Jack Phillips: Still Persecuted for his Religious Beliefs

Jack Phillips - behind counter, smiling

(Photo courtesy of Premier Christian Radio)

by Diane Rufino, June 13, 2019

This article goes to a question that I have posed for many years now: Is a society so predicated on Individual Liberty doomed to destroy itself? We are seeing individuals use the courts to assert that THEIR individual rights are more important than other’s rights. Most of all, we are seeing cases where members of the LGBT community, transgenders, and gender neutrals are suing actively to destroy religious institutions and traditions, thus in effect trying to legislatively and constitutionally assure that the right not to be viewed as “different” (as compared to nature’s “norms”) is MORE IMPORTANT and has SUPREMACY over the First Amendment’s Right to Believe as one chooses and to exercise such a belief set. In other words, they are suing to demand that their right to be different and their right to be absolutely treated as if they are not different OUTWEIGNS one’s religious rights and one’s right to conscience.

I had hoped, as our Founders had hoped, that in America we would try to live our lives as best as possible without doing any actual harm to one another. According to the Bill or Rights, the essential liberty rights that would always matter most would be those articulated in those first ten amendments. There is no such natural liberty right that guarantees that one person will not be viewed differently from another person. Human nature is human nature. What matters is whether we recognize each fellow human being with dignity and respect.

Respect and tolerance are two-way streets.

Sadly, beloved Colorado Christian cake artist Jack Phillips continues to be persecuted for his religious beliefs. He is currently facing a third – yes, a THIRD – lawsuit over his refusal, on deeply-held religious grounds to create (ie, “design”) certain cakes.

Remember that he and the business he owned, Masterpiece Cakeshop, were sued several years ago when he declined to design a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. Note that same-sex marriage was forbidden in Colorado by a provision in their state constitution (“Marriage is between a man and a woman; no other types of marriage will be recognized in the state”). The couple, from the Denver area, married in Boston but returned to Colorado to have a reception for family and friends. The couple requested that Jack create a cake for them to celebrate their gay pride; specifically, they asked for a 7-lawyer cake (the colors of the rainbow) with two man on top, in wedding tuxedos. Jack told them that due to his deeply-held religious beliefs, he could not design such a cake, but would be happy to provide them with any other beautiful and suitable wedding cake. [The point was that he couldn’t design, and therefore convey a message, that celebrated the marriage of 2 men when his religious conscience did not so believe]. The Colorado Civil Rights Commission sued under the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (CADA) and in doing so, destroyed Jack’s livelihood, denied him of his life’s passion, and harmed his business so badly that he had to terminate some employees.

The case, Phillips (and Masterpiece Cakeshop) v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission (2018) was decided in Jack’s favor. It was written by Justice Anthony Kennedy. The Court found in Jack’s favor.

Apparently, Colorado isn’t done punishing Jack Phillips for his religious beliefs.

Transgender woman Autumn Scardina filed a second lawsuit against Phillips last Wednesday in District Court for the city and county of Denver, Colorado, claiming that Phillips violated Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act and Consumer Protection Act by refusing to design what she referred to as a “birthday cake.”

The “birthday cake” as described in the lawsuit, just as in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case (2018), was more than a cake to celebrate one of life’s memorable events. It was meant to celebrate more than just a birthday. It was meant to celebrate her trangendering from a male to a female. The cake she asked Jack Phillips to design was one which was to be blue on the outside and pink on the inside. He, in line with his core beliefs, decline to design such a cake. Again, he offered to bake her any other type of cake.

She had filed a first lawsuit with the same claim but the Colorado Civil Rights Commission decided to drop it. It was argued by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) that Scardina’s lawsuit was an intentional act of harassment. She could have easily gone to any other cake artist (yes, there are plenty of them in the Denver area), but he made the intentional choice to go to the Masterpiece Cakeshop, knowing full well that his religious beliefs would have motivated him to decline to design the cake.

The Alliance Defending Freedom, which has represented Phillips in his past litigation and will represent him in the current case (if it goes forward), continues to believe that the case is one of harassment and has been addressed by Justice Kennedy’s opinion in the Masterpiece Cakeshop opinion.

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ANATOMY OF A SUPREME COURT CASE: District of Columbia v. Heller (2008)

DIck Heller and Supreme Court - Median pic

  (Photo credit: Median)

by Diane Rufino, May 25, 2019

The case District of Columbia v. Heller is the landmark Supreme Court case decided in 2008, and written by the late great conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, which finally looked at the roots and origins of the Second Amendment and ruled that it confers not only a collective right to keep and bear arms when serving in a militia but also an individual right to keep and bear arms for self-defense and for self-protection. The Second Amendment recognizes and guarantees gun rights for two articulated purposes. Both purposes involve self-defense and protection: The first is for the defense and protection of the state and the second is for the defense and protection of the individual.

We the People have the inalienable Right to Life. The corollary to that absolutely fundamental right is the right to defend and preserve it. Otherwise the right is only one recognized on paper. The right to defend one’s life implies that the individual be entitled to possess the same type of weapons, and of the same force, which may attempt to take his or her life.

The case stems from an incident, as we will see, that occurred in 1975 and which immediately resulted in the strictest gun control law in the nation – in the District of Columbia.

But first, let’s look at the wording of the Second Amendment:

A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, SHALL NOT be infringed.”

Next, let’s look at the context in which this Amendment has been added to the Constitution. To do that, let’s look at the Preamble to the first ten amendments (Bill of Rights):

“THE Conventions of a number of the States having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best insure the beneficent ends of its institution.”

Each of the first ten amendments to the Constitution (The Bill of Rights) holds a particular significance in the scope of government. And that significance is articulated by the Preamble which accompanied the Bill of Rights. The Preamble goes to the INTENT of our Founders and framers and to the understanding of the ground rules by which the States established and then agreed to create a general government. Remember, there were several states that would NOT have ratified and adopted the Constitution – that is, would NOT have joined the Union of states – if a Bill of Rights was not added.

How important was the Right to Keep and Bear Arms?? As will be discussed later, gun rights activist Don B. Kates, did extensive research into the history and the roots of our gun rights and the Second Amendment. In his research into the debates of the states in their ratifying conventions (1787-1790), he found that the number of states that recommended adding a guarantee of the right to have guns outnumbered those that recommended adding other rights.

North Carolina was one of those states. North Carolina met in convention in 1788 (July 21 – August 4) and could not decide whether to adopt the US Constitution. The State adopted the Anti-Federalist position which held that the Constitution had the potential of concentrating too much power in a central government. To avoid this, those states argued that a Bill of Rights was needed to be added to the Constitution (“A Bill of Rights is what every free people are entitled to against every government” – Thomas Jefferson). North Carolina decided to wait it out – to see if a Bill of Rights would indeed be added. At that 1788 convention, the delegates drafted and adopted a “Declaration of Rights: (20 of them) and a set of Amendments (26 of them), which were forwarded to Congress. [See https://www.usconstitution.net/rat_nc.html]. One of those “Rights” was the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. It read:

“17. That the people have a right to Keep and Bear Arms; that a well-regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defence of a free state; that standing armies, in time of peace, are dangerous to liberty, and therefore ought to be avoided, as far as the circumstances and protection of the community will admit; and that. in all cases, the military should be under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power.”

The Constitution was eventually ratified by the requisite nine states on June 21, 1788 (New Hampshire being the ninth state to ratify) and so it went into effect and established our second American Union. The first US Congress was seated on March 4, 1789. (North Carolina was not part of the Union at that time and thus, not represented). In September 1789, the first US Congress adopted a set of amendments (which were written and submitted, as promised, by James Madison), which were sent to the States to be ratified as the US Bill of Rights. Once this was done, North Carolina called up a second convention two months later. The Constitution was ratified on November 21, 1789, making the state the twelfth state to ratify and join the Union.

So, let’s go back to 1975, the year that ultimately gave rise to the Heller case.

  • Violent crime involving handguns was on the rise in the United States. Communities were no longer safe; the streets were no longer safe. Murders were up, robberies were up, aggravated assaults were up, there were car-jackings, home invasions, drug-related crimes, etc
  • In 1974 alone, there were more than 890 incidents of violent crime (involving the illegal use of a firearm) every single day – with a disproportionate share of them being in DC
  • In the 1970’s, DC was suffering from one of the highest levels of violent crimes (and poverty and drugs and venereal disease) in the country
  • Fortune magazine called DC “one of the sickest cities in America”
  • The majority of its residents were African-American, trapped in poverty, stuck on welfare, and succumbing to crime and drug use
  • Prayer was taken out of public schools by the Supreme Court with the Engel v. Vitale ruling in 1962
  • Bible readings were taken out of public schools by the Supreme Court with the Abington v. Schempp ruling in 1963
  • LBJ signed the Civil Rights Act into law in 1964, creating the welfare system we know today which has had disastrous effects on the advancement of black communities – providing and focusing on handouts that discourage self-improvement, advancement, independency, and responsibility

With respect to LBJ’s “War on Poverty” and the “Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC)” program (welfare, particularly aimed at inner-city blacks), Derryck Green, spokesman for Project 21 (Black Leadership Network) explained: “The disastrous effects of the government’s management of anti-poverty initiatives are recognizable across racial lines, but the destruction is particularly evident in the black community. It effectively subsidized the dissolution of the black family by rendering the black man’s role as a husband and a father irrelevant, invisible and — more specifically — disposable. The result has been several generations of blacks born into broken homes and broken communities experiencing social, moral and economic chaos. It fosters an inescapable dependency that primarily, and oftentimes solely, relies on government to sustain livelihoods.” The unintended consequences – institutionalized poverty, crime, drugs, broken families, lack of education, etc were prevalent in DC in the 1970’s.

On a Sunday in June 1975, two men broke into a hardware store with pistols and committed armed robbery, firing shots at the guards while customers were in the store. The store was owned by John Hechinger, who also happened to be the first chairman of the Council of the District of Columbia (= city council of DC)

Two years earlier, in December 1973, the US Congress relinquished governance over the District of Columbia and established “home rule,” giving the city’s residents the right of self-governance…. Finally. However, the government still maintained ultimate authority; it could over-ride laws that it did not approve of.

In July 1976, John Hechinger helped to pass the most stringent gun control law in the nation:

  • Banned shotguns completely
  • Required that shotguns and rifles must be kept unloaded, disassembled, and locked in one’s home
  • Long guns (rifles, shotgun) could be assembled for recreation purposes only, such as hunting
  • Banned the use of “long guns” (including shotgun) for non-recreational purposes (hence, they could not be used for self-defense)

In other words, even if a person owned a shotgun, he or she couldn’t use it against an armed burglar coming through the door.

Interestingly, a young first-term Republican Congressman from southern Texas, Ron Paul, who had a particular aversion to big ambitious government and who would go on to found the Liberty movement, tried to over-turn the gun ban in Congress. Although Congress had given DC “home rule,” it still retained the right to revise its laws should it feel the need to do so. [The bill passed; however, the wording was so sloppy that it was ineffective at overturning the ban].

When the DC gun ban went into effect, Second Amendment jurisprudence wasn’t very well-articulated. The prevailing view was that the Second Amendment articulated a “militia theory” of gun rights. That is, a “collective right.” Only when an individual was serving or able to serve in a state militia would he be entitled to keep and bear arms. Those arms, accordingly, would only be allowed when serving in a militia.

In 1939, the Supreme Court ruled in the case United States v. Miller that “a sawed-off shotgun is not a typical weapon used by a militia and thus is not protected under the Second Amendment,” thus apparently endorsing the “militia theory” or “collective right” view of the Second Amendment.

Note that the Supreme Court never really officially endorsed the “Militia” theory (or Collective Right theory) of the Second Amendment because it never bothered to do a deep dive into its history or original meaning, but it certainly appeared it tended that way in 1939 with the Miller case. For many decades after the opinion, the lower federal courts adopted the “militia theory” and the Supreme Court never objected or took cases to correct this view. In fact, the justices of the Supreme Court declined for 70 years to rule on any Second Amendment case.

In the 1930’s and 1940’s, and even into the 1960’s, the US practiced and even institutionalized civil rights violations against African-Americans. There was the Jim Crow era, followed by the violent Civil Rights era, when those institutions of racism finally came toppling down. Before that, freed slaves and their children were victimized and persecuted by the Democratic Ku Klux Klan – militant members of the Southern Democratic Party intent on maintaining white supremacy in the South by preventing blacks from voting and having any meaningful civic voice in southern society. Most people don’t know that one of the primary objects of the Ku Klux Klan was to visit the homes of freed blacks and take their guns away. Blacks could not be permitted to have firearms; they could not be permitted to defend themselves or to harm whites.

In the summer of 1963,, a gun-rights activist named Don Kates stood guard outside the home of a local civil rights activist in eastern NC with an M1 Carbine in one hand and a Smith & Wesson Chief’s Special revolver in the other hand. That activist, a woman, was to be a plaintiff in a civil rights lawsuit and she had been receiving death threats. Eastern North Carolina was Ku Klux Klan country and the police too often sided with the Klan. Good men, civilians, armed with firearms would have to protect her and Don Kates volunteered for the job. Kates had just completed his first year at Yale Law School and was volunteering at a law firm in North Carolina working on civil rights cases. The experience of providing protection for a woman facing death threats taught Kates a valuable lesson: For oppressed people who can’t rely on the police, having a gun is sometimes the only means of self-protection. This was especially true for African-Americans who had a history of being oppressed and being denied access and ownership of guns.   [Adam Winkler, “Gun Fight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America.” (2011)]

Later in the 1970’s when he went into private practice, Kates began to represent clients in civil rights cases. To best do so, he researched the history of the Second Amendment. Eventually, over the next couple of years, he published a series of articles in various legal magazines and journals on gun rights, the most notable being the Michigan Law Review. [Don Kates, “Handgun Prohibition and the Original Meaning of the Second Amendment,” Michigan Law Review 82 (1983): 204]. That article in the Michigan Law Review was the first article ever to appear in a law review from a top ten law school arguing that the Second Amendment protected an individual right to keep firearms for self-defense. This article would help revolutionize Second Amendment jurisprudence by tying it to its original meaning and intent. [Adam Winkler, “Gun Fight….”]

But Kates’ article wasn’t actually the first to articulate this “Individual Right” view of the Second Amendment. That distinction would belong to Robert Sprecher, a Chicago lawyer, in 1965. Every year, the American Bar Association (ABA) sponsored an essay competition on constitutional law issues. The winning essay is published in the ABA Journal, the most widely-circulated legal periodical. In 1965, the question posed was this: “What does the Second Amendment, guaranteeing the right of the people to keep and bear arms,’ mean? Does the guarantee extend to the keeping and bearing of arms for private purposes not connected with a militia?” The winning essay was written by Sprecher (who, incidentally, went on to being nominated to the federal bench by President Nixon). [Robert Sprecher, “The Lost Amendment,” American Bar Association Journal 51 (1965)]. In his essay, he argued that the original meaning of the Second Amendment had been lost. According to his research into its historical roots, the Founding Fathers sought to secure “the right to arm a state militia AND also the right of the individual to keep and bear arms” for personal self-protection. [Adam Winkler, “Gun Fight….”]

Clark Neily, who we will meet very shortly, considered Kates’ article in the Michigan Law Review the “seminal work” on the Individual Rights theory of the Second Amendment. It had a profound impact on his view of gun rights. To be fair, Kates didn’t deny that the Founding Fathers were concerned primarily with the militia when they conceived of, drafted, and adopted the Second Amendment, but the evidence (according to Kates) suggests that it was precisely by protecting the individual in his right to keep and bear arms that the Framers intended to protect the militia. As long as individuals had the fundamental right to keep and bear arms, unburdened by government, the militia would always exist. “The one thing all the Framers agreed on was the desirability of allowing citizens to arm themselves,” he wrote in his article. The Second Amendment was designed to keep the government from disarming the civilian population. And this makes sense being that it was the King George’s command to disarm the colonists that led to the shots that started the fight for independence. [Ibid]

In his research into the debates of the states in their ratifying conventions (1787-1790), Don Kates found that the number of states that recommended adding a guarantee of the right to have guns outnumbered those that recommended adding other rights. “Amending the Constitution to assure the right to arms was endorsed by five state ratifying conventions. By comparison, only four states suggested that the rights to assemble, to due process, and against cruel and unusual punishment be guaranteed, and only three states suggested that freedom of speech be guaranteed.” [Don Kates, “Handgun Prohibition and the Original Meaning of the Second Amendment,” Michigan Law Review].

While the wording of the Second Amendment had confused generations of Americans, Kates sought to actually understood what those words meant to the Founding Fathers (which is an “originalist” approach). Supporters of the “Militia Theory” of the amendment saw the grant of the right to keep and bear arms “to the people,” which seemed to indicate a collective right. That is, only when individuals assembled to form a militia does the Second Amendment protect their right to have and bear arms. It would also offer guidance as to which firearms would likely be protected. But Kates’ Michigan Law Review article offered a different explanation. A simple look at the Bill of Rights shows many other examples of provisions where the Founding Fathers and drafters took the phrase “the right of the people” to mean individual rights. The First Amendment, for example, refers to the right of the people…   to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” The Fourth Amendment refers to the “right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.” The Tenth Amendment explicitly distinguished “the people” from “the States,” providing that the “powers delegated” to Congress “are reserved to the States respectively, or to the People.” So, then, a reading of the Second Amendment…   “the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed” would indicate that an individual right to be armed is articulated. [Ibid]

In 1989, one of the foremost liberal constitutional law professors in the country, Sanford Levinson, published an article in the Yale Law Journal endorsing Kates’ view of the Second Amendment. [Sanford Levinson, “The Embarrassing Second Amendment,” Yale Law Review 99 (1989): 637].

In the years following Kates’ article in the Michigan Law Review, and particularly in the years 1989-1995, more academic research was done regarding the Second Amendment than had been done in the previous 200 years.

Kates would become the most influential proponent of the view that the Founding Fathers intended the Second Amendment to guarantee the right of private individuals to own firearms for their protection and that of their families.

So then comes the turn of the century… early 2002. Legal scholars began to wonder what exactly is the nature of the right guaranteed by the Second Amendment. There has been growing scholarship on the original meaning of the Second Amendment which tended to protect both the right to bear arms to serve in a militia and to bear arms for self-protection yet the prevailing earlier view had been the Collective or Militia Theory only.

What does the Second Amendment really mean? Does it only assure Americans that Congress would NOT have the power to destroy state militias by disarming the people? Or does it also assure Americans that Congress will NOT have the power to deny their right to have firearms for self-protection?   Does it confer a Collective right or also an Individual Right?

