New Hampshire Primary to Make History by Requiring Voter IDs

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voteWhen the New Hampshire primary commences on Feb. 9, it will make history by becoming the first-ever primary election to require voter IDs!

Tens of thousands of new voters are expected to flood the polls, and they will need to show up with a valid photo ID, which can include a driver’s license, passport, military ID, and even some student ID’s from colleges and schools approved by the state.

Note that this rule first went into effect during the 2012 general election. Its implementation came so late in the year, however, that it was not used during that season’s primary election, and as a result, voter fraud occurred:

Lorin C. Schneider, who lives in Massachusetts, pleaded guilty to wrongful voting charges for illegally voting in New Hampshire three times. He cast his ballots in the 2008 presidential election and again in both the presidential primary and general election in 2012. He was fined roughly $7,000, given a suspended prison term and lost his right to vote in the state.

This month, Manchester resident Derek Castonguay also pleaded guilty to voter fraud after prosecutors say he voted illegally and tried to vote twice during the mid-term election in 2014. He also was given a suspended jail term and fined $1,000.

Surprise, surprise, huh?

That said, I expect to hear a lot of moaning and whining from liberals who allege that Voter ID Laws disfranchise minority voters and are thus racist.

New Hampshire Primary to Make History by Requiring Voter IDs

voter-id-750Call me a loon, but I think the belief that minorities lack the capability to go and obtain an ID like everybody else is in itself quite racist.

Also rather racist is this belief that minorities are too afraid to get their pictures taken.

“Some people can be very sensitive to having their photo taken especially when it is taken by an official, for an official purpose,” Devon Chaffee, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire, complained to Fox News.

Someone call the wambulance, because all I hear is a lot of petulant whining.

There is nothing inherently racist or wrong with voter ID laws, and I for one am very glad that the New Hampshire primary is about to make history.

Way to go, N.H.!

 

 

 

 

 

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2016 New Hampshire Primary | 2016 Election Central

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Project Fast Track: New York ‘Gun Courts’

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New York Mayor Bill De Blasio– Photo: New York Mayor Bill De Blasio is putting 200 cops on the hunt for illegal guns while enlisting state courts to fast track cases where guns are used.

“Project Fast Track” will unite law enforcement, prosecutors and courts in historic effort to get illegal guns and violent criminals off the streets

“When somebody makes a decision to pick up a gun, that’s like a pre-murder case,” says gun control advocates backing the new system.

The Mayor’s office announced the formation of the New York Police Department’s new Gun Violence Suppression Division as well as “Project Fast Track” which will see a “dedicated group of judges” to hear gun cases within six months.

New York mayor, Bill de Blasio, despite the city enjoying record-low crime rates, paints the move as putting the screws to street gangs and those who use illegal firearms.

“New Yorkers in every neighborhood in this city are united in their desire for safe streets,” said de Blasio, a member of former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns group, in a statement. “To the few individuals responsible for New York City’s remaining gun violence, our message is clear: you will be found and you will be quickly prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”

The multifaceted approach from City Hall will see a new division formed of 200 NYPD personnel drawn from across the department tasked with cracking down on illegal gun sales in the 15 police precincts with the highest rates of gun violence.

In a separate effort, the NYPD’s gang unit will begin to share intelligence with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms to root out possible illegal gun activity.

“Much has been done under Commissioner Bratton’s watch and in recent years to reduce gun violence, but there is still a persistent threat to our public safety from trafficking and a relatively small number of criminals intent on committing gun violence. “Project Fast Track” is the first imitative of its kind, coordinating the resources and efforts of law enforcement, prosecutors and the courts so that all levels of the criminal justice system can work in concert to root out illegal guns.”

“The goal of the NYPD’s new Gun Violence Suppression Division and the City’s Project Fast Track is to identify, investigate, arrest and successfully prosecute people with illegal guns,” said Police Commissioner William Bratton.

BrattonAnother 21 employees will be added to NYC’s Office of Chief Medical Examiner along with over $2 million in funding to allow that agency to swab all guns recovered by police in the city for DNA evidence moving forward.

Once a gun case it built by police, dedicated teams of prosecutors will present them to judges in special “gun courts” established under the project with the goal of clearing the log-jam of defendants awaiting trial on these charges. As noted by the Mayor’s office, over 200 individuals are currently in city jails with pending cases averaging nearly a year.

Two courtrooms in State Supreme Court in Brooklyn, along with two judges, Suzanne M. Mondo and Cassandra M. Mullen, will tackle the backlog as reported by the New York Times.

The gun courts recall a similar effort in 2003, when a court was established dedicated to gun cases in Brooklyn.

While the court had initial successes, it eventually became overloaded with a backlog of cases, partly because of a new law increasing the minimum prison sentence for gun possession, making plea deals less likely. Court officials suspended the court in 2009.

Officials said these new courts would have greater resources, including retired judges who may be welcomed back to the bench as the program expands.

The first gun court will open in Brooklyn later this month.

 

 

Resource:

The Crime Commission is a non-partisan non-profit organization working to make New York City’s criminal justice and public safety policies and practices more effective through innovation. For more information on the Citizens Crime Commission of New York City, please visit our website: Citizens Crime Commission of New York City (www.nycrimecommission.org)

Mayor de Blasio Announces “Project Fast Track” to Ensure Shooters are Quickly Apprehended

 

 

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Why You’ve Already Made Up Your Mind About Donald Trump

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Real estate tycoon Donald Trump flashes the thumbs-up as he arrives on stage for the start of the prime time Republican presidential debate on August 6, 2015 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)Voters’ opinions won’t change much after the GOP debate.

Millions of dollars pour into the political arena every week in an attempt to change people’s opinions and move them closer to one side or the other. But given that most voters make up their minds relatively early, they are largely unmoved by ongoing content, thanks to the way our brains filter what we hear — and it happens automatically. For the GOP debate, the brain’s “auto-correct” means that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump could boycott the event and not change any minds one way or the other.

Here’s why: a recent neuroscience study shows that when people hear their favorite candidate speak, their brains will find a way to explain why everything he or she says is more engaging. At times, people must spend a lot more mental energy processing the content to align it with their views. But if a candidate they don’t like says the same thing, their brains filter that content through a different lens, to find that same message disturbing and alienating.

As a result, while polls, focus groups, surveys, and other sophisticated analytics may give clues as to whether anything nudges the voters, neuroscience can give candidates (and other “marketers”) clues about the types of content that are perceived to be acceptable or offensive. Needless to say, this does not end with politics. It is essentially true for many other situations in which we are confronted with opposing views or complex content.

gopThis is backed by a neuroscience field study graduate students in business, neuroscience and engineering at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management recently conducted involving brain reaction to messaging and content. Gathered together in one room to watch the televised Republican and Democratic presidential candidate debates earlier this month, 20 research participants wore special headgear to record their brain responses. As the candidates debated, neural data was collected to show how engaged the research participants’ brains were with the content and the effectiveness of some of the messages. Throughout the debate, another 40 participants in the same room were polled by researchers to rank who was winning. (Participants in the study were chosen following a survey identifying their political affinity to make sure they cover the full spectrum of political views)

Brain engagement (meaning how “active” brain waves were in certain areas, as well as how similar one brain was to another, when a favorite candidate spoke to his/her constituents) from research participants watching the Democratic debate on January 17 showed Hilary Clinton and Bernie Sanders to be tied (that is, in terms of the level of neural effort they conjured from Democrats’ brains). Martin O’Malley was a distant third. These results differed significantly from polling of the research participants—gathering their opinions after their subjective minds and brain filters weighed in—which showed Clinton as the clear winner, followed by Sanders and O’Malley. (This contrasts further with the pundits and media which called Sanders the winner.). Simply put, when Democrats listened to Clinton or Sanders speak their brains looked similar. At times, the content required more effort (in the form of increased focus, attention or engagement) to process. One interpretation is that the content might have sparked some internal debate within individuals, so that their brains worked harder to align with their conscious desire to rank Clinton and Sanders high.

For Republican candidates in the January 14 debate, the research results were even more surprising. Brain engagement data put Ted Cruz in first place, compared to fourth in the more subjective opinion polling of the research participants.

The same opinion polls ranked John Kasich first, followed by Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, and Ted Cruz. Trump, who did not show up in the top four in opinion polling, still ranked third in terms of how well he engaged the participants’ brains. (Trump was called the winner of the debate by the media, followed by Cruz.)

In looking at the issues, rather than individual candidates, in the Democratic debate, brain engagement was highest for immigration and terrorism, followed by elections and politics. Healthcare reform, which had sparked arguments between Clinton and Sanders in the debate, did not make the top four of the most brain-engaged topics. In the Republican debate, brain engagement sparked the most for the economy, terrorism, immigration, and guns, in that order.

Interestingly, terrorism and immigration had strong effects on participants’ brains for each party’s debate — which may very well reflect how emotionally charged these topics are for people, no matter what their opinions are on the subject.

The research was not meant to be predictive of the election. Rather, the purpose was to show the difference between neurological responses that show brain engagement (but before the brain “filter”) and subjective feedback from opinion polls (after the brain filter).

Admittedly, gathering and analyzing brain activity, as we have in other research using movie trailers and commercials, is expensive and requires neuroscience expertise. However, it’s easy to see why brain data might be especially insightful, compared to polling people’s subjective opinions. Brain data could show those moments and messages when people are most engaged. That, in turn, could inform candidates, marketers, or others trying to influence voters or other consumers how to best present information and positions for the most impact and engagement.

