TITAN v. TITAN: President Trump and the Federal Courts Face Off Over Temporary Travel Ban

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by Diane Rufino, February 6, 2017

On January 27, President Donald Trump issued an Executive Order titled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States” which provides a 90-day suspension of entry into the United States for individuals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen on account of their status as posing a heightened risk of terrorism. It was the US Congress, under President Barack Obama, which had assigned this status to those seven countries.

The Executive Order was issued after the President determined that “deteriorating conditions in certain countries due to war, strife, disaster, and civil unrest increase the likelihood that terrorists will use any means possible to enter the United States,” and that our Nation accordingly must take additional steps “to ensure that those approved for admission do not intend to harm Americans and that they have no ties to terrorism.” [see the text of the Executive Order]. Invoking his constitutional authority to control the entry of aliens into this country and congressionally-delegated authority to “suspend the entry of any class of aliens” whose entry “would be detrimental to the interests of the United States,” the President, by issuing the Executive Order, has directed a temporary 90-day suspension of entry for individuals from seven countries previously identified as posing a heightened risk of terrorism by Congress or the Executive Branch; a temporary 120-day suspension of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program; and a suspension of entry of Syrian nationals as refugees until the President determines that measures are in place “to ensure that admission of Syrian refugees is consistent with the national interest.” Exec. Order §§ 3(c), (5)(a), (c).

Democrats and opposition groups have nicknamed the Executive Order “the Muslim travel ban.”

Two days ago, on February 4, a federal district judge in Seattle issued a ruling – a nationwide temporary restraining order (TRO), aka, an injunction – that temporarily blocks the Executive Order. The court order prevents the president’s Executive Order from going into effect and allows the immigration to move forward.

The State Department has agreed to abide by the ruling until it files an appeal. In the meantime, the judge’s decision allows tens of thousands of aliens from terrorist nations visas to travel to our country. The ruling came after Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson, filed a complaint challenging the constitutionality of the Executive Order’s key provisions. The TRO was issued by Seattle US District Judge James Robart pending a full review of Washington states’ complaint. In response to the decision, WA Attorney General Ferguson commented: “The Constitution prevailed today. No one is above the law—not even the president.”

Minnesota joined the suit with Washington and since the TRO was issued, seven other states have decided to join and challenge the “travel ban.” They want it overturned. These seven states include Washington, Virginia, Massachusetts, Hawaii, New York, Michigan, and California.

One day, earlier, however, another district court (Massachusetts) concluded in a thorough, well-reasoned opinion, the Executive Order is a lawful exercise of the political branches’ plenary control over the admission of aliens into the United States. Louhghalam v. Trump, Civ. No. 17-10154-NMG, Order 11 (D. Mass. Feb. 3, 2017)

This article will explain why the Executive Order and the temporary travel ban is legal and appropriate and why I think it will ultimately be upheld.

First, immigration is the sole responsibility of Congress (not of the States). The States expressly delegated such power to the federal Congress in Article I, Section 8: “The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States……  To establish a uniform rule of naturalization….”  (The Supremacy Clause ensures that the States respect the federal government as the sovereign on this issue). Under this authority, Congress passed the Immigration and Naturality Act of 1952 (codified at 8 USC Chapter 12) which lays out federal immigration law.  § 1182 of this Act concerns inadmissible aliens; it delegation to the President of the United States the power to suspend entry “for all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants” or to “impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.”

Second, the travel ban is a proper exercise of the President’s power to issue Executive Orders to force the government to enforce laws already on the books (such as the one discussed above), his war power as Commander-in-Chief (we are currently engaged in a War on Terror, as admitted so by our very own Congress and presidents), his Foreign Policy powers, and his National Security Powers.

I. The Executive Order and What It Says (and Doesn’t Say) –

The Executive Order, available on the White House website, reads:

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America, including the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. 1101 et seq., and section 301 of title 3, United States Code, and to protect the American people from terrorist attacks by foreign nationals admitted to the United States, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1. Purpose. The visa-issuance process plays a crucial role in detecting individuals with terrorist ties and stopping them from entering the United States. Perhaps in no instance was that more apparent than the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, when State Department policy prevented consular officers from properly scrutinizing the visa applications of several of the 19 foreign nationals who went on to murder nearly 3,000 Americans. And while the visa-issuance process was reviewed and amended after the September 11 attacks to better detect would-be terrorists from receiving visas, these measures did not stop attacks by foreign nationals who were admitted to the United States.

Numerous foreign-born individuals have been convicted or implicated in terrorism-related crimes since September 11, 2001, including foreign nationals who entered the United States after receiving visitor, student, or employment visas, or who entered through the United States refugee resettlement program. Deteriorating conditions in certain countries due to war, strife, disaster, and civil unrest increase the likelihood that terrorists will use any means possible to enter the United States. The United States must be vigilant during the visa-issuance process to ensure that those approved for admission do not intend to harm Americans and that they have no ties to terrorism.

In order to protect Americans, the United States must ensure that those admitted to this country do not bear hostile attitudes toward it and its founding principles. The United States cannot, and should not, admit those who do not support the Constitution, or those who would place violent ideologies over American law. In addition, the United States should not admit those who engage in acts of bigotry or hatred (including “honor” killings, other forms of violence against women, or the persecution of those who practice religions different from their own) or those who would oppress Americans of any race, gender, or sexual orientation.

Sec. 2. Policy. It is the policy of the United States to protect its citizens from foreign nationals who intend to commit terrorist attacks in the United States; and to prevent the admission of foreign nationals who intend to exploit United States immigration laws for malevolent purposes.

Sec. 3. Suspension of Issuance of Visas and Other Immigration Benefits to Nationals of Countries of Particular Concern.

(a) The Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Director of National Intelligence, shall immediately conduct a review to determine the information needed from any country to adjudicate any visa, admission, or other benefit under the INA (adjudications) in order to determine that the individual seeking the benefit is who the individual claims to be and is not a security or public-safety threat.

(b) The Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Director of National Intelligence, shall submit to the President a report on the results of the review described in subsection (a) of this section, including the Secretary of Homeland Security’s determination of the information needed for adjudications and a list of countries that do not provide adequate information, within 30 days of the date of this order. The Secretary of Homeland Security shall provide a copy of the report to the Secretary of State and the Director of National Intelligence.

(c) To temporarily reduce investigative burdens on relevant agencies during the review period described in subsection (a) of this section, to ensure the proper review and maximum utilization of available resources for the screening of foreign nationals, and to ensure that adequate standards are established to prevent infiltration by foreign terrorists or criminals, pursuant to section 212(f) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1182(f), I hereby proclaim that the immigrant and nonimmigrant entry into the United States of aliens from countries referred to in section 217(a)(12) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1187(a)(12), would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, and I hereby suspend entry into the United States, as immigrants and nonimmigrants, of such persons for 90 days from the date of this order (excluding those foreign nationals traveling on diplomatic visas, North Atlantic Treaty Organization visas, C-2 visas for travel to the United Nations, and G-1, G-2, G-3, and G-4 visas).