A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”   [Collective Right]

“A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”   [Individual Right]

OR, are there two types of gun rights articulated? Are there two types of rights that “Shall Not be Infringed” – the right of a state to have a well-regulated militia (hence, individuals, which necessarily comprise the militia, must have the right to keep and bear arms to serve in it) and right of the individual to keep and bear arms for personal protection. Again, both of these reflect a general right of self-defense and preservation and both absolutely are grounded in the right of the individual to keep and bear arms.

The question was this: Would the Supreme Court be willing – finally – to rule on a modern-day Second Amendment case? Would the time be right? Would the Court be likely to embrace the new and growing view of the Second Amendment, which is that it guarantees the individual a right to keep and bear arms for self-defense and self-protection (including against a tyrannical government)?

At a happy hour in DC in early 2002, two young lawyers who worked at the Institute for Justice, Clark Neily III and Steve Simpson, were drinking and talking constitutional law – always a powerful combination. Their discussion turned to the right to bear arms. They noted that for too many decades, the federal courts held that the Second Amendment protected only the right to have guns for the purpose of serving in a state militia, but that over the past 15-20 years or so, there have been important developments in the understanding and history of the amendment. Characterizing themselves as libertarians, the believed that it is individuals who should be able to decide for themselves how best to safeguard their lives and to protect their homes and their families, without government insinuating its political agenda. In their alcohol-induced legal excitement, they suggested that the time might be ripe to get the Supreme Court to reconsider the meaning of the Second Amendment.

The Growing Scholarship and the Shift in the Understanding of the Meaning of The Second Amendment:

  • Robert Sprecher’s article in the American Bar Association Journal (1965)
  • Don Kates’ article in the Michigan Law Review (1983)
  • Sanford Levinson’s article in the Yale Law Journal (1989) .
  • President George W. Bush, through his Attorney General John Ashcroft, announced his administration’s rejection of long-standing White House policy regarding the Second Amendment (Bush rejected the Militia Theory in favor the Individual Right’s view). The NRA, a major backer of Bush, supported him on this policy change.
  • In 2001, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals (in Texas) took Ashcroft’s cue and held that earlier rulings interpreting the Second Amendment to apply only to state militias had been wrong. “The original meaning of the Second Amendment was to guarantee individuals, not just militias, the right to bear arms.” [United States v. Emerson]. ** This case marked a profound shift in Second Amendment jurisprudence.
  • In the 1980’s, President Ronald Reagan’s attorney general, Edwin Meese III sought to add as many strong conservative judges and justices to the federal court system. He particularly sought to appoint those who adopted the philosophy of Originalism. During his first two years in office, President Reagan appointed half of the federal judges in America, along with three new Supreme Court justices.

The Supreme Court declined to hear the Everson case. Everson was a gun owner who had threatened to hurt innocent people, and because of his threats, had a restraining order against him by a court of law. Perhaps the Court declined to take the case because the person challenging the gun control law, Timothy Joe Everson, was a dangerous man; he was an offensive challenger. Perhaps, as Neily and Simpson, reasoned, the Supreme Court might be more inclined to hear a Second Amendment case if it involved a law-abiding person who simply wanted or needed to own a gun for self-defense.

 

BUILDING THE PERFECT CASE (the “Test” Case)

First, of course, the Court has to be receptive to what the lawyers want to ask of it, which is to abandon the Military Theory of the right to keep and bear arms in favor of an Individual Right to do so. Was the Supreme Court conservative enough at the time? At the time (2002-2005), the conservatives members were Justices Sandra Day O’Connor, Antonin Scalia, and Clarence Thomas, and Chief Justice William Rehnquist, with Anthony Kennedy as the swing vote. Liberal members were Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, David Souter, John Paul Stevens, and Stephen Breyer. [Sandra Day O’Connor stepped down in 2005, and President Bush nominated John Roberts to replace him. But just before the Senate Confirmation Committee was set to act, Rehnquist died unexpectedly. So Bush nominated Roberts to replace him as Chief Justice and Samuel Alito to replace O’Connor. Roberts was confirmed in September 2005 and Alito was confirmed in Jan. 2006].

The Court was conservative compared to the progressive Warren and Burger courts. Earl Warren was Chief Justice from 1953-69 and presided over such landmark cases as Brown v. Board of Education (1954), Engel v. Vitale (1962) and Abington v. Schempp (1963), which took prayer and Bible readings out of schools, respectively), Griswold v. Connecticut (1965), somehow finding a blanket right to privacy and thus serving as the precursor to Roe v. Wade, and enlarging due process rights for criminal defendants (including Miranda rights and publicly-funded attorneys). Warren Burger was Chief Justice from 1969-1986 and presided over such cases as Roe v. Wade (1973) which articulated the right to an abortion, Regents of the University of California v. Baake (1978) which upheld affirmative action policies in universities, and several cases defining the limits of free speech and free press.

A good case for the justices of the Supreme Court to re-address the Second Amendment is one with sympathetic, law-abiding plaintiffs who have an understandable reason to be armed, preferably ordinary individuals who rightfully fear violent criminals or who live in a crime-ridden area. The best-case scenario would be to have individuals who have actually been threatened with harm or death or who have already been victims of crime. A good case would be one that reaches the ultimate merits of the issue (which is that the Second Amendment affirms a constitutional and individual right to keep and bear arms) and not be decided on any extraneous issues. A good case would have constitutional significance.

Neily and Simpson began to plan on how to get a Second Amendment case to the relatively conservative Supreme Court.

(I)  The first decision to make was which city’s gun control law would they target. The easy answer was Washington DC.

(a) It was the strictest gun control law in the nation

(b) Under the law, everyone, even law-abiding citizens, were banned from owning a handgun

(c) Even if an individual owned a shotgun or rifle for a legal purpose under the law (hunting), it would be ILLEGAL (a crime) to use that legally-owned firearm for self-defense should an armed robber or murder break into his home

(d) DC is technically ruled by the federal government; it is not a state but rather, a federal territory. Although DC was granted “home rule,” the Constitution gives Congress the ultimate authority over the area. (That is why Ron Paul was able to seek and pass legislation to try to limit the effect of the gun-control law). The Second Amendment (as all of the Bill of Rights) is a restriction only on the federal government. [That is, by challenging DC’s gun law instead of, say New York City’s gun law, Neily and Simpson would only need to convince the Supreme Court that the Second Amendment guarantees the right of individuals to have guns. That would be a challenge, given the Miller case precedent, but it would be less difficult than having to persuade the Court to also rule that the amendment applies to the States through the 14th Amendment. The McDonald v. City of Chicago case would do that in 2010].

(II)  Neily and Simpson were relatively unknowns, with no money to build the case. They would need to find the perfect person to finance the case. A friend of Neily’s, a fellow co-clerk in DC and a wealthy individual, Robert Levy agreed to finance. He was then a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. (Levy decided to go to law school at the age of 50. Although he was absolutely brilliant and could have gone to any law school he chose, he decided to attend George Mason Law School because it was a conservative law school. Its professors lean clearly to the right unlike the professors at almost all other law schools). At this point, Simpson had to drop out because of the pressures of his job.

III. Next, Neily and Levy had to find a suitable attorney to lead the case. Neither Neily or Levy considered themselves capable to do so. The decided on a young libertarian lawyer named Alan Gura who they remembered in their libertarian circles as a proponent of both guns and marijuana being legal (“individuals have the right to do with their lives without government interference”). Gura was sharp but he had never argued a case before the Supreme Court.

IV.  The second major decision to make was to select the Perfect Plaintiff (ie, the person to represent the issue, the lead name on the case).

(a) Dick Heller. Dick Heller was a white man who worked as a security guard at a federal building in Washington – the Thurgood Marshall Federal Judicial Center. He lived in DC across the street from an abandoned federal housing project. That housing project was built in the 1960’s, in furtherance of LBJ’s “war on poverty.” Thirty years later, the units were run down and decrepit – with rotted out walls and collapsing ceilings. The only people who found the place habitable were heroin and crack addicts. Consequently, a drug gang moved into the area and operated out of the complex. The drugs and the gang brought with them violence – routine shootings and killings. The police were happy to ignore the area. But Dick Heller had to exist in this neighborhood. At night he would hear the gunshots and try to ignore them. One night he returned home to find a stray bullet had struck his front door. At work, he carried a handgun on his hip to protect the people who worked there (federal employees), but because of DC’s then 20-year-old gun ban, he had to leave it there when he returned home each day. In 2002, prompted by the suggestion of a close friend, Heller applied for a gun permit and went through the frustrating and futile exercise of applying for a gun permit. Also at the suggestion of his friend, he documented the ordeal as a testament to the practical impossibility of obtaining and keeping a gun for home protection in the district.

While there was rarely any threat of violence at work, the situation at home was very different. There existed a real threat, an actual threat, of violence in his neighborhood. Yet the DC gun control law banned him from possessing a firearm to defend himself.

The only negative that Neily, Levy, and Gura could find (which might have an unfavorable impression on the Court) was that Heller was overly obsessed with his gun rights and was prone to making potentially disturbing political statements.

(b) Shelly Parker. In 2002, Shelly Parker, an elderly African-American woman and former nurse, moved to a neighborhood not far from Capitol Hill, in an area where drug dealers sold their drugs right out in the open. Determined to keep her neighborhood clean, she became a one-woman Community Watch, keeping an eye out on the streets and calling the police whenever she saw someone buying drugs. The drug dealers caught on and responded with intimidation – smashing her car window, stealing her security camera, and driving a car into her back fence. One night, a drug dealer stood at her gate and shouted: “Bitch, I’ll kill you! I live on this block too.” Parker began to fear for her life, believing that the drug dealers would eventually make good on their threats. When she called the police to tell them of the threats, one officer told her point blank: “Get a gun.” The officer certainly knew that owning a gun was against the law, but he also knew that it was the only sure way to protect her life. He understood, as she did, that the DC gun law left citizens like her defenseless and putting her life in danger. As Parker said: “The only thing between me and somebody entering my home are harsh words. That’s all I have.” Parker was an attractive plaintiff for many reasons: She was a very sympathetic elderly woman, defenseless, victimized, in actual fear of her life, and African-American. She had stood up to violent drug dealers at great risk to her life. Why does it matter that she was African-American? Because history has been cruel to African-Americans in this country. First they were slaves and even when they were freed, the South legislatively imposed second-class status on them with the segregation laws known as the Jim Crow laws. After Reconstruction and as the Southern states were trying to re-establish their white dominated society, the Ku Klux Klan went around terrorizing and intimidating free slaves but most importantly, confiscating their guns. Laws were put in place in the post-Reconstruction South (the Jim Crow South) forbidding blacks to own guns, or making it almost impossible to get one. Freed slaves were intentionally left defenseless.

Gura chose Shelly Parker. She was a far more sympathetic and compelling plaintiff.

 

THE ROCKY ROAD to the SUPREME COURT:

1).  Gura filed the lawsuit in the District Court for the District of Columbia on February 10, 2003. As mentioned above, the lead plaintiff chosen was Shelly Parker and so the case name, as filed, was Parker v. District of Columbia.

2).  After Gura filed the complaint against the District of Columbia, the NRA, totally unexpectedly, filed its own lawsuit.. In that lawsuit, the NRA not only asserting the “Individual Rights” view of the Second Amendment but also including what is called “trap doors” – additional, extraneous claims that the courts could use to decide the case by avoiding the Second Amendment question. Neily and Simpson decided to bring the case, and Levy put his own money behind it, NOT to simply strike down the DC’s handgun ban. They wanted to resurrect the Second Amendment. The NRA wanted just the opposite. Note, the NRA hired as its leading attorney the renowned Steve Halbrook – the nation’s leading expert on the right to bear arms. Halbrook was Neily and Levy’s first choice, but unfortunately, he was too expensive for their budget. Halbrook had plenty of experience trying gun cases; Gura had none.

Gura did not expect the NRA’s lawsuit. He had thought the organization would have supported their lawsuit to assert the Individual Rights view of the Second Amendment. The NRA’s concerns, however, were two-fold (and conflicting): (1) On the one hand, it didn’t want to challenge the prevailing “Militia Theory” view of the Second Amendment because gun control laws were their bread and butter. Nothing advances its fund-raising efforts more than alerting gun enthusiasts and club members that their gun rights are being infringed by gun-control laws. (2) On the other hand, the NRA was in favor of the individual rights view but they thought the timing for such a lawsuit was not right – they could not be sure that they had the necessary votes on the Supreme Court to shift from the Militia view. [Justice Sandra Day O’Connor had disappointed conservatives by siding strongly with progressives on abortion and on affirmative action, and Justice John Paul Stevens was uber liberal and anti-gun. Both were likely to be replaced by President Bush].

3).  The NRA sought to have the cases consolidated, thereby hijacking Gura’s case by bringing in the “trap door” claims. Also, the NRA hoped that it would be Halbrook, and not Gura, who would argue the case. Essentially, the point of the NRA’s litigation tactic was this: “If we can’t control the litigation, there won’t be any litigation!” Luckily, in July 2003, the district court judge, Emmett Sullivan, reached a decision – the two cases should not be consolidated. Alan Gura successfully survived the first hurdle.

4).  Unable to derail Gura’s lawsuit with consolidation, the NRA tried Plan B – It convinced Senator Orrin Hatch to introduce a bill in Congress, the “District of Columbia Personal Protection Act” which would over-turn the DC gun law and permit DC residents to possess handguns. If the bill passed then Gura’s lawsuit would be moot and thrown out of court. [The bill passed the Senate and was fast-tracked to the House floor in 2007 where it was expected to pass, but then the shooting at Virginia Tech happened on April 16 and it doomed the bill].

5).  In March 2004, Judge Sullivan ruled that the court was bound by the US v. Miller ruling (1939) which held, although ambiguously, that the Second Amendment applied only to state militias and therefore dismissed Gura’s lawsuit. Gura actually expected this. What he didn’t expect was how long it would take for Sullivan to make it. In the meantime, the judge handling the NRA case had also issued a dismissal. Because the NRA case was dismissed first, it meant that Steve Halbrook had the chance to file an appeal before Gura did – which he did. Timing is everything. Here is why it mattered: Halbrook filed an appeal on behalf of the NRA and so when Gura filed his appeal, the DC Circuit Court (of Appeals) ruled that Gura’s case would be put on hold pending the ruling of the appeal in the NRA case. In other words, Halbrook would get to argue his case before a panel of appellate judges and Gura would not. The NRA, in effect, now had control of the litigation regarding the DC gun control law.

6).  In 2005, the DC Circuit Court heard the NRA’s appeal. Being persuaded by an argument that DOJ Attorney General John Ashcroft made asserting that the plaintiffs in the NRA’s case lacked standing, being that none of them had tried to register a handgun nor been arrested for having one, the NRA’s lawsuit was dismissed. [Remember that Dick Heller had standing; he had an actual injury. He not only applied for a permit for his revolver but he documented how frustrating and futile the process was]. Gura survived yet another hurdle, because with the NRA case out of the picture, the DC Circuit could then hear Parker’s appeal.

7).  Gura appeared before the 3-judge panel of the DC Circuit in early December 2006. The attorney for the District of Columbia, Todd Kim (a distinguished Harvard Law School graduate) challenged all of the plaintiffs as not having standing to sue the District of Columbia over its gun law. He insisted that none of them had really been hurt; none had suffered a direct injury as a result of the gun ban. The panel agreed as to all plaintiffs except Dick Heller. Heller had been directly harmed. He had applied for a gun permit and was denied. And so, in 2007, with the DC Circuit Court’s ruling, Parker v. District of Columbia was renamed Heller v. District of Columbia, with Dick Heller as the sole plaintiff.

8).  In February 2007, the DC Circuit handed down is decision in Parker v. District of Columbia (renamed, Heller v. District of Columbia), with 2 of the 3 judges ruling against the District of Columbia. The majority opinion, written by Judge Silberman, strongly endorsed the Individual Rights view of the Second Amendment. “The Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms.” Silberman’s arguments were very closely aligned with the arguments made twenty-five years earlier by Don Kates in his Michigan Law Review article. “The People,” whose right is guaranteed in the Second Amendment, are the same individuals who are guaranteed the rights enumerated in the First and Fourth Amendments, and the “Militia” refers to all able-bodied citizens who were expected to have their own guns, to be trained and experienced, and even comfortable, in their use when called into service. In other words, because able-bodied citizens had the right to keep and bear arms, they could be called to serve in a state militia. Arming the militia may have been the primary reason the Founding Fathers wrote the Second Amendment, as Silberman wrote, but it was not the only one. The right to bear arms that the colonists (and our Founding Fathers and founding generation) inherited from England also included the right to defend one’s home from violent attack and the right to defend the individual from the tyranny of government. Reaching the ultimate issue, the constitutionality of the DC gun ban, Silberman concluded that the city’s total ban on handguns, as well as its requirement that firearms in the home be kept nonfunctional even when necessary for self-defense, violated the Second Amendment’s right to keep and bear arms for the purpose of self-defense.

9).  Unfortunately, the ruling only applied in the District of Columbia. It didn’t stand as binding precedent anywhere else in the country. Neily, Levy, and Gura’s goal all along was to try a Second Amendment case with constitutional significance. Their goal was a definitive ruling by the US Supreme Court. The problem, however, was that the losing party has the right to file an appeal and not the winning party. If the District of Columbia decided not to seek an appeal and instead, just amend its gun law, Neily, Levy, and Gura were screwed. But as luck would have it, on September 4, 2007, the District of Columbia filed a “Writ of Certiorari” with the Supreme Court, requesting the court to review its case.

10).  On November 20, 2007, the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia received word that the Supreme Court had agreed to hear their appeal.

11).  Also in 2007, in anticipation of the upcoming case, the state of Montana’s lawmakers passed a resolution demanding that the Supreme Court hold that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms. The resolution said that when Montana agreed to join the Union in 1889, its people believed that the US Constitution protected the right of individuals to possess guns for self-protection, and not just a right tied to state militias. According to the Resolution, Supreme Court ruling rejecting the individual rights view of the Second Amendment would “violate Montana’s Compact with the United States” and Montana “reserves all usual rights and remedies under historic compact/contract law if its Compact should be violated.” In other words, the Second Amendment’s meaning as an individual right to keep and bear arms was so critical that Montana was threatening to secede from the Union should the Court rule against such a view.

