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The Natural Law of Self-Defense

Man’s right of self-defense did not begin with the adoption of the Second Amendment. It has nothing to do with guns or with the U.S. Constitution. In fact, it has no connection whatsoever to any man-made law or technology. Self-defense by any means is a natural human right that each person enjoys by virtue of his or her humanity. It is the right which guarantees all others.

One of the most provocative statements ever made on how comprehensive our individual right of self-defense is was made by the famed English philosopher John Locke in his Second Treatise on Government. Locke, whose political philosophy greatly influenced our American Founding Fathers, explained how the natural law works and why the individual is justified in defending himself with lethal force when necessary:

“THE state of war is a state of enmity and destruction: and therefore declaring by word or action, not a passionate and hasty, but a sedate settled design upon another man’s life, puts him in a state of war with him against whom he has declared such an intention, and so has exposed his life to the other’s power to be taken away by him, or any one that joins with him in his defence, and espouses his quarrel; it being reasonable and just, I should have a right to destroy that which threatens me with destruction: for, by the fundamental law of nature, man being to be preserved as much as possible, when all cannot be preserved, the safety of the innocent is to be preferred: and one may destroy a man who makes war upon him, or has discovered an enmity to his being, for the same reason that he may kill a wolf or a lion; because such men are not under the ties of the common law of reason, have no other rule, but that of force and violence, and so may be treated as beasts of prey, those dangerous and noxious creatures, that will be sure to destroy him whenever he falls into their power.

“And hence it is, that he who attempts to get another man into his absolute power, does thereby put himself into a state of war with him; it being to be understood as a declaration of a design upon his life: for I have reason to conclude, that he who would get me into his power without my consent, would use me as he pleased when he had got me there, and destroy me too when he had a fancy to it; for no body can desire to have me in his absolute power, unless it be to compel me by force to that which is against the right of my freedom, i.e. make me a slave. To be free from such force is the only security of my preservation; and reason bids me look on him, as an enemy to my preservation, who would take away that freedom which is the fence to it; so that he who makes an attempt to enslave me, thereby puts himself into a state of war with me. He that, in the state of nature, would take away the freedom that belongs to any one in that state, must necessarily be supposed to have a design to take away every thing else, that freedom being the foundation of all the rest; as he that, in the state of society, would take away the freedom belonging to those of that society or commonwealth, must be supposed to design to take away from them every thing else, and so be looked on as in a state of war.

“This makes it lawful for a man to kill a thief, who has not in the least hurt him, nor declared any design upon his life, any farther than, by the use of force, so to get him in his power, as to take away his money, or what he pleases, from him; because using force, where he has no right, to get me into his power, let his pretence be what it will, I have no reason to suppose, that he, who would take away my liberty, would not, when he had me in his power, take away every thing else. And therefore it is lawful for me to treat him as one who has put himself into a state of war with me, i.e. kill him if I can; for to that hazard does he justly expose himself, whoever introduces a state of war, and is aggressor in it.

“. . . force, or a declared design of force, upon the person of another, where there is no common superior on earth to appeal to for relief, is the state of war: and it is the want of such an appeal gives a man the right of war even against an aggressor, tho’ he be in society and a fellow subject. Thus a thief, whom I cannot harm, but by appeal to the law, for having stolen all that I am worth, I may kill, when he sets on me to rob me but of my horse or coat; because the law, which was made for my preservation, where it cannot interpose to secure my life from present force, which, if lost, is capable of no reparation, permits me my own defence, and the right of war, a liberty to kill the aggressor, because the aggressor allows not time to appeal to our common judge, nor the decision of the law, for remedy in a case where the mischief may be irreparable. Want of a common judge with authority, puts all men in a state of nature: force without right, upon a man’s person, makes a state of war, both where there is, and is not, a common judge” (Locke, Second Treatise on Government, Chapter 3, Sections 17-19).

Elsewhere in his Treatise, Locke explained:

“In transgressing the law of nature, the offender declares himself to live by another rule than that of reason and common equity, which is that measure God has set to the actions of men, for their mutual security; and so he becomes dangerous to mankind, the tye, which is to secure them from injury and violence, being slighted and broken by him. Which being a trespass against the whole species, and the peace and safety of it, provided for by the law of nature, every man upon this score, by the right he hath to preserve mankind in general, may restrain, or where it is necessary, destroy things noxious to them, and so may bring such evil on any one, who hath transgressed that law, as may make him repent the doing of it, and thereby deter him, and by his example others, from doing the like mischief. And in the case, and upon this ground, MAN HATH A RIGHT TO PUNISH THE OFFENDER, AND BE EXECUTIONER OF THE LAW OF NATURE. . . .

“From these two distinct rights, the one of punishing the crime for restraint, and preventing the like offence, which right of punishing is in every body; the other of taking reparation, which belongs only to the injured party, comes it to pass that the magistrate, who by being magistrate hath the common right of punishing put into his hands, can often, where the public good demands not the execution of the law, remit the punishment of criminal offences by his own authority, but yet cannot remit the satisfaction due to any private man for the damage he has received. That, he who has suffered the damage has a right to demand in his own name, and he alone can remit: the damnified person has this power of appropriating to himself the goods or service of the offender, by right of self preservation, as every man has a power to punish the crime, to prevent its being committed again, by the right he has of preserving all mankind, and doing all reasonable things he can in order to that end: and thus it is, that every man, in the state of nature, has a power to kill a murderer, both to deter others from doing the like injury, which no reparation can compensate, by the example of the punishment that attends it from every body, and also to secure men from the attempts of a criminal, who having renounced reason, the common rule and measure God hath given to mankind, hath, by the unjust violence and slaughter he hath committed upon one, declared war against all mankind, and therefore may be destroyed as a lion or a tyger, one of those wild savage beasts, with whom men can have no society nor security: and upon this is grounded that great law of nature, Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed” (Locke, Second Treatise, Chapter 2, Sections 8 and 11).

Finally, Locke observed:

“Man being born, as has been proved, with a title to perfect freedom, and an uncontrouled enjoyment of all the rights and privileges of the law of nature, equally with any other man, or number of men in the world, hath by nature a power, not only to preserve his property, that is, his life, liberty and estate, against the injuries and attempts of other men; but to judge of, and punish the breaches of that law in others, as he is persuaded the offence deserves, even with death itself, in crimes where the heinousness of the fact, in his opinion, requires it” (Locke, Treatise, Chapter 7, Section 87).

Let’s recapitulate a few of the things we’ve learned from Mr. Locke. Locke explained that there exists a “fundamental law of nature” which gives the individual a right to “destroy that which threatens” him. When someone cuts the common ties, or laws, that bind a society together and protect its members, he becomes “noxious” and dangerous to the society. In fact, he enters into a “state of war” against those whose rights – whether their life, Liberty, and property – are threatened. Inasmuch as a person behaves like a “savage beast” and endangers those around him, he may be put down like a mad dog. This is not only common sense, but a right we each enjoy in the “state of nature.”

Some may argue, however, that we do not live in a “state of nature.” We can all admit that this is accurate. We live in a well-ordered society with laws, a police force, judges, systems of justice, mechanisms to redress grievances, and so forth. However, to deny our individual right of self-defense merely because we live in a society tramples on the very idea of natural rights and the most basic conception of Freedom.

Samuel Adams explained that we always retain our rights regardless of whether we enter into civil society. A person, if he chooses, may exist society at any time. When he does, he takes all his rights with him. We cannot, according to Mr. Adams, renounce our rights because they are endowments from Almighty God. He explained:

“All men have a right to remain in a state of nature as long as they please; and in case of intolerable oppression, civil or religious, to leave the society they belong to, and enter into another.

“When men enter into society, it is by voluntary consent. . . .

“The natural liberty of man, by entering into society, is abridged or restrained, so far only as is necessary for the great end of society, the best good of the whole.

“In the state of nature every man is, under God, judge and sole judge of his own rights and of the injuries done him. By entering into society he agrees to an arbiter or indifferent judge between him and his neighbors; but he no more renounces his original right than by taking a cause out of the ordinary course of law, and leaving the decision to referees or indifferent arbitrators. . . .

“The natural liberty of man is to be free from any superior power on earth, and not to be under the will or legislative authority of man, but only to have the law of nature for his rule. . . .

“In short, it is the greatest absurdity to suppose it in the power of one, or any number of men, at the entering into society, to renounce their essential natural rights, or the means of preserving those rights; when the grand end of civil government, from the very nature of its institution, is for the support, protection, and defence of those very rights; the principal of which, as is before observed, are Life, Liberty, and Property. If men, through fear, fraud, or mistake, should in terms renounce or give up any essential natural right, the eternal law of reason and the grand end of society would absolutely vacate such renunciation. The right to freedom being the gift of God Almighty, it is not in the power of man to alienate this gift and voluntarily become a slave” (Samuel Adams, “The Rights of the Colonists,” November 20, 1772).

Please note that Adams said people do not “renounce their essential natural rights, or the means of preserving those rights” when they agree to live in society with others. These prerogatives – to enjoy one’s natural rights and to defend them – always remain with the individual. It is “the greatest absurdity” to say we do not have a right to defend and preserve our other essential rights.

