Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Supreme Court’

Lot & His Daughters by Lucas van Leyden

(VC Note: This piece was written on August 19th, 2013).

Back in 2003, the Supreme Court invalidated a number of state anti-sodomy laws (including Virginia’s) in the case of Lawrence v. Texas.  In this ruling, the Court declared sodomy to be a liberty offered by the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment.  Personally, I find this logic to be faulty.  Given that the federal government has no authority under the Constitution to regulate, permit, or disallow any sexual activity, I strongly believe the Supreme Court was in error.

However, be it for better or worse, we now live in a post Lawrence v. Texas world.  Recently, Virginia Attorney General and Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli suggested re-criminalizing sodomy in the state.  Personally, as a social conservative, like Cuccinelli, I have an aversion to sodomy.  I don’t want to think about it, I don’t want to hear about it, and I certainly don’t want to see someone engaged in it.  As our biblical basis, I’m sure many of us remember the story of Sodom and Gomorrah where God destroys the two cities as a result of the actions of their residents (hence the word sodomy).  However, in a conversation with my pastor, she added that perhaps the greatest offense of Sodom was their total disregard of hospitality.  Either way, I have considerable concerns about making these kinds of activities illegal once more in Virginia.

Now, obviously there are a multitude of arguments to be made to ban not just sodomy, but all sorts of sexual activity from the public eye.  However, if Virginia were to forbid sodomy again, we come across the troubling question of enforcement.  Do police and lawmakers have a right to enter a person’s property to check for such behaviors?  When it comes to coercion, rape, or the violation of minors, there is a general agreement that, yes, the authorities have this right.  However, when in the area of consenting adults, the issue becomes more difficult.

Again, let me repeat that I am not in favor of sodomy.  However, does that opinion trump the ability of individuals to do what they wish behind closed doors and outside the public eye?  I should think not.  After all, if we remember, it wasn’t too long ago that sexual activity among people of differing races was frowned upon in this state.  In addition, we once gave the state the power to sterilize “undesirables”.  With the reintroduction of anti-sodomy laws, should these practices be dusted off as well?  Admittedly the question is absurd, but still there is a certain bit of truth and danger embedded within.  Are there fellow social conservatives who think when they hear the story of Sodom and Gomorrah that these cities would have been spared if only their government had passed laws to save the citizens from their own immorality?

We must remind ourselves that if we are willing to permit the government entry into our homes and sexual practices in order to make sodomy illegal again, we open ourselves up to all sorts of additional intrusions should the lawmakers or police feel so inclined.  If a person’s home is her castle, shouldn’t she be allowed to run it as she sees fit so long as she doesn’t deprive anyone of his or her life, liberty, or property?  If I don’t want the state in my bedroom, it would not be morally consistent for me to send it into yours.

I’d rather see Virginia as a beacon of liberty among the fifty states where each citizen is free to chart his own destiny, rather than a place where the government spies upon its citizens in some kind of theocratic police state.  Sure, many of us may have a moral revulsion to sodomy and thus, I believe, have a right to keep it out of our personal homes, businesses, and the public sphere, but does this right supercede the rights of my neighbor in the privacy of his house?  The answer, at least to any liberty-minded person, is obvious.

Read Full Post »

On Thursday night, I attended my first meeting of the Jefferson Area Tea Party.  As expected, the membership primarily consists of folks from the city of Charlottesville, where they are based, and the surrounding Albemarle County.

The leader of the group noted that there were a considerable number of new faces in the crowd that night.  That situation likely stemmed from a general sense of dissatisfaction as a result of the Supreme Court decision earlier that day upholding the constitutionality of Obamacare.  Although there were a few topics discussed, outrage over nationalized healthcare and the general belief that the courts failed to defend the law of the land took center stage.

After the meeting, the leader spoke to a local TV reporter who was compiling a story on the tea party.  The Charlottesville  media was not alone in seeking tea party reaction; an outlet attended the Harrisonburg Tea Party as well.  As luck would have it, both that organization and the Staunton Tea Party held their monthly meetings on the same night as Charlottesville’s.

