Archive for the ‘First Amendment’ Category
Elizabeth Wydra’s article exposes some flawed constitutional law thinking:
From the nation’s founding until today, the Constitution’s protection of religious liberty has been seen as a personal right, inextricably linked to the human capacity to express devotion to a God and act on the basis of reason and conscience.
Here’s the text of the First Amendment:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Where in the First Amendment does it say that “the free exercise” of religion is limited to individuals? Further, aren’t corporations groups of people? Corporations aren’t buildings. Corporations are groups of people.
Does the Fourth Amendment only protect individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures? God help us if it does.
Business corporations, quite properly, have never shared in this fundamental constitutional tradition for the obvious reason that a business corporation lacks the basic human capacities — reason, dignity and conscience — at the core of the right to free exercise of religion. Obviously not “persons” in the usual sense of the word, these corporations are also not religious organizations, which have historically received some constitutional protection and are, in fact, given exemptions from the contraception mandate.
That’s wrongheaded thinking, too. Because corporations are collections of people, those people have “the basic human capacities” of “reason, dignity and conscience.” Further, what says that only churches and religious institutions have “constitutional protections”? Finally, do people lose their First Amendment protections when they join corporations?
In the 1970′s, Democrats touted themselves as the greatest defenders of free speech. By contrast, the Democrats of today are the the greatest practitioners of censorship. This WSJ article is proof that Democrats are especially good at political free speech intimidation:
In recent weeks, special prosecutor Francis Schmitz has hit dozens of conservative groups with subpoenas demanding documents related to the 2011 and 2012 campaigns to recall Governor Walker and state legislative leaders.
Copies of two subpoenas we’ve seen demand “all memoranda, email…correspondence, and communications” both internally and between the subpoena target and some 29 conservative groups, including Wisconsin and national nonprofits, political vendors and party committees. The groups include the League of American Voters, Wisconsin Family Action, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, Americans for Prosperity—Wisconsin, American Crossroads, the Republican Governors Association, Friends of Scott Walker and the Republican Party of Wisconsin.
One subpoena also demands “all records of income received, including fundraising information and the identity of persons contributing to the corporation.” In other words, tell us who your donors are.
The term fishing expedition jumps to mind. So does the term censorship. Ditto with illegal searches. Here’s why those terms apply:
The subpoena demand for the names of donors to nonprofit groups that aren’t legally required to disclose them is especially troubling. Readers may recall that the Cincinnati office of the IRS sent the tax-exempt applications of several conservative groups to the ProPublica news website in 2012.
The censorship thugs weren’t gentle. They didn’t request anything. They demanded things that they didn’t have a legal basis to ask for. Asking for confidential tax filings is illegal because IRS filings are confidential under federal law.
Expect some IRS employees to to get convicted of federal crimes and doing some serious prison time for giving Pro Publica confidential IRS documents. As outrageous as that is, that’s just the tip of the iceberg:
The subpoenas don’t spell out a specific allegation, but the demands suggest the government may be pursuing a theory of illegal campaign coordination by independent groups during the recall elections. If prosecutors are pursuing a theory that independent conservative groups coordinated with candidate campaigns during the recall, their goal may be to transform the independent expenditures into candidate committees after the fact, requiring revision of campaign-finance disclosures and possible criminal charges.
That’s admitting that they’re doing this to intimidate people who want to participate in the political process. That isn’t just unacceptable. It’s unconstitutional because it violates the First and Fourth Amendments. That’s before talking about the US statutes these warrants violate.
It’s notable that the new batch of subpoenas began flying just days before Democrat Mary Burke announced her candidacy for Governor. District Attorneys are partisan elected officials in Wisconsin, and Mr. Landgraf works for Mr. Chisholm. Neither of them returned our call for comment.
This isn’t litigation. It’s attrition. It’s painfully obvious that Mr. Landgraf and Mr. Chisholm are unapologetic Democratic political hatchetmen. It’s apparent, too, that they’ve used their office to a) threaten citizens who want to participate in the political process, b) intimidate legitimate political organizations and c) chill political free speech to help Democratic candidates.