We allow police and others to defend us because, on paper, this system operates more efficiently. However, law enforcement personnel have no inherent right to police our neighborhoods. They have no intrinsic power to stop criminals just as courts have no inborn authority to punish criminals. Every power and authority a police officer posses comes directly from you, the individual. And this authority is merely on loan and can be reclaimed at any time – such as when no police are present or when public servants abuse the authority you have loaned them. The same is true with any and all powers claimed by government. They belong, of right, to individuals first and foremost.

Furthermore, there are many times in society when the individual does not have immediate access to society’s collective means of self-defense – whether law enforcement, the courts, or the nation’s armies – yet must immediately address a threat to his life, Liberty, or property. Such instances may include a woman walking down the road who needs to defend herself from sexual assault, a man defending his family from a home invader during the middle of the night, a store owner protecting his property and livelihood from arsonists or vandals, a person being carjacked by a criminal while driving to work, or a church-goer who suddenly find himself faced with a maniac attempting to shoot up his congregation. In these and myriad other scenarios, there is no possible way to reach out to society for help; there is no time to wait for the police to arrive, for the sheriff to investigate the matter, or for a jury to deliberate.

All of these instances share at least one thing in common; namely, that the victim’s rights are being violated. In the case of the woman, someone is trying to violate her body and free will or, in other words, her Liberty. In the case of the store owner, someone is trying to destroy his property. In the case of the church-goer, his and other innocent people’s right to life is threatened. In the case of the man defending his family or the person being carjacked, he doesn’t know the intention of the perpetrator is – kidnapping, murder, robbery, rape, etc., – and must act as if any of these is a distinct possibility.

Consider what John Locke said in the quote above: “He that, in the state of nature, would take away the freedom that belongs to any one . . . must necessarily be supposed to have a design to take away every thing else, that freedom being the foundation of all the rest.” We don’t know the intention of someone who is attacking, robbing, or otherwise assaulting us. All we know for certain is that a person is trampling our precious rights and clearly has no respect for us, the law, or morality.

A person who would violate any of your cherished rights automatically shows that he holds all your other rights in contempt. Such a person, theoretically, is capable of any thing – including taking your life. Since you do not know his intention, but simply know that he is willing to violate your rights, you must treat him as an existential threat to all of your Liberties. Remember, Locke explained:

“This makes it lawful for a man to kill a thief, who has not in the least hurt him, nor declared any design upon his life, any farther than, by the use of force, so to get him in his power, as to take away his money, or what he pleases, from him; because using force, where he has no right, to get me into his power, let his pretence be what it will, I have no reason to suppose, that he, who would take away my liberty, would not, when he had me in his power, take away every thing else. And therefore it is lawful for me to treat him as one who has put himself into a state of war with me, i.e. kill him if I can.”

It is lawful, according to the law of nature, to kill one who attempts to violate your right to life, Liberty, or property. This is the most basic and fundamental principle in the book of Liberty. “In the state of nature every man is, under God, judge and sole judge of his own rights and of the injuries done him,” as Samuel Adams said. When a state of war and hostility is commenced against you by an assailant whose intentions are unknown, you become the “judge and sole judge” of your rights and have a just right to defend yourself, your life, your Freedom, your family, your dignity as a human being, and your property. I would even argue that you have a duty to defend your rights since they are gifts from Almighty God.

Self-defense is not a new concept – wherever there is Liberty, there exists the right to defend it and those who enjoy it. Self-defense is an eternal law recognized by enlightened people in all ages.. Anciently, the Roman statesman Cicero explained:

“[T]here exists a law, not written down anywhere but inborn in our hearts; a law which comes to us not by training or custom or reading but by derivation and absorption and adoption from nature itself; a law which has come to us not from theory but from practice, not by instruction but by natural intuition. I refer to the law which lays it down that, if our lives are endangered by plots or violence or armed robbers or enemies, any and every method of protecting ourselves is morally right. When weapons reduce them to silence, the laws no longer expect one to await their pronouncements. For people who decide to wait for these will have to wait for justice, too – and meanwhile they must suffer injustice first. Indeed, even the wisdom of the law itself, by a sort of tacit implication, permits self-defense, because it does not actually forbid men to kill; what it does, instead, is to forbid the bearing of a weapon with the intention to kill. When, therefore, an inquiry passes beyond the mere question of the weapon and starts to consider the motive, a man who has used arms in self-defence is not regarded as having carried them with a homicidal aim” (Stephen P. Halbrook, That Every Man Be Armed: The Evolution of a Constitutional Right, 13).

I repeat: Self-defense is part of the “natural law.” The natural law written in our hearts by the finger of God permits us to defend ourselves against “plots or violence or armed robbers or enemies.” Literally “every method” and means to defend ourselves when endangered is “morally right.” Not only is it morally correct to defend ourselves, our lives, and our property, but the Declaration of Independence and Constitution both support the idea and enshrine it in the regal robes of legality.

Let’s leave behind the realm of the hypothetical and discuss a real example. Two nights ago, in Hunter, Oklahoma, a man shot a woman who entered his property at 3 A.M. and attempted to steal a flag. The flag was the National Socialist flag bearing the swastika. Whether or not you think he should have been flying the flag is not on trial here. What is being discussed, however, is the actual situation – that is, an individual trespassing on someone’s property at 3 A.M., attempting a robbery, and being shot in the process of fleeing with stolen property.

Since the incident, the local “authorities” have confiscated the man’s fourteen firearms and have charged him with “shooting with the intent to kill and assault and battery with a deadly weapon.” They are holding him without bail despite the fact that he was compliant with police and has never caused any trouble. One anonymous individual, in fact, said the man was very nice and would mow neighbors’ lawns and smile and wave. In spite of all this, he is being treated as a murderer.

The woman, by the way, survived the incident and is being treated for her wounds. Amazingly, the district attorney has not yet decided whether to charge her with a crime despite the fact that no one denies she was trying to steal property from the man’s home! I doubt whether the criminals who previously stole the man’s flag’s were charged with theft or trespassing either.

If I was on the jury that will try this case, given the information we know at this point, my conscience would not allow me to convict the man of anything. I’m quite sure John Locke would also vote “not guilty.” It was he, after all, who said, that it is “lawful for a man to kill a thief, who has not in the least hurt him, nor declared any design upon his life.” How can we refute his logic?

When you examine stories like this one from Oklahoma, don’t fall into the trap of asking whether the man should have fired his weapon. That’s not the point. That’s irrelevant, in fact. That is between him and his God. What you need to decide, rather, is whether or not the man had a right to defend himself and his property with force.

I contend that each of us has a natural right of self-defense which no earthly force, no government, no majority, no law, can ever erase. I hold it as sacrosanct that the laws of nature give me, the individual, a right to protect my life, my Liberty, and my property – and those of my family and innocent people – with lethal force whenever and wherever necessary. I further affirm that the benefit of the doubt should always be given to the victim of an illicit act, not to the criminal who was fortunately thwarted in his or her attempt to violate the victim’s sacred rights.

You may not care about swastika flags, but you should care very much about property rights. You may not agree with the personal viewpoints of the shooter in this case, but you should care about whether his right to defend his home and possessions is held inviolate. You may have sympathy for the woman who was shot, but you should never let your judgment become so clouded with emotion that you can’t label her a thief and a criminal. You will rarely go astray in your judgment if you always keep in mind the importance of our natural rights and our paramount right of self-defense. Self-defense, even when it means ending the life of an offender, is part of the “perfect freedom” with which man is born.

©Zack Strong 2020. All rights reserved.

What is wrong with Democrats? It’s in their party’s name, stupid!

“Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There was never a democracy that did not commit suicide.” – John Adams, letter to John Taylor, 1814.

“The American Republic will endure, until politicians realize they can bribe the people with their own money.” – Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America.


The Democrats want America to become a democracy. The ideal of a Democracy is not only reflected in their name but it is in their political DNA.

Eliminate the Electoral College – The First Step Toward Suicide

The Democrats want to eliminate the Electoral College and choose the President of the United States by popular vote. They also want to give illegals and non-citizens voting rights. They want Americans, and non-citizens, to vote to commit suicide.

An email from the Progressive Caucus titled “It’s time to put an END to the Electoral College” states:

We can’t forget: in 2016, Trump LOST the popular vote to Hillary Clinton. But thanks to the Electoral College, he’s the President.

If we sit back and allow history to repeat itself, Trump could be re-elected next year!

So we’re taking action NOW and raising $15,000 to support Progressives who are working to abolish the Electoral College.

If you believe that the results of elections should reflect the will of the people, chip in now to help end the Electoral College:

[ … ]

Listen, the Electoral College consistently benefits Republicans at the expense of our democracy.

In fact, 2016 was not the first time a Republican won the presidency after losing the popular vote.

So it’s up to Progressives in Congress to put an end to this antiquated system and enact a National Popular Vote, once and for all.

It’s not going to be easy, but with the help of supporters like you, they can make it happen.