(d) Immediately upon receipt of the report described in subsection (b) of this section regarding the information needed for adjudications, the Secretary of State shall request all foreign governments that do not supply such information to start providing such information regarding their nationals within 60 days of notification.

(e ) After the 60-day period described in subsection (d) of this section expires, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State, shall submit to the President a list of countries recommended for inclusion on a Presidential proclamation that would prohibit the entry of foreign nationals (excluding those foreign nationals traveling on diplomatic visas, North Atlantic Treaty Organization visas, C-2 visas for travel to the United Nations, and G-1, G-2, G-3, and G-4 visas) from countries that do not provide the information requested pursuant to subsection (d) of this section until compliance occurs.

(f) At any point after submitting the list described in subsection (e) of this section, the Secretary of State or the Secretary of Homeland Security may submit to the President the names of any additional countries recommended for similar treatment. [The full text is provided in the Appendix below]

Section 217(a)(12) of INA, 8 USC 1187(a)(12), which is the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015 (and extended in 2016) and which is highlighted and italicized above in the text of the Executive Order, identifies seven countries which are excluded from the waiver program. These seven countries are Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. These countries were identified under the Act, by the Obama administration, because they present a heightened risk of terrorism and they cannot and do not provide proper information on its nationals so that the United States can vet those coming into our country. A different section of the Order refers to Syria specifically, because it calls for the indefinite suspension of Syrian refugee admissions, until such time as the President believes security concerns have been adequately addressed. The President’s Executive Order does not seek to make new law. Rather, it clarifies existing law and aligns it with national security concerns. The Executive Order addresses the basic requirement for an alien to enter and reside in the United States – a verifiable visa.

Under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 66 Stat. 163, as amended, 8 U. S. C. §1101 et seq., an alien may not enter and permanently reside in the United States without a visa. See §1181(a). President Trump is using the visa requirement to introduce proper vetting measures as it relates to those coming in from countries previously identified as engaging in terrorism and being unable to provide adequate visas. Without proper visas, the government (and the innocent citizens of the United States) do not know what type of citizens they are getting and furthermore, will be unable to keep tabs on them. According the INA, visas must ensure that the individual seeking to move to the US is not inadmissible for a number of reasons, including that they innocent of terrorist activities. The seven countries covered by the Executive Order cannot ensure that its citizens meet our threshold. Hence, the president has issued a temporary ban for 90 days in order that proper assurances can be provided.

So, to be clear about the President’s Executive Order: It bars Syrian refugees indefinitely and blocks citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entry into the US for 90 days. The provisions of the Executive Order will force the State Department and Homeland Security to establish proper vetting procedures by the 90-day period (the temporary ban) for those countries so that authorities can keep the United States safe. The exact process by which the president seeks to establish proper vetting procedures is explained clearly in the Order.

Here is some background information on the Immigration and Nationality Act, to which the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevent Act has been recently added:

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), as amended, prohibits admission into the United States of a foreign national not in possession of a valid visa, with a few limited exceptions. One such exception is the Visa Waiver Program (VWP or Program) which, for a number of years, was a pilot program (VWPP). That pilot program, which was first enacted in 1986, was designed to allow nationals from certain countries to enter the United States under limited conditions, for a short period of time, without first obtaining a visa from a U.S. consulate abroad. On October 30, 2000, President Clinton signed the Visa Waiver Permanent Program Act, making the program permanent. See Section 217. The VWP, administered by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in consultation with the State Department, utilizes a risk-based, multi-layered approach to detect and prevent terrorists, serious criminals, and other mala fide actors from traveling to the United States. This approach incorporates regular, national-level risk assessments concerning the impact of each program country’s participation in the VWP on U.S. national security and law enforcement interests. It also includes comprehensive vetting of individual VWP travelers prior to their departure for the United States, upon arrival at U.S. ports of entry, and during any subsequent air travel within the United States, among other things.

The VWP authorizes the Attorney General, in consultation with the Secretary of State, to waive the requirement of a valid nonimmigrant visa for visitors for business (B-1) or pleasure (B-2) who are seeking to enter the United States from certain countries for not more than 90 days. In 2003, 13.5 million visitors entered the United States under this Program, constituting almost one-half of all visitors that year. The main advocates of the VWPP were the Department of State (DOS), the American tourist industry, and the business community. DOS advanced a two-fold incentive for the program: (1) eliminating the requirement for nationals of high volume application, low denial rate countries to apply for nonimmigrant visitor and business visas at the consulates, thus also eliminating processing paperwork and freeing consular resources for other activities; and (2) fostering better relations with reciprocity countries that allow U.S. citizens to also enter without a visa. The U.S. tourist industry was enthusiastic in its support of the program, as it correctly envisioned that millions of tourists would take advantage of the opportunity to travel to the United States on the spur of the moment without the time-consuming inconvenience of having to obtain nonimmigrant visas in advance of travel. The business community also welcomed the idea that people could enter the United States on short notice to conduct business without first applying for a nonimmigrant visa.6 For the most part, while the VWPP had been enthusiastically received, the Program was also the subject of a critical report issued by the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General. Testifying before a House subcommittee on May 5, 1999, the Inspector General noted that the Pilot Program could facilitate illegal entry because visitors from VWPP designated countries avoid the pre-screening that consular officers normally perform on visa applicants. It was also pointed out that some terrorists and criminals intercepted at the time of inspection were attempting to enter under the VWPP. Another problem, according to the Inspector General, was government employee corruption involving bribery and trafficking in fraudulent or blank passports and other documents.

At press time, 27 countries are designated participants They include Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, 18 San Marino, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. A small number of countries that were once designated VWP countries have been disqualified from the VWP. Belgium is currently in provisional status because of concerns about the integrity of its nonmachine-readable passports and issues associated with the reporting of lost or stolen passports. Qualifying countries are designated by the Attorney General, in consultation with the Secretary of State, based upon that country’s satisfaction of a number of requirements, including not issuing passports to persons who pose a threat to the welfare, health, safety, or security of the United States, having a low non-immigrant visa refusal rate for the two years prior to designation, and the status of the country as one that issues its citizens machine-readable passports (“MRP”) that satisfy the internationally accepted standard for machine readability.

Section 217(a)(12) provides that a visa will not be waived “from Iraq, Syria, or other country or area of concern.” Specifically, the section states that a visa will not be waived for any “alien who has been present, at any time on or after March 1, 2011, in Iraq or Syria, or any country designated by the Secretary of State or Secretary of Homeland Security [under section 6(j) of the Export Administration Act of 1979 (50 U.S.C. 2405) (as continued in effect under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.)), section 40 of the Arms Export Control Act (22 U.S.C. 2780), section 620A of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (22 U.S.C. 2371), or any other provision of law], as a country whose government has repeatedly provided support of acts of international terrorism or has provided support of acts of international terrorism.” [https://www.uscis.gov/ilink/docView/SLB/HTML/SLB/0-0-0-1/0-0-0-29/0-0-0-4391.html ]

II.  Constitutional Authority –

As mentioned earlier, immigration is a responsibility delegated to the federal government by the States. It was an express delegation for an express purpose – to “provide for the common defense.”  Together with the authority “to raise and support armies; to provide and maintain a navy; to make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces; to provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions; and to provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States (Article I, Section 8), Congress was vested with the authority “to establish a uniform rule of naturalization.” (also Article I, Section 8).  All of these objects, as explained in the first line of Section, comprise the federal government’s primary purpose – “to provide for the Common Defense.”

