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WE ARE, as it always seems, at a pivotal moment in American history. At least thats what Sens. Tom Udall and Bernie Sanders maintained in a melodramatic Politico column recently as they explained their efforts to repeal the First Amendment.

Let me retort in their language:Its true that building the United States has been long, arduous and rife with setbacks. But throughout the years, the American people have repelled efforts to weaken or dismantle the First Amendment. We have weathered the Sedition Act of 1918, a law that led to the imprisonment of innocent Americans who opposed the war or the draft. Since then, we have withstood many efforts to hamper, chill and undermine basic free expression in the name of patriotism. We have, however, allowed elected officials to treat citizens as if they were children by arbitrarily imposing strict limits on their free speech in the name of fairness.But nowadays, after five members of the Supreme Court upheld the First Amendment and treated all political speech equally, liberal activists and Democrats in the Senate would have us return to a time when government dispensed speech to favored institutions as if it were the governments to give.

In 2010, the Supreme Court issued a 5-4 opinion striking down major parts of a 2002 campaign-finance reform law in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. This case and subsequent rulings, including McCutcheon v. FEC, have led to more political activism and more grass-roots engagement than ever before. In the 2012 presidential election, we quickly saw the results.

More Americans voted than in any election; more minorities voted; more Americans engaged in more debate and had more information in their hands than ever before. More than 60 percent of all those super PAC funds came from just 159 donors, each of whom gave more than $1 million. And still, every vote held the same sway. You may be convinced by someone, but no one can buy your vote. I wish the same could be said for your senators.

Even less worrisome is the propaganda surrounding scary-sounding dark money dollars spent by groups that do not have to disclose their funding sources. The 2012 elections saw almost $300 million spent on engagement in our democratic institutions, and the 2014 midterm elections could see as much as $1 billion invested in political debate. That means more democratization of media and more challenges to a media infrastructure that once managed what news we were allowed to consume. Still, no one can buy your vote.

No single issue is more important to the needs of average Americans than upholding the Constitution over the vagaries of contemporary political life. The people elected to office should be responsive to the needs of their constituents. They should also be prepared to be challenged. But mostly, they should uphold their oath to protect the Constitution rather than find ways to undermine it.

When the Supreme Court finds, for purposes of the First Amendment, that corporations are people, that writing checks from the companys bank account is constitutionally protected speech and that attempts to impose coercive restrictions on political debate are unconstitutional, we realize that we live in a republic that isnt always fair but is, for the most part, always free.

Americans right to free speech should not be proportionate to their political power. This is why its vital to stop senators from imposing capricious limits on Americans.

It is true that 16 states and the District of Columbia, along with more than 500 cities and towns, have passed resolutions calling on Congress to reinstitute restriction on free speech. Polls consistently show that the majority of Americans support the abolishment of super PACs. So its important to remember that one of the many reasons the Founding Fathers offered us the Constitution was to offer a bulwark against democracy. Senators may have an unhealthy obsession with the democratic process, and Supreme Court justices are on the bench for life for that very reason.

Last week, Democrats offered an amendment to repeal the First Amendment in an attempt to protect their own political power. Whiny senators most of them patrons to corporate power and special interests engaged in one of the most cynical abuses of their power in recent memory. Those who treat Americans as if they were hapless proles unable to withstand the power of a television commercial are the ones who fear speech. Thats not what the American republic is all about.

Read this article:
David Harsanyi The senators who really threaten America

New Hampshires Constitution Day essay contest is right around the corner, and some Nashua students are taking on the competition as a part of their social studies classes. The contest is hosted by The Telegraph and six other newspapers and the states court system. Essay topics put contemporary issues within a constitutional context. This years this question asks to students address the conflicts between cyberbullying and First Amendment rights.

Fairgrounds Middle School has been home to the two previous grades 5-8 statewide essay winners, Suhaas Katikaneni in 2013 and Benjamin Swain in 2012. Fairgrounds incorporats the contest into its fall curriculum. … Subscribe or log in to read more

New Hampshires Constitution Day essay contest is right around the corner, and some Nashua students are taking on the competition as a part of their social studies classes. The contest is hosted by The Telegraph and six other newspapers and the states court system. Essay topics put contemporary issues within a constitutional context. This years this question asks to students address the conflicts between cyberbullying and First Amendment rights.

Fairgrounds Middle School has been home to the two previous grades 5-8 statewide essay winners, Suhaas Katikaneni in 2013 and Benjamin Swain in 2012. Fairgrounds incorporats the contest into its fall curriculum.

The three levels in the middle school, all the social studies teachers, are all participating, said Fairgrounds teacher Ralph Sommese. Sommese is an eighth grade social studies teacher and social studies curriculum liaison for Fairgrounds Middle School to the district.

Sommese said student interest in the contest varies depending on student age and the essay topic.

I know the sixth graders really get into it. The eighth graders are this year because of the topic theyre really interested, he said. In preparing the kids, we take them to the library to do research. I go over Supreme Court cases related to the idea of First Amendment freedom of speech topics. We also go into setting up the essay itself, he said.

Although Sommese said cyberbullying wasnt specifically a problem at the school as far as he knew, staff discusses bullying in general with students. On our team in eighth grade we do a character education piece that deals with bullying. We have speakers come in for it, he said.

Students interested in the contest can submit essays to Constitution Day contest, attn: Phil Kincade, Nashua Telegraph, 17 Executive Drive, Hudson, NH 03051. The deadline for entries this year is October 6. After that, each newspaper will select one local winner from grades 5-8 and one winner from grades 9-12. From the local winners, the state Supreme Court will select one statewide winner from each group. Local and state winners are invited to the Supreme Court, and state winners are also invited to the annual First Amendment Awards presented by the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications of Manchester.

This years essay prompt:

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Students study First Amendment for Constitution Day essay contest

Sep 112014

The point of this “improvement” of James Madison’s First Amendment is to reverse the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision. It left in place the ban on corporate contributions to candidates. It said only that Americans do not forfeit their speech rights when they band together to express themselves on political issues through corporations, which they generally do through nonprofit advocacy corporations.

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WASHINGTON Since Barry Goldwater, accepting the Republicans’ 1964 presidential nomination, said “extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice,” Democrats have been decrying Republican “extremism.” Actually, although there is abundant foolishness and unseemliness in American politics, real extremism measures or movements that menace the Constitution’s architecture of ordered liberty is rare. This week, however, extremism stained the Senate.

Forty-eight members of the Democratic caucus attempted to do something never previously done amend the Bill of Rights. They tried to radically shrink First Amendment protection of political speech. They evidently think extremism in defense of the political class’s convenience is no vice.

The First Amendment as the First Congress passed it, and the states ratified it 223 years ago, says: “Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech.” The 48 senators understand that this is incompatible by its plain text, and in light of numerous Supreme Court rulings with their desire to empower Congress and state legislatures to determine the permissible quantity, content and timing of political speech. Including, of course, speech by and about members of Congress and their challengers as well as persons seeking the presidency or state offices.

The 48 senators proposing to give legislators speech-regulating powers describe their amendment in anodyne language, as “relating to contributions and expenditures intended to affect elections.” But what affects elections is speech, and the vast majority of contributions and expenditures are made to disseminate speech. The Democrats’ amendment says: “Congress and the states may regulate and set reasonable limits on the raising and spending of money by candidates and others to influence elections,” and may “prohibit” corporations including nonprofit issue advocacy corporations (such as the Sierra Club, NARAL Pro-Choice America and thousands of others across the political spectrum) from spending any money “to influence elections,” which is what most of them exist to do.

Because all limits will be set by incumbent legislators, the limits deemed “reasonable” will surely serve incumbents’ interests. The lower the limits, the more valuable will be the myriad (and unregulated) advantages of officeholders.

The point of this “improvement” of James Madison’s First Amendment is to reverse the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision. It left in place the ban on corporate contributions to candidates. It said only that Americans do not forfeit their speech rights when they band together to express themselves on political issues through corporations, which they generally do through nonprofit advocacy corporations.

Floyd Abrams, among the First Amendment’s most distinguished defenders, notes that the proposed amendment deals only with political money that funds speech. That it would leave political speech less protected than pornography, political protests at funerals, and Nazi parades. That by aiming to equalize the political influence of persons and groups, it would reverse the 1976 Buckley decision joined by such champions of free expression as Justices William Brennan, Thurgood Marshall and Potter Stewart. The one reason President Harry Truman vetoed the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act was that he considered its ban on corporations and unions making independent expenditures to affect federal elections a “dangerous intrusion on free speech.” And that no Fortune 100 corporation “appears to have contributed even a cent to any of the 10 highest-grossing super PACs in either the 2010, 2012 or 2014 election cycles.”

Read the original here:
Extremism in defense of re-election

Published: Thursday, September 11, 2014 at 3:15 a.m. Last Modified: Wednesday, September 10, 2014 at 3:22 p.m.

Since Barry Goldwater, accepting the Republicans’ 1964 presidential nomination, said “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice,” Democrats have been decrying Republican “extremism.”

Actually, although there is abundant foolishness and unseemliness in American politics, real extremism measures or movements that menace the Constitution’s architecture of ordered liberty is rare. This week, however, extremism stained the Senate.

Forty-eight members of the Democratic caucus attempted to do something never previously done amend the Bill of Rights. They tried to radically shrink First Amendment protection of political speech. They evidently think extremism in defense of the political class’ convenience is no vice.

The First Amendment, as the First Congress passed it and the states ratified it 223 years ago, states: “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech.” The 48 senators understand that this is incompatible by its plain text, and in light of numerous Supreme Court rulings with their desire to empower Congress and state legislatures to determine the permissible quantity, content and timing of political speech. Including, of course, speech by and about members of Congress and their challengers as well as people seeking the presidency or state offices.

The 48 senators proposing to give legislators speech-regulating powers describe their amendment in anodyne language, as “relating to contributions and expenditures intended to affect elections.” But what affects elections is speech, and the vast majority of contributions and expenditures are made to disseminate speech.

The Democrats’ amendment states: “Congress and the states may regulate and set reasonable limits on the raising and spending of money by candidates and others to influence elections,” and may “prohibit” corporations including nonprofit issue advocacy corporations (such as the Sierra Club, NARAL Pro-Choice America and thousands of others across the political spectrum) from spending any money “to influence elections,” which is what most of them exist to do.

Because all limits would be set by incumbent legislators, the limits deemed “reasonable” would surely serve incumbents’ interests. The lower the limits, the more valuable will be the myriad (and unregulated) advantages of officeholders.

The point of this “improvement” of James Madison’s First Amendment is to reverse the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision. It left in place the ban on corporate contributions to candidates. It stated only that Americans do not forfeit their speech rights when they band together to express themselves on political issues through corporations, which they generally do through nonprofit advocacy corporations.

Floyd Abrams, among the First Amendment’s most distinguished defenders, notes that the proposed amendment deals only with political money that funds speech. That it would leave political speech less protected than pornography, political protests at funerals and Nazi parades. That by aiming to equalize the political influence of persons and groups, it would reverse the 1976 Buckley decision joined by such champions of free expression as Justices William Brennan, Thurgood Marshall and Potter Stewart. That one reason President Harry Truman vetoed the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act was that he considered its ban on corporations and unions making independent expenditures to affect federal elections a “dangerous intrusion on free speech.” And that no Fortune 100 corporation “appears to have contributed even a cent to any of the 10 highest-grossing super PACs in either the 2010, 2012 or 2014 election cycles.”

Original post:
Will: Group of senators tries to 'improve' First Amendment

This week, a federal appeals court in New York heard oral arguments in a lawsuit challenging the legality of the National Security Agencys bulk collection of phone records. A ruling against the government could accelerate the programs review by the Supreme Court.

Originally posted here:
NSA surveillance moves one step closer to the Supreme Court