So, the real question is will the tea party be able to harness this overall frustration and disgust into tangible political successes?  The answer is a definite maybe.  As I reported from previous gatherings across the state, Parke West, one of the leaders of We r Virginia, spoke about the effort to train and mold tea party activists into a grassroots army.  The purpose of this work is to influence the outcome of the November elections.  In response to this call, a vast number of the attendees eagerly signed up to learn more.

Regardless of what path you take, if you are concerned about the state of our country and the apparent continued demise of federalism, the 10th amendment, and the idea of a constitutionally limited government, you must take a stand, and you must do so now.  It is my hope that the tea parties will lead this movement; if they do, they will continue to grow in strength as they work tirelessly to restore our nation.

As I’m sure Thomas Jefferson would tell us, assuming he was still alive, we all know that Obamacare is just one of many federal programs that must be repealed.  Isn’t it past time to begin the rollback of the federal government?

Read Full Post »

Photo from Senator Graham’s website

For a moment I thought about ending this post with no text and only the above picture.  After all, one could write page after page about Senator Graham and only begin to scratch the surface on how he has betrayed the citizens of South Carolina, the nation, the Constitution, and the conservative movement.

When I head the news that four Republican Senators were now supporting the confirmation of Elena Kagan for the Supreme Court, I instantly knew that Snowe and Collins (both from Maine) would be among them.   The other two proved to be a bit trickier.  Lugar (Indiana), I might of guessed but didn’t.  Then we have Senator Lindsey Graham (South Carolina).  This guy keeps making news for all of the wrong reasons.  Certainly there have been some surprises with Supreme Court nominees in the past, nevertheless, Graham’s sad eagerness to readily endorse Obama’s picks of Sotomayor and now Kagan is deeply troubling.  Having twice been censured by the SCGOP thus far, one wonders how he has been able to win the Republican nomination.  One thing is for sure.  If he is a conservative, as he claims, then I assure you the movement is doomed.

Please, please, please South Carolina voters.  I’ve met many of you during my work in your state.  You have elected one of the best and also one of the worst Senators in the country.  Can’t you find someone who better represents your values than Grahamnesty?

For more information try reading a recent post by the Conservative Examiner.

Disgraceful.  Utterly disgraceful.

Read Full Post »

Recently I have read on Crystal Clear Conservative, Bearing Drift, and other blogs, the debate over abortion between two of the Republican Attorney General choices, John Brownlee and Ken Cuccinelli.  Rather than focus on the two candidates, (which many others have done), I’d instead like to examine the issue of abortion itself.

As many of you know, prior to the dual Supreme Court decisions of 1973, Roe v. Wade and the less well known Doe v. Bolton, abortion was considered a state issue rather than in the federal jurisdiction.  The reasoning for this outcome was based upon an interpretation of the 14th Amendment.  For the record, the 14th Amendment reads,

Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Section 2. Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.

Section 3. No one shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

Section 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.

Section 5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

Now I have a number of complaints against the 14th Amendment both in its ramifications and in its manner of ratification, but as those issues are not the focus of this piece, I shall save them for another time.  In the decision of Roe v. Wade, as many activists of either side of the abortion debate know, the justices found that state abortion laws violated a right to privacy as established in the due process clause in Section 1 of the 14th Amendment.  Personally I cannot understand how the phrase “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws” grants a person the right to an abortion, but I guess the justices to the Supreme Court knew something that I do not.  Frankly (and I’m sure that you wouldn’t be surprised if you have read my earlier posts) I think that these cases were yet another example of the Supreme Court violating the 10th Amendment by overruling the laws of the states.  Yet, it is strangely ironic I think for the court to uphold abortion through the 14th Amendment by denying life and liberty to another.  And that very point brings us to another issue.

Typically those who define themselves as social liberals ardently defend a “woman’s right to choose” while those who are socially conservative believe “abortion is murder”.  Despite what some weak-kneed politicians might say, there is and can be no common ground between these two camps.  The reason for this divide is due largely to a difference in terminology and understanding.  For liberals (and if any liberal who is reading this post wishes to correct or improve my generalization, please do so), they believe that the government has no right or authority to regulate what goes on between consenting adults or what a person can or cannot choose to do with his or her own body.  The right to privacy trumps the rights of the government.  To some extent, I can appreciate this stance, as I do not want the government to mandate what religious beliefs I hold, what weapons I may or may not own, what doctors I must visit, illegally monitor my activities, or search my possessions without a warrant.  However, abortion is a different kettle of fish.  For most, if not all conservatives, it is an issue first and foremost about life.  They view an unborn child as a person and abortion as means to kill that person.  Therefore, the government (both state and federal) has an obligation and duty to defend that person against all who seek to do it harm, even if the person in question is the victim’s mother.  How can it be illegal for a person to kill a child the day it is born, but be legal the day before?  As long as one side views the issue as privacy and the other views the issue as life, there is no middle ground.

The nation, of course, is not simply clustered into these two camps where either abortion should always be legal or illegal.  For example, you have the viability crowd who say that abortion should be legal up to the point where a child has reached viability such that he or she could live on his or her own outside the womb (20 to 27 weeks depending).  Or the people who favor banning partial-birth abortion in which the child is partially delivered early before its termination.  Others favor banning or permitting some abortions based on the establishment of some sort of other timetable.  Then you have the myriad of abortion exceptions.  Except when the life of the mother is in danger, except in the case of rape or incest, except in the case of known, likely, or probable birth defects, except in case of socioeconomic status, except when the woman’s health is at risk.  Many citizens who declare themselves to be pro-life hold to these exceptions, the most common being like John Brownlee who has the life of the mother and rape and incest exceptions.  Some pro-lifers condemn those who hold to such exception clauses as impure and not truly pro-life.  I, on the other hand do not vilify my brothers, but do pose this simple question.  How does the awful crime of rape or incest justify the additional crime of abortion? Committing an additional wrong does not somehow mitigate the first.  Now some might argue, you’re not a woman and can never really understand, and they are right.  I can never have a child nor have an abortion performed on my body.  However, during my work in the state of Tennessee I had the honor of meeting a brave person who was raped and decided to have the child rather than seeking an abortion.  That is indeed a tough situation, but, in the end, it allows good to come from an otherwise horrible situation.

Lastly, I encourage all people on both sides of this terrible conflict to discuss the issue calmly and rationally.  Sure, as a pro-lifer, you can shout names like “murderer” and “baby killer”, but I expect that doing so would have little impact on a vast majority of those who have abortions and those who commit them.  Until and unless you can convince a person that an unborn child is a person too, success will be exceedingly difficult.  You must prove that it is an issue of life over privacy.  This is a conflict not only to be fought in the courts, Congress, and state legislatures, but in the hearts and minds of Mr. and Mrs. John Q. Public.

Read Full Post »

When deciding what I should write about next, I first thought about the 3/5th compromise and then about Reynolds v. Sims.  Undoubtedly, the sarcastic reader would comment, “gee, that’s topical” as Reynolds v. Sims was decided in 1964 and the 3/5ths compromise was agreed upon in 1787.  Ultimately, I decided to include them both to discuss the fallacy of the concept “one man, one vote”.

For some reason, the idea of “one man, one vote” (or taken in the modern PC term “one person, one vote”) has been lifted up to just about sacrosanct terms.  I shudder to think of the millions of children in government schools who have had the thought drilled into their brains and now parrot the mantra ad nauseam.  Although on the surface “One Man, One Vote” seems to be fair enough, it was really a manufactured invention of the Supreme Court rather than a constitutional right.  The case which led to this principle was, as hinted at above, Reynolds v. Sims.  Prior to this case, many states apportioned representatives to the upper house of their legislature (most often called Senators) based partially or wholly upon county boundaries so that each county was given at least one.  The Supreme Court thought this idea was unconstitutional.  The justices, in their decision, drew upon the first section of the 14th Amendment.  It reads, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” They took this text to mean that if a citizen of one county’s vote was not roughly equal (when considering population) to that of a citizen of another county, then they both do not have equal protection under the law.  Although the Alabama Constitution required for each county in the state to have a representative, the justices declared that “one man, one vote” trumped the state law.  This idea was further enhanced and clarified in 1964 with Wesberry v. Sanders.

Now an astute observer of the Constitution might ask, how can the Supreme Court rule in issues like apportionment?  Is that a power granted to the court?  The answer, like unfortunately so many others, was that the court itself decided that it had that power.  When the watchdogs have no oversight above them, this sort of things is bound to happen.  In a previous ruling, Baker v. Carr, 1962, the court granted itself the power to oversee reapportionment when beforehand it had been the authority of the states, not the federal government and its courts.  It was yet another shameful example of how the 10th Amendment has been cast aside and federalism has been, and continues to be, undermined.

Another question you should ask yourself is, does the principle of “one man, one vote” have roots in our Constitution and history?  The answer is, not really. Now it is true that representation to the House of Representatives is based largely upon the population of each state, and therefore somewhat resembles “one man, one vote”, but the comparison really ends there.  For the record, when it comes to the House of Representatives, Article 1, Section 2, Clause 3 reads, “Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons. The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct. The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand, but each State shall have at Least one Representative; and until such enumeration shall be made, the State of New Hampshire shall be entitled to chuse three, Massachusetts eight, Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations one, Connecticut five, New-York six, New Jersey four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one, Maryland six, Virginia ten, North Carolina five, South Carolina five, and Georgia three.”

Look you might say, that’s pretty close to “one man, one vote”, but look closer at the text.  See the line “including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons”?  That comes from the 3/5ths compromise of 1787.  The issue of the 3/5ths compromise came about before the ratification of the Constitution resulting from the issue of slavery.  Should slaves count as persons for purposes of representation in the House of Representatives?  Personally, I don’t think so, as it is one of the many hypocrisies of slavery.  How can a person be denied so many freedoms that are enjoyed by man in his natural state (life, liberty, and property) and still be counted as a person?  If one is treated like chattel, should your masters enjoy the benefits of you counting as both a person and property?  From the moment of your birth to your eventual death, chances are that you will never be able to vote, so how can you truly be represented?  Nevertheless, the delegates to the Convention disagreed and settled upon counting slaves as 3/5ths of a person for enumeration.  I ask you, does this compromise embody the ideals of “one man, one vote”?  I think you would agree that it certainly does not.  Let’s move on to the issue of the United States Senate.

Article 1, Section 3, Clause 1, of the Constitution of these United States reads, “The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof, for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote.”  Now is that “one man, one vote”?  Of course it is not.  If each state is given two Senators, and thus two votes, the opinion of a citizen in a small state carries much more weight than that of a large state.  For example, in the 2000 Census Wyoming had a population of 515,004, while California had 36,457,549, thus a citizen from Wyoming has roughly seventy times more influence in the Senate than a Californian.  The Senate certainly does not follow “One Man, One Vote”, but that was intentional.  When the Constitution was created, large states (like Virginia) wanted representation in both the House and Senate to be based upon populations.  Smaller states (like New Jersey) wanted each state to have the same number of votes.  Each of the two states created a plan to benefit their own interests and thus neither was acceptable to the other.  The end result of this wrangling was the Connecticut Compromise, which created the House of Representatives based upon population and the Senate based upon state equality.  The question now becomes, how is it that representation in United States Senate resting upon the equality of the states is Constitutional while representation in the upper houses of state legislatures based on legal and geographic areas like counties is not?

When taken in the larger scope of history and the Constitution, I believe that one can clearly see that the representative government of these United States was never truly intended to be under the guise of “one man, one vote”.  The 3/5ths compromise and the representation in the United States Senate clearly illustrate this point.  Are not the states allowed to determine their own rules for representation, even to follow models proscribed in the Federal Constitution?  As long as they adhere to a republican form of government, doesn’t the 10th Amendment afford them that right?  And yet, as was done in other Supreme Court cases (see Roe v. Wade) the court continues to grab power for itself and invent new laws placing itself above the people, the states, and even above the Congress itself.  So, the next time someone spouts the line, “one man, and one vote!” don’t be afraid to challenge him or her.  Sure, they may have the court on their side, but we know the court is not always right.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: