “The last thing we need is to have our tax benefits taken away because it’s a tax increase and it’s going to cost us more.”
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) rejected that argument in an interview with The Huffington Post at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday. King said that businesses should just offer health care without abortion, and cost increases won’t be an issue.
“They save premiums, and they can deduct them,” he said. “So I would say no, that’s a specious argument from my view. Maybe they [Democrats] have got some more detailed way to make that argument. Here’s something I have discovered around this town: Human beings have an infinite capacity to self-rationalize. That’s what the Democrats are doing. If that’s the best argument that they have, the next thing they’ll do is just start calling names.”
King argued that the Pence bill wasn’t a distraction from the GOP focus on spending and the economy. “It is an economic and a moral issue, so anytime you can kill two birds with one stone, we ought to do that,” he said. “And if we can kill the whole flock with one rock, we ought to do that.”
In 1832 South Carolina passed state legislation to nullify a federal tariff law passed in 1828. That legislation to nullify federal authority thereby brought the issue of State’s Rights vs. Federal Supreme Authority to the center of the American politics.
The Tariff Act of 1828 was a federal tariff that attempted to form a compromise between opposing regional views on tariffs and free trade. Provisions of the compromise angered people on all sides of the debate and led to heated arguments of State’s Rights over nullification of the federal law.
While many southern states sympathized with South Carolina, they were not prepared to join South Carolina to succeed from the union over the issue of tariff nullification. This, combined with the threat by President Jackson to send federal troops into South Carolina, compelled state’s leaders to seek a compromise tariff law which defused the situation.
The Crisis of 1832 was the first spark of debate over Federal Supreme Authority vs. State’s Rights to nullify federal authority that smoldered for twenty eight years as southern states saw northern states gaining the upper hand in abolishing slavery through federal mandate. Southern states increasingly talked of their right to nullify federal authority, if the northern states gained enough votes in Congress to pass legislation abridging “their right” to maintain slavery.
The November 1860 election of Abraham Lincoln, who southerns regarded as an abolitionist, precipitated the secession of the Southern States from the Union. Seeing Lincoln as an abolitionist who would abolish their “state’s right” to slave ownership, South Carolina and other southern states claimed they had a right reserved to the states to succeed from the union.
By February 1861 South Carolina convened a constitutional convention with six other states to establish the Confederacy. The majority of the Southern leaders who attended the convention expected a peaceful secession; they did not anticipate that their action would lead to bloody conflict. They were wrong and the bloody four year war was consummated in the afternoon of April 12, 1861 when South Carolina militia under Brigadier-General Beauregard, commanding the Provisional Forces of the Confederate States, opened cannon fire on Fort Sumter.
Gov. Perry has many times referenced the Ten Amendment to defend the concept of State’s Rights Supremacy over Federal Authority. In July 2009 Perry invoked the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to reject health insurance reform and suggested other states would do the same. Several Texas Republicans filed legislation for the 2011 Texas legislative session aimed at reaffirming states’ rights and providing a constitutional mechanism to annul federal laws and regulations. Conservative Republican lawmakers in Idaho are moving forward with federal law nullification legislation, as are Conservative Republican lawmakers in other states.
Members of the Arizona Legislature, led by Republican Senate President Russell Pearce, have introduced a bill that attempts to grant the state the power to ignore federal laws it does not want to comply with.
If passed and signed into law, Senate Bill 1433 would create a 12-member committee within the state legislature with the power to review and recommend to the full Legislature laws they think are unconstitutional. The full Legislature would then have the power to nullify the federal statute by a majority vote.
The legality of the proposed legislation is questionable, as it runs counter to Article VI, Clause 2 and the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution, which have been interpreted as making federal law trump state law.
Article VI of the Constitution, commonly known as the Supremacy Clause, states that, “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.”
Likewise, in a set of decisions that has come to be known as the “incorporation doctrine”, the Supreme Court of the United States routinely ruled that the due process clause of the 14th Amendment prevents state and local governments from violating most provisions of the Constitution’s Bill of Rights.
Senate Bill 1433 is not the only piece of legislation in the Arizona legislature that conflicts with the 14th Amendment. In January, members of the Arizona House of Representatives introduced legislation that seeks to eliminate the long-standing 14th Amendment guarantee that all people born in the US and under its jurisdiction are citizens of the US.
“Babies born to illegal alien mothers within US borders are called anchor babies because under the 1965 immigration Act, they act as an anchor that pulls the illegal alien mother and eventually a host of other relatives into permanent US residency,” Senate President Pearce’s website stated.
“With illegal aliens who are unlawfully in the United States, their native country has a claim of allegiance on the child. Thus, the completeness of their allegiance to the United States is impaired, which therefore precludes automatic citizenship.”