Conservatives and Libertarians: Don’t Be Fooled by These Two Extra-Constitutional Grassroots Movements

The call for an Article V Convention of States has flushed out some strange bedfellows seeking a common goal. Some groups claiming to be conservative are showing themselves to be involved in using deceptive rhetoric and false history to break up the Constitution. These particular political activists lament the formation of the American government under the Constitution. Yes, they look to to undermine it, using bits and pieces of history to back up their claims, much like American progressives do.

“The activists position themselves on the Right, using the organization of the tea party, groups like the Michigan Campaign for Liberty (a state chapter of Ron Paul’s Campaign for Liberty), and even the Tenth Amendment Center to distort the Constitution so that it fits their agenda.” One activist told me his work for the Campaign for Liberty was to perfect the Constitution by breaking up the bond between the federal government and the states. He lamented that the nation should never have ratified the Constitution, but instead kept the Articles of Confederation. (Keep in mind that the Articles were proving to be insufficient, a major impetus for conceiving the Constitution.) It is those who might have previously been defined as Anti-Federalists, who operate across the nation as nullifiers and secessionists, anarchists disguised as liberty experts, and Constitution-destroyers disguised as constitutionalists, that are racing parallel to the Left.
To be clear, nullification in and of itself is not a bad thing, but the interpretation of its use is what people I call “nullifiers” abuse. Nullifying federal law means to rebuke the federal government for overreach. It is meant as a warning shot, a call of unconstitutionality, or a tool of shame to put the federal government on notice that the state knows it has done wrong. The “nullifiers” believe that states can use nullification as a void of federal law, to refuse to follow it, to break from the federal government. In their view, if enough states nullify federal law, it builds the resume for secession.

The merging of anti-constitutional political thought between the Left and the nullifiers on the Right came to light when Democratic lawmaker Zoe Lofgren, D-Caif. (F, 23%) complained in a hearing that her constituents’ votes counted for less than those of the voters of Wyoming.

Her convoluted reasoning, which she repeated for emphasis, was that many times the number of people in California voted for Hillary Clinton than the number of people in Wyoming that voted for Donald Trump, showing indisputable evidence of how unfair the Electoral College is.

Lofgren claimed that a constitutional convention was needed to prevent, “the majority being ruled by a minority.” She claimed that a dissolution of the union, or secession, would be necessary to prevent future such problems, and further claimed that there was only a need for three more states to call for such a convention. Where she gets that number from is anyone’s guess.

“Rational people, not the fringe, are now talking about whether states could be separated from the U.S., whether we should have a Constitutional Convention,” Lofgren said.

The underlying joke in her comments is obvious; as a fringe, irrational type, Lofgren isn’t quite the right messenger. But the clip is interesting since she uses 1) the movement to amend the Constitution through a convention of states, which she ignorantly called a constitutional convention, and 2) describes breaking apart the union with secession, the same things called for by Ron Paul and his folk.

The Ron Paul cabal position themselves as defenders of the Constitution, even though they disparage constitutionalists in their silly attempts to ultimately destroy the Constitution, while accusing everyone else of doing it. Ron Paul believes states have the right to secede, even though in the past a civil war was fought to keep the union together, a historical fact he refuses to believe, and instead claims the Civil War destroyed the “right” of secession. His views, and carefully crafted phraseology, do not stop his volunteers across the nation from advocating for breaking up government through nullification and secession.

It is not the fault of the Constitution that the federal government has so vastly exceeded its limited powers; it is the fault of people who have consistently tried to undermine it. It seems elementary then to tell both the secessionist nullifiers and the secessionist Left to stop trying to destroy the Constitution, and work to remedy the mess through the people of the States.

But now, as the leftist sour grapes movement builds for the next four years, the similarities between the ultimate goals of the Left and the nullifiers on the Right are striking.

It’s interesting. For years leading up to this point, proponents of secession and nullification consistently described an Article V Convention of States as a “con-con” or, constitutional convention. Using the “con-con” term, they mocked Article V COS proponents, claiming employment of the state convention process would be destroying the Constitution. They claimed they revered the Constitution, while actively working to break it apart. Their vehement attitude against employing a constitutional remedy to our federal mess and their tight grip on employing an extra-constitutional method instead, like nullification and secession, further exposed their leanings.

And now, people like Zoe Lofgren, a confused congresswoman, and her friends on the Left, always on the lookout for ways to destroy the Constitution, are virtually making the case for the nullifiers.

Nullifiers’ ultimate goal is anarchy, the Left’s ultimate goal is something of a dictatorship/monarchy. But serious constitutionalists don’t fault the creation of the Constitution itself as the nation’s worst sin, as these two groups do.

The bottom line is that the nullifiers and secessionists of today are plodding and purposeful. They, on the Right and the Left, have disparaged the very creation of the Constitution and are working to destroy it. (For more from the author of “Conservatives and Libertarians: Don’t Be Fooled by These Two Extra-Constitutional Grassroots Movements” please click HERE)

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Conservatives Split From GOP Leaders Over Timing of Obamacare Repeal

GOP lawmakers on Capitol Hill are committed to using a budget tool called reconciliation to send a bill repealing Obamacare to President-elect Donald Trump’s desk.

Though Republicans are settled on getting rid of the Affordable Care Act, fault lines have emerged between GOP lawmakers who disagree on when exactly the health care law should be repealed and, to a lesser extent, which Obamacare provisions to include in the reconciliation bill.

On one side are Republicans like Sens. Orrin Hatch of Utah and Susan Collins of Maine, who have said they would like to see enactment of Obamacare’s repeal delayed until 2019 or beyond, which would give the GOP-led Congress time to craft, pass, and implement a replacement for the health care law.

“I’d like to do it tomorrow, but reality is another matter sometimes,” Hatch, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, told The Washington Post. “We have to live with the real world, and the real world right now is that the Democrats won’t help with anything.”