12).  On March 18, 2008, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the Heller case. Walter Dellinger represented the District of Columbia and Alan Gura represented Dick Heller. Each lawyer was initially given 30 minutes to argue the merits of its case (although they were eventually given some extra time). U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement was given 15 minutes to present the federal government’s views. Almost immediately, Scalia’s questions and comments made it abundantly clear that he was strongly in favor of the Individual Right view of the Second Amendment. And Gura was fairly confident that Kennedy would agree with the Individual Rights view as well. Heller’s team was optimistic.

13)  The case was decided on June 26, 2008. On that day, the lawyers were called to the Supreme Court building and waited for the justices to file in and take their seats. After an opening opinion was read, Chief Justice John Roberts announced: “Justice Scalia will have our decision in 07-290.” That was the docket number of the Heller case. Once it was announced that Scalia was the author of the opinion, “that was when we knew the opinion was in our favor,” said Gura. It was the first time in American history that a gun control law violated with Second Amendment to the Constitution !! It was a long-time coming, but the Supreme Court finally articulated the correct meaning and intent of the Second Amendment.

 

THE HELLER OPINION IS HANDED DOWN –  [District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008). https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/07pdf/07-290.pdf]

The Supreme Court, in Heller, AFFIRMED the DC Circuit Court ruling.

The opinion, written by Justice Scalia, can be summed up by these excerpts:

We turn first to the meaning of the Second Amendment…. In interpreting this text, we are guided by the principle that “the Constitution was written to be understood by the voters; its words and phrases were used in their normal and ordinary as distinguished from technical meaning.” The two sides in this case have set out very different interpretations of the Amendment. Petitioners and today’s dissenting Justices believe that it protects only the right to possess and carry a firearm in connection with militia service. Respondent Heller argues that it protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.

The Second Amendment is naturally divided into two parts: its prefatory clause and its operative clause. The former does not limit the latter grammatically, but rather announces a purpose. The Amendment could be rephrased, “Because a well-regulated Militia is necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.”

Let’s first look at the “Operative Clause.” The first salient feature of the operative clause is that it codifies a “right of the people.” The unamended Constitution and the Bill of Rights use the phrase “right of the people” two other times, in the First Amendment’s Assembly-and-Petition Clause and in the Fourth Amendment’s Search-and-Seizure Clause. The Ninth Amendment uses very similar terminology (“The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people”). All three of these instances unambiguously refer to individual rights, not “collective” rights, or rights that may be exercised only through participation in some corporate body. There are three provisions of the Constitution that refer to “the people” in a context other than “rights”—the famous preamble (“We the people”), §2 of Article I (providing that “the people” will choose members of the House), and the Tenth Amendment (providing that those powers not given the Federal Government remain with “the States” or “the people”). Those provisions arguably refer to “the people” acting collectively—but they deal with the exercise or reservation of powers, not rights.   Nowhere else in the Constitution does a “right” attributed to “the people” refer to anything other than an individual right.

This contrasts markedly with the phrase “the militia” in the prefatory clause. As we will describe below, the “militia” in colonial America consisted of a subset of “the people”—those who were male, able bodied, and within a certain age range. Reading the Second Amendment as protecting only the right to “keep and bear Arms” in an organized militia therefore fits poorly with the operative clause’s description of the holder of that right as “the people.” We start therefore with a strong presumption that the Second Amendment right is exercised individually and belongs to all Americans.

The most natural reading of “keep Arms” in the Second Amendment is to “have weapons.” “Keep arms” was simply a common way of referring to possessing arms, for militiamen and everyone else. At the time of the founding, as now, to “bear” meant to “carry.” In 1998, Justice Ginsburg wrote that “surely a most familiar meaning is, as the Constitution’s Second Amendment . . . indicates: ‘wear, bear, or carry . . . upon the person or in the clothing or in a pocket, for the purpose . . . of being armed and ready for offensive or defensive action in a case of conflict with another person.’”

From our review of founding-era sources, we conclude that this natural meaning was also the meaning that “bear arms” had in the 18th century. In numerous instances, “bear arms” was unambiguously used to refer to the carrying of weapons outside of an organized militia. The most prominent examples are those most relevant to the Second Amendment: Nine state constitutional provisions written in the 18th century or the first two decades of the 19th, which enshrined a right of citizens to “bear arms in defense of themselves and the state” or “bear arms in defense of himself and the state.” It is clear from those formulations that “bear arms” did not refer only to carrying a weapon in an organized military unit.

Putting all of these textual elements together, we find that they guarantee the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation. This meaning is strongly confirmed by the historical background of the Second Amendment. We look to this because it has always been widely understood that the Second Amendment, like the First and Fourth Amendments, codified a pre-existing right. The very text of the Second Amendment implicitly recognizes the pre-existence of the right and declares only that it “shall not be infringed.” As we said in United States v. Cruikshank, 92 U. S. 542, 553 (1876), “this is not a right granted by the Constitution. Neither is it in any manner dependent upon that instrument for its existence. The Second amendment declares that it shall not be infringed . . . .”

Between the Restoration and the Glorious Revolution, the Stuart Kings Charles II and James II succeeded in using select militias loyal to them to suppress political dissidents, in part by disarming their opponents. Under the auspices of the 1671 Game Act, for example, the Catholic James II had ordered general disarmaments of regions home to his Protestant enemies. These experiences caused Englishmen to be extremely wary of concentrated military forces run by the state and to be jealous of their arms. They accordingly obtained an assurance from William and Mary, in the Declaration of Right (which was codified as the English Bill of Rights), that Protestants would never be disarmed: “That the subjects which are Protestants may have arms for their defense suitable to their conditions and as allowed by law.” This right has long been understood to be the predecessor to our Second Amendment. It was clearly an individual right, having nothing whatever to do with service in a militia. To be sure, it was an individual right not available to the whole population, given that it was restricted to Protestants, and like all written English rights it was held only against the Crown, not Parliament. But it was secured to them as individuals. By the time of the founding, the right to have arms had become fundamental for English subjects. According to William Blackstone, whose works (“Commentaries on the Laws of England”), this Court has held, constituted the preeminent authority on English law for the founding generation, cited the arms provision of the Bill of Rights as one of the fundamental rights of Englishmen. [See Blackstone, Volume 1, pp. 136, 139–140]. His description of it cannot possibly be thought to tie it to militia or military service. It was, he said, “the natural right of resistance and self-preservation” and “the right of having and using arms for self-preservation and defense.” (pg. 139)

Thus, the right secured in 1689 as a result of the Stuarts’ abuses was by the time of the founding understood to be an individual right protecting against both public and private violence. And, of course, what the Stuarts had tried to do to their political enemies, George III had tried to do to the colonists. In the tumultuous decades of the 1760’s and 1770’s, the Crown began to disarm the inhabitants of the most rebellious areas. That provoked polemical reactions by Americans invoking their rights as Englishmen to keep arms. A New York article of April 1769 said that “it is a natural right which the people have reserved to themselves, confirmed by the Bill of Rights, to keep arms for their own defense.” They understood the right to enable individuals to defend themselves. As the most important early American edition of Blackstone’s Commentaries (by the law professor and former Anti-Federalist St. George Tucker) made clear in the notes to the description of the arms right, Americans understood the “right of self-preservation” as permitting a citizen to “repel force by force” when “the intervention of society in his behalf, may be too late to prevent an injury.” [See Blackstone’s Commentaries, Vol. 1; pp. 145–146 (1803)]

Thus there seems to us no doubt, on the basis of both text and history, that the Second Amendment conferred an individual right to keep and bear arms. Of course the right was not unlimited, just as the First Amendment’s right of free speech was not. Thus, we do not read the Second Amendment to protect the right of citizens to carry arms for any sort of confrontation, just as we do not read the First Amendment to protect the right of citizens to speak for any purpose.

Three important founding-era legal scholars interpreted the Second Amendment in published writings. All three understood it to protect an individual right unconnected with militia service. St. George Tucker’s version of Blackstone’s Commentaries, as we explained above, conceived of the Blackstonian arms right as necessary for self-defense. He equated that right, absent the religious and class-based restrictions, with the US Bill of Rights’ Second Amendment. Tucker elaborated on the Second Amendment: “This may be considered as the true palladium of liberty . . . . The right to self-defense is the first law of nature: in most governments it has been the study of rulers to confine the right within the narrowest limits possible. Wherever standing armies are kept up, and the right of the people to keep and bear arms is, under any colour or pretext whatsoever, prohibited, liberty, if not already annihilated, is on the brink of destruction.” He believed that the English game laws had abridged the right by prohibiting “keeping a gun or other engine for the destruction of game.” He later grouped the right with some of the individual rights included in the First Amendment and said that if “a law be passed by congress, prohibiting” any of those rights, it would “be the province of the judiciary to pronounce whether any such act were constitutional, or not; and if not, to acquit the accused . . . .” It is unlikely that Tucker was referring to a person’s being “accused” of violating a law making it a crime to bear arms in a state militia.

In 1825, William Rawle, a prominent lawyer who had been a member of the Pennsylvania Assembly that ratified the Bill of Rights, published an influential treatise, which analyzed the Second Amendment as follows: “The first principle is a declaration that a well-regulated militia is necessary to the security of a free state; a proposition from which few will dissent. . . . “The corollary, from the first position is, that the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. “The prohibition is general. No clause in the constitution could by any rule of construction be conceived to give to congress a power to disarm the people. Such a flagitious attempt could only be made under some general pretense by a state legislature. But if in any blind pursuit of inordinate power, either should attempt it, this amendment may be appealed to as a restraint on both.” Like Tucker, Rawle regarded the English game laws as violating the right codified in the Second Amendment. Rawle clearly differentiated between the people’s right to bear arms and their service in a militia: “In a people permitted and accustomed to bear arms, we have the rudiments of a militia, which properly consists of armed citizens, divided into military bands, and instructed at least in part, in the use of arms for the purposes of war.” Rawle further said that the Second Amendment right ought not “be abused to the disturbance of the public peace,” such as by assembling with other armed individuals “for an unlawful purpose”—statements that make no sense if the right does not extend to any individual purpose.. Story explained that the English Bill of Rights had also included a “right to bear arms,” a right that, as we have discussed, had nothing to do with militia service. He then equated the English right with the Second Amendment: “§1891. A similar provision [to the Second Amendment] in favor of protestants (for to them it is confined) is to be found in the bill of rights of 1688, it being declared, ‘that the subjects, which are protestants, may have arms for their defense suitable to their condition, and as allowed by law.’ But under various pretenses the effect of this provision has been greatly narrowed; and it is at present in England more nominal than real, as a defensive privilege.” This comparison to the Declaration of Right would not make sense if the Second Amendment right was the right to use a gun in a militia, which was plainly not what the English right protected.

As the Tennessee Supreme Court recognized thirty-eight years after Story wrote his Commentaries, “the passage from Story, shows clearly that this right was intended . . . and was guaranteed to, and to be exercised and enjoyed by the citizen as such, and not by him as a soldier, or in defense solely of his political rights.” Story’s Commentaries also cite as support Tucker and Rawle, both of whom clearly viewed the right as unconnected to militia service. In addition, in a shorter 1840 work, Story wrote: “One of the ordinary modes, by which tyrants accomplish their purposes without resistance, is, by disarming the people, and making it an offence to keep arms, and by substituting a regular army in the stead of a resort to the militia.”

Antislavery advocates routinely invoked the right to bear arms for self-defense. Joel Tiffany, for example, citing Blackstone’s description of the right, wrote that “the right to keep and bear arms, also implies the right to use them if necessary in self-defense; without this right to use the guaranty would have hardly been worth the paper it consumed.” In his famous Senate speech about the 1856 “Bleeding Kansas” conflict, Charles Sumner proclaimed: “The rifle has ever been the companion of the pioneer and, under God, his tutelary protector against the red man and the beast of the forest. Never was this efficient weapon more needed in just self-defense, than now in Kansas, and at least one article in our National Constitution must be blotted out, before the complete right to it can in any way be impeached. And yet such is the madness of the hour, that, in defiance of the solemn guarantee, embodied in the Amendments to the Constitution, that ‘the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed,’ the people of Kansas have been arraigned for keeping and bearing them, and the Senator from South Carolina has had the face to say openly, on this floor, that they should be disarmed—of course, that the fanatics of Slavery, his allies and constituents, may meet no impediment.”

19th-century pre-Civil War cases that interpreted the Second Amendment universally support an individual right unconnected to militia service. In the famous fugitive-slave case of Johnson v. Tompkins, 13 F. Cas. 840, 850, 852 (CC Pa. 1833), Baldwin, sitting as a circuit judge, cited both the Second Amendment and the Pennsylvania analogue for his conclusion that a citizen has “a right to carry arms in defense of his property or person, and to use them, if either were assailed with such force, numbers or violence as made it necessary for the protection or safety of either.” In Nunn v. State, 1 Ga. 243, 251 (1846), the Georgia Supreme Court construed the Second Amendment as protecting the “natural right of self-defense” and therefore struck down a ban on carrying pistols openly. Its opinion perfectly captured the way in which the operative clause of the Second Amendment furthers the purpose announced in the prefatory clause, in continuity with the English right: “The right of the whole people, old and young, men, women and boys, and not militia only, to keep and bear arms of every description, and not such merely as are used by the militia, shall not be infringed, curtailed, or broken in upon, in the smallest degree; and all this for the important end to be attained: the rearing up and qualifying a well-regulated militia, so vitally necessary to the security of a free State. Our opinion is, that any law, State or Federal, is repugnant to the Constitution, and void, which contravenes this right, originally belonging to our forefathers, trampled underfoot by Charles I. and his two wicked sons and successors, re-established by the revolution of 1688, conveyed to this land of liberty by the colonists, and finally incorporated conspicuously in our own Magna Charta!”

Likewise, in State v. Chandler, 5 La. Ann. 489, 490 (1850), the Louisiana Supreme Court held that citizens had a right to carry arms openly: “This is the right guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States, and which is calculated to incite men to a manly and noble defense of themselves, if necessary, and of their country, without any tendency to secret advantages and unmanly assassinations.” the state constitutional guarantee of the right to “bear” arms did not prohibit the banning of concealed weapons. In 1833, the Tennessee Supreme Court had treated the state constitutional provision as conferring a right “of all the free citizens of the State to keep and bear arms for their defense.” 21 years later the court held that the “keep” portion of the state constitutional right included the right to personal self-defense: “The right to keep arms involves, necessarily, the right to use such arms for all the ordinary purposes, and in all the ordinary modes usual in the country, and to which arms are adapted, limited by the duties of a good citizen in times of peace.”

Similarly, it was plainly the understanding in the post-Civil War Congress that the Second Amendment protected an individual right to use arms for self-defense. J. Ordronaux, in his 1891 book “Constitutional Legislation in the United States” 241–242 (1891), wrote: “The right to bear arms has always been the distinctive privilege of freemen. Aside from any necessity of self-protection to the person, it represents among all nations power coupled with the exercise of a certain jurisdiction. . . . It was not necessary that the right to bear arms should be granted in the Constitution, for it had always existed.”

Justice Scalia distinguished the United States v. Miller (1939) ruling this way: “It is particularly wrongheaded to read Miller for more than what it said, because the case did not even purport to be a thorough examination of the Second Amendment…. Miller stands only for the proposition that the Second Amendment right, whatever its nature, extends only to certain types of weapons.”

We turn finally to the law at issue here. As we have said, the law totally bans handgun possession in the home. It also requires that any lawful firearm in the home be disassembled or bound by a trigger lock at all times, rendering it inoperable. As the quotations earlier in this opinion demonstrate, the inherent right of self-defense has been central to the Second Amendment right. The handgun ban amounts to a prohibition of an entire class of “arms” that is overwhelmingly chosen by American society for that lawful purpose. The prohibition extends, moreover, to the home, where the need for defense of self, family, and property is most acute. Under any of the standards of scrutiny that we have applied to enumerated constitutional rights, banning from the home “the most preferred firearm in the nation to keep and use for protection of one’s home and family,” would fail constitutional muster.

We know of no other enumerated constitutional right whose core protection has been subjected to a freestanding “interest-balancing” approach. The very enumeration of the right takes out of the hands of government – even the Third Branch of Government (the federal courts) – the power to decide on a case-by-case basis whether the right is really worth insisting upon. A constitutional guarantee subject to future judges’ assessments of its usefulness is no constitutional guarantee at all. Constitutional rights are enshrined with the scope they were understood to have when the people adopted them, whether or not future legislatures or (yes) even future judges think that scope too broad. We would not apply an “interest-balancing” approach to the prohibition of a peaceful neo-Nazi march through Skokie. The First Amendment contains the freedom-of-speech guarantee that the people ratified, which included exceptions for obscenity, libel, and disclosure of state secrets, but not for the expression of extremely unpopular and wrong-headed views. The Second Amendment is no different. Like the First, it is the very product of an interest-balancing by the people.

Since this case represents this Court’s first in-depth examination of the Second Amendment, one should not expect it to clarify the entire field. But whatever else it leaves to future evaluation, it surely elevates above all other interests the right of law-abiding, responsible citizens to use arms in defense of hearth and home.

In sum, we hold that the District’s ban on handgun possession in the home violates the Second Amendment, as does its prohibition against rendering any lawful firearm in the home operable for the purpose of immediate self-defense. Assuming that Heller is not disqualified from the exercise of Second Amendment rights, the District must permit him to register his handgun and must issue him a license to carry it in the home.

Justice Scalia spent 45 pages of the majority opinion addressing the history, and especially the original meaning and the intent of the Second Amendment (summed by appropriate excerpts above). He distinguished the United States v. Miller (1939) case by pointing out that the Court didn’t even attempt to do a thorough examination of the Second Amendment, and then announced that the clear purpose of the Second Amendment was, and IS, to guarantee an individual right to Keep and Bear Arms for self-defense. Finally, he concluded by announcing that, because the DC Gun Ban denies Dick Heller and other DC residents of this right, it is unconstitutional.

The Heller decision would be the first time in American history that a gun control law was found to violate the Second Amendment to the Constitution.

 

CONCLUSION (and POST-HELLER GUN RIGHTS):

We say the Heller opinion was an “ORIGINALIST” opinion because the analysis of the Second Amendment was based purely on an examination of history, with an emphasis on what the words and intent of the “Right to Keep and Bear Arms” meant at the time it was adopted by the American colonies and then when they became states and then finally when they incorporated into the federal Union with the Constitution.