They should be prosecuted for using their official positions as a campaign outlet for Democratic gubernatorial candidates, which is a clear violation of using elected offices for campaign purposes. My hope is that the Wisconsin AG opens an investigation into these Democratic anti-free speech thugs’ censorship campaign. They’re disgusting, not to mention that they’re criminals who should be removed from office.
Technorati: Witch Hunt, Censorship, Francis Schmitz, Bruce Landgraf, John Chisholm, Mary Burke, In-Kind Campaign Contributions, Corruption, IRS Documents, Democrats, Eric O’Keefe” Club For Growth-Wisconsin, Scott Walker, GOP, Election 2014
Some of the things I read in this article should make universities think twice before signing an agreement with Chinese universities. Here’s the story that isn’t getting told:
Many reputable and informed scholars of China have observed that the Confucius Institutes are marked by the same “no-go zones” that Beijing enforces on China’s public sphere. In an interview reported in The New York Times, June Teufel Dreyer, who teaches Chinese government and foreign policy at Miami University, said: “You’re told not to discuss the Dalai Lama—or to invite the Dalai Lama to campus. Tibet, Taiwan, China’s military buildup, factional fights inside the Chinese leadership—these are all off limits.”
The Confucius Institutes at North Carolina State University and the University of Sydney actively attempted to prevent the Dalai Lama from speaking. At Sydney, he had to speak off-campus, and the CI sponsored a lecture by a Chinese academic who had previously claimed that Tibet was always part of China, notwithstanding that it was mired in feudal darkness and serfdom until the Chinese democratic reforms of 1959. The Confucius Institute at Waterloo University mobilized its students to defend the Chinese repression of a Tibetan uprising, and McMaster University and Tel Aviv University ran into difficulties with the legal authorities because of the anti–Falun Gong activities of their Confucius Institutes.
Other taboo subjects include the Tiananmen massacre, blacklisted authors, human rights, the jailing of dissidents, the democracy movement, currency manipulation, environmental pollution and the Uighur autonomy movement in Xinjiang. Quite recently, Chinese government leaders explicitly banned the discussion of seven subjects in Chinese university classrooms, including universal values, freedom of the press and the historical mistakes of the Chinese Communist Party; this was part of a directive to local officials to “understand the dangers posed by views and theories advocated by the West.” It stands to reason that these subjects will also not be matters of free inquiry in CIs.
Academic censorship isn’t acceptable, whether it’s being promoted by a university through speech codes or whether it’s happening as a result of Chinese government interference. Censorship should be fought by these universities because their mission is to inform and educate. These universities’ mission isn’t to coddle Communist dictatorships.
More than one CI director has stated that his institute is free to discuss anything it wants to; the only problem seems to be with the things they don’t want to discuss. “We don’t know anything about the contract that [Hanban officials] force their teachers to sign,” said Glenn Cartwright, principal of Waterloo’s Renison University College, which houses the institute. “I’m sure they have some conditions, but whether we can dictate what those conditions can be is another story.” Human rights are not discussed in the Confucius Institute of the British Columbia Institute of Technology because that isn’t part of its mandate. According to director Jim Reichert, “our function is really focused on cultural awareness, business development, those sorts of pragmatic things.”
Saying that CI’s are “focused on…pragmatic things” is a way of saying “I’ve caved to the Chinese government’s political pressure.” If we want to teach the Chinese people something, we should teach them about the pillars of our republic.
It’s time to expose the Chinese government’s political interference. Most importantly, it’s time to expose the Chinese government’s attempt to stifle academic freedom in America.
Thomas Sowell’s latest column highlights the intolerant left. This isn’t an indictment of all liberals. In fact, I’d argue that it’s an indictment of hardline progressives, not liberals. When Howard Dean said that “This is a battle between good and evil and we’re the good”, he meant it. He really viewed conservatives as evil. That’s what’s inspiring the people Dr. Sowell wrote about:
An all-too-familiar scene was enacted on the campus of Swarthmore College during a meeting on May 4 to discuss demands by student activists for the college to divest itself of its investments in companies that deal in fossil fuels. As a speaker was beginning a presentation to show how many millions of dollars such a disinvestment would cost the college, student activists invaded the meeting, seized the microphone, and shouted down a student who rose in the audience to object.