Sep 052014

Fourth Amendment:Searches and SeizuresWhat is the Fourth Amendment?The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.The Fourth Amendment Defined:Like the majority of fields within American law, the Fourth Amendment is heavily rooted in the English legal doctrine. In a general sense, the Fourth Amendment was created to limit the power of the government and their ability to enforce legal actions on individuals. The Fourth Amendment was adopted as a direct response to the abuse of the writ of assistance, which was a type of general search warrant used by the government during the American Revolution. The Amendment was created to limit the powers of the law enforcement agency who is conducting a search of an individuals personal property.The Fourth Amendment is a part of the Bill of Rights, which are the first 10 Amendments to the United States Constitution and the framework to elucidate upon the freedoms of the individual. The Bill of Rights were proposed and sent to the states by the first session of the First Congress. They were later ratified on December 15, 1791.The first 10 Amendments to the United States Constitution were introduced by James Madison as a series of legislative articles and came into effect as Constitutional Amendments following the process of ratification by three-fourths of the States on December 15, 1791.Stipulations of the 4th AmendmentThe Fourth Amendment guards against the governments ability to conduct unreasonable search and seizures when the individual party being searched has a reasonable exception of privacy.The Fourth Amendment specifically requires a law enforcement agency to possess judicially sanctioned search and arrest warrants, which are supported by probable clause, to be administered before a persons property can be inspected.The Fourth Amendment ties in numerous limitations whereby an individual may be searched without a warrant given the presence of certain circumstances. The individuals property may be searched and seized if: The individual is on parole or in a tax hearing, faces deportation, the evidence is seized from a common carrier, the evidence is collected by U.S. customs agents, the evidence is seized by probation officers, the evidence is seized outside of the United States, or probable cause is evident.Court Cases tied into the 4th AmendmentIn Mapp v. Ohio, the Supreme Court ruled that the Fourth Amendment is enforceable and should be applied to all states in the Union by way of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Additionally, the Supreme Court ruled that certain searches and seizures were in direct violation of the Fourth Amendment even when a warrant was properly issued to the coordinating law enforcement agencies.State Timeline for Ratification of the Bill of RightsNew Jersey:November 20, 1789; rejected article IIMaryland:December 19, 1789; approved allNorth Carolina:December 22, 1789; approved allSouth Carolina: January 19, 1790; approved allNew Hampshire: January 25, 1790; rejected article IIDelaware: January 28, 1790; rejected article INew York: February 27, 1790; rejected article IIPennsylvania: March 10, 1790; rejected article IIRhode Island: June 7, 1790; rejected article IIVermont: November 3, 1791; approved allVirginia: December 15, 1791; approved all

Fourth Amendment:Searches and Seizures

What is the Fourth Amendment? The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

The Fourth Amendment Defined: Like the majority of fields within American law, the Fourth Amendment is heavily rooted in the English legal doctrine. In a general sense, the Fourth Amendment was created to limit the power of the government and their ability to enforce legal actions on individuals. The Fourth Amendment was adopted as a direct response to the abuse of the writ of assistance, which was a type of general search warrant used by the government during the American Revolution. The Amendment was created to limit the powers of the law enforcement agency who is conducting a search of an individuals personal property.

The Fourth Amendment is a part of the Bill of Rights, which are the first 10 Amendments to the United States Constitution and the framework to elucidate upon the freedoms of the individual. The Bill of Rights were proposed and sent to the states by the first session of the First Congress. They were later ratified on December 15, 1791.

The first 10 Amendments to the United States Constitution were introduced by James Madison as a series of legislative articles and came into effect as Constitutional Amendments following the process of ratification by three-fourths of the States on December 15, 1791.

Stipulations of the 4th Amendment The Fourth Amendment guards against the governments ability to conduct unreasonable search and seizures when the individual party being searched has a reasonable exception of privacy.

The Fourth Amendment specifically requires a law enforcement agency to possess judicially sanctioned search and arrest warrants, which are supported by probable clause, to be administered before a persons property can be inspected.

The Fourth Amendment ties in numerous limitations whereby an individual may be searched without a warrant given the presence of certain circumstances. The individuals property may be searched and seized if: The individual is on parole or in a tax hearing, faces deportation, the evidence is seized from a common carrier, the evidence is collected by U.S. customs agents, the evidence is seized by probation officers, the evidence is seized outside of the United States, or probable cause is evident.Court Cases tied into the 4th Amendment In Mapp v. Ohio, the Supreme Court ruled that the Fourth Amendment is enforceable and should be applied to all states in the Union by way of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Additionally, the Supreme Court ruled that certain searches and seizures were in direct violation of the Fourth Amendment even when a warrant was properly issued to the coordinating law enforcement agencies.State Timeline for Ratification of the Bill of Rights New Jersey:November 20, 1789; rejected article II

Maryland:December 19, 1789; approved all

Excerpt from:
4th Amendment – Laws.com

One of the major cases next year in the Supreme Court is about the First Amendment, free speech and Facebook, and the Justices decision could hinge on their understanding and interpretation of rap music lyrics.

Link:
Rap lyrics part of First Amendment case coming to the Supreme Court

From News Tribune staff and AP wire reports

Thursday, August 28, 2014

A Missouri ballot measure that would allow allegations of past actions to be used against people facing child sexual abuse charges could lead to more wrongful convictions of the falsely accused, a prominent defense attorney said Wednesday.

The proposed constitutional amendment is backed by prosecutors, sheriffs and police chiefs groups.

It would allow past criminal acts even alleged crimes that didnt result in convictions to be used to corroborate victim testimony or demonstrate a defendants propensity to commit such crimes when people face sex-related charges involving victims younger than 18. However, the evidences admissibility is at the judges discretion, meaning if the judge doesnt think it is relevant to the matter being tried then it can not be used.