Indeed, District of Columbia v. Heller is the most significant case which applied “originalism” in analyzing the Constitution, and together with the companion case, McDonald v. City of Chicago (2010), addressed below, are the most significant Second Amendment cases to date. We can expect another similarly significant case this fall – New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. City of New York. The New York State Rifle & Pistol Association is the NY state chapter of the NRA.

Originalism is a concept regarding the interpretation of the Constitution that asserts that all terms and provisions in the Constitution must be interpreted based on the original understanding of the authors or the people at the time it was ratified. Justice Scalia was the most famous proponent of Originalism.

In 2010, the Supreme Court heard the companion case to HellerMcDonald v. City of Chicago. Heller announced what our Second Amendment rights are with respect to action by the federal government. With McDonald, the Supreme Court announced what our Second Amendment rights are with respect to action by the States. The case involved a state gun control law, as opposed to a federal gun control law. The case arose in 2008, when Otis McDonald, a retired African American custodian living in a neighborhood fraught with robberies, shootings, and other crimes, and others filed suit to challenge provisions of a 1982 Chicago law that, among other things, generally banned the new registration of handguns and made registration a prerequisite of possession of a firearm. McDonald alleged that the law violated his right to possess and carry weapons, which the Supreme Court had found to be protected by the Second Amendment in District of Columbia v. Heller. In reaching a ruling in McDonald’s favor, the Court held that the Second Amendment is one of the liberty rights to be incorporated on the states thru the 14th Amendment, and therefore states cannot pass laws to violate or burden that right.

Together, District of Columbia v. Heller and McDonald v. Chicago cases articulate the view that the Second Amendment recognizes and protects an individual’s right to keep and bear arms for self-defense. The cases reach that conclusion after an in-depth and judicious review of the history and roots of the amendment.

However, and unfortunately, the cases have not seemed to stop the passage of gun-control laws or talk of more and more federal gun-control laws. Besides the general ignorance of many of our federal legislators and our state legislators, and the ever-important goal of disarming citizens to prevent their violence upon one another (always the risk in a free society), there are some limitations with the ruling and clearly ways government can get around it (or frustrate the exercise of the right protected in the Second Amendment:

(1) First of all, Dick Heller found no relief, even after spending 7 years litigating his challenge and winning perhaps one of the most significant cases in the Supreme Court. The ruling was not quite the sweeping gun-freedom victory he expected and it certainly didn’t go far enough to abolish burdensome gun permitting regulations, especially in his home of DC. Despite his court victory, he still was unable to acquire a gun permit. In the weeks since the Heller decision, the city hastily enacted a new and lengthy set of regulations and so when Heller went to the station with his revolver, he was told that he didn’t bring the many documents that the district had decided were required to register a handgun. He could take his revolver back home, he was told, but he would still have to keep it trigger-locked and unloaded. Not much had changed.

(2) Both the Heller and McDonald rulings addressed the right to keep and bear arms in one’s home. The lawsuit did not address whether the Second Amendment guarantees any right beyond that and hence the courts did not rule so. In October (of this year, 2019), the Supreme Court will hear a case, New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. City of New York, which addresses this very question.

(3) Related to the question of whether the Second Amendment extends to gun rights outside one’s home, the Heller and McDonald rulings also leave open the question of whether conceal carry is covered.

(4) Scalia’s majority opinion in the Heller case included this proviso: “Nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt” on longstanding regulations such as restrictions on felons “or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.” In his opinion, he wrote: “Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited. From Blackstone through the 19th-century cases, commentators and courts routinely explained that the right was not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.” Apparently, Scalia was carving out areas where he believed Congress could rightfully legislate with respect to the Second Amendment. According to Robert Levy, who financed the lawsuit: “Everybody understood — or at least any reasonable person understood — that we can’t have 11-year-olds with machine guns in front of the White House when the president is delivering a speech. Some weapons can be regulated, some people can be regulated, like minors and felons and mentally incompetent people, and some circumstances can be regulated. Battles over defining those circumstances will be going on for a long time.” Why can minors be regulated with regard to firearms for self-defense? The probable answer is because they are mature enough and their brains have not developed to the point where they can intelligently and rationally predict or comprehend the consequences of their actions. Why can felons and mentally incompetent people be regulated? Liberty is understood as the free exercise of one’s inalienable and essential rights, to the point that such exercise doesn’t burden or violate another person’s equal rights. Felons have already proven that they are incapable of conforming their conduct to be consistent with the rights of others and hence our society deems that a rightful punishment is to deny them access to firearms. They cannot be trusted. Incompetent individuals in many cases can’t control their actions, thoughts, re-actions. They also cannot responsibly conform their conduct so as not to harm or invade the liberties of others. They are often unpredictable.

(5) In the Court’s eyes, which part of the Second Amendment will control what types of “arms” are covered? Will the courts use the prefatory clause (the militia) or the operative clause (individual right)?

(6) Members of the US Congress clearly have not read the Second Amendment, the Preamble to the Bill of Rights, or the Heller and McDonald opinions. They continue to push for more and more gun control and policies to permit government confiscation of firearms (Red Flag Laws). Ever since Andrew Jackson and then Abraham Lincoln, US presidents have argued that the office can assume undelegated powers (ie, unconstitutional powers) as long as the country or the American people need it to be so. In other words, they implicitly view the Constitution as either a “living, breathing document” or they have treated it as a dead document, something that presidents can choose to guide them but certainly not to confine them. The US Congress has, over the same time, done the very same thing and the courts have very often put a rubber stamp on their power grabs. It appears that Congress and the states will continue to violate the Second Amendment by claiming that they need to keep people, schools, federal buildings, churches, etc safe. If their laws are unconstitutional (note that each state has their own Bill of Rights, including a Second Amendment version, in their constitutions), they will simply amend the laws or pass new ones which may also be unconstitutional, but in the meantime will burden gun access and ownership, and will restrict carry.

In July 2008, less than a month after the Heller opinion was handed down and just after he still was unable to get a permit for his revolver, Dick Heller filed a lawsuit against the District of Columbia. (Heller v. District of Columbia II, or “Heller II”) challenging the new regulations DC lawmakers quickly put in place to save their gun law.

The case has been far more time-consuming than Heller expected. After parting ways with Gura and Levy, Heller enlisted Stephen Halbrook as his lawyer, the Second Amendment attorney that the NRA hired to try to block the initial Heller lawsuit. Again, after 7 years of litigation (punctuated by repeated changes by DC council’s to its gun regulations), Halbrook managed to win a ruling by a DC Circuit of Appeals panel in September 2015 invalidating 4 of the 10 restrictions Heller challenged. In 2016, the full DC Appeals Court agreed with the ruling. Halbrook and Heller have not signaled if they will seek Supreme Court review. [Mark Obbie, “He Won the Supreme Court Case That Transformed Gun Rights. But Dick Heller Is a Hard Man to Please”]

The provisions Heller II successfully invalidated include a requirement to renew gun permits every three years, a limit of one handgun registration per month, and requirements for permit holders to pass a test on D.C. gun laws and show up at police headquarters with the gun to be registered. Left intact, however, were the District’s registration requirement for long guns, a required safety class and registration fees for permit holders, and other obstacles to the sort of frictionless, gun-friendly city Heller wants D.C. to be. In October 2015 in an interview published in the magazine America’s 1st Freedom, the NRA’s official magazine. He said: “We still have to be registered and fingerprinted, so the worst part is we will still be treated like criminals, but the criminals won’t be standing in line to get in.” [Ibid]

Heller, who is now 76 years old, has been frustrated that he had to waste 14 years of his life just to have the rights Americans won and secured a long time ago vindicated in an American court. He assumed that officials who take an oath of office would be on the same side of the American people.

Later in 2008, after the Supreme Court handed down the Heller ruling, Dick Heller created the Heller Foundation. He then paired with the U.S. Bill of Rights Foundation in order to promote “a world where arms and self-defense rights are considered as essential to human life as food and water.” In such a capacity, on November 2, he signed on to an amicus brief filed by Larry Pratt and the organization he founded, Gun Owners of America, in a lawsuit that challenged the federal machine gun ban (passed as part of the 1986 Firearm Owners Protection Act). [Hollis v. Lynch]. Gun Owners of America argued that that possession of machine guns by Americans is compatible with the Second Amendment and that the amendment is not about not about hunting or target shooting, but about self-defense against individuals and/or the state. The amicus brief characterized machine guns as “the lineal descendants of founding-era firearms” fulfilling the ultimate purpose of the Second Amendment, “to allow the people to take up effective arms against a tyrant.” On June 30, 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit issued its unanimous opinion upholding the federal machine-gun ban.

What can we expect in the post-Heller and post-McDonald era with respect to gun rights? I think Robert Levy said it best: “Some weapons can be regulated, some people can be regulated, and some circumstances can be regulated. Battles over defining those circumstances will be going on for a long time.”

 

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REFERENCES:

Adam Winkler, “Gun Fight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America.” 2011, W.W. Norton & Company, NYC.

Don B. Kates Jr, “Why a Civil Libertarian Opposes Gun Control,” Civil Liberties Review 3 (June/July and Aug./Sept. 1976).

Don B. Kates, Jr. “Handgun Prohibition and the Original Meaning of the Second Amendment,” 82 Michigan Law Review (MICH. L. REV.) 204-273 (1983).   Referenced: http://www.constitution.org/2ll/2ndschol/57mich.pdf

Robert A. Sprecher, “The Lost Amendment,” American Bar Association Journal 51 (1965).

William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England (1769).

Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States (1833).

Malcolm, To Keep and Bear Arms (1994); pp. 31–53.

Dumbauld, The Bill of Rights and What It Means Today (1957); pg. 51.

William Rawle, A View of the Constitution of the United States of America (1825); pg. 122.

Supreme Court Opinion: District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008)https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/07pdf/07-290.pdf

Complaint: Parker v. District of Columbia (2003), in the District Court for the District of Columbia – https://object.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/pubs/pdf/gunsuit.pdf

Mark Obbie, “He Won the Supreme Court Case That Transformed Gun Rights. But Dick Heller Is a Hard Man to Please,” The Trace, March 20, 2016. Referenced at: https://www.thetrace.org/2016/03/dick-heller-second-amendment-hero-abolish-gun-regulation/

Diane Rufino, “The History of the Second Amendment Teaches Us its Meaning and Intent (Liberal Judges and Professors Do Not),” January 14, 2019.

Diane Rufino, “Making Sense of the Meaning and Intent of the Second Amendment: It’s Not Difficult Folks!,” May 23, 2017. Referenced at: https://forloveofgodandcountry.com/2017/05/25/making-sense-of-the-meaning-and-intent-of-the-second-amendment-its-not-hard-folks/

“Post Heller Jurisprudence,” Congressional Research Service, Updated March 25, 2019. Reference:   https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R44618.pdf

DVD: “In Search of the Second Amendment (A Documentary),” produced and directed by David T. Hardy (2006). Second Amendment Films LLC

United States v. Miller, 307 U.S. 174 (1939)

District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008)

McDonald v. Chicago, 561 US 742 (2010)

“North Carolina’s Ratification,” US Constitution – https://www.usconstitution.net/rat_nc.html

Resolutions of the Provincial Congress of Virginia (Patrick Henry) regarding the militia, March 23, 1775 – http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/res_cong_va_1775.asp

George Mason, the Virginia Declaration of Rights. Referenced at: http://www.history.org/almanack/life/politics/varights.cfm

Virginia’s Ratification of the Constitution, Elliott’s Debates (June 25, 1788) – http://teachingamericanhistory.org/ratification/elliot/vol3/june25/

The proposed amendments to the Bill of Rights submitted by the State of Virginia (June 27, 1788) – http://teachingamericanhistory.org/ratification/elliot/vol3/june27/

 

APPENDIX:

THE ROOTS OF THE SECOND AMENDMENT (taken from Adam Winkler, “Gun Fight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America.” 2011, W.W. Norton & Company, NYC; pp. 99-105, and Diane Rufino, “The History of the Second Amendment Teaches Us its Meaning and Intent (Liberal Judges and Professors Do Not),” January 14, 2019].

The roots of the Second Amendment go back to the days of feudal/medieval England, to the Militia laws. Men in England, and sometimes even teen boys were required by law to have firearms and to be trained in their use should the King need to call up a militia. Henry VIII, who reigned from 1509 – 1547, lowered the age of the males required to be trained to use guns. Under his rule, fathers were required to train their sons from age 7 and older in the use of firearms. “Bring them up in shooting!” The King had no standing army and therefore the Militia Laws were very important. Citizens could be called up at any time by the King to form the militia and so they had to always be in a state of readiness. In other words, citizens had a DUTY to keep and bear arms.

One hundred fifty (150) years later, in 1689, with the English Bill of Rights, this medieval “duty” to keep and bear arms became an “indubitable right.” (aka, an unquestioned right, a non-disputed right, a fundamental right, an inherent right). And the English Bill of Rights was a direct precursor or template to our US Bill of Rights.

How did this all happen?

Gun ownership transformed into a “right” during the tumultuous 17th century in England, and for understandable reasons. The transformation arose out of a conflict between King Charles I and Parliament. [Remember, Parliament is the so-called “people’s house; this is one of the rights the people wanted King John to recognize in the Magna Carta. If they were to be taxed, they wanted to have representation in those decisions]. Parliament refused to tax the people to provide the funding for the wars that Charles wanted to fight and so Charles disbanded the Parliament. He did so several times. He went on to tax the people himself, obviously violating their right to representation. Eventually, in 1642, civil war broke out and certain members of Parliament (called a “rump” Parliament), led by Oliver Cromwell, brought charges against Charles for high treason. He was captured, tried, and beheaded in 1649. His sons, the future King Charles II and King James II had fled to France at the time. At this point the monarchy was abolished and a republic established (the commonwealth of England).

After Cromwell died and his son took over, rather than stability in England, there was mass chaos. The people, out of sheer desperation, asked Charles II to come back to England, assert his right to the throne, and rule, which he did. The monarchy was restored. But what did Charles come home to? He returned to a country that turned on his father; a country that beheaded him. He also returned to a country that was very well-armed. Almost immediately, he sought to disarm the subjects and control the bearing of arms. He instituted serious gun control measures, both on individuals and on manufacturers. Gun manufacturers had to report to the King how many guns they manufactured each week and who purchased them. There were controls on the importing of guns, licenses were required for subjects who needed to move weapons around the countryside, and subjects had to report if they were traveling with a firearm. In the year 1660, King Charles II issued a series of orders to disarm those citizens that he deemed were – or would be – political opponents. One particular act that Parliament passed, in 1662, was especially repugnant. It was the Militia Act of 1662 and it gave militia officers the power to disarm anyone they believed was likely to be an opponent of the Crown. And at first, the Act was actively enforced. In 1671, Parliament passed the Game Act, which proved to be the greatest control over ownership of firearms that England ever had. The Game Act listed a whole host of weapons that were prohibited for hunting, and at the head of that list was guns !

Charles II died and having produced no heirs, he was succeeded by his brother James II. James II was a Roman Catholic, which concerned a lot of people, most of whom were Protestant (they believed Catholics were agents of the Pope, who they suspected of still trying to regain influence over the English kingdom.). But that was tolerated because he had no sons and his two grown daughters (Mary and Anne) were both Protestants; there seemed no threat that he would re-establish Catholicism in England. [Diane Rufino, “The History of the Second Amendment Teaches Us its Meaning and Intent (Liberal Judges and Professors Do Not),” January 14, 2019].

Within months of King James II’s ascension, two rebellions were launched to attempt to topple him from the throne. James was able to suppress them easily, but the experience led him to conclude that he needed a sizeable standing army to protect him from future rebellions. He also thought that he would be better served by an army that included some friendly Catholics. Even though it was against the law, he appointed Catholics to positions of authority within the military. The Archbishop of Canterbury, one of the most important figures in England, petitioned James to reconsider some of his policies but James responded by imprisoning him in the Tower of London. When members of Parliament objected to his conduct, James turned around and suspended Parliament for the rest of his reign. He was within his recognized authority as King to do so, but the controversial move inspired his opponents to plot to have his reign end prematurely. [Adam Winkler, “Gun Fight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America,” pg. 100]

To lower the risk of a rebellion, James decided to take advantage of certain laws that were passed before his reign, particularly the Militia Act of 1664 and the Game Act of 1671, to confiscate as many firearms from potential political opponents as he could. The Militia Act of 1664 authorized the King’s deputies to seize the weapons of anyone deemed to be “dangerous to the Peace of the Kingdom.” To James, that meant all Protestants, who comprised 98% of the English population. He ordered gunsmiths to deliver up lists of all gun purchasers and the guns purchased. He used the Game Act of 1671, which, in the name of protecting wild animals from over-hunting, barred gun possession by anyone “not having Lands and Tenements of clear yearly value of one hundred pounds,” to disarm commoners. In other words, gun ownership would be limited to a certain class of subjects. [Ibid, pp. 101] According to the historical record, the orders were apparently not carried out. But the actions of the King to disarm his subjects certainly arose concern and fear among the people of England.