If you believe every vote should truly count in our elections, chip in now to help end the Electoral College:

Eliminating the Electoral College has become one of the major talking points of not only the Progressive Caucus but also for some of the Democrat candidates running for president.

America is a Republic

America is not a Democracy. The U.S. Constitution was set up by the Founding Fathers to prevent the United States from ever becoming a Democracy.

Article 4, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution reads:

Article 4 – The States
Section 4 – Republican Government

The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence.

Republic

republic n 1 : a government having a chief of state who is not a monarch and is usually a president; also : a nation or other political unit having such a government 2 : a government in which supreme power is held by the citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by elected officers and representatives governing according to law; also : a nation or other political unit having such a form of government Source: NMW

In the context of the United States of America, both definitions apply.

Conclusion

It’s all about the name. The Republican Party supports the U.S. Constitution and the American republican form of government. Democrats want to change, or even abolish, the U.S. Constitution in order to establish a democracy.

What we are witnessing today is treason led by members of the Democrat Party against a duly elected President. A President who won via the Electoral College.

Treason
treason n the offense of attempting to overthrow the government of one’s country or of assisting its enemies in war

President Trump tweeted the following:

As I learn more and more each day, I am coming to the conclusion that what is taking place is not an impeachment, it is a COUP, intended to take away the Power of the….

….People, their VOTE, their Freedoms, their Second Amendment, Religion, Military, Border Wall, and their God-given rights as a Citizen of The United States of America!

In “The Nature of Government,” Ayn Rand observed, “We are fast approaching the stage of the ultimate inversion: the stage where the government is free to do anything it pleases, while the citizens may act only by permission; which is the stage of the darkest periods of human history, the stage of rule by brute force.”

Is this a coup? Are we approaching an “ultimate inversion” by the deep state?

We report, you will vote your conscience on Tuesday, November 3rd, 2020!

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© All rights reserved.

Dear Senator McCain please follow or get out of the way!

Dear Senator John McCain (R-AZ),

You had your chance to become the leader of the free world. You failed. As General George S. Patton said, “Lead me, follow me, or get out of my way.”

Since you are not President of the United States then you have a duty to follow Donald J. Trump as a Republican, based upon your oath to uphold the Constitution and as an American citizen to allow President Trump to conduct foreign policy as he sees fit.

There is a long standing tradition that members of the Senate do not criticize a sitting President overseas.

Speaking in 1947, Senator Arthur Vandenberg (R-MI), the influential chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, provided key support to Democratic President Harry S. Truman and admonished his colleagues that “[W]e must stop partisan politics at the water’s edge.”

You are the current chairman of the Senate Armed Forces Committee. You have a duty to speak with President Trump privately on issues important to you but you have no right to suggest the POTUS is a dictator or dictatorial in a foreign land.

President Trump has the power to conduct U.S. foreign policy under Article II Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution:

He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

Please remember President Trump took the oath of office which states, ”I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Gateway Pundit reports that in a February 2017 recording in what appears to be a conversation between Senator McCain with Russian comedians Vladimir Kuznetsov and Alexei Stoliarov — known as Vovan and Lexus — posing as Prime Minister of Ukraine Volodymyr Groysman in a prank phone call, you discussed key national security issues on U.S. policy towards Ukraine and Russia.

Please understand that President Trump won the election. Therefore you are bound by your oath of office and the rules of the Republican Party to follow the lead of President Trump or get out of the way.

Sincerely,

The American People

Christians want to save gays from Hell — Islam wants to send gays to Hell!

I have written about Islam for over a decade. One thing I have learned is that the more Islamic (shariah law) compliant an individual, organization or nation state the more dangerous and deadly they are. I have also written about how the Democratic Party is made up of groups that are fundamentally at odds with one another. However, they have joined together because the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

The Church Militant’s Michael Voris did a compelling analysis of what happened in Orlando. Voris points out:

The liberal alliance has brought various factions together, with one common goal: to end Catholic morality’s influence on Western civilization.

There are indeed some strange pairings in this liberal alliance: homosexualists, the Democratic Party, the mainstream media and Islam. Whatever differences Islam and liberals have, they have been willing to overlook them to join forces against the common enemy of Christianity, specifically Catholicism.

[ … ]

One point needs to become very clear to all those who wish to paint the Church as an enemy of gays: We want you saved. Islam wants you dead. And let’s be very clear: The Catholic Church wants to save gays from Hell. Islam wants to send gays to Hell. [Emphasis added]

That liberal alliance has been sorely tested after the massacre in Orlando by Omar Mateen, a devout follower of Mohammed.

In my May 14,  2016 column New Democrat Party: The Red–Green–Rainbow Troika I noted:

I have written that President Obama’s greatest political achievement has been to fundamentally transform the Democratic Party. The New Democratic Party (NDP) is an alliance which I call the Red-Green-Rainbow Troika or RGRT. It consists of new groups that Democrats have not historically allied themselves with, until now.

The NDP has made it its mission to protect the “civil rights and civil liberties” of groups that are both incompatible with one another and with mainstream America.

The groups are incompatible for a number of reasons including:

  1. Communists hate Muslims and gays.
  2. Muslims hate Communists and execute gays (sodomites).
  3. Gays hate all religions, but make an exception for Islam (i.e. the enemy of my enemy is my friend).

At some point these divergent groups will turn on one another.

As Ayn Rand wrote:

The uncontested absurdities of today are the accepted slogans of tomorrow. They come to be accepted by degrees, by dint of constant pressure on one side and constant retreat on the other – until one day when they are suddenly declared to be the country’s official ideology.

Here are some of the absurdities that have become the official ideology of the neo-Democrat Party:

  • The greatest national security threat is climate change (i.e. formerly global warming).
  • White Christian men are a greater threat than the Islamic State, Iran and the Black Lives Matter movement.
  • Spending on social programs is more important than spending on national security.
  • Engagement and dialogue with America’s enemies (i.e. Iran) is preferred to any form of confrontation.
  • Nationalized health care (the Affordable Care Act) is affordable.
  • Deficit spending is good for the economy and will create jobs.
  • Putting more Americans on the public dole is good for creating more government jobs.
  • Anyone who disagrees with the neo-Democrat Party policies is racist, homophobic, Islamophobic and a national security threat.
  • People don’t kill people, guns kill people (e.g. need to outlaw guns).
  • Public schools must teach children what to think, not how to think (i.e. Common Core).
  • Aborting the unborn and selling their body parts is noble.
  • Bigger government, more regulations and centralized powers and greater control over the behaviors of citizens is good.
  • Coal, oil and natural gas are evil.
  • Saving the planet is more important than saving the human race.
  • A weak America is good for world peace.
  • The Judeo/Christian God is dead.

On November 8th, 2016 millions will vote for the RGRT candidate for president. If that happens then the policies of the current administration will become the new social order.

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Amending the U.S. Constitution by Fiat – Part II

A great many Americans, including a substantial number of my own readers, remain confused about the question of who is and who is not a “natural born” citizen, eligible to serve as president or vice president of the United States.  They remain doggedly convinced that Barack Obama, Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal, and Marco Rubio are all eligible to serve merely because they were born on American soil.  That simply is not the case.  From the comments I have received in response to a recent column titled, “Amending the U.S. Constitution by Fiat,” it appears as if some either read much too quickly, or are a bit lacking in reading comprehension skills.

Article II, Section 1, Clause 5 of the U.S. Constitution tells us, “No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty-five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.”  It’s pretty straightforward.  Nevertheless, it appears that when many read those words they are immediately struck by a strange form of dyslexia.  What their brains register is a clause beginning, “No Person except a Citizen of the United States shall be eligible to the Office of President…” 

The qualifications related to the age of the president and the number of years of U.S. residency are not at issue… they are quite straightforward and leave no room for misinterpretation.  It is the status of the candidates’ citizenship that causes problems for many people… many of whom read the clause as if the legislatures of thirty-eight states had just approved an amendment dropping fourteen words from the middle of the presidential eligibility clause.

Clearly, the use of the word “or” early in the clause tells us that a natural born citizen is someone entirely different from a mere citizen.  That was true on June 21, 1788, the day the Constitution was ratified, and it is still true today; the provision has not been amended.  The term “citizen” encompasses a broad range of citizenship categories, including “native born,” “natural born,” and “naturalized.”  The term “natural born” refers to a specific sub-set of citizens.

When the Founders met in Philadelphia in September 1787 to approve the final draft of the U.S. Constitution, a deep-seated animosity toward all things British colored every aspect of their daily lives.  So is it even remotely conceivable that, just five years and eleven months after Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown, the Founders would have produced a Constitution that would allow an individual holding dual US-British citizenship to serve as commander-in-chief of the Army and the Navy?  It is a preposterous notion on its face.  To believe that they would have done so requires a willing suspension of reason.  Yet, that is precisely what those who use the terms “citizen” and “natural born citizen” interchangeably would have us believe.