Currently the previous acts of defendants cannot be presented as evidence to a jury unless they waive their Fifth Amendment rights and testify. The past allegations can also be taken into consideration by judges during sentencing hearings after the defendant has been found guilty.

If approved by Missouri voters in November, Constitutional Amendment 2 could make it more difficult for defendants to persuade juries and judges of their innocence, said Kim Benjamin, a Belton attorney who is the past president of the Missouri Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

Youre now defending your entire life, your entire reputation, rather than this one act, she said. It causes a tremendous risk for more people to be wrongly convicted.

One of Benjamins most prominent clients was Burrell Mohler Sr., the patriarch of a western Missouri family who was accused along with his four sons of sexually abusing young relatives over many years. The charges ultimately were dropped in March 2012, after Mohler had spent more than two years in jail while awaiting trial.

The proposal, which was referred to the ballot by the Legislature in 2013, is a backlash against a December 2007 Missouri Supreme Court decision of State v. Ellison that struck down a state law allowing evidence of past sexual crimes to be used against people facing new sex-related charges involving victims younger than 14. Before Ellison, the Legislature had twice tried to establish legislation that would make the states statues regarding these issues mimic federal law, but both attempts were deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

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Sexual abuse measure could lead to wrongful convictions, attorneys say

The NCAA suggested its main arguments to appeal the Ed O’Bannon ruling allowing college athletes to be paid will focus on amateurism and First Amendment rights on live broadcasts.

In a filing Thursday night with the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the NCAA’s lawyers responded to a mandatory mediation questionnaire that asks to briefly describe the issues on appeal. The NCAA wrote, The issues on appeal include but are not limited to whether amateurism is presumptively procompetitive for an amateur sports league and whether plaintiffs’ claims based on a property right in the use of their (names, images and likenesses) in live broadcasts of sporting events are foreclosed by the First Amendment. USA Today Sports first reported the filing.

U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken ruled Aug. 8 that the NCAA’s restrictions on what Football Bowl Subdivision players and Division I men’s basketball players can receive unreasonably restrain trade and violates antitrust law. Wilken’s injunction will allow football and men’s basketball players to receive scholarships covering their full cost of attendance and deferred payments for the schools’ use of their names, images and likenesses (NILs).

For decades, the NCAA’s legal defense to avoid paying players has relied upon a landmark 1984 Supreme Court ruling that stripped the NCAA of TV rights and allowed conferences to sell their games. The NCAA has clung to a line from that decision: In order to preserve the character and quality of the (NCAA’s) ‘product,’ athletes must not be paid, must be required to attend class, and the like.

In her October 2013 summary judgment ruling, Wilken wrote the Supreme Court opinion does not stand for the sweeping proposition that student-athletes must be barred, both during their college years and forever thereafter, from receiving any monetary compensation for the commercial use of their names, images and likenesses. In her August judgment after a three-week trial, Wilken noted that the O’Bannon plaintiffs provided enough evidence to show the college sports industry has changed substantially in 30 years.

Wilken also wrote that the Supreme Court opinion stating athletes must not be paid differed from the NCAA’s own lawyers in the case. The NCAA’s lawyers in 1984 said during an oral argument that the NCAA was not relying on amateurism as a procompetitive justification and might be able to get more viewers and so on if it had semi-professional clubs rather than amateur clubs,’ Wilken wrote. In addition, Wilken wrote that the NCAA has inconsistently applied its amateurism rules throughout the association’s history and to this day.

Wilken’s injunction allows the NCAA to create a cap on the deferred licensing money as long as the cap is not less than $5,000 per year. It’s what’s called a less-restrictive alternative to the antitrust violation found.

By appealing based on amateurism, the NCAA could find relief or perhaps an even more damaging ruling. Conceivably, the appeals court could determine that amateurism is so illegitimate that it’s unreasonable for there to be any cap. That’s the argument attorney Jeffrey Kessler makes in his class-action lawsuit against the NCAA and the five major conferences.

Another issue the NCAA suggested it will appeal in O’Bannon relates to the First Amendment and live TV broadcasts — an area that generates billions of dollars for schools. The O’Bannon plaintiffs have sought to share that licensing revenue.