For any “campaign,” political or commercial, in which the stakes are high and the investment is large (for example on an ad in the Super Bowl, where every extra second increases the price by millions of dollars), brain data could prove far more insightful than traditional polling of consumers for their subjective opinions.

 

 

 

 

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US defense contractors caught celebrating the financial benefits of ISIS and war in the Middle East

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Syrian-Rebel-fighters-take-part-in-a-training-session-in-the-northeastern-city-of-Deir-Ezzor-AFP-800x430– Photo: Rebel fighters take part in a training session in the northeastern city of Deir Ezzor, on March 25, 2014.

At a Credit Suisse conference in West Palm Beach this week, representatives from major defense contractors spoke to their investors about how well business was going in these times of global war. Representatives from top firms like RaytheonOshkosh, and Lockheed Martin were in attendance, in somewhat of a celebration of the escalating conflict in the middle east and Africa.

Lockheed Martin Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Bruce Tanner gave a speech openly praising the “indirect” benefits that defense contractors would see as a result of the war in Syria. A portion of his speech was captured on audio by someone inside and shared widely on the internet hours after the conference.

In the audio (link below) that was captured, Tanner discussed the many recent troubles in the Middle East, with an escalation of conflict in Syria and Turkey. He pointed out how these conflicts would lead to increased sales for their company.

Tanner said that the increased conflict would cause “an intangible lift because of the dynamics of that environment and our products in theater.”

During another speech at the conference, Wilson R. Jones, the president of the defense manufacturer Oshkosh, said that “with the ISIS threat growing, there are more countries interested in buying Oshkosh-made M-ATV armored vehicles.” 

Oshkosh M-ATV– Photo: The OshkoshM-ATV is an Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle developed by the Oshkosh Corporation of Oshkosh, Wisconsin for the MRAP All Terrain Vehicle (M-ATV) program.

Raytheon Chief Executive Thomas A. Kennedy also joined in the informal celebration, saying that his company was seeing “a significant uptick for defense solutions across the board in multiple countries in the Middle East.”

“It’s all the turmoil they have going on, whether the turmoil’s occurring in Yemen, whether it’s with the Houthis, whether it’s occurring in Syria or Iraq, with ISIS,” Kennedy added.

In addition to the growing wars, the contractors also celebrated the fact that the defense sector was recently granted a $607 billion budget by the government.

“Our programs are well supported [in the budget]. We think we did fare very well,” Tanner concluded.

A recent report by journalist Glenn Greenwald pointed out stock prices for weapons manufacturers sharply increased just after the terrorist attacks in Paris. Greenwald was following the tip of Brooklyn journalist , who posted screenshots for the recent stock performances of major weapons contractors on his Twitter page.

twitter1twitterYou can listen to the leaked audio from the conference below:
Lockheed Martin 3rd Annual Industrial Conference Dec. 2015

soundcloud

 

 

 

 

Related:

Lockheed Martin International:

Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that – with the addition of Sikorsky – employs approximately 126,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. 

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Credit Suisse: 2016 Conferences/Corporate Days

Please note some of the below events are by invitation only and all may be subject to change. Please contact your Credit Suisse sales or Corporate Access representative if you are interested in any of the events.

DATES CONFERENCE LOCATION
Jan 19-20, 2016 2016 Latin America Investment Conference Sao Paulo
Jan 21, 2016 Analyst Relay Hong Kong
Jan 26, 2016 China Property and Financials Workshop Hong Kong
Jan 28, 2016 Swiss EQ Mid Cap Fintech Day Zurich
Feb 8-10, 2016 17th Annual Financial Services Forum Miami Beach, Florida
Feb 17, 2016 Korea Display Supply Chain Corporate Day Seoul
Feb 22-23, 2016 Asia Frontier Markets Conference London
Feb 22-25, 2016 21st Annual Energy Summit Vail, Colorado
Feb 24, 2016 2016 HOLT Conference London
Feb 25-26, 2016 Asia Frontier Markets Conference New York
Mar 1-2, 2016 2016 London Healthcare Conference London
Mar 9-10, 2016 18th Annual Global Services Conference Boston
Mar 15, 2016 Australian Technology Conference Sydney
Apr 5-8, 2016 19th Annual Asian Investment Conference Hong Kong
Apr 7, 2016 8th Annual Therapeutics Day New York
Apr 7, 2016 9th Annual Asian Hedge Fund Forum Hong Kong
May 2-3, 2016 24th Annual Offshore Technology Conference Tour Houston, Texas
May 3-5, 2016 2016 Mexico Investment Ideas Conference Mexico City
May 10-11, 2016 2016 REIT Conference New York
May 17, 2016 Stockholm Healthcare IR Day Stockholm
May 18, 2016 Stockholm Consumer IR Day Stockholm
May 24-25, 2016 Asia TMT Corporate Day New York
May 26, 2016 Asia TMT Corporate Day Boston
Jun 1, 2016 Boston Consumer Roundup Boston
Jun 7-8, 2016 Global Energy Conference London
Jun 7-8, 2016 Global Energy Conference London
Jun 15-16, 2016 3rd Annual Australian Energy Conference Sydney
Jun 21, 2016 2016 Chemicals & Ag Conference London
Jun 21, 2016 2016 Chemicals & Ag Conference London
Jun 21-22, 2016 MLP & Energy Logistics Conference New York
Jun 27-28, 2016 Oil & Gas Conference Singapore
Aug 3-4, 2016 10th Annual Midsummer LatAm Conference New York
Aug 8-9, 2016 Homebuilding & Building Products Conference New York
Aug 10-11, 2016 5th Annual Gaming, Lodging, Leisure & Restaurant Conference New York
Aug 15-16, 2016 Indonesia Conference Singapore
Sep 1-2, 2016 2016 European Telecoms Conference London
Sep 12-13, 2016 2016 Global Steel & Mining Conference London
Sep 13-15, 2016 Basic Materials Conference New York
Sep 14-15, 2016 7th Annual US Small & Mid Cap Conference New York
Sep 14-15, 2016 2016 European Industrials Conference London
Sep 22, 2016 Chicago Consumer Roundup Chicago
Sep 29-30, 2016 Paris Autos Show Conference Paris
Nov 7-9, 2016 Healthcare Conference Phoenix
Nov 28-Dec 1, 2016 2016 Technology, Media, and Telecom Conference Phoenix
Nov 30-Dec 2, 2016 4th Annual Industrials Conference Palm Beach, Florida

 

Hillary Clinton Laughs When Asked if She Will Release Transcripts of Her Goldman Sachs Speeches

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clintonHillary Clinton at a campaign event in Burlington, Iowa, on Wednesday. Credit Jim Wilson/The New York Times

After Hillary Clinton spoke at a town hall in Manchester, New Hampshire, on Friday, she was asked if she would release the transcripts of her paid speeches to Goldman Sachs. She laughed and turned away.

Clinton has recently been on the defensive about the speaking fees she and her husband have collected. Those fees total over $125 million since 2001.

Her rival Democratic presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, has raised concerns in particular over the $675,000 she made from Goldman Sachs, an investment bank that has regularly used its influence with government officials to win favorable policies.

Watch the video:

During one of her paid speeches to Goldman Sachs, Clinton reportedly reassured the crowd and told them that banker-bashing was unproductive and foolish, according to a Politico report based on accounts offered by several attendees.

On Friday, Clinton was asked by New Hampshire Public Radio how the “average person should view the hefty speaking fees?”

Lloyd Blankfein, Chairman & CEO of Goldman Sachs and Hillary Clinton– Photo: Lloyd Blankfein, Chairman & CEO of Goldman Sachs and Hillary Clinton during the 2014 Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting.

“I spoke to a wide array of groups who wanted to hear what I thought about the world coming off of my time as secretary of state,” Clinton said, defending her decision to make money from speaking fees. “I happen to think we need more conversation about what’s going on in the world.”

“I think groups that want to talk and ask questions and hear about that are actually trying to educate themselves because we’re living in a really complicated world.”

Click link below to listen:

Hillary Clinton on her speaking fees

firstlookmedia | Free Listening on SoundCloud

soundcloudWhen asked by the Des Moines Register on Thursday if she regretted her decision to make money from speaking to various interest groups, Clinton compared herself to President Barack Obama, noting that significant campaign donations from Wall Street did not stop him from passing the Dodd-Frank reform law.

Eric-Holder-Breuer-010But the Obama administration did in fact go easy on Wall Street by refusing to criminally prosecuted the major financial institutions responsible for the 2008 economic crisis. And Dodd-Frank, many critics say, does not go far enough in preventing systemic risk.

What’s more, though Obama fundraised for his presidential campaigns from Wall Street, he never enriched himself personally as the Clintons have done.

Obama’s ethics disclosures show that he made the vast majority of his income from royalties and advance money for his two books, “Dreams From My Father” and “The Audacity of Hope.”

clintonThe Associated Press notes that during Hillary Clinton’s time as secretary of state, Bill Clinton earned $17 million in talks to banks, insurance companies, hedge funds, real estate businesses, and other financial firms. Altogether, the couple are estimated to have made over $139 million from paid speeches.

 

 

 

 

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Higher Law and the American Constitution

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Edward CokeIn the debate of whether or not a constitution is considered ‘sacred’ and thus should not be violated, a very important question arises: is one a follower of evolutionary hypothesis, or does one agree to the theory of natural law. Although one could surely follow both in somewhat of a synergetic combination, one would definitely start here. If someone fully subscribes to the wholly evolutionary hypothesis (as in all things were the product of evolution), then there would be no fruit in debating the merit of whether a constitution could reflect higher law, as laws are merely progressive, subjective, and change to the needs of society.

As humanity evolves, so does its need and it’s perceived morality, and what may be considered right or wrong in the past can evolve. Man progresses through evolutionary change; intellectually, physically, and morally.

However, if one follows the theory of natural law, then the question does not become whether or not natural law exists, but whether it is reflected in the written constitution of a nation.

Carlo_Crivelli_007If so, then it is of no disagreement that this constitution must be revered, protected, and upheld. What exactly is this natural law? It “is defined as right reason; and is described as at once a law of, and a law to, God,” (Corwin 55). With this divisionary observation established, and now presuming the latter truly does exist, this article will analyze the supposed higher law background of the U.S. Constitution.

In discovering the importance of Higher law, it is of immense value to discover important judicial thinkers whom inspired the U.S. tradition. Perhaps rising above most is that of Edward Coke. It is in him we find both actions and words used to describe Higher Law, and most importantly it’s sanctimonious character. In defining the law of nature, Coke clarified that it is “that which God at the time of Creation of nature of man infused into his heart, for his preservation and direction; and this is Lex Aeterna, the moral law, called also the law of nature,” Coke continued with a clarification to express that this law was, written upon the hearts of man (Hebrews 8:10), directed man before the time of the written law given by Moses.1 Here we find a body of judicial law, as to be follows, by the ultimate Judge in God himself. Man was designed to follow the law of man, and in the reference to “common right and reason,” Coke speaks of the law of God written across our hearts.

Lex aeternaThis law, higher law, takes precedence.

In the American system, we see a characteristic not so much of God’s law (although it is no exaggeration to argue that the law of Moses and the Western tradition influenced law in the states), but this division of law. We call it judicial review, whereas the Constitution itself stands as the Higher law, and that lesser law (i.e. legislation), must stand in accordance to its nature.

“And it appears, in our books, that in many cases, the common law will control acts of parliament, and sometimes adjudge them to be utterly void: for when an act of parliament is against common right and reason, or repugnant, or impossible to be performed, the common law will control it and adjudge such act to be void.” (41-42). Within this statement from Coke, we find an early strand of Judicial Review. In striking down the act of Parliament, on the grounds that it conflicted with ‘common law,’ some higher body of law is seen as an authoritative body.

“This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts.” (Hebrews 8:10)

It is no mistake to observe the American system, and find Judicial review in it’s current form, where laws by congress may be deemed unconstitutional if they go against the body of higher law. For this similarity in reason, it is not far-fetch, given Coke’s immense importance in law studies within the United States, to assume that this law of Cokeian judicial thinking brought about an impression upon Chief Justice Marshall and the like.

“‘Common right and reason’ is, in short, something fundamental, something permanent; it is higher law,” and higher law in the American system is Constitutional law (44). “His dictum in Bonham’s Case… treated apart from his other ideas, as it was destined to be by a series of judges, commentators, and attorneys, became the most important single source of the notion of judicial review.”

Hugo GrotiusIn addition to Coke, other individuals set the stage for the Founder’s conception of
Constitutionalism. An example would be Grotius, who revived the Ciceronian (which removed the theological implications from Medieval and Papal thinking). In addition to Grotius’ influence of de-papalized concept of natural law, as being God’s law or God’s reason, Newton’s scientific discoveries altered the understanding. With laws of nature found, such as those as gravity, the universe could be perceived to contain laws of nature which also lead to influence the notion of ‘law of nature’, and the concept of Deism that was also then widespread.

This combination of “Ciceronian conception of natural law, extended and deepened by Newtonian science,” provided the background in perhaps the greatest influence of American theory and constitutionalism emerged: John Locke. Locke’s Second Treatise on Civil Government provided an immense influence on American Constitutionalism and the Founders, via Locke’s usage and clarification of natural law.

Working from the protestant notion of the priesthood of individualism, and its importance, Locke spoke of the natural law of individual rights; “the rights of ‘life, liberty, and estate,’” (Corwin 28). As Coke gave the gift of language that, once construed, influenced the idea of Judicial Review, Locke gave the American system the important concept of legislative limitation, and property right (64-65).

Locke religion-and-politics-in-the-us-8-638In the legislature’s purpose of protecting the rights of individuals, Locke argued that this legislature “’cannot assume to itself a power to rule by extemporary, arbitrary decrees,’” but is instead designed to preserve the earlier mentioned individual rights (Corwin 65).

One other realm of influence from Locke is on the generality of law. “Nor may it vary the law in particular cases…law must be general; it must afford equal protection to all,” (65). This generality of law, as found in the Equal Protection clause within the 14th Amendment, is another influence from Lockean thinking. Two more important contributions to American Constitutionalism were the idea that “legislative power cannot be delegated,” (non delegation doctrine, Article I Section 1 of the Constitution)2, and that “legislative power is not the ultimate power of the commonwealth,” (Corwin 65).3

Equal Protection clauseIt is the latter point, regarding legislative power as not being ultimate to the power of the commonwealth (as found in the rights of individuals), that laid a hefty impression on American Constitutionalism, separation of powers, and this idea of Higher Laws. Locke had found a right to property and the ownership of man’s labor, under the pretense that man had inherited the earth and the ownership of his labor from God. Here then, property and the individual are considered Higher Law, and this privileged importance found within the constitution is overt.

Having viewed this definition of natural law, and having seen, through such thinkers as Coke and Locke, the notion of higher law came into fruition via the written constitution of the United States, we must ask the following question: why is there a great reverence for the 2 “without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” (14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution) 3 “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States,” (Constitution Article 1 Section 1) Constitution? To first answer this, we must turn to peculiarity of the document itself.

article 1 sec 1The written Constitution was a new invention of political man, something that has become somewhat of a standard, and has its roots with the founding fathers. Although borrowing with a deep and diverse constitutional tradition, the Founding Fathers had taken the ideas of Ciceronian Law of Nature, as well as the above mentioned ideas of Coke and Locke, as well as practical experience and religious conviction, to draw forth ideas of laws codified within a physical document. Given the earlier puritan experience, and the sovereignty of Scripture, it would come to no surprise that the binding documents and covenants of founding fathers and earlier puritans found the extension of natural laws as written normal.

natural lawWith this background, and a general reverence of scripture given the Sola scriptura protestant characteristic, the American people were used to a reverence of binding textual agreements. It would then come as no surprise to find the people granting this reverence not only to their guiding moral documents (scripture), but their guiding political document (the Constitution). In addition to this background, a general reverence for the Constitution is established in the constitution itself. Within its very context it affirms its high law nature, speaking of itself as “shall be the supreme Law of the Land,” (Constitution Article VI Section 2).

This combination of a protestant national background, as well as the affirmation of the Constitution as supreme itself, are perhaps two good reasons as to the source of this ‘constitutional reverence.’ However, perhaps a third adds to the mix: the reverence for the Founding Fathers themselves. It is of no surprise that a certain degree of mystification occurs regarding patriotic and founding figures with national heroes. The same can be said of the founding fathers.

Sola scripturaGiven their prestigious position within history, to assume they were not of a 4 “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land;” (Supremacy clause – Constitution Article VI Section 2) superb degree is to put into question their workmanship (the constitution itself). As such, a reference regarding the founding fathers, usually depicted as great intellectual men of history, would naturally lead to a reverence of their work, the constitution.

In the debate of whether or not our constitution reflects a kind of “higher law” that makes it sacred and inviolable, another important question must be asked: does higher law even exist?

Before we can handle the question, we must handle the presupposition: is there an existence of natural law, or higher law, or the existence of anything sacred? If we assume something sacred and inviolable may exist, then we could proceed to the judgment of sacred. The realm of natural law is an interesting thing. As John Locke deals with it, the assumption of God is made. Natural law then, to the Christian or the Theist, is the reflection of God’s perfect reason; the law God has established on earth.

Supremacy clauseWithin Christianity, this is furthered by saying the law is expressed with Christ himself, and that this law is written upon the hearts of man not only to govern his world, and the nature in which he lives (gravity, chemistry, biology, etc), but also to govern him morally.

It is interesting that in the early Jewish kings, God hand’s to man a form of written constitutionalism. During this time, Egyptians and others used a form of governmental model whereas the leader was considered supreme, and where they themselves were above their law (regardless of their claims to be divinely inspired). It is first with the Israelites that we find, after God giving Moses the commandments that a system of Constitutionalism is in place.

The Israelite kings are not above Levitical and Mosaic Law. Rather, the rulers and the Israelite people are beneath the law, and the law itself, not the leadership and government, are supreme. It is the Israelite leadership ignoring the Higher Law of the Old Testament Canon that is eventually blamed for the demise and diaspora of the Jews. The relevance in all this is as follows: as Locke and others must assume a God who has established natural law in order to argue with reason the existence of natural law in civic law, the presumption must be made.

Book of LeviticusThis article in no ways means to argue for or against the existence, and that itself would be the heftiest of topics, whoever we assume a legislature or a lawmaker when we assume a law, and the same principle can be applied to Constitutionalism.

The question then becomes, does the Constitution reflect this Higher Law? If by higher law we mean principles of Christian or Jewish morality, then it becomes quite muddled. Although political theory and the study of politics have their roots in ethics and the ‘best’ way to organize society, it is not within the domain of the Constitution to produce more ethical and moral being, but to preserve liberties that are written within God’s law.

I would argue, given the special historical time of the Founders, and their various influences, the Constitution, in its consciousness, best reflects principles established in God’s law: liberty, freedom, and the ownership of one’s labor. This is more theological, however I am working from the presumption that by Higher Law we mean God’s Law. Then we must ask what the worth of adhering to this law is?

Perhaps the best example would be fond in the above mentioned Israelites: if there is a God who can create a Higher Law, and he has created this Higher Law for a reason, then there is no reason, if a Constitution reflects these laws of reason and nature, to abandon its principles. Although political language changes with political times, and democratic majorities shift, natural law remains eternal. The job of the democratic public and their representatives is not then to apply subjective interpretations to Constitutional provisions to their betterment, but to best preserve these isolated and eternal laws.

 

Works Cited:
Corwin, Edward S. The “Higher Law” Background of American Constitutional Law.
Indianapolis: Amagi, 2008.

Fathers, Founding. “United States Constitution.” USConstitution.net. 6 Feb. 2009. Steve Mount. 21 Apr. 2009 <http://www.usconstitution.net/‌const.html&gt;.

New International Version. “NIV.” BibleGateway.com. BibleGateway.com. 20 Apr. 2009 <http://biblegateway.com/‌ >.

 

 

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Supreme Court Cases that Radically Expanded Government and Eroded Freedom

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9th and 10thNinth and Tenth Amendments

The structure of our federal system, and, indeed, our Constitution, can best be captured by looking at the final two provisions of the Bill of Rights, the Ninth and Tenth Amendments. The Tenth Amendment says quite clearly that the federal government is authorized to exercise only certain enumerated powers

, the ones that are listed there and that are specifically delegated to the national government. The Tenth Amendment goes on to say, if the power is not listed there, if it’s not enumerated and delegated to the national government, then it is reserved to the states or, depending on the provisions of state constitutions and state laws, to the people. These powers — we’re talking, for example, about the power to coin money, to establish post offices, to  regulate interstate commerce — are very tightly defined.

Conservatives and libertarians generally agree on that narrow view of federal power, but there are a couple of key exceptions, one of which is that conservatives, but generally not libertarians, are willing to federalize a significant amount of criminal law. If you want an example of that, just take a look at our totally ineffective war on drugs. If you want an example in the area of civil law, take a look at Tort Reform — an area that traditionally and constitutionally is reserved to the states. Some conservatives have encouraged the U.S. Congress to get involved in such things as medical malpractice caps — even in cases that involve instate patients suing instate doctors for injuries that occurred wholly within one state — by suggesting, somehow or another, that it constitutes a regulation of interstate commerce and is, therefore, justified under the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Libertarians invoke a different principle: No matter how worthwhile the goal, no matter how much Congress thinks that it has identified a really important problem, and no matter how sure Congress is that it knows how to fix the problem, if there’s no constitutional authority to pursue it, then the federal government has to step aside and leave the matter to the states or private parties.

tortToday, of course, the federal government immerses itself in matters ranging from public schools to hurricane relief, drug enforcement, welfare, retirement systems, medical care, family planning, housing, and aid to the arts. I challenge you to find any of those that are authorized in the Constitution. None can be found among Congress’s enumerated powers.

There’s a second area where conservatives and libertarians differ on powers of government: concentrating national security in the executive branch. Libertarians remind their conservative friends that too much power concentrated in one branch, particularly in the executive branch, threatens the notion of separation of powers, which has been a cornerstone of our Constitution for more than two centuries. Thus, the administration — and I mean in particular the previous administration, the Bush Administration — may not by itself unilaterally set the rules, because that’s not an executive function. It’s a legislative function. While the administration may enforce the rules and prosecute infractions, it may not, after the fact, decide whether it has itself misbehaved by violating the statutes and the Constitution, because that is a judicial function.

So that’s the powers-of-government perspective grounded in the Tenth Amendment and the separation of powers doctrine.

The Ninth Amendment

The Ninth Amendment doesn’t talk about powers.

It talks about rights, and it says that the enumeration of certain rights in the Constitution doesn’t mean that those are all the rights we have.

We do have other rights — rights that existed before the Constitution was written, rights that existed before the U.S. government was even formed. That safeguard imposes another powerful discipline on federal behavior, because the Ninth Amendment says, even if the federal government is exercising its legitimate powers in accordance with the Tenth Amendment, it may not exercise those powers in a manner that violates our rights. The Ninth Amendment goes on to say that the “rights” which can’t be “violated” include all the ones that are enumerated, like free speech, the exercise of religion, protection against unreasonable searches, etc., as well as unenumerated rights that include, in the libertarian view, the right to do things like gamble or smoke marijuana.

Dirty DozenNow, notice that the presumptions of the Ninth and Tenth Amendments are exactly opposite of one another in a fashion, and if you understand that concept, I think you capture the whole federal system. The Tenth Amendment says if the power isn’t there, the government doesn’t have it. The Ninth Amendment says just the reverse: Merely because the right isn’t explicitly listed there doesn’t mean that individuals don’t have it.

Consequently, if one wanted to identify one provision in the Constitution that separates the libertarians from the conservatives, I think it would be the Ninth Amendment. Conservatives treat the Ninth Amendment as, to use former Judge Robert Bork’s memorable term, “an ink blot.” Judge Bork said, “The Ninth Amendment should be ignored. Nobody knows what it means. It’s as if someone spilled ink on the portion of the amendment that would have identified these unenumerated rights that the libertarians insist that we have.”

I think it’s odd that Judge Bork did not have difficulty in coming to grips with other equally amorphous terms in the Constitution like “probable cause,” “due process,” “just compensation,” and “unreasonable searches.” Yet, for whatever reason, Judge Bork and his conservative allies do have a difficult time in coming to grips with the concept of an unenumerated right.

Libertarians treat the Ninth Amendment like it means something. They argue that it refers to our natural rights — the rights that we had by nature, pre-government, and pre-Constitution and that we still retain. What are these natural rights? In short, they’re all the so-called negative rights; even though that term has a pejorative connotation, it shouldn’t be interpreted that way. A negative right is just a right that doesn’t impose an affirmative obligation on anyone else, and it can be contrasted with positive rights or what really ought to be called entitlements, which do impose affirmative obligations on other people.

If we were to take, for example, the right to the pursuit of happiness, that’s a negative right, because I can pursue happiness, and I don’t need your

But suppose I had a right to happiness, not the pursuit of happiness, but a right to the achievement, the attainment, the realization of happiness. (Bear in mind, if I say I have a right, that presupposes that I have a remedy if the right is violated, because a right without a remedy is no right at all.)

social securityThus, if I have an enforceable right to the achievement of happiness, that’s obviously a positive right because it does impose affirmative obligations on each of you. At a minimum, you would not be able to do anything that makes me unhappy. If you did, I would be able to go to court and seek redress. These positive rights are integral to the liberal view of the proper role of government.

Now that I have spent some time being somewhat critical of conservatives, I want to talk about liberals for a moment.

The positive rights that liberals invoke, for the most part, are things like welfare, a minimum wage, the right to housing, the right to health care. All of these, as you can see, are positive in the sense that they impose affirmative obligations. If I have a right — an enforceable right — to welfare, then somebody somewhere has the affirmative obligation to come up with the money to pay for it.

Paradoxically, we’re now hearing from liberals, particularly in the post-9/11 environment, that big government can’t be trusted. Ordinarily, liberals embrace every proposal for big government that one could imagine, but there’s one area where liberals don’t trust big government: civil liberties. Why doesn’t the Left’s healthy distrust of big government in the civil liberties area extend to distrust of big government when it comes to government control over things like our retirement system, our welfare system, our public school system, and the private economy?

Why hasn’t the Left’s healthy distrust of big government extended to support for privatized Social Security or school choice or the elimination of regulations that seem to control everything from the size of a navel orange to the ergonomics of office equipment?

social-security-debateIn the Left’s view, almost all government agencies are fine, but two are not: the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Defense. Oddly enough, those two agencies are charged with an indisputably legitimate function of government: to protect us from domestic and foreign predators.

Imagine if the Congress were to delegate to the Justice Department — particularly if it were still under the control of, say, John Ashcroft or Alberto Gonzales — the power to enact regulations regarding the tradeoff between  national security and civil liberties, and it gave the Justice Department no more guidance than to keep us safe from terrorists. People on the Left would be apoplectic, and they would have every right to be.

But when the same Congress delegates to the Environmental Protection Agency the power to enact regulations regarding the tradeoff between economic growth and the environment, and it gives the EPA no more guidance than to keep us safe from pollutants, the Left applauds enthusiastically. Could it be that pollutants are a greater threat than terrorists? Not likely. More likely, the Left has a selective indignation about too much government, and I think that reveals an inconsistency in the liberal mindset.

There’s a similar inconsistency, as I mentioned, in the conservative view of the proper role of government.

It’s in resolving that foundational question — What is the proper role of government? — that the Constitution is best viewed through two prisms: the powers-of-government prism (the Tenth Amendment) and the rights-of-individuals prism (the Ninth Amendment). If you want to encapsulate the libertarian view in a nutshell, it is this: Libertarians view the powers of government very, very narrowly and the rights of individuals very, very broadly. That was precisely the vision of the Framers. That’s the background.