In 1688, James’ wife gave birth to a son, alarming Protestants. Since a son would be heir to the throne, the threat of a Catholic dynasty was all of a sudden a very real possibility. James’ 26-year-old daughter Mary was among those who suspected that the newborn was not even James’ child. Her husband, William of Orange, who was Dutch, shared her suspicions. Personally, he had aspirations of sitting on the English throne. It was finally in 1688 that the English people had had enough. A group of eminent English noblemen who were determined that James needed to be removed from power invited William and Mary to England and suggested that they form an army to help them should they need it. With Dutch soldiers, William launched an attack, and James, who lacked any solid support from either the people of England or even his own army (or from Parliament) was forced to abandon the throne. With barely a fight, James fled to France, abdicating his throne in favor of his daughter and her husband – William and Mary. In early 1689, the Parliament anointed William and Mary as joint sovereigns. They would rule as King and Queen together… but there would be conditions. [Ibid, pp. 101]

To scholars of English history, the toppling of King James II became known as the Glorious Revolution (or Bloodless Revolution). What made the revolution so glorious was not just that James was forced to flee and that Protestants returned to power without much bloodshed, but that the English people finally had a chance to secure their rights and liberties in a more permanent document. As a condition to being offered the throne, William and Mary had to agree to abide by the laws of Parliament and exercise only limited, rather than absolute, power. They also had to promise to respect the individual rights of Englishman – rights that were initially petitioned for in the Magna Carta of 1215, re-presented in further petitions, and codified, finally, on December 16, 1869, in what was called the English Bill of Rights. [Ibid, pp. 102]

The English Bill of Rights proclaimed that James had violated “the Laws and Liberties of this Kingdom.” By imprisoning people like the Archbishop for merely complaining about the king’s edicts, James had trampled on the right of Englishmen to petition the government for redress of their grievances. By arresting people for no lawful reason, he had violated the rights of Englishmen to due process of law. “By causing several good Subjects, being Protestants, to be disarmed,” he had ignored “true, ancient, and indubitable rights.” The English Bill of Rights reaffirmed the importance of these rights, including a provision on personal weapons. “Subjects which are Protestants may have Arms for their Defense suitable to their Conditions and as allowed by Law.” [Ibid, pp. 102]

In the years after the Glorious Revolution, the right of English Protestants to have guns was recognized as an individual right – a right related to self-defense self-protection, and not a right related to the duty to serve in militias. Indeed, by 1688, and enshrined in the Bill of Rights of 1689, the duty to be armed became a right. One of the rights of Englishmen became the right to have arms for self-defense and to resist a tyrannical king (or government). [Diane Rufino, “The History of the Second Amendment Teaches Us its Meaning and Intent (Liberal Judges and Professors Do Not)”]

William Blackstone, the 18th century jurist whose Commentaries on the Laws of England are still cited today as the authoritative account of old English law, described the English Bill of Rights as recognizing “the right of having and using guns for self-preservation and defense.” The right to have arms, he wrote, was “an auxiliary right necessary to preserve the basic rights of man: personal security, personal liberty, and private property.” English court cases from the 1700’s were in agreement. Judges, like those in the 1744 case of Malloch v. Eastly, repeatedly recognized that it was “settled and determined” law that “a man may keep a gun for the defense of his house and family.” [Adam Winkler, “Gun Fight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America,” pg. 102]

Between 1603 and 1776, the rights of Englishmen became the rights of Americans. In 1661, with the constant threat of hostile Indians and hostile French and Dutch settlers, the colony of Virginia required all able-bodied men to have firearms and be trained monthly in their use. Each county had chief militia officer.

As relations with Great Britain began to deteriorate, especially after the Boston Tea Party and the punishing response by the King and Parliament with the Intolerable Acts [which shut down Boston Harbor, abolished the Massachusetts colonial government, installed a British General (General Gage) and his redcoats in its place, and established the Quartering Act], the colonists began to collect firearms and stockpile gunpowder and artillery. And not just in Massachusetts. Word was spreading among the colonies of the growing tyranny by the King.

It appeared the British Crown once again was planning to disarm political opponents.

One of the measures planned was the confiscation of colonial guns by order of the King. In 1774, King George III ordered that all exports of firearms and ammunition to the colonies cease. And the next year, he ordered British Commanders to disarm certain provinces, especially in the North. Boston, for example, was put under military occupation and General Gage was tasked to disarm the most unruly colony of all – Massachusetts.

By 1774, being made commander-in-chief of all British forces in the New World, Gage was the most powerful man in the America. When he learned from one of his many “spies” that spring that the colonists (which he termed “rebels”) were secretly stockpiling guns and ammunition in an arsenal located in nearby Concord, Gage ordered 700 troops, on April 19, 1775, to seize the arsenal (seize the weapons and destroy the ammunition). The night before, Paul Revere set on his famous midnight ride to warn the people that the British were coming to take their guns. He didn’t cry out “The British are coming, the British are coming,” as legend has it; rather, he had to whisper the message to trusted friends only for the outskirts of Boston were filled with loyalists. (Luckily there were other riders because Revere ended up being captured by the Redcoats. He was released but they kept his horse). On their way to Concord, the troops passed through Lexington where they encountered a small group of colonial militiamen. The Redcoats and the colonial militiamen stood face-to-face on Lexington Green on the morning of the 19th. A shot went off (no one knows how it happened), but the response was immediate. Shots rang out and an armed conflict between England and Massachusetts had begun. The revolution had begun.

It appeared that complete disarmament of the colonies would be inevitable.

Virginians began to stockpile their ammunition in Williamsburg, in anticipation that British troops would come to subjugate them as well. A general alarm was spreading among the colonies – fueled by men like Samuel Adams and John Hancock, Patrick Henry and Thomas Paine – that the British were removing gunpowder from the public stock in order to render the colonists unable to resist the Crown… just as King Charles II and King James II had done to their subjects approximately 100 years ago in England. It was this general alarm that prompted Patrick Henry to introduce resolutions at a secret meeting of the colonial legislature to raise up the militia in every county and train them as quickly as possible. He believed so strongly that this was necessary that he gave that impassioned speech we all associate with him – “I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”

Patrick Henry was right, war was coming. And he was also right about the intent of the British to disarm the colonies. Just weeks after his famous speech at St. John’s Church in Richmond, Virginia’s royal governor ordered British sailors to raid the armory at Williamsburg and to take the gunpowder back aboard their ships, which they did.

Thus, the American revolution started over our RIGHT to keep and bear arms. Tensions with Great Britain may have started over the right not to be taxed without representation in Parliament (the body from which such taxing measures arose), but the actual revolution itself erupted over the actions of the Crown to disarm the people.

So, the colonies won their independence, and the next step was to form a common government and our Bill of Rights. How did we get the language of our Second Amendment and what does it mean? First of all, our Founding Fathers borrowed liberally from the English Bill of Rights, including the right to Petition Government in the First Amendment, the right of Due Process in the Fifth Amendment, and the Right to Keep and Bear Arms in the Second Amendment. These were rights that they enjoyed and held dear as Englishmen and believed traveled with them to the New World.

Looking at the Constitutions and Bills of Right of our original 13 states, there were at least three colonial models to address the right to arms:

The Virginia Declaration of Rights read: “That a well-regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defense of a free state….”

The Pennsylvania Declaration of Rights read: “The people have a right to bear arms for the defense of themselves and the state.”

The Massachusetts Bill of Rights read: “The people have a right to keep and to bear arms for the common defense.”

We can see the two views of our Second Amendment embodied in these colonial Bills of Rights.

Fast-forward to the US Constitution and the ratification process whereby the states were debating whether to adopt it. New York ratified it, but only conditionally – conditioned on the addition of a Bill of Rights. Virginia narrowly ratified it, but those against its adoption, most notably Patrick Henry, held all the power in state government. They were going to call for another Constitutional Convention to alter Madison’s Constitution, and they were going to appoint all anti-Federalists to the US Senate and draw up Congressional district maps to ensure all anti-Federalists were elected to the first US House. Madison, who wanted to be seated in that first government, would be shut out. The state legislature, with Henry wielding great power, had already denied him an appointment to the Senate (this was before the 17th amendment) Eventually, Madison made a compromise. If he were elected to the first US House, he promised to introduce a Bill of Rights for the States.

In fact, his state of Virginia had proposed a Bill of Rights for the new constitution, including a precursor to our Second Amendment, which included language from all three colonial models – Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts.

On June 8, 1789, in the first US House, James Madison made true on his promise and he introduced a set of amendments to add a Bill of Rights to our Constitution. His Second Amendment read: “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; a well-armed and well-regulated militia being the best security of a free country; but no person religiously scrupulous of bearing arms shall be compelled to render military service in person.”

The first Congress shortened Madison’s proposal so that it read: “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

The important thing to note in this historical review is that the Second Amendment is actually two separate thoughts. It was the conscious and intentional design of our Founders to express the right to arms in the broadest terms possible, to be understood in its broadest sense.  [Diane Rufino, “The History of the Second Amendment Teaches Us its Meaning and Intent (Liberal Judges and Professors Do Not)”].

References:

Diane Rufino, “The History of the Second Amendment Teaches Us its Meaning and Intent (Liberal Judges and Professors Do Not),” January 14, 2019.

DVD: “In Search of the Second Amendment (A Documentary),” produced and directed by David T. Hardy (2006). Second Amendment Films LLC

Diane Rufino, “Making Sense of the Meaning and Intent of the Second Amendment: It’s Not Difficult Folks!,” May 23, 2017. Referenced at: https://forloveofgodandcountry.com/2017/05/25/making-sense-of-the-meaning-and-intent-of-the-second-amendment-its-not-hard-folks/

Adam Winkler, “Gun Fight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America.” 2011, W.W. Norton & Company, NYC.

The Day the Heartbeat Died

MEME - NEWBORN LIVES MATTER

by Diane Rufino, June 6, 2019

It was a very sad day in North Carolina yesterday at the NC General Assembly… a very tragic day indeed. Yesterday, members of the NC House had the opportunity to over-ride Governor Cooper’s veto of the “Born Alive Abortion Survivor’s Protection Act” (SB-359). The bill has nothing to do with abortion, has nothing to do with a woman’s reproductive rights, nor anything to do with a woman’s health. It has everything to do with the standard of care that a baby deserves who happens to be born as a result of an unsuccessful abortion and who was not wanted. The bill’s title, “Born-Alive Abortion Survivor’s Protection Act” says it all…. The bill is aimed at a baby, born alive and separated completely from the mother who did not want it. It has no ties any longer to the mother because she had made it clear with her decision to abort it that she wants nothing to do with it. It no longer impinges on her health or her reproductive rights because again, it has been separated from her body. This bill, then, focuses on a newborn baby, an individual and independent life, and how we in North Carolina will treat that new life. Will it be treated with the same care as any other newborn baby? Will it even be viewed the same as any other newborn baby? Does it matter that it came into the world not wanted by its mother? On the steel abortion table with an abortion doctor, instead of in a birthing room with an obstetrician, a baby is a baby, plain and simple. God doesn’t see any difference and neither should those who purport to love Him. The purpose of the bill was precisely to ensure that a baby born alive, breathing, and with a heartbeat receives the same standard of care that any other baby receives (including preemies, the result of a miscarriage or even the result of an accident or act of violence); the bill makes sure that a survivor of an abortion receives the standard of care it deserves. In essence, the bill assures equal treatment and equal protection.

The NC Senate was able to over-ride the Governor’s veto, but sadly, NC House Democrats refused to break from their political moorings and voted to sustain the veto. The over-ride failed, by a vote of 67-53, and the Born-Alive Abortion Survivor’s Protection Act was defeated. Every Republican voted for the bill and every Democrat, except two (Rep. Charles Graham and Rep. Garland Pierce) voted against it. After thousands of calls and emails to Democrats appealing to their conscience and asking them to vote in favor of life rather than according to progressive party platform, after the impassioned testimonials of two survivors of botched abortions (Gianna Jessen and Claire Culwell), and after the heartfelt pleas of several Republican lawmakers on the House floor speaking for the helpless survivors (Reps. Larry Pittman, Michael Speciale, Keith Kidwell, and Greg Murphy, and House Speaker Tim Moore), no additional Democrats felt compelled to vote for the over-ride. Instead, if you can believe it, two Democrats who originally voted in favor of the bill switched position to vote against the bill (ie, to support the veto). All that was asked of the democrats was to vote as a human being and not a political prop; all that was asked was for them to do the human thing. But apparently, they caved under the pressure from Cooper and his thugs.

North Carolina had the chance to make a historical and significant decision yesterday, for good; instead, it was a historic day for opposite reasons. We had a chance to stand out for our morality and our human values, but now we join with the rest of the wretched heap of states that are defined by their immorality and inhumanity.

No baby should be punished just because he or she is an inconvenience. We are all an inconvenience on someone else at some point in our lives. And every child, even if unwanted and destined for death because of the mother’s choice per her right to have an abortion, is deserving of healthcare and life-saving medical assistance should he or she survive that horrendous ordeal. How can a person call himself or herself a human being if he or she cannot acknowledge that is simply the right thing to do? Who is next – our elderly? Our infirm? Our crippled?

The NC house democrats who voted to sustain the Governor’s veto are evil and inhuman, and we suspect that those who continue to send them to Raleigh are the same. Do not believe them if they try to tell you they are Christians. As Rep. Larry Pittman said on the house floor: “MY Jesus would never have approved of such a vote.”

Sadly, these democrat legislators ignored and violated the very oaths they took when they agreed to be seated in the NC General Assembly. They swore an oath, promising to God, that they would uphold the state Constitution, the US Constitution, and the law. What is the law?

The Declaration of Independence assures: “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. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness…..

The US Constitution is built on the Declaration and secures all of the individual’s inalienable and liberty rights (the Bill of Rights). The Fourteenth Amendment further assures that all persons cannot be denied these rights. It reads: “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. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United 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.

And the NC state constitution provides in Article I (Declaration of Rights) in Section 1 (The Equality and Eights of Persons): “We hold it to be self-evident that all persons are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, the enjoyment of the fruits of their own labor, and the pursuit of happiness.”   No legislator can be true to his of her oath and allow babies born alive to be denied inalienable rights.

Again, the very title of the bill acknowledges that a baby that survives an abortion is born “ALIVE.” To be “alive” is to be a LIFE. Every life is a “PERSON.” The fate of a baby born alive is no longer subject to the mother’s so-called “reproductive rights.” It is an independent, new unique life. If the mother doesn’t want it, that is one thing; but she has no right (nor does anyone else, including the doctor or any other healthcare professional) to terminate its life. The healthcare profession is still guided by the Hippocratic Oath (the physician “shall do no harm” which includes withholding care). The newborn baby, although not wanted by its mother, is a person which now has the same rights as you and me and every other person. It has the protections recognized by the US Constitution (including the 14th Amendment), the Bill of Rights, the NC state Constitution, and the Declaration of Independence. It has the right to life and the state cannot interfere or deny that right. To be clear, the NC house democrats violated their oath by voting against SB-359 and denying the survivors of an abortion the affirmative assistance of physicians (albeit abortion providers) and other healthcare professions, knowing the likely expectation that some will allow such babies to expire. These babies, as Reps. Kidwell, Pittman, Murphy, Speciale, and Moore acknowledged, are North Carolinians the moment of birth and are entitled to the protection of life and all equal protections under the law.

Between the recent federal court striking down North Carolina’s long-standing abortion law (no abortion after 20 weeks except if the mother’s life or health is imperiled) and today’s over-ride of SB-359, North Carolina now not only allows a woman to have an abortion at any time in her pregnancy, but if that baby happens to be born alive, they can deny it medical assistance so that it will die. House Democrats have said it’s OK to allow infanticide in our state.  North Carolina is now like New York.

[You can read the March 2019 ruling from US district court Judge William L. Osteen, Jr. here – http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/bryant_ruling_march_25_2019.pdf ]

There is a cancer in our society and it’s called the Democratic Party. If the heartfelt, compelling, tear-filled testimonies of those two wonderful ladies, the abortion survivors Gianna Jessen and Claire Culwell, could not convince even one Democrat to vote in favor of the override and legislatively ensure that survivors of abortion, those scared little babies – traumatized, harmed, in need of assistance, love, compassion, comfort – are given the same treatment as those born alive in any other circumstance, than nothing will touch their cold dark hearts. As human beings they had the chance to do the human thing and they didn’t.

I am reminded of what Thomas Jefferson once wrote: “And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever…”

The life and liberties of every newborn are gifts of God. Those gifts are bestowed on us the minute we are conceived (or in the alternative, when life fills our little bodies). Democrats have voted to condemn those not wanted, taking their lives from the promise God has given and putting them instead in the hands of men and woman who are indifferent to the value of life. If we don’t right this wrong, we can’t expect God’s protection. We can expect his wrath however.

I ask you to join me in contacting the state’s Republican lawmakers and asking them to please, please, please don’t give up the fight. There are a lot of good people who can’t fight like they can, who don’t have any political power that they have, who don’t have the words that they have, who don’t have the time and who don’t have the energy, but they put their trust in them and they pray and pray and pray for the right and just outcomes.

Rejection of the Electoral College is the Surest Path to the Destruction of This Country

ELECTORAL COLLEGE - sign

by Traci Griggs (NC Family Policy Matters, April 18, 2019), with an intro by Diane Rufino, May 28, 2019

Rejection of the Electoral College is the Surest Path to the Destruction of this Country.

It seems fewer and fewer Americans understand and appreciate our very unique system of government. For example, how many times have you heard someone refer to our country as a “democracy” ? Our Founders, as I’m sure we Tea Partiers know, intentionally rejected such a system of government in favor of a constitutional republic. And how many times recently have we heard Democrats and Progressives push to abolish the Electoral System, citing that such a system is not democratic? We should recognize this movement for what it truly is – the surest way to wrangle our country from its conservative moorings and to head quickly on the path to overbearing big government and socialism (massive re-distribution of wealth). It is the surest way to put our government in the hands of those who devalue freedom (because only a person who doesn’t value freedom or who doesn’t care to live free wants government to take care of him) and hence to pursue policies to limit it to everyone.

America’s Founding Fathers designed very specific guidelines for our system of government and protected them by placing them in the U.S. Constitution.

Dr. Adam Carrington, an assistant professor of Politics at Hillsdale College Graduate School of Statesmanship, was interviewed by Ms. Traci Griggs, Director of Communications at the NC Family Policy Council, on its show Family Policy Matters to talk about the Electoral College and what will happen if states dare to break from this critical tradition. To be clear, the Electoral College is so very vital to the ideal of our country being a “union” of states premised on the notion that the government serves each state and each state’s interests equally.

The topic of the interview (the podcast in available) is “The Dangers of Breaking From Our Constitution.”

TRACI GRIGGS: Let’s start with a topic that seems to be popping up a lot lately. There is somewhat of a groundswell among some to do away with the Electoral College. Before we discuss whether or not that’s a good thing, it might be very helpful if you would give us a quick history lesson on the Electoral College—what is it, how does it work and why did the Founding Fathers think it was so important to include it in our Constitution?

ADAM CARRINGTON: That’s a great place to start. What it is, is simply the way we choose the President of the United States. How it’s set up is that each state in the United States is given electoral votes, which are equal to how many Congressmen it has; if you have 14 House members, two Senators, you’d have 16 electoral votes. We now have 538 of those total distributed through the United States and the District of Columbia. Each state then selects electors who meet together to choose the president. That’s the same as the number of electoral votes they have, and whatever candidate gets a majority of those electoral votes across the country wins the presidency. That’s why people are always talking about 270 now. That’s 50 percent plus one of all of the electoral votes across all the states in the country.

And why was it included? Why didn’t we do another system? In some ways it was a compromise at the Constitutional Convention between legislative selection—having Congress select the president, and popular vote—having the people do it as a whole. And what it was seen as was the best of both of those and avoiding the worst of both of those, that it would include like popular election, the consent of the people, and like Congress, a special body selected by the people with the character and knowledge to make an informed decision. And that’s why they thought it was so important to pick the chief executive of the United States, for those reasons.