Earlier in the O’Bannon case, the NCAA claimed that the First Amendment and various state laws prevent college athletes from asserting any rights of publicity during game broadcasts. Wilken rejected that argument in April, writing that the First Amendment does not guarantee media organizations an unlimited right to broadcast entire college football games and questioned whether college athletes validly transfer their rights of publicity to another party.

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NCAA hints at O'Bannon case appeal strategy

In March 2008 I chatted with a silver-haired law school professor under the marble pillars of the U.S. Supreme Court building. He was very excited. The court was to about hear Heller v. D.C. The case would decide whether the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects an individual right to own and carry guns. He had 20 law students with him. He said anxiously, When I put in the paperwork to get seats months ago I didnt know wed get to see one of the last unresolved constitutional questions debated. He said this while looking at a line of people hoping to get seats that went down the block, around a corner and out of sight.

Hours later a mainstream reporter next to me in the press section gasped, Oh no, when Justice Anthony Kennedy hinted that he believed the Second Amendment to be an individual right while asking the governments attorney a question.Months later, when the high court ruled 5-4 that the Second Amendment protects an individual right from government infringement, the media was paying attention. Many, however, are missing whats happening now. The Second Amendment is having its defining moment in history. The decisions now percolating up to the Supreme Court are deciding what guns the Second Amendment covers, when requirements become infringements and more.

Gun-rights and gun-control groups understand that these court decisions illustrate how much elections matter, as the federal judges making these decisions are nominated by the president and voted on by the senate. However, two recent federal court decisions from judges appointed by former president Bill Clinton show how difficult these decisions can be to handicap.

In one just-decided case, California Senior U.S. District Court Judge Anthony W. Ishii found that 10-day waiting periods of Penal Code violate the Second Amendment as applied to people who fall into certain classifications. He found this arbitrary wait time burdens the Second Amendment rights of the plaintiffs. (The decision can be read here.) This court decision orders the California Department of Justice to allow the unobstructed release of guns to those who pass a background check and possess a California license to carry a handgun, or who hold a Department of Justice-issued Certificate of Eligibility and already possess at least one firearm known to the state. Basically, it says if someone already legally has a gun in California the state cant make that person wait 10 days for a second gun just because it wants to. If that sounds like common sense to you, youre right, but common sense isnt a given in the courts.

Brandon Combs, a plaintiff in the case who is also director of the executive director of the Calguns Foundation, said the decision clears the way for them to challenge other irrational and unconstitutional gun-control laws. We look forward to doing just that.

United States Supreme Court building. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A flurry of such challenges began right after Heller, led to McDonald v. Chicago (2010) and are still ongoing. In an important example, in February 2014 the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals confirmed that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to carry firearms for self-defense in public. The decision came in Peruta v. San Diego County. The majority opinion in Peruta said, We are called upon to decide whether a responsible, law-abiding citizen has a right under the Second Amendment to carry a firearm in public for self-defense.

The California Rifle and Pistol Association Foundation brought the case on behalf of five individuals who were denied the right to carry a handgun by the San Diego sheriff. According to California law, a person applying for their Second Amendment right to carry a concealed handgun must: (1) be a resident of their respective city or county; (2) be of good moral character; (3) have good cause for such a license; and (4) pass a firearms training course. Many rural California counties accept self-defense as good cause for a person to get a license to carry a handgun, but some urban sheriffs and chiefs of police disagreed. In those jurisdictions the few who attain permits had to beg, plead, and show imminent danger to their lives before they could exercise their right to bear arms.

The Ninth Circuit decided 2 to 1 that the restrictive good cause policy of the San Diego County Sheriffs Department was unconstitutional. The majority opinion accepted that the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose. Rather, it is a right subject to traditional restrictions, which themselvesand this is a critical pointtend to show the scope of the right.

The majority decision in Peruta said, Our reading of the Second Amendment is akin to the Seventh Circuits interpretation [in Shepard v. Madigan] and at odds with the approach of the Second, Third, and Fourth Circuits. We are unpersuaded by the decisions of the Second, Third, and Fourth Circuits for several reasons. First, contrary to the approach in Heller, all three courts declined to undertake a complete historical analysis of the scope and nature of the Second Amendment right outside the home. As a result, they misapprehend both the nature of the Second Amendment right and the implications of state laws that prevent the vast majority of responsible, law-abiding citizens from carrying in public for lawful self-defense purposes.

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The Second Amendment's Defining Moment



Opening remarks by Supreme Allied Commander, Europe – NATO Chiefs of Defence Meeting, 22 MAY 2014
Opening statement by General Philip M. Breedlove, Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, 22 May 2014. More from the event: http://goo.gl/jJ43rd.