To illustrate, let’s pretend that we are present at Independence Hall in Philadelphia on a cold winter’s day in January 1789.  It is just seven months after the people of New Hampshire voted to ratify the U.S. Constitution, making it the official law of the land.  The third session of the Continental Congress has just been called to decide who should be selected to lead our new nation as president of the United States.  The Constitution required that the man they selected had to be either a natural born U.S. citizen… or… a citizen of the United States on the day that the Constitution was ratified, at least thirty-five years of age, and a resident of the U.S. for at least fourteen years.

If those who drafted Article II of the Constitution had insisted upon the same qualifications for president and vice president as they had for members of Congress and members of the federal judiciary, including members of the United States Supreme Court, Article II, Section 1, Clause 5 of the Constitution would have begun, “No Person except a Citizen of the United States shall be eligible to the Office of President…”  In a nation of 4 million people, nearly every male citizen over age thirty-five would have qualified.

But if the Framers had produced a document that began, “No Person except a natural born Citizen shall be eligible to the Office of President…” they would have been presented with an insoluble problem because, in 1789, when the first president of the United States was elected, the only natural born citizens in the entire country… those born after the signing of the Declaration of Independence to U.S. citizen parents… were less than thirteen years old.

Fortunately, the authors of Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution had foreseen the problem and, realizing that there could be no thirty-five-year-old natural born citizens during the earliest years of the republic, provided language making it possible for those born prior to the signing of the Declaration of Independence, to parents who were not U.S. citizens, to serve as president or vice president.

It is not as if the country did not enjoy an excess of strong and capable leaders, men of major accomplishments.  General George Washington, who led the continental Army during the Revolutionary War, was available.  He was born in Wakefield, Virginia on February 22, 1732, forty-four years before the Declaration of Independence.  Eighty-four-year-old Benjamin Franklin, a Pennsylvania delegate to the Constitutional Convention and one of the most prominent men of the time was available.  Franklin was born in Massachusetts in January 1705, and lived most of his life in the U.S.  George Mason, a Virginia delegate to the Constitutional Convention who came to be known as the “Father of the Bill of Rights,” was available.  Mason was born in Virginia on December 11, 1725, and lived his entire life in the U.S.

However, none of the three were “natural born” citizens because they were born to parents who were subjects of King George III, but who became U.S. citizens on July 4, 1776 when the Declaration of Independence was signed.  And since the Framers had foreseen the problem and had provided a “grandfather” clause to cover the situation, all three were made eligible under the Article II, Section 1 language reading, “or a citizen of the United States at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution…”

In fact, none of our first seven presidents… Washington, J. Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, J.Q. Adams, or Jackson… were natural born citizens.  Martin Van Buren, our eighth president, born to U.S. citizen parent at Kinderhook, New York, on December 5, 1782, six years after the Declaration of Independence, was our first “natural born” president.  Every president since Van Buren, with the exception of Republican Chester A. Arthur, whose Irish father was a British

subject at the time of his birth, and Democrat Barack Obama, whose Kenyan father was also a British subject at the time of his birth, has been a “natural born” U.S. citizen, as required by Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution.

Those who doggedly insist that all that is necessary to be a “natural born” citizen is to be born on American soil, regardless of their parents’ citizenship status, have an obligation to explain why the Framers were so careful to distinguish between the terms “citizen” and “natural born citizen” while setting out the qualifications to serve as president of the United States.

Why did the Framers make that distinction?  Although it is impossible for parents to know beforehand how their children will ultimately develop, we can all agree that the most influential factor in a child’s upbringing is the parenting he/she receives as a child, and that the cultural, philosophical, political, and religious influence of a child’s parents fundamentally establishes the direction of his/her future conduct and intellectual development.  It was that hope of parental and environmental influence on which the Framers pinned their hopes for a Christian nation comprised of Godly citizens who would be capable of maintaining a constitutional republic.

What the Founders feared most, and what caused them to limit access to the presidency only to the “natural born,” was the fear that a future president… during his formative years and during the years in which he was developing intellectually… would be exposed to an environment or a foreign political ideology that might cause him to reject the values and the principles embodied in the U.S. Constitution.

No president has been more emblematic of the worst fears of the Framers than the current resident of 1600 Pennsylvania, Ave., Barack Hussein Obama.  His father was a Muslim and a black African socialist; his mother was a left wing socialist flower-child; his stepfather was an Indonesian Muslim, subject to Sharia Law; his grandparents were dedicated socialists, perhaps communist sympathizers; his father figure during his teen years, Frank Marshall Davis, was a nationally known Communist Party writer and propagandist; the people who were instrumental in launching his political career in Chicago were radical Weather Underground terrorists who had participated in the killing of U.S. law enforcement officers; and his religious mentor during his post-college years in Chicago was the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, an America-hater of the first order.  Nothing good can come from a lifetime of exposure to such people, so is it any wonder that he has dedicated himself to “fundamentally transforming” the government and the culture of the greatest nation on Earth?

Anyone wishing to take up the challenge outlined above might also wish to enlighten us by preparing a comprehensive list showing how Barack Obama’s governing principles mesh with governing principles contained in the U.S. Constitution.  After eight years of Obama rule in the White House, it may help us to decide which poses the greater danger: a) a competent socialist who knows exactly what he’s doing and why he’s doing it, or b) an incompetent socialist who hasn’t the foggiest notion of what he’s doing or how it might impact the greatest nation on Earth.  Of the many unknowns surrounding Barack Obama, this may be the most profound.

RELATED ARTICLE: Obama May Have Been Elected With Illegal Votes – Judicial Watch

VIDEOS: American Pride 2016

We need to sow some good seed into our culture if we expect to reap a crop that will restore honor and decency to America.  Here is one way to do it!

EDITORS NOTE: To learn more about the America Pride Project click here.

VIDEO: What is the U.S. Constitution? Why is it important?

The James Madison Institute recently visited a college campus in Florida, camera in hand, to ask students walking by if they’d like to answer those questions and more.

Yes. You heard that right. We randomly asked students if they would like to do an on-camera interview about the U.S. Constitution and many said, “Sure!”

We didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into. What we heard was, well, you’ll just have to watch to find out!

Watch the short video. Take a break from your day and hear what these students had to say!

Constitution Day is fast approaching. As part of JMI’s Preston A. Wells, Jr. Center for American Ideals and our Campus Representatives program, we will host several events on college campuses across Florida the week of Sept. 14 to commemorate this important day. This video was created to help promote these events, which are also featured on our website jamesmadison.org.

Please help us share by forwarding this email. You can also visit our Facebook and Twitter pages and share from those social media platforms.

Government Can’t Censor Content — Even If It’s ‘For Your Own Good’ by Evan Bernick

Will a recent Supreme Court decision unleash more speech than Americans can handle?

In a recent New York Times article, reporter Adam Liptak (rightly) refers to Reed v. Town of Gilbert as “the sleeper case of the last Supreme Court term.” Liptak spoke with Robert Post, First Amendment scholar and dean of Yale Law School, and Floyd Abrams, constitutional lawyer and free-speech advocate.

In Reed, the Court invalidated a town sign code that treated signs promoting church services more harshly than signs promoting other messages, and made plain that such content-based restrictions on speech must undergo strict judicial scrutiny.

Abrams praised the decision; Dean Post, according to Liptak, predicted that it will “endanger[] all sorts of laws,” “roll consumer protection back to the 19th century,” and “destabilize First Amendment law.”

Those, like Abrams, who believe that “the First Amendment is about liberty” and that “we all lose by reading it narrowly” should welcome the ruling in Reed and pay no heed to Post’s parade of horribles.

Reed resolved an ambiguity that had confused lower courts for decades and rendered many Americans’ freedom to speak uncertain in important areas. In so doing, Reed honored the broad mandate of the First Amendment, which prohibits any law “abridging the freedom of speech,” making no exception for certain messages, ideas, or subject matters — regardless of whether the government promises that curbing speech is for our own good.

How did we get to Reed? The first major case to focus on content-based speech restrictions was Police Department of Chicago v. Mosley (1972), which concerned a Chicago ordinance that barred picketing within 150 feet of schools during the school day — except for picketing related to labor disputes.

The Court invalidated the ordinance because the government provided no credible evidence that labor picketing was less likely to be disruptive than other forms of picketing.

To selectively proscribe speech on the basis of its subject matter, said the Court, is to “completely undercut the ‘profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide open.’”

Subsequent cases would make clear that intent to censor is not essential to a determination that a restriction on speech is content-based; if the government had to inspect the content of speech to determine how it could be regulated, that was sufficient to trigger strict scrutiny.

But the nature of the Court’s content-based jurisprudence became muddled as it began to review First Amendment challenges to local zoning rules concerning adult businesses. These zoning rules clearly regulated speech based on its subject matter — they only applied to businesses whose expression was sexually explicit.

However, in City of Renton v. Playtime Theaters, Inc. (1986), the Court concluded that an ordinance targeting theaters that specialize in sexually explicit films was content-neutral and, thus, not subject to strict scrutiny, because it was “justified without reference to the content of the regulated speech” — specifically, because “the Renton ordinance is aimed not at the content of the films… but rather at the secondary effects of such theaters on the surrounding community.”

