Archive for the ‘First Amendment’ Category

After reading this monthly column, which wasn’t particularly well-written, I went to the comments section to see what foolishness was buried there. John Ellenbecker’s comment is instructive. Let’s pick it apart.

First and foremost the 1st Amendment is a limitation on the government, it IS NOT a limitation on citizens or the private sector. The government has made no attempt to shut Trump up. Second – none of us are trying to shut Trump up. We want him to keep talking and tweeting – it tells the world who he really is.

I agree with Mr. Ellenbecker that the First Amendment is supposed to be “a limitation on the government.” I further agree that it isn’t supposed to be “a limitation on citizens or the private sector.” That statement is a bit surprising for a Democrat. I thought Democrats hated the Citizens United ruling.

What I don’t agree with is the part where Mr. Ellenbecker said that the “government has made no attempt to shut Trump up.” While that’s technically true, it’s also true that Joaquin Castro emphatically stated that he wanted President Trump’s supporters to “twice about contributing to his campaign.” As a congresscritter, Joaquin Castro is certainly part of the government. Further, Rep. Castro’s stated intent was to silence President Trump’s supporters.

Call me crazy but I’m pretty certain that constitutes “a limitation on citizens.” It isn’t surprising that Democrats are using these tactics against people who don’t side with Democrats. Unfortunately, that’s a time-tested Democrat tradition.

By now, the entire industrialized world knows that the St. Louis Park City Council voted unanimously to discontinue to recite the Pledge of Allegiance before their meetings. That isn’t news so I won’t beat that horse. It’s already dead. What hasn’t been discussed is whether there’s a bigger story that hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves. In my opinion, there’s another story that needs covering that’s just as important.

Mayor Jake Spano got it right when he said “It feels to me like we may have missed a step there and if we had that conversation, we might have been able to hear from our community about how they felt about this action.” First, let’s dispense with the “may have.” The City Council intentionally skipped that step. This was an ambush, pure and simple.

This isn’t a new tactic. The DFL ‘nonpartisans’ in other cities have used the “inclusive and welcoming” argument before to push through unpopular resolutions and rule changes. When St. Cloud wanted to ambush Councilman Jeff Johnson with a resolution on refugee resettlement, the put the resolution on the agenda at the last minute, then arranged for special interests, including CAIR-MN, to speak when the microphones opened up. They made sure average citizens didn’t have the chance for input.

When St. Louis Park voted to drop the Pledge, the public didn’t have the opportunity to testify. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? When I led the Vote No campaign to sink the bonding referendum, I tirelessly told LFR readers that the ISD 742 School Board was trying to keep the referendum as low profile as possible. Stealth was its chief tactic. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Are you sensing a pattern yet?

The DFL locally and Democrats nationally don’t win arguments anymore. They don’t bother trying, in fact. They call people who oppose them bigots or racists, instead. Once upon a time, Democrats consistently insisted on openness and fairness. Now, they insist on those things only when it helps them. There’s nothing consistent about it anymore.

During this past Monday night’s study session, the St. Louis Park City Council hoped to not to take public testimony:

According to WCCO news, the session was meant to re-address the council’s unanimous decision to drop the Pledge of Allegiance from council meetings. The session was not meant to include public input, but that did not stop community members from interrupting.

People were already pissed with the Council’s decision. They held this study session to plot a path forward. Their intention was to restrict or eliminate input from their constituents. What part of that sounds like a plan to resolve this outcry?

Passing this rules change without public input is what got the Council in trouble. Did they think that plotting political strategy without public input would help fix this problem? Only people who are totally out of touch would think that would fix things.

This looks like white gas getting poured on a raging fire:

The pattern that’s emerged is for Democrats to restrict public testimony and/or to accuse people who oppose them of being racists. Fortunately, the DFL hasn’t called these patriots racists — yet.

First Amendment or Indoctrination
By Ramblin’ Rose

“Actions speak louder than words.” We have all heard, and probably said, that adage many times. Yet on college campuses, where information is to be exchanged and knowledge acquired, that is not always the case. The news media frequently reports on the cancellation of visit by a conservative or Christian speaker due to protests by “enlightened” leftists. If they do attempt to make their speech, they are frequently attacked, physically and verbally.

