Archive for the ‘The Constitution’ Category

When it comes to the Constitution, lawyers should be relatively well-informed. John Ellenbecker is a long-time attorney in the St. Cloud area. In the interest of full disclosure, Ellenbecker and I were part of the same graduating class at Cathedral High School.

Ellenbecker’s constitutional ignorance was once again on display in this LTE’s comments when he said of Councilman Brandmire “In his Dec. 1, 2018 column in the Times Brandmire stated that he favors prohibiting additional Muslim settlement in St. Cloud (he described it as “I support the idea of closing the seemingly wide-open spigot of refugees coming here until we can assimilate those who are already here”) – which is contrary to his comment here. Closing the spigot is not a statement that you support a welcoming community. Closing the spigot is a violation of the constitutional rights of those he seeks to exclude from St. Cloud. Brandmire needs to clearly and unequivocally reverse his course and denounce efforts aimed at ‘closing the seemingly wide-open spigot of refugees coming here.'”

Having talked with Councilman Brandmire, I know that he understands that the City Council has an advisory role in the process, thanks to the Refugee Act of 1980. Saying that you support something isn’t the same as saying you’d overstep your authority. It simply means that he’d agree with that policy if that’s what the Trump administration settled on.

If Ellenbecker can’t figure out the difference between supporting something and writing an ordinance prohibiting refugees from getting settled here, then he went to the wrong law school. How is supporting a policy a violation of a refugee’s constitutional rights?

As for the statement that Councilman Brandmire’s statement isn’t “a statement that you support a welcoming community”, my questioning is ‘So what’? According to this website, the term welcoming community is kinda loaded:

The Standard will outline the policies, programs, and practices that local governments need to have in place —such as supporting new American civic participation; making services accessible; and engaging all residents, including both receiving communities and new Americans.

Apparently, conformity is required. If cities don’t conform, they don’t get certified. It’s impossible to hide the fact that WelcomingAmerica.com is about top-down, cookie-cutter government.

What part of that sounds anything like wisdom? The whole idea behind local government is to individualize policies to the greatest extent possible. WelcomingAmerica.com sounds like they operate from a federal government standpoint.

I strongly suggest that everyone read Councilman Brandmire’s op-ed. He doesn’t mince words nor does he sound unreasonable. It’s possible for people to disagree with him but it’s impossible to call him unreasonable.

As for Ellenbecker, he sounds like a Democrat who’s reading from DFL talking points. Whenever a Democrat talks about the Constitution, bet that it’s because it’s focus-group approved.

The Democrats have a subtle but major problem on their hands. It isn’t getting covered by the MSM, aka Agenda Media, because covering it might require work, intelligence and thoughtfulness. The MSM is just missing 3 of those qualities.

The Democrats’ subtle but major problem is that Democrats apparently think that some people should be presumed innocent, usually partisan Democrats like Hillary, while others (think Bill Barr or President Trump) shouldn’t be presumed innocent.

Democrats and Robert Mueller think that it’s a prosecutor’s job to state whether a prospective defendant has been “exonerated.” That’s false. Prospective defendants walk into court with the presumption of innocence. That’s a principle that Democrats like Sen. Mazie Hirono, (D-HI), can’t quite grasp. In an interview with MSNBC, Sen. Hirono said that “we aren’t in a court of law. We’re in a court of credibility at this point.” What the hell does that mean?

What’s at stake is the principles of fairness and evidence. Sen. Hirono and other Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee did their best to railroad Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination. They didn’t want him on the Supreme Court. The Democrats were perfectly willing to lie about Justice Kavanaugh’s history. That’s the definition of the opposite of fair play. Here’s Sen. Hirono doubling down against the principle of the presumption of innocence:

This article lays things out beautifully:

As Attorney General William Barr testified on May 1, the job of the Justice Department, and thus the job of the special counsel, is not to “exonerate.” The job of the Justice Department is to determine whether there is “sufficient evidence to establish an obstruction” and that this “determines whether or not there was a crime.”

Mueller’s job was to make this determination. He declined to make it. But having claimed that they could not make a determination, they did not stop at laying out the facts.