But opposite those Republicans are conservatives like Reps. Mark Walker and Mark Meadows, both from North Carolina, who want to see repeal enacted in the first few months of Trump’s administration.

“We need to show some urgency,” Walker told The Daily Signal. “I won’t put it in how many days, but over the first few months, the repeal needs to be enacted out of the gate.”

Unlike Walker, who will take over as chair of the Republican Study Committee next year, Meadows has mapped out a timeline to repeal the health care law within Congress’ first 100 days, then pass and implement a replacement over a span of roughly 17 months.

“We need to have a very aggressive timeline on repeal,” Meadows, who recently took over as chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, told The Daily Signal. “What I would be hopeful for is a replacement that would come shortly after that, but to combine the two would be a mistake in that it would slow down the repeal process.”

Republicans plan to use reconciliation—which allows a bill to pass the Senate with just 51 votes—to repeal Obamacare, and are looking to pass a reconciliation bill during the first days of the 115th Congress, which begins Jan. 3.

They now have the support of the White House.

During an interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt on Wednesday, Reince Priebus, President-elect Donald Trump’s incoming chief of staff, signaled that the Trump administration agrees that Congress should use reconciliation within the administration’s first nine months to repeal Obamacare.

“We’re probably going to lead with Obamacare repeal and replace,” Priebus told Hewitt. “Then we’ll have a small tax reform package at the end of April. So I think what you’re looking at between two tax reform packages and reconciliation in the first nine months … what essentially comes down to three basically different budget packages.”

Though most agree that the dismantling of the 2010 health care law should come before Congress starts to tackle the proposal to replace Obamacare, others say that a delayed enactment for repeal occurring in 2019 or beyond would ease the transition for those currently enrolled in plans purchased on the exchanges.

Under Meadows’ timeline, leaders in the House and Senate would draft reconciliation instructions—which tell budget leaders what to include in the bill—and pass the legislation within their first 14 legislative days.

Repeal would then take place within the first 100 days, which Meadows said would provide insurers time to begin crafting plans for 2018 that aren’t required to adhere to the insurance mandates created by the Affordable Care Act.

Those regulations, opponents of the health care law say, caused the cost of premiums to rise.

Under Meadows’ plan, implementation of a replacement would happen over the span of roughly 17 to 18 months, which would allow the Trump administration to work through new regulations for the 2019 plan year.

“Adjusting in six months, that’s a herculean leap,” Meadows said. “Adjusting in a 17- to 18-month time frame is certainly something that all the insurance providers can do, and they’ve been asked to do much more in adjusting to the Affordable Care Act with less specificity coming from the Department of Health and Human Services.”

Already, Meadows said he is seeking input from at least two insurance providers on a viable plan to repeal and replace the law.

While the North Carolina Republican believes their contribution will present congressional leaders with a “compelling case” as to why the law needs to be rolled back quickly, he’s adamant that leaving it in place for even a few years will hurt consumers.

“A gradual wind down will still create perverted markets with regards to health insurance,” Meadows said. “I don’t know of any argument that would suggest that a three- to five-year wind down will make it less onerous on the American people.”

A Place to Start

Budget leaders and staff are already discussing what should be included in the reconciliation bill that would repeal Obamacare, and they’re using the legislation crafted in 2015 and subsequently passed by Congress as a blueprint.

That reconciliation bill repealed the individual and employer mandates, Medicaid expansion, and Cadillac and medical device taxes. The legislation also stripped the government of its authority to operate the federal and state-run exchanges, and lessened the fine for failing to comply with the mandates to $0, which was needed to abide by Senate rules.

Through that legislation, Republicans already charted a successful course for repealing Obamacare, one that received the stamp of approval from the Senate parliamentarian.

But both Walker and Meadows, along with Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, believe that the bill crafted next year should go further.

“That’s the minimum,” Walker said of the 2015 bill. “That needs to be the starting place, not the ending place.”

In an op-ed for National Review, Walker and Lee called for the next reconciliation bill to also repeal Obamacare’s insurance mandates, which include the essential health benefits requirement, the ban on limiting or denying coverage to consumers with pre-existing conditions, and the contraception mandate.

“When government bureaucrats and politicians decide that every insurance policy must cover free doctor visits and abortifacients, Americans who don’t need those options end up paying more for products they don’t want,” Walker and Lee wrote. “That’s great for the insurance companies, but not for taxpayers or consumers.”

Abortifacients are drugs that cause abortions.

There is skepticism as to whether a repeal of the insurance mandates would pass muster with the Senate parliamentarian, who has the authority to strike out parts of a reconciliation bill.

But the trio of Republicans believe that lawmakers should at least attempt to eliminate the mandates.

“To leave some of these aspects in place is not an excuse the American people are ready to accept,” Meadows said.


Both Meadows and Walker told The Daily Signal that though they would like to see a reconciliation bill for next year go further than that passed in 2015, they would still support a bill that mirrors the one crafted more than one year ago.

But Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., is threatening the GOP’s ability to pass the budget resolution—one that would include the reconciliation instructions to repeal Obamacare.

In an op-ed in Time, Paul pledged to vote against the budget resolution.

“I will not vote for any budget that doesn’t have a plan to balance, regardless of what is attached to it, and I’m calling on other conservatives in the Senate to take the same stand,” the Kentucky Republican said.

Just 51 votes in the Senate are needed for the budget to pass, and Republicans hold 52 seats in the 115th Congress.

Democrats and independents hold a total of 48 seats, so if Paul and one other GOP senator decide not to support the fiscal roadmap, Vice President-elect Mike Pence would be the tiebreaker.

But waiting for Pence to vote would mean the bill repealing Obamacare couldn’t be voted on until after he and Trump are sworn into office on Jan. 20.

So far, it doesn’t appear that Paul has support from other conservatives.

Meadows and Walker said they support Paul’s calls for a balanced budget, but wouldn’t go so far as to oppose the budget resolution that would be the vehicle for Obamacare’s repeal.