Many universities announce comfort toys, therapy dogs, massages in de-stressing spaces for students facing final exams. It seems that Snowflakes do melt. Are these young adults who are learning to develop their own informed decisions or sponges ready to follow the indoctrination of left-wing progressive educators?

In March, 2019, South Dakota’s Republican governor Kristi Noem signed HB 1087. Upon signing the bill into law (effective July 1, 2019) she stated, “Our university campuses should be places where students leave their comfort zones and learn about competing ideas and perspectives…I hope this bill lets the nation know that, in South Dakota, we are teaching our next generation to debate important issues, work together to solve problems, and think independently.”

Diversity? It’s a buzzword that has become a part of the PC vocabulary and had its meaning warped by the Left to be a tool to limit free speech as guaranteed by the First Amendment. It now symbolizes ‘inclusivity’ as long as the Left determines who is to be included and which ideologies MUST BE embraced by their exclusive definition of ‘tolerance.’ Anyone who tries to express, or worse, practice conservative and/or Christian values MUST BE silenced. This left-wing ideology emanates from diversity offices housed on almost all postsecondary campuses, promoting social justice causes and requiring students, faculty and staff to attend safe space training, suppression of white-identify workshops, drag shows and a plethora of other perverse topics.

In South Dakota, lawmakers estimate that diversity offices cost about $6 million annually and employ 31 people…without improved results for minority/diverse students.

Native Americans comprise the largest minority in South Dakota. Yet they are still struggling to graduate. What are those diversity programs doing for them? One of the bill’s sponsors, Representative Sue Peterson, asked that question. In her review of report from the state’s diversity office reports, she noted references to safe zone training, social justice training and oversight of university hiring projects. She did not report on assistance to Native American students.

The executive director of the Board of Regents claims that “the role of diversity offices is to prepare students to work among other cultures. Businesses that recruit students want employees who can be sent anywhere in the world and adjust to different cultures.”

Representative Peterson, whom I have not met, and I agree that the director’s statement is hollow, at best, and maybe just closer to a lie.

Doing a search for the characteristics that employers want in their employees, communication is still number one. So why not invest in teaching students the language of the company/country where they hope to work. Then they could communicate with the employer, co-workers (#7 on the list of the top 10 quality and skills sought by employers in prospective employees), and the host community.

If the language program is solid, the professors will use the professional standards of ACTFL (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages). All will use the target language (the one being learned) in order to gain the ability to communicate in the language…not in English. The company will not have to hire interpreters for the employee. (US-based company…Do you want your employees depending on local interpreters who may not have the best interests of your company in mind as they interpret…maybe to the benefit of the host-country administrators?)

Those professional standards also include ‘culture.’ Culture, properly taught, includes “products, practices and perspectives.” Traditionally, only products have been named and the practices of a few holidays mentioned. Rarely were the differing perspectives included. They MUST BE if there is to be transparent communication and deep understanding. (Culture classes are also taught in the target language so that English perspectives does not influence the interpretation.)

Let’s consider two examples.

In March, 2001, China downed a US military plane. They had to apologize but would not. However, someone who knew both the language and the culture (all 3 Ps) offered a face-saving resolution. In Chinese, there is a way to say you are sorry without saying that you are sorry. That was not found in a dictionary or on Google Translator. It came from a thorough understanding of the language and culture.

Not all who speak the same language (standard language, dialects and slang excluded) have the same culture. An international student from Peru told me that she had assumed that all Spanish-speaking peoples, at least in Latin America, shared the same perspectives. She was exposed to differences in a US university. She returned home with a better appreciation of the breadth of her own culture.

The insights to be successful as a tourist or professional in another country will not be attained through the programs offered by the diversity offices on US campuses. The executive director is wrong.

South Dakota is one of 17 states that passed legislation, signed by the governor, to protect the First Amendment. The media has not shared this as news. They reacted (negatively) to President Trump’s Executive Order 13864, signed on March 21, 2019. It decrees it to be federal policy to “…foster environments that promote open, intellectually engaging, and diverse debate.” It also directs this nation’s colleges and universities to protect free speech on campus or lose federal research funding.

The Board of Regents met in late June to determine how to operationalize the new law on July 1. We’re still waiting for a report. Their Facebook page provided a short report related to student organizations but nothing about this policy. Hmmmm.

But our neighbor has taken a brave step.

“Supporters are optimistic that the new South Dakota law will help to foster true intellectual diversity, as opposed to what they decry as the left-wing multiculturalist version of diversity that treats all cultures as equal and pressures students to conform.

The new law, known as HB 1087, prevents colleges from creating so-called free speech zones that limit free speech to a specific area on campus and requires the South Dakota Board of Regents, which administers the state’s six public universities, to file with the governor and state lawmakers a report each year identifying “events or occurrences” that “hinder intellectual diversity.”

Joy Behar’s hatred of all things Trump is disgusting. The Left is constantly lecturing conservatives that ‘this isn’t who we are as Americans’. Behar’s supposedly glib statement in this video truly isn’t who we are as Americans:

That’s America at its worst. That woman isn’t anyone I want to associate with. I wouldn’t want her as a co-worker. I definitely wouldn’t want her as a neighbor. Adriana Cohen’s article summarizes things quite nicely:

Some teenagers at the March for Life Rally, who dared to use their constitutionally protected right to free speech by wearing “MAGA” hats, quickly became targets of a rabid mob of anti-Trump forces eager to perpetuate the false political narrative that white conservative men who support the president are racists and bullies who harass minorities.

A deceptively edited video of a kerfuffle between a few of the teens and a Native American man quickly went viral, to which the New York Times and scores of other Trump-hating media outlets depicted a gross mischaracterization of what happened fueling a hate filled frenzy on social media and beyond, subjecting the students to an onslaught of verbal assaults and even death threats, in addition to the possibility of expulsion from their high school.

Here’s the kicker: it was all a lie, enthusiastically disseminated by the media, Democrat lawmakers and other Trump-haters who didn’t bother to research the facts, watch the full video or hear all sides before condemning these poor kids. Now after a massive smear campaign putting the students in harm’s way, it turns out the teens were the ones harassed, not the other way around.

Rep. John Yarmuth might’ve been the worst-reacting politician in this sordid event:


I don’t know what’s worse — Rep. Yarmuth wanting to gut the First Amendment or his jumping to the wrong conclusion without any fact-checking. In the end, they’re both terrible.

If this article teaches us anything, it’s that the media near the Lincoln Memorial should learn from Nick Sandmann, the student in the crowd.

Unfortunately, the media highlighted “the initial short clip of the incident” in which Sandmann, “who identified himself on Sunday,” can be seen standing in front of Phillips on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial as the Native American elder, Nathan Phillips, sings and beats on a drum. Other young people standing close by can be seen encircling Phillips and the student. In response to the widespread media coverage, lawmakers, Native-American leaders, and the Diocese of Covington and Covington Catholic High School were quick to condemn Sandmann’s behavior. The school announced it was investigating the situation and said he could be expelled.”

The adults were quick to judge Sandmann, which is shameful. They should learn from his statement:

Because we were being loudly attacked and taunted in public, a student in our group asked one of our teacher chaperones for permission to begin our school spirit chants to counter the hateful things that were being shouted at our group. We would not have done that without obtaining permission from the adults in charge of our group.

I was not intentionally making faces at the protester. I did smile at one point because I wanted him to know that I was not going to become angry, intimidated or be provoked into a larger confrontation. I harbor no ill will for this person. I respect this person’s right to protest and engage in free speech activities, and I support his chanting on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial any day of the week. I believe he should re-think his tactics of invading the personal space of others, but that is his choice to make.

What’s worse is Rep. John Yarmuth’s reaction on Twitter:


Congressman Yarmuth should be thrown out of the House for those asinine statements. It’s bad enough that he didn’t wait to find out what happened. (PS- It’s understatement to say this wasn’t a good week for the media either.) Yarmuth then decided to throw out the First Amendment because he hates President Trump. That’s the personification of a bigot.

Just when you thought people couldn’t get more illiterate about the Constitution, this gets reported. The article reports that “Assistant Dean LiDell Evans informed Joseph Cortese, a fourth-year student, that he was required to attend a meeting on Friday concerning an investigation about a photo he posted on Instagram of himself dressed as a Border Patrol agent for Halloween.”

According to the article, Evans told Cortese “This letter serves to put you on notice that pursuant to section 9.2 of the Student Conduct Code and Discipline Procedure for the Main Campus of West Virginia University, you are the subject of an investigation regarding alleged prohibited conduct.” Here’s hoping FIRE gets involved in this case. Let’s hope that a lawsuit gets filed against WVU seeking damages for violating Mr. Cortese’s First Amendment rights. If that lawsuit were to get filed, WVU would be well-advised to quickly settle before it gets to trial because they’ll lose. Here’s the picture that WVU is complaining about:

The email also informed Cortese that if he did not contact the office or attend the meeting, his student account would have a “hold” placed on it. “I received this email Wednesday and have had awful anxiety since,” Cortese told The Daily Wire in an interview. “While I was trying to study for finals, this was looming on the back of my mind. I know I didn’t do as well on my finals as I should have due to this,” Cortese added.

I admit that I hadn’t read the whole article when I started writing this post. As I read the article, I read this:

Cortese, who is also the Communications Director for Students for Trump, said that during the meeting, Assistant Dean Evans told him the costume could be “misinterpreted the wrong way” but acknowledged that it was Cortese’s “constitutional right” to wear the costume.

In other words, WVU sought to harass a student whose political views it likely disagreed with. That’s breathtaking. Then there’s this:

Pro-civil liberties non-profit Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) told The Daily Wire in a statement that they are “aware of this case and looking into it. Public universities enter treacherous terrain when they investigate expression protected by the First Amendment,” said FIRE.

Finally:

“The West Virginia University Office of Student Conduct received a complaint claiming the student was posting ‘vulgar hateful Instagrams’ but did not single out what was ‘vulgar’ or ‘hateful’ about them,” WVU said in a statement to The Daily Wire. “The Office followed standard procedure, including the timing, to follow up on the complaint and talk with the student. The Office tries to wrap up any matters before students leave campus at the end of each semester. No charges or disciplinary action was taken and the matter is now closed.”

Did this investigation get wrapped up because Mr. Cortese contacted FIRE and other civil liberties organizations? Would Mr. Cortese have been investigated if he was the Communications Director for ‘Students for Elizabeth Warren’ or ‘Students for Kamala Harris’? I’m betting he wouldn’t have been.

At a time when there’s major distrust of institutions of government, you’d think that government closest to the people would hold themselves to a higher level of listening to their constituents. That certainly isn’t what’s happening at the ISD742 monthly meetings.

A loyal reader of LFR sent me an email highlighting the fact that the school board welcomes people to their meetings but doesn’t want the public’s input. Contained in the email is a sentence that says “This is a public meeting and any residents are welcome to attend and listen, but there is not a public input session scheduled at this meeting.”

BTW, here’s the email:

I’m not a constitutional law professor but I can’t see how this isn’t a violation of the First Amendment. This judge’s ruling seems to strengthen that belief:

A section of a Virginia school board’s bylaws violates the First Amendment and results in stifled speech, according to a ruling by a federal district judge on April 27. U.S. District Court Judge Henry C. Morgan Jr. held that the Virginia Beach School Board’s rule banning personal “attacks or accusations” during public comment periods at board meetings was a form of prior restraint.

The ruling stemmed from a lawsuit filed last July by David and Nicole Bach, who are parents in the school district. The Bachs claimed that school district officials enacted the provision in retaliation for the Bachs’ criticism of the district’s gifted education program. After the school board imposed the restriction, the Bachs argued that the bylaw stifled their free speech rights. The judge ordered the school board to strike the contested provision from the bylaw, but also allowed the other rules for the public comment portion of meetings to remain.

This is directly on point. Most importantly, it’s an attempt to stifle speech that the school board doesn’t want to hear.

That’s tough. If these politicians don’t want to hear from their constituents, they should resign. If they can’t stand the heat, they shouldn’t be in the kitchen.

The next time that the St. Cloud School Board meets, citizens should insist on giving input. If the board doesn’t permit it, the citizens should notify the school board that they’re filing a lawsuit in federal court claiming that their practices violate their First Amendment rights.

Citizens shouldn’t be stifled by the ruling class. It’s clear that they don’t see themselves as public servants. How sad is that?

Perhaps the more accurate title of this post should be ‘When will Leftists protest these civil rights’? FIRE’s Susan Kruth’s article on Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s revised regulations outlines changes to Obama administration’s anti-due process regulations.

Let’s be clear. The Obama administration’s Education Department was anti-civil rights. When it came to dealing with alleged sexual assault on campus, the Obama administration’s Education Department “encouraged schools to have a single investigator adjudicate sexual misconduct cases through a series of separate meetings with the parties and witnesses.” By contrast, the DeVos-proposed regulations pertaining to alleged sexual assault “requires that schools ‘must provide for a live hearing’ when adjudicating a case.”

In other words, universities must allow a cross-examination of the accuser. Nameless, faceless accusers won’t have their ‘day in court’. Kruth continues with this:

Having a live hearing ensures that all parties can see exactly the same evidence and testimony that the fact-finder is seeing, so that he or she can rebut that evidence and testimony as fully as he or she is able.

The department’s new rules go on to require a typical and critically important feature of live hearings: cross-examination of all witnesses, including the parties. The Supreme Court has called cross-examination the “greatest legal engine ever invented for the discovery of truth,” and it can be especially paramount in cases that hinge on witness testimony, as the Sixth Circuit emphasized just two months ago.

How an administration that swore an oath to uphold the Constitution can deprive people of this basic civil right is startling. Further, it’s time to admit that leftist Democrats are now fascists and/or anarchists. IF you think I’m kidding, check out Eric Swalwell’s proposal:

In a USA Today op-ed entitled “Ban assault weapons, buy them back, go after resisters,” Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., argued Thursday that prior proposals to ban assault weapons “would leave millions of assault weapons in our communities for decades to come.”

Look at the mental gymnastics Rep. Swalwell employs to justify this confiscation:

You’re probably wondering what gun confiscation has to do with due process rights. That’s a fair question. They’re both part of the Constitution’s Bill of Rights. The right to keep and bear arms is a sacred right. I prefer referring to it as the right to protect myself and my family. It’s a natural right. The Supreme Court has called the right to due process and to confront your accuser the “greatest legal engine ever invented for the discovery of truth.”

It isn’t supposition to say that Democrats have opposed the right to protect yourself and your family from burglars and criminals as vigorously as they’ve opposed the right of people to cross-examine their accusers. What other constitutional rights do Democrats want to sacrifice on the altar of political correctness?

According to this article, House Democrats unveiled their agenda for the first 100 days of the 116th Congress. According to the article, the “Democratic leader in the House, Nancy Pelosi, promises that the first bill voted on by the new Congress will focus on campaign finance and ethics reforms. According to news accounts, H.R. 1 would, among other things, establish automatic voter registration and “reinvigorate” the Voting Rights Act.”

Further, House Democrats want to overwhelm Republicans by pushing “public financing of congressional campaigns, with a 6-to-1 government match on small dollar donations.” Democrats will certainly define small dollar donations to their advantage.

The reason they’ll do that is because, according to Tucker Carlson’s op-ed, when “a Republican wins an election, it’s fine to question the legitimacy of the process. Democrats have been doing since the days Trump was elected two years ago. That’s patriotic. It’s your duty. But when the Democratic Party’s power is at stake, raising questions about the process is wrong. Indeed it’s nothing less than the road to dictatorship.”