Renton was hotly debated by First Amendment scholars at the time, and scholar Laurence Tribe expressed concern that the newly-minted secondary effects doctrine would “undermine the very foundation of the content-based/content neutral distinction.”

In Ward v. Rock Against Racism (1989), Tribe’s concern was validated. Ward involved a content-neutral rule that required the use of city-provided sound equipment at concerts in Central Park, regardless of what was being performed.

Drawing upon Renton, the Court stated that the “[t]he principal inquiry in determining content neutrality… is whether the government has adopted a regulation of speech because of disagreement with the message it conveys.”

Some lower courts understood Ward to stand for the proposition that facially discriminatory laws — that is, laws that identify regulated speech based on its content — could be treated as content-neutral for purposes of the First Amendment, so long as the courts believed that those laws were enacted for public-spirited reasons.

But since government officials always profess benign intentions, proving censorial intent proved difficult. The result: the proliferation of speech restrictions, including licensing schemes restricting occupational speech (such as that of tour guides, interior designers, and veterinarians), panhandling bans, and noise ordinances that exempt certain noises from regulation depending on either their message or who is speaking.

Reed v. Town of Gilbert was a perfect example of this trend. In the decision below in Reed, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals determined that Gilbert’s sign code was “content-neutral” because of the town’s assurances that it had no intention to discriminate.

To combat this censorial trend, when the Supreme Court granted certiorari inReed, the Institute for Justice filed an amicus brief urging the Court to clarify that strict scrutiny applies:

  1. If a law expressly requires the government to look at the content of speech in determining whether or not it is subject to regulation, or
  2. When a law’s purpose is to censor messages with certain subject matters or viewpoints.

And thankfully, to the benefit of speakers across the country, the Supreme Court did exactly that.

Writing for the Court, Justice Thomas explained,

A law that is content based on its face is subject to strict scrutiny regardless of the government’s benign motive, content-neutral justification, or lack of ‘animus’ toward the ideas contained in the regulated speech.

The Court easily concluded that the sign code at issue classified signs on the basis of their content because whether or not the restrictions applied to any given sign “depend[ed] entirely on the communicative content of the sign.”

Having done so, the Court went on to perform the kind of truth-seeking judicial engagement that is required to ensure that the government does not act as a censor, insisting that the government demonstrate, with reliable evidence, that it was pursuing a compelling interest through means narrowly tailored to that end.

The town failed to carry its burden. Although the town claimed that the sign code “preserv[ed] the Town’s aesthetic appeal” and protected “traffic safety,” the town “allow[ed] unlimited numbers of other types of signs that create the same problem[s]” and did not demonstrate that “directional signs pose a greater threat to safety than do ideological or political signs.”

Even assuming that the town’s stated interests were compelling, the Court concluded that the sign code was insufficiently narrowly tailored to pass constitutional muster.

Which brings us to the present where, as Liptak observes, Reed is already having an impact.

In the wake of Reed, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals revisited an ordinance barring panhandling in the “downtown historic district” of Springfield, Illinois.

Last year, the Seventh Circuit had upheld the ordinance as content-neutral, even though an officer enforcing the ordinance would have to listen to the content of the speaker’s message in order to determine whether the ordinance had been violated. (A request for a charitable donation might be impermissible, but a request for a commercial transaction would not.)

Following Reed, the Seventh Circuit accepted a petition for rehearing and a unanimous panel invalidated the Springfield ordinance. Judge Easterbrook, writing for the panel, recognized the broad scope of Reed’s holding: “Any law distinguishing one kind of speech from another by reference to its meaning now requires a compelling justification.”

Although Reed reaffirmed the Court’s historical (and highly critical) view of content-based regulation, not everyone sees the ruling as cause for celebration. But Dean Post’s specific criticisms are unwarranted.

Although Post argues that the decision could undermine restrictions on misleading advertising and professional malpractice, such laws have coexisted with the First Amendment for over 200 years, and there is no reason to believe that the Court’s decision will change that. Nor will Reed destabilize our First Amendment law; it stabilizes that law by providing much-needed guidance to lower courts.

Dean Post’s real complaint is that, for over a quarter century, the Court has gradually shifted away from his preferred theory of the First Amendment — one that would allow the government to privilege certain favored categories of speech — towards a more libertarian view, which leaves such judgments about the value of speech to the free choices of Americans. Reed v. Town of Gilbert is simply the most recent step in that evolution, and it is nothing to be afraid of.

In Reed, the Court affirmed that the government is not free to pick and choose what topics it would prefer Americans speak about or what information they can be trusted with, even if the government earnestly professes that it has our best interests at heart. Reed will help to ensure that speech remains uninhibited, robust, and wide open.

A version of this article first appeared at the Huffington Post.

Evan Bernick
Evan Bernick

Evan is the Assistant Director of the Center for Judicial Engagement at the Institute for Justice, a libertarian public interest law firm.

When Judges Quit Protecting Liberty by David S. D’Amato

How do we decide if a government action is legitimate?

When courts are asked to determine whether a government action has violated an individual’s rights, they apply one of several different “standards of review” or “levels of scrutiny,” ranging from “strict scrutiny” (reserved for a very narrow category of cases) to “rational basis scrutiny.”

Rational basis tests erect the lowest possible legal hurdles for the government, yet they are applied in cases that implicate some of our most important liberties, such as the right to earn a living, simply because they were not listed by name in the Bill of Rights.

For example, a law requiring an expensive permit to arrange flowers will only merit a rational basis review. And while rational basis review is a test for constitutionality, it doesn’t have anything to do with the Constitution or its history.

As Timothy Sandefur pointed out in the Cato Unbound issue on judicial activism, such rational basis tests have “no foundation whatsoever in the Constitution of the United States.” Rather, they were simply made up, fashioned by judges out of whole cloth during a period when courts were increasingly willing to defer to legislators and bureaucrats and their arbitrary and needless interference with private enterprise.

Rational basis review amounts to carte blanche for petty tyrants in legislatures, city councils, and regulatory agencies. Since the New Deal, courts have refused to give any real constitutional protection to the basic right to choose your profession and earn an honest living.

The 1934 Supreme Court decision in Nebbia v. New York is an important episode in the creeping evolution of rational basis. Leo Nebbia, a grocer, was convicted of the heinous crime of selling milk at a price that was too low, according to the bullies at New York’s “Milk Control Board.”

Writing for the Court, Justice Owen Roberts declared that as long as a law has “a reasonable relation to a proper legislative purpose,” the courts have no authority to strike it down.

Though he admitted that “the reasonableness of each regulation depends upon the relevant facts,” Roberts still maintained that, once a law is enacted, “every possible presumption is in favor of its validity.” If a “policy may reasonably be deemed to promote public welfare,” judicial review is basically over.

As a practical matter, this strange, circular reasoning means that a legislative body determines for itself whether its bills are constitutional. Merely by passing the law, the legislature settles the question and obliges the courts to accept any explanation offered for it. Such a theory eviscerates meaningful judicial review and leaves the individual defenseless, without any legal recourse against the nearly omnipotent modern state. And, since the Nebbia decision, the courts have only become more deferential.

Conservatives mistakenly associate judicial “activism” with the progressive left, but the New Deal-era progressive judges were actually the architects of the judicial “deference” that reigns today. Traditional common law protections were discarded in favor of expedience: the desire to get out of government’s way as it systematically planned, monitored, and regulated society as it saw fit.

The liberalism of the previous century was likewise treated with an arrogant and imperious contempt. Quaint notions of individual liberty and inviolable natural rights gave way to the irresistible march of modernity and “scientific” progress, shepherded by their natural steward, the state.

Rational basis tests invert legitimate due process. The burden of proof should be on the government to prove that a law or regulation serves the general welfare. The government should have to factually demonstrate the connection between the law and public health and safety, not merely assert that one mightexist.

But, instead, judges have decided that person challenging a law must confront and rebut every possible argument and hypothetical that the government (or judge) might conjure up in support of its law.

The rational basis test demands that a victim of government overreach prove the impossible, refuting an infinite universe of possible scenarios and rationales that could justify the law. Forget the actual empirical facts — rational basis has no time for such distractions.

On the contrary, the test requires judges to help the government by inventing counterfactual stories that could have justified the law. Even if the law has nothing to do with community health or safety, even if it is openly protectionist, it must be upheld if any flight of fancy could justify it.

Thus, the rational basis “test” is no test at all. It is a hollow, perfunctory gesture as the court abandons its duty of judicial review and leaves the hapless individual at the mercy of capricious government officials and special interests.

The right to choose your occupation is as fundamental a liberty as the right to speak, an indispensable aspect of self-ownership and self-determination. The freedom to make important, personal decisions about your career and your property is the bedrock of peaceful cooperation and civil society. In any society even moderately committed to freedom and legitimate due process, the rational basis test would be inconceivable. The presumption of liberty, like the presumption of innocence, would be the individual’s default position under the law.

Sadly, judges have abandoned their posts, doing the bidding of arbitrary governments and politically powerful economic interests who use the law to prevent competition. To fulfill the Constitution’s guarantee of due process, and to restore our lost liberties, we must scrap the rational basis excuse.