TRACI GRIGGS: People complain that the Electoral College undermines the idea of “one person, one vote.” It really does do that, doesn’t it?

ADAM CARRINGTON: It does in the strict sense, but I think if we’re going to take the wisdom of the Founders as a whole, we’ll see many other structures in the Constitution do that too. Ex: the Senate, lifetime appointment of judges. But the Founders thought that there was more to a good and just regime than “one person, one vote.” They wanted consent of the governed, but they wanted consent for the purpose of protecting everyone’s equal natural rights, and they understood that all human beings are fallible and a majority can be tyrannical and bad, just like one or a few people can be. So what they wanted to do was respect consent of the governed, but channel that decision so that it was reasonable, and channel it in such a way so that when the people choose, they choose in the best way possible. Just like we often constrained the way we choose to make our choices better, that’s what they tried to do with this system, because it wasn’t just what choice we made, it’s how we made that choice that mattered to them.

TRACI GRIGGS: Interestingly, about a dozen states have passed laws that would give their Electoral College votes to whichever presidential candidate wins the national popular vote. So that’s regardless of how their particular state voted. Now those laws can’t go into effect unless enough states pass similar laws, but give us some perspective on just how dramatic a change that would be for American elections.

ADAM CARRINGTON: I think it would change fundamentally how we look at the elections for president and how states, or campaigns look at them as well. There’d be a massive change first in campaigning. There’d be less of a focus on states, much more of a focus on population centers or media markets, getting out your kind of voter or wherever they are, and to some degree, ignoring voters that aren’t in your camp and others, and more therefore a focus on those questions. I think from other people looking at these elections, not just the campaigners, there would be the elimination of something we spend so much time looking at, which our state polls, maybe we would have regional polls, but I think the bigger focus would be on where are the big population centers going? What are they doing? It would nationalize the campaign and eliminate the state centric focus of it in a way that we’ve never seen given Electoral College’s focus on the states.

TRACI GRIGGS: Would you consider this to be a good change or bad change?

ADAM CARRINGTON: I think that there are a lot of drawbacks to it because I think that the nature of a more state-centered campaign actually forces candidates much more to appeal to broader arrays of voters. Now, people complain that they only campaign in swing states, but those swing states force them to appeal to voters within those states and other places that are less like them than, I think, they would if they had to just run up vote totals nationally. I think it creates a kind of moderating influence that makes the different candidates less partisan and more conducive to the public good. We often say we’re too partisan now. I think that would be much worse if we had just a pure national popular vote.

TRACI GRIGGS: Okay, let’s switch gears and talk a little bit about our courts. From your understanding of history, do you feel like it is getting tougher for our judicial nominees these days? Are they being more unfairly scrutinized or attacked today than they were in previous years?

ADAM CARRINGTON: I think two things have happened that both result in saying yes to that. One, I think the importance of the courts has skyrocketed as other branches, such as Congress, have abdicated a lot of power as there’ve been more battles between the Executive and the Judiciary. I think that has caused the courts to be seen as much more important than they were in the past. The other is that so much of our lives are now recorded and able to be scrutinized. Much less of our lives are secret and much less of a public person’s life is secret. And when you put those two together, I think yes, judges today—and potential Supreme Court Justices—are under much more scrutiny than in the past.

TRACI GRIGGS: Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell has decided to employ the “nuclear option,” he says, to dramatically reduce the amount of debate time for many judicial nominees. Do you feel this would damage the integrity of this process? What effect would it have?

ADAM CARRINGTON: I think if it was done out of any other context, it would be—the Senate should be a place where there should be extra protections for debate—but it doesn’t come without a context. I think that context really shows that it’s more of a result of a damaged process, not a damaging of the process. Debate is meant to deliberate and refine one’s choice. Really, what it’s being used for now is obstruction and to stop the process. And I think if we could restore the original purpose of having unlimited debate, which is to have good deliberation and a good process for making choices for judges, then we shouldn’t have those limits. But as long as it’s going to be used, by really both sides when they’re in the minority, to obstruct, I think that steps need to be taken to make sure that the debate has an endpoint, so the purpose of a real debate is fulfilled, which is to choose in the end.

TRACI GRIGGS: You mentioned that we put a lot more emphasis on our Supreme Court Justices right now, and some have suggested that the next president of the United States might move to increase the number of justices on the U.S. Supreme Court. Many people may not realize that number is not set in stone. So why do we have nine justices?

ADAM CARRINGTON: Really, tradition. We originally only had six and we’ve had nine since 1869. It changed a lot between the founding in 1869, and I think there were a couple reasons we’ve kept that. One is the uneven number allows every case to have a definitive decision. You don’t have ties. I think that number was seen as reasonable, that nine justices is a good amount to divide up the workload of opinion writing and research. Also, that it wasn’t so big that the judges couldn’t deliberate and discuss together how they interpret the law. But I think also it’s where it is now because more and more people came to see changing the court regularly as too nakedly partisan for a court you want to be above partisanship and apply the law in a neutral way, regardless of who the litigants are, regardless of what the judge’s opinions are. The more you move the numbers of the Court around, the more that institution is seen as something much more nakedly political then the Constitution imagined it to be.

TRACI GRIGGS: So how much concern do you have that some of the brightest shining stars in politics seem to have very little understanding of the Constitution, of basic economics, international relations, and yet have a huge following. Is this a concern to you going forward in politics and in our nation?

ADAM CARRINGTON: Certainly! And it’s not just because it’s my job to hopefully teach people that are better informed on this. But it’s the idea that if we believe that this document is on one hand, our governing document and on the second, that it’s a wise governing document, then for people who are supposed to be elected under it and supposed to follow it, to not do so is doubly bad. It’s bad because it means we are not really following the rule of law of our supreme law of the land. And it also means that we’re not following the wisest path that the Founders set out, and following some lesser path. And I think that it shows a kind of illiteracy, not just among those who are being elected, but sadly among a number of people that are electing, that right standards of the justice and process the Constitution sets up is not front and center and not something that’s disqualifying when our elected officials show ignorance of it.

TRACI GRIGGS: For those of us who are listening and who may think to themselves either: I forgotten a lot of things, or I was never taught very well all these principles from our Constitution and by our Founding Fathers, what kind of suggestions would you have for people listening who might want to—at whatever age they are—learn some things so that they can go forward with this wisdom that you mentioned.

ADAM CARRINGTON: I would make a couple suggestions. One is just read the Constitution for yourself. It was written as a document of the people, by the people, for the people, and so don’t be intimidated by it. You can understand it as an American citizen. Second, I would point to actually there’s lots of resources online for reading what the Founders thought. Read something like the Federalist Papers. They were written to defend the Constitution. They were written as op-eds for newspapers. So they are, again, meant for the people to understand and discuss. And then third, I’d point to where I work, Hillsdale College. We have an array of online courses that are free, where our goal is civic education, including a U.S. Constitution course, where we strive to make available ways that citizens can educate themselves. So I would say, every American should take this very seriously. Whatever else their career path, that they are a citizen all the time. There are these resources out there that would allow us to exercise our sovereignty as the sovereign people in a much more full and informed way.

TRACI GRIGGS: Excellent. I would highly recommend your Constitution 101 online course. That’s a very good resource. I know from personal experience.

Dr. Carrington, thank you so much for being with us on Family Policy Matters today, and for all that you do to educate future generations of American citizens to know and understand the uniqueness of this great country.

ADAM CARRINGTON: Thank you. It’s humbling to do it, and an honor and pleasure too.

 

Reference:  https://www.ncfamily.org/the-dangers-of-breaking-from-our-constitution/

BOOK REVIEW: “And the Band Played On” (A Comprehensive Analysis of the AIDS Epidemic in the 1980’s), by Randy Shilts

BOOK - And The Band Played On, by Randy Shilts (#2)

Review by Diane Rufino, April 28, 2019

I just finished reading a truly wonderful book – AND THE BAND PLAYED ON, by Randy Shilts. The book chronicles the AIDS epidemic of the 1980’s, focusing on the cases, the symptoms, the mystery, the epidemiology, the panic, the politics, and ultimately the scientific breakthrough in identifying the causative agent, HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) and its mode of infection and spread.

I remember living through that frightening era in North Jersey and watching it unfold on TV and in the news, and seeing the many billboards on the highways into New York City announcing how many lives the yet unknown disease had claimed. As a student thinking of going into the field of science, it presented a most compelling reason why research scientists are so badly needed in this country and around the world. Each week that scientists are unable to unravel the causes of new diseases, or to figure out how individuals are infected or how it is spread, or to understand how to treat those who suffer, the more lives are claimed.

In the case of AIDS, if only officials had listened to scientists rather than pander to politics and especially, identity politics, the lives of many thousands of young men and women, and children too, would have been spared. I hope the story of the AIDS epidemic will enlighten those when the next deadly or potentially-deadly disease hits. In fact, the author opens the book by explaining: “I would not have been able to write this book if I had not been a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle, the only daily newspaper in the United States that did not need a movie star to come down with AIDS before it considered the epidemic a legitimate news story deserving thorough coverage.”

The first documented case of a man dying from an opportunistic infection (pneumocystis carinii) due to a diminished immune system was in 1981. Cases followed of gay men presenting with a very rare skin cancer (Kaposi’s sarcoma, which previously only affected elder Italian and Jewish men). They too were found to have a severely diminished immune system. It wasn’t until two years later that the virus that killed off the critical Helper T cells (that mounts a person’s immune response) was isolated and characterized. French scientist Luc Montagne published his findings in May 1983. Due to a rivalry with the American research team, Dr. Robert Gallo of the National Cancer Institute (NCI), treatment in the United States ignored the French discovery, allowing thousands to become infected and die. AIDS was a death sentence back then. Dr. Gallo would isolate and characterize the virus a year later (although he characterized it incorrectly; the French got it right), and with utmost arrogance and an ego unmatched in the field of research, would insist and assert that it was he who identified the AIDS virus. President Ronald Reagan chose to remain silent about the disease for most of his time in the White House, but in 1987, he finally addressed the epidemic. On April 2, he appeared before the College of Physicians in Philadelphia to deliver what would be his first “major speech” on AIDS, calling it “public enemy number one.” And then the following month, on May 31, he agreed to speak at a dinner honoring the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR), which was founded by Rock Hudson shortly before he passed away (on Oct. 2, 1985). The president had been invited by actress Elizabeth Taylor, who was named by Hudson to be the chairman, to offer a few remarks.

By the time Reagan finally agreed to address the epidemic at amfAR, 36,058 Americans had been diagnosed that year with the disease and 20,849 had already died.

By 1984, it was estimated that approximately 33-40% of all gay men in San Francisco and New York City were HIV-positive. The virus had a long latency period – approximately 5 years (that is, once infected, full-blown AIDS would set in about 5 years later). Consequently, the chances of contracting the disease, for those who hadn’t already, were increasing rapidly and dangerously. As of 1986, after 5 years of seeing the epidemic unfold and trying to understand it, the cumulative number of AIDS cases in the United States reached 270,000 of which 179,000 died. By the spring of 1987, the disease had been reported in 113 countries (more than doubled the number of countries from just a year prior), with 51,000 persons infected outside the US. Most of those infected had visited the United States – New York City or San Francisco in particular. Others had visited Africa – the equatorial regions, such as Zaire. It was projected (correctly) that there would be over 3 million cases by 1991.

The book makes abundantly clear why the AIDS epidemic claimed so many lives, and needlessly so:

(1) Because it only affected gay men (at least in the first years). The 1980’s was still an era of extreme homophobia. Gay men were considered perverts, freaks, and disease-carriers. The unspoken sentiment was that as long as the disease was contained and limited to the gay community, that was good. It was a good thing, the homophobic community believed, to get rid of the freaks. This sentiment, by the way, clearly drove public policy at the time, resulting in a lack of funding for the epidemic.

(2) Because it predominantly affected gay men. The gay community was fiercely protective of its civil rights and the advances they had made in being able to live their promiscuous, detached, sex-charged lifestyle. Bath houses (centers for mass anonymous sex, orgies, drugs, etc) and other gay sex clubs and bars catered to this promiscuous sex-obsessed lifestyle. When health officials advised first that public notices be posted to reduce the number of partners, refrain from risky gay sex, and to engage in safe-sex, and then that bath houses be shut down, the gay community flew into absolute outrage, threatening to sue officials and to obtain injunctions on any and all such actions. The fierce resistance to plans designed to educate the gay community and to help stem the spread of the deadly disease in order to save lives was the one thing that condemned thousands and thousands (maybe more) to a needless death. The gay community viewed such actions as public notices and closing bath houses as stigmatizing their kind, bringing more unwelcome discrimination upon them, un-doing the progress they had already made, and ultimately paving the way for society to round them up under the guise of being carriers for disease and segregating them from heterosexuals. They refused to allow any of such consequences. If they had to die for their rights, they would. And they did. The ironic thing is that the gay community to an overwhelmingly extent spread the disease as an identity group, through its lifestyle and its sexual practices, yet it didn’t want to be stigmatized as an identity group by the disease when it came time to address its deadly contagion. It was always about saving lives and not about discrimination.

I recommend this book wholeheartedly.

MOVIE REVIEW: UNPLANNED (You Will Never Think the Same Way Again)

UNPLANNED - Abby sees ultrasound

by Diane Rufino, April 13, 2019

If anyone hasn’t seen the movie UNPLANNED, I urge you to do so. There are several take-home messages from the movie, as expressed by the woman not only who wrote the book on which the movie was based (Abby Johnson) but on whose experiences the story was based. Three of those messages are:

(1 Most abortions are carried out in the earlier part of a pregnancy (up to 12 weeks; the first trimester). Planned Parenthood does an ultrasound on each woman/girl seeking an abortion to determine as closely as possible how far along the pregnancy is. How far along determines the type of abortion the clinic will perform to terminate that pregnancy. Abby had two abortions (each in the first trimester; within the first 8 weeks, if I remember correctly). She had the first abortion in college when she found out she was pregnant. It was a bad time, she wasn’t married yet, and her boyfriend also didn’t want her to have it. The second was a bit more troublesome. She ended up marrying her college boyfriend but after she found out he cheated on her, she filed for divorce. Just after she filed, she found out she was pregnant. She said she didn’t want anything to connect her to the man she was divorcing and so she had an abortion. In short, each abortion was for one primary purpose – Convenience. Planned Parenthood took care of each abortion. She was told the fetus was just a mass of cells and not a baby yet and she shouldn’t think twice about aborting it. As the movie shows, she eventually went to work for Planned Parenthood, as a counselor. She counseled women/girls using the same logic that helped ease her conscience when she sought to terminate her pregnancies – It’s your right to control your fertility, an unwanted pregnancy is a crisis and abortion allows a woman to deal with that crisis, and the fetus is only a mass of cells and so no one is killing a baby. About 7 years into her employment at Planned Parenthood, she was promoted to its director. One day, they were short-staffed and she was called in by the abortion doctor to assist. It was the first time ever that she had been in a room during a procedure (other than when she was the patient). The doctor told her to keep an eye on the ultra-sound (as he was doing a procedure guided by ultrasound) to make sure he was directing his equipment to the fetus. At 8 weeks, she saw for the first time that the growing fetus was not a mass of cells but already had the full form of a baby, with 10 fingers and 10 toes, with a heartbeat, and already capable of moving. She was immediately touched by what she saw. It was a baby. She watched as the doctor aimed his needle and suction equipment at the baby and how the baby frantically tried to avoid them. It twisted and turned and tried very hard to move as far away from them. Abby realized that the 8-week old baby had already exhibited one of the essential characteristics of all life – the ability to respond to stimuli and especially the ability to protect and preserve its life from threats to it.   THOSE SEEKING AN ABORTION MUST SEE AN ULTRASOUND and must watch an observe how “human” and full of life” their yet unborn (yet fully-formed) baby is.

(2) Planned Parenthood DOES NOT SHOW the woman/girl the ultrasound. That is their policy. Why? First, because it is afraid that seeing the ultrasound will cause the patient to change her mind. After all, Planned Parenthood is in the business of performing abortions. Second of all, Planned Parenthood needs to perform abortions; after all, that’s how it makes its money. That is how it pays its employees, is able to provide them with benefits, and to have the money it needs to lobby for its continued existence. The more abortions it can provide, the better. That is why it doesn’t show those scared, confused, tormented women/girls seeking an abortion an ultrasound. That is why its counselors only counsel “for” an abortion and never the other way around. The numbers of abortions would drop considerably if only Planned Parenthood had the decency to show those women/girls who come through its doors the ultrasounds of the life growing inside them.

(3) What you believe in defines you. If you truly believe in something and are true to your convictions, then you will conduct your life in accordance to your beliefs. That is what Jack Phillips, the Christian cake artist from Colorado did. That is what Barronelle Stutzman, a creative florist from Washington state did. That is what Martin Luther King Jr did, and that is what Rosa Parks did on a Montgomery city bus (“I was tired of giving in”). John Winthrop, who led the Puritans to Massachusetts urged his followers to be the salt of the earth, as Jesus had spoken about in his Sermon on the Mount, so that their new community would be “as a city upon a hill, the eyes of all people are upon us.” President Reagan referenced the “city on a hill” metaphor in one of his speeches hoping that the country would see a re-birth of those values on which many of her colonies were founded. The point is that if we believe strongly enough, we must DO something about it to show others what we stand for.

I urge everyone to see UNPLANNED. Take your children. Use it as a teaching moment. My friends and I were profoundly touched by the movie.

I offer that introduction, the movie review, for the specific reason that ACTION is what is needed to stop the insidious lobbying of Planned Parenthood, including to the point of undermining one of our most precious liberty rights – the right of religious freedom; the right to believe as we are celled to believe and to exercise those beliefs, both in our private lives and in the way we conduct our lives in the public arena. After all, how can we ever be that “shining city on a hill” if we can’t exercise our religious beliefs in the public arena.

The following is an article by Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the legal organization which has represented (successfully) both Jack Phillips and Barronelle Stutzman. The article explains how evil Planned Parenthood is and how it must be stopped from continuing to erode our precious liberties.

The Article: “California Wasn’t Forcing Churches to Pay for Abortions… Until Planned Parenthood Stepped In”:

In 2014, the California Department of Managed Healthcare (DMHC) issued a mandate forcing churches and other religious organizations to pay for elective abortions in their healthcare plans. And if they were to sidestep the abortion mandate by not providing health insurance, they face crippling fines and penalties under Obamacare.

But it wasn’t always this way.