“Am I with him in terms of believing that a debt ceiling increase and a future budget must balance and must be on a path to balancing? Without a doubt,” Meadows said, “so it may be more a tactical question of difference versus a strategic question that we differ on.”

Additionally, many conservatives in both chambers, including Lee, voted in support of the budget resolution for 2016 specifically because it instructed congressional leaders to draft a reconciliation bill repealing Obamacare. (For more from the author of “Conservatives Split From GOP Leaders Over Timing of Obamacare Repeal” please click HERE)

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Conservative Lawmakers Say Current Welfare System Is ‘Anti-Family’

With a new Republican administration in tow, conservative lawmakers are renewing their call for welfare reform that incentivizes families rather than punishing them.

“When we look at what we want for our society, when we look at the key ingredients that have to be contained within any thriving civilization, there are a couple of common themes,” Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, said at an anti-poverty welfare event in the District of Columbia. “One is a strong family structure, and another involves opportunities for work.”

The problem, Lee said, is the current safety net, “in many respects, discourages these things, or undermines these interests.”

“In some instances, it discourages marriage, the formation of a family to begin with,” he said.

Lee, along with several other conservative lawmakers in favor of welfare reform, was speaking at The Heritage Foundation’s 2016 Antipoverty Forum, where policy experts and community leaders came together to discuss how to help low-income Americans from both the state and federal levels.

Lee, joined on stage by Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Rep. Dave Brat, R-Va., addressed the Welfare Reform and Upward Mobility Act, which would make significant changes to the nation’s welfare system. With President-elect Donald Trump set to take control of the Oval Office next year, they hope to make this legislation a reality.

“Think about what we now have–don’t get married, don’t get a job, have more kids, and we’ll give you more money,” Jordan said, speaking at Thursday’s forum. “That’s pretty ridiculous, right? It’s anti-family–the key institution in our culture.”

The lawmakers cited the example of an unmarried couple with two children who receive assistance under the Earned Income Tax Credit, which is one of the government’s largest federal welfare cash assistance programs. If each individual were earning $20,000 out of wedlock, for example, they would lose about 10 percent of their benefits once they got married.

“I always tell folks: The first institution the good Lord put together wasn’t the church, wasn’t the state, it was moms and dads and kids,” Jordan said. “It was family. We have an anti-family welfare system, and we have an anti-work welfare [system]. The two values that helped make America the greatest country ever. Strong families, strong commitment to the work ethic. That’s what we have to incentivize.”

Attendees also addressed the importance of religious institutions in the fight against poverty, vowing to oppose efforts that they argue are discriminatory toward people of faith.

“We have got to resolve where we are as a nation, where we are on religious liberty,” said Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., the keynote speaker of the event.

The Obama administration, he said “has tried to isolate people of faith,” and “we have got to turn that back.”

Referencing faith-based adoption agencies that were forced to shut down for refusing to place children with same-sex couples, Lankford, added, “Why should the federal government care about their faith?”

The result, he added, is that “our country is becoming afraid of faith.”

While there are some legislative measures that he believes will fix the problem, the real difference, he said, comes from homes, churches, and communities.

“Our nonprofit entities are so much more efficient at taking care of poverty than our government,” he said. “Mentor a family. It will make a world of a difference.” (For more from the author of “Conservative Lawmakers Say Current Welfare System Is ‘Anti-Family'” please click HERE)

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Christian Conservatives, Be Assured That President Hillary Clinton Will Declare War on You

The Stream is winding down its coverage of Planned Parenthood’s 100th anniversary with a roundup of the best social media posts about the anniversary and The Stream‘s own #100forLife campaign against it.

Planned Parenthood and its supporters tweeted with #100YearsStrong, and many pro-lifers borrowed it to engage in some intense debates. One writer from Teen Vogue (where she ran an interview of Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards) engaged us back. While some became a bit agitated, such as one Planned Parenthood supporter who said she would “slit her wrists” before voting for Republicans, for the most part the banter remained respectful.

Make no mistake about it. If you are a conservative Christian and Hillary Clinton becomes our next president, she will declare war on certain aspects of your faith. Your religious liberties will be targeted, and your biblical beliefs will be branded disturbing, if not downright dangerous.

Do not be deceived.

She has made herself perfectly clear on this in the recent past, and we deny this is to our own peril.

Writing for the left-leaning Washington Post, Marc Thiessen, former chief speechwriter for George W. Bush, declared that “Hillary Clinton is a threat to religious liberty.” He began his October 13 column with these two sobering paragraphs:

In a speech not long before she launched her 2016 presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton made a stunning declaration of war on religious Americans. Speaking to the 2015 Women in the World Summit, Clinton declared that ‘deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed.’

Religious beliefs have to be changed? This is perhaps the most radical statement against religious liberty ever uttered by someone seeking the presidency. It is also deeply revealing. Clinton believes that, as president, it is her job not to respect the views of religious conservatives but to force them to change their beliefs and bend to her radical agenda favoring taxpayer-funded abortion on demand.”

Thiessen is not overstating the case, and in light of one recent court case and one pending bill, both in California and both with potential to go to the Supreme Court, the real dangers of a Hillary Clinton presidency can hardly be exaggerated.

Last week, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that pro-life pregnancy centers are required to promote abortion, meaning, that if a pregnant woman comes to them not knowing what to do about her pregnancy, along with counseling her about adoption or keeping her own baby, they must also refer her to a local abortion clinic.

Yes, under the California Reproductive Freedom, Accountability, Comprehensive Care, and Transparency Act, this is the law; the Ninth Circuit upheld it.

What an absolute outrage, and what an infringement on religious liberties, since these pro-life centers, which are invariably run by conservative Christians, are being forced to violate their sacredly held beliefs.