A Few Cases Short of a Dirty Dozen

Now, I want to talk about The Dirty Dozen. Interestingly, as a prologue to this, we’ve had only 27 amendments. After the Bill of Rights — the first ten amendments — we’ve had only 17 amendments to the Constitution since 1791. That’s 218 years and 17 amendments. Why is it that there have been so few changes, even though the Framers could never have imagined what our 21st-century world would look like? Well, there are probably lots of reasons, but I think three are particularly relevant here. Two of those are good reasons; one is not so good.

The first good reason is that the Framers were geniuses. They came up with this simply incredible document. Their vision of liberty was every bit as relevant in 1791 as it is today. The second good reason is that in exercising their genius, they had the foresight to craft an amendment process in Article V that’s very difficult.

Essentially, two-thirds of both houses have to propose amendments. They have to be ratified by three-fourths of the states. Not surprisingly, that hasn’t happened very often.

The one bad reason is that the Supreme Court has accomplished through the back door what the states and the Congress could not have accomplished through the prescribed amendment process. Regrettably, I think, the modern court has lost its compass, and that has profound implications for all of us.

Dred Scott V. SanfordSome of this damage occurred many years ago. Perhaps, the worst case of all is the infamous Dred Scott v. Sandford case in 1857, where Chief Justice Roger Taney held, among other things, that black slaves were property and not citizens of the United States. There’s the almost equally infamous Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896 where the court upheld a Louisiana statute that required—not just permitted, but required — railroads to provide equal but separate accommodations for the black and white races.

Now as repugnant as those cases were, they’re not in the book because they’re no longer the law of the land. Dred Scott was superseded by the Fourteenth Amendment in 1868, and Plessy was overturned by a whole series of cases, beginning with the school desegregation case Brown v. Board of Education in 1954. Much of the court’s enduring mischief that has lasting significance occurred much later, started during the New Deal and continues today. So it’s that period on which the book focuses, the period from 1934 to the present.

I’m not going to have time to detail each of these cases, but I would like to identify most of them and give you a few paragraphs about each one. I’m not going to do this in any particular order. It’s not worst case to next worst, etc., but rather it’s the powers-of-government cases first and then the rights-of-individuals cases. As I do this, I’ll try to  mention the modern-day importance of these cases, particularly in this environment that we currently find ourselves.

Helvering v. Davis

The first case is about the general welfare clause. The case is called Helvering v. Davis (1937). The issue in the case is whether the Social Security system was constitutional. As a judge, you’re not supposed to decide whether the Social Security system is a good idea.

helvering v davisYou’re not supposed to decide whether it’s well funded, whether it makes sense for some people to be paying for the retirement for other people, whether it will ever achieve solvency, or whether it will get the job done. Those are not questions for the judge. The question for the judge was pretty simple: Does the Social Security system have some constitutional authorization? Where would this authorization come from? The proponents said it comes from the general welfare clause — that Congress has the power in the Constitution to tax in order to promote the general welfare.

This turned out to be a big battle between Alexander Hamilton and James Madison.

There are powers in the Constitution to establish post offices, coin money, and so on. Hamilton said (I paraphrase), “The general welfare clause is an extra power of Congress. In addition, there is the power to tax in order to promote the general welfare.”

Madison said, “That cannot be the case! The whole structure of the Constitution, the whole design of our federal plan, was to create a system of enumerated powers and limited government. After all, if you give Congress the power to promote the general welfare — which could include anything and everything — that would be an unbounded power which would totally eviscerate the notion of enumerated powers.”

Madison went even further. He said, “Not only isn’t the general welfare clause an extra power of Congress, it’s actually a restriction on Congress.”  

Here’s how he thought the general welfare clause ought to be interpreted: Congress has the power to do all these things that are listed in Article I, Section 8, and if they do those things and only those things, in addition, they must exercise those limited powers in a manner that promotes the general welfare and not the welfare of what Madison called factions and what we today call special interests.
The court looked at this and roughly said, “Hamilton is right; Madison is wrong. The Social Security system is perfectly constitutional.” That opened the floodgates through which the redistributive state was ready to pour, taking money from some people and giving it to others. Take a look at President Obama’s stimulus package, if you want today’s manifestation of the outcome — the predictable outcome — of a case like Helvering v. Davis.

Wickard v. Filburn

Just about as bad is the second case, Wickard v. Filburn (1942). It’s about the commerce clause. Congress has an expressed power to regulate interstate commerce. The issue in Wickard v. Filburn was: Does the power to regulate interstate commerce extend to activities that are not interstate and not commerce?

Wickard v FilburnIt sounds like a pretty simple question. It wasn’t so simple for the Supreme Court.

Mr. Filburn was growing crops on his farm, all within one state. He wasn’t buying them; he was growing them. And he didn’t sell them; he ate them and he gave them to his farm animals. President Franklin Roosevelt said, “We have to limit the amount of crops you’re growing, Filburn.” Filburn said, “Under what authority?” Roosevelt said, “Regulating interstate commerce.” Filburn, quite sensibly said, “How can that be? It’s on my farm and all within one state. I’m not buying anything; I’m growing it. I’m not selling anything; I’m eating it.”

The Supreme Court looked at the case and said, “Mr. Filburn, you just do not understand. After all, if you hadn’t been growing these crops, you would have to have been out there buying them. If you hadn’t eaten everything you grew, you would have had a lot left over you could have sold. So by not buying and not selling, you have influenced the supply and demand for crops on the interstate markets, and, therefore, we can regulate you.”

Sounds just amazing, doesn’t it?

That, of course, opened up a set of floodgates through which the regulatory state was ready to flow. As a result, Congress can now regulate anything and everything under the auspices of the commerce clause.

Home Building & Loan Association v. Blaisdell

Let’s look at a third case, which concerns the contracts clause, Home Building & Loan Association v. Blaisdell — a 1934 Minnesota case, by the way. The contracts clause is pretty clear. As a matter of fact, it’s crystalline. This is what it says: “No state shall pass any law impairing the Obligation of Contracts.” Even I can understand that, but it wasn’t clear enough for the Supreme Court. The court upheld a Minnesota statute that postponed — see if this sounds familiar — mortgage payments for financially troubled homeowners. Never mind the contract.

home_building_loan_assn_v_blaisdell1Never mind whether there was any fraudulent inducement in the negotiations for the contract. There are lots of laws on the books that prevent contracts from being enforced if they were fraudulently induced, but that didn’t have anything to do with this.

This was a blanket, across-the-board prohibition on foreclosures, and we are now seeing a replay as creditors are forced to waive foreclosure on mortgages today — again, without any regard to whether there was fraudulent inducement in the negotiation of the mortgage.

Whitman v. American Trucking Association

The next case, also with current implications, is about a doctrine that most people have never even heard of, unless you went to law school, called the “non-delegation” doctrine. The case is Whitman v. American Trucking Association (2001). The very first sentence of the Constitution, right after the Preamble, says, “All legislative power is vested in Congress.” The Framers did that for a reason.

They knew that if we didn’t like the laws Congress was passing, we could vote the bums out of office. But suppose Congress passes laws and nobody knows what they mean, and they delegate the responsibility to flesh out the details to one of those 320 or so “alphabet agencies” in Washington, D.C. The voters have no recourse then, because these agencies are not run by elected representatives, but by unelected bureaucrats. The voters have no recourse, and apparently, the courts are not going to do much about it, notwithstanding the fact that Congress, not an administrative agency, is supposed to make the law.

TARPIf you think delegation by Congress is OK then you will love TARP, the Troubled Asset Relief Program, under which, first, Henry Paulson, and Timothy Geithner have had virtually plenary power to do whatever they want. For the first week or so, TARP was a program that purchased troubled assets from financial institutions. That morphed, in a very short period of time, to a direct injection of capital into those institutions, and then morphed right back again to the purchase of troubled assets.

Along the way, the White House expropriated hundreds of billions of dollars to bail out the automobile industry, notwithstanding that Congress had said, “Don’t do that.” So all of this was lawmaking by the executive branch, in particular by the Secretary of Treasury — an impermissible delegation of legislative power.

McConnell v. Federal Election Commission

we-the-corporations

The next case also had implications regarding the recent election, as it’s about free speech; specifically, campaign finance reform. The case was McConnell v. Federal Election Commission (2003) and it was about the constitutionality of BCRA, the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, which we know as McCain-Feingold. The reformers had this quixotic idea that we need to separate money from politics, so they passed BCRA, and you can see how well it worked. We recently had an election in which more money was spent than in any election in the history of the universe.

In the process, our most core, protected speech — the right to support or criticize candidates for political office — got less protection under the First Amendment than the court gives to gangster rap, pornography, and flag burning. All of those are protected under the First Amendment, but if you’re running a broadcast ad and you happen to be associated with a union or a corporation, you cannot name a candidate within 30 days of a primary or 60 days of an election

McConnell v. Federal Election Commission

All of this is because Congress doesn’t understand that politics is about a bargain between the candidate and the electorate. The candidate says, “I’m willing to support certain policies, and I want something from you, Mr. Voter, in return.” It should not have any constitutional significance whether the voter’s reciprocal promise is, “In return for supporting these policies, Mr. Candidate, I promise to vote for you;” or “I promise to convince my friends to vote for you”; or “I promise to write a letter to the editor in support of your candidacy;” or “I promise to run an ad in the newspaper in support of your candidacy;” or, finally, “I promise to give you money so you can run your own ad.” All of those have the same end result in mind — getting the candidate elected — and all of them come about through constitutionally protected political speech.