Previously, the DMHC had taken the constitutional route. It was allowing exemptions for Christian universities, churches, and other pro-life and religious organizations that morally object to paying for abortions – just as it (rightfully) allows for religious exemptions from the state’s contraceptive mandate.

Unfortunately, this was short lived. So what changed?

Planned Parenthood got involved. It could not tolerate these exemptions. They were cutting into their profit; cutting into their bottom line.

That much is clear from the emails that Planned Parenthood sent to officials at the DMHC and the California Health and Human Services Agency. In those emails, Planned Parenthood asked agency officials to “fix” the “issue” of religious organizations receiving exemptions from the abortion mandate. Planned Parenthood also threatened to promote a legislative “solution” if the administrative agency didn’t act. The abortion giant demanded that the DMHC:

(i)  Refuse to approve any further exemptions.

(ii)  Rescind the approval of healthcare plans that offer an exemption to the elective abortion mandate.

(iii)  “Find a solution to fix the already approved plans” that offer exemptions for religious organizations.

But forcing religious groups to act against their pro-life beliefs under the threat of government punishment violates federal law and is unconstitutional. That is why Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) has asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit to correct this on behalf of three churches in California.

Again, what you believe in is what defines you. What our country stands for defines her. And this issue of abortion is one that defines us as a people and as a nation. We need to stand up for what we know is right. Not only are the eyes of the country and the world on us, but God is watching as well.

 

[Alliance Defending Freedom, “California Wasn’t Forcing Churches to Pay for Abortions… Until Planned Parenthood Stepped In,” April 8, 2019. Referenced at: https://www.adflegal.org/detailspages/blog-details/allianceedge/2019/04/08/california-wasn-t-forcing-churches-to-pay-for-abortions-until-planned-parenthood-stepped-in?sourcecode=10004429&id=3 ]

How the Left Operates (How it has consistently used “race” to invalidate NC Voter ID initiatives)

VOTER FRAUD - I only got to vote once (Daily Haymaker)

(Photo Credit:  Daily Haymaker)

by Diane Rufino, March 2, 2019

North Carolina voters have tried for a long time now to enact a common-sense voter identification law. For years, they have suspected voter and election fraud, and so when groups like the NC Voter Integrity Project (founded by Jay Delancy, its president) and Project Veritas, and data analysts like Major David Goetze presented verified instances of such fraud (which the NC state Board of Elections refused to investigate and prosecute, and in fact, began to enact policies to prevent such groups and individuals from accessing public data to find the fraud), they went to the polls in great numbers to elect representatives who would finally once and for all, legislate on their behalf and address their legitimate concerns about the integrity and transparency of our elections.

North Carolina was the only state in the southeast not to have a Voter ID law.

In 2013, the Republican-majority NC General Assembly passed a strict Voter ID law (Act. 2013-381, HB 589, Part 2), to go into effect for the 2016 presidential election. It included a strict photo requirement to vote. In 2015, the law was challenged by the NC NAACP and other minority groups alleging that it was discriminatory to African-Americans. In anticipation of the lawsuit, the legislature met in an urgent session to revise the bill, making it a “non-strict” photo identification law (HB 836).

The district court upheld the revised Voter ID law, convinced that it was passed in furtherance of reasonable state interests in fraud-free elections. The NC NAACP and other groups appealed the ruling to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals which struck the law down alleging that it was intentionally drafted and passed to target African-Americans and to diminish their voice at the ballot box.

In 2018, the Republican-dominated NC General Assembly passed a ballot initiative (HB 1092) to add a strict photo identification requirement to vote to the North Carolina state constitution. Voters would vote on the initiative (along with five other initiatives to amend the state constitution) in the November election. Despite a very strong campaign by the left, by the NAACP, by the Democratic Party, by the NC Bar Association, by the media (“North Carolina against tries to pass a Voter ID requirement to disenfranchise black voters), and others, including a scheme to confuse uninformed and ignorant Democratic voters who hadn’t even heard of any of the proposed amendments (“You must vote NO for all the amendments; they are the product of an illegal General Assembly!), the Voter ID amendment was approved by the voters.

In order to give life to the amendment, the General Assembly would need to enact legislation requiring verifiable forms of a photo ID in order to vote (a “strict photo ID” law). It would legislatively accomplish what the constitution now required. And so, on December 5-6, the General Assembly voted to approve Senate Bill 824 (SB 824), which listed the types of voter identification that would be accepted at the polls. [SL 2018-144 (2017-2018 session)]. The NC NAACP, headed by extreme race-baiter Rev. Anthony Spearman, held several press conferences articulating his delusion that North Carolina is like Alabama and Mississippi at the height of the civil rights era. They even held a rally outside the legislative building the first day of the vote.

On December 14, Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed SB 824 and House Speaker Tim Moore responded in a press statement by saying, “We are disappointed that Gov. Cooper chose to ignore the will of the people and reject a commonsense election integrity measure that is common in most states, but the North Carolina House will override his veto as soon as possible.”

And over-ride the veto they did. Before the new legislature was inaugurated (late January), and while Republicans still held a super-majority, they met and voted to over-ride Governor Cooper’s veto.

North Carolina finally… FINALLY had a Voter ID law. And not only that, they had a strict photo identification requirement to vote enshrined now in their state constitution.

The question was: How long before Democrats and liberals would challenge them and try to invalidate them. It was the question that almost every single person asked on election night and then when the General Assembly met in special session to pass the Voter ID law.

As it turned out, the first lawsuit was filed within hours after the General Assembly over-rode Governor Cooper’s veto of the Voter ID law, on December 19, 2018. The NC NAACP filed that lawsuit and Clean Air Carolina then joined in. The suit was filed against Speaker of the House Tim Moore, Senate Pro Tempore Phil Berger, and the State Board of Elections in Wake County Superior Court. [NAACP and Clean Air Carolina v. Moore and Berger (2018)]. The parties challenged two of the amendments (2 out of 4) that were adopted in November – the Voter ID amendment and the amendment capping the state income tax rate at 7% (lowering it from 10%).

In that lawsuit, the NCNAACP alleged that the NC general Assembly was improperly constituted in 2016, being the product of racially-gerrymandered state house and state districts, and therefore the amendment proposals adopted by that legislature for the November ballot were themselves tainted, were not the product of legitimate popular sovereignty, and therefore invalid acts. The NCNAACP asked the court to strike the amendments

Democrats have become all too predictable. As long as anything could be related to race, the race card would be used.

On Friday, February 22, Wake County Superior Court Judge G. Bryan Collins invalidated the amendments, The Voter ID amendment was passed by 55.49 % of NC voters and the amendment to limit the state income tax rate was passed by 57.35% of voters. In his ruling, Judge Collins agreed with the NCNAACP that the proposed amendments were passed by an “illegally constituted General Assembly” that was “not empowered to pass legislation that would amend the state’s Constitution.”

Collins further wrote the “unconstitutional racial gerrymander tainted” the three-fifth majorities in each chamber necessary to submit the amendments to voters. He said that amounted to “breaking the requisite chain of popular sovereignty between North Carolina citizens and their representatives….. An illegally constituted General Assembly does not represent the people of North Carolina and is therefore not empowered to pass legislation that would amend the state’s constitution.”

He struck down the two amendments. He declared them to be void.

The judge based his opinion on previous court rulings finding that the General Assembly had been elected using “illegally gerrymandered” district maps. What he conveniently ignored was the federal court ruling that ultimately allowed the maps to be used for the 2016 elections.

Rev. Spearman issued this press release following the ruling: “We are delighted that the acts of the previous majority, which came to power through the use of racially discriminatory maps, have been checked. The prior General Assembly’s attempt to use its ill-gotten power to enshrine a racist photo voter ID requirement in the state constitution was particularly egregious, and we applaud the court for invalidating these attempts at unconstitutional overreach.”

Most are attacking the ruling as an act of clear judicial activism. NCGOP chairman Robin Hayes told the News & Observer: “This unprecedented and absurd ruling by a liberal judge is the very definition of judicial activism.” And Sen. Ralph Hise commented that the judge clearly had “an axe to grind.” And in a statement issued to NC voters, Senate leader (Senate President Pro Tempore) Phil Berger wrote: “It’s yet another example of activist judges taking away your political power to suit their own liberal agenda.”

After the ruling was handed down, Berger posted his disgust on his Facebook page: “Your vote to add a Voter ID amendment to the state constitution was overturned on Friday by one Democratic judge in Wake County. One Democratic judge overruled two million voters—a majority—to toss out Voter ID in North Carolina. He absurdly argued that a voter ID constitutional amendment is unconstitutional.

He continued: “A single Democratic Wake County trial judge ruled that the entire North Carolina General Assembly was an unconstitutional usurper body for approximately 1 ½ years. The millions of votes cast by citizens and certified by the North Carolina Board of Elections could potentially be thrown out by one Democratic judge.”

In other words, the people of North Carolina essentially were without a government for almost two years. That is what the ruling essentially states.

Bryan Collins is a registered Democrat who has clear partisan leanings. He donated to the Kay Hagan campaign and has attended NAACP conventions. It’s hard to imagine he could be impartial in a case brought by the very group he saw fit to publicly support.

My first issue with the ruling is why Judge Collins concluded that the district maps (gerrymandering) had to have been drawn up based on the racial make-up of the voters. Why did he conclude “Race” when the district maps could have just as rationally been drawn up on account of “political identity”? Was it just because a racial minority group made the allegation? [I’m sorry, but I don’t buy the rationale in the Supreme Court decision Cooper v. Harris (2017); See Reference section].

This was the same question I asked when the 4th Circuit concluded that the changes to North Carolina’s voter laws were motivated primarily and overwhelmingly by racial animus – to intentionally suppress the African-American vote. Why did the court assume the General Assembly targeted them on account of skin color rather than on account of political identity? The Supreme Court has said that if a particular race happens to be impacted more than others by a voter ID law that is neutral on its face, than it would be permitted. It concluded that requiring photo identification to vote poses no reasonable burden to an individual right to vote.

Here are some statistics about North Carolina voters in that the NC General Assembly was able to consider in their re-districting plan: In 2016, 22% of all registered (active) voters in North Carolina were African-Americans. (That matches exactly the demographics in the state, with 22.1% of the population being African-American). Furthermore, exactly half of all registered Democrats in 2016 in North Carolina were African-American.

If you take these statistics together, it is seems quite obvious that almost all African-Americans identify as Democrats. It also seems quite obvious that the Democratic Party in North Carolina relies very heavily on the African-American community for votes.

So, if African-Americans identify almost exclusively (certainly overwhelmingly, well over 90%) with the Democratic Party, how does a judge in all honesty, conclude that district maps were drawn based on skin color and not on political identity. Isn’t “political identity” or “party affiliation” the more pertinent identifier ?

In 2016, the General Assembly drew up new district maps. A federal court (the US District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina), found the 28 of the 170 legislative districts (house and senate) and 2 of the congressional districts were improperly racially gerrymandered (black voters were drawn together in districts). The General Assembly addressed the concerns but they didn’t quite overcome the deficiencies. The 3-judge panel of judges, however, acknowledged that “there is insufficient time, at this late date, for: the General Assembly to draw and enact remedial districts; this Court to review the remedial plan,” and so, they allowed the maps to remain in place for the 2016 election. (The legislature would have to amend the maps in the 2017 session).

At some point during or after 2017, the maps would no longer be struck down by the courts as “racially” gerrymandering but rather as “partisan” gerrymandering. When the state legislature’s district maps could no longer be challenged as “racial” gerrymandering, they then began to challenge them as “partisan gerrymandering. That is, the districts were drawn to favored Republicans. Mind you, the courts are well-aware that the Supreme Court has never struck down a districting plan because it is partisan in design. But precedent has never stopped the liberal North Carolina courts. (See the Appendix at the end of the article).

The maps drawn up in 2016 and used in the 2016 election continued to provide a possible legal angle for disgruntled and racially-obsessed Democrats. The courts have been their friend in the past and they would use them again.

To understand why the NC NAACP brought its lawsuit against the Republican-majority General Assembly based on a racial allegation, we need to look at districting authority, federal law, and court precedent. We will see that the lawsuit was pure political strategy, taking advantage of outdated federal law and court decisions that still believe the United States and southern states in particular are still obsessed with white supremacy and motivated by animus and discriminatory intent when it comes to its African-American population. We will see that this is the favored approach of progressives who use the liberal courts to achieve what it can’t with duly-enacted legislatures and other governing bodies.

Each state legislature is tasked with drawing up district lines, or district maps. District lines for US congressional districts and for both state house and senate districts must be re-drawn every 10 years following the completion of the US census. The party holding the majority in the state legislature at the time re-districting maps are to be re-drawn has the benefit of drawing those district lines to its advantage. Nothing in the state constitution of North Carolina requires that re-districting be done on a non-partisan basis. In fact, for so many years, while Democrats have held the majority in both houses in the NC General Assembly, they have drawn maps to favor their party, including focusing on race since it is a strong indicator of Democratic support.

North Carolina has 13 US congressional districts (for its 13 representatives in the US Congress), it has 120 NC house districts, and 50 NC Senate districts. The NC General Assembly is alone responsible for drawing up all these maps/districts and they are NOT subject to approval by the Governor. In other words, the maps drawn up by the Redistricting Committee is not subject to being vetoed by the Governor.

In drawing up district maps, the federal government mandates that districts must have nearly equal populations to comport with the US Constitution and notions of democracy. The rule that election districts contain equal populations is the essence of the general idea of “One Person, One Vote,” which was emphasized by the Supreme Court in 1962 (Baker v. Carr). It means that a person’s vote counts equally no matter where he casts his vote. Civil Rights laws further mandate that district maps must not discriminate on the basis of race or ethnicity. It is OK to discriminate based on the white color of one’s skin, it is OK to discriminate based on affluence (or lack thereof), and it is OK to discriminate based on political affiliation. The courts have always tolerated partisan gerrymandering (even when district maps assume no reasonable shape at all) but they do not tolerate racial gerrymandering.

Hence we are starting to see why the allegation of “racial” gerrymandering was made. Partisan gerrymandering will not guarantee a favorable challenge and outcome. An allegation of “racial” gerrymandering will.

This is how the Democratic machine works.

Anyway, Senate leader Phil Berger has filed an appeal on behalf of the Republican legislative leaders, calling Judge Collin’s ruling an “absurd decision.” His full announcement read: “We are duty-bound to appeal this absurd decision. The prospect of invalidating 18 months of laws is the definition of chaos and confusion. Based on tonight’s opinion and others over the past several years, it appears the idea of judicial restraint has completely left the state of North Carolina. Rest assured, our lawyers will appeal this ridiculous ruling, but it’s yet another example of activist judges taking away your political power to suit their own liberal agenda.”

Republicans contend Collins’ reasoning jeopardizes dozens of laws.

Here is what the appeal by the Republican legislators argues: (i) Judge Collins disregarded the fact that a federal court had allowed the 2016 election to proceed using the challenged districting maps; (ii) If Collins’ ruling should stand, then essentially the state had no government for almost 2 years (2017-2018). Yet residents were still required to pay taxes to it; (iii) If Collin’s ruling should be permitted to stand, then it would invalidate all the laws of that “illegal legislative session – anarchy; and (iv) To allow Collins’ ruling to stand would create chaos and further litigation in North Carolina.

In the meantime, Sen. Berger appealed to Judge Collins to stay his order striking down the amendments (stay = “put on hold”) while he and fellow Republican leaders file their appeal with the state appellate court, but he refused. The case will most likely reach the state Supreme Court. Currently, the seven-member body is composed of at least five registered Democrats, but Governor Cooper will have the opportunity to appoint one more associate justice, to fill the vacancy on the court caused by his appointment of Associate Justice Cheri Beasley to Chief Justice. It will no doubt be another Democrat, bringing the total to 6 Democrat justices.

A statement by Sen. Berger after the ruling by Judge Collins perhaps describes it best: “All North Carolinians, regardless of party, should be concerned by this lawlessness, because it’s only a matter of time before a judge comes for their preferred legislative policies. Judge Collins is calling the legislature a usurper body while himself usurping the will of millions of North Carolinians who voted to amend their own constitution.”

The one redeeming quality about this ruling is that we can now see all so clearly how liberal-minded, overreaching judges tend to bend the Constitution for progressive purposes and how they use their positions on the bench to disregard the democratic process and un-do the will of the people.

So what does this mean for the honest and decent and well-meaning citizens of North Carolina who want transparent elections in their state? What does this mean for the honest and decent and well-meaning North Carolinians who, despite what Spearman says, do not live their lives seeing things in terms of black and white, who enjoy living side-by-side with persons who don’t look exactly like themselves, and who simply are concerned about the integrity of the NC election process? What does this mean for the majority of North Carolinians who have pressured their state government to address voter fraud and potential voter fraud since 2010?

The good news is that the Voter ID law (SB 2018-144) passed by the General Assembly in December is still good – at least for now. It is a stand-alone bill, not tied by language to the constitutional amendment, and passed by members of the General Assembly of both parties (with two Democrats joining Republicans in the House and one joining Republicans in the Senate). The equipment is not in place yet to provide a free photo ID to those who can’t afford one or who otherwise can’t obtain one, but should be in time for the next election cycle.

The appeal has been filed by Senate leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore and we should soon find out if Judge Collins’ judicial order will stand or be overturned. If the order invalidating the amendments is upheld, there may be a lawsuit to challenge the Voter ID law as the product of an illegally-constituted General Assembly but to move forward under that theory would potentially mean that every single piece of legislation and every decision made could also be challenged in court. My guess is that such a lawsuit won’t be filed.

For now, North Carolina has a strict Voter ID law in place. The only thing the NCNAACP has done is to manufacture a crisis of racism that doesn’t exist and to be successful in convincing a lower state court judge to issue one of the grossest acts judicial activism in recent history. There should be no place in North Carolina for the NCNAACP.