I suspect that Mueller was hoping that he wouldn’t have to testify to Congress. I suspect that’s a pipe dream at this point. I can’t blame Mueller for not wanting to testify. That’d mean having to answer non-softball questions from people like Sen. Ted Cruz, Sen. Mike Lee, Sen. Lindsey Graham and Representatives like John Ratcliffe, Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows.

That’s the last thing I’d want to spend a day doing.

This is a problem for Democrats because it tells the nation that they aren’t interested in principled liberalism nor are they interested in fundamental fairness. That’s wrong. Watch how Mike Huckabee and Alan Dershowitz debated:

If the United States can’t return to that debating style ASAP, then we deserve the terrible government we’d get. I can’t put it plainer than that.

Let’s be clear about something. A number of Democrat committee chairs are constitutional illiterates. Either that or they’re exceptionally corrupt or both. It’s something I’ve spent a big chunk of time thinking about. Here’s what finished things off for me.

When House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings issued subpoenas for President Trump’s private financial records when he was a private citizen, President Trump’s attorneys filed a lawsuit to prevent the production of those records.

The legal complaint from Trump’s legal team reads “Chairman Cummings has ignored the constitutional limits on Congress’ power to investigate. Article I of the Constitution does not contain an ‘Investigations Clause’ or an ‘Oversight Clause.’ It gives Congress the power to enact certain legislation. Accordingly, investigations are legitimate only insofar as they further some legitimate legislative purpose.”

That’s true as far as it goes but I’d add that they didn’t mention a separation of powers conflict, too. Congress isn’t tasked with investigating private citizens before they were part of the government. That’s the jurisdiction of the executive branch. Specifically, the Department of Justice has the statutory authority to investigate private citizens. The investigations of private citizens is the responsibility of the FBI or the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The only people vested with the responsibility of convening grand juries are the DOJ attorneys, U.S. attorneys or a special counsel.

This won’t be a terribly difficult case to decide. The legislative branch has the constitutional authority to give advice and consent, pass legislation, provide legislative oversight and to ratify treaties.

House Democrats don’t have the authority to investigate the private activities of private citizens. That’s the job of the executive branch. Period. Mark Levin discussed another possible explanation with former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli on Sunday night’s Life, Liberty & Levin:

I don’t know if that’s what these Democrats are trying to do but I won’t rule it out. It’s pretty frightening when the People’s House is weaponized to torment private citizens. Though that precedent hasn’t been sent, Speaker Pelosi did say that subpoenas might be a way to negotiate with President Trump:

Apparently, Pelosi and other Democrats don’t think playing fair is required. That’s why they need to voted out of office in 2020. The bigger the landslide in the House and Senate, the better. It’s clear that Democrats don’t see limits on their investigative powers:

I suspect that they’ll be stopped cold by the Supreme Court. I can’t wait to hear about that ruling. What’s chilling is hearing E.J. Dionne say that going after a private citizen’s private financial records “is the right thing to do.”

Crisis: a dramatic emotional or circumstantial upheaval in a person’s life.

Saying that Democrats have too many drama queens is understatement. This afternoon, Judith Miller employed the Democrats’ favorite phrase while talking about President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency when she said this created a “constitutional crisis.” Judith Miller is a Pulitzer-prize-winning journalist so she should know the definition of the word crisis.

Honestly, Ms. Miller should know that a crisis only happens when there’s a life-or history-changing event. Even if the Supreme Court rules against President Trump’s declaration, it’s difficult to picture how their ruling changes the course of history.

My definition of a constitutional crisis is when the Supreme Court makes a ruling but the president refuses to obey the ruling. Pushing the envelope over a policy difference isn’t a constitutional crisis. That’s what I’d define as a constitutional question.

Democrats love throwing the constitutional crisis term around because it makes President Trump sound like a certifiable villain. When President Trump is re-elected, the American people will send the verdict that they’re tired of the Democrats’ drama queen antics.

PS- The Democrats’ other ‘drama queens are Mazie Hirono, Chuck Schumer, AOC and Speaker Pelosi.

