Impeachment Raising Constitutional Issues - Sixth Amendment right to counsel for the President? Secret ballot for Senate impeachment trial?
2A: Supreme Court turns away Remington’s appeal to block product liability suit arising from Sandy Hook massacre; further proceedings to turn on whether the gun maker marketed the product for assaults against humans
1A: just because the Janus decision says you can’t be forced to pay union dues doesn’t mean you get to claw back what you paid the union in the past; unions relied in good faith on legal precedent when they collected the fees (7th Circuit)
1A: state cannot require someone to register as a lobbyist to speak to legislators where “no one pays him and his activities do not involve spending money” (8th Circuit)
1A: Kansas enters consent judgment agreeing that statute forbidding the advertising of raw milk violates free speech
1A: Authoritarian Obama State Department official trashes free speech, calls for hate speech laws to prohibit burning the Quran. So, you can burn the flag but not the Quran - glad we got that settled.
1A: “If government is the arbiter of what is acceptable speech, you are on the road to a dystopian nightmare.”
2A: AR-15 perfect for women for home defense, female gun owners say
4A: federal judge rules indiscriminate search and seizure of smartphones and laptops of travelers at U.S. borders violates Fourth Amendment
4A: no expectation of privacy in unauthorized use of neighbor’s home network; child pornography conviction stands
Electoral College: ‘Save Our States’ group building support for the electoral college
Electoral College: “‘Popular Vote’ Movement Would Shift Power to Big Cities, Experts Warn”
‘A’ for Effort - man dies, is revived, claims he has served his life sentence
In February, I told you about a Supreme Court case where the state of Indiana moved for the civil asset forfeiture of a drug dealer’s $42,000 Land Rover SUV. The drug dealer bought the SUV, not with drug money, but with the proceeds of a life insurance policy on his father who had passed away. The $42,000 purchase price was roughly four times the maximum allowable fine for the offense. The Supreme Court found the forfeiture disproportionate to the crime and sent the case back to the Indiana Supreme Court to reconsider the matter in light of the 8th Amendment’s prohibition against excessive fines. The Supreme Court applied the Excessive Fines Clause to the states for the very first time in this case through the Due Process clause of the 14th Amendment.
At the end of October, the Indiana Supreme Court rejected the prosecution’s argument that any property used in a crime is subject to seizure. Instead, the court ruled a number of factors must be taken into account in deciding whether a forfeiture is ‘excessive’ within the meaning of the 8th Amendment. The factors include the owner’s guilt and the extent of the misconduct, but also the owner’s financial circumstances. The court wrote it would be fictitious to believe that “taking away the same piece of property from a billionaire and from someone who owns nothing else punishes each person equally.” The case now goes back to the trial court for a final determination, after applying the new standard to the facts at hand. The trial court had originally ruled in the drug dealer’s favor in 2015 and ordered the SUV returned to him.
This case is not the end of the civil asset forfeiture issue. Several legislative reforms have been proposed to curb civil asset forfeiture abuse. These reforms include:
Takings Clause does not apply to the destruction of a house in a police operation (Constitution news round-up)
1A: seventh in video series explains free speech rights at college
5A: Takings Clause does not apply to the destruction of a house in a police operation (10th Circuit)
Spending Clause: federal judge in NY strikes down Trump healthcare conscience rights rule
5A, Equal Protection: federal judge temporarily blocks immigrant health insurance rule as affront to Due Process and evincing ‘national-origin bias’
10A: Trump administration loses another sanctuary city case for attempting to impose new conditions on federal grant money
5A Due Process: Supreme Court mulling whether lawful permanent residents can be deported for criminal acts
2A: Hundreds of Second Amendment gun rights advocates rally on Capitol Hill
State Constitutions: Pennsylvania judge throws out Pittsburgh gun control ordinances because state law preempts local measures
1A: U of Michigan concedes defeat, disbands speech police
1A: Laura Loomer free speech case against Apple, Google, Facebook, and Twitter to go to trial
1A: ‘outdated’ First Amendment under attack; push is on for hate speech laws
2A: “Debunking the Myth of ‘Concealed-Carry Killers’”
2A: Pregnant woman in Florida uses AR-15 to fend off two home intruders who were attacking her husband and daughter
2A: Quiet - Gun Grabbers at Work! Florida police use pawnshop data to create illegal gun owners’ list
2A: Active shooter drills train future school shooters how to increase casualties; data suggests other ways to mitigate school shooting problem
4A: search and seizure issue not reached in case where court approved an executive branch team to review privileged attorney-client documents seized from law firm
4A: court ruling may open up consumer DNA sites to law enforcement
8A: Indiana Supreme Court reins in civil asset forfeiture under Excessive Fines clause
8A: article discusses reforms to civil asset forfeiture including the restoration of the presumption of innocence, channeling seized monies to general fund, outright abolition, etc.
Copyright: Supreme Court hears case testing whether copyright holders can sue states for infringement or state immunity bars such claims
Symposium finds Constitution under threat from the administrative state and the Left’s assault on civil liberties
Holocaust restitution experience shows slavery reparations would be difficult and divisive to enact
New documentary - “Clarence Thomas in His Own Words” in theaters next February
A new documentary about Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas will be in theaters next February and broadcast on PBS in May. “Created Equal - Clarence Thomas in His Own Words” is the name of the film in which Thomas tells his life story looking directly at the camera.
Thomas was born into grinding poverty in a Gullah-speaking part of Georgia. He went to Catholic school and entered the seminary to become a priest. He left after becoming disillusioned with what he considered to be the Catholic Church’s lack of support for civil rights. At this point in his life, he was a radical Black Power leftist, angry at everything and everybody. But, over time, he came to view affirmative action as condescending and busing as divisive and ineffective.
His transformation complete, he went to work in the Reagan administration then was appointed to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. He was nominated for the high court in 1991. Who could forget the pitched battle at his confirmation hearings and Anita Hill’s shocking allegations that Thomas had sexually harassed her? After relentless brow-beating, Thomas accused Democratic senators at the hearing of conducting “a high-tech lynching for uppity blacks who in any way deign to think for themselves, to do for themselves, to have different ideas.” Most of the public did not believe Anita Hill and Thomas was confirmed.
Justice Thomas has served on the Supreme Court ever since where he is known as an originalist and a reliable conservative vote. He believes judges should interpret the law, not make it up.
The trailer for the new documentary is online. If you can’t wait for the movie, you might try his memoir My Grandfather’s Son which hit number one on the New York Times bestsellers list in 2007.
The Web Team
Our web team is dedicated to bringing you Constitutional news you can use.