This exchange of promises is not corruption. It is democracy at work. It doesn’t mean that nothing is illegal. Certainly, some things are illegal; for example, trading support for certain policies by the candidate in return for personal aggrandizement, like a new car or a trip to Cancun. Favoring contributors in the award of government contracts or benefits is a breach of fiduciary responsibility; that, too, is illegal. But there are plenty of laws on the books that govern that. You don’t need campaign finance laws that truncate and compromise political speech to accomplish those ends.

Korematsu v. United States

The next case is a case you’ve probably all heard of, even if you didn’t go to law school: the 1944 case of Korematsu v. United States. The Constitution says we all have guarantees of liberty, fair treatment, and equal protection under the law. The Supreme Court in this instance said, “Well, maybe not. Maybe we can waive that during wartime, even if it means that a lot of American citizens are arrested and imprisoned indefinitely without charge and given no opportunity to contest their detention.”

Korematsu v. United StatesMr. Korematsu had the misfortune of having Japanese ancestry. He’d never been to Japan. He spoke Japanese haltingly. He couldn’t read it. Yet, he was detained without any suspicion of disloyalty whatsoever for years, along with 120,000 other Japanese Americans. Seventy thousand of them were U.S. citizens — 18,000 Japanese Americans were later decorated for valor fighting for the United States in World War II.

If you think that all ended with World War II, just take a look at the case of José Padilla, a U.S. citizen seized from the streets of Chicago in 2002, whisked away, put into solitary confinement, and held for the better part of five years with no access to a lawyer, no way to talk with his family, no charges filed, and no opportunity to contest his detention. It was only after the Supreme Court threatened to intervene that the Justice Department found charges — criminal charges unrelated to the War on Terror — to bring against Jose Padilla. He was convicted. I don’t make apologies for Padilla. He might be a really bad guy.

Jose PadillaBut we do have a rule of law, and one would expect that the rule of law at least extends to a prohibition against whisking U.S. citizens off the streets of a major city and putting them into solitary confinement for five years without access to anyone, including a lawyer, without charges being filed, and without an opportunity to protest their detention.

Bennis v. Michigan

The next case has an extraordinary factual background. It’s called Bennis v. Michigan (1996) and it’s about something again which very few people know about: “civil asset forfeiture.” The interesting facts were these: Mrs. Bennis owned a car. Her husband took the car and didn’t ask her. If he had asked her, she wouldn’t have agreed. He  picked up a prostitute and had sexual relations in the car. He was arrested, the prostitute was arrested, and the car was arrested.

How do you arrest a car?

police-can-seize-your-propertyWell, you can arrest the car because the civil asset forfeiture laws say that any asset that facilitates the commission of crime is subject to confiscation, and there was no innocent-owner defense at the time in the State of Michigan, which meant that Mrs. Bennis had no recourse.

She said, “Listen! This was my car. He didn’t ask me. If he had asked me, I would have said no. He took it without my consent, without my knowledge. Indeed, I am the victim. He picked up a prostitute. I would like my car back. If you insist on keeping my car, I would like money in compensation.” The court said, “You don’t get the car, and you don’t get the money, because the car has facilitated the commission of a crime.” This has become a very big money raiser for a lot of law enforcement agencies in the war on drugs. That’s where this has come from, and that’s why it is so popular. The federal laws have been changed somewhat, but many states still have no innocent-owner defense.

Kelo v. City of New London

You’ve probably heard of the next case, which is about eminent domain: Kelo v. City of New London  (2005). The Institute for Justice litigated this case and lost — yet won, as I’ll explain in just a moment. Mrs. Kelo had a cherished home in which she lived, and she wanted to stay there. A private developer went to the city of New London, Connecticut, and said, “Let me have her home.” The city said, “Why do you want it?” The developer said, “I’ve got some contacts at Pfizer. I think we can put up a pharmaceutical plant. If that doesn’t work out, we’ll put up some hotel and office buildings. In any event, what we’re going to do is expand the tax base, and we’re going to create a bunch of jobs.”

kelo v city of new londonMrs. Kelo said, “Whoa! What about the Fifth Amendment? It says, ‘…nor shall private property be taken except for public use.’ We ordinarily think of public use as pertaining to things like roads and military bases, not giving private property — a private home — to a private developer for a factory, hotel or an office building.”

The Supreme Court said, “Well, you know, the Framers didn’t really mean public use. They may have said it, but they didn’t mean it. What they really meant was public purpose. After all, Pfizer can do more with that property than you can by just living in it. More jobs and tax revenue may not be a public use but surely they serve a public purpose.”

“So if you think your home is safe from the government bulldozer, think again.”

The Kelo case was an enormous loss because of the Court’s horrible opinion. But the Institute for Justice, a public interest law firm, knowing that you could fight battles in more than one venue – one being the courtroom, the second being the court of public opinion – took this case to the media and to the people. As a result of the Institute’s crusade, 43 states have now passed laws or constitutional amendments of their own that, to one degree or another, have trumped the effects of the Kelo opinion.

That’s a reminder, by the way, that states sometimes do a better job of protecting your rights than the federal government does. The federal Constitution sets a floor. The states can always go beyond that.

Three More

Penn Central Transport v. New York CityFor the other three cases, let me give you just a few sentences about each of them.

While Kelo was a physical taking — the physical seizure of property — Penn Central Transportation Company v. New York City (1978) was a regulatory taking. The rule established in the case is that unless a regulation reduces the value of your property to just about zero, you’re going to get no monetary compensation. Penn Central lost $150 million because they couldn’t build on top of a facility they had in New York City. They got zero monetary compensation.

United States v. Carolene ProductsUnited States v. Carolene Products (1938) deals with the right to earn an honest living: This case divided our rights into two categories. The first is composed of certain fundamental rights such as voting, access  to the courts, some parts of the Bill of Rights, and a recently-discovered right to privacy. The courts are going to protect these rights rigorously and vigorously. On the other hand, the courts are not going to protect economic liberties such as the right to contract, the right to property, the right to work for an honest wage that you and your employer find acceptable, and the right to start your own business.

The final case is Grutter v. Bollinger (2003), the University of Michigan Law School affirmative action case where the general rule against discrimination by race was set aside in the name of diversity. One would think an educational institution would be mostly interested in diversity of intellectual and ideological viewpoint. Yet if you surveyed law professors at the nation’s law schools, including the University of Michigan, you’d find that Democrats outnumber Republicans about seven to one.

Whatever your political persuasion, seven to one is not diverse, and it’s certainly not a reflection of the general population. One would think that if we’re to have affirmative action at the nation’s law schools, it would be an affirmative program in support of hiring Republican Grutter v. Bollinger law professors. Don’t hold your breath.

Grutter v. BollingerThose are the 12 worst cases — the much abbreviated version. In a free society, we shouldn’t have to ask government permission to participate in an election or to start our own business, and government shouldn’t be authorized to take away somebody’s private property and give it to some other private owner.

The only way those abuses of government power can be curtailed is if the judicial branch is vigorously engaged — if the judicial branch binds the legislative and executive branch in the chains of the Constitution. I think, regrettably, the Supreme Court has more than occasionally been derelict in fulfilling that obligation.
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Q & A

prop 8On Proposition 8, dealing with the issue of gay marriage in California. I think what’s happening there has the potential — at least it looks like it — to lead to the Supreme Court. I’m wondering if you have insight on any of what’s going on.

The Supreme Court of California decided that gay marriages would be permissible. As a result the public decided in Proposition Eight that they were going to trump what the Supreme Court had said and that marriage would be applicable only to the union of a man and a woman.

The challenge is not about whether gay marriage is OK or not OK; it’s rather about whether Proposition Eight was conducted properly from a procedural perspective. That’s what the court decides. Proposition Eight will probably stand — at least that’s what people who listened to the oral argument surmise. [The California Supreme Court did, in fact, uphold the constitutionality of Proposition Eight in May 2009. Ed.] Maybe there will be a later challenge about whether the equal protection clause in the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution requires that same-sex couples be treated the same as heterosexual marriages. I don’t expect anything in the U.S. Supreme Court for quite some time, and it may never get there.

Do you see any positive signs at the Supreme Court level?

dist columbia v hellerLevy: I do see some positive signs. First of all, there was District of Columbia v. Heller in 2008. A previous case in 1939, United States v. Miller, established that individuals did not have a right to keep and bear firearms, privately owned, in their homes for self-defense.

But in June 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court, with Justice Scalia writing a five-to-four majority opinion, effectively rewrote Second Amendment jurisprudence and said that the Second Amendment does secure an individual right to keep and bear arms for self-defense in the home, even if totally unrelated to militia service. Thus, the Heller  case, even though it didn’t officially overturn Miller, has really rewritten the Second Amendment for the good. That’s a mark of some movement in the right direction.

Davis v. Federal Election CommissionWe’ve also had two campaign finance cases that have constituted movement in the correct direction. Davis v. Federal Election Commission regarding the legality of issue ads, and the Millionaire’s Amendment case, Davis v. Federal Elections Commission, regarding limits put on contributions to candidates. Both of those decisions went the right way. We’ve also had two affirmative action decisions that went the right way, one in Seattle and one in Louisville.