Hillary Clinton supports legislation like this, and she would absolutely appoint Supreme Court justices who would support this as well. She has made this abundantly, unequivocally clear for many years, without wavering, and she is the most favored Planned Parenthood candidate in history.

As I wrote previously, if you vote for Hillary Clinton, you will have the blood of the unborn on your hands.

And note also the extreme hypocrisy of this ruling, since abortion clinics are not required to refer their clients to local pro-life pregnancy centers. They are not even required to show the mother an ultrasound of her baby, since that would allegedly infringe on her rights.

God forbid that you remind her that she has a baby in her womb.

In an email announcing the Ninth Court’s ruling, Matt Bowman, Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel, said, “It’s bad enough if the government tells you what you can’t say, but a law that tells you what you must say — under threat of severe punishment — is even more unjust and dangerous.”

The ADF is considering appealing the ruling, which, as stated, could ultimately make it to the Supreme Court, but with Hillary as president, you know how the court will rule.

Do you want to facilitate this by helping to elect her to the highest office in the land? Do you want to be one of the people who helped empower her to be president?

This brings me to a major bill in California, SB 1146 which “would officially label private Christian colleges with Christian values, morality, and even dorm policies which conflict with the LGBT agenda as ‘discriminatory,’ and make the colleges liable to state (and federal) lawsuits as well as vicious attacks by activists. . . . The goal is to make Christian colleges surrender their belief systems and force the LGBT agenda onto every facet of education. California is the first state in the US to attempt this outrageous action. If it passes there, it will surely spread to other states.”

This is the exact kind of legislation that Hillary Clinton would promote and celebrate, fully backed by her handpicked Supreme Court justices.

This would also be harmony with her oft-quoted phrase that “gay rights are human rights,” and therefore any group or denomination or nation that opposes the goals of LGBT activism is guilty of opposing human rights. And let’s not forget the pressure Hillary Clinton put on African nations in her 2011 speech in which she made clear that nations across the continent would need to change their policies regarding homosexuality.

Not surprisingly, there was a major backlash to her speech, with John Nagenda, a senior adviser to Uganda’s president Yoweri Museveni, stating, “Homosexuality here is taboo, it’s something anathema to Africans, and I can say that this idea of Clinton’s, of Obama’s, is something that will be seen as abhorrent in every country on the continent that I can think of.”

Can you imagine the kind of pressure Hillary Clinton would put on American Christians who remain opposed to same-sex “marriage” and LGBT activism in our children’s schools? After all, if she took it upon herself to tell sovereign African nations what to do, what would she seek to impose on her own country as president? And I haven’t even mentioned the open disdain expressed towards conservative Christians in her campaign’s recently released emails.

So I’ll say it again: Do not be deceived. We already know how a Hillary Clinton administration would view people like you and me.

I do understand that many of you cannot find it in yourself to vote for Donald Trump, but whatever you do, do not vote for Hillary Clinton, and please encourage your conservative Christian friends not to vote for her either. To do so is to hand her the tape to gag your mouths and the rope to fasten your hands.

You have been forewarned. (For more from the author of “Christian Conservatives, Be Assured That President Hillary Clinton Will Declare War on You” please click HERE)

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Time for Conservative Intellectuals to Get Comfortable With the Right to Bear Arms

The right to keep and bear arms is a vital element of the liberal order that our Founding Fathers handed down to us.

As I argue in a new essay for The Heritage Foundation, the founders understood that those who hold political power almost always will strive to reduce the freedom of those they rule and that many of the ruled always will be tempted to trade their liberty for empty promises of security. The causes of these political phenomena are sown in the nature of man.

The Constitution, including the Second Amendment, is a device designed to frustrate the domineering tendencies of the politically ambitious. The Second Amendment also plays an important role in fostering the kind of civic virtue that resists the cowardly urge to trade liberty for an illusion of safety.

Armed citizens take responsibility for their own security, thereby exhibiting and cultivating the self-reliance and vigorous spirit that ultimately are indispensable for genuine self-government.

While much has changed since the 18th century, for better and for worse, human nature has not changed. The fundamental principles of our regime and the understanding of human nature on which those principles are based can still be grasped today.

Once grasped, they can be defended. Such a defense, however, demands an appreciation of the right to arms that goes beyond the legalistic and narrowly political considerations that drive contemporary gun-control debates.

Regrettably, too many American opinion leaders, forgetting or rejecting the reasons that justify this right, have been extremely uncomfortable with the Second Amendment.

The progressive left, for example, largely has been united in promoting restrictions on civilian access to firearms. Lawyers as well, who Tocqueville famously thought could serve America as a kind of democratic aristocracy, have been hostile to gun rights.

Until 2008, federal judges—our most elite corps of attorneys—never once had sustained a Second Amendment challenge to a government regulation. State courts, for their part, generally had upheld gun regulations under legal tests that practically gave legislatures a blank check. And the organized bar has lobbied for decades in favor of more restrictive controls on firearms.

Although the U.S. Supreme Court finally rediscovered the Second Amendment, it so far has protected only a narrow right to keep a handgun in one’s home, and it did that much only by a narrow 5-4 vote. Especially after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, there is little reason to expect that the court will adopt doctrines that offer robust protection for the right to keep and bear arms.

Conservative intellectuals have offered little resistance to conventional elite opinion. Few of these pundits raise their voices against infringements of the right of self-defense, which is the core principle on which our liberal republic was founded. Some, including George Will and Charles Krauthammer, even advocate repeal of the Second Amendment so that the citizenry can be disarmed.

The principal sources of discomfort with the Second Amendment are the authoritarian impulse that comes so naturally to those who wield political power (either directly or through their influence over officeholders) and the cowardice that such people seek to instill in those they rule.

As a crime-control measure, restricting access to weapons by law-abiding citizens has been a proven failure, for reasons with which our Founders were quite familiar. Support for such policies is a sign either of ignorance about their effects or of disregard for the principles on which our republic was founded.

Conservatives constantly and rightly complain about the erosion of individual liberty by bureaucratic government, about the enervating effects of the nanny state, and about the suffocating atmosphere of euphemisms and repressed resentment imposed by the political correctness police. Whatever else has contributed to the decay of America’s republican spirit, forgetfulness or ignorance about the philosophy underlying our free institutions is among the least excusable failings that public intellectuals can display.

That philosophy was articulated by John Locke, William Blackstone, and every one of our Founding Fathers. If more pundits paid more attention to their views, fewer people would think that the right to arms is a product of romanticism about guns or an outmoded 18th-century mentality.

The American right to keep and bear arms, and its continuing value, reflect the reality of human nature and a reasoned response to that reality. The same cannot be said for the views of conservatives who would gut or even repeal the Second Amendment. (For more from the author of “Time for Conservative Intellectuals to Get Comfortable With the Right to Bear Arms” please click HERE)

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4 Times Conservatives Lost a Major Supreme Court Case by a Single Vote

Sunday night’s second presidential debate underscored the importance of the next Supreme Court justice, as the candidates and questioners alike recognized that the fate of the federal courts rests in the next president’s hands.

The high court has been closely divided on many contentious issues in recent years, and the next justice could change the development and application of the law for decades. As former Attorney General Ed Meese has stated, “No president exercises any power more far-reaching, more likely to influence his legacy, than the selection of federal judges.”

Although the Framers of the Constitution envisioned the judiciary as the “least dangerous branch,” the judges who populate its ranks wield tremendous power to decide cases that affect the daily lives of millions of Americans.

While each branch of government has an independent duty to uphold the Constitution, the Supreme Court has grabbed power by declaring that its decisions are the supreme law of the land, and the other branches have largely acceded to these claims. This is why every vote matters in cases before the Supreme Court.

Often, significant cases are decided by just one vote. While the justices agree in many cases, the next president must consider that one person could make a big difference in nearly a quarter of cases that the court decides by a 5-4 margin each term.

Consider some of the important cases that struck a blow to the Constitution over the past 10 years where one justice was the deciding vote:

In Kelo v. City of New London, the Supreme Court interpreted the takings clause of the Constitution to allow the government to seize citizens’ homes—not to build a road or fulfill some other public use as is required by the Fifth Amendment, but to transfer the property to a private corporation because it could pay more taxes.

In Boumediene v. Bush, the Supreme Court extended the right of habeas corpus to the Guantanamo Bay detainees, usurping national security authority.

In National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, the Supreme Court instituted one of the largest tax increases in history when it strained the Affordable Care Act’s text to uphold the individual health care mandate as a valid exercise of Congress’ taxing power.

In Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court recognized a constitutional right to marriage that includes same-sex couples in a decision so unmoored from the text of the Constitution that even supporters of the ruling have described it as unintelligible and poorly reasoned.

Now consider some of the significant wins for the Constitution where one justice cast the deciding vote:

In McDonald v. City of Chicago and District of Columbia v. Heller, the Supreme Court overturned Chicago and Washington, D.C.’s, virtual bans on handguns, upholding the Second Amendment rights of Americans.

In Town of Greece v. Galloway and Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, the Supreme Court respected religious freedom, upholding a town council’s right to begin a meeting with a prayer, and stopping the government from requiring business owners to pay for certain abortion-inducing drugs and devices in their health care plans against their religious beliefs.

In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission and McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, the Supreme Court tossed out unconstitutional restrictions on political speech and campaign contributions.

In Shelby County v. Holder, the Supreme Court held that Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, which set forth an outdated coverage formula that was used to determine which states needed to get preapproval from the federal government before making any changes in their voting laws, was unconstitutional.

On the occasion of nominating Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Justice Antonin Scalia, President Ronald Reagan reminded us that Supreme Court justices “must not only be jurists of the highest competence; they must also be attentive to the rights specifically guaranteed in our Constitution and to the proper role of the courts in our democratic system.” The Supreme Court is only one vote away from upholding or rejecting these principles.

To learn more about the proper role of judges in our government, the road to confirmation for those nominated to be judges, and close cases in which a single Supreme Court justice made the difference in cases of incredible significance, check out The Heritage Foundation’s new booklet “Supreme Consequences: How a President’s Bad Judicial Appointments Threaten Your Liberty.“ (For more from the author of “4 Times Conservatives Lost a Major Supreme Court Case by a Single Vote” please click HERE)

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The 5 Bills House Conservatives Plan to Push Before Election

Protecting religious liberties, keeping Americans secure from foreign and domestic threats, and holding government accountable are the goals of the House Freedom Caucus for 2016.

The members of the Freedom Caucus held a press conference Wednesday to unveil their policy priorities. Five bills were at the forefront of the proposal.

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, chairman of the Freedom Caucus, said the five bills are specific priorities that can be passed before the presidential election and reflect what the American people want.

“So to the American people, we say we hear you,” Jordan said. “We want to spend more time on legislation that will restore and protect your freedoms, and we do have time to take action this fall. And the House Freedom Caucus is committed to doing so.”

Here is a recap of each bill:

First Amendment Defense Act

Introduced almost a year ago, the First Amendment Defense Act aims to protect individuals and organizations who hold traditional views about marriage. A hearing was held Tuesday on the bill in the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Rep. Raúl Labrador, R-Idaho, sponsored the legislation that would prevent those with traditional views of marriage from being denied federal grants and loans, tax-exempt status, or from being fired from the federal government.

“This bill does not alter anything or modify any civil rights protections or negate any federal anti-discrimination laws,” Labrador said at the press conference. “It’s really important to read the bill. A lot of the testimony yesterday in committee was refuted just by a simple reading of the bill.”

Welfare Reform and Upward Mobility Act

Introduced in May, the Welfare Reform and Upward Mobility Act has three main goals: “to help individuals receiving assistance under means-tested welfare programs obtain self-sufficiency, to provide information on total spending on means-tested welfare programs, [and] to provide an overall spending limit on means-tested welfare programs.”

Jordan sponsored the bill, but Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., discussed it at the press conference Wednesday.

“Consistently, I have found from even the most liberal to the most conservatives, there is a real desire to make sure that we provide the needs for those who are truly needy,” Meadows said. “But also, there is a real desire to hold those accountable who take advantage of the situation.”

Agency Accountability Act

Sponsored by Rep. Gary Palmer, R-Ala., the Agency Accountability Act would require all federal agencies—except for the the U.S. Postal Service and Patent and Trademark Office—that collect money directly through fines, fees, penalties, or settlements to deposit that money in the general fund of the U.S. Treasury.

Palmer called it a “step toward restoring constitutional government,” as Article 1, Section 9, of the Constitution says money can only be drawn from the Treasury by an appropriation of Congress.

Resettlement Accountability National Security Act

The Resettlement Accountability National Security Act would suspend the admission of refugees into the United States until Congress passes a joint resolution that gives the secretary of Homeland Security the authority to continue to admit refugees.

Sponsored by Rep. Brian Babin, R-Texas, the act would also require the comptroller general to submit a report examining the costs of providing benefits to refugees. The report would have to be submitted within 90 days after the bill passes into law and would look at data over the last 10 years.

The bill was introduced last year and has been referred to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security.

Conscience Protection Act

Originally introduced as the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act in 2011, the Conscience Protection Act is intended to prevent discrimination against providers of health services who decline involvement in abortion.

As an example, the bill, which the House passed Wednesday, mentions how California’s Department of Managed Health Care requires coverage for all elective abortions in all health plans. Despite members of Congress having questioned the Department of Health and Human Services surrounding California’s decision, the issue has not been resolved. The bill would address this and similar issues.

“Remember, the majority of Americans today are pro-life,” Rep. John Fleming, R-La., said at the press conference. “But even a greater majority believe that even if it is a woman’s choice, that they shouldn’t be forced to participate or to fund what is someone else’s choice in taking the life of a preborn human being.” (For more from the author of “The 5 Bills House Conservatives Plan to Push Before Election” please click HERE)

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Conservatives’ List of Grievances Against the 2016 GOP Establishment

It’s time once again to celebrate our nation’s birth with a reminder to read the Declaration of Independence.

If you spend any amount of time searching for great deals on summer items at the much-hyped Fourth of July sales, you have the time to put yourself back in time when, after decades of abuse, the American colonies proclaimed that they would govern themselves, drawing from the consent of the governed.

The document itself is not that long, but it can be tedious document for some to read, what with all the arcane language. It should be noted, however, that if you tried to read any of the bills Congress has foisted upon us in modern times, the Declaration is at least self-explanatory and instructive.

Some of the great things about reading the Declaration is that every word has such definable meaning, each sentence is carefully constructed, and the manner in which the Founders communicate independence is backed up by a long list of “Facts” to be “submitted to a candid world.”

I’m told the legal term for this list is a “bill of particulars,” in which perhaps a prosecutor would lay out a case against someone charged with a crime or crimes, but that’s neither here nor there as long as you know when you read the list, it backs up the case for independence.

“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people …”

You don’t have to read long into the Declaration for your mind to worry about what we’ve become. Are we “one people?” Shall we dissolve “political bands?” Do we believe in “unalienable Rights?” Has government become so far off and detached from the people that it can’t possibly “derive their just powers from the consent of the governed?”

Isn’t what the Left is doing when they act on anything a direct repudiation of everything in that document? Yes, I believe so, and it has Americans hopping mad.

Yet, when you read the list of grievances, you come to realize just how bad it was for the colonies in 1776. The Brits allied with murderous natives who wiped out entire families. At the time of the signing, the colonists and the British had been in open war for over a year, Bunker Hill had been fought, and some great men had died. British soldiers were on the streets and demanded property from the colonists, women were raped, and the King was taking away any rights of the colonists to have representation in Parliament. The colonists were far, far beyond any reason anymore. They had to either fight for independence, or be slaves to a distant government who abused them and had no respect for human life.

The enemy of the American Patriot is the American Left. They fight for the murder of the innocent, they offer tolerance to the enemy, they destroy every possible pursuit of happiness, they conjure crisis after crisis to reconcile takings of liberty, they relax law and order so street thugs can destroy whole cities, and they take the future away from our children by spending and use their positions in education to destroy their ability to reason.

So, who really stands with the American Patriot? It certainly isn’t the Democratic Party. And while conservatives get thrashed over trashing Republicans, the truth is right now, the Republican Party is held in contempt by the American Patriot because they were put in charge to oppose the Democrats and they instead, went along with them. Republicans have spent numerous recent elections saying, “Hey, at least we aren’t as bad as the Democrats!” And because of that, we have a presumptive nominee who is actually a Democrat.

But with zero intention of making light of the powerful rebuke that the Declaration of Independence was of government tyranny back in 1776, there may be a festering bill of particulars against the leadership of the Republican Party, and how their actions have quite possibly ensured decades of Leftist rule in America.

They have fused their power with their friends across the aisle for their own personal ambition.

They have squandered gains in the House brought to them by the people, and openly mocked their base.

They have pretended at opposition to the fundamental transformation of America, implementing each and every insult to the detriment of the people.

They have given lip service to the United States Constitution, refusing to restore the balance of power among the branches.

They have made solidarity with the Chamber of Commerce whose mission is to create a permanent underclass of cheap labor.

They have silenced conservatives within the party, going so far as to defeat them in general elections by standing by Democrats.

They have increased the debt exponentially upon the president’s orders.

They deal with swarms of lobbyists to fuse government and business, destroying the American entrepreneur.

They have surrendered the treaty power.

They have surrendered the power of the purse.

They have openly described their tactics as show-votes for the praise of their constituents.

They have refused to fight the nationalization of healthcare, and have embraced it.

