Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Men In Black: How the Supreme Court is Destroying America

I highly reccomend this book by Mark Levin. It is a quick read yet covers well the evolution of the Supreme Court from the least powerful branch of the government to the most powerful. It details the decisions that have revealed the Court's willingness to expand both the reach and scope of the Constitution and the federal government's powers (especially the Court's own power-grab). While not too deep on any particular issue, it covers the major decisions and swings of the Court. When one contemplates the system of government the founding fathers intended, it is not hard to believe that they are spinning in their graves and would not even recognize the Country they toiled to establish. This book documens the Court's role in that corruption.

Another thought on the recent Supreme Court takings decision

It seems just wrong to me, that detainees at the Guantanamo Bay facility are being given rights, while actual Citizens of this country are being deprived of property rights.

The ruling in the non-US Citizen cases is another example of the failure of the liberal majority to actually make clear its interpretation of U.S. law. From the above linked article:

Stevens left it for the lower courts to answer the question of "whether and what further proceedings may become necessary." His opinion also did not define the intended geographical scope of the ruling. The case as presented to the court concerned only the Cuba base, but Scalia, raising the prospect of lawsuits by prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan, noted in dissent that the logic of Stevens's opinion "boldly extends the scope of the habeas statute to the four corners of the earth."


I need one of these near me. The next Starbucks?

Congressmen visit Gitmo

Recently 16 members of the House Armed Services Committee visited Gitmo. The most interesting aspect of this story is the quote from Representative Ellen Tauscher who said "The Guantanamo we saw today is not the Guantanamo we heard about a few years ago" (emphasis added).

I wonder how many members of Congress who have been outspoken about the 'torture' and deplorable conditions and the need to close Guantanamo Bay had actually visited the facility? I suspect not many (11 senators, 77 representatives, and 100 congressional staff) had been there before making disparaging comments about this country, the administration, and our soldiers. Perhaps Ted Kennedy and Dick Durbin could visit the facility before advocating so strongly against it.

Then there is this guy. He says the interrogation that took place during the congressional visit was staged. He knows this despite that he hasn't worked at the facility since June 2003 ... two years ago. Agenda?

Gifted classes are not just for the gifted anymore

Recently, Lincoln Middle School changed its gifted honors program. Previously, gifted students were put in classes with other high achieving honors students. No longer. Now the gifted students will be grouped with students of mixed abilities. As we all know, teachers teach to the advanced students in the class leaving the less advanced in the background and don't slow the curriculum down so that the slowest students can keep up.

No point in expecting students to strive to make it into the honors program, we'll just change it so everyone can get in. We'll just lower another bar so nobody's feelings get hurt. Politically correct liberalism at its best.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Kelo v. New London

The United States Supreme Court issued a decision June 23, 2005 in the case of Kelo v. New London. I'll start by admitting I have not yet read the decision or the dissenting opinions. The opinions I have formed are based on what I have read in newspapers and heard on various talk shows regarding the decision.

The bottom-line seems to be that the Supreme Court upheld New London, Connecticut’s appropriation, or taking, of private property to further a development plan that would be owned by other private individuals or companies. The Supreme Court indicates that because the area was blighted and the city determined that the new development plan would be more economically beneficial than the residences, the taking falls under a public use.

As a conservative, I value property rights as a fundamental freedom. I don't think that any government ought to be taking private property from one person and giving it to another for a non-public use. I have no problem with a government taking land for construction of a park, roads, a library, etc. I do have a problem with the re-distribution of property from one class of persons to another for the sole purpose of increasing the tax base of the political subdivision. For this reason, I think the Supreme Court has taken another disastrous step down the long road of increasing government power through judicial activism.

From a purely Constitutional/Federalist point of view, I think the Court may have reached the correct result. The Court’s decision was not based on a revitalization of state’s rights, but on an expansion of government power and undermining of individual rights.

The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution includes, as its last line, "nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation". The Constitution served two main purposes: to structure the federal government and to set a limit on its powers. The Federal government was to have limited powers, while the state governments were to have much broader powers - hence the Tenth Amendment. To that end, it was understood at the time the Bill of Rights were ratified, that they applied only to the federal government (most states already had the same protections built into their state constitutions, so many thought a federal Bill of Rights superfluous). Hence, the Fifth Amendment should not apply to New London, Connecticut. From this originalist/strict constructionalist view, there was no federal Constitutional issue for the Supreme Court to rule on, and it should never have heard the case in the first place. The Connecticut State Supreme Court ruled in favor of New London on the takings issue, and that should have been the final word.

Had the citizens of New London and Connecticut disagreed with the state supreme court and the state or local governments, they had several options. They could have removed the local legislature from power and replaced them with those who would follow the will of the people (not corporate or government will). They could have amended the state constitution to address this specific issue and overturn the state supreme court. They could have left for a state with better private property rights. All these options were closed once the Supreme Court decided that the taking was a federal constitutional question and that it was constitutional. Appropriation of private property for purely private use is now legal under the supreme law of the land. There is no state or city in this country where the displaced property owners of New London could go, where this would not be a possibility. I would much rather see change through action of the people governed and not change based on the will of 5 liberal Supreme Court justices.

Unfortunately, the Supreme Court has, since the New Deal era, consistently expanded the meaning and reach of the federal Constitution. It has essentially created a national centralized government with near unlimited power (mostly through the commerce clause, Article 1, Section 8, clause 3). As I stated earlier, the Bill of Rights was understood to apply only to the federal government. After the civil war, the 14th Amendment was enacted. Over time, the Court has used the 14th Amendment as a basis for stating that the Bill of Rights applies to the states (the doctrine of incorporation). By doing this, the Court has been able to force the liberal/socialist agenda of activist judges on the states, undermining the federalist system, and individual freedoms. This recent decision and the medical marijuana decision, evidence the Court's willingness to step into areas of the law, not explicitly covered by the Constitution and traditionally left to the States.

Another interesting thing about this decision is that 5 liberal justices sided with corporate interests over the rights of the 'little-guy'. Liberals are always stating how they are for the little guy. These liberal justices showed their stripes, they are really for unchecked government power to collect taxes at the expense of the little-guy.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Thought-Provoking Fireworks

Last night we went to see our local area's fireworks display. My nearly three-year-old liked it, but kept her ears covered the whole time. My one-year-old really enjoyed herself. She would watch the fireworks stream into the air, stare and point at them as they exploded with a myriad of colors and shapes, then fall-over laughing. The whole thirty-minutes she did this, she only stopped laughing long enough to clap her hands enthousiastically and yell 'yeah'. It is a blessing to watch children as they are so full of wonder at the world around them. Somewhere along the road of life, wonder falls the wayside and jaded and cynical jump aboard. We can learn so much from Children.

When not marvelling at my daughter's reaction, I was moved by thoughts of our founding fathers. I was filled with a sense of wonder thinking of the risk our founder's took in signing the Decleration of Independence. Many thought they were signing their own death warrants. What nerve and unwavering sense of purpose in fulfilling a great task, to form a new country based on God-given freedoms. To stand up to the most powerful country in the world with nothing but hope and determination. To wage a war undermanned and underarmed for freedom. What incredible men our founding fathers were. As "God Bless America" played and red, white, and blue bombs burst in the air, I thanked God for the men willing to stand up to their oppressors and declare their Independence that I may have the freedoms that I have and that my children may grow up with hope and promise.

The other song that really moved me was "God Bless the U.S.A". I could not help but think of the men and women fighting in Iraq, away from home on what I consider the most important non-religious holiday. They risk their lives daily fighting for freedom for an oppressed people. I pray that in the end, the war in Iraq is justified. That democracy and freedom can blossom in the middle-east. That, ultimately, peace can be brought to an area of the world that has known little peace. Only time will tell whether we, as a country, and George W. Bush, as leader, made a wise move in liberating Iraq from a brutal dictator and trying to plant a seed of hope and freedom in the middle-east. I hope that future generations will look back on this generation and these soldiers as I look back on our founding fathers, the soldiers of the American Revolution, and the soldiers of World War II - with a profound respect for the risks they took and reverence for their courage in defending freedom.

Twenty-Fifth of June

Yesterday, we celebrated my older daughter's 3rd birthday; her actual birthday is on July 11, and we will be having another little party that day, also. My wife's idea; and my kids love their birthday parties.

The party was much fun, there were 6 of her 3-year-old-or-so friends. We had a circus theme. Set up a little kids pool in the backyard. Ran the sprinkler. Fed the kids popcorn, cotton-candy, chips and hot-dogs. My little-one certainly had a good time. The clown failed to show. He was supposed to be at our house between 2 and 3 in the afternoon. My wife was upset, my daughter did not really care, and I was glad we did not have to pay the . His excuse (third-hand as my brother-in-law kind of knows him) was that he over-slept ... did I mention he was supposed to be there between 2 and 3 in the afternoon. I think he was afraid to come perform in full-dress when it was 90+ degrees outside. Oh, well, like I said, I was glad not to have to pay him.

Nothing makes me happier than seeing my kids happy. I love to watch them interact with the others. My oldest is sooo full of advice for everyone - 'we don't say ____', 'it's not nice to _____', 'that's rude', etc.

She got a gift of some sort of clothes. Looked right at the woman who gave it to her and said 'Where did you get this?' She recognizes the labels from some stores that my wife frequents, such as Old Navy, Gap, and Children's Place. I like to believe she was not beeing snooty, but who knows what goes through their minds.

It was a great day.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Friends and time

While I have a feeling no one is going to hit this site, I would like to thank those of my friends who were able to make my youngest daughter's first birthday party, this past saturday. For many of you it was a long drive and I appreciate your willingness to share in her birthday festivities. Bella would like to thank you for all of the wonderful presents she received, she finds them all quite tasty.

As we get older and establish our families, time and friends have a way of slipping away. I graduated law school only 4 years ago. While in law school, I made some awesome friends. Unfortunately, I get to see them so rarely that I miss them incredibly. There were many nights of getting together and gaming (not studying), going to dinner, or just hanging out. Long nights were spent chucking dice and flipping cards. Telling jokes and insulting each other. Discussing life, books, music, and school. We have all since gotten jobs in the legal field and most moved from the Akron area - one couple all the way to the desert of southern California. Some of the others have had children, or are having children, or trying to adopt. Whatever has been the cause, we have grown apart. The bonds that I thought would last forever, seem to be slipping away. I really need to get in touch and get together with them more often. My heart aches as I sit here and think of all the good times we had and cherish the time spent together.

My older daughter turns 3 next month. It feels like yesterday that my wife's water broke and we rushed (after she took a shower and called everyone we knew) to the hospital. After about 6 hours of agony, my wife gave birth to our first child, a beautiful little girl. She fit snugly from my palm to the crook of my arm. Now, it's all I can do to carry her, when she even wants to be carried. Being a father has been a dream; I never really understood what a gift being a parent was until I became one. But, she is a constant reminder that time is fleeting. Carpe Diem,

I miss you all very much.