Although there were professors and administrators in the room, including the college president, apparently nobody had the guts to put a stop to these storm-trooper tactics. Nor is it likely that there will be any punishment of those who put their own desires above the rights of others. On the contrary, these students went on to demand mandatory campus “teach-ins,” and the administration caved on that demand. Among their other demands are that courses on ethnic studies, and on gender and sexuality, be made a requirement for graduation.
It isn’t a secret that political correctness runs rampant on college campuses. It isn’t even a secret that these activists/barbarians/thugs target conservatives. See Ann Coulter and Karl Rove about that.
What hasn’t been talked about is the need to stand up to these activists/thugs. I don’t propose stripping these activists’ First Amendment rights. That’s censorship, which I can’t support. What I’m advocating is for people to stand up to these activists/thugs, then verbally embarass these activists/thugs in public.
I learned early in life that the best protection against loud-mouthed bullies isn’t defensive in nature. The best protection is giving bullies a bloody nose. Letting thugs know that you aren’t backing down gives them something extra to think about.
Another analogy is a basketball team bringing the ball up against a full-court press. As long as the team doesn’t exploit the weakness of the press, the defensive team doesn’t have an incentive to stop pressing. Exploiting a press’s weakness leads to easy layups in short order. Suddenly, the cost of pressing is too high.
Translating that into dealing with these activists/thugs is simple. Putting them on the spot, then ridiculing them, is a way to send the message that you aren’t putting up with their crap. A perfect response might be “So you think only you have the right to speak? Who elected you dictator? What makes you think that your opinions are better or more important than mine?”
Back in the 1960s, the University of Chicago was a rare exception. As Professor George J. Stigler, a Nobel Prize–winning economist, put it in his memoirs, “our faculty united behind the expulsion of a large number of young barbarians.”
The sky did not fall. There was no bloodbath. The University of Chicago was in fact spared some of the worst nonsense that more compliant institutions were permanently saddled with in the years that followed as a result of their failure of nerve in the ’60s.
In short, they stood up to the activists/thugs. Not only did they survive, they won the fight. The key is to let these activists/thugs know that they can’t win by being thugs. They’ll have to win on the merits of their ideas. That thought frightens them. In fact, if they thought they could win on the merits, that’s what they’d do.
This paragraph should frighten people:
It’s not just academics who won’t defend decency. Trustees could fire college presidents who cave in to storm-trooper tactics. Donors could stop donating to institutions that have sold out their principles to appease the campus barbarians. But when nobody is willing to defend civilized standards, the barbarians win.
This quote should be must reading for people who’ve been pressured by activistss/thugs:
All it takes for evil to succeed is for a few good men to do nothing. Edmund Burke
When activists/thugs do a hostile takeover of a room, that’s evil. That’s the time to confront the activists. That’s when they need to get the message that their tactics (stunts, intimidation?) won’t help them win the fight they’re picking. Only then can order be restored.
This NRO article is both maddening and frightening:
Perhaps a suddenly firearm-friendly President Obama can put in a good word for Jared Marcum. In April, Marcum, an eighth-grader at Logan Middle School in Logan, W. Va., was arrested when he refused to take off his NRA t-shirt. The New York Daily News reports:
The clothing kerfuffle began when Marcum wore a shirt bearing the NRA’s logo and a hunting rifle. As he stood in line in the cafeteria, a teacher ordered him to either change shirts or turn it inside out.
Marcum declined and was sent to the office, where an officer was dispatched after he again refused to comply with the school’s request.
Cops arrested him and charged him with disrupting the educational process and obstructing an officer.
The teacher who told Marcum he shouldn’t wear the t-shirt apparently doesn’t care about the First Amendment. It’s pretty clear that the teacher doesn’t like the Second Amendment, either. With that in mind, perhaps this teacher should learn from people smarter than him. I’d submit that this young lady could teach this teacher a ton about the Constitution:
First, the school didn’t have the right to tell the student he couldn’t wear that t-shirt. The First Amendment trumps everything else. That should be case closed.