So there has been some progress. I don’t expect there will be a whole lot of progress in the direction that I would like to see under the current administration. But I don’t dismiss the possibility that more of these Dirty Dozen cases might, at some stage, be at least chipped away, if not overturned.

Question on the European Union Constitution. Do you have any observations about it and its focus on positive rights and, maybe, the populist resistance to the Constitution as being a reflection of the political leanings of the Europeans?

EU ConstitutionLevy: I don’t know much about that topic. I am very much against any focus on positive rights. Again, you may recall that positive rights are those that impose affirmative obligations on other people. Positive rights really ought to be called entitlements. The U.N. Declaration of Human Rights was loaded with positive rights. Any focus on positive rights is anti-liberty. But I don’t know enough about the EU Constitution to comment any further than that.

Why didn’t Roe v. Wade make The Dirty Dozen?

We surveyed 74 like-minded legal scholars to give us some guidance. We weren’t bound by the results, but we were guided by the results. I must say that Roe v. Wade was high on the list to be included, and we did not include it. Why not? Well, to understand the abortion issue, I think you have to separate it into two questions. The first question is whose rights trump? The rights of the mother or the rights, if there are any rights, of the fetus? That’s the threshold question: When does life begin? But there’s another question: Who gets to decide the first question? I have an opinion about the first question, and I think everybody in this room has an opinion about the first question. But the first question is not within the purview of judges.

roe-v-wade-1-e1279633405530Justice Blackmun, oddly enough, who wrote Roe v. Wade, got it exactly right. I happen to have his quotation here. He said in the Roe v. Wade opinion, “We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins. When those trained in the respective disciplines of medicine, philosophy, and theology are unable to arrive at any conclusion, the judiciary, at this point in the development of man’s knowledge, is not in a position to speculate as to the answer.” Now, having made that powerful point, he went ahead to do exactly what he said the court shouldn’t do.

He decided that life begins after the first trimester. That was later modified by Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the 1992 case that substituted, instead of trimester, “pre-viability” and “post-viability.”

Planned Parenthood v. CaseyI think what’s interesting here is to compare the conservative and liberal positions on Roe v. Wade juxtaposed against their positions on Terri Schiavo. This gets to the question of who makes the decision about when life begins and ends. Terri Schiavo, you may recall, is the lady who was in a persistent vegetative state in Florida for 15 years.

There was a big battle between her parents and her husband about ending her life. Consider two sides of the same coin. Roe v. Wade, when does life begin? And Terri Schiavo, when does life end?

What was the conservative position? The conservative position on Roe v. Wade was we don’t want the federal government dictating to the states what the law should be. This should be a matter for the states to decide. The states should serve as  50 experimental laboratories. Disaffected voters then have the option to vote with their feet: They can go where the laws are congenial. We don’t want federal involvement, least of all by the U.S. Supreme Court. But along comes Terri Schiavo. What’s the conservative position?

SchiavoThe conservative position is we want the Congress and the executive branch to instruct the courts and, ultimately, the Supreme Court to tell the State of Florida what the rule should be. Now, you can’t have it both ways. Either it is a federal responsibility, or it is not.

The liberal position, by the way, was every bit as inconsistent, and I think hypocritical. It was just the flipside. The liberal position on Roe v. Wade was that we need the federal government to dictate to the states, because we can’t trust these states to establish a pro-choice regime. We need the U.S. Supreme Court to step in and set the rules for everybody.

But along comes Terri Schiavo. What’s the liberal position? Why in the world is the Supreme Court stepping in here and trying to tell the State of Florida how to run things?

My position — the libertarian position — is that these are not matters for the courts to decide. These are matters for state legislatures to decide, because there are no objective legal standards that judges – who are not vested with any particular moral authority — can apply. That said, many libertarians, myself included, tend to be pro-choice.

The criteria we had for including cases in the book were that they had to be wrong on two counts. First, they had to be wrongly reasoned as a legal matter. But second, they had to lead to outcomes that we libertarians consider to be anti-liberty. Many, perhaps most libertarians don’t consider the outcome in Roe v. Wade to be anti-liberty. It wasn’t included for that reason.

What was the final upshot of Kelo? Did Mrs. Kelo get to keep her house in the long run?

One interesting upshot is that after all the talk about a Pfizer pharmaceutical plant, hotels and office buildings replacing the homes in New London, if you take a look at the property, there has been no development whatsoever. It all fell through. All of the talk about how important it was to increase the tax base and to create jobs went for naught. What about Mrs. Kelo? Her house has been moved lock, stock, and barrel to a new location that she found to be OK, even though, of course, she would have preferred to stay where she was.

The person who funded this has agreed to make the house available as sort of a museum, so people can come in and celebrate how tyrannical the government can be when it wants to be. That’s an outcome that Mrs. Kelo finds to be very satisfactory, and she’s fully supportive of it.

We have an African-American president. How will the court treat affirmative action going forward?

One would hope that the election of Barack Obama should drive the final nail into the coffin of racial preferences. If judges paid attention to these things, it would. Of course, judges should have decided that the final nail was driven a long time ago, but they have not decided that. So I don’t know what’s likely to transpire.

I do think that Obama will have an effect on the judiciary, and that effect will tend toward an extension of affirmative action programs, rather than a truncation. As you probably know, Obama has indicated that he wants to appoint judges who have a social consciousness, that experience the felt necessities, that have the empathy to know what it’s like to be poor or black or gay.

No one in the conservative or libertarian movement that I know is saying we want judges who don’t have empathy. What they are saying is that empathy must not dictate a judge’s jurisprudence. The words in the Constitution are what matter, and a social consciousness and empathy are not substitutes for constitutional interpretation.

Nonetheless, President Obama was likely to appoint those kinds of judges. He’s not going to have much effect on the Supreme Court in the near term,  because the three vacancies — assuming that nothing untoward happens to one of the conservatives or Justice Anthony Kennedy — are likely to be John Paul Stevens, who is 88, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who is not in good health, and David Souter, who reportedly doesn’t like the work. Even if we have “Living Constitutionalists” appointed to fill those positions, the court is not going to move very much to the left.

On the other hand, Obama will have an enormous impact on the appellate and trial courts. Bill Clinton and George W. Bush each had roughly 300 appointments to the appellate and trial courts. That’s a lot, and there are many openings on the appellate court. Those appointments will make a big difference because the appellate courts handle about 3,000 cases a year. The Supreme Court handles about 70. So you’ve got 2,930 out of 3,000 cases where the appellate court is the final word. I think Obama will have a very significant effect moving the courts to the left.

Getting back to your original question, that probably will mean that affirmative action, or what really ought to be called racial preferences, is going to last a lot longer than it should.

 

 

 

Resources:

Federalist Society

Center of the American Experiment | Building a culture of …

The Original Meaning of the Ninth Amendment – Scholarly …

The Lost History of the Ninth Amendment – Constitution

Institute for Justice

Supreme Court Cases

NULLIFICATION: The Power to Right Constitutional Wrongs

Obama’s Amnesty Plan Compared to the Emancipation Proclamation

A Government That Wants to Control Us; Not Represent Us

9th Amendment legal definition of 9th Amendment

Major Supreme Court Cases in 2015

The Supreme Court’s 2015 Term: Inside the Key Cases and …

The 21 most famous Supreme Court decisions

Federalism and Fundamental Rights: The Ninth Amendment

The History and Meaning of the Ninth …

Vols. 13-19 – Harvard JLPPHarvard JLPP

Judicial Independence and Accountability in an Age of …

Is Social Security Constitutional?

Federalism: Political Identity and Tragic Compromise

The Anti-Federalist Ninth Amendment and Its Implications …

Jon Roland: Presumption of Nonauthority and …

Liberty Park, USA Foundation

The Volokh Conspiracy – The Ninth Amendment Means …

Private Property and Government Under the Constitution …

Amendment IX Non-Enumerated Rights Retained by People

Unenumerated Rights

Presumption of Nonauthority and Unenumerated Rights

The Ninth Amendment: The Value of Our Unenumerated

Constitution’s Ninth Amendment

‘Silent’ Ninth Amendment Gives Americans Rights They Don’t K

Unenumerated Rights Under the US Constitution – Scholarly

 

David Bowie: The Man Who Sold the World…and Bonds

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bowiebonds– Photo: David Bowie, who died from cancer Sunday at 69, pioneered a type of bond sale in the late 1990s that helped the music icon reap millions of dollars. Here are details of how he made financial history with “Bowie Bonds.”

David Bowie was an innovative performer, and a financial innovator as well

David Bowie, who died from cancer Sunday at 69, pioneered a type of bond sale in the late 1990s that helped the music icon reap millions of dollars. Here are details of how he made financial history with “Bowie Bonds.”

David Bowie will be remembered for pushing the boundaries of music and fashion. But he also blazed trails in finance.

The British musician, who died Sunday after a struggle with cancer, in 1997 raised $55 million by selling off the rights to his future earnings. The groundbreaking sale of so-called “Bowie Bonds” made Mr. Bowie the first musician to securitize the royalties from his back catalog, which, unlike many artists, he fully owned.

bowiebondsHis timing was spot-on: The deal landed amid Wall Street’s burgeoning fascination with exotic products, but before Napster and its ilk crashed sales of recorded music.

“David was looking at one point to sell his songs. But then he realized these were his babies and he didn’t want to,” said David Pullman, an investment banker who carved out a niche securitizing rock ’n’ roll royalties after launching the Bowie Bonds.

When the singer came to Mr. Pullman’s midtown Manhattan office, the banker suggested a novel piece of financial engineering: Direct the future stream of earnings from his first 25 albums into a segregated financial vehicle, then use it as collateral for a bond—signing away the rights to his music, but only temporarily.

“His first response was ‘what’s securitization?’” Mr. Pullman said. “But once I explained he didn’t hesitate for a second. He embodied the idea that it was important to try something new.”

Prudential Financial bought the debt in a private deal, organized by Mr. Pullman’s firm. The terms were 7.9% interest for 10 years. The songs then went back to Mr. Bowie. Financial details were scant because the transaction was private.

Demand for the deal was red hot, said Mr. Pullman, and sparked a flurry of business for his firm—with artists including James Brown and Marvin Gaye selling off future royalties income in return for an upfront payment.

Marketing the deal prompted some unusual queries.

“At every investor conference, the first question from investment firms, insurance companies, rating agencies, was ‘did you meet David?’” Mr. Pullman said. “The second question was, ‘did you meet Iman?’” he added, referring to the singer’s supermodel wife.

bowie and ImanThe deal was a landmark in the growing market for so-called asset backed securities, in which bankers sold debt backed by cashflows thrown off by everything from coal plants to sports teams.

“It was an innovation,” said Rob Ford, a London-based Bowie fan who manages portfolios of asset-backed securities. “Ultimately it put the template in place for securitizations linked to all kinds of assets.”

It wasn’t clear exactly why Mr. Bowie wanted to sell his songs. In “Lazarus,” a track from his latest album, he sings: “By the time I got to New York / I was living like a king / Then I used up all my money.”

Mr. Bowie cashed in on his back catalog at a time when digital downloads were first starting to cannibalize record sales. In a 2002 interview with the New York Times, he said that he didn’t expect copyright to exist in 10 years’ time, and that music was likely to become a commodity “like running water or electricity”.

In 2004, credit-rating firm Moody’s downgraded the “Bowie Bonds” themselves, citing unexpectedly weak sales across the record industry.

Some big institutions also tried to meld asset-backed securities and entertainment at around the same time as Mr. Bowie. Both Nomura and Royal Bank of Scotland attempted to bundle together the future income streams of a large number of artists to dilute their risk. But the idea never truly took off. Most artists lacked a big enough body of work to provide the steady cashflows to back a bond, according to Mr. Ford.

A lack of enthusiasm on Wall Street hasn’t killed off the idea entirely. San Francisco-based Fantex Holdings issues securities tied to the future earnings of professional athletes, and filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission late last year detailing its intention to bundle the prospective income of 10 athletes into a single security.

 

 

 

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The Hebrew Roots Cult Movement

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hebrews-roots-movement-cult-exposed-by-messianic-christian-jew-mark-biltz-jim-staley-119-ministriesHebrew Roots Movement (HRM) claims to be a Christian religious movement that advocates the return and adherence to the first century walk of faith and obedience to the Torah  by Jesus (known as Yeshua HaMashiach, the Hebrew name for “Jesus the Messiah“) by seeking a better understanding of the culture, history, and religio-political backdrop of that era which led to the core differences with both the Jewish, and later, the Christian communities.

Joseph Good provides a good summary of religio-political history: “To support the Jewish people, or even Jewish customs, was interpreted as not being loyal to Rome…pressure was being put on Jewish believers from three sides: first, from the non-believing pagans who hated anything Jewish; second, from the non-believing Jews who feared their power among the people; and third, within their own congregations by the new gentile believers who were entering the faith already affected by the rampant antisemitism.”

While this so called “Hebrew Roots movement”(HRM) uses words and phrases from the bible and Jewish culture, there is nothing either Jewish or Christian about this group as you will see.

Why haven’t I heard about the Hebrew Roots movement?

As a rule, this spreading wave of false doctrine is not being addressed by the church. This is due to several reasons:

• There is a fear of appearing anti-Semitic
• The depth of the movement’s doctrinal heresies is not generally known
• There is within the church in general a reluctance to address false doctrine

The movement usually hides their beliefs and presents itself as simply seeking to educate Christians concerning their Jewish heritage. As they become acclimated to the Jewish orientation the more aberrant doctrines are slowly introduced.

Some of the warning signs

• All Christians must adhere to a kosher diet
• The Sabbath can only be observed on Saturdays
• The Jewish festivals and holidays must still be observed today

and….

The root of their symptomatic heresies  (a deviation from the truth) is hermeneutics ( interpret scripture, especially of the Bible) in nature. The Protestant Reformers used a grammatical-literal hermeneutic when interpreting scripture. In other words, it means what it says unless there is a significant reason to believe otherwise. This movement uses a grammatical-historical hermeneutic with a twist. Their underlying assumptions when approaching any scripture are:

Whatever God has ever commanded of those who seek Him (i.e., the Jews, their ancestors, their descendents, and Christians) is still in effect today (including the Levitical Law – Ritualistic Sacrificial Law, or Law of Atonement and the Law of Purification )

Gentile followers of Christ were “grafted into” the Jews which they interpret to mean that Gentiles must assume Jewish customs if they really want to mature and please God.

hebrew-roots-cult-movementLike all cults, the Hebrew Roots Movement have their own “version” of the Bible, which of course, is the only version you  are allowed to use.

Based on those unquestionable assumptions, they then decide how they can best interpret a given scripture to support those beliefs. The farther down this rabbit hole they go, the more bizarre their doctrines become. Many see the New Testament as inferior to the Old (or a conspiracy by the Catholic church). More still say that Paul’s teachings are contrary to Christ (since they have trouble with his obvious statements against their beliefs) and, therefore, reject his epistles as scripture. Some say that the only reason we aren’t still sacrificing animals and stoning people for their sins is because there is no Temple and no Sanhedrin.(“sitting together,” hence “assembly” or “council). But when they are restored then these will resume. Others go so far as to eventually reject Jesus as the Messiah and simply say that He was just a Rabbi. The inevitable outcome of following this train of thought is to put people back into bondage to the Law.

The proof is in the Scripture

“But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command [them] to keep the law of Moses. ¶ And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter.” Acts 15:5
ac15_04-05The issue of how to treat the gentile believers is not a new question in our day, the Apostles themselves dealt with this issue on more than one occasion. Acts 15 shines ample light on not only the question, but the answer as well. As we read in Acts 15, we see the bible “heavyweights” like Paul and Barnabas called on the carpet along with the rest of the apostles to figure this out. And as with most issues in the church, the whole problem started with a small handful of troublemakers:

“And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, [and said], Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.” Acts 15:1

A few bad apples…

Now, we are not told who these troublemakers are, but it was sufficient to throw a monkeywrench into the whole deal:

“When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.” Acts 15:2

And deal with it they did…”And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men [and] brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. Act 15:8 And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as [he did] unto us; Act 15:9 And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.” Acts 15:7-9

the-number-of-the-disciples-was-multiplied-11-638They acknowledged that while e gentile does not become a Jew when believing on the Messiah, the line of division between them no longer exists. From God’s perspective then, there is no difference between a Jewish and Gentile believer in Christ. But they didn’t stop there, they continued on to answer this question in a most resolute and final way.

The Apostles settle this question once and for all

“Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they. Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them.” Acts 15:10-12

Peter is so bold that he stuns them all into silence, and uses this time to allow Paul and Barnabas to recount all the awesome ‘miracles and wonders that God had wrought among the Gentiles by them’. Just when you think it can’t get any more intense that it already is, James steps in begins to wrap it up:

“And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men [and] brethren, hearken unto me: Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things. Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world. ” Acts 15:13-18

Then, the knockout blow:

“Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and [from] fornication, and [from] things strangled, and [from] blood. For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath day.” Acts 15:19-21

Hebrew Roots Book Cover 2In an amazing display, James through the “Holy Spirit,” tells us once and for all what God expects from Gentile believers…and it is not to be placed under the Law of Moses. There exists no evidence in the New Testament that mandates that any Gentile believer observe Jewish holidays, eat kosher foods or worship only on the Sabbath day. What was the reaction from the entire assembled group of elders? They said this:

“Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, [Ye must] be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no [such] commandment: It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, Men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who shall also tell [you] the same things by mouth. For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.” Acts 15:24-29

Did you catch that line? Go back and reread the Apostles themselves saying that they never gave any such commandment for Gentiles to be placed under the Law of Moses. Never. Ever. Do you believe the Bible? Don’t take my word for it, look it up and read it for yourself…

The believer in Christ is not called to law, but to “freedom in Jesus.” And for those who still need further proof, Paul provides it in Galatians 2:

“But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation. But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before [them] all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews? We [who are] Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” Galatians 2:11-16

Conclusion

The roots of Christianity grow deep in Jewish culture, and it is highly recommended that all Christians learn about the Jewish feast days, holy days and other customs. They will only deepen our appreciation and understanding of our common ancestry that we have, Gentiles together with Jews. But to suggest that any Gentile believer who follows Jesus must be placed under Old Testament law is nothing but cherry picking the Bible, and this deception that the Bible speaks against not only in the verses quoted here, but in many other places as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Chumney, Eddie. 2009, Jan 9. Hebrew Roots 101—The Basics. p11 http://www.hebroots.com/101notes.pdf Retrieved 10/28/14

 

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