Based on this article, it’s apparent that Democrat senators haven’t read Article VI, Clause 3 of the US Constitution. That clause prohibits religious tests, saying “but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”

Sen. Hirono, (D-HI), and Sen. Harris, (D-Calif.) recently sent questions “to District Court judge nominee Brian Buescher, [challenging] his suitability for the bench because he belongs to” the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic organization:

Sens. Mazie Hirono and Kamala Harris, in written questions to District Court judge nominee Brian Buescher, challenged his suitability for the bench because he belongs to this charitable Catholic group. Hirono claimed that the Knights have taken “extreme positions” such as affirming Catholic belief in traditional marriage and even asked Buescher, “If confirmed, do you intend to end your membership with this organization to avoid any appearance of bias?” In today’s Democratic Party, the new McCarthyism asks, “Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Knights of Columbus?”

It isn’t difficult to make the case that Sen. Hirono hates men. This video uses Sen. Hirono’s own words to make the case that she hates men:

This isn’t the first time Democrats have used a religious test:

Last year, during confirmation hearings, Sen. Dianne Feinstein noted the devotion of Judge Amy Coney Barrett and her family to the Catholic Church and admonished that “the dogma lives loudly within you, and that’s a concern.” Sen. Feinstein’s devotion to ignoring the Constitution speaks loudly about what’s her highest priority.

Late this afternoon, Elizabeth Baklaich announced that she’s running to replace Steve Laraway representing St. Cloud’s Second Ward. Baklaich introduced herself to Ward 2 voters with this statement:

My name is Elizabeth Baklaich. I am a concerned citizen who is stepping forward to run for office because our St Cloud City Council needs real change.

Our founding fathers knew what they were doing declaring our independence and establishing our Constitutional Republic. The St Cloud City Council seems to have forgotten that our human rights come from a power higher, not from government. We The People are the government. We have a right to be heard, to be safe and, when needed, to redress a government.

Our current government has ignored attempts to redress them from the outside. I have watched as laws have been ignored and Tax Payers rights have been violated. The change did not seem possible from the outside, so much to my chagrin, I am stepping up and taking the lead so that this power run amuck does not take the next step and turn into tyranny.

I am a wife, mother and survivor. I grew up in Pennsylvania as a Quaker and graduated from a small steel town in Chester County Pa. I have lived in many places in the US, and in 2001 chose to make Minnesota my home. I have a great respect for history and do not want us to repeat it. I am not politically correct. I own my mistakes, then do my best to learn from them and not to repeat them. My work history which began at 14 includes everything from legal research, to real estate, to insurance to scrubbing toilets. There is always work for those who are willing to roll up their sleeves and do it. Currently, I sit on 1 local board and teach Red Cross & American Heart Association CPR classes for 3 different employers. I like helping others and helping others become trained to help others.

We are going to create situations for the citizens to be heard, for their views to be respected. As a beginning, I am creating several listening sessions for the people of Ward 2 to clearly be able to share their concerns without interruptions, limitations or a 3-minute timer on them. I see several opportunities to increase community engagement while making the government more efficient. The government should work for us, not dictate to us.

I look forward to being the people’s choice for Ward 2 in St Cloud.

Mr. Laraway is part of the old boys network. He’s part of the problem. He isn’t part of the solution. Ms. Baklaich wants to listen to her constituents rather than tell them what she’ll do. Ms. Baklaich’s words prove that she knows we have a Constitution limiting what government can do.

Further, it’s clear Ms. Baklaich knows that government is only possible with the consent of the governed.

Perhaps the people who wrote this LTE didn’t realize it but it frames an important question satisfactorily. Todd Holthaus and Dave Smiglewski state “A proposal making its way through the Minnesota House and Senate would ask voters to change the State Constitution to permanently dedicate the revenue attributable to the sales tax on auto parts to roads and bridges. These funds, almost $300 million per year, currently go to the state’s general fund, the same pool of money that supports things like schools and Local Government Aid (LGA).”

Actually, the truth is that the money from those sales taxes are used to pay for K-12 education, LGA, nursing homes, veterans care and a lengthy list of other things. It pays for things like Community Action Minneapolis, which used the money to fund Caribbean vacations for corrupt Twin Cities politicians. It also pays for child care fraud to help the ‘folks back home’. Back home in the Middle East and the Horn of Africa, that is. Unfortunately, Messrs. Holthaus and Smiglewski didn’t think that information was important.

Make no mistake about it, Minnesota’s roads and bridges need help. However, diverting money away from the general fund will either cause pain to other important state programs or require the state to raise taxes to make up the shortfall. That is why we urge legislators and the public to reject this proposed constitutional amendment.

Messrs. Holthaus and Smiglewski didn’t admit that economies built on pro-growth policies matter. Holthaus and Smiglewski base their opinion on policies that aren’t pro-growth, that don’t unleash the private sector. The best way to consistently have enough money for government’s core functions is a strong economy. The DFL’s policies hurt too many people in rural Minnesota. The DFL’s buffer strip legislation hurts farmers. The DFL’s wild rice rule hurts miners. The DFL’s anti-fossil fuel policies hurt all Minnesotans.

Budgets are about setting priorities. For decades, the DFL has pushed the myth that funding equals great educational outcomes. The DFL hasn’t had a new idea on education since Wendy Anderson was governor. That’s because the DFL is owned by Education Minnesota.

Yesterday, I wrote that the Minnesota Supreme Court unanimously ruled against Rebecca Otto, Minnesota’s State Auditor. Otto filed a lawsuit that was doomed from the start. That was obvious from the start. That’s why the Supreme Court ruled unanimously against her. Now we’re finding out more about the lawsuit.

In writing the majority opinion for the Court, “Chief Justice Lorie Gildea said that the state Constitution does not lay out the state auditor’s duties. Rather, she wrote, the Constitution specifically leaves it up to the Legislature to define duties of constitutional offices such as the auditor. Thus, the 2015 bill did not violate the Constitution. The ruling also explains that another state office, which no longer exists, originally audited county finances.” Further, “50 counties notified Otto’s office they would not sign contracts with her office for it to conduct audits” after the 2015 law passed.

That had to sting Otto. That’s because in 2016, “the auditor’s office charged $84,000 for an annual audit, while Becker County paid just $31,000 in 2012 for an audit done by Hoffman Dale and Swenson Governmental Audit Services of Thief River Falls.” That’s more than $2,500,000 in lost revenues for Otto per year.

Back in January, 2018, she said “Fighting for this constitutional office is the right thing to do. But as you witnessed today, it’s complex.” Actually, Mrs. Otto, the justices thought it was pretty straightforward. (I’m not a legal scholar but I’m betting that justices rarely rule unanimously on complex lawsuits.)

Rep. Jim Nash, R-Waconia, might have the best understanding of what’s happened:

“It seems to me,” Nash said, “that [Otto] is using the taxpayer dollars to create an issue for her to campaign with for governor.”

If that’s what was happening, her strategy failed. Furthermore, if that was her strategy, she should be politically crucified. If that’s true, then a ton of the taxpayers’ money was wasted for that mission. If this was her Hail Mary attempt at winning the DFL endorsement, then Mrs. Otto made a major miscalculation.

What’s amazing is Otto’s misunderstanding of Minnesota’s Constitution. Mrs. Otto either doesn’t understand Minnesota’s Constitution or she, like other DFL politicians, was willing to throw Minnesota’s Constitution under the proverbial bus for political gain.

My question in the aftermath is this: are there any patriots left in the DFL whose respect for the Constitution is steadfast? I haven’t found any lately.

When I read this article, it confirmed that our schools have failed us. Here’s what happened:

New Prague High School senior Andy Dalsin held a poster during the protest which said “Gun Don’t Kill People. People Kill People.” Principal Lonnie Seifert was having none of it, however. Seifert even threatened Dalsin with being hauled away by the police if he didn’t comply.

That’s just the start of it. Things quickly devolved:

Seifert claims he was just going by district policy, according to KSTP-5. In a statement, the district said “such items [as Dalsin’s] must be submitted to and reviewed by school administration at least 24 hours in advance.”

That’s an unenforceable policy because the First Amendment protects such speech. In fact, when the Supreme Court gutted McCain-Feingold, part of the reason for SCOTUS striking it down was because the bill told people when they could and couldn’t run advertising against candidates. This isn’t exactly on point but it’s close.

First, who gave Principal Seifert the constitutional authority to accept or reject communications of any sort? Next, why is expressing a contrarian opinion on another of our civil rights unacceptable? Didn’t the Founding Fathers put the First Amendment into the Bill of Rights to protect contrarian communications? I’ve said this before but I’ll repeat it again — there’s no need to protect non-controversial speech because everyone agrees with it. Finally, the First Amendment implicitly states that nobody in government has the authority to accept or reject student communications.

Further, Dailywire.com added to the story saying:

The video was first posted to Facebook by Kenny MacDonald, a student at New Prague High School in New Prague, Minnesota. The short video does not show what took place before or after the principal singled-out the student. In the post, MacDonald provided the following account of what took place:

Kids at our school today walked out, in honor of the 17 students killed in Florida. Students held signs that said, “Arm our teachers” they had two signs. A student walked out without saying a word peacefully put up his sign which said “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” he was escorted off the property by our principal and threatened to be put into a police car. This violates the first amendment and makes me sick that they can do whatever they want. Please make this go viral

It went viral alright:

Within a few hours, the video had already been viewed nearly 300,000 times, shared over 17,000 times, and received thousands of comments from people who expressed anger and disgust over the suppression of free speech and political indoctrination at public schools.

Then there’s this:

It’s appalling to read that “New Prague Area Schools fully respects and recognizes that students have free speech rights. Those rights, however, are to be balanced against the District’s responsibility to maintain a school environment focused on education.”

New Prague Area Schools obviously doesn’t respect students’ free speech rights because it threatened a student if he didn’t remove his sign. Further, a student’s First Amendment rights aren’t “balanced against the District’s responsibility to maintain a school environment focused on education.” A student’s First Amendment rights are to be balanced against the constitutional tests established by the Supreme Court. In literally hundreds of cases, the Supreme Court (and other appellate courts) have ruled against restrictions placed on people by city governments and school districts.

Finally, it’s frightening that a high school principal has such a flimsy understanding of the First Amendment. The School Board should order him to take an online class on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights from Hillsdale College. Principal Seifert’s understanding of the Constitution is embarrassing.

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It’s difficult to defend Michelle Fischbach’s decision to attempt to serve as both Gov. Dayton’s Lieutenant Governor and the state senator representing SD-13. How can a supposedly educated woman think that the DFL operatives on the Minnesota Supreme Court will side with her, not with the man who appointed them?

Republicans point to a Minnesota Supreme Court ruling from 1898. At that time, the lieutenant governor was elected apart from the governor. Further, why would anyone think that it’s possible to serve simultaneously in the Executive Branch and the Legislative Branch? In March, 2016, I wrote a post titled Is the IRRRB unconstitutional? In that post, I cited an audit report from Jim Nobles, who wrote that “State statutes on IRRRB’s governance structure are vulnerable to a constitutional challenge.”

That’s because the IRRRB’s board is composed of Iron Range legislators who have the authority to appropriate money to specific projects. The IRRRB also is an executive branch agency whose commissioner is appointed by the governor. Simply put, you can’t serve in 2 different branches of government.

Sen. Fischbach should know this. She’s fighting a fight she can’t win. Apparently, she hasn’t figured that out yet. Here’s what she said:

I was elected by the constituents of Senate District 13, and I have a commitment to represent them in the senate.

She ran for and got elected to be the Senate President. Anyone with a bit of understanding of Minnesota’s constitution knows that the Senate President is part of the line of succession to the governorship. If Sen. Fischbach wanted to guarantee that she represent the citizens of SD-13 for the full 4-year term, then she shouldn’t have run for Senate President.

If Lt. Gov. Fischbach cares about the Constitution, she should resign from the Senate this afternoon. The minute Gov. Dayton announces the date for the special election for filling her empty Senate seat in SD-13, she should then resign as Lt. Gov., then immediately start campaigning to regain her Senate seat.

By attempting to wear both hats, she’s causing a constitutional crisis that might hurt Republicans this session and that will cost taxpayers tons of money to pay for the lawsuit that she’ll lose. Apparently, Sen. Fischbach thinks that the Constitution doesn’t apply to her. She’s wrong. She should resign before she hurts her constituents.

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