Second, this teacher should be disciplined for teaching a student through his actions that the Constitution should be ignored. After that, this student should put the fear of God into this teacher and the school district for violating this student’s constitutional rights.
Amidst all the talk about Eric Holder’s semi-off-the-record meeting with news organizations, one thing is getting lost. I think that’s intentional. Holder’s only hope of hanging onto his job is to get the media to return to their lapdog posture. Eric Holder knows that the media doesn’t trust him, at least for the moment. He’s hoping that his charm offensive will give them the political cover they need to pretend he didn’t just violate their rights to do investigative journalism.
The American people, however, aren’t fooled. Neither is Fox News. It’s their responsibility to remind people that Holder didn’t hesitate in tossing the Constitution aside, especially the Bill of Rights. He didn’t respect the media’s First Amendment rights to report on the government’s actions.
That’s actually the lesser of the violations he made. When he signed a warrant application that accused James Rosen of being a criminal co-conspirator in order to rifle through Rosen’s private emails without his knowledge, he deprived Rosen and Fox News of their due process rights. That’s a clear violation of the Fifth Amendment.
Why should people trust Mr. Holder when he didn’t hesitate to ignore the highest laws governing the federal government? This isn’t an aberration, either. Mr. Holder lobbied President Clinton to pardon the biggest tax cheat, Marc Rich, in U.S. history. Mr. Holder dropped the voter intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party after the Mukasey Justice Department had won the case.
The media shouldn’t be given the option to ignore Mr. Holder’s outrageous behavior. This isn’t about him ‘accepting responsibility’, whatever that means. It’s about him getting prosecuted for his wrongdoings. That includes prosecuting him for lying to Congress. It includes prosecuting him for lying to a judge, too.
Why should news organizations trust Mr. Holder when they don’t know how many times he signed off on looking through their reporters’ phone logs and reading their reporters’ emails? We know he signed off on more than just the Rosen warrant because he testified he didn’t know how many times he’d signed off on warrants that let authorities surreptitiously read Rosen’s emails and look at his phone records. When that application was approved, it also gave federal authorities permission to look at Mr. Rosen’s parents’ phone records.
We know from their statements the last week that they never intended to prosecute Rosen. If that’s true, why did the Justice Department need to prevent Rosen’s and Fox’s attorneys from arguing against the warrant in court?
Finally, it’s safe to conclude that Holder’s actions prove that his respect for the Constitution and the Bill of Rights is selective at best.
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During the last 24 hours, the Democrats’ spin has changed. No longer are they beating up on Holder. Instead, a new response has started popping up. The first I heard of it was on Megyn Kelly’s show when Richard Socarides repeatedly said that “mistakes were made” with regard to the Rosen scandal.
That isn’t what happened. That’s smooth-sounding spin but it isn’t the truth. When Eric Holder signed the warrant application that said James Rosen might be a flight risk and that Rosen might be a criminal co-conspirator, Holder willfully told some whoppers. Holder also ignored long-standing DOJ guidelines on warrant applications for journalists.
Let’s remember that Holder isn’t a wet-behind-the-ears underling working in the DOJ. He’s been the AG for almost 5 years. He was Janet Reno’s top assistant for most of the Clinton administration. Let’s also remember that the journalist warrant guidelines were put together during the Nixon administration almost 40 years ago.
Here’s what we know. We know that Holder ignored those DOJ guidelines. We know that he understood that reading James Rosen’s private emails was a fishing expedition. Holder knew that this fishing expedition would have a chilling effect on whistleblowers. We’ve known that this administration loves the thought of whistleblowers not talking to reporters.
Thanks to the reporting of the IRS scandal, especially through Catherine Engelbrecht’s story, we know that this administration won’t hesitate in using the federal government as a weapon against their political opponents. We know that thanks to Peggy Noonan’s article about Catherine Engelbrecht’s nightmare. Here’s what Catherine Engelbrecht suffered through:
In July 2010 she sent applications to the IRS for tax-exempt status. What followed was not the harassment, intrusiveness and delay we’re now used to hearing of. The U.S. government came down on her with full force.