By: NATO

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Opening remarks by Supreme Allied Commander, Europe – NATO Chiefs of Defence Meeting, 22 MAY 2014 – Video

May 232014

Keen, have you ever heard of a situation where a parent, no matter how good a job he’s done of raising his kid, finds himself in a situation where the kid’s done something really bad and it’s become necessary to put your hand on the kid’s shoulder to make the point just how bad this is? That little pressure of your palm next to his neck is in both your minds an extreme physical measure, compared with the talkings-to you’ve administered in the past and you both know it. It’s as close as you’ll ever come to hitting the kid but, again, in your minds, things have come to the pretty pass that made it exigent you make your point.

Now, what about the kids of people who aren’t nearly the good parent you are? We’re surrounded by them, other people’s kids, and can you deny that it seems like many don’t listen to anything but a good smack in the kisser because that’s either the way they were raised or that’s just the way some people seem to be.

Okay, so much, for now, for not hitting people; what about whose stuff is whose?

You were born, probably, in the ’50s; you don’t say and it’s not really important exactly when. Presumably, you were born in this country or raised here; you don’t say and, again, it’s not important. It’s likely, though, that some time after you started to walk, your parents told you not to play in the street. (Maybe they even smacked you one time when you didn’t listen.) It wasn’t until years later, maybe, that you wondered how that street got there?

It’s not a natural outcropping, Keen.

Somebody put it there and that somebody was us, way back when. An integral part of our parents’ parents agreeing to get together and live was fixing up the place so it was livable. Streets and roads were early on the list as were places to do the public business. Places, you know, like courts? Like the Supreme Court, where you beat Waubaunsee County when they messed with you? Streets and roads and public buildings and lots of other things situated on land that, in a large number of cases, was somebody else’s stuff. It doesn’t take a lawyer or nuclear physicist to figure out that somebody had to give (or get smacked) and the world’s full of stories of givers who didn’t take kindly to the notion. Guys just like you.

Now, instead of typing forever on what could turn into a long, philosophical rambling about all of this stuff, I’m going to stop and ask you: unless each and every person in the state thinks and acts just like you and is as smart as you are (at least), what makes you think that you’ll ever get things working the way you want–short of having yourself appointed dictator?

Your libertarianism, how is getting that to work going to be any less insurmountable a problem than the one the Communists faced in Russia almost 100 years ago and how’s it going to turn out any better, in practice, when you have to concede that mere changes in government form or economic form, imposed on a populace that hasn’t changed an iota, are doomed?

I can guarantee you that when you come to take my stuff, I resist and you smack me, I’m not going to like it.

Read more:
Letter: Give Libertarians a look



Free speech case starts in Ohio, heads to Supreme Court
CINCINNATI (WKRC) — The Supreme Court expresses doubts about the constitutionality of an Ohio law that bars people from making false statements about candidates during a political campaign….

By: LOCAL 12

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Free speech case starts in Ohio, heads to Supreme Court – Video



The Clash Between the First Amendment and National Security in Times of War Symposium
Commemorating the 100th Birthday of alumnus and former Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell participants spoke at a symposium titled “The Clash Between the First Amendment and National Security…

By: Reuben Halper

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The Clash Between the First Amendment and National Security in Times of War Symposium – Video



SUPREME STUPIDITY Kills The First Amendment – RIP Separation of Church State (1787-2014)
The Supreme Court rules against the Bible (ironically) and against the Constitution by allowing prayers to be recited before town meetings and other public meetings. MORE: http://en.wikipedia.org…

By: The Amazing Atheist

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SUPREME STUPIDITY Kills The First Amendment – RIP Separation of Church & State (1787-2014) – Video



Campaign Money “Free Speech” Ripped By Retired Justice
Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens criticized the recent Supreme Court ruling on unlimited campaign contributions in a rare public appearance on…

By: TheLipTV

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Campaign Money "Free Speech" Ripped By Retired Justice – Video

Originally published May 7, 2014 at 7:05 PM | Page modified May 8, 2014 at 12:02 AM

History, politics and law are all tangled up in contemporary court interpretations and public understanding of the Second Amendment, and politics is the greater part of the mix these days.

Last week, I wrote that weve so misread the amendment that maybe we ought to get rid of it. Thats certainly not on the horizon, but the idea drew a strong response and suggested to me that a review of the amendments history might be helpful. (Some of the responses also reinforced my belief there are many people who should not be allowed anywhere near a gun. What does racist name calling have to do with gun rights anyway?)

