Posts Tagged ‘Constitution’

‘Foreign Emoluments’? Look Here.

May 3, 2019

'Foreign Emoluments'? Look Here.

“The U.S. State Department allowed at least seven foreign governments to rent luxury condominiums in New York’s Trump World Tower in 2017 without approval from Congress, according to documents and people familiar with the leases, a potential violation of the U.S. Constitution’s emoluments clause.”

— “Foreign government leases at Trump World Tower stir more emoluments concerns,” Julia Harte, Reuters

Trump World Tower, built in 2001 and financed by Deutsche Bank, is located at 845 United Nations Plaza and has been the New York residence of several UN diplomats, so it’s not surprising that the governments of Iraq, Kuwait, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, Thailand and the European Union would rent condominiums there. The problem: those leases were signed in 2017, while Donald Trump was President, and those agreements required the prior approval of Congress.

Who says? The U.S. Constitution, Article 1, Section 9, Clause 8:

“No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince or foreign State.”

What did “emolument” mean to the Founders? “Profit,” “advantage,” “gain,” or “benefit.” U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan agrees.


“The Definition of ‘Emolument’ in English Language and Legal Dictionaries, 1523-1806,” John Mikhail, SSRN


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The Founding Fathers Never Saw an AR-15

June 16, 2016

The Founding Fathers Never Saw an AR-15
When the Bill of Rights was drafted, the 2nd Amendment was added to allow state governments to form armed militias. In 2008 Supreme Court justices raised on Western movies decided that the Constitution guarantees firearms to individual gunslingers, not just well-regulated militias.

The military firearms known to the Founding Fathers were single-shot, muzzle-loading muskets that could fire slow-moving lead balls 2 or 3 times a minute, at best, with accuracy up to about 60 yards. Even if the framers had conferred military gun ownership as an individual right, they could never have envisioned weapons that hold 30-round magazines and fire 45 aimed rounds a minute at 3,500 feet per second with 600 yard accuracy, like the rifles favored by America’s mass murders.


Court: Virginia’s Racially Gerrymandered Congressional Map is Unconstitutional

June 7, 2015

Court: Virginia's Racially Gerrymandered Map is Unconstitutional
On Friday a federal court panel reaffirmed an earlier decision throwing out Virginia’s map of congressional districts due to racial gerrymandering in violation of the Equal Protection Clause.

“Virginia is widely believed to be one of the most gerrymandered states in the country. In 2012, Republican House candidates won just 51 percent of the votes cast in the state — but they ended up winning eight of the state’s 11 congressional districts.”

— “Virginia’s congressional map has been thrown out by judges for racial bias,” Andrew Prokop, Vox


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Judge Strikes Down Pennsylvania Same-Sex Marriage Ban

May 21, 2014

Judge Strikes Down Pennsylvania Same-Sex Marriage Ban

Judge John E. Jones III of Federal District Court declared Pennsylvania’s ban on same sex marriage unconstitutional yesterday. Marriage equality is now legal in 19 states.


“Judge Strikes Down Pennsylvania’s Gay-Marriage Ban,” Erik Eckholm, New York Times

“Pennsylvania gay marriage ban overturned by judge,” AP via Politico

“Federal judge overturns Pennsylvania same-sex marriage ban,” Niraj Chokshi and Reid Wilson, Washington Post


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Banning the Constitution on Constitution Day

September 20, 2013

Banning the Constitution on Constitution Day

“Modesto Junior College security stopped a student from passing out copies of the U.S. Constitution in front of the east campus student center Tuesday, which was Constitution Day.

Robert Van Tuinen, 25, captured his furious but civil confrontation with the officer and campus administration on video and posted it Thursday on YouTube.

National attention garnered by the video prompted the Yosemite Community College District to issue a statement saying it was looking into the matter.”

–“MJC halt of Constitution handout lands on YouTube,” Nan Austin, Modesto Bee

(Video after the jump)


August 26th: Women’s Equality Day

August 26, 2011

August 26th: Women's Equality Day

On August 26, 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution became law, giving American women the vote.

In 1971, at the urging of Rep. Bella Abzug, Congress designated August 26 as “Women’s Equality Day,” and that is how the anniversary is known today.


Dan Snyder, Free Speech Crusader

February 11, 2011

Dan Snyder, Free Speech Crusader

Daniel Snyder, billionaire owner of Washington’s losing NFL team, is a staunch champion of free speech, when he’s the one talking. Sure, he’s suing an alternative paper for a scathing article about him and tried to ban football fans from bringing signs to games. but ten years ago he defended his right to verbally skewer a pair of groundskeepers.


Anchor Babies. Again.

January 10, 2011

 Anchor Babies. Again.

The Great GOP Constitution Love-In is over. Really over. After a marathon reading of an abridged U.S. Constitution on the House floor, Republicans are ready to ignore the document, planning an end-run around the 14th Amendment. In case you missed the Read-In, that’s the one that starts like this:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.

Fearing fictional legions of pregnant aliens sneaking into the U.S. of A., giving birth, and using their offspring’s status to stay in the States, Republicans will try to deny U.S. citizenship to children born on American soil to out-of-status immigrants, as if this civil infraction by the parents was passed on to infants like a horrible birth defect.

Presumably this hereditary trait of non-citizenship would be passed on though succeeding generations, throughout eternity. That certainly was the case with formerly-enslaved Americans of African descent and the reason the 14th Amendment was needed in the first place.


GOP Reads Constitution, Promptly Violates It

January 7, 2011

GOP Reads Constitution, Promptly Violates It

On their first day as a majority party, Republican congressmen read the United States Constitution out loud, mostly to give the impression that they understand it.  That symbolic pretense was seriously undermined by Representatives Pete Sessions  (R, TX-32) and Mike Fitzpatrick  (R, PA-8). They didn’t bother getting themselves sworn in but voted on the House floor anyway.

Why didn’t Congressmen Sessions and Fitzpatrick get sworn in? They were busy attending a fundraiser. Republicans have their priorities; swearing to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States” apparently isn’t one of them. Sessions says he raised his hand and took the oath while watching the swearing-in ceremony on TV.

Who says that congressmen have to be sworn in, anyway? Just Article VI of the U.S. Constitution.


Christine O’Donnell Amends the Constitution

October 24, 2010

Christine O'Donnell Amends the Constitution

“Where in the Constitution is separation of church and state?”
Christine O’Donnell to Chris Coons, Delaware senatorial debate, October 19, 2010.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ….”
Amendment I, Constitution of the United States of America

“…I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States ….”
— United States Senate Oath of Office

Can you swear to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States” when you don’t know what’s in it?

“The good news is that the First Amendment also lets O’Donnell make a fool of herself.”
–John Kelso, Austin American-Statesman.