In December 2010 the FBI came to ask about a person who’d attended a King Street Patriots function. In January 2011 the FBI had more questions. The same month the IRS audited her business tax returns. In May 2011 the FBI called again for a general inquiry about King Street Patriots. In June 2011 Engelbrecht’s personal tax returns were audited and the FBI called again. In October 2011 a round of questions on True the Vote. In November 2011 another call from the FBI. The next month, more questions from the FBI. In February 2012 a third round of IRS questions on True the Vote. In February 2012 a first round of questions on King Street Patriots. The same month the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms did an unscheduled audit of her business. (It had a license to make firearms but didn’t make them.) In July 2012 the Occupational Safety and Health Administration did an unscheduled audit. In November 2012 more IRS questions on True the Vote. In March 2013, more questions. In April 2013 a second ATF audit.
That’s how other parts of the government tormented Engelbrecht. Why shouldn’t we think that Holder’s DOJ would use its power to intimidate whistleblowers?
Socarides’ repeated statements that “mistakes were made” were intended to make it sound like Eric Holder made an innocent mistake. It was also Socarides’ goal to paint the picture that this is Holder’s first brush with controversy. Considering Holder’s instigating Marc Rich’s pardon on tax evasion charges and Holder’s dropping the voter intimidation case against the National Black Panther Party, Holder isn’t exactly a stranger to being on the wrong side of controversy.
Talk show hosts should reject this latest spin on Holder’s blatant disregard for the Constitution and for whistleblowers to come forward to tell of this administration’s wrongdoing. Holder is a bad guy who’s done some nasty things throughout his career.
People are right to question President Obama’s commitment to the First Amendment. Recent scandals show the Obama/Holder Justice Department is willing to trample on reporters’ First Amendment right to gather and disseminate information. In a bygone era, that was known as reporting.
The Obama/Holder Justice Department’s assault on the First Amendment isn’t limited to intimidating reporters. George Will’s column offers proof that they’re willing to stretch their campaign of censorship to college campuses:
Responding to what it considers the University of Montana’s defective handling of complaints about sexual assaults, OCR, in conjunction with the Justice Department, sent the university a letter intended as a “blueprint” for institutions nationwide when handling sexual harassment, too. The letter, sent on May 9, encourages (see below) adoption of speech codes, actually, censorship regimes, to punish students who:
Make “sexual or dirty jokes” that are “unwelcome.” Or disseminate “sexual rumors” (even if true) that are “unwelcome.” Or make “unwelcome” sexual invitations. Or engage in the “unwelcome” circulation or showing of “e-mails or Web sites of a sexual nature.” Or display or distribute “sexually explicit drawings, pictures, or written materials” that are “unwelcome.”
In short, the DOJ is lending its autharitorian boot to students’ throats. This isn’t just about censorship. It’s about censorship without the right to due process:
Under 2011 rules that establish a low standard of proof, Kaminer says, “students accused of harassment are to be convicted in the absence of clear and convincing evidence of guilt, if guilt merely seems more likely than not.” And schools are enjoined to “take immediate steps to protect the complainant from further harassment,” including “taking disciplinary action against the harasser” prior to adjudication. So the OCR-DOJ “blueprint” and related rules not only violate the First Amendment guarantee of free speech but are, to be polite, casual about due process.
The DOJ’s actions in putting these guidelines together is appalling. They’re disgusting, too. The thought that a student could be ‘convicted’ of making “unwelcome” comments just on the basis that it’s likely they’d be convicted is disgusting.
This isn’t about eliminating true sexual harassment. It’s about censorship. If “unwelcome” comments are harassment, then everything is potentially harassment.
When the Education Department was created in 1980 (Jimmy Carter’s payment to the National Education Association, the largest teachers union, for its first presidential endorsement), conservatives warned that it would be used for ideological aggression to break state and local schools to the federal saddle. Lukianoff says:
“Given that the [OCR-DOJ] letter represents an interpretation of federal law by major federal agencies, most colleges will regard it as binding. Noncompliance threatens federal funding, including Pell grants and Stafford loans.”