One theme that ran through comments supportive of unrestricted gun-ownership rights was that it is necessary for individuals to own guns to protect themselves against both crime and the U.S. government, and that the framers of the Constitution intended for the amendment to protect that individual right.

Thats a new way of reading the amendment.

I heard from Michael Schein, an attorney who handles appeals and who taught American legal history for 15 years at the University of Puget Sound and Seattle University.

Dont blame the framers, he wrote. For 217 years, the law under the 2nd Amendment was that it only protected possession or use of a firearm by well-regulated militia forces. … It contained no right of personal self-defense until 2008, when the Supreme Court in a 5-4 vote brought that interpretation to its ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller, which limited the Districts gun-regulation law.

Wednesday I called Schein, and we talked about the amendments history and current interpretation. Its heavily politicized and wrapped up in peoples emotions, so its difficult to get to the facts underlying it in any objective way, he said.

The Constitution was written to create a more effective federal government, but some people worried the government would trample on the rights of states and individuals. The Bill of Rights was intended to mollify them and make ratification of the Constitution possible. Some were particularly concerned that the federal government would form a standing army, and they wanted assurances that state militias would be in a position to fight against such an army if it came to that.

James Madison was tasked with drafting the amendments. Some of the states had asked for a personal right in one amendment, but he didnt include that. Instead he used a version of Virginia law that dealt with militias.

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Second Amendment in real time boils down to politics



John Paul Stevens: “Money is not speech”
Former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens says campaign finance limits should not be viewed as violations of the First Amendment. Former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens says campaign…

By: WeathersPaulaVid

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John Paul Stevens: "Money is not speech" – Video

Posted Mon, May 5th, 2014 12:00 pm by Lyle Denniston

Two areas of the law where the Supreme Court made major pronouncements, and then all but dropped the subject, continued on Monday to remain off the Courts decision docket. One wasthe intensifying controversy over Second Amendment rights; the other was the lingering controversy over the fate of prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Without comment, the Court denied review of new cases, keeping intact a lengthening list of refusals.

Since the Courts 2008 decision declaring a personal right to have a gun under the Second Amendment, and its 2010 decision expanding that right nationwide, the Justices have steadfastly refused to say anything more about how far that right extends. And since its 2008 decision giving Guantanamo Bay detainees a right to go to court to protesttheir prolonged imprisonment, it has routinely denied pleasto spell out how that ruling should be applied.

The pattern continued on Monday, as the Justices without explanation and with no dissenting votes recorded chose not to take on the Second Amendment case of Drake v. Jerejian, or the Guantanamo case of Al Warafi v. Obama.

Only two explanations seem plausible: either the Court is content to let lower courts work out the details of gun rights and detention authority, or the Justices are hesitating to take on a new case because they are not sure how the votes will be cast on final decisions.

Probably the biggest question overhanging the Second Amendment is whether the right to have a gun for personal self-defense exists outside the home. Some courts have said yes, some have said no, and some have not been sure either way. That was the issue raised in the Drake case, seeking to test a New Jersey law that requires an individual who wants to carry a handgun in public to get a permit to do so; to obtain such a permit, one has to convince officials that the person has a justifiable need for that privilege.

There is a clear split among federal appeals courts on the outside-the-home issue. In the Drake case, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit found no Second Amendment violation with the handgun permit law.

Probably the biggest question overhanging Guantanamo Bay prisoners that is, those being held there who are not being prosecuted for any crimes is whether and how long they can be kept there if they did not actively engage in armed conflict against the U.S. or its allies before they were captured. Justice Stephen G. Breyer signaled in a recent opinion that this is an open question.

And that appeared to be the situation in the new Al Warafi case. He and his lawyers have insisted that he went to Afghanistan to act as a medical worker, in clinics and hospitals, and his stint with Taliban forces was only as a medical aide. His detention was upheld by lower courts, however, because he was found to have been a part of the Taliban terrorist network regardless whether he had engaged in armed hostilities himself.

Those denials came among a series of orders the Court issued before beginning a two-week recess. Here, in summary, were some of the other actions:

More here:
Staying away from guns and Gitmo



The race to bring NSA surveillance to the Supreme Court
The race to bring NSA surveillance to the Supreme Court.

By: Suraj Panchal

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The race to bring NSA surveillance to the Supreme Court – Video



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