Posts Tagged ‘Supreme Court’

I finished reading The Quartet: Orchestrating the Second American Revolution, 1783-1789 by Joseph J. Ellis (2015). The title refers to George Washington, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay. More about the book in the future.

In reading the footnotes – what a nerd! -one jumped out at me. “…for judicial devotees of the ‘original intent’ doctrine” – what DID the Founders mean? – “Madison’s motives” in crafting what became the Second Amendment to the Constitution “are clear beyond any doubt.”

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

“To wit, the right to bear arms derived from the needs to make state militias the core pillar of national defense” rather than a professional, federal army, which skeptics of federalism feared as threats to small-r republican values. .

“To avoid reaching that conclusion, the [Supreme Court] majority opinion in Heller [v. District of Columbia, 2008], written by Justice Antonin Scalia, is an elegant example of legalistic legerdemain masquerading as erudition. Madison is rolling over in his grave.”

Those not familiar with the fancy noun, it means 1. sleight of hand 2. trickery; deception 3. any artful trick.

In other words, the suggestion that Scalia’s argument is originalist is pure hokum. The Supreme Court had made only a couple rulings over two centuries on that amendment and, it would seem, got it wrong the second time.

In making this ruling, SCOTUS has empowered folks, including some in the powerful National Rifle Association, to argue that ANY limitation on gun ownership is unconstitutional. If the First Amendment can be proscribed – no yelling “fire” in a crowded theater unless there are actually flames – surely the Second can be also.

My wife and I were watching NBC Nightly News on March 24, the day of March for Our Lives rallies all over the world. One of the early stories was Museums across the nation work to archive mementos of grief left after shootings. There is actually a protocol for collecting those items left after mass murders! “Jeff Schwartz of the Parkland [Florida] Historical Society is relying on advice from… curators across the country — from Columbine, Colorado, to Charleston, South Carolina — who have all faced such situations.” We both wept.

So I’m not all that concerned about the “crass ageism” of some of the survivors. The Parkland kids, as of March 24, had been in the media spotlight 39 days, still grieving. I cut them a LOT of slack. “To the leaders, skeptics and cynics who told us to sit down, stay silent and wait your turn, welcome to the revolution,” Marjory Stoneman Douglas student Cameron Kasky told the throngs in DC. “Either represent the people or get out. Stand for us or beware.”

I don’t know what the change in the gun culture will be, but I remain cautiously optimistic, because I have to be.

From The Doors:
The old get old
And the young get stronger
May take a week
And it may take longer
They got the guns
But we got the numbers
Gonna win, yeah
We’re takin’ over
Come on!

A good friend of mine asked me to try to find an interview with Antonin Scalia. The late Supreme Court justice talked about a “dead Constitution,” arguing that people ONLY have rights that are spelled out in the document or by the formal amendment process.

My friend recalls him saying that women, or blacks, had no inherent rights until they could convince sufficient White Men to give them rights thru the amendment process.

I discovered that he laid out his “originalist” views many times. In 2005, he delivered one of his two most essential speeches, Constitutional Interpretation the Old Fashioned Way:

Consider the 19th Amendment, which is the amendment that gave women the vote. It was adopted by the American people in 1920. Why did we adopt a constitutional amendment for that purpose? The Equal Protection Clause existed in 1920; it was adopted right after the Civil War. And you know that if the issue of the franchise for women came up today, we would not have to have a constitutional amendment.

Someone would come to the Supreme Court and say, “Your Honors, in a democracy, what could be a greater denial of equal protection than denial of the franchise?” And the Court would say, “Yes! Even though it never meant it before, the Equal Protection Clause means that women have to have the vote.” But that’s not how the American people thought in 1920.

In 2008, Scalia vigorously defended a ‘Dead’ Constitution. As his 2016 New York Times obit noted:

“By choosing the appeals court judge and former law professor, Reagan believed that his nominee would become a… man who would unite a coalition of like-minded justices… But from the beginning, Justice Scalia defied all expectations. He eagerly participated in questioning from the bench during oral arguments when new justices traditionally held back. He became an outspoken, witty and acerbic writer and speaker, who was deified or vilified by people on opposite sides of the political divide.”

This is the first Monday of October, the traditional opening of the Supreme Court’s term. Scalia has been replaced by Obama nominee Merrick Garland Trump appointee Neil M. Gorsuch.

pledge of allegianceSometimes, you need to tell a story so you can tell another story. This is one of those times.

Back in the fall of 1968 (I believe) , I was a sophomore at Binghamton (NY) Central High School. This was, of course, a period of a good deal of strife across the country. The war in Vietnam and civil rights movement were prominently on my mind in the months after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. in April. I read a lot of King after his death, most notably his speeches in April 1967 opposing the Vietnam war. Also in 1967, Muhammad Ali was stripped of his heavyweight boxing title for his refusal to be drafted into the armed service.

Both Ali and King evoked race in stating their positions. Read the rest of this entry »

25mphPicture per HERE.

How Republicans Trumped Themselves. Still, I’m NOT convinced that FriendsWhoLikeTrump.com reflects true Trump supporters on Facebook.

How people respond to Bible quotes when told they’re from the Quran.

The Deadliest Mass Shooting Everyone Forgot.

Ikea’s Newly Designed Refugee Shelters.

Why Poor People Stay Poor. Saving money costs money. Period.

UN Fighting to make LGBT people Free & Equal.
Read the rest of this entry »

Close up of the Constitution of the United States of America with quil feather pen

Close up of the Constitution of the United States of America with quill feather pen

Constitution Day is tomorrow, so I found some articles from the previous 12 months, pulling out quotes, to commemorate it. I suggest you read the whole articles.

Civics For Dummies: Judicial Review
People who dislike particular court rulings often imagine that this power of judicial review wasn’t in the Founders’ original vision at all; somewhere along the line the Supreme Court just usurped it. But in fact the Founders foresaw judicial review and approved.

How the NRA Rewrote the Second Amendment
“‘One loves to possess arms’ wrote Thomas Jefferson, the premier intellectual of his day, to George Washington on June 19, 1796.” What a find! Oops Read the rest of this entry »

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