David S.  D'Amato

David S. D’Amato

David S. D’Amato is an attorney and independent scholar whose writing has appeared at the Institute of Economic Affairs, the Future of Freedom Foundation, the Centre for Policy Studies, and the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies.

‘We the People’ or the Political Elite

“We the People,” those symbolic words mean that for the first time in world history, a government was set up to not only recognize the God given rights of you and I, but also operate according to that most worthy premise “We the People.”  Unfortunately, the progressive political elitists have reversed the role and mission of the federal government.  So now, it is a rogue anti unalienable rights regime that only looks out for illegal immigrants, American born thugs, and anyone who is on a mission to destroy our exceptional nation way of life.

The federal government is most certainly rouge and is now a clear and present danger to the very continuation of our republic turned mob ruled democracy.  Not only is the federal government, but increasingly, state and local government are working diligently to obstruct the ability of sovereign citizens to live free from tyranny and to be the best that God would have them to be.

Often through government over regulations and draconian taxes people are obstructed from freely opening and running a family business.  Abusive government regulations are now so a stringent, they are literally choking the life out of what was at one time the most vibrant economy the world had ever known.

The latest round of proposed Environmental Protection Agency laws would at the very least increase household and small business energy bills 30 to 50 percent.  Why?  Because President Obama and others hate American greatness and power.  They are working overtime to use any method they can to destroy the United States.  Or at the very least, have her severely weakened and under the influence of islam by the time Obama leaves office.

The Obama administration is nothing more than a lightning rod of calculated destructive measures.  Some of which have practically destroyed a decent quality of life for not only black Americans, but increasingly for more and more Americans of all backgrounds.  The sad truth is, that some Americans are now too dumb to even understand just how screwed over they really are.

After five decades of indoctrination rom their liberal masters and a steady decrease in their standard of living, many psyched out black Americans are more enamored with running around carrying black lives matter signs, than building a good quality of life with their families and fellow Americans.

They are foolishly self-centered in their so-called progressive struggle, that they have the nerve to be upset because a presidential candidate and fellow progressive socialist stated that “all lives matter.”   To add insult to their stupid injury, the black socialist progressives even consider the “all lives matter” statement to be hate speech or a violent statement.   One has to wonder, what society can continue to remain great and economically prominent when millions of it’s brainwashed citizens are so bitter?  Then add in their low quality of cognitive functioning and increasing their numbers through breeding, what is occurring is a massive negative drain on our nation making us vulnerable to external enemies and economic collapse.

Unfortunately, far too many Americans have devolved into what the Bible refers to as those who would prefer to believe lies over the truth.  That is a direct result of at least five decades of unrelenting indoctrination of generations of American students against all that is good and morally correct.

There was a time if an individual chose to believe that he or she was entitled to someone else’s property and chose to rob them, I the were shot or beaten, that was considered just and no big deal.  But now, certain people are so off kilter morally, that brute force against an aggressive burglar is considered more horrendous than aborting innocent babies.

By the way, the black lives matter folks, President Obama and thugs can celebrate because local police forces have been prevented from going hard after thugs who choose to commit crimes against their fellow citizens.  So now, crime has dramatically increased in every city where there are substantial black populations.

In Chicago, over the past year murder of blacks by blacks is up 10 percent and rape has increased seven percent.  In Las Angeles, violent crime is up 20 percent year after year.  In Cleveland, the city is going through a tremendous revival downtown and in many neighborhoods that are not populated by mostly black Americans.  But in the city’s notorious east side, (with the exception of University Circle and Little Italy) is a black dominated war zone where they are seemingly bumping each other off for the sport of it.

Such developments or devolutions are the direct result of a wholesale rejection of morality and the Biblical principles that were the foundational building blocks of all that was great about this nation.  The continued dangerous practice of repudiating that which is good is literally destroying our republic.

Only through the rejection of that which is evil and learning about and accepting the good, will America have even a chance of once again becoming that shining city on a hill nation.

The choice is completely up to “We the People” not the political elites.

Can Millennials [And Academia] Take a Joke? by Clark Conner

Millennials can be a hypersensitive bunch, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the academy. American institutions of higher learning have become veritable minefields of trigger warnings, safe zones, and speech codes.

It appears we can add another line item to the growing list of things too radical for college students: humor. Comedian Jerry Seinfeld recently joined an expanding group of high-profile figures in denouncing higher education’s culture of hyper-sensitivity.

In an interview with ESPN Radio’s Colin Cowherd, Seinfeld discussed why comics are reluctant to take their act on campus:

COWHERD: Does the climate worry you now? I’ve talked to Chris Rock and Larry the Cable Guy; they don’t even want to do college campuses anymore.

SEINFELD: I hear that all the time. I don’t play colleges, but I hear a lot of people tell me, “Don’t go near colleges. They’re so PC.” I’ll give you an example: My daughter’s 14. My wife says to her, “Well, you know, in the next couple years, I think maybe you’re going to want to be hanging around the city more on the weekends, so you can see boys.” You know what my daughter says? She says, “That’s sexist.”

COWHERD: That’s amazing.

SEINFELD: They just want to use these words: “That’s racist”; “That’s sexist”; “That’s prejudice.” They don’t know what they’re talking about.

It took roughly 24 hours for Seinfeld’s point to prove itself. The day after the Huffington Post ran an article on Seinfeld’s comments, an open letter appeared on the site addressed to Mr. Seinfeld from a “College Student.”

The letter touches on a myriad of topics, including racism, sexism, offending the “right” people, and (for reasons unknown) “the underlying culture of violence and male domination that inhabits high school football,” but its overarching spirit is summed up in the author’s ironic introduction:

Recently, I’ve heard about your reluctance to perform on college campuses because of how “politically correct” college students are… As a college student that loves and appreciates offensive, provocative comedy, I’m disheartened by these comments.

So, a college student was “disheartened” by Jerry Seinfeld’s observation that college students are too sensitive. Let that sink in.

Seinfeld isn’t the only comedian to denounce the current sensitivity epidemic on campus. In a discussion with Frank Rich, Chris Rock espoused the same views as Seinfeld:

RICH: What do you make of the attempt to bar Bill Maher from speaking at Berkeley for his riff on Muslims?

ROCK: Well, I love Bill, but I stopped playing colleges, and the reason is because they’re way too conservative.

RICH: In their political views?

ROCK: Not in their political views — not like they’re voting Republican — but in their social views and their willingness not to offend anybody. Kids raised on a culture of “We’re not going to keep score in the game because we don’t want anybody to lose.” Or just ignoring race to a fault. You can’t say “the black kid over there.” No, it’s “the guy with the red shoes.” You can’t even be offensive on your way to being inoffensive.

Former Tonight Show host Jay Leno, too, shared his experience with a college intern who conflated his dislike of Mexican food with racism.

The experiences of Seinfeld, Rock, and Leno obviously can’t be projected on the whole of entertainment media, but their willingness to criticize the don’t-offend-me culture indicates a growing sense that American campuses are becoming hostile to humor. 

And their criticisms aren’t unfounded: the uptrend in campus outrage over even mildly provocative humor is inescapable. Ask Robert Klein Engler, formerly of Roosevelt University, who received his walking papers after telling his class a joke he overheard as a way of stimulating conversation about an Arizona immigration bill.

“There was a sociological study done in Arizona,” Engler said to the students, “and they discovered that 60 percent of the people in Arizona approved of the immigration law and 40 percent said, ‘no habla ingles.’”

That caused a student, Cristina Solis, to file a written complaint with the university, which in turn opened a harassment investigation against the professor.

According to reporting from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, Engler was summoned by university officials to discuss the harassment charges, but they wouldn’t disclose the nature of accusation, nor the identity of the accuser. Engler agreed to cooperate with the university’s investigation, but only if the accusations were put in writing.

Roosevelt wouldn’t do so, and also refused Engler the right to be accompanied by his attorney at investigation meetings. Stripped of due process, Engler chose not to participate in the sham investigation, which resulted in Roosevelt University terminating his employment.

What’s worse, Ms. Solis voiced her approval with the university’s decision to terminate Engler. In a quote to the student newspaper preserved on Minding the Campus she proclaimed:

If that [Mr. Engler’s firing] is what it took to give him a reality check, and to make sure that no other student has to go through that, maybe it’s for the best. It’s just something you don’t say in a classroom, not coming from a professor, and especially not at a school like Roosevelt University, which is based on social justice.

What a dangerous precedent this is, that a lone student infatuated with the idea of social justice can spearhead a movement to fire a professor over a throw-away joke.

Teresa Buchanan, formerly an associate professor at Louisiana State University, also knows what it means to offend the wrong people.

Buchanan was known by her students as a “gunslinger” who sometimes incorporated profanity or sexually charged jokes in class. For example, Reason reports that one of her zingers came in the form of advice to female students that their boyfriends would stop helping them with coursework “after the sex gets stale.”

After the Fall 2013 semester, Buchanan was informed by the university that she was being placed under suspension pending an investigation for “sexual harassment” and promoting a “hostile learning environment.”