They refuse to fight for the Right to Life and by doing so, insured the Democratic upper hand on the issue, insuring more death of innocent lives.

They have acquiesced to the president’s illegitimate amnesty decree, thwarting the rule of law.

They have repeatedly tried, void of the consent of the governed, to impose amnesty and give up security on our borders.

They have guilted the base into giving them more power, yet continued to work against the powers of the constitution.

They have made a charade of the election process, promising to stay in line with conservative America to get elected, then abandoning all pretense of servitude once elected.

They have lost all principle to the overwhelming attraction of raw power, and have a delusional belief in their own lies.

They will not hold the president and his overreaching administration accountable and rebuke those who will.

They have redefined the meaning of the word, “compromise” to mean “surrender.”

They have high praise for Democrat lawmakers and scorn for conservative challengers.

They accept the language of the Left and embrace the demolition of the Second Amendment.

They have made a mockery of Congress by refusing to gather sufficient political capital for impeachment.

They have dragged their feet on the Benghazi investigation, and when finally called on a special committee, have allowed the administration to circle the wagons.

They have given decreased our military at a time when warring nations see us as weak.

They rail against conservatives who reach an audience unafraid to take part in their own civics, because information has become their greatest enemy.

They have saved their most vitriolic and vengeful political rhetoric for conservative challengers, and would never dream of treating the Democrats that way.

They have offered up our daughters to fight the enemy in case of draft.

I’m sure many could add to this list, and expand on the fact that GOP leadership will pay zero attention to the reasons why the party is in its death throes. What will become of the organization is anyone’s guess, but the way it is set up right now is playing into the hands of the enemies of America, and it has to stop.

We, therefore, the base of the crumbling Republican Party, the true defenders of the great United States of America, its lifeblood and its soul, solemnly publish and declare that a complete destruction of the Republican Party by the foolishness of their own actions culminating in the nomination of a Democrat, is fully the fault of the leadership, and is what they have strived for ever since the American public woke up to the presidency of Barack Hussein Obama. (For more from the author of “Conservatives’ List of Grievances Against the 2016 GOP Establishment” please click HERE)

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Hey Phony Cons, Blue State Conservatives Know All About #NewYorkValues

You are besieged and feel out of place. You thought you were pursuing the ideal American life. A life of God, family, property, business, and country – the life you grew up with. Yet, you feel like an alien surrounded by antithetical values promoted by all the levers of power in your city.

You are surrounded by endless crime with violent felons carrying guns but you are barred from carrying a weapon to protect yourself from the violence. Concurrently, the police are demonized for doing their job, and to the extent they succeed in apprehending the criminals, they are released by the leaky criminal justice system.

While violent felons reign supreme on the streets, you live in fear of the infinite myriad of state regulations on your small business, private property, and personal liberties.

Your state and city tackily promote transgender bathrooms and the broader officious homosexual agenda at every awkward turn, yet that same faux sense of “live and let live” never extends to your ability to purchase the soft drink you want, the gun of your choice, the goods and services you need – unless they are “green,” aka don’t work. Any “liberty” not associated with libertine cultural rotgut is infringed upon.

You pay endless taxes and fees on income, sales, property (and in Maryland, on rain) so that it can purvey the interminable cycle of poverty, anti-growth, and expelling of local businesses…which in turn creates more poverty and higher taxes.

While your city is no longer a sanctuary for your children to walk the streets safely and your business to prosper, it has become a sanctuary for illegal aliens and Islamic refugees.

Your children are trapped in schools where they are forced to worship multiculturalism and blame America first.

Yes, indeed, you are one of the millions of conservative blue-state-Americans (heck there is a hyphenated identity for everything!). In fact, you are likely one of those angry voters who have despaired over the corrupt and dyslexic priorities of our politicians and are attracted to the macro-messaging of Donald Trump.

Any real conservative living in a blue state understands this, yet phony conservatives like John Kasich and Donald Trump clearly don’t. It’s because they share many of those values.

Once again, Donald Trump rewarmed his feigned outrage routine over Ted Cruz’s comments about him subscribing to ‘New York values,’ something Trump himself readily admitted in that infamous “Meet the Press” interview. Now, even the lapdog for the strong man on the block, John Kasich’s Soros-funded Super PAC is getting in on the action. They are airing a TV ad in New York attacking Cruz over those comments and using Trump’s non-sequitur emotional distraction about 9/11 to obfuscate the broader point about New York’s (and other blue state’s) liberal politics.

Remember, when Kasich’s Super PAC ran the ad referring to Cruz as “Lyin’ Ted?” Can they at least be original or do they have to plagiarize every corny line from Trump?

What’s next? A Kasich ad in San Francisco praising “San Francisco values” and distracting with pictures of the workers building the Golden Gate Bridge?

In reality, both Trump and Kasich are quite similar in that they share New York values. Of course, Kasich’s donors, who are hooked into the Soros network, would be offended by Cruz’s remarks about the politics of New York. John Kasich himself shares many of those values as it relates to taxes, spending, guns, and illegal immigration. And he is from Ohio!

As a lifelong Marylander who has always lived in the Baltimore area, I fully appreciate what it’s like to be a conservative living in a social democratic utopia. Recently, I wrote an article explaining what it’s like to live in the “Baltimore basket case.” Were a presidential candidate to come to Maryland in the coming days and bemoan the Baltimore basket case and pledge to lead the federal government in the exact opposite direction, my conservative friends and neighbors in the area would identify and appreciate that message even more than red state conservatives. They would be far from offended.

In politics you know a man best by the nature of what offends them. (For more from the author of “Hey Phony Cons, Blue State Conservatives Know All About #NewYorkValues” please click HERE)

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Conservatives Make Their Case for Criminal Justice Reform

Conservative criminal justice reform advocates are making the case that reducing the prison population, treating drug addiction, and giving a second chance to lawbreakers are policy prescriptions that mesh with conservative ideals.

While advocates cite polls that show that most conservatives support ideas like providing alternatives to prison for low-level drug offenders, GOP leaders on the criminal justice reform cause know they have more work to do to overcome a tough-on-crime mentality that came to define the 1980s and ’90s.

“No one is beyond redemption, and hope springs eternal,” said Ken Cuccinelli, the former Republican attorney general of Virginia who spends his time these days speaking out against the harsher sentences from the War on Drugs that helped lead to massive overcrowding in America’s prisons.

Cuccinelli used his appearance this past week at the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, outside Washington, D.C., as an opportunity to speak before thousands of conservative activists and leaders about why they should care about mass incarceration in America.

“We [conservatives] need to own this issue if it’s done right,” Cuccinelli said. “The left cannot own it. We have to own it. Somewhere out there is a balance. We should be trying to do it [deal with crime] not just tough, but right.”

In making that case that conservatives should rethink their traditional approach to criminal justice, Cuccinelli and others who spoke during panel discussions at CPAC point to Republican-led states that have already implemented successful reforms.

Texas, especially, is considered the leader on the issue.

Beginning in 2005, Texas, under the leadership of then Republican Gov. Rick Perry, undertook a number of reforms that are credited with a 12-percent reduction in its incarceration rate since 2009 and its lowest crime rate since 1968.

Texas, taking a more holistic approach to criminal justice, created specialized drug courts, which allow defendants to get treatment as an alternative to prison. It revamped its probation and parole system to swiftly punish violations without automatically sending the offender to prison—to get a violator’s attention without locking him up.

And in 2007, faced with the prospect of spending $2 billion to build and run new prisons to meet demand, a bipartisan group of state legislators instead invested $241 million to expand in-prison and community-based treatment and diversion programs.

“My appropriators loved that we spent less money,” said Jerry Madden, a former Republican member of the Texas legislature who helped design the reforms. “Since that time, we’ve reduced the crime rate to the lowest level since the 1960s, we have fewer prisons, and we’re safer. That’s what Republicans are about. We’re about public safety.”

Madden, who spoke on a CPAC panel Saturday, continues his advocacy for a conservative approach to criminal justice reform with Right on Crime, a project of the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

“In the Department of Corrections, you are supposed to be correcting behavior,” Madden continued. “Now [after Texas’ reforms], when a drug addict or someone with a mental health problem comes out of prison, gee, they are less likely to commit another crime. That’s what you want. Everyone said, ‘How can Texas do that kind of stuff?,’ and lo and behold, many, many states have followed.”

Indeed, many of Texas’ reforms have since been mimicked by other states, including Georgia, South Carolina, and the Dakotas, while Congress is currently considering several different approaches to criminal justice reform that have been tried at the state level.

Several other states this year, including Alaska, Maryland, Rhode Island, and Tennessee, are considering sweeping criminal justice changes geared toward drug offenders.

Tennessee State Sen. Brian Kelsey, a Republican, appeared at CPAC to discuss his state’s effort, which he expects to take two years.

Since 1981, Tennessee’s incarceration rate has increased by 256 percent.

In response to the problem, Kelsey was appointed by Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, also a Republican, to serve on the state’s Task Force on Sentencing and Recidivism. That panel recommends instituting longer prison sentences for serious violent crimes and promoting alternatives to incarceration for low-level drug offenders.

“We have decided we’ve got to do a better job on focusing our limited resources on the most violent offenders,” said Kelsey, who added that 40 percent of Tennessee’s prison population is made up of those committing technical violations of probation and parole.

Despite this effort, and others like it, the conservative case for criminal justice reform still has doubters.

At the federal level, Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., is leading an effort to oppose a proposal by the Senate Judiciary Committee, to which he belongs, to reduce certain mandatory minimum prison sentences created to punish drug offenders during the 1980s and ’90s.

Cotton, highlighting a significant point of disagreement in the debate, believes that the concept of a nonviolent drug offender is misleading.

While reform advocates believe there should be less punishment for those who have lesser roles in a trafficking ring, such as mules, couriers, or street dealers, Cotton and others say drug dealing is a violent act in itself.

Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. agrees with Cotton.

“I am at the street level, at the belly of beast every day, and I totally dismiss this idea of a nonviolent drug offender,” Clarke said during a Thursday appearance at CPAC. “If you are a mother struggling to keep your kid away from that dope dealer, getting that guy off the street is a big deal to her. I agree conservatives own this issue of law and order, and I find it unfathomable we would cede this back to the left by cuddling up to criminals.”

Pat Nolan, a former law-and-order conservative and Republican leader in the California State Assembly, believes that Clarke is missing the point.

“Prisons are for people we are afraid of, but more and more we are filling it with people we are mad at,” Nolan said during the Thursday CPAC panel. “Figures don’t lie. Of those in federal prison, half are drug crimes, and only 14 percent were major traffickers. Why on Earth are we going after street dealers? The federal government should be going after dealers who traffic over international borders and state lines.”

Nolan has experienced the federal prison system firsthand.

In the mid-1990s, after being prosecuted as part of an FBI sting targeting elected officials who received illegal campaign contributions, Nolan served more than two years in federal prison.

Today, Nolan, as the director of the American Conservative Union Foundation’s Center for Criminal Justice Reform, makes it his mission to challenge traditional conservative views on criminal justice.

Along with his concerns about how drug offenders are treated, Nolan is also worried about overcriminalization.

At CPAC, he noted people who’ve been incarcerated for low-level crimes like breaking lobster storage regulations and gardening rules.

“I know about violent crime; I grew up in Crenshaw [Calif.],” Nolan said. “We are so watered down in criminal law, and so many things are criminal, that we’ve lost focus on things inherently evil, like robbery, rape, and murder. Let’s get back to the basics.” (For more from the author of “Conservatives Make Their Case for Criminal Justice Reform” please click HERE)

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