J. Christian Adams and his Public Interest Legal Foundation have been sued in federal court in connection with their activities to bring the extent of noncitizen voting to light. The League of United Latin American Citizens, better known as LULAC, and four individual plaintiffs filed a complaint earlier this month in federal district court for the Eastern District of Virginia. No answer has been filed yet.
The plaintiffs allege, among other things, that the defendants’ publication of individual names as noncitizens registered to vote amounts to voter intimidation and deters those falsely accused of being noncitizens from actually voting. The plaintiffs further allege that the defendants published still more names after Virginia election officials informed Adams that his methodology was flawed.
The 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states that the right of citizens to vote shall not be denied by the United States or any state on account of race.
The plaintiffs allege that the defendants violated a post-Civil War era civil rights statute, known as the Ku Klux Klan Act [42 U.S.C. § 1985(3)] directed at preventing anyone from depriving others of their constitutional rights, specifically the right to vote. The other counts in the complaint are based on the Voting Rights Act and defamation. The lawsuit was written up in Mother Jones and Slate.
J. Christian Adams, you may recall, is the Justice Department attorney who quit in protest in 2010 after the Justice Department declined to prosecute the New Black Panther Party for voter intimidation in Philadelphia. Adams was a member of President Trump’s ill-fated voter fraud commission. The Left’s narrative on his activities is that they are part of the Right’s effort to suppress the vote, an effort championed by the bigoted Donald Trump.
For his part, J. Christian Adams refers to LULAC as a “George Soros outfit” and maintains all he and his legal foundation did was reprint public records showing that thousands of noncitizens were removed from the voter rolls, including cases where the noncitizens had actually voted. Adams wrote in a mailing available on the web:
Separately this week, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach was held in contempt for failing to comply with a court order requiring him to register voters who had not presented proof of citizenship, after the state’s proof-of-citizenship law was blocked by a federal court.
The Kobach contempt citation and the lawsuit against J. Christian Adams are not happy bits of news, but let’s remember what’s at stake here: noncitizen voting dilutes the votes of legitimate U.S. citizens, devalues the worth of American citizenship, and constitutes an assault, not only on our nation, but on the very idea of national sovereignty itself. The alternative – a global free-for-all with open borders, which really means no borders or nations at all – would not be pretty. Noncitizen voting is worth opposing regardless of how many noncitizens register to vote or actually cast ballots, because the issue is a gateway to the diminution of national sovereignty and other mischief the Left is trying to bring about. If the destructive nihilistic Left is FOR noncitizen voting, I’m against it. I’m all for people voting, but only if they meet the qualifications.
That is an excellent essay. -
Great essay! I’ll include info in our Constitution presentations!
Thanks for sharing. His article is very concise.
He simplified some of the words in the
Declaration of Independence for those younger readers.
- South Carolina
The Relationship Between the
Declaration of Independence and the Constitution
By Thomas Wheatley
If I asked you what the most important document in American history is, you might be inclined to say the Constitution.
It wouldn’t be a crazy answer, given how often the Constitution is referenced in the news, popular culture, and our political system.
But what if I told you that although the Constitution is important, the document that best embodies the American spirit is the one tied to the most famous date in American history? On July 4, 1776, the Founders signed the Declaration of Independence, and in doing so, declared to Great Britain that Americans would be subject to their rule no more.
Most people know at least that much; that’s why we celebrate the Fourth of July. But the Declaration of Independence is more than just a statement of national liberation. It’s the clearest, most salient expression of America’s very soul.
Consider the Declaration’s most famous passage: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
Let’s break that down.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.”
This is a powerful observation based on something called “natural law.” “Natural law” is something distinct from written, or “positive” law. Think of it this way: You don’t get your sense of right and wrong from the laws enacted by our government. Instead, there are absolute moral truths you follow that are so obvious they are said to be “self-evident.” For example, you don’t need Congress to pass a law to know that murder and stealing are wrong.