 

References:

Voter ID law – SB 2018-144 (2017-2018) – https://www.ncleg.gov/BillLookup/2017/S824“NC Judge Invalidates Two Constitutional Amendments Passed by Voters Last Fall,” NC Family Policy Facts, February 25, 2019. Referenced at: http://my.ncfamily.org/site/MessageViewer?em_id=5207.0&dlv_id=9084

Gary Robertson, “Judge Strikes Down North Carolina Voter ID OK’ed by Voters,” The Washington Post, February 22, 2019. Referenced at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/judge-strikes-down-north-carolina-voter-id-okd-by-voters/2019/02/22/0cfd1a98-3708-11e9-8375-e3dcf6b68558_story.html?utm_term=.24d45d7283d2

”Voter ID History,” National Conference of State Legislatures. Referenced at: http://www.ncsl.org/research/elections-and-campaigns/voter-id-history.aspx

Rebecca Trippett, “NC in Focus: Who are NC’s Democratic Voters?” UNC Carolina Demography, October 2, 2016. Referenced at: https://demography.cpc.unc.edu/2016/10/07/nc-in-focus-who-are-ncs-democratic-voters/

“Federal Judges: Racially-Tainted General Assembly Districts Must Be Redrawn,” WRAL, August 11, 2016. Referenced at: https://www.wral.com/federal-judges-racially-tainted-general-assembly-districts-must-be-redrawn/15920846/

Adam Liptak, “Justices Reject 2 Gerrymandered North Carolina Districts, Citing Racial Bias,” The New York Times, May 22, 2017. Referenced at: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/22/us/politics/supreme-court-north-carolina-congressional-districts.html

VIDEO: “How Gerrymandering Got its Name.”   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8BWVDUpEaNM

VIDEO: “Crash Course on Re-districting.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MnhFm5QVVTo

NAACP and Clean Air Carolina v. Moore and Berger, COMPLAINT –

https://www.southernenvironment.org/uploads/words_docs/Complaint_-_Usurpers_FINAL_-_pdf.pdf [Notice how the NAACP refers to Republican leaders as “Usurpers”]

NAACP and Clean Air Carolina v. Moore and Berger (2018), OPINION – https://www.southernenvironment.org/uploads/words_docs/doc03389420190222171503.pdf

Ariane de Vogue, “Supreme Court Blocks Court Order to Redraw North Carolina Congressional Districts,” CNN, January 19, 2018. Referenced at: https://www.cnn.com/2018/01/18/politics/north-carolina-supreme-court-redistricting/index.html   [US Supreme Court voted 7-2 to freeze (ignore) a lower federal court ruling that struck down North Carolina’s congressional districts, holding that it amounted to an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander. The order makes it likely, although not certain, that the controversial maps will be used for the 2020 election. In January 2018, a three-judge panel of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the lower district court and held that North Carolina’s 2016 plan was enacted “with the intent of discriminating against voters who favored non-Republican candidates” and that the plan violated the First Amendment by “unjustifiably discriminating against voters based on their previous political expression and affiliation.” Partisan gerrymandering had been permitted by the Supreme Court and lower courts in the past, assuming that politics was always involved in the drafting of maps. The lower district court had ordered the NC General Assembly to enact a remedial redistricting plan by January 24, 2019. The Supreme Court voted to freeze that court order and, at least for now, to allow the maps to remain in place for the next election. The order comes as the Supreme Court is also considering two other partisan gerrymander cases – one from Maryland and the other from Wisconsin. It is likely that should it take those cases, the NC case will be re-considered along with the other two. If the Supreme Court agrees to hear the cases, it will be the first time that the high court takes up the issue of “when is partisan gerrymandering too extreme” (so as to offend notions of fairness). The court will address the question of whether or not standards for partisan gerrymandering can be determined and applied].

Voter ID Laws by State, Ballotpedia. https://ballotpedia.org/Voter_identification_laws_by_state

“Redistricting and the Supreme Court: The Most Significant Cases,” National Commission of State Legislatures (NCSL), July 9, 2018. Referenced at: http://www.ncsl.org/research/redistricting/redistricting-and-the-supreme-court-the-most-significant-cases.aspx

Those cases:

Baker v. Carr, 369 U.S. 186 (1962). For the first time, the court held that the federal courts had jurisdiction to consider constitutional challenges to state legislative redistricting plans. The Court held that a federal district court had jurisdiction to hear a claim that this inequality of representation violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Gray v. Sanders, 372 U.S. 368 (1963). The Court established the constitutional standard for equality of representation as “one person, one vote.”

Karcher v. Daggett, 462 U.S. 725 (1983). Congressional districts must be mathematically equal in population, unless necessary to achieve a legitimate state objective.

Shaw v. Reno, 509 U.S. 630 (1993). Legislative and congressional districts will be struck down by courts for violating the Equal Protection Clause if they cannot be explained on grounds other than race. (While not dispositive, “bizarrely shaped” districts are strongly indicative of racial intent).

Cooper v. Harris, (2017). Partisanship cannot be used to justify a racial gerrymander.

**** I always thought that it was odd the Courts did so, since: (i) it is the manipulation of district maps for partisan purposes that is the real concern in elections, and (ii) all too often, racial identity and political identity are the same.

 

APPENDIX I: Gerrymandering in North Carolina (since 2016)

In November 2010, the Republican party gained control of both houses of the North Carolina General Assembly. Republicans hadn’t had control of both houses since 1896, when the party successfully fused with the Populist Party. Republicans first gained control of the state house in 1998 but they have been unable to gain control of the state senate since 1896. Prior to the 2010 election, corrupt Democratic Senate leader Marc Basnight and corrupt House Speaker Joe Hackney controlled the state’s government. Basnight led the Senate for a record 18 years. The mandate for the newly-elected Republican majority was to end the corruption, to set a priority to live within a smaller more responsible budget (the state faced an estimated $3 billion deficit), and to enact a Voter ID bill.

Elections have consequences. Obama said this many times after he won, and in fact, the Supreme Court has recognized this common-sense truth in reviewing election matters.

The push-back against Republicans began immediately.

The following is taken directly from the “FACTS” section of the Complaint filed by the NCNAACP. It lays out the series of lawsuits against the North Carolina General Assembly (N.C.G.A.) with respect to the district maps.

The Unconstitutional N.C.G.A:

(1) The N.C.G.A. is comprised of 50 Senate seats and 120 House of Representative seats pursuant to the Constitution of the State of North Carolina, Art. II, §§ 2, 4.

(2) In 2011, following the decennial census, the N.C.G.A. redrew the boundaries of North Carolina legislative districts for both the NC Senate and the NC House of Representatives. The districts were enacted in July 2011.

(3) The N.C.G.A. unconstitutionally and impermissibly considered race in drawing the 2011 legislative maps, resulting in legislative districts that unlawfully packed black voters into election districts in concentrations not authorized or compelled under the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

(4) On November 4, 2011, the NC NAACP joined by three organizations and forty six individual plaintiffs filed a state court action that raised state and federal claims challenging the districts as unconstitutionally based on race. Dickson v. Rucho, 766 S.E.2d 238 (N.C. 2014), vacated, 135 S. Ct. 1843 (2015) (mem.), remanded to 781 S.E.2d 404 (N.C. 2015); vacated and remanded, 198 L. Ed. 2d 252 (U.S. 2017) (mem.), remanded 813 S.E.3d 230 (N.C. 2017).

(5) On May 19, 2015, plaintiffs Sandra Little Covington et al, filed a parallel challenge in federal court alleging that twenty-eight districts, nine (9) Senate districts and nineteen (19) House of Representative districts, were unlawful racial gerrymanders in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteen Amendment of the United States Constitution. Covington v. North Carolina, 316 F.R.D. 117 (M.D.N.C. 2016).

(6) In August 2016, the three-judge federal district court panel unanimously ruled for plaintiffs, holding that “race was the predominant factor motivating the drawing of all challenged districts,” and struck down the twenty-eight (28) challenged districts (nine Senate districts and nineteen House districts) as the result of an unconstitutional racial gerrymander. See Covington v. North Carolina, 316 F.R.D. 117, 124, 176 (M.D.N.C. 2016), aff’d, 581 U.S. ––––, 137 S.Ct. 2211 (2017) (per curiam).

(7) On June 5, 2017, the United States Supreme Court summarily affirmed the lower court’s ruling that the twenty-eight (28) challenged districts were the result of an unconstitutional racial gerrymander, North Carolina v. Covington, 581 U.S. ––––, 137 S.Ct. 2211, (2017) (per curiam). On June 30, 2017, a mandate was issued as to the U.S. Supreme Court’s order affirming the lower court’s judgment.

(8) The United States Supreme Court, however, vacated and remanded the lower court’s remedial order for a special election, ordering the lower court to provide a fuller explanation of its reasoning for the U.S. Supreme Court’s review. North Carolina v. Covington, — U.S. —, 137 S. Ct. 1624 (2017) (per curiam).

(9) On remand, the three-judge panel granted the N.C.G.A. an opportunity to propose a new redistricting plan to remedy the unconstitutional racial gerrymander. Covington v. North Carolina, 283 F.Supp.3d 410, 417–18 (M.D.N.C. 2018). In August 2017, the N.C.G.A. submitted a proposed remedial map, drawn by Dr. Thomas Hofeller, the same mapmaker the General Assembly had hired to draw the 2011 invalidated maps. Dr. Thomas redrew a total of 11 of the 170 state House and Senate districts from the 2011 unconstitutionally racially-gerrymandered maps. Id. at 418.

(10) After reviewing the General Assembly’s remedial plan, the three-judge panel determined that a number of the new districts put forward by the N.C.G.A. in its 2017 remedial plan were essentially continuations of the old, racially gerrymandered districts that had been previously rejected as unconstitutional and either failed to remedy the unconstitutional racial gerrymander or violated provisions of the North Carolina Constitution. Id. at 447-58. For those defective districts, the three-judge panel adopted remedial districts proposed by a court

appointed special master. Id. at 447-58. The United States Supreme Court affirmed the districts adopted by the three-judge panel, except for certain districts in Wake and Mecklenburg Counties that had not been found to be tainted by racial gerrymanders, but were drawn in alleged violation of the state constitutional prohibition against mid-decade redistricting.   North Carolina v. Covington, 138 S.Ct. 2548 (2018).

(11) In order to cure the 2011 unconstitutional racial gerrymander, the remedial maps redrew 117 legislative districts.

(12) In November of 2018, elections for all N.C.G.A. seats were held based on the redrawn districts, the first opportunity that voters had had since before 2011 to choose representatives in districts that have not been found to be the illegal product of an unconstitutional racial gerrymander.

(13) Since June 5, 2017, the N.C.G.A. has continued to act and pass laws.

Reference: NAACP and Clean Air Carolina v. Moore and Berger, COMPLAINT –https://www.southernenvironment.org/uploads/words_docs/Complaint_-_Usurpers_FINAL_-_pdf.pdf [Notice how the NAACP refers to Republican leaders as “Usurpers”]

Additional Gerrymandering History (Background of a Possible Upcoming Supreme Court case) –

In 2017, two congressional district maps, one for congressional district 1 and the other for congressional district 12, were challenged as being racially gerrymandered, and the district and appellate courts agreed. It was appealed to the US Supreme Court, which also affirmed on May 22, 2017. The high Court agreed that the districts in question were improperly racially gerrymandered and sent the case back to the district court for a suitable remedy. The district court ordered the General Assembly to draft remedial maps for use in the 2018 election cycle, which it did. And the court approved them. (So all is OK with the 2018 elections)

Those same district maps were then challenged as being improperly partisan gerrymandered. In 2017, a federal district court and held that North Carolina’s 2016 plan was enacted “with the intent of discriminating against voters who favored non-Republican candidates” and that the plan violated the First Amendment by “unjustifiably discriminating against voters based on their previous political expression and affiliation.” Partisan gerrymandering had been permitted by the Supreme Court and lower courts in the past, assuming that politics was always involved in the drafting of maps. The Supreme Court has always been of the understanding (the rightful expectation) that “elections have consequences.” The lower district court had ordered the NC General Assembly to enact a remedial redistricting plan by January 24, 2019. The ruling was appealed.

In January 2018, a panel of 3 federal judges affirmed the lower court ruling and declared the congressional district maps to be unconstitutional, being the product of partisan gerrymandering – that is, the maps were drawn to unfairly favor Republican candidates. (“The Republican-dominated state’s House map violated the First and 14th Amendments by unfairly giving one group of voters – Republicans – a bigger voice than others in choosing representatives”). The ruling was appealed to the Supreme Court.

On January 19, the US Supreme Court voted 7-2 to freeze (ignore) the lower federal court ruling,. The order makes it likely, although not certain, that the controversial maps will be used for the 2020 election. The order comes as the Supreme Court is also considering two other partisan gerrymander cases – one from Maryland and the other from Wisconsin. It is likely that should it take those cases, the NC case will be re-considered along with the other two. If the Supreme Court agrees to hear the cases, it will be the first time that the high court takes up the issue of “when is partisan gerrymandering too extreme” (so as to offend notions of fairness). The court will address the question of whether or not standards for partisan gerrymandering can be determined and applied].

In August 2018, the same three-member panel of judges reached essentially the same conclusion that it had in January – that NC’s district maps were unconstitutionally gerrymandered to favor Republicans. The Supreme Court had never struck down a state district map based on partisan gerrymandering. However, the ruling sets up a delicate tactical question for the Supreme Court, particularly since two other states have had their districting maps challenged as well as being improper partisan gerrymandering.

 

APPENDIX II: Why the NC NAACAP Filed the Lawsuit

In short, the NC NAACP is an extreme racist group, believing the white community has one interest only – in keeping the black community down, disadvantaged, poor, and suppressed at the ballot box. It believes that the primary object of white legislators is to plot and scheme on how to do all of the above, especially to suppress the black vote. Whites = bad. Blacks = victims. Whites = Republican. Blacks = Democrat. It’s president, T. Anthony Spearman, has spoken often, with racism dripping from his lips, about how white legislators still cling to the Jim Crow mentality of the post-Reconstruction era and “meet in their lily-white caucuses” to “enshrine racism” in the state’s laws and most recently, to enshrine it in the state’s constitution. His organization will do anything, and has done everything in its power (ie, to cry “racism” about everything that the legislature does), to prevent a voter ID law from being enforced in North Carolina and to keep the notion alive that it has no other purpose than to suppress the black vote.

In filing the lawsuit, Spearman commented: “The supermajority’s proposed amendments to the North Carolina constitution represent the greatest threat to our state’s democratic institutions since the Civil War.”

As usual, Spearman shows his utter ignorance of history and his willingness to distort history to further his ambitions. It was the Republicans in government (in power) that first gave blacks access to state democratic institutions and then to national democratic institutions. It was a Democrat, a slavery-supporter named Roger Taney (Chief Justice Roger Taney), who wrote the opinion in the infamous Dred Scott case (1857) that held that the United States never intended for persons of African descent to be included in the body politic (ie, to be considered as citizens) and hence, they could never be entitled to any protections under the US Constitution. In short, Mr. Dred Scott had no legal right even to bring his lawsuit.

It was the Democratic party and Democratic leaders who plotted and schemed to enshrine racism in laws, state constitutions, institutions, policies, and practices, and who engineered the social arraignment that was state-sponsored segregation (Jim Crow) to keep the races separated, implying that one race was superior to the other. It was Democratic Senators who filibustered in 1965 to prevent the passage of civil rights legislation. It was Republican Congressional leaders who banded together to break the filibuster and get the legislation passed.

If Spearman had any understanding or appreciation of history, he would know that Republicans aren’t the enemy of the black community. They aren’t the party that assumes that blacks are less intelligent, less capable, far less disadvantaged, incapable of making decisions on their own, incapable of competing in the workforce, incapable of supporting themselves, etc and hence government must take care of them. The Republican Party is the party of true equality, and all that it mean and all that it requires.

 

APPENDIX III: Why the NAACP Alleged the Income Tax Amendment to be Unconstitutional

The reason was provided in the Complaint filed by the NCNAACP:

“The income tax cap constitutional amendment harms the NCNAACP, its members, and the black community and its ability to advocate for tis priority issues. Because the amendment places a flat, artificial limit on income taxes, it prohibits the state from establishing graduated tax rates on higher-income taxpayers and, over time, will act as a tax cut only for the wealthy. This tends to favor white households and disadvantages people of color, reinforcing the accumulation of wealth for white taxpayers and undermining the financing of public structures (ie, public services) that benefit non-wealthy people, including people of color. For example, historically in North Carolina, decreased revenue produced by income tax cuts in the state has resulted in significant spending cuts that disproportionately hurt public schools, eliminated or significantly reduced funding for communities of color, and otherwise undermined the economic well-being of the non-wealthy.”

[In other words, the black community has nowhere achieved what the white community has achieved in NC, and because the black community has not achieved what the white community has achieved, the black community is entitled to what the white community earns. It makes no difference that the income tax cap amendment is absolutely neutral in its language and free from racial consideration. The black community is entitled to the wealth earned by others, which according to the NCNAACP, is earned almost exclusively by the white community].

Here is my question: Since the Reconstruction era, and especially after 1896, the NC state legislation has been in the hands of Democrats. Since blacks make up only about 22% of the population in the state, the only way that Democrats could have been elected and have continued to maintain control of the state government is if a large percent of voters were white. Democrats have held majorities and supermajorities for over 100 years, so if Spearman is complaining about the historic disadvantaged status of blacks in North Carolina, doesn’t it make sense that that’s because of the 100 years or so of Democratic government? Of Democratic policies? Republicans haven’t had the majority so it wasn’t their policies that have kept blacks so disadvantaged, so illiterate, so economically-depressed, etc. Maybe it was the white Democrats who are the real racists? In any case, it was Democrats, Democratic rule, and the long history of Democratic rule in North Carolina that have given rise to the status of blacks in the state.

Reference: NAACP and Clean Air Carolina v. Moore and Berger (2018), OPINION – https://www.southernenvironment.org/uploads/words_docs/doc03389420190222171503.pdf

 

APPENDIX IV. Why Clean Air Carolina joined the Lawsuit

Clean Air Carolina’s issue is not with the amendments at all. It is with having too many Republicans in government. This is what they said: “If the legislature is successful in its power grab it will have dire consequences for citizens in the voting booth, for our communities and the air we breathe, and for our basic democratic institutions. This is not our typical lawsuit but the proposed ballot measures would impact our ability to fulfill our mission by limiting the voice that North Carolinians have in state policy, particularly on urgent environmental issues.”   [Translation of “the voice that North Carolinians have in state policy”: They obviously mean that conservatives don’t count as North Carolinians. They are only concerned about Democratic residents of NC].

“This legislature has carried out extraordinary attacks to strip fundamental clean air and clean water protections that North Carolinians have been assured of for decades, breaking with our state’s long history of bipartisan support for environmental safeguards. At the moment we are poised to re-establish fair representation that will accurately reflect voters on environmental issues, they have attempted a desperate and unlawful power grab.”

In short, Clean Air Carolina honestly believes that Republicans have no interest in the environment. Hence, if they can help get rid of Republicans legislators, they would happily do so.