So, Article I of the US Constitution gives Congress the power to make all “necessary and proper” rules to legislate and define our nation’s immigration policy.  Because this authority was delegated from the States to the federal government, the federal government is sovereign on this topic; that is, its authority is supreme. The States of Washington and Minnesota may think it has the power to interfere with the government’s rightful role – to somehow claim that its interests supersede the federal government’s decision with respect to the nation as a whole, but it is the government which is given deference.

Article II of the US Constitution provides the president with his powers. Article II, Section 1 gives the President the authority to enforce the laws passed by Congress. The president, therefore, is tasked to make sure our immigration laws are enforced.  Article II, Section 2 gives the president additional powers over immigration – under his war powers.

Article II, Section 2 of the US Constitution reads: “The President shall be commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several states, when called into the actual service of the United States; he may require the opinion, in writing, of the principal officer in each of the executive departments, upon any subject relating to the duties of their respective offices….”  When the Congress voted almost unanimously to authorize military force to fight the war on terror (AMU of September 14, 2001), it was taken as a declaration of war. As soon as our country engaged in military action, and especially with a declaration of war, the president holds the title of Commander-in-chief and has, on top of his executive powers, vast war powers.

The President also has Foreign Policy powers and National Security powers. (The State Department and Homeland Security Departments are executive cabinet offices under his control).

III.  Statutory Authority –

The Immigration and Naturality Act of 1952, codified under Title 8 of the United States Code (8 U.S.C. Chapter 12), also known as the McCarran–Walter Act, restricts immigration into the United States. It expressly authorizes the president to suspend entry of all aliens or any class of aliens, or place any restrictions on their entry as he deems necessary or appropriate, whenever he finds that such aliens would be detrimental to the interests of the country. There isn’t even a requirement that the country be at war or involved in any particular conflict.  Congress knowingly, expressly, granted the President of the United States with plenary power to suspend or restrict aliens, or any class of aliens, into the country.

The Immigration and Naturality Act of 1952 was passed by a Democrat-controlled Congress, both House and Senate, and was signed by a Democrat president, Harry S. Truman.

8 U.S. Code § 1182 reads:

8 U.S. Code § 1182 – Inadmissible Aliens

(10) Miscellaneous

(f) Suspension of entry or imposition of restrictions by President

Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate. Whenever the Attorney General finds that a commercial airline has failed to comply with regulations of the Attorney General relating to requirements of airlines for the detection of fraudulent documents used by passengers traveling to the United States (including the training of personnel in such detection), the Attorney General may suspend the entry of some or all aliens transported to the United States by such airline.

The provision gives presidents broad authority to ban individual immigrants or groups of immigrants. Presidents haven’t hesitated to use it.  In modern times, Barack Obama invoked it 19 times, Bill Clinton 12 times, George W. Bush six times and Ronald Reagan five times. George H.W. Bush invoked it once.

Indeed, throughout our history, there have been a number of instances in which the United States has curtailed or suspended the immigration of people from certain regions or nations, both during times of war and times of peace. In several circumstances, these laws have been upheld by the Supreme Court, confirming the power of the Federal Government to regulate immigration based on the national interest. The text of the Immigration and Nationality Act is clear – the President has broad discretion to keep certain people out of the United States.

Not long after the American colonies fought the British for their independence and then established the new union (“a more perfect union”; created by the adoption of the US Constitution), the French had their own revolution. (1789-1799). The Federalists, led by Washington and then John Adams, detested the French Revolution of 1789 (1789-1799) because it led to mob rule and confiscation of property. The Republicans, which represented a new party started by Thomas Jefferson to oppose the Federalists, supported the French Revolution for its democratic ideals.

The French and English were longtime enemies. So, when President Washington developed favorable relations with Great Britain (by negotiating a treaty to settle outstanding differences between it and the States), the French revolutionary leaders became angered. In the election of 1796, Federalist John Adams won the most electoral votes to become president. Republican Thomas Jefferson came in second, which made him vice-president. (The 12th Amendment later changed this election method, requiring separate electoral ballots for president and vice-president).  Shortly after becoming president, Adams sent diplomats to France to smooth over the bad feelings. But three French representatives – dubbed X, Y, and Z – met secretly with U.S. diplomats and demanded $10 million in bribes to the French government to begin negotiations. When the Americans refused, Mr. X threatened the United States with the “power and violence of France.”  News of the “XYZ Affair” enraged most Americans. Many Federalists immediately called for war against France while Republicans spoke out against the “war fever.”

Neither the United States nor France ever declared war. But the Federalists increasingly accused Jefferson and the Republicans of being a traitorous “French Party.” Rumors of a French invasion and enemy spies frightened many Americans. President Adams warned that foreign influence within the United States was dangerous and must be “exterminated.”

Amidst this climate, in 1798, President Adams signed the notorious Alien and Sedition Acts into law to help him deal with repercussions of the French Revolution and also the Quasi-War with France. The Acts, readily adopted by a Federalist-dominated Congress, were intended to make the United States more secure from alien (foreign) spies and domestic traitors. The acts allowed the president to imprison or deport aliens considered “dangerous to the peace and safety of the United States” at any time and any male citizen of a hostile nation during times of war. The two most notable of these acts were the Alien Enemies Act and the Alien Friends Act.

The Alien Enemies Act provided that once war had been declared, all male citizens of an enemy nation could be arrested, detained, and deported. If war had broken out, this act could have expelled many of the estimated 25,000 French citizens then living in the United States. But the country did not go to war, and the law was never used. It was later used, however, to justify FDR’s rounding up of Japanese-American citizens during World War II.

The Alien Friends Act authorized the president to deport any non-citizen suspected of plotting against the government during either wartime or peacetime. This law could have resulted in the mass expulsion of new immigrants. The act was limited to two years, but no alien was ever deported under it.

In 1882, President Chester A. Arthur signed the Chinese Exclusion Law, which prohibited the immigration of Chinese laborers. The Chinese Exclusion Act was a vital test for the power of the federal government to restrict immigration. It was upheld by the Supreme Court in the 1889 case of Chae Chan Ping v. United States. In the opinion of the court, Justice Stephen Johnson Field wrote, “The power of the government to exclude foreigners from the country whenever, in its judgment, the public interests require such exclusion, has been asserted in repeated instances, and never denied by the executive or legislative departments.”  (The act was repealed by Congress in 1943).

In his 1905 State of the Union address, President Theodore Roosevelt had spoken of the need “to keep out all immigrants who will not make good American citizens.” In 1906, in his State of the Union address to Congress, he said he needed to have the power to “deal radically and efficiently with polygamy.” The following year, Congress passed and Roosevelt signed into law the Immigration Act of 1907, which read (Section 2):

“The following classes of aliens shall be excluded from admission into the United States: “All idiots, imbeciles, feebleminded persons, epileptics, insane persons, and persons who have been insane within five years previous; persons who have had two or more attacks of insanity at any time previously; paupers; persons likely to become a public charge; professional beggars; persons afflicted with tuberculosis or with a loathsome or dangerous contagious disease; ….  “polygamists, or persons who admit their belief in the practice of polygamy……”

The Immigration Act of 1907 had been meant to select only those immigrants who would make good Americans.  It is interesting to note the phrase “polygamists or persons who admit their belief in the practice of polygamy.” (The Immigration Act of 1891 had merely banned polygamists). Muslims at that time were furious over the Immigration Act of 1907 specifically because of this phrase because, as they pointed out, that phrase would prohibit the entry of the “entire Mohammedan world” into the United States. Muslims believe in polygamy. They may not actively practice it, but every faithful Muslim believes in the practice; the religion allows it.

Unlike modern presidents, Roosevelt did not view Islam as a force for good. Rather, he had described Muslims as “enemies of civilization.”  He once wrote that, “The civilizations of Europe, America and Australia exist today at all only because of the victories of civilized man over the enemies of civilization,” praising Charles Martel and John Sobieski for throwing back the “Moslem conquerors.”

In 1917, Congress passed the Immigration Act of 1917 (aka, the Literacy Act or the Asiatic Barred Zone Act). In addition to barring “homosexuals”, “idiots”, “feeble-minded persons”, “criminals”, “epileptics”, “insane persons”, alcoholics, “professional beggars”, all persons “mentally or physically defective,” polygamists, anarchists, and people over the age of 16 who were illiterate, this act barred immigration from Southeast Asia, India, and the Middle East.

Presidential Proclamations 2525, 2526, and 2527 were signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Citing the Alien and Sedition Acts as precedence, these proclamations restricted the entry and naturalization of Japanese, Germans, and Italians respectively. Later, FDR would bar entry into the US of the Jews who were seeking asylum from the genocidal Nazi regime.

During the Iranian hostage crisis in 1979, President Jimmy Carter issued a number of orders to put pressure on Iran. In particular, he issued a pair of orders:  One was an order for Iranian students to report to immigration offices in order to determine if they had violated the terms of their visa; if they had, they would be deported. The second was an order to end all future visas for Iranians and to stop issuing most new visas.  Carter ordered administration officials to “invalidate all visas issued to Iranian citizens for future entry into the United States, effective today. We will not reissue visas, nor will we issue new visas, except for compelling and proven humanitarian reasons or where the national interest of our own country requires. This directive will be interpreted very strictly.”

On December 12, 1979, a federal judge, Joyce Hens Green, initially ruled the order unconstitutional, but her ruling was reversed on appeal.  On Sept. 22, 1980, the Times, citing an Immigration and Naturalization Service spokesman, reported that by that date, nearly 60,000 students had registered as required, about 430 had been deported and 5,000 had left voluntarily.

In October 1985, President Ronald Reagan temporarily barred entry to officers or employees of the Cuban government or the Communist Party of Cuba who held diplomatic or official passports. Focused on stamping out communism, he also targeted officers of the Cuban-backed Nicaraguan government and the ruling Sandinista National Liberation Front.

As mentioned above, President George H. Bush used the provision (8 USC §1182) only once. His sole use of the provision followed a 1991 a coup in Haiti that spurred thousands of people to flee on rickety boats and head for the U.S. Hundreds died at sea, but many were rescued, overwhelming processing centers set up at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and aboard Coast Guard cutters. Rather than allow Haitians to enter the United States and be screened, Bush issued an order “to enforce the suspension of the entry of undocumented aliens by sea and the interdiction of any covered vessel carrying such aliens,” allowing the U.S. to intercept the boats and send the migrants back.

President Obama turned to the provision more than any other recent president, using it to bar people who conducted certain transactions with North Korea, engaged in cyberattacks aimed at undermining democracy, or contributed to the destabilization of Libya, Burundi, Central African Republic or Ukraine. His broadest application of the law came in 2011, when he suspended entry of foreigners “who participate in serious human rights and humanitarian law violations and other abuses,” including “widespread or systemic violence against any civilian population” based on, among other factors, race, color, disability, language, religion, ethnicity, political opinion, national origin, sexual orientation or gender identity.  Obama has also used the law to block anybody involved in “grave human rights abuses by the governments of Iran and Syria…..”

President Bill Clinton used the law to block perpetrators in the ethnic conflicts that erupted in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s, targeting people responsible for the repression of civilians in Kosovo, along with those obstructing democracy in Yugoslavia or lending support to the Yugoslav government and the Republic of Serbia. In 1994, he also suspended individuals and their immediate family members who were said to formulate, implement, or benefit from policies that impeded war-torn Liberia’s transition to democracy. Similar suspensions were imposed on conflict-ravaged Sierra Leone in 2000.

President George W. Bush temporarily barred foreign government officials who were responsible for failing to combat human trafficking. He also blocked those whose actions threatened Zimbabwe’s democratic institutions and transition to a multiparty democracy. Amid concerns that Syria was fomenting instability in Lebanon, Syrian and Lebanese officials deemed responsible for policies or actions that threatened Lebanon’s sovereignty were also barred from entering the U.S.

To re-cap, several US presidents have banned aliens and have, in fact, targeted certain aliens in particular. Chinese were banned by Chester A. Arthur (ethnic class). Teddy Roosevelt banned anarchists (political). FDR banned Jews and Jimmy Carter banned Iranians (because of the Embassy takeover). Ronald Reagan banned Cubans (ethnic class). Clinton banned junta members of Sierra Leone and Haiti (politics). George Bush banned government officials from Zimbabwe and Belarus (politics). Even Obama banned people from Iraq.

IV. Sovereignty –

“A country that can no longer say who can, and who cannot, come in is no longer sovereign. A government that can no longer control immigration is no longer a legitimate government.”

Sovereignty is an important concept and probably the one most ignored in this current debate on the Executive Order’s temporary travel ban (from aliens from terrorist nations).

Sovereignty refers to the authority of a state to govern itself and to make all necessary laws and policies for the benefit of its physical jurisdiction and for its citizens. It’s most critical function is to keep the state safe and secure and to ensure its continued existence as an independent state. In other words, its most important function is national security. Immigration is intimately tied to the function of national security.

National security is a concept that a government, along with its parliaments, should protect the state and its citizens against all kind of “national” crises through a variety of power projections, such as political power, diplomacy, economic power, military might, and so on.

The Heritage Foundation published an excellent overview of the responsibility of the federal government in providing national security. The article explains:

Those who have not done so recently would benefit from studying what the United States Constitution says about the federal government’s responsibility to provide for the common defense. Most Americans had to memorize the preamble to the Constitution when they were children, so they are aware that one of the purposes of the document was to “provide for the common defense.” But they are not aware of the extent to which the document shows the Founders’ concern for national security.

In brief, the Constitution says three things about the responsibility of the federal government for the national defense.

National defense is the priority job of the national government. Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution lists 17 separate powers that are granted to the Congress. Six of those powers deal exclusively with the national defense—far more than any other specific area of governance—and grant the full range of authorities necessary for establishing the defense of the nation as it was then understood. Congress is given specific authority to declare war, raise and support armies, provide for a navy, establish the rules for the operation of American military forces, organize and arm the militias of the states, and specify the conditions for converting the militias into national service.

Article II establishes the President as the government’s chief executive officer. Much of that Article relates to the method for choosing the President and sets forth the general executive powers of his office, such as the appointment and veto powers. The only substantive function of government specifically assigned to the President relates to national security and foreign policy, and the first such responsibility granted him is authority to command the military; he is the “Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States.”

National defense is the only mandatory function of the national government. Most of the powers granted to Congress are permissive in nature. Congress is given certain authorities but not required by the Constitution to exercise them. For example, Article I, Section 8 gives Congress power to pass a bankruptcy code, but Congress actually did not enact bankruptcy laws until well into the 19th century. But the Constitution does require the federal government to protect the nation. Article 4, Section 4 states that the “United States shall guarantee to every State a republican form of government and shall protect each of them against invasion.” In other words, even if the federal government chose to exercise no other power, it must, under the Constitution, provide for the common defense.

National defense is exclusively the function of the national government. Under our Constitution, the states are generally sovereign, which means that the legitimate functions of government not specifically granted to the federal government are reserved to the states. But Article I, Section 10 does specifically prohibit the states, except with the consent of Congress, from keeping troops or warships in time of peace or engaging in war, the only exception being that states may act on their own if actually invaded. (This was necessary because, when the Constitution was written, primitive forms of communication and transportation meant that it could take weeks before Washington was even notified of an invasion.)

In discussing the topic of national security, it is important to understand some of the concepts that the term incorporates.

The first is the concept of power. It can best be defined as a nation’s possession of control of its sovereignty and destiny. It implies some degree of control of the extent to which outside forces can harm the country. Hard, or largely military, power is about control, while soft power is mainly about influence—trying to persuade others, using methods short of war, to do something.

Instruments of power exist along a spectrum, from using force on one end to diplomatic means of persuasion on the other. Such instruments include the armed forces; law enforcement and intelligence agencies; and various governmental agencies dedicated to bilateral and public diplomacy, foreign aid, and international financial controls. Variables of power include military strength, economic capacity, the will of the government and people to use power, and the degree to which legitimacy—either in the eyes of the people or in the eyes of other nations or international organizations—affects how power is wielded. The measure of power depends not only on hard facts, but also on perceptions of will and reputation.

Another term to understand properly is military strength. This term refers to military capacity and the capabilities of the armed forces, and it is a capacity that may not actually be used. It often is understood as a static measure of the power of a country, but in reality, military strength is a variable that is subject to all sorts of factors, including the relative strength of opponents, the degree to which it is used effectively, or whether it is even used at all.

Force is the use of a military or law enforcement capacity to achieve some objective. It is the actual use of strength and should not be equated with either strength or power per se. Using force unwisely or unsuccessfully can diminish one’s power and strength. By the same token, using it effectively can enhance power. Force is an instrument of power just as a tool or some other device would be, but unlike institutional instruments like the armed forces, its use in action is what distinguishes it from static instruments of strength like military capacity. Thus, force should be understood narrowly as an applied instrument of coercion.

Finally, there is national defense. Strictly speaking, this refers to the ability of the armed forces to defend the sovereignty of the nation and the lives of its people; however, since the attacks of September 11, 2001, the mission of homeland security—using domestic as well as military instruments to defend the nation from terrorist and other attacks either inside or outside the country—has come to be understood as an element of national defense.

V. The War on Terror and the President as Commander-in-Chief –

On September 11, 2001, 19 militants associated with the Islamic extremist group al-Qaeda hijacked four airliners and carried out suicide attacks against targets in the United States. Two of the planes were flown into the towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, a third plane hit the Pentagon just outside Washington, D.C., and the fourth plane crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. Over 3,000 people were killed horrifically, including more than 400 police officers and firefighters. The Twin Towers collapsed, several surrounding buildings collapsed as well, and one section of the Pentagon was destroyed. Just like the attack on Pearl Harbor, it was a day that will live in infamy. It will continue to define certain human beings, certain groups, a fanatic religious ideology as pure evil.

[Osama bin Laden would issue a “Letter to America” in November 2002, explicitly stating that al-Qaeda’s motives for their attacks included: US support of Israel, support for the “attacks against Muslims” in Somalia, support of Philippines against Muslims in the Moro conflict, support for Israeli “aggression” against Muslims in Lebanon, support of Russian “atrocities against Muslims” in Chechnya, pro-American governments in the Middle East (who “act as your agents”) being against Muslim interests, support of Indian “oppression against Muslims” in Kashmir, the presence of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia, and sanctions against Iraq].

As the dust barely settled in lower Manhattan on 9/11. President Bush addressed the American people and the world. He said: “Today, our fellow citizens, our way of life, our very freedom came under attack in a series of deliberate and deadly terrorist acts. The victims were in airplanes or in their offices — secretaries, businessmen and women, military and federal workers. Moms and dads. Friends and neighbors. Thousands of lives were suddenly ended by evil, despicable acts of terror. The pictures of airplanes flying into buildings, fires burning, huge structures collapsing, have filled us with disbelief, terrible sadness and a quiet, unyielding anger. These acts of mass murder were intended to frighten our nation into chaos and retreat. But they have failed. Our country is strong. A great people has been moved to defend a great nation. Today, our nation saw evil, the very worst of human nature, and we responded with the best of America, with the daring of our rescue workers, with the caring for strangers and neighbors who came to give blood and help in any way they could. The search is underway for those who are behind these evil acts. I’ve directed the full resources for our intelligence and law enforcement communities to find those responsible and bring them to justice. We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them.”

In the months that followed, the US learned just how barbaric the attackers are. On January 23, 2002, Daniel Pearl, a reporter with the Wall Street Journal, left his apartment in Karachi, Pakistan for an interview. He had temporarily set up a residence in Karachi to report on America’s War on Terror. He was following a lead. He would never return that day. He was kidnapped and beheaded, with the captors turning over a 3-minute videotape of his grisly demise. President Bush watched the video. After the severed Pearl’s head, they cut up his body into ten pieces and put it into the shopping bags. They walked around with the bags to find a place to bury them, until they finally dug a hole just outside the building where he was killed. The floor of the room was then washed and they held sunset prayer there.

Months later, the US would articulate a new national security policy which would become known as the Bush Doctrine. The Bush doctrine signaled a radical break from previous national security strategies and fundamentally changed the way the US would act toward the rest of the world; the era of deterrence and containment was over. Deterrence and containment defined US policy at the end of 1945 and into the Cold War. The Bush Doctrine, defined in the positional paper “The National Security Strategy of the United States,” which was written by President Bush and the State Department (September 2002), was the answer to terrorism. As outlined in this paper, post-9/11 US foreign policy rests on three main pillars: a doctrine of unrivaled military supremacy, the concept of preemptive or preventive war, and a willingness to act unilaterally if multilateral cooperation cannot be achieved. President Bush argued that the new policy was necessary to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction among rogue states and terrorist groups. The policy of deterrence, he maintained, was no longer sufficient to prevent a rogue nation or terrorist organization from using nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons. He explained: “Given the goals of rogue states and terrorists, the United States can no longer solely rely on a reactive posture as we have in the past. The inability to deter a potential attacker, the immediacy of today’s threats, and the magnitude of potential harm that could be caused by our adversaries’ choice of weapons, do not permit that option. We cannot let our enemies strike first. Traditional concepts of deterrence will not work against a terrorist enemy whose avowed tactics are wanton destruction and the targeting of innocents; whose so-called soldiers seek martyrdom in death and whose most potent protection is statelessness.”

On Sept. 14, 2001, the U.S. Congress in effect declared war when it passed the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) as a joint resolution. The vote was overwhelmingly one-sided. In the House, the vote was 420 Ayes, 1 Nay, and 10 Not Voting. In the Senate, the vote was 98 Ayes, 0 Nays, and 2 Present/Not Voting. Rep. Barbara Lee was the nay vote in the House.

The War Powers Resolution of 1973 requires the president of the United States to notify Congress within 48 hours of ordering US armed forces for a military operation overseas. Those forces cannot operate in a deployed status for more than 60 days. Combat military operations lasting longer than that time frame require a congressional Declaration of War OR an Authorization for the Use of Military Force. Bush almost unanimously got that AUMF from Congress in 2001 when he declared the war on terrorism.

The 2001 AUMF passed by Congress in the wake of the September 11 attacks authorized the President to use force, if necessary, to seek retribution (seek justice) for the attacks on 9/11. Specifically, the AUMF states: “The President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.” In other words, with the AUMF, the President has been given a free hand in conducting the War on Terrorism and also in identifying the “enemy” or “enemies.” All he has to do his tie a person to an “organization” such as al-Qaeda and make a case that the person in some way “aided” the terrorists or will pose a threat by possibly or potentially engaging in future terrorist acts. [Note: There is no exception made for American citizens. There is no distinction between persons on American soil or in other countries].

The AUMF is the legal justification for the War on Terrorism. It authorizes military operations on a broad scope and in ways to be determined by the President. It elevates the president to Commander-in-chief. It has been used as the legal justification for American military action against al-Qaeda terrorists anywhere in the world, and as the legal justification for the continuing War on Terrorism. It is inconceivable that a court, let alone the highest court in the land – the Supreme Court, would overturn the power to declare war that is vested in the Congress. Congress alone has the power to declare war. It is a power explicitly and expressly delegated to the Congress in Article I of the US Constitution. Article I, Section 8, Clause 11, sometimes referred to as the War Powers Clause, vests in the Congress the power to declare war, in the following wording: “The Congress shall have Power…. To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water.” Congress need not know the details of the war or how the President intends to “command” the war effort; the details do not necessarily limit the declaration of war. It is the declaration or the Authorization for Use of Military Force that establishes that the country is at war. A government during peacetime is much different from a government in time of war. [See Federalist No. 45, written by James Madison]

Congress controls the decision to wage war in another way. It provides the funding. Congress funds the war. And without fail, Congress has provided funding for the War on Terror since 2001. Again, once the country is at war, the president assumes almost plenary war powers (consistent with the Constitution, of course) and the nation goes into self-preservation and survival mode. In 2002, President Bush asked Congress for a separate Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) for the Iraqi War, which he received.

In 2012, Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act, which, like other versions of the bill before it, specified the budget and expenditures of the US Dept. of Defense. A version of the bill had passed for 55 years. However, this bill was a bit different. It contained provisions that many found extremely troubling.

The most controversial provisions were contained in subsections 1021–1022 of Title X, Subtitle D, entitled “Counter-Terrorism,” which declared that the “battlefield” in the War on Terror also included the United States itself. It authorized the indefinite military detention of persons the government suspects of involvement in terrorism, including US citizens (termed “belligerents”) arrested on American soil.

Section 1021 of the NDAA reads:

SEC. 1021. AFFIRMATION OF AUTHORITY OF THE ARMED FORCES OF THE UNITED STATES TO DETAIN COVERED PERSONS PURSUANT TO THE AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF MILITARY FORCE.
(a) In General- Congress affirms that the authority of the President to use all necessary and appropriate force pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40; 50 U.S.C. 1541 note) includes the authority for the Armed Forces of the United States to detain covered persons (as defined in subsection (b)) pending disposition under the law of war.
(b) Covered Persons- A covered person under this section is any person as follows:
(1) A person who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored those responsible for those attacks.

(2) A person who was a part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners, including any person who has committed a belligerent act or has directly supported such hostilities in aid of such enemy forces.
(c) Disposition Under Law of War- The disposition of a person under the law of war as described in subsection (a) may include the following:
(1) Detention under the law of war without trial until the end of the hostilities authorized by the Authorization for Use of Military Force.
(2) Trial under chapter 47A of title 10, United States Code (as amended by the Military Commissions Act of 2009 (title XVIII of Public Law 111-84)).
(3) Transfer for trial by an alternative court or competent tribunal having lawful jurisdiction.
(4) Transfer to the custody or control of the person’s country of origin, any other foreign country, or any other foreign entity.

With the NDAA, which has been re-upped for fiscal year 2017, we see the president enlarging his war powers. We see that he acknowledges that the war on terror has already come to our homeland.

In 2014, ISIS (The Islamic State) was gaining power and President Obama lacked a strategy to deal with it. At the end of the year, House Speaker John Boehner advised: “I would urge the president to submit a new Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) regarding our efforts to defeat and to destroy ISIL.” In that demand, Boehner was echoing constitutional scholar and then-presidential hopeful, Senator Ted Cruz and strict constitutionalist Rand Paul. Senator Cruz asserted that “initiating new military hostilities in a sustained basis in Iraq obligates the president to go back to Congress and to make the case to seek congressional authorization” and Senator Rand Paul said, “I believe the President must come to Congress to begin a war and that Congress has a duty to act. Right now, this war is illegal until Congress acts pursuant to the Constitution and authorizes it.” And so, in February 2015, President Obama asked Congress for that authorization. The US had already been bombing ISIS for six months. Ignoring the advice of Boehner, Cruz, and Paul, the White House claimed it already enjoyed the legal right to wage war under the 2001 AUMF and thus didn’t need the new authorization. But still, the White House went ahead and asked. It’s proposed AUMF would authorize force against ISIS, but only for three years. Congress never granted that AUMF, but it did go ahead and fund military actions.

Again, we note that the War on Terror is enlarging and in fact, as we learn from the events unfolding in the Middle East, the terrorist network is organizing, gaining power, and poised take over several regions. We see and that the United States is still very much determined to contain the growing evil that threatens the freedom and security of her citizens and of the world.

VI. The Korematsu v. United States decision (1944) –

The Korematsu case famously addresses the constitutionality of Japanese internment in the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbor by the empire of Japan. It addressed the war powers of Congress and the war powers of the President, as Commander-in-chief. The opinion, written by justice Hugo Black, held that the need to protect against espionage outweighed Fred Korematsu’s individual rights, and the rights of Americans of Japanese descent, and that the validity of action under the war power must be judged wholly in the context of war. He argued that compulsory exclusion, though constitutionally suspect, is justified during circumstances of “emergency and peril.”

The case upheld a law excluding certain Americans (American citizens, to be clear) from areas in the United States on account of national security. It found that although there was discrimination on account of nationality, which would subject that law to the most stringent of judicial scrutiny, the policy survived that scrutiny because national security required it.

We cannot forget that our country suffered an attack perhaps more horrific than Pearl Harbor on 9/11, as ordinary citizens were targeted in skyscrapers rather than military personnel. And although President Bush and his Homeland Security Department managed to keep us safe in our homeland during his two terms, President Obama and his Homeland Security team could not. In fact, as the world seemed to explode in Islamic attacks, so did our country. It seems quite clear to most people that terrorism is on the rise and that we need to ramp up both our offense and defense in this War on Terrorism.

The opinion of the Court, as delivered by Justice Hugo Black (appointed by FDR):

The petitioner, an American citizen of Japanese descent, was convicted in a federal district court for remaining in San Leandro, California, a “Military Area,” contrary to Civilian Exclusion Order No. 34 of the Commanding General of the Western Command, U.S. Army, which directed that, after May 9, 1942, all persons of Japanese ancestry should be excluded from that area. No question was raised as to petitioner’s loyalty to the United States. The Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, and the importance of the constitutional question involved caused us to grant certiorari.

It should be noted, to begin with, that all legal restrictions which curtail the civil rights of a single racial group are immediately suspect. That is not to say that all such restrictions are unconstitutional. It is to say that courts must subject them to the most rigid scrutiny. Pressing public necessity may sometimes justify the existence of such restrictions; racial antagonism never can.

In the instant case, prosecution of the petitioner was begun by information charging violation of an Act of Congress, of March 21, 1942, 56 Stat. 173, which provides that:

…..whoever shall enter, remain in, leave, or commit any act in any military area or military zone prescribed, under the authority of an Executive order of the President, by the Secretary of War, or by any military commander designated by the Secretary of War, contrary to the restrictions applicable to any such area or zone or contrary to the order of the Secretary of War or any such military commander, shall, if it appears that he knew or should have known of the existence and extent of the restrictions or order and that his act was in violation thereof, be guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction shall be liable to a fine of not to exceed $5,000 or to imprisonment for not more than one year, or both, for each offense.

Exclusion Order No. 34, which the petitioner knowingly and admittedly violated, was one of a number of military orders and proclamations, all of which were substantially based upon Executive Order No. 9066, 7 Fed.Reg. 1407. That order, issued after we were at war with Japan, declared that “the successful prosecution of the war requires every possible protection against espionage and against sabotage to national defense material, national defense premises, and national defense utilities….”

One of the series of orders and proclamations, a curfew order, which, like the exclusion order here, was promulgated pursuant to Executive Order 9066, subjected all persons of Japanese ancestry in prescribed West Coast military areas to remain in their residences from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. As is the case with the exclusion order here, that prior curfew order was designed as a “protection against espionage and against sabotage.” In Hirabayashi v. United States, 320 U.S. 81 (1943), we sustained a conviction obtained for violation of the curfew order. The Hirabayashi conviction and this one thus rest on the same 1942 Congressional Act and the same basic executive and military orders, all of which orders were aimed at the twin dangers of espionage and sabotage.

The 1942 Act was attacked in the Hirabayashi case as an unconstitutional delegation of power; it was contended that the curfew order and other orders on which it rested were beyond the war powers of the Congress, the military authorities, and of the President, as Commander in Chief of the Army, and, finally, that to apply the curfew order against none but citizens of Japanese ancestry amounted to a constitutionally prohibited discrimination solely on account of race. To these questions, we gave the serious consideration which their importance justified. We upheld the curfew order as an exercise of the power of the government to take steps necessary to prevent espionage and sabotage in an area threatened by Japanese attack.

In the light of the principles, we announced in the Hirabayashi case, we are unable to conclude that it was beyond the war power of Congress and the Executive to exclude those of Japanese ancestry from the West Coast war area at the time they did.True, exclusion from the area in which one’s home is located is a far greater deprivation than constant confinement to the home from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. Nothing short of apprehension by the proper military authorities of the gravest imminent danger to the public safety can constitutionally justify either. But exclusion from a threatened area, no less than curfew, has a definite and close relationship to the prevention of espionage and sabotage. The military authorities, charged with the primary responsibility of defending our shores, concluded that curfew provided inadequate protection and ordered exclusion. They did so, as pointed out in our Hirabayashi opinion, in accordance with Congressional authority to the military to say who should, and who should not, remain in the threatened areas.

In this case, the petitioner challenges the assumptions upon which we rested our conclusions in the Hirabayashi case. He also urges that, by May, 1942, when Order No. 34 was promulgated, all danger of Japanese invasion of the West Coast had disappeared. After careful consideration of these contentions, we are compelled to reject them.

Here, as in the Hirabayashi case:

….. we cannot reject as unfounded the judgment of the military authorities and of Congress that there were disloyal members of that population, whose number and strength could not be precisely and quickly ascertained. We cannot say that the war-making branches of the Government did not have ground for believing that, in a critical hour, such persons could not readily be isolated and separately dealt with, and constituted a menace to the national defense and safety which demanded that prompt and adequate measures be taken to guard against it.

Like curfew, exclusion of those of Japanese origin was deemed necessary because of the presence of an unascertained number of disloyal members of the group, most of whom we have no doubt were loyal to this country. It was because we could not reject the finding of the military authorities that it was impossible to bring about an immediate segregation of the disloyal from the loyal that we sustained the validity of the curfew order as applying to the whole group. In the instant case, temporary exclusion of the entire group was rested by the military on the same ground. The judgment that exclusion of the whole group was, for the same reason, a military imperative answers the contention that the exclusion was in the nature of group punishment based on antagonism to those of Japanese origin. That there were members of the group who retained loyalties to Japan has been confirmed by investigations made subsequent to the exclusion. Approximately five thousand American citizens of Japanese ancestry refused to swear unqualified allegiance to the United States and to renounce allegiance to the Japanese Emperor, and several thousand evacuees requested repatriation to Japan.

We uphold the exclusion order as of the time it was made and when the petitioner violated it. In doing so, we are not unmindful of the hardships imposed by it upon a large group of American citizens. Hardships are part of war, and war is an aggregation of hardships. All citizens alike, both in and out of uniform, feel the impact of war in greater or lesser measure. Citizenship has its responsibilities, as well as its privileges, and, in time of war, the burden is always heavier. Compulsory exclusion of large groups of citizens from their homes, except under circumstances of direst emergency and peril, is inconsistent with our basic governmental institutions. But when, under conditions of modern warfare, our shores are threatened by hostile forces, the power to protect must be commensurate with the threatened danger.

It is argued that, on May 30, 1942, the date the petitioner was charged with remaining in the prohibited area, there were conflicting orders outstanding, forbidding him both to leave the area and to remain there. Of course, a person cannot be convicted for doing the very thing which it is a crime to fail to do. But the outstanding orders here contained no such contradictory commands.

There was an order issued March 27, 1942, which prohibited petitioner and others of Japanese ancestry from leaving the area, but its effect was specifically limited in time “until and to the extent that a future proclamation or order should so permit or direct.” 7 Fed.Reg. 2601. That “future order,” the one for violation of which petitioner was convicted, was issued May 3, 1942, and it did “direct” exclusion from the area of all persons of Japanese ancestry before 12 o’clock noon, May 9; furthermore, it contained a warning that all such persons found in the prohibited area would be liable to punishment under the March 21, 1942, Act of Congress. Consequently, the only order in effect touching the petitioner’s being in the area on May 30, 1942, the date specified in the information against him, was the May 3 order which prohibited his remaining there, and it was that same order which he stipulated in his trial that he had violated, knowing of its existence. There is therefore no basis for the argument that, on May 30, 1942, he was subject to punishment, under the March 27 and May 3 orders, whether he remained in or left the area.

It does appear, however, that, on May 9, the effective date of the exclusion order, the military authorities had already determined that the evacuation should be effected by assembling together and placing under guard all those of Japanese ancestry at central points, designated as “assembly centers,” in order to insure the orderly evacuation and resettlement of Japanese voluntarily migrating from Military Area No. 1, to restrict and regulate such migration.

Public Proclamation No. 4, 7 Fed.Reg. 2601. And on May 19, 1942, eleven days before the time petitioner was charged with unlawfully remaining in the area, Civilian Restrictive Order No. 1, 8 Fed.Reg. 982, provided for detention of those of Japanese ancestry in assembly or relocation centers. It is now argued that the validity of the exclusion order cannot be considered apart from the orders requiring him, after departure from the area, to report and to remain in an assembly or relocation center. The contention is that we must treat these separate orders as one and inseparable; that, for this reason, if detention in the assembly or relocation center would have illegally deprived the petitioner of his liberty, the exclusion order and his conviction under it cannot stand.

We are thus being asked to pass at this time upon the whole subsequent detention program in both assembly and relocation centers, although the only issues framed at the trial related to petitioner’s remaining in the prohibited area in violation of the exclusion order. Had petitioner here left the prohibited area and gone to an assembly center, we cannot say, either as a matter of fact or law, that his presence in that center would have resulted in his detention in a relocation center. Some who did report to the assembly center were not sent to relocation centers, but were released upon condition that they remain outside the prohibited zone until the military orders were modified or lifted. This illustrates that they pose different problems, and may be governed by different principles. The lawfulness of one does not necessarily determine the lawfulness of the others. This is made clear when we analyze the requirements of the separate provisions of the separate orders. These separate requirements were that those of Japanese ancestry (1) depart from the area; (2) report to and temporarily remain in an assembly center; (3) go under military control to a relocation center, there to remain for an indeterminate period until released conditionally or unconditionally by the military authorities. Each of these requirements, it will be noted, imposed distinct duties in connection with the separate steps in a complete evacuation program. Had Congress directly incorporated into one Act the language of these separate orders, and provided sanctions for their violations, disobedience of any one would have constituted a separate offense. There is no reason why violations of these orders, insofar as they were promulgated pursuant to Congressional enactment, should not be treated as separate offenses.

Some of the members of the Court are of the view that evacuation and detention in an Assembly Center were inseparable. After May 3, 1942, the date of Exclusion Order No. 34, Korematsu was under compulsion to leave the area not as he would choose, but via an Assembly Center. The Assembly Center was conceived as a part of the machinery for group evacuation. The power to exclude includes the power to do it by force if necessary. And any forcible measure must necessarily entail some degree of detention or restraint, whatever method of removal is selected. But whichever view is taken, it results in holding that the order under which petitioner was convicted was valid.

It is said that we are dealing here with the case of imprisonment of a citizen in a concentration camp solely because of his ancestry, without evidence or inquiry concerning his loyalty and good disposition towards the United States. Our task would be simple, our duty clear, were this a case involving the imprisonment of a loyal citizen in a concentration camp because of racial prejudice. Regardless of the true nature of the assembly and relocation centers — and we deem it unjustifiable to call them concentration camps, with all the ugly connotations that term implies — we are dealing specifically with nothing but an exclusion order. To cast this case into outlines of racial prejudice, without reference to the real military dangers which were presented, merely confuses the issue. Korematsu was not excluded from the Military Area because of hostility to him or his race. He was excluded because we are at war with the Japanese Empire, because the properly constituted military authorities feared an invasion of our West Coast and felt constrained to take proper security measures, because they decided that the military urgency of the situation demanded that all citizens of Japanese ancestry be segregated from the West Coast temporarily, and, finally, because Congress, reposing its confidence in this time of war in our military leaders — as inevitably it must — determined that they should have the power to do just this. There was evidence of disloyalty on the part of some, the military authorities considered that the need for action was great, and time was short. We cannot — by availing ourselves of the calm perspective of hindsight — now say that, at that time, these actions were unjustified.

Justice Felix Frankfurter concurred in the opinion. He wrote: The provisions of the Constitution which confer on the Congress and the President powers to enable this country to wage war are as much part of the Constitution as provisions looking to a nation at peace. And we have had recent occasion to quote approvingly the statement of former Chief Justice Hughes that the war power of the Government is “the power to wage war successfully.” Hirabayashi v. United States. Therefore, the validity of action under the war power must be judged wholly in the context of war.

The Korematsu decision has not been overturned. It is still good precedent.

While there are some who think Korematsu was a bad decision, Supreme Court great William Rehnquist thinks differently. In his 1998 book All the Laws But One – Civil Liberties in Wartime, he wrote: “An entirely separate and important philosophical question is whether occasional presidential excesses and judicial restraint in wartime are desirable or undesirable. In one sense, this question is very largely academic. There is no reason to think that future wartime presidents will act differently from Lincoln, Wilson, or Roosevelt, or that future Justices of the Supreme Court will decide questions differently than their predecessors.”

VI. Kerry v. Din (2015) —

The Kerry v. Din case is a recent case which speaks to the rights that foreign nationals are entitled to with respect to coming to the United States, and particularly when they come from a country that has a history of terrorism. If a person believes he or she has a right to something, such as “Life, Liberty, or Property,” then a violation of such, including imprisonment, confiscation, condemnation, a denial of an essential liberty right, triggers Due Process rights (that is, a process to challenge that denial under our constitution). When Due Process is violated, then there is potential Due Process violation, challengeable under the 5th amendment or 14th amendment (depending whether the denial is by the federal government or the state, respectively). In Kerry, the Supreme Court held: “No Due Process is owed when these interests are not at stake.” A foreign national (non-US citizen, not living in the US) is not entitled to a Due Process challenge because he has no rights that are respected by the US Constitution. Furthermore, he has no standing to bring suit in the United States for such a violation.

The case concerns a US citizen who married a citizen and resident of Afghanistan (that is, citizen of the latter). Fauzia Din, who is a United States citizen, filed a visa petition for her husