14 yr Old Addresses NH State Assembly: Guns and Religion

This young lady should read her message to Congress…………….
Forwarded for publication: a copy of an email…

14 year old girl speaks on 2nd Amendment rights in NH Congress   CowboyByte

Here’s the story…

My 14 year old daughter, Daphne, and I went to a gun rally at the NH Capitol in  Concord on Saturday, Jan 19, 2013. I don’t even own a gun, but I’m a strong believer in the Constitution and the wisdom of our Founders especially when it comes to government taking away our freedoms, and I don’t like the direction Obama is taking the country on that issue. You know, America, land of the free, and all the core strengths that made America great.

I made up a bunch of signs and Daphne prepared a letter before the rally, thinking she  might hand it out to anyone who was interested. While attending the rally, Daphne noticed that the speaker had stopped talking and that he was handing the bullhorn to anyone who wanted to speak. She pointed that out to me, and soon she went over to the Capitol steps, got in line, and waited for her turn. After fighting her way to the front of  the line, she stood there, on the steps of the NH State Capitol, and read a shorter version of the letter below.

She brought the house down.

After the cheers had died down, dozens of people shook her hand and congratulated her. A couple of reporters interviewed her briefly and other photographers took her picture. Just before she left, a representative from the New Hampshire Assembly talked to her and asked  if she could come and speak at a hearing on gun control on Tuesday, Jan  22, 2013. Daphne said, Sure.

On Tuesday, we picked her up from school at 12:00 noon and drove to Concord. We found  our way to the Legislative Assembly Hall, Room 204. The room was packed and there was a line down the hall and around two corners. Soon, they moved the meeting to another room. The second room also proved too small. Finally, they sent us across the street, up to the large chamber in the Capitol Building.

The room was near capacity. About ninety-five percent of the people were pro 2nd  Amendment rights. The Representatives and PACs got to speak first, then the common folk. Daphne was in the first 10 folks to speak who were not representing a group. She was poised, though a little nervous, and spoke clearly to the crowd. When she was done, she brought a copy of her speech to the front of the chamber where the representatives were  sitting, and they fought over who would get to take it from her. The moderator had previously silenced the hall from cheering or clapping, but people told her they would have cheered if they could as they shook her hand on the way out. The whole proceeding took more than 3 hours.

TRANSCRIPT:

Delivered to the New Hampshire Legislative Assembly
January 22,  2013

Dear citizens of  New Hampshire,

Four days ago, I was across the street for a gun rally on the steps of the Capitol. I had  never been to a gun rally before. I expected it to be all about hunters and guns. I was surprised: People were not afraid of not being able to hunt. They were not afraid of criminals at all. Do you know who they were afraid of? The Federal Government. I was shocked. They were afraid of the government taking away their freedoms.

The reason I went to the rally in the first place was that I heard children, like me, talking with President Obama about guns on the radio. I think those kids were far too young to make policy, and got it all wrong.

Naturally, I don’t want my mom or dad to die either, nor my friends or family. But I learned in school that the First Amendment gives us our Basic Freedoms, like Freedom of Speech,  Freedom of Religion and Freedom to Assemble. To  protect our God-given rights, our Founders gave us the 2nd Amendment: The Right to Bear Arms.

My Civics teacher  taught us that the reason our Founding Fathers gave us the right to bear  arms is to protect ourselves from the government of man because when man is given absolute power, he becomes absolutely corrupt. In 1776, guns freed us from the abuses of King George.  Today, guns keep us free from tyranny by government.

If President Obama wants to take our guns, isn’t he taking away our means to protect our  right to freedom? Wasn’t the 2nd Amendment given to us to protect our 1st Amendment rights? It’s not by chance that those are the first two amendments. They were the two most important gifts our Founders gave the American people.

I don’t know. I’m just a 14 year old girl, and that’s what I thought I learned in school.  Did Mr. Obama learn something different in school than that?

I think it is terrible for someone to use a national tragedy for political gain, don’t you? So, when I heard Mr. Obama issued 23 gun control orders in the wake of the Newtown tragedy, I was upset. In school I was taught executive means to execute laws — not make them.  When did that change? Didn’t the president swear an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution? Doesn’t the 2nd Amendment state: “the  right for people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” ˇ Tell me  how 23 orders on gun control is not an infringement. Can someone please tell me that? Has King George returned?

I hope New Hampshire members of congress remember their pledge and do not use this  tragedy to create unjust laws.

So I ask myself,  what gun would our Founders want their citizen militia to have today to  protect us from a government greedy for power.  I think Thomas  Jefferson would recommend a semi-automatic rifle  with 50-round clips, and pistols that hold 20. But, I’m sure George  Washington would demand these  arms.

Just so you know, I don’t even own a gun, nor does my mom, or dad. But when I’m old enough, I want the right to buy a gun if I want to, so I can protect the America that I love. I hope I never need one, but I always say, “plan for the worst and hope for the best”.  Unfortunately, that’s sort of why the government is taking away our guns: they are planning for the worst Americans, and not thinking of the best. Maybe the question we should be asking is what caused the morality of the United States to decay? Are parents no longer  teaching their kids “thou shalt not kill?”

I want to live in an America with laws that protect the best people on Earth, not the worst, don’t you? Wouldn’t that be more free? Wouldn’t that be more  American? Isn’t freedom  what America is all about? The right to bear arms is our best guarantee to live free.

Finally, at my  track meet at UNH on Sunday, I read the banner on the wall. It said three words: Tradition. Pride. Excellence. I hope and pray that New Hampshire will continue its tradition of excellence and lead the way for the rest of the county, and never infringe on my rights. May the people  of the great state of New Hampshire carry on their long tradition of freedom, so we can proclaim with pride the  words our forefathers gave us: Live Free or  Die!

This is our United States. This is our New Hampshire. And that should never change.

Live Free or Die,  New Hampshire!

Thank you,
Daphne  Jordan
Nottingham

Gun Grabbers and the American Revolution

Bill Heid And Constitutional Scholar John Eidsmoe Give Piers

http://hyp.la/HGFJFHO

2 days ago According to Alex Jones on a recent appearance on Piers Morgan Tonight, should the gun grabbers attempt to take away the constitutional

Clackamas County Oregon Point of View

Sent By Hyprcast

Perspective: The Obama Record- More Govt- Less Liberty

Posted by Nancy- 912 Communique

Originally, this country was considered a wasteland and dumping ground for the dregs of society. Specifically, England would send the criminals and anyone that was opposed to the Church of England here as a punishment. The expectation was that the vastness of this wilderness would “solve” the problem as most if not all were expected to succumb to the wildness of America.

What transpired is that the vast majority survived and prospered in this environment. This is a testament to the tenacity of our forbearers. When this was realized, England soon wanted undue and disproportional taxes from these settlers. This created discontent and soon there was talk of secession from English rule. This talk continued for quite a while, until the anger overflowed and the “Declaration of Independence” was written and sent to the King of England. Our founding fathers knew when they sent that document, there would be an immediate military response and England would not willingly give up the tax revenue nor allow one of its colonies to “disrespect” the King.
The Revolutionary War was then fought and freedom for America was won. Our founding fathers went back to work to draw up a Constitution to establish the exact form of government. It was decided that we would have a Republic and adhere to the rule of law. They established three separate and distinct branches as a checks and balances system to ensure for all time that this form of government would prevail. Our founding fathers even went so far as to call this an experiment. The three branches were the Presidency, which would be the ultimate administrator. Next is Congress, which is comprised of the House and Senate, tasked with oversight and the responsibility for making and passing laws. Finally, there was the Supreme Court of the United States, and their sole responsibility was to administer the law in a firm, fair, and impartial manner. All one has to do is to look at the icon for the court. She is Lady Justice. She is blindfolded, and she is holding a balance beam scale in her hand. She is to be blind to all but the law and will be fair and balanced. She is to administer the law in a firm, fair, and impartial manner, without regard for any other branch or person.
This worked well for well over one hundred years, until the Supreme Court was asked and responded to interpreting the law. This was not only wrong, it was illegal. If anyone with even a modicum of common sense thought about it, by interpreting the law, the Supreme Court is now legislating from the bench. We no longer require the Congress and should no longer pay their salaries. The president can tell the courts exactly what he wants, and they interpret the way that he wants and rule in his favor. We then no longer have a Republic and are headed towards tyranny which we fought a war to escape when we created this country originally.

So how did we get here and what do we do? How we got here was slow and deliberate for a very long time. Both political parties are equally culpable in the total destruction of this country, and especially the destruction of the Constitution.

To retake or return this country back to the once great status and freedoms that we all enjoyed, all that we have to do is to adhere to the Constitution and demand that our elected officials act in accordance with their oath in all matters, especially the part about defending the Constitution.

Since September 11, 2001, there has been a steady assault on the Constitution beginning with the 4th Amendment. This was further assaulted in the current administration with the TSA searches at airports. Additionally, when the current resident of the White House was running for president, he stated that the Constitution was an antiquated document that should be revisited. He also stated that he would fundamentally change this country. He is doing both. He first stated that we were not a Christian Nation. He was and is wrong.

So let’s take out our score cards and take look at what has happened since January 22, 2008.

1. Within hours of taking his oath, the new president, through executive order, eliminated Posse Comitatus. This was the 1878 law that prevented the United States military from policing on U.S. soil.

2. Next was the Food Safety Bill that makes it illegal for anyone to grow their own food.

3. At some point (we do not have all the details yet) a plan was conceived and executed by the ATF, through the Department of Justice and the NSC, (which is chaired by the President) to sell guns illegally through “straw” purchases to people who cannot legally purchase or own guns. The explanation was that they would be tracked into Mexico and to the cartels to charge and litigate against the illegal drug trade. The problem is that Mexico was not apprised of this and one or more of these weapons made their way back across the border. On December 24, 2010, a United States Border Patrol Agent, Brian Terry, was killed with one of these guns and the weapon was left at the scene. During the subsequent investigation, it was discovered that there was a second operation that originated in Florida and was called Operation Gun Runner. This was to do the same thing, but sell the guns to Central America and track these guns back to the cartels. Several of these guns have been tracked to Mexico and at least two have been traced to homicides in central Los Angeles. There is rumored to be a third operation that was in the heartland and was directly selling guns to known gang members. The logical conclusion is that the powers that be wanted to have a multitude of violent incidents in several locations of the United States to show that the proliferation of guns was out of control and that the 2nd Amendment should be abolished.

4. Next was the NDAA. In September of 2011 the President requested that there be a bill passed that allowed him to declare anyone a “domestic terrorist” and allow for the arrest, detention, incarceration, torture, and subsequent killing of these persons without charges, trial, or any “due process” of any kind. This was quickly shot down. In December, the NDAA, National Defense Authorization Act was passed. While the basic bill is of little consequence, contained within this bill was the September bill. The President signed it into law on December 31, 2011.

5. In 2009, the Health Care Bill was passed. Nancy Pelosi stated on camera, “But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.” When, if ever, has anyone signed a contract that they did not read? This was shoved down our throats. The funding was in dispute at best, not to mention all the forced services and refusal of services based upon a government panel that was not medical. Now we find out that the President has forced contraception and abortion on religious medical providers, contrary to their ethics, morals, and conscience. This has nothing to do with contraception as this was decided and settled under Roe V Wade. This was a clear violation of the separation of Church and State as the president has declared himself Lord and Master of the United States.
For those that are trying to keep score, here is the big picture. The pro-gun community will argue that the 2nd Amendment is the cornerstone of the Constitution, and I would agree with this. When the Constitution was originally written, there was much that was left out, and the founding father went back to the drawing board and created the Bill of Rights. It is very important that one understands that the very first three words of the Constitution set the stage for this form of government and all that follows, “We the People.” Next is the Bill of Rights and the following phrase, “We are endowed by our Creator, with certain unalienable rights”.

So what does this mean to us? What does this mean to us in this day and age, when the president has declared that we are not a Christian Nation? Since it should be obvious that things have changed severely since 2008, we should be focused on one issue and one issue only. That would be the positive restoration of the Constitution. This paper is not pointing fingers at one particular political party as they are both culpable in the total destruction of the United States and particularly the Constitution. This is to advise and enlighten all that are willing to listen to the voice of reason that we are in serious trouble. The best candidate in the upcoming election will be the one who is dedicated to the restoration of the Constitution as the law of the land.
The second amendment was written to be self explanatory. Unfortunately most people are unwilling to read or understand the basis of our history and how and why it was written. When you talk to most people, they are stuck on one word and one word alone. That word is militia. The vast majority of people truly believe that it refers directly to the National Guard or the military of the United States. We must understand that when we had won our independence from England, we were broke, and could not afford to establish, pay, outfit, and maintain any type of army or military service, other than the United States Navy to protect our shores and sovereignty. To fully understand the term militia, we have to understand that there was a law passed that required every able bodied man between the ages of 15 to 60 to own one musket, one pound of powder, and one pound of lead, and maintain these at all times for a “call to arms”. When Paul Revere made his epic ride, this was a call to arms. The citizen soldier was the militia. We were all the militia. This stayed pretty much this way until 1878 when there was a Federal law that instituted the National Guard. While this was all well and good, there was no actual funding until 1909. So we are right back to the citizen soldier and that anyone of good character, free from prosecution has the right, granted by his creator to keep and bear arms. The right of self defense cannot ever be granted by a government as they then have the right to take it away. Aaron Burr, shortly after the Bill of Rights was written was asked about the 2nd Amendment. He stated, “Because of what we have just been through, no standing army shall ever be more powerful then the people who they are paid to protect.” The phrase, because of what we had just been through, refers directly to the Revolutionary War.
No Administration would ever dare to attempt to subjugate the Constitution unless they could repeal the 2nd Amendment. Nobody wants a civil war or a new revolution. If they are able to repeal the 2nd, then they can completely change or destroy the Constitution. Since the attempt was made by this Administration, and it has failed thus far, several other aspects of the Constitution have and continue to come under attack. This is not without reason, as if they can do this without opposition, they can change our thought process and fundamentally change this country, FOREVER!

With the attack on the 1st Amendment, the 4th Amendment, the 8th, and 14th Amendment, it will be relatively easy to dispose of the 2nd, in light of the ability of the POTUS to declare any and all that oppose him a domestic terrorist and arrest, detain, incarcerate, torture, and finally kill them without regard for the piece of paper that we call the Constitution.

GAME TIME

Many will say that it is half time and we are in the locker room trying to figure out a game plan to make a comeback. I will now tell you that it is really late in the 4th quarter and we are in serious trouble. It is time to pull the scrubs and put in the A-team. It is now time to use our trick play. While you are scratching your head and trying to figure out the trick play, I will say that I will not tell you the play. I will tell you where the play is written. READ THE CONSTITUTION!

When all else fails, there is the Constitution which outlines what our rights and responsibilities are. Thank God for our founding fathers and the Constitution. Part of the Gettysburg Address, “That this nation shall not perish from the earth”!
Do you want your heirs to look back on this time and say, what were my father, mother, grandfather, or grandmother thinking and doing? Why did they not see this happening and stop it?
 
Or would you rather be remembered as the generation that made a stand for God and country, and persevered and prevailed? Only you can answer these questions.
At this moment in time, you are either a friend of our nation or an enemy. Decide where you stand and why. May God have mercy on us all.

America’s Most Biblically-Hostile U. S. President- WallBuilders –


America’s Most Biblically-Hostile U. S. President

When one observes President Obama’s unwillingness to accommodate America’s four-century long religious conscience protection through his attempts to require Catholics to go against their own doctrines and beliefs, one is tempted to say that he is anti-Catholic. But that characterization would not be correct. Although he has recently singled out Catholics, he has equally targeted traditional Protestant beliefs over the past four years. So since he has attacked Catholics and Protestants, one is tempted to say that he is anti-Christian. But that, too, would be inaccurate. He has been equally disrespectful in his appalling treatment of religious Jews in general and Israel in particular. So perhaps the most accurate description of his antipathy toward Catholics, Protestants, religious Jews, and the Jewish nation would be to characterize him as anti-Biblical. And then when his hostility toward Biblical people of faith is contrasted with his preferential treatment of Muslims and Muslim nations, it further strengthens the accuracy of the anti-Biblical descriptor. In fact, there have been numerous clearly documented times when his pro-Islam positions have been the cause of his anti-Biblical actions.

Listed below in chronological order are (1) numerous records of his attacks on Biblical persons or organizations; (2) examples of the hostility toward Biblical faith that have become evident in the past three years in the Obama-led military; (3) a listing of his open attacks on Biblical values; and finally (4) a listing of numerous incidents of his preferential deference for Islam’s activities and positions, including letting his Islamic advisors guide and influence his hostility toward people of Biblical faith.

1. Acts of hostility toward people of Biblical faith:

  • April 2008 – Obama speaks disrespectfully of Christians, saying they “cling to guns or religion” and have an “antipathy to people who aren’t like them.” 1

  • February 2009 – Obama announces plans to revoke conscience protection for health workers who refuse to participate in medical activities that go against their beliefs, and fully implements the plan in February 2011. 2

  • April 2009 – When speaking at Georgetown University, Obama orders that a monogram symbolizing Jesus’ name be covered when he is making his speech. 3

  • May 2009 – Obama declines to host services for the National Prayer Day (a day established by federal law) at the White House. 4

  • April 2009 – In a deliberate act of disrespect, Obama nominated three pro-abortion ambassadors to the Vatican; of course, the pro-life Vatican rejected all three. 5

  • October 19, 2010 – Obama begins deliberately omitting the phrase about “the Creator” when quoting the Declaration of Independence – an omission he has made on no less than seven occasions. 6

  • November 2010 – Obama misquotes the National Motto, saying it is “E pluribus unum” rather than “In God We Trust” as established by federal law. 7

  • January 2011 – After a federal law was passed to transfer a WWI Memorial in the Mojave Desert to private ownership, the U. S. Supreme Court ruled that the cross in the memorial could continue to stand, but the Obama administration refused to allow the land to be transferred as required by law, and refused to allow the cross to be re-erected as ordered by the Court. 8

  • February 2011 – Although he filled posts in the State Department, for more than two years Obama did not fill the post of religious freedom ambassador, an official that works against religious persecution across the world; he filled it only after heavy pressure from the public and from Congress. 9

  • April 2011 – For the first time in American history, Obama urges passage of a non-discrimination law that does not contain hiring protections for religious groups, forcing religious organizations to hire according to federal mandates without regard to the dictates of their own faith, thus eliminating conscience protection in hiring. 10

  • August 2011 – The Obama administration releases its new health care rules that override religious conscience protections for medical workers in the areas of abortion and contraception. 11

  • November 2011 – Obama opposes inclusion of President Franklin Roosevelt’s famous D-Day Prayer in the WWII Memorial. 12

  • November 2011 – Unlike previous presidents, Obama studiously avoids any religious references in his Thanksgiving speech. 13

  • December 2011 – The Obama administration denigrates other countries’ religious beliefs as an obstacle to radical homosexual rights. 14

  • January 2012 – The Obama administration argues that the First Amendment provides no protection for churches and synagogues in hiring their pastors and rabbis. 15

  • February 2012 – The Obama administration forgives student loans in exchange for public service, but announces it will no longer forgive student loans if the public service is related to religion. 16

2. Acts of hostility from the Obama-led military toward people of Biblical faith:

  • June 2011 – The Department of Veterans Affairs forbids references to God and Jesus during burial ceremonies at Houston National Cemetery. 17

  • August 2011 – The Air Force stops teaching the Just War theory to officers in California because the course is taught by chaplains and is based on a philosophy introduced by St. Augustine in the third century AD – a theory long taught by civilized nations across the world (except America). 18

  • September 2011 – Air Force Chief of Staff prohibits commanders from notifying airmen of programs and services available to them from chaplains. 19

  • September 2011 – The Army issues guidelines for Walter Reed Medical Center stipulating that “No religious items (i.e. Bibles, reading materials and/or facts) are allowed to be given away or used during a visit.” 20

  • November 2011 – The Air Force Academy rescinds support for Operation Christmas Child, a program to send holiday gifts to impoverished children across the world, because the program is run by a Christian charity. 21

  • November 2011 – The Air Force Academy pays $80,000 to add a Stonehenge-like worship center for pagans, druids, witches and Wiccans. 22

  • February 2012 – The U. S. Military Academy at West Point disinvites three star Army general and decorated war hero Lieutenant General William G. (“Jerry”) Boykin (retired) from speaking at an event because he is an outspoken Christian. 23

  • February 2012 – The Air Force removes “God” from the patch of Rapid Capabilities Office (the word on the patch was in Latin: Dei). 24

  • February 2012 – The Army orders Catholic chaplains not to read a letter to parishioners that their archbishop asked them to read. 25

3. Acts of hostility toward Biblical values:

  • January 2009 – Obama lifts restrictions on U.S. government funding for groups that provide abortion services or counseling abroad, forcing taxpayers to fund pro-abortion groups that either promote or perform abortions in other nations. 26

  • January 2009 – President Obama’s nominee for deputy secretary of state asserts that American taxpayers are required to pay for abortions and that limits on abortion funding are unconstitutional. 27

  • March 2009 – The Obama administration shut out pro-life groups from attending a White House-sponsored health care summit. 28

  • March 2009 – Obama orders taxpayer funding of embryonic stem cell research. 29

  • March 2009 – Obama gave $50 million for the UNFPA, the UN population agency that promotes abortion and works closely with Chinese population control officials who use forced abortions and involuntary sterilizations. 30

  • May 2009 – The White House budget eliminates all funding for abstinence-only education and replaces it with “comprehensive” sexual education, repeatedly proven to increase teen pregnancies and abortions. 31 He continues the deletion in subsequent budgets. 32

  • May 2009 – Obama officials assemble a terrorism dictionary calling pro-life advocates violent and charging that they use racism in their “criminal” activities. 33

  • July 2009 – The Obama administration illegally extends federal benefits to same-sex partners of Foreign Service and Executive Branch employees, in direction violation of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. 34

  • September 16, 2009 – The Obama administration appoints as EEOC Commissioner Chai Feldblum, who asserts that society should “not tolerate” any “private beliefs,” including religious beliefs, if they may negatively affect homosexual “equality.” 35

  • July 2010 – The Obama administration uses federal funds in violation of federal law to get Kenya to change its constitution to include abortion. 36

  • August 2010 – The Obama administration Cuts funding for 176 abstinence education programs. 37

  • September 2010 – The Obama administration tells researchers to ignore a judge’s decision striking down federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. 38

  • February 2011 – Obama directs the Justice Department to stop defending the federal Defense of Marriage Act. 39

  • March 2011 – The Obama administration refuses to investigate videos showing Planned Parenthood helping alleged sex traffickers get abortions for victimized underage girls. 40

  • July 2011 – Obama allows homosexuals to serve openly in the military, reversing a policy originally instituted by George Washington in March 1778. 41

  • September 2011 – The Pentagon directs that military chaplains may perform same-sex marriages at military facilities in violation of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. 42

  • October 2011 – The Obama administration eliminates federal grants to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops for their extensive programs that aid victims of human trafficking because the Catholic Church is anti-abortion. 43

4. Acts of preferentialism for Islam:

  • May 2009 – While Obama does not host any National Day of Prayer event at the White House, he does host White House Iftar dinners in honor of Ramadan. 44

  • April 2010 – Christian leader Franklin Graham is disinvited from the Pentagon’s National Day of Prayer Event because of complaints from the Muslim community. 45

  • April 2010 – The Obama administration requires rewriting of government documents and a change in administration vocabulary to remove terms that are deemed offensive to Muslims, including jihad, jihadists, terrorists, radical Islamic, etc. 46

  • August 2010 – Obama speaks with great praise of Islam and condescendingly of Christianity. 47

  • August 2010 – Obama went to great lengths to speak out on multiple occasions on behalf of building an Islamic mosque at Ground Zero, while at the same time he was silent about a Christian church being denied permission to rebuild at that location. 48

  • 2010 – While every White House traditionally issues hundreds of official proclamations and statements on numerous occasions, this White House avoids traditional Biblical holidays and events but regularly recognizes major Muslim holidays, as evidenced by its 2010 statements on Ramadan, Eid-ul-Fitr, Hajj, and Eid-ul-Adha. 49

  • October 2011 – Obama’s Muslim advisers block Middle Eastern Christians’ access to the White House. 50

  • February 2012 – The Obama administration makes effulgent apologies for Korans being burned by the U. S. military, 51 but when Bibles were burned by the military, numerous reasons were offered why it was the right thing to do. 52

Many of these actions are literally unprecedented – this is the first time they have happened in four centuries of American history. The hostility of President Obama toward Biblical faith and values is without equal from any previous American president.

Endnotes

1. Sarah Pulliam Baily, “Obama: ‘They cling to guns or religion’,” Christianity Today, April 13, 2008. (Return)

2. Aliza Marcus, “Obama to Lift ‘Conscience’ Rule for Health Workers,” Bloomberg, February 27, 2009; Sarah Pulliam Baily, “Obama Admin. Changes Bush ‘Conscience’ Rule for Health Workers,” Christianity Today, February 18, 2011. (Return)

3. Jim Lovino, “Jesus Missing From Obama’s Georgetown Speech,” NBC Washington, April 17, 2009. (Return)

4. Johanna Neuman, “Obama end Bush-era National Prayer Day Service at White House,” Los Angeles Times, May 7, 2009. (Return)

5. Chris McGreal, “Vatican vetoes Barack Obama’s nominees for U.S. Ambassador,” The Guardian, April 14, 2009. (Return)

6. Meredith Jessup, “Obama Continues to Omit ‘Creator’ From Declaration of Independence,” The Blaze, October 19, 2010. (Return)

7.Remarks by the President at the University of Indonesia in Jakarta, Indonesia,” The White House, November 10, 2010. (Return)

8. LadyImpactOhio, “ Feds sued by Veterans to allow stolen Mojave Desert Cross to be rebuilt,” Red State, January 14, 2011. (Return)

9. Marrianne Medlin, “Amid criticism, President Obama moves to fill vacant religious ambassador post,” Catholic News Agency, February 9, 2011; Thomas F. Farr, “Undefender of the Faith,” Foreign Policy, April 5, 2012. (Return)

10. Chris Johnson, “ENDA passage effort renewed with Senate introduction,” Washington Blade, April 15, 2011. (Return)

11. Chuck Donovan, “HHS’s New Health Guidelines Trample on Conscience,” Heritage Foundation, August 2, 2011. (Return)

12. Todd Starns, “Obama Administration Opposes FDR Prayer at WWII Memorial,” Fox News, November 4, 2011. (Return)

13. Joel Siegel, “Obama Omits God From Thanksgiving Speech, Riles Critics,” ABC News, November 25, 2011. (Return)

14. Hillary Rodham Clinton, “Remarks in Recognition of International Human Rights Day,” U.S. Department of State, December 6, 2011. (Return)

15. Ted Olson, “Church Wins Firing Case at Supreme Court,” Christianity Today, January 11, 2012. (Return)

16. Audrey Hudson, “Obama administration religious service for student loan forgiveness,” Human Events, February 15, 2012. (Return)

17.Houston Veterans Claim Censorship of Prayers, Including Ban of ‘God’ and ‘Jesus’,” Fox News, June 29, 2011. (Return)

18. Jason Ukman, “Air Force suspends ethics course that used Bible passages that train missle launch officers,” Washington Post, August 2, 2011. (Return)

19.Maintaining Government Neutrality Regarding Religion,” Department of the Air Force, September 1, 2011. (Return)

20.Wounded, Ill, and Injured Partners in Care Guidelines,” Department of the Navy (accessed on February 29, 2012). (Return)

21.Air Force Academy Backs Away from Christmas Charity,” Fox News Radio, November 4, 2011. (Return)

22. Jenny Dean, “Air Force Academy adapts to pagans, druids, witches and Wiccans,” Los Angeles Times, November 26, 2011. (Return)

23. Ken Blackwell, “Gen. Boykin Blocked At West Point,” cnsnews.com, February 1, 2012. (Return)

24. Geoff Herbert, ” Air Force unit removes ‘God’ from logo; lawmakers warn of ‘dangerous precedent’,” syracuse.com, February 9, 2012. (Return)

25. Todd Starnes, “Army Silences Catholic Chaplains,” Fox News Radio, February 6, 2012. (Return)

26. Jeff Mason and Deborah Charles, “Obama lifts restrictions on abortion funding,” Reuters, January 23, 2009. (Return)

27.Obama pick: Taxpayers must fund abortions,” World Net Daily, January 27, 2009. (Return)

28. Steven Ertelt, “Pro-Life Groups Left Off Obama’s Health Care Summit List, Abortion Advocates OK,” LifeNews, March 5, 2009. (Return)

29. Obama Signs Order Lifting Restrictions on Stem Cell Research Funding,” Fox News, March 9, 2009. (Return)

30. Steven Ertelt, “President Barack Obama’s Pro-Abortion Record: A Pro-Life Compilation,” LifeNews, February 11, 2012. (Return)

31. Steven Ertelt, “Barack Obama’s Federal Budget Eliminates Funding for Abstinence-Only Education,” LifeNews, May 8, 2009. (Return)

32. Steven Ertelt, “Obama Budget Funds Sex Ed Over Abstinence on 16-1 Margin,” LifeNews, February 14, 2011. (Return)

33. Steven Ertelt, “Obama Admin Terrorism Dictionary Calls Pro-Life Advocates Violent, Racist,” LifeNews, May 5, 2009. (Return)

34.Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies,” The White House, June 17, 2009. (Return)

35. Matt Cover, “Obama’s EEOC Nominee: Society Should ‘Not Tolerate Private Beliefs’ That ‘Adversely Affect’ Homosexuals,” cnsnews.com, January 18, 2010. (Return)

36. Tess Civantos, “White House Spent $23M of Taxpayer Money to Back Kenyan Constitution That Legalizes Abortion, GOP Reps Say,” Fox News, July 22, 2010. (Return)

37. Steven Ertelt, “Obama, Congress Cut Funding for 176 Abstinence Programs Despite New Study,” LifeNews, August 26, 2010. (Return)

38. Steven Ertelt, “President Barack Obama’s Pro-Abortion Record: A Pro-Life Compilation,” LifeNews, February 11, 2012. (Return)

39. Brian Montopoli, “Obama administration will no longer defend DOMA,” CBSNews, February 23, 2011. (Return)

40. Steven Ertelt, “Obama Admin Ignores Planned Parenthood Sex Trafficking Videos,” LifeNews, March 2, 2011. (Return)

41. Elisabeth Bumiller, “Obama Ends ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Policy,” New York Times, July 22, 2011. (Return)

42. Luis Martinez, “Will Same Sex Marriages Pose a Dilemma for Military Chaplains?,” ABC News, October 12, 2011. (Return)

43. Jerry Markon, “Health, abortion issues split Obama administration and Catholic groups,” Washington Post, October 31, 2011. (Return)

44. Alexander Mooney, “President Obama marks Ramadan,” CNN, August 1, 2011. (Return)

45.Franklin Graham Regrets Army’s Decision to Rescind Invite to Pentagon Prayer Service,” Fox News, April 22, 2010. (Return)

46.Obama Bans Islam, Jihad From National Security Strategy Document,” Fox News, April 7, 2010; “Counterterror Adviser Defends Jihad as ‘Legitimate Tenet of Islam’,” Fox News, May 27, 2010; “‘Islamic Radicalism’ Nixed From Obama Document,” CBSNews, April 7, 2010. (Return)

47. Chuck Norris, “President Obama: Muslim Missionary?,” Townhall.com, August 17, 2010.(Return)

48.Obama Comes Out in Favor of Allowing Mosque Near Ground Zero,” Fox News, August 13, 2010; Pamela Geller, “Islamic Supremacism Trumps Christianity at Ground Zero,” American Thinker, July 21, 2011. (Return)

49.WH Fails to Release Easter Proclamation,” Fox Nation, April 25, 2011; “President Obama ignores most holy Christian holiday; AFA calls act intentional,” American Family Association (accessed on February 29, 2012).(Return)

50.Report: Obama’s Muslim Advisers Block Middle Eastern Christians’ Access to the White House,” Big Peace (accessed on February 29, 2012). (Return)

51.USA/Afghanistan-Islamophobia: Pentagon official apologizes for Quran burning,” International Islamic News Agency (accessed on February 29, 2012). (Return)

52.Military burns unsolicited Bibles sent to Afghanistan,” CNN, May 22, 2009. (Return)

#orcot

The Constitution and Limited Government

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Issue Date: 2011_09

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September 2011
Edward J. Erler
Professor of Political Science,
California State University, San Bernardino

Edward J. Erler is professor of political science at California State University, San Bernardino, and a senior fellow of the Claremont Institute. He earned his B.A. from San Jose State University and his M.A. and Ph.D. in government from Claremont Graduate School. He has published numerous articles on constitutional topics in journals such as Interpretation, the Notre Dame Journal of Law, and the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy. He was a member of the California Advisory Commission on Civil Rights from 1988-2006 and served on the California Constitutional Revision Commission in 1996. He has testified before the House Judiciary Committee on the issue of birthright citizenship and is the co-author of The Founders on Citizenship and Immigration.

The following is adapted from a speech delivered at a Hillsdale College National Leadership Seminar on May 24, 2011, in Dallas, Texas.

The Constitution and Limited Government

Two cases that are currently making their way to the Supreme Court may well in the short term decide the constitutional issue of the reach and extent of the federal government. At stake, in other words, is the future of limited government. And together, these two cases present an exceedingly odd situation. In the case of the Arizona illegal alien law, the federal government is suing a state for constitutional violations; and in the case of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act—that is, Obamacare—more than half the states are suing the federal government, contesting the Act’s constitutionality. It is indeed a litigious season.

But the Supreme Court’s decisions in these two cases may not be the last word, because both of them present eminently political issues that will have to be decided ultimately by the American people.

The administrative state, of course, always seeks to extend its reach and magnify its power. This is an intrinsic feature of a system where administration and regulation replace politics as the ordinary means of making policy. If there are to be limits to the reach of the burgeoning administrative state, they will be political limits imposed by the people in the ordinary course of partisan politics. The advent of the administrative state poses the greatest challenge to limited government, because it elevates the welfare of the community—whether real or imagined—over the rights and liberties of individuals. The task today is to confine the federal government to its delegated powers. The minions of the administrative state seek to destroy constitutional boundaries in their desire to replace politics with administration. This is tantamount to denying that legitimate government derives from the consent of the governed, or that limited government rests on the sovereignty of the people.

One of the proofs offered in the Declaration of Independence that King George was attempting to establish an “absolute Tyranny” over the American colonies was the fact that “He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.” Obamacare certainly fits the description of the activities denounced in the Declaration. The number of regulations and the horde of administrators necessary to execute the scheme are staggering. We have only to think here of the Independent Payment Advisory Board. It is a commission of 15 members appointed by the President, charged with the task of reducing Medicare spending. This commission has rule-making power which carries the force of law. The Senate, it is true, will have the power to override its decisions—but only with a three-fifths majority. There are no procedures that allow citizens or doctors to appeal the Board’s decisions. The administrative state—here in the guise of providing health care for all—will surely reduce the people under a kind of tyranny that will insinuate itself into all aspects of American life, destroying liberty by stages until liberty itself becomes only a distant memory.

The advent and extraordinary success of the Tea Party movement, with its emphasis on restoring limited government, has made this a propitious time to rethink what the Framers meant by limited government and how they understood the relationship between limited government and the protection of rights and liberties. It is rare to see a people acting spontaneously in a political cause. The Tea Party movement must be regarded as a testament to the independent spirit—the freedom-loving spirit—of the American people.

How did the Framers understand limited government? In the first place, limited government was not for the Framers identical with small government, as the Tea Party sometimes tends to believe. The identification of limited government with small government was the position of the Anti-Federalists who opposed the ratification of the Constitution. Limited government, for the Anti-Federalists, meant government that was too weak to threaten the rights and liberties of the people. Small government was, therefore, both the necessary and sufficient condition of political freedom. Consequently, the Anti-Federalists preferred a purely confederal form of government in which the states assumed priority.

The Federalists, on the other hand, regarded confederal government as an attempt to do the impossible: to create a sovereignty within a sovereignty. Conflicting claims to sovereignty would be debilitating and would render the government of the whole ineffective—as was surely the case under our first constitution, the Articles of Confederation.

The Framers of the Constitution settled upon a novel design for government, one that Madison said was “partly national, partly federal.” For some purposes, Madison explained, we will be one people; for others, we will be multiple peoples. With respect to the national features—those things that concern the nation as a whole—the federal government will have sovereignty—complete and plenary power to accomplish the objects entrusted to its care in the Constitution. Those objects are principally found in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution. National defense, for example, is exclusively delegated to the federal government. And since the exigencies that face nations in foreign affairs are unpredictable and innumerable, the federal government must have sovereignty to fulfill this delegated trust. And if that trust is to be fulfilled, the federal government must also be accorded the necessary means to achieve that end. If this entails large government—and today it surely does—then large government must be compatible with limited government. Similar reasoning applies to all the objects delegated to the care of the federal government.

The Declaration of Independence provided the authoritative statement of America’s political principles. For the first time, government was said to derive its legitimacy—its just powers—from “the consent of the governed.” This was a turning point in world-historical consciousness: no longer would it be possible to argue that sovereignty belonged to governments or kings—even if kings claimed appointment by divine right.

In order to form just government, the people delegate a portion of their sovereignty to government to be exercised for their benefit. The fact that only a portion of sovereignty is ceded by the people is the origin of the idea of limited government. The people delegate only some of their sovereignty to government, and what is not granted is retained by the people—the people, for example, always reserve (and can never cede) the ultimate expression of sovereignty, the right of revolution. The Declaration describes this right as “the Right of the People to alter or to abolish” government when it becomes destructive of its proper ends—namely, the protection of the safety and happiness of the people. This right of revolution, as understood by the Founders, was the right that secures every other right, because it serves as a constant reminder of the sovereignty of the people.

The Anti-Federalists never understood these revolutionary implications; they seemed to believe still that governments, not the people, were the ultimate repositories of sovereignty, and that the only way to secure the rights and liberties of the people was to weaken the power of government—as if freedom existed only in the exceptions to government power. But as Madison wrote, “Energy in government is essential to that security against external and internal danger and to that prompt and salutary execution of the laws which enter into the very definition of good government.”

What limits the federal government is not a limit on its power to act, but the limited range of objects entrusted to its care—the enumerated powers of government. The powers not delegated to the federal government nor forbidden to the states in the Constitution (e.g., ex post facto laws, bills of attainder, and laws impairing the obligation of contracts) are reserved to the states. These are the police powers, which are generally described as the power to regulate the health, safety, welfare and morals of the citizens of the states.

In cases of conflict, the supremacy clause of the Constitution gives preference to the federal Constitution and laws made in pursuance of the Constitution. The supremacy clause was described by Madison as an essential improvement over the Articles of Confederation. Where there is no final authority to arbitrate disputes between the federal government and the states in this “compound Republic,” government will be paralyzed. Madison confessed, however, that the exact boundary between the powers of the federal government and the state governments will be impossible to determine in advance. The precise lines of demarcation will have to be worked out in practice. The Supreme Court—and through the supremacy clause, the state courts—will have to determine conflicts on a case by case basis.

An illustration of the difficulties of drawing clear lines between federal and state authority in our “compound Republic” is the Arizona illegal immigration bill, passed in April 2010. The law allowed police officers to verify the immigration status of any person after a valid stop or arrest if there “is a reasonable suspicion that the person is unlawfully present in the United States.” Everyone remembers the hysteria that was unleashed when the bill passed. The President called the law irresponsible, saying that it threatened “basic notions of fairness.” Others said the provision of the bill relying on “reasonable suspicion” would mandate racial profiling; and some of the more hysterical commentators even insisted that the law was tantamount to genocide. The Assistant Secretary of State felt compelled to apologize to members of a Chinese delegation visiting the United States for this egregious assault upon human rights. One can only imagine the bemused looks on the faces of the Chinese delegation.

The President ordered the Justice Department to intervene. And to the surprise of many, the Justice Department’s lawsuit did not seek to enjoin the law based on racial profiling or equal protection or due process, arguing instead that the law conflicted with the federal government’s exclusive power to regulate immigration. Perhaps someone had explained to the Attorney General that “reasonable suspicion” has been a part of our due process jurisprudence for many years. It means that a police officer can question on suspicion that is less than probable cause; reasonable suspicion, of course, must be something more than a hunch or a guess or an intuition—it must be based on articulable facts. In addition, the Supreme Court in 1975 ruled that ethnicity could be one of the factors determining reasonable suspicion. The Arizona law, in contrast, disallowed any use of ethnicity in determining whether a person could be asked about his immigration status.

In United States v. Arizona, the Federal District Court judge enjoined the operation of the law because it intruded upon the federal government’s exclusive power to regulate immigration and control foreign policy. On appeal from the District Court, one piece of evidence adduced by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that the Arizona law was an unconstitutional impingement upon the federal government’s exclusive power to conduct foreign policy was the fact that the President of Mexico and the heads of several other Latin American countries had expressed severe criticisms of the bill both in the press and in amici briefs! Rarely do we encounter such humor in court opinions, however unintended the humor might be.

The Constitution, of course, does not specifically grant control over immigration to the federal government. Instead Congress has power to “establish a uniform Rule of Naturalization.” Control over naturalization, however, seems to imply control over immigration—so uniform rules governing immigration would seem, by necessary implication, to fall within the scope of federal power. The real question here—although it was not addressed by the District Court or the Court of Appeals—was what power, if any, devolves upon state governments when the federal government fails to carry out its obligations. The District Court had candidly noted that the Arizona law was passed “against a backdrop of rampant illegal immigration, escalating drug and human trafficking crimes, and serious public safety concerns.” In the face of federal inaction or manifest indifference, does Arizona have the reserved power—indeed the obligation—to secure the safety of its citizens? The President’s recent remarks that the border has been secured and that it is now time to think of providing a path to citizenship for illegal aliens is, in reality, a statement of declared indifference to the people of the State of Arizona and to all the border states similarly situated. Surely those states have the constitutional right, sustained by their police powers, to protect themselves through laws that are as unobtrusive as the Arizona law. But in the District Court’s judgment, the Arizona law invoked “an inference of preemption” because it placed an “impermissible burden” on federal “resources and priorities” and inevitably “will result in the harassment of aliens.” The burden on federal resources stems from the fact that there will be an increased number of requests to verify immigration status. This increased burden will in turn force the immigration services to reallocate resources away from other priorities. Such is the logic of the District Court.

These reasons seem trivial when compared to the real and pressing dangers that Arizona faces as a result of federal inaction and indifference. Surely this is not what the Framers had in mind when they crafted the supremacy clause, while at the same time reserving to the states the essential responsibility of protecting the safety and welfare of their citizens. Madison wrote in The Federalist that “the powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.” This extensive power reserved to the states should weigh heavily on preemption decisions. In this light, the Arizona law seems to have been a clear exercise of the state’s police powers, and any burden imposed on the federal government to have been incidental and insignificant.

Obamacare is another issue that tests our understanding of the Constitution and the role of limited government. In federal courts, the Obama administration has defended the bill as a legitimate exercise of Congress’ power to regulate commerce. At issue here is the individual mandate that forces individuals to purchase health care insurance and carries a penalty for failure to do so. Congress has the power to regulate commerce; but does it, as here, have the power to create commerce—i.e., to force individuals to engage in interstate commerce by purchasing health care insurance from private providers? Another way to look at the issue would be to ask whether, under the commerce clause, Congress has the power to regulate inactivity, i.e., the refusal to buy insurance. This would indeed be a novel extension of commerce clause jurisprudence and utterly impossible to square with any notion of commerce that was held by the framers of the Constitution.

In addition to the commerce clause argument, the Obama administration maintains that the individual mandate is authorized by Congress’ power to tax and spend for the general welfare. Congress’ power here is extensive. Over the years, the Court has generally deferred to Congress in determining what constitutes the general welfare. This is proper, since Congress represents the nation and what promotes the general welfare is essentially a political question. If Congress determines that a universal health care system serves the general welfare, then the courts will not interfere. The power to “lay and collect Taxes,” however, has been subject to judicial scrutiny. While Congress may tax for the purpose of raising revenue, it may not use the power of taxation for the express purpose of regulation. A tax that is merely a subterfuge for regulating activities will not be allowed, although a tax that only incidentally regulates behavior will pass constitutional muster as long as the principal purpose is raising revenues.

Madison argued that the general welfare clause was actually a limitation on the federal government. Taxes could be imposed and money spent only for the general welfare—meaning the welfare of the whole of the American people. It is true that Alexander Hamilton had a more extensive view of the general welfare clause, but throughout much of our history Madison’s view prevailed. Today, however, the idea that the general welfare clause was ever intended as a limit on the reach of government has been destroyed by the progressive architects of the welfare state.

In any case, if the individual mandate is to be defended under the general welfare clause, what the plain language of the bill calls a penalty must be regarded as a tax for the express purpose of raising revenue. If the penalty can be sold as a tax, the Obama administration argues, then Obamacare is authorized by the general welfare clause. In the Florida District Court case, the Justice Department made the wholly tendentious—not to say absurd—argument that since the IRS was charged with administering the individual mandate and collecting the penalties, this was sufficient to convert a penalty into a tax. But as Florida District Court Judge Roger Vinson remarked: “Besides the fact that President Obama confidently assured the American people that there would be no new taxes to support the medical insurance scheme, no amount of administrative indirection should be allowed to convert a penalty into a tax for raising revenue. This is not a revenue raising measure and therefore cannot be justified under the general welfare clause.”

But here is a somber thought: If, instead of using the individual mandate, Congress had relied on its general revenue-raising powers, under current Supreme Court doctrine, it is almost certain that Obamacare would be constitutional. It would be an example of Congress spending money for the general welfare.

In conclusion, the only certain method of defeating universal health care and other cases of federal overreach—as it appears that the American public desires to do—is political opposition. A political party dedicated to genuinely limited government—not small government—is an urgent political task. Whether the Tea Party is up to this task remains to be seen—but it is probably our best hope. The Tea Party will have to learn, however, that the task today is not to weaken the power of government—it is to confine the government to the exercise of its delegated powers and to restore to its full vigor the partly national, partly federal form of government that was the legacy of the Founders.






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Copyright © 2010 Hillsdale College. The opinions expressed in Imprimis are not necessarily the views of Hillsdale College. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided the following credit line is used: “Reprinted by permission from Imprimis, a publication of Hillsdale College.” SUBSCRIPTION FREE UPON REQUEST. ISSN 0277-8432. Imprimis trademark registered in U.S. Patent and Trade Office #1563325.

It’s refreshing to read such clear and direct explanations of why government naturally tends to expand and try to reduce the power of citizens over time. This lust for power reminds us that relying on humanity alone for guidance and wisdom is a foolish path.. that leads to tyranny. It is particularly obvious and acutely undermining our freedoms under the Obama administration.

Property and Liberty | The Freeman | Ideas On Liberty

Property is “the guardian of all other rights,” as Arthur Lee of Virginia wrote in 1775.[1] The Supreme Court declared in 1897: “In a free government almost all other rights would become worthless if the government possessed power over the private fortune of every citizen.”[2] Unfortunately, legislators, judges, and political philosophers in the twentieth century have perennially disparaged property’s value to freedom.

Without private property, there is no escape from state power. Property rights are the border guards around an individual’s life that deter political invasions. Those who disparage property often oppose any meaningful limits on government power. John Dewey, for instance, derided “the sanctity of private property” for providing “freedom from social control.”[3] Socialist regimes despise property because it limits the power of the state to regiment the lives of the people. A 1975 study, The Soviet Image of Utopia, observed, “The closely knit communities of communism will be able to locate the anti-social individual without difficulty because he will not be able to ‘shut the door of his apartment’ and retreat to an area of his life that is ‘strictly private.’”[4] Hungarian economist Janos Kornai observed: “The further elimination of private ownership is taken, the more consistently can full subjection be imposed.”[5]

Yet Oxford professor John Gray asserted in 1990 that “very extensive State intervention in the economy has nowhere resulted in the extinction of basic personal and political liberties.”[6] One wonders which freedoms Bulgarian and Romanian citizens enjoyed under communism that Gray neglects to mention. Perpetual shortages of almost all goods characterized East Bloc economies; politicians and bureaucrats maximized their power and maximized people’s subjugation through discretionary doling out of goods. Shortages created new pretexts to demand further submission: the worse the economic system functioned, the more power government acquired—until the people rose up and destroyed the governments.[7]

The Economy Is Lives

Government cannot control the economy without controlling the lives of everyone who must rely on that economy to earn his sustenance. There is more to life than wealth. But the more wealth government seizes from people, the more likely that government will be able to control all the other good things in life. Once government domineers the economy, it becomes far more difficult to resist the extension of government power further and further into the recesses of each person’s life.

Property rights are not concerned merely with the sanctity of the estates of the rich. The property right that each citizen has in himself is the foundation of a free society. As James Madison observed, “Government is instituted to protect property of every sort; as well that which lies in the various rights of individuals, as that which the term particularly expresses.”[8] The property that each citizen has in his rights is the foundation of his ability to control his own life and strive to shape his own destiny.

Some contemporary liberals argue that government ownership is the ultimate safeguard of freedom. According to Alan Wolfe, “No one would be able to enjoy the negative liberty of walking alone in the wilderness if it were not for the regulatory capacity of government to protect the wilderness against development.”[9] Wolfe implies that if the government did not own much of the nation’s land, private citizens would ravage the landscape from coast to coast. However, private landowners have a better record of safeguarding the environmental quality of their land than does the federal government.[10] The Army Corps of Engineers has destroyed far more of the natural river beauty in this country than has any private malefactor, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s lavish subsidies for “flood insurance” have made possible vast numbers of buildings on ecologically fragile coastlines.[11] Wolfe also implies that no private forest owner would permit anyone else to walk on his land. However, the proliferation of contracts for hunting on private land show that, with a sound incentive system, access to private land can easily be negotiated. Citizens have different values, and many citizens prefer to keep their land in semi-pristine condition. Besides, even if all citizens wanted to sell their land to developers, only a small percentage of such land would be developed—simply because there is no economic rationale for developing much of rural America.

Bulwark of Privacy

The sanctity of private property is the most important bulwark of privacy. University of Chicago law professor Richard Epstein wrote that “private property gives the right to exclude others without the need for any justification. Indeed, it is the ability to act at will and without need for justification within some domain which is the essence of freedom, be it of speech or of property.”[12] Unfortunately, federal law enforcement agents and prosecutors are making private property much less private. In 1984 the Supreme Court ruled in Oliver v. United States—a case involving Kentucky law-enforcement agents who ignored several “No Trespassing” signs, climbed over a fence, tramped a mile and a half onto a person’s land and found marijuana plants—that “open fields do not provide the setting for those intimate activities that the [Fourth] Amendment is intended to shelter from government interference or surveillance.”[13] (The Founding Fathers apparently forgot to include a parenthesis in the original Fourth Amendment specifying that it applied only to “intimate activities.”) And the Court made it clear that it was not referring only to open fields: “A thickly wooded area nonetheless may be an open field as that term is used in construing the Fourth Amendment.”[14] Justice Thurgood Marshall dissented: “Many landowners like to take solitary walks on their property, confident that they will not be confronted in their rambles by strangers or policemen.”[15] Even prior to this ruling, it was easy for law-enforcement agents to secure warrants to search private land merely by concocting an imaginary confidential informant who told police about some malfeasance.[16]

The core of the “open fields” decision is that the government cannot wrongfully invade a person’s land, because government agents have a right to go wherever they damn well please. After this decision, any “field” not surrounded by a 20-foot-high concrete fence is considered “open” for inspection by government agents. (And for those areas that are sufficiently fenced in, the Supreme Court has blessed low-level helicopter flights to search for any illicit plants on the ground.[17])

The Supreme Court decision, which has been cited in over 600 subsequent federal and state court decisions, nullified hundreds of years of common-law precedents limiting the power of government agents. The ruling was a green light for warrantless raids by federal immigration agents; in late 1997 the New York Times reported cases of upstate New York farmers’ complaining that “immigration agents plowed into fields and barged into packing sheds like gang busters, handcuffing all workers who might be Hispanic and asking questions later . . . . [D]oors were knocked down, and workers were wrestled to the ground.”[18] In a raid outside of Elba, New York, at least one INS agent opened fire on fleeing farm workers.[19] Many harvests subsequently rotted in the fields because of the shortage of farm workers.

Conflicting Views of Freedom

The “open fields” doctrine provides an acid test of conflicting views on freedom. Are people more or less free when government agents can roam their land? Are they more or less free when they can be accosted by government agents any time they step past the shadow of their front door? Is freedom the result of government intrusions—or of restrictions on intruders? The scant controversy the 1984 decision evoked is itself a sign of how statist contemporary American thinking has become.

Few government policies better symbolize the contempt for property rights than the rising number of no-knock raids. “A man’s home is his castle” has been an accepted rule of English common law since the early 1600s and required law-enforcement officials to knock on the door and announce themselves before entering a private home. But this standard has increasingly been rejected in favor of another ancient rule—“the king’s keys unlock all doors.”[20]

A New York Times piece observed in 1998 that “interviews with police officials, prosecutors, judges and lawyers paint a picture of a system in which police officers feel pressured to conduct more raids, tips from confidential informers are increasingly difficult to verify and judges spend less time examining the increasing number of applications for search warrants before signing them.”[21] The Times noted that “the word of a single criminal, who is often paid for his information, can be enough to send armed police officers to break down doors and invade the homes of innocent people.”[22]

No-knock raids have become so common that thieves in some places routinely kick down doors and claim to be policemen.[23] The Clinton administration, in a 1997 brief to the Supreme Court urging blind trust in the discretion of police, declared that “it is ordinarily reasonable for police officers to dispense with a pre-entry knock and announcement.”[24] Law-enforcement agencies’ fear of losing small amounts of drug evidence has fueled attacks on the sanctity of homes. The Clinton administration, for instance, appears far more concerned about the flushing of drugs than about the flushing of privacy. In a 1995 brief to the Supreme Court, the Clinton administration stressed that “various indoor plumbing facilities . . . did not exist” at the time the common law “knock-and-announce” rule was adopted.[25] Making a grand concession to civil liberties, the administration admitted that “if the officers knew that . . . the premises contain no plumbing facilities . . . then invocation of a destruction-of-evidence justification for an unannounced entry would be unreasonable.”[26] The Supreme Court has failed to impose effective restraints on police’s prerogative to carry out no-knock raids. Professor Craig Hemmens observed that the Court’s “recent decisions involving the knock and announce rule, essentially gutted the rule, reducing it to little more than a ‘form of words.’”[27]

Police also possess the right to destroy property they search. Santa Clara, California, police served search and arrest warrants by firing smoke grenades, tear-gas canisters, and flash grenades into a rental home; not surprisingly, the house caught fire and burned down. When the homeowner sued for damages, a federal court rejected his plea, declaring that the police “only . . . carelessly conducted its routine and regular duty of pursuing criminals and obtaining evidence of criminal activity. The damage resulted from a single, isolated incident of alleged negligence.”[28]

It is as much a violation of property rights and liberty when government agents storm into the shabbiest of rental apartments as when they invade the richest mansion. The sanctity acquired by renters to a private domain illustrates how the exchange of private property can give someone vested rights—rights within which they can build and live their own lives. Local and state governments routinely treat renters as second-class citizens; many localities have mandatory inspection policies for all rental units that permit government officials to search private dwellings without a warrant or any pretext. Park Forest, Illinois, in 1994 enacted an ordinance that authorizes warrantless searches of every single-family rental home by a city inspector and police officer, who are authorized to invade rental units “at all reasonable times.” No limit was placed on the power of the inspectors to search through people’s homes, and tenants were prohibited from denying entry to government agents. Federal Judge Joan Gottschall struck down the searches as unconstitutional in February 1998, but her decision will have little or no effect on the numerous other localities that authorize similar invasions of privacy.[29]

Bane of Freedom?

Some socialists have argued that private property is a bane of freedom because inequality of wealth is equivalent to political tyranny. According to historian R. H. Tawney, “Oppression . . . is not less oppressive when its strength is derived from superior wealth, than when it relies on a preponderance of physical force.”[30] But regardless of how much wealth a person owns, he has no legal right to coerce other citizens. Offering someone the best wage he can find is unlike holding a gun to his head; offering someone the best price for a product he is selling is not like expropriation. A legitimate government must restrict the coercion of all citizens, including those with the largest bank accounts. But the fact that politicians are sometimes corrupted by bribes and deny equal protection of the law to the poor is not a good reason to give more power to politicians.

To understand the difference between economic wealth and political power, consider the difference between the power of a boss and that of a government agent. Any power that a boss or company has over a person is based on a contract, express or implied; that power is limited to the work and time contracted for. (Contracts for lifetime labor are illegal in the United States.) A boss’s power is conditional, dependent on an employee’s choosing to continue to receive a paycheck.

In contrast, the government agent’s power is often close to absolute: for example, a citizen who refuses to pull over for a traffic cop flashing his lights can face jail time, regardless of whether the cop had a legitimate reason to stop him. Markets allow people a choice of whom to deal with, while government dictates that citizens must submit to its orders. As Nobel laureate James Buchanan observed, “As individuals become increasingly dependent on ‘the market,’ they become correspondingly less dependent on any identifiable person or group. In political action, by contrast, increasing dependence necessarily becomes increasing subjection to the authority of others.”[31] Markets limit the power of people to dictate to other people because the parties can seek other bidders or sellers. Markets provide venues for people to voluntarily agree with other people. Markets are symbolic of voluntary activities in the same way that jails are symbolic of coercion.

Some friends of government legitimize vesting sweeping power in politicians by defining practically any private business decision as coercive. Economist Robert Kuttner declared on a 1997 PBS program that “when a company relocates overseas . . . that is a form of violence.”[32] To define practically any economic change as “violence” is to authorize an unlimited number of political first strikes against property owners. If moving a factory overseas is a form of violence, then moving a factory across state lines is also a form of violence—since the “violence” is presumably done by a factory leaving one location, regardless of where it relocates. When a person is given a “right” to a job, all other people are prohibited from competing for that job.

A viable concept of freedom must consist of more than psychological wish fulfillment—more than a fantasy world in which every citizen can buy low and sell high, in which every citizen gets the wages he demands and pays the prices he pleases. It is crucial to distinguish between frustrated economic aspirations and government coercion. Feeling a compulsive need to impress neighbors by buying a swimming pool is not the same as facing arrest for planting grass seed in your yard and allegedly disturbing a federally designated wetland. The compulsion to buy a suit of the latest fashion is not the same compulsion as experienced during an IRS audit, especially if the agent decides to employ a notorious “lifestyle audit,” which forces citizens to detail and justify how much cash they had on hand at any one time a year or two before, whether they have a safe deposit box and what it contains, how much they spend on groceries, where they eat out, what toys they buy for their children, and what books or jewelry they purchase.[33] The compulsion to buy a new car differs from the compulsion you feel when police pull you over, announce that your appearance matches that of a “drug courier profile,” and proceed to rummage through your trunk, glove compartment, tire hubs, and pockets, and to ask a bevy of incriminating questions about your personal life.[34] The fact that a person spends himself deeply into debt and thus feels obliged to keep working at a job he despises is not coercive because no one compelled the person to become a mindless consumer.

An inability to find a satisfactory job or satisfactory career path is not a violation of liberty—unless government or private action forcibly blocks or restrains people. A person is not “oppressed” by his own lack of marketable job skills: every art history major who did not find a good job after college is not a victim of some sinister force.

One of the clearest violations of freedom of contract is government licensing laws, which prohibit millions of Americans from practicing the occupation of their choice. Over 800 professions, from barbers to masseuses to interior designers to phrenologists to tattooists to talent agents, now require a government license to practice. Licensing laws are usually engineered by professional associations that want to “protect” the public from competitors who might charge lower prices.[35] Licensing laws kept many blacks out of the skilled professions until the civil rights era. The Federal Trade Commission perennially reports on the anticompetitive aspects of state government licensing boards.[36] For many professions, private accreditation systems—many of which have already been developed—would provide a much more reliable consumer guide than politically controlled certification systems.

Liberty in Action

Property is the basis of freedom of contract, which is simply liberty in action. Without freedom to exchange, government places all exchanges at the discretion of the political-bureaucratic ruling class. As new forms of property and wealth have developed in the last 200 years, it is now much clearer how vital property is to all citizens’ freedom, not merely that of landowners. By holding title to certain resources (including themselves and their own labor), people can make exchanges with others that allow them to raise themselves, to better provide for their families, to pursue their own values. Freedom is more than the right to own property or the right to buy and sell. But once the citizen loses the right to own—even if he previously owned nothing—he loses the ability to control his own life. If the citizen is denied the right to own or control his own computer disks or the clothes on his back, he has little chance of being able to shape his own future.

Property rights and market economies are vital steppingstones to political freedom. Private property gives people a place to stand if they must resist the government. Market economies and private property allow citizens to build up sufficient wealth to resist government pressure.

It is important to have freedom to buy and sell, to invest, to innovate, to choose one’s risks and reap one’s profits—but it is not enough. It is also vital that police not be able to break people’s heads, or entrap them on bogus charges, or intercept their e-mail at a whim, or target them because of their race, ethnicity, or political ideas. Unfortunately, some advocates of economic freedom seem nonchalant about practically any use of government power that does not directly interfere with profit-making.

Notes

  1. Quoted in James W. Ely, Jr., The Guardian of Every Other Right (New York: Oxford University, 1992), p. 26.
  2. Chicago, Burlington & Quincy R.R. v. Chicago, 166 U.S. 226 (1897).
  3. John Dewey, Liberalism and Social Action (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1935), p. 34.
  4. Jerome Gilison, The Soviet Image of Utopia (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1975), p. 149.
  5. Quoted in Robert Skidelsky, The Road from Serfdom (New York: Penguin, 1997), p. 99.
  6. Ibid., p. 119.
  7. James Bovard, “Eastern Europe, The New Third World,” New York Times, December 20, 1987, and James Bovard, “The Hungarian Miracle,” Journal of Economic Growth, January 1987.
  8. The Writings of James Madison, vol. 6, ed. Gaillard Hunt (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1906), p. 103. The quote is from an article Madison wrote for the National Gazette, March 29, 1792.
  9. Alan Wolfe, review of Stephen Holmes’s Passions & Constraint: On the Theory of Liberal Democracy, New Republic, May 1, 1995.
  10. Tom Bethell, The Noblest Triumph: Property and Prosperity Through the Ages (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1998), pp. 272-89.
  11. James Bovard, “Assistance to Flood Victims Invites Further Disaster,” Los Angeles Times, June 18, 1997.
  12. Richard Epstein, Takings (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1985), p. 66.
  13. Oliver v. United States, 466 U.S. 170, 179 (1984).
  14. Ibid., p. 180, fn. 11.
  15. Ibid., p. 192.
  16. The National Law Journal reported in 1995 that between 1980 and 1993 the number of federal search warrants relying exclusively on confidential informants nearly tripled, from 24 percent to 71 percent, and that “from Atlanta to Boston, from Houston to Miami to Los Angeles, dozens of criminal cases have been dismissed after judges determined that the informants cited in affidavits were fictional.” Mark Curriden, “Secret Threat to Justice,” National Law Journal, February 20, 1995.
  17. Florida v. Riley, 488 U.S. 445 (1989).
  18. Evelyn Nieves, “I.N.S. Raid Reaps Many, But Sows Pain,” New York Times, November 20, 1997.
  19. Associated Press, “Agent Fired During Raid on Migrants, Report Finds,” New York Times, December 12, 1997.
  20. Craig Hemmens, “I Hear You Knocking: The Supreme Court Revisits the Knock and Announce Rule,” University of Missouri at Kansas City Law Review, Spring 1998, p. 562.
  21. Michael Cooper, “As Number of Police Raids Increase, So Do Questions,” New York Times, May 26, 1998.
  22. Ibid.
  23. Barney Rock, “Kicking in Doors New Trend among Thieves,” Arkansas Democratic Gazette, January 21, 1995.
  24. Hemmens, p. 584.
  25. Brief for the United States as Amicus Curiae Supporting Respondent, Wilson v. Arkansas, no. 94-5707, February 23, 1995, p. 26.
  26. Ibid., p. 28.
  27. Hemmens, p. 601.
  28. Patel v. U.S., 823 F. Supp. 696, 698 (1993). For discussion of this case, see Gideon Kanner, “What Is a Taking of Property?” Just Compensation, December 1993.
  29. Kenneth Black et. al v. Village of Park Forest, 1998 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 2427, February 23, 1998.
  30. Quoted in Robert E. Goodin, Reasons for Welfare (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1988), p. 307.
  31. James Buchanan, “Divided We Stand,” review of Democracy’s Discontent: America in Search of a Public Philosophy” by Michael J. Sandel, Reason, February 1997, p. 59.
  32. “Debate on Free Trade,” Public Broadcasting Service, August 15, 1997.
  33. Arthur Fredheim, “IRS Audits Digging Deeper Beneath the Surface,” Practical Accountant, March 1996, p. 20.
  34. See, for instance, Tracey Maclin, “The Decline of the Right of Locomotion: The Fourth Amendment on the Streets,” Cornell Law Review, September 1990, p. 1258, and Mark Kadish, “The Drug Courier Profile: In Planes, Trains, and Automobiles; and Now in the Jury Box,” American University Law Review, February 1997, p. 747.
  35. See, for instance, Sue Blevins, “Medical Monopoly: Protecting Consumers or Limiting Competition?” USA Today (magazine), January 1998, p. 58.
  36. Interview with Federal Trade Commission spokesman Howard Shapiro, July 28, 1998.

While reading this article.. keep in mind the wide ranging efforts and policies that the Obama administration intend to impose on America. It should give all of us pause to reflect on the “transformation” that Obama and his cohorts hope to impose from above. Keep America FREE from this power grab.