The message is clear: Obey or the students get hurt. What’s interesting is that the DOJ would sign off on this unconstitutional mandate. This is the type of case that SCOTUS would swat down with a 9-0 opinion.
I’m not surprised by DOJ’s decision. They’ve shown they won’t hesitate to intimidate reporters. Why would it be surprising that they’d be willing to impose censorship (First Amendment) without due process (Fifth Amendment)? That’s as surprising as finding out Bill Gates made money last week.
This afternoon, Keith Ellison and I got into a little dispute on Twitter:
REP. ELLISON: targeting is wrong. Obama said so; replaced people. IRS apologized. Political orgs posing as social welfare orgs is wrong too.
REPLY: He’s right. It’s wrong. Why did his 2008 campaign start that tactic? Check out what Bob Bauer & Tom Matzzie did.
REP. ELLISON: do you want to fix the blame or fix the problem? Obama’s fixing the problem.
REPLY: Obama’s campaign tactics contributed to the problem. Obama’s governance looked the other way when the problem erupted. I want both. PS-Obama administration targeted reporters, conservatives.
Rep. Ellison’s question of whether I wanted to affix blame or fix the problem was his attempt to distract from the question at hand. It’s important to affix blame because that’s the only way forward.
The bigger point, though, is that President Obama’s administration specialized in these tactics, starting in 2008. They made a point of using the IRS to intimidate their political opponents. Conservatives shouldn’t ignore these facts. Rather, they should highlight the fact that the Obama administration is the source of these tactics.
When we criticize the Obama administration, we should expect the Democrats to criticize us for politicizing these scandals. We should expect the Obama administration to retaliate. Our response should be swift and hardhitting. Our reply should be that we’re appalled by Holder’s DOJ attempting to intimidate reporters from doing their jobs. We’re appalled that the IRS targeted TEA Party activists, Christians and other conservatives just like the Obama 2008 campaign did under Bob Bauer’s leadership.
It isn’t enough for President Obama to pledge to change how his administration and his campaigns have operated. Frankly, at this point, informed people who are willing to see the truth as the truth know President Obama’s machine have specialized in the things he’s now promising to fix.
Rep. Ellison is a willing flack for President Obama. If only he was willing to criticize President Obama for his administration’s willingness to act without integrity. That would be news indeed.
Michael Isikoff’s article is a big revelation:
Attorney General Eric Holder signed off on a controversial search warrant that identified Fox News reporter James Rosen as a “possible co-conspirator” in violations of the Espionage Act and authorized seizure of his private emails, a law enforcement official told NBC News on Thursday.
The disclosure of the attorney general’s role came as President Barack Obama, in a major speech on his counterterrorism policy, said Holder had agreed to review Justice Department guidelines governing investigations that involve journalists.
“I am troubled by the possibility that leak investigations may chill the investigative journalism that holds government accountable,” Obama said. “Journalists should not be at legal risk for doing their jobs.”
That’s major news with huge anti-Obama and anti-Holder implications. President Obama’s credibility on First Amendment issues is practically nonexistent because his attorney general signed off on search warrants on reporters. AG Holder’s credibility is shot now that it’s known that he signed off on a search warrant accusing a reporter of committing a crime he didn’t commit. This is the type of revelation that gets the attorney general terminated.
The US attorney general is the chief law enforcement office in the nation. He’s the chief protector of the Constitution, too. He’s useless when he’s wildly accusing reporters of breaking laws they didn’t break. He’s worthless if he isn’t fiercely defending the Bill of Rights.
Rosen, who has not been charged in the case, was nonetheless the target of a search warrant that enabled Justice Department investigators to secretly seized his private emails after an FBI agent said he had “asked, solicited and encouraged … (a source) to disclose sensitive United States internal documents and intelligence information.”
This is President Obama’s worst nightmare. On the day when he tried convincing the American people that he’s defending the nation and the Constitution, his attorney general is proven to have signed off on a search warrant that trampled a reporter’s First Amendment rights.
President Obama’s difficulties aren’t going away anytime soon.