Now what about “all men are created equal”? Although this language has been subject to much self-serving distortion over the years, its meaning is fairly straightforward. Because every person is bound to follow one overriding moral code, no person—man or woman—may justly establish superiority over another. This is why as Americans, we reject the notion of a King or Queen—no person has the requisite superiority to hold such a position.
Recall I said that all people are “bound” to follow one moral code. You might ask, bound by whom? The Declaration’s text immediately provides an answer: God. “Endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights,” means we receive our rights under natural law—and our obligation to follow them—from a higher power. Moreover, because these rights come from our Creator, and because all people are equally subordinate to their Creator, our rights are “unalienable,” meaning no person may deprive another—or even themselves—of those rights (unless it’s to vindicate or defend their rights against intrusion, but that’s a topic for another day).
By the way, just because the Declaration refers to a “Creator” doesn’t mean it requires adherence to any one faith, or indeed to any faith at all. Instead, it just requires acceptance of the idea that rights do not come from the government or any man-made law, but from a higher power.
Although most of the Founders were religious, the theory of natural law has a long history going back to ancient Greece. Indeed, some theorists believed that natural rights came from Nature, not God. The point is, America is an exceptional country because we proceed on the basis that we are all born with preexisting rights that our government can’t take away from us, whether we’re religious or not.
Moving on, next there’s “that among these [rights] are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” When Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, many of his thoughts were not original. Here, Jefferson borrowed from the political philosopher John Locke, who listed “life, liberty, and estate” as the trinity of freedom. Also important is the phrase “among these.” The unalienable rights Jefferson names are only a few examples, not an exhaustive list.
Now what about the Constitution? That’s covered by the last phrase I mentioned: “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” The Constitution puts the ideas of the Declaration of Independence into practice; it is the roadmap by which our government “secures” our rights. And where does government get its power? From the consent of the governed—the people.
It’s important not to miss how the flow of power is structured when each document is examined in its proper context: God (or Nature) endows the people with rights, and the people create a government to secure those rights against infringement by others. In other words, God (or Nature) has power over We the People, and We the People have power over the government.
So there you have it. The Constitution, although vastly important, is not the source of American exceptionalism. Instead, the Constitution serves to effectuate the principles outlined in the Declaration of Independence, principles for which our Founders pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to uphold.
Thomas Wheatley is an attorney and writer living in Arlington, Virginia. He is a contributor to The Hill, the Washington Post, and other major publications. He was a 2016 Publius Fellow at the Claremont Institute. Follow him on Twitter @TNWheatley.
San Diego County joins 12 other California jurisdictions in supporting Trump admin lawsuit against ‘sanctuary state’ laws
Reverse Nullification: San Diego County joins 12 other California jurisdictions in supporting Trump admin lawsuit against ‘sanctuary state’ laws.
“Balanced-Budget Constitutional Amendment Proposal Fails in House”
14A: federal judge issues first ruling transgender people entitled to highest protection against discrimination (suspect class / strict scrutiny); ruling comes in military case, likely to be appealed
5A Due Process: Supreme Court strikes federal statute easing deportation of violent criminal aliens as unconstitutionally vague (but what’s vague about a list of specific crimes?)
Supremacy Clause: California plans to block federal government transporting oil & gas through existing pipelines
10A: Did Trump deal with Sen. Gardner pave the way for the elimination of federal pot law enforcement in states that legalized marijuana?
1A: Student journalists sue U of Illinois for getting restraining order prohibiting them from reporting on anti-Trump rally
1A / Parental Rights: Arizona decision rejects court's assignment of treating therapist and gag order that limited parents' discussions with gender dysphoric child.
1A: St. Louis rejects no-speech buffer zone outside abortion clinics: “You can’t pick and choose who can protest. It’s the First Amendment for everyone”
1A Religion: 6th Circuit slams arrogant Labor Department for requiring church restaurant to pay volunteers minimum wage; “The Department should tend to what is Caesar’s, and leave the rest alone.”
1A Religion: Jefferson would not have agreed with ‘separation of church and state’ decisions made in his name
2A: Massachusetts high court - stun guns are “arms” protected under Second Amendment even though didn’t exist when 2A written; may be regulated but not banned
2A: Illinois town’s ‘assault weapons’ ban draws lawsuit, probably unconstitutional
2A: failure of gun control has London mayor pushing for ‘knife control’ (after knife control will come ice pick control, then brick control, then .....)
4A: “Judgeless Administrative Searches Endanger Speech And Other Rights Shielded By The Fourth Amendment”
4A, 5A: police can get warrants to unlock phones (decryption), but cases also raise self-incrimination and Miranda issues.
14A: Obama-era letter guidance on school discipline offends Equal Protection principles which hold that mere disparate impact is not enough; boys punished more often than girls and whites more often than Asians – so what?
14A: American Samoans file suit against being only U.S. territory whose residents are not U.S. citizens
Article V convention would jeopardize Bill of Rights as factions pursue own constitutional agendas
“Podcast: William Howard Taft and the Constitution” (Taft sought to reverse Teddy Roosevelt’s notion that Prez can do anything Constitution doesn’t forbid)
2A puzzle: “A well-educated population, being necessary to the productivity of a free state, the right of the people to read and write, shall not be infringed.” Therefore, you may possess a pen only if you use it to serve the state.
One of the worst Supreme Court decisions ever is now the subject of a major motion picture. Little Pink House opens in theaters around the country on April 20th. It tells the true story of Susette Kelo and her neighbors whose houses were taken by the City of New London, Connecticut for the benefit of a private developer. The redevelopment was supposed to include a research facility for the giant pharmaceutical company Pfizer, but nothing was ever built after the houses were demolished. Today, there’s nothing but weeds where a neighborhood once stood.
The power of eminent domain is contained in the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The Takings Clause says private property shall not be taken for public use without paying just compensation. This applies to state and local governments through the Due Process clause of the 14th Amendment which reads, in part, no person shall be deprived of property without due process of law.
No one denies that the government can take private property for public use, as long as it pays just compensation. The typical example is taking private property to build a road or public library. The 2005 Kelo case, however, expanded on prior Supreme Court precedent that puffed up ‘public use’ so that eminent domain could apply in many more instances. Through judicial alchemy, the words ‘public use’ in the Constitution now read ‘public benefit’. Under the Supreme Court’s loose interpretation of Constitutional language, New London, Connecticut could take an entire neighborhood and give it to a private developer in the hopes that, some day, the property would generate economic development and a bigger tax base. According to the Supreme Court, a public use is no longer required, as long as the public might benefit in some way. The Kelo case was not an isolated incident. Kelo-type reasoning led to more than 10,000 forced transfers of property, or threats of transfer, from one private owner to another private owner in the five-year period from 1998 to 2002.
There was a nationwide backlash against the Kelo decision. More than 40 states enacted some form of protection against the use of eminent domain for private gain. In my own state of Virginia, the state constitution was amended in 2012 to prevent the use of eminent domain for private enterprise, job creation, higher tax revenue, or economic development. That amendment was approved by 75 percent of the voters at the ballot box. When’s the last time you saw 75 percent of the electorate line up behind anything?
Susette Kelo and her neighbors eventually received an apology from the City of New London, but eminent domain abuse continues to this day. A Korean family built a successful dry cleaning business in East Harlem, New York, but the city wants to take it so a private developer can build an entertainment complex.
Property rights are very popular and our side should be using them more often to halt the advance of the political Left. We have fundamental justice on our side and, thankfully, most people – Supreme Court justices notwithstanding - can still see that.
Alarmists melt under withering questioning from judge in climate change suit (Constitution news round-up)
Fundamental Rights – alarmists melt under withering questioning from judge in climate change suit
1A Prior Restraints - Supreme Court declines to hear challenge to injunction against release of more videos showing Planned Parenthood sale of baby parts; case continues in lower court.
Appointments clause could be a way to limit scope of Robert Mueller investigation of TrumpWorld
10A - Justice Department sues California, arguing new state law an unconstitutional interference with Congress’ right to control sale of federal land.
1A Free Press – state campaign finance laws ensnare vocal citizens and citizen journalists; imagine colonial pamphleteers being required to publish for 12 months before getting press freedom.
1A Religion – “Amicus Brief in the Travel Ban 3.0 Case Explains Why the Bill of Rights Restricts Federal Power over Immigration”
2A: Self-defense against bad governments is a human right; “never assume that government is essentially good”
2A: don’t let emotion sweep away your constitutional rights; car accident deaths far more frequent than gun homicides
4A: Supreme Court backs qualified immunity for Arizona police officer in excessive force case; shot woman with knife 4 times
5A Property Rights – couple with allergies ordered to grow grass lawn or pay $200,000 fine; will appeal
Takings: Seattle law requiring landlords to rent to next qualified applicant on list struck down as a taking under state constitution; unfavorable U.S. Supreme Court Kelo decision side-stepped.
‘Little Pink House’ movie shows how the ill-advised Kelo eminent domain decision destroyed lives and an entire community; in theaters April 20th
An originalist view of due process and how it may be used to limit discretion of government officials to deprive people of life, liberty, or property
Mississippi Senate kills constitutional convention motion
White students demand removal of MLK statue because icon for black supremacist groups. Then I woke up.
“Florida Students Walk Out in Support of the Second Amendment, ‘My Rights Don’t End Where Your Feelings Begin’”
Shame! Former Justice Stevens calls for repeal of the Second Amendment, completely misunderstanding how it has helped preserve our liberty to the present day.
10A: Orange County to join federal lawsuit against California sanctuary laws; sheriff posts release dates for all inmates.
15A: federal judge orders Florida to revamp its felon voting rights restoration system; disproportionately disenfranchises blacks
10A: federal judge dismisses Tennessee case testing whether federal government can dump refugees on state and expect state taxpayers to pay for them https://refugeeresettlementwatch.wordpress.com/2018/03/22/judge-dismisses-tennessee-states-rights-case-on-refugee-resettlement/
1A: federal judge tosses Dennis Prager censorship lawsuit; YouTube not a public forum.
4A: Constitution-free zone? Border patrol agents can stop people, check IDs, and ask about citizenship 100 miles inside all U.S. borders under federal statute and regs
4A: study validates ‘ACLU effect’; reduction in stop and frisk caused spike in Chicago homicides.
Non-delegation doctrine: federal judge strikes regulation implementing Obamacare “health insurance providers fee” which gave private entity authority to decide who must pay
1A: federal judge dismisses challenge to Ohio law against “invective, ridicule and strong language” on the Internet
1A: Spokane affirms free speech, won’t shut down ‘Patriot Prayer’ event on a guess there might be a disturbance
1A Religion: ‘reindeer rule’ keeps getting wackier. Nativity scene OK if has nonreligious songs, skits, and mannequins, and no Bible readings.
1A Association: state legislature can tell political party how to select its candidates.
2A: “Democrat Candidate for Sheriff Suggests Killing People to Take Their Guns”
2A: Big bank, credit card issuer attempting to de-monetize legal firearms, squeeze gun manufacturers
5A Takings: The U.S. government has voted to confiscate white-owned land without compensation. Ruth Bader Ginsburg shrieks her approval (‘best constitution ever!’). Then I woke up.
6A: 6th Circuit rules no right to counsel prior to indictment
10A: Michigan passes legislation restricting state’s cooperation with federal FISA 702 surveillance
14A EP: trial lawyers can’t strike potential jurors for race but courts don’t have to inquire why struck some and kept others when same race-neutral reasons apply (5th Circuit)
14A DP: Supreme Court reaffirms idea that criminal statutes cannot be overbroad and give prosecutors too much discretion to decide what constitutes a crime
Economic Freedom: Louisville jettisons ban on food trucks operating within 150 feet of restaurant selling similar food.
A look at Cooper v. Aaron, 1958 case which announced ‘judicial supremacy’ – Supreme Court can declare ‘supreme law of the land’ beyond litigants at bar
“100 French Intellectuals Issue A Warning About Islamic Totalitarianism” – “We want to live in a world where no religion lays down the law.”
James Madison’s Notes are the most authoritative record available of what transpired at the Constitutional Convention of 1787. Madison sat up front, took voluminous notes, and worked late into the night filling in the details.
The Library of Congress has just put 626 high-quality color images of Madison’s Notes online. You can download them, but there’s no search function for the text at the Library of Congress site. Yale Law School has the full text of the Notes by date, but the easiest way to search the text I’ve found is at Montpelier.org.
In looking at all this for tonight’s webinar, I was surprised to find yet another attack on America’s founding. People have been taking potshots at Madison’s Notes ever since they were published in 1840, four years after his death. A 2015 book, Madison’s Hand, by Boston College law professor Mary Sarah Bilder is the latest attempt to discredit the Notes. Madison revised the Notes throughout his life, but Bilder claims that Madison deliberately took things out, and invented speeches that had never been given, in order to score points in political fights he was having in the 1790s.
Her claims have been criticized, but they amount to another attempt to put the “Father of the Constitution” and the other Framers under a cloud of hyper-partisanship and self-interest. This is a variation on the Progressive theme that the Framers were venal and the Constitution is entirely the product of self-interest. For example, Howard Zinn wrote in A People’s History of the United States that the Framers were from the monied classes and rigged the game in favor of themselves as moneylenders, land speculators, and slave owners [pp. 90-91]. There were no higher principles at stake in the writing of the Constitution, Progressives maintain, just naked economic self-interest.
If that were true, and there was nothing noble about it, how has our Constitution endured for 230 years? If Ben Franklin having been a womanizer and several of the Framers having been slave owners disqualified all their ideas, how could the Constitution have survived the Civil War and other severe tests in our history? If the Framers didn’t have their finger on the pulse of human nature and a firm grasp on correct principles of human governance, how could our Constitution become the longest lasting written Constitution still in use today?
The Framers found the answer to the central question of political science of all time: how do you prevent the concentration of power in too few hands. You put too much power in too few hands and bad things happen. King George shuts down your legislatures and starts taxation without representation. Too much power in too few hands and pretty soon 100 million people are dead, as has happened under socialism. This is why there are such things in the Constitution as separation of powers, checks and balances, and federalism – to limit government and divide up power so things don’t get out of hand. Limited government never killed 100 million people.
The Constitution and the Declaration of Independence are classical liberal documents. Classical liberalism doesn’t promise perfection, but does represent the most coherent, sustainable, and humane political philosophy ever devised. It elevates the individual, embraces every person in the protection of individual rights, and condemns no one to a life of drudgery serving the state.
Let’s contrast that briefly with collectivism, which Howard Zinn and other Progressive critics of the Constitution espouse. Coherent – every time I turn around, I find another contradiction in collectivist thought. Marxism extolled the virtues of the proletariat, but Lenin, Gramsci, and Mao didn’t think working people were up to the job of revolution and dreamed up ways to get around them. Sustainable – our Constitution has stood the test of time, unlike the seven constitutions in four years adopted in the failed New Harmony commune in the 19th century in Indiana. Deluded Leftists thought they had seen the future in the Soviet Union, but it went kaput after just 75 years. Humane – collectivism can hardly be considered humane, unless you think deliberately starving tens of millions of people to death in the Holodomor, the Great Leap Forward, and other socialist engineered famines is humane.
Thank your lucky stars you live in America where we have limited government under the Constitution. And, as I’ve repeated many times on these webinars, resist all attempts to denigrate the Founders’ ideals and tear down our founding documents. The Constitution is what stands between you and tyranny, the fate that has befallen most of humanity over time. That’s a self-interest we should all be able to get behind.
Supreme Court turns away Pa GOP’s challenge to court-drawn electoral map; basically saying such juidicial intervention compatible with republican form of government (Guarantee Clause)
Preemption: “Federal Court Allows Texas To Enforce Governor’s Anti-Sanctuary City Law”
California city passes resolution purporting to opt out of California’s sanctuary state laws.