The investigation dragged on, and 15 months later a faculty committee upheld the university’s accusation of sexual harassment. The committee, however, decided that termination was not the solution, but rather that LSU should ask that Buchanan tone down her language.

This suggestion was ignored by university president F. King Alexander. Buchanan was fired on June 19, 2015.

Not only are American academics under fire for using semi-edgy humor, British academics, too, are learning the hard way to leave the one-liners at home.

The saga of Sir Tim Hunt illustrates how even the most prestigious careers can be derailed by pitchfork-wielding mobs feigning outrage over innocuous comments.

Hunt, a Nobel laureate, found himself to be the object of scorn, stemming from a joke he made while presenting to the World Conference of Science Journalists in South Korea:

It’s strange that such a chauvinist monster like me has been asked to speak to women scientists.

Let me tell you about my trouble with girls. Three things happen when they are in the lab: you fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticize them they cry. Perhaps we should make separate labs for boys and girls?

Now, seriously, I’m impressed by the economic development of Korea. And women scientists played, without doubt, an important role in it. Science needs women, and you should do science, despite all the obstacles, and despite monsters like me.

This comment was first reported by Connie St. Louis, a journalism professor at University College London (UCL) who was present for Hunt’s speech. She claimed his comments induced a “stony silence” on the crowd.

In reaction, an armada of social media warriors descended on Hunt, resulting in his resignation from multiple honorary positions, including at UCL. Although Hunt incessantly apologized for his “transgression,” his opponents continued to besmirch his character and career.

In making the comments public, however, St. Louis only mentioned some of Hunt’s remarks. She omitted the part where Hunt clearly stated he was joking and praised the role of women scientists.

A few weeks later, a report from a European Commission official recalled a different version of events. Unlike St. Louis, the report included Hunt’s entire statement and claimed that Hunt’s joke was received by laughter, not the agitation asserted by St. Louis.

Despite the EC report vindicating Hunt and dispelling the charges of sexism, the damage is done. Hunt’s top-shelf academic career is now in shambles after being sullied by a throng of raging speech oppressors.

A joke was all it took.

Anything Peaceful

Anything Peaceful is FEE’s new online ideas marketplace, hosting original and aggregate content from across the Web.

EDITORS NOTE: A version of this post first appeared at the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy. The featured image is courtesy of FEE and Shutterstock.

VIDEO: What’s A Constitution Among Friends? by Stephen Limbaugh

In the much-anticipated new installment to the “new voices” video series from D’Souza Media, Stephen Limbaugh gives a whimsical take-down of how liberals read the Constitution.You must see this musical satire on liberal jurisprudence!

Watch now:

Keep an eye out for more “new voices” videos on DineshDSouza.com in the coming months. In the meantime, watch some more of Stephen’s videos and connect with him on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter.

AMERICA book in paperbackDinesh D’Souza’s latest #1 New York Times best selling book is “America,” a rebuttal of the progressive shame narrative of American history, now available in paperback for the first time!

Don’t Agree with the Mayor’s Politics? No Permits for You! by Walter Olson

Boston mayor Martin Walsh gives Donald Trump the Chick-Fil-A rush* over his immigration opinions. Via the Boston Herald:

If Donald Trump ever wants to build a hotel in Boston, he’ll need to apologize for his comments about Mexican immigrants first, the Hub’s mayor said.

“I just don’t agree with him at all,” Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh told the Herald yesterday. “I think his comments are inappropriate. And if he wanted to build a hotel here, he’d have to make some apologies to people in this country.”

More on the use of permitting, licensing, and other levers of power to punish speech and the exercise of other legal rights at Overlawyered’s all-new regulatory retaliation tag. (And no, I’m not exactly thrilled with Mayor Walsh for making me take Trump’s side in an argument.)

* In case you’d forgotten the infamous Chick-Fila-A brouhaha, here’s Overlawyered’s coverage:

The uproar continues, and quite properly so (earlier here and here), over the threats of Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and Chicago alderman Proco (“Joe”) Moreno to exclude the Chick-Fil-A fast-food chain because they disagree (as do I) with some of the views of its owner.

Among the latest commentary, the impeccably liberal Boston Globe has sided with the company in an editorial (“which part of the First Amendment does Menino not understand?…A city in which business owners must pass a political litmus test is the antithesis of what the Freedom Trail represents”), as has my libertarian colleague Tom Palmer at Cato (“Mayor Menino is no friend of human rights.”)

The spectacle of a national business being threatened with denial of local licenses because of its views on a national controversy is bad enough. But “don’t offend well-organized groups” is only Rule #2 for a business that regularly needs licenses, approvals and permissions. Rule #1 is “don’t criticize the officials in charge of granting the permissions.”

Can you imagine if Mr. Dan Cathy had been quoted in an interview as saying “Boston has a mediocre if not incompetent Mayor, and the Chicago Board of Aldermen is an ethics scandal in continuous session.” How long do you think it would take for his construction permits to get approved then?

Thus it is that relatively few businesses are willing to criticize the agencies that regulate them in any outspoken way (see, e.g.: FDA and pharmaceutical industry, the), or to side with pro-business groups that seriously antagonize many wielders of political power (see, e.g., the recent exodus of corporate members from the American Legislative Exchange Council).

A few weeks ago I noted the case of Maryland’s South Mountain Creamery, which contends through an attorney (though the U.S. Attorney for Maryland denies it) that it was offered less favorable terms in a plea deal because it had talked to the press in statements that wound up garnering bad publicity for the prosecutors. After that item, reader Robert V. wrote in as follows:

Your recent article about the [U.S. Attorney for Maryland] going after the dairy farmers reminded me a case in New York state where the Health Department closed down a nursing home in Rochester. They claim is was because of poor care, the owner claims it was because he spoke out against the DOH.

The state just lost a lawsuit where the jury found the DOH targeted the nursing home operator because he spoke out against them.

According to Democrat and Chronicle reporters Gary Craig and Steve Orr, the jury found state health officials had engaged in a “vendetta” against the nursing home owner:

Beechwood attorneys maintained that an email and document trail showed that Department of Health officials singled out Chambery for retribution because he had sparred with them in the past over regulatory issues. The lawsuit hinged on a Constitutional argument — namely that the state violated Chambery’s First Amendment rights by targeting him for his challenges to their operation.

The Second Circuit panel opinion in 2006 permitting Chambery/ Beechwood’s retaliation claim to go forward is here. It took an extremely long time for the nursing home operators to get their case to a jury; the state closed them down in 1999 and the facility was sold at public auction in 2002.

Versions of these posts first appeared at Overlawyered.com, Walter Olson’s indispensable law blog, published by the Cato Institute. 


Walter Olson

Walter Olson is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute’s Center for Constitutional Studies.

Girl Sues Draft for Only Registering Males by Ilya Somin

A recent lawsuit filed by a teenage girl in New Jersey (in conjunction with her mother) challenges the constitutionality of male-only draft registration, arguing that it violates the Constitution because it discriminates on the basis of sex [h/t: Elie Mystal of Above the Law]:

A New Jersey teenage girl has brought a federal class action against the Selective Service System, claiming its refusal to consider women for the draft is discriminatory.

“With both males and females available for such roles today, the two sexes are now similarly situated for draft registration purposes and there is no legitimate reason for the government to discriminate against the female class, so equal protection applies,” the complaint states. “Further, with both males and females available for such combat roles, there is no reasonable basis for infringing the associational interests of the female class by preventing them from registering.”

Noting that she will turn 18 this year, E.K.L., as she is named in the complaint, says she attempted to register for the draft on the website of the Selective Service by filling out the online form.

Once she clicked “female” during the online registration process, however, the website prevented her from registering….

E.K.L. and her mother call it undisputed that the Military Selective Service Act creates a sex-based difference.

Banning women from the pool of potential recruits is not rational given the role females currently play within the military, according to the complaint.

“If the two sexes can fight and die together, they can register together; if not, then no one should have to register,” the complaint states.

More information about the lawsuit is available in this article.

predicted that such a case would arise back in early 2013, when the Pentagon made women eligible to serve in nearly all combat roles (though I expected it to be brought by men forced to register for select service, rather than by women excluded from doing so).

The Supreme Court previously upheld the constitutionality of male-only draft registration in the 1981 case of Rostker v. Goldberg. However, as I also pointed out in that post, that ruling was partly based on the theory that women would not be as valuable draftees as men in an era when the armed forces excluded women from most combat positions.

Obviously, that logic is no longer valid. I also noted other reasons why the Court might overrule or at least severely limit Rostker if the issue came before it today:

Lower courts applying Rostker could therefore still conclude that male-only draft registration is constitutional, though Rostker is ambiguous enough on the amount of deference due [to federal government] that the issue is not a slam dunk.

If the issue gets to the Supreme Court however, I’m far from certain that Rostker wouldn’t be overruled or severely limited. As compared with 1981, the idea of women serving in combat is far more widely accepted by both elite and public opinion. And sex discrimination in draft registration is likely to seem like an outdated relic of the days when women were barred from numerous positions in the military.