It’s worse than that. Here’s Howard Dean talking about this topic:

In other words, in 2018, Dean vehemently insisted that the nation was in a fight of “good vs. evil” while being convinced that “we’re the good” and that Republicans were the evil. That’s literally what he said a couple weeks ago. That isn’t the first time he’s made that statement. When he was DNC Chair in 2005, he said this:

And concluding his backyard speech with a litany of Democratic values, he added: “This is a struggle of good and evil. And we’re the good.”

Think about that a second. In 2005, Howard Dean thought that George W. Bush was a hardcore conservative who was a religious extremist. Now, he’s insisting that President Trump is an extremist who thinks that the US-Mexican border should be protected.

What’s funny is that Democrats think that’s immoral. That puts the Democrats on the opposite side of the Founding Fathers. In Article I, Section 8, Clause 4 of the Constitution, Congress is authorized to “establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization.” It doesn’t say that Mexicans and Central Americans will “establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization” in consultation with Congress.

BTW, Democrats insist that the mobile mob making its way through Mexico isn’t an invasion. Here’s the official definition of invasion:

entrance as if to take possession or overrun:
infringement by intrusion.

CNN and Jim Acosta need better dictionaries. More importantly, Democrats need to start telling the whole truth more often:

Gun control was not a big issue in the midterm campaign, despite promises by gun control advocates to make it a centerpiece of the elections in the wake of the Parkland, Fla., school shooting. The issue “evaporated during the final weeks of the election in all but very safe liberal districts,” noted Paul Bedard of the Washington Examiner. “But now that the Democrats have won the House,” Bedard notes, “leaders feel emboldened to raise calls for expanded background checks and an assault weapon ban.”

Gun control advocates tout the fact that 15 House Republicans with “A” ratings from the NRA lost their elections. But gun control advocates lost seats in the Senate. That includes Joseph Donnelly, who lost his bid in Indiana. Pro-gun rights Josh Hawley unseated Claire McCaskill in Missouri. According to the NRA, candidates backed by gun rights group won 106 races, and lost 33 despite being outspent by gun control supporters. This was not the groundswell of support for gun control laws that advocates promised.

These items might gather majority support in polls but they don’t excite people. If Democrats pass tax increases in the House and the economy falters after that, they’ll rightly get blamed. If the Democrats focus on investigations, gun control and campaign finance reform instead of focusing on keeping the economy going strong, they’ll deserve the blame they’ll get.

Kevin Lindsey, the current commissioner of Minnesota’s Department of Human Rights, is on a collision course with the US Supreme Court. According to this article, Carl and Angel Larsen, the owners of Telescope Media Group, want to “use their wedding cinematography [business] to reanimate the hearts and minds of people about the goodness of marriage between a man and a woman.”

Standing in their way is the Minnesota Human Rights Act, which “mandates that if the Larsens make films celebrating marriage between one man and one woman, then they must make films celebrating same-sex marriages as well.”

The Minnesota Human Rights Act is likely unconstitutional, thanks in large part to a Supreme Court ruling from this past summer that said that a baker didn’t have to bake cakes for same-sex marriages.

There’s likely a First Amendment argument to be made, too. Government shouldn’t have the authority to tell businesses what they have to write.

State officials have repeatedly threatened to prosecute expressive business owners who decline to create speech promoting same-sex marriages. And there are steep penalties for violating the law, including payment of a civil penalty to the state, triple compensatory damages, punitive damages up to $25,000, and even up to 90 days in jail.

The Larsens can’t comply with Minnesota’s speech-compelling law. Telling stories that celebrate a same-sex marriage would violate their religious beliefs and directly contradict the very message about marriage they desire to express. But they also don’t want to be investigated, prosecuted, and possibly jailed simply for exercising their First Amendment rights.

Whether you’re for or against same-sex marriage, the heart of the matter is that government shouldn’t have the authority to tell individuals or companies what they have to write.

According to the WCCO video, the Larsens won their appeal in the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. If Lindsey appeals the Eighth Circuit’s ruling, which is likely, he’ll likely lose in the Supreme Court. Simply put, the DFL should stop passing laws that aren’t constitutional.