14A DP: federal judge throws out L.A.’s ‘gang injunctions’, effective crime-fighting tool which prevent people from associating with gang members, etc.
1A: suit allowed to proceed for refusing an ad in a radical lawyers association dinner program booklet deemed a ‘public accommodation’
1A: California college holds public event on Islam, but chides questioners, calls cops, tries to stop videotaping.
1A: we should move back to the Founders’ understanding of libel and afford more protection to the expression of opinion
1A: Wolff ‘Fire and Fury’ book about Trump is speech funded by a corporation and thus protected by controversial Citizens United decision
1A: Federal Election Commission acknowledges it can’t ban political books
2A: The hidden hand of the Left: “‘March For Our Lives’ Now Operating Under Dark Money Nonprofit Advocacy Group”
2A: Gun grabbers out themselves – talk up “taking a huge number of guns away from a huge number of gun owners.”
4A: police violated right to privacy when forced defendant to masturbate to compare to pix sent to girlfriend
8A: Supreme Court declines to hear sweeping challenge to constitutionality of the death penalty
10A: Sessions is wrong; “nullification is as American as apple pie”
14A DP: South Carolina students’ challenge of Disorderly Conduct law may go forward; law too vague to give notice of what constitutes an offense
14A DP: challenge by civil detainee held 8 years under California’s sexual predator law may go forward (9th Circuit)
Supreme Court takes first Contract Clause case in a generation, could breathe life back into former cornerstone of limited government
Supreme Court passes up chance to end Auer Deference to federal agencies interpreting their own regulations
The Constitution is a contract and the Progressives have breached it with their ‘living document’ theories and judicial departures starting with the New Deal
Secession of the South proves the Constitution is a freedom document, not a slavery document.
Supreme Court 101: History and Basics. And, of course, Marbury v. Madison where the Court arrogated power it didn’t have under the Constitution
1A: How NOT to do the First Amendment – students throw rocks and damage vehicles during national school walkout
Shame! Nashville high school students tear down, stomp on U.S. flag during national school walk-out
In case you haven’t heard, the bail reform movement is definitely picking up steam. A federal lawsuit in Florida alleges that the state’s bail system is unconstitutional and seeks to force judges there to consider the defendant’s ability to pay when setting bail in misdemeanor cases. A bail reform task force in Ohio has developed a set of recommendations to prevent defendants from being kept in jail before trial simply because they cannot afford to post a bond. Mr. Liberal Moneybags Tom Steyer is funding efforts to change the bail system in California. Delaware has joined other jurisdictions in reducing reliance on cash bail, including Arizona, New Mexico, Maryland, New Jersey and the District of Columbia. In all, more than 40 states are considering changes to their bail and pretrial detention procedures. Among the alternatives being considered are ankle monitors and evidence-based risk assessment tools to gauge flight risk.
A class action suit in Houston, Texas alleges that Harris County’s system of setting bail for indigent misdemeanor defendants violates the equal protection and due process clauses of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. In a preliminary ruling in February, the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed that the complainant class would likely succeed on the merits of its due process and equal protection claims. The case has been returned to the trial court for further proceedings. [Southern District of Texas #: 4:16-cv-01414]
The 14th Amendment states: “nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
Bail in Texas involves posting a 10 percent bond, usually through a bail bond agency, or being released on personal recognizance but becoming liable for the full amount if the defendant fails to appear for the court date. Under the Texas Criminal Code, a hearing officer or judge is supposed to review the defendant’s financial circumstances, flight risk, and other factors in setting bail. But personal recognizance is denied and upfront payments are required 90 percent of the time in Harris County which strikes me, based on my experience as a criminal defense attorney in D.C., as inordinately high for misdemeanor cases.