If the Pentagon sticks to its new policy on women in combat, I think it’s likely that some male plaintiff will bring a new challenge to the Selective Service registration system, and that plaintiff will have a good chance of succeeding. Like most other constitutional law scholars, I think that Rostker was a dubious decision, and would not shed many tears if it were overruled.

For reasons outlined by Steven Calabresi and Julia Rickert, there is also a good originalist case for courts taking a strong line against sex discriminatory laws.

I would add that, since 1981, the Supreme Court has taken a tougher line against sex-discriminatory laws and policies. Most notably, it invalidated the exclusion of women from the Virginia Military Institute in the 1996 case of United States v. Virginia. The exclusion of women from a military college is not exactly the same as their exclusion from draft registration. But the two situations have obvious similarities.

There is a chance that this case will end up being thrown out on procedural grounds. A court could potentially rule that women exempt from draft registration don’t have standing to sue because they don’t actually suffer any harm as a result (draft registration is usually considered a burden, not a benefit).

This is one of the reasons why I thought a case would be more likely to be brought by men subject to draft registration than by women exempt from it.

Also, a court might deny the plaintiff’s bid to certify the case as a class action on behalf other similarly situated women. But if the case does go forward, there is a real chance it will ultimately result in the invalidation of male-only draft registration.

To avoid misunderstanding, I should emphasize that I do not support either drafting women or forcing them to register for a possible future draft. But I also oppose drafting men. Conscription is both a severe infringement on individual liberty, and tends to reduce the quality of the military relative to an all volunteer armed forces.

Ultimately, the best way to avoid conscripting women is to not have conscription – or draft registration – at all. By taking that step, we could simultaneously reduce the likelihood that the draft will be reimposed in the future and eliminate one of the last bastions of open sex discrimination in government policy.

In my view, a decision striking down male-only draft registration is more likely to lead to the abolition of draft registration altogether than to its extension to women.

This post originally appeared at the Volokh Conspiracy. 

Ilya Somin

Ilya Somin is Professor of Law at George Mason University School of Law. He blogs at the Volokh Conspiracy.

What Should Libertarians Think about the Civil War? by Phillip Magness

The current national debate over the display and meaning of the Confederate battle flag has reopened a number of longstanding arguments about the meaning of the American Civil War, including within libertarian and classical liberal circles.

Because of its emotional subject matter, lasting political legacies of race and slavery, transformative effects upon American constitutionalism, and sheer magnitude as the most destructive military episode ever to occur on American soil, the Civil War exhibits strong tendencies toward politicization in the modern era.

Unfortunately, bad history often accompanies this politicization, and libertarians are by no means immune from this tendency.

Two common interpretations of the Civil War stand out as particularly problematic:

  1. libertarian support for the Confederacy; and
  2. libertarian support for the Union.

The Problem with Pro-Confederate Libertarianism

The first and perhaps best known “libertarian” approach to the Civil War attempts to find sympathy with the defeated Confederacy because of its resistance to the federal government and northern military authority or its professed cause of free trade and political self-determination.

Some aspects of this position have intuitive appeal that produces sympathy for the Confederate cause: it professes outrage against a Union that is said to have conquered by force, trampled on the rights of states and individuals, unleashed a military invasion, suspended civil liberties, denied government by consent, elevated Lincoln to a “dictator,” and effected a lasting centralization of federal power. In this view, the Union cause and victory is the foundational work for the modern state and all that is anathema to political libertarianism.

This interpretation falters in what it neglects: slavery.

This is no small irony, either, as the anti-slavery cause was arguably the preeminent political occupation of libertarianism’s classical liberal antecedents. A continuum of classical liberal thinkers from Adam Smith to John Stuart Mill and J.E. Cairnes forged the main intellectual case against the slave system.

Abolitionism was also always a preeminent political cause of liberalism, extending from 18th-century statesman Charles James Fox to the 19th century’s Richard Cobden in Great Britain and strongly influencing such figures as William Lloyd Garrison, Lysander Spooner, and Frederick Douglass in the United States.

This is no small matter for the libertarian intellectual tradition either, for in sidestepping the slave question’s intimate connection to the Confederacy, pro-Confederate libertarians also inadvertently abandon what is perhaps the single most important and beneficial contribution that classical liberalism has made to the human condition: the abolition of slavery.

This is not to suggest that libertarian defenders of the Confederacy share its historical affinity for chattel slavery or the plantation system. Rather, they are guilty of turning a tin ear to the one unequivocally beneficial outcome of the war in the permanent destruction of American slavery.

The Problem with Libertarian Unionism

A smaller set of libertarians gravitate to a second common interpretation of the Civil War, defined primarily by its consequential outcome.

Unlike the pro-Confederate position, these libertarian defenders of the North are keenly aware of both the centrality of slavery to the conflict as well as the importance of the abolitionist cause to the liberal intellectual tradition. Standing as a direct antithesis to the pro-Confederate arguments, these faute de mieux Unionists recognize the inherent and fundamental contradiction between slavery and human liberty.

Their position embraces the Union victory on a consequentialist acceptance of the resulting emancipation of the slaves, and disavows any conceivable association between libertarian thought and a brutish Southern slavocracy, born of no other motive or purpose but to entrench and expand that pernicious institution — and deserving of nothing short of a violent and warring elimination by any means or justification.

The argument is both morally appealing and marked by its clarity, but it also suffers from its Manichean simplicity and a tendency to read an inevitable “irrepressible conflict” into the hindsight of the Civil War’s destruction.

This view recognizes slavery and celebrates its abolition, but it tends to neglect or even rationalize the war’s uglier features and consequences: a dramatic weakening of the constitutional federalism laid out in 1787, a rapid acceleration of the scope and power of the federal government, a precedent-setting assault on habeas corpus and expansion of presidential war powers that persists to the present day — and the horrendous destruction itself.

Measured by deaths alone, current estimates place the war’s military toll at 750,000 soldiers. Civilian deaths are more difficult to estimate, though the most common number given is 50,000. And perhaps most telling of all, between 60,000 and 200,000 slaves likely perished as a result of disease and displacement caused by the war.

Why a New Interpretation Is Necessary

Where then does this leave the conscientious libertarian in assessing the Civil War’s legacy?

To address the faults of both the pro-Confederate and pro-Union positions, I’ll offer two propositions for libertarians to consider:

  1. One needn’t be for the Union to be against slavery.
  2. One needn’t be for the Confederacy to object to the North’s prosecution of the war.

Stated differently, a morally consistent libertarian view of the war should strive to dissociate itself from the political actors that waged it, while also seeking to recognize its consequences, both positive and negative.

This much may be seen in the faults of the two views described above. Libertarians who embrace the Confederacy are more often than not reasonably aware of both the evils of slavery and the distinction between the abolitionist cause and the Union.

But they neglect the second rule; because of their distaste for the Union’s wartime policies, they stake their claim to a Confederate cause that, whether they admit it or not, thoroughly attached itself to the moral abomination of slavery.

And libertarians who embrace the Union are also usually aware of the objections one might lodge against its indulgences in unrestricted warfare, suspension of civil liberties, centralization of power, or any of the other charges often made against the Union’s wartime cause or its outcome.

But they thoroughly subordinate these objections to the greater moral purpose of emancipation — a focus that obscures all but the most simplistic reading of the war’s other political and constitutional consequences.

In each argument, the problem is not its primary emphasis, but the complexities it obscures or leaves out.

In place of both views, and in recognition of their deficiencies, libertarians might develop a better appreciation for the Civil War’s complexity by turning their analysis to the nature of the ruinous agency of the conflict itself.

War, whether waged to hold human beings in bondage or subjugate a political rebellion, is a consciously coercive action of the political state in its most expansive and direct form. And armed warfare, as both the Union and Confederacy came to discover across four destructive years, is horrifically messy, unpredictable, and destructive of human life and human liberty.

Military goals and political motives also matter, as they define the objectives of the armies and prioritize their execution. Thus, a military maneuver to capture an opposing political capital will take a very different form from one that eschews political objectives and seeks to maximize the liberation of slaves or the protection of civilians.

There may also be small glimpses of just action amongst individual participants in a far more ambiguous conflict. When the abolitionist Thomas Wentworth Higginson raised the 1st South Carolina Volunteers, an all-black unit composed of escaped slaves, there is little doubt that they were fighting for emancipation, even as larger Union war goals moved far more slowly on this objective.

There is similarly little doubt about the motive of some Southerners who fought for their homes and families as hostile armies marched through their states; even a handful of Confederates — Patrick Cleburne, Duncan Kenner — pressed their government (in vain) to consider emancipation as a means of securing independence.

These graces on the periphery tell us more about the conflict’s moral complexity than anything that may be found in its political objectives. History is not a Manichean struggle between pure good and evil; we are not served by filtering its conflicts through a dualistic moral lens.

Instead of looking for a “side” to champion, we are better served by recognizing that even amid the unbridled horrors of slavery and the devastation of war, there may still be a few who are fighting for something better than their country’s cause.

Phillip Magness

Phil Magness is a policy historian and academic program director at the Institute for Humane Studies.