In Harris County, bail amounts are supposed to be reviewed by a different judge within 24 hours, but defendants routinely wait days, then come under tremendous pressure to accept time-served plea deals before they are even appointed a lawyer. In D.C., by contrast, indigent defendants are appointed lawyers up front before the first hearing. Harris County deems failure to own a car as a strike against personal recognizance, so there is a circular loop where indigence itself increases the likelihood that an indigent defendant will have to post cash bond. That’s weird. The trial court reviewed the data and found that the imposition of a financial bond does not make defendants any more likely to appear than personal recognizance does. The trial court also found that defendants who were detained because they couldn’t post a financial bond had worse outcomes than those who could. They pled guilty more often, got jail sentences more often, the jail sentences were longer, and these defendants were more likely to lose their job. The whole exercise appears to be counter-productive because these defendants were also more likely to commit other crimes in the future.
Harris County’s bail system treats similar flight risks differently based merely on financial circumstances. Under case law, imprisonment solely because of indigent status is considered invidious discrimination that offends both due process and equal protection. In this case, the 5th Circuit gave the bail reform movement a lot of what it wanted. Defendants must be given a meaningful opportunity to show what they can or cannot pay, the court ruled.
For you equal protection geeks out there, the 5th Circuit applied a heightened but intermediate level of scrutiny because inability to pay was resulting in deprivation of a basic liberty interest – freedom from incarceration.
Maybe I’m just a mushy-headed defense attorney, but Harris County’s bail system strikes me as unjust. However, the problem may not be the imposition of cash bonds per se, but the customary infrequency with which personal recognizance is granted in Harris County and other places around the country. I was talking about this with someone a few months ago. They said cash bond was a big problem in Philadelphia. I said it wasn’t a big problem in D.C. when I was doing criminal cases there. The difference may be that personal recognizance is pretty routine in D.C. for misdemeanor cases. Most misdemeanor defendants are released on personal recognizance and almost all show up for their court dates. Maybe the answer is as simple as setting the presumption in favor of personal recognizance in misdemeanor cases, while retaining cash bond for demonstrable flight risks. This would reconcile the competing interests at stake and afford adequate due process as well as equal protection of the law to indigent defendants. But regardless of how it’s done, we should all be able to agree that poor people should not be kept in jail or pressured to plead guilty simply because they don’t have any money.
5A: 9th Circuit allows climate change suit to proceed, sending case back to judge who believes “a climate system capable of sustaining human life” is right there in the Constitution
2A: NRA sues to block new Florida gun control measure raising age to 21, etc.
Separation of Powers: “Federal judge allows Trump to withhold grants to California as part of sanctuary city crackdown”
1A: “New Law Bans ’Free Speech Zones’ at Florida Colleges”; tucking speech away in a corner is unconstitutional
1A: Georgia colleges successfully resisting legislation to ban free speech zones; Christian speech tucked away in a corner
1A: Supreme Court deciding whether arrest on probable cause always bars a free speech retaliation claim; plaintiff hauled out of city council meeting in handcuffs
1A: “Tolerance doesn’t imply that you keep silent about speech that you hate. You challenge it, you mock it, and ridicule it; you criticize it.”
1A Religion: bill mandating elective course at all West Virginia schools to teach the Bible an unconstitutional sponsorship of religion?
1A Association: appellate court upholds power of NY Attorney General to demand nonprofits disclose $5,000 donors to him
1A Economic Freedom: North Carolina backs down from requiring make-up schools to get a license and carry useless classes
2A: rape victim files suit against ban on guns in Illinois public housing
2A: Chinese tyranny has midnight searches, arrests without a warrant – and a ban on owning handguns.
5A DP: Supreme Court rules statute does not require periodic bail hearing for detained immigrants; case sent back for consideration of constitutional issues.
5A DP: “US Judge bars revoking DACA work permits without due process”
14A DP: anti-bail movement picks up steam with backing from liberal billionaire Tom Steyer
Electoral College: suit filed to force states to replace ‘winner-take-all’ approach with proportional allocation
Separation of Powers: criminal case is an opportunity to revisit nondelegation doctrine; statute arguably defective for giving Attorney General unlimited discretion on a point
Library of Congress releases hi-quality scans of Madison’s notes to Constitutional Convention; now easy to check claims made by his detractors
New book chronicles epic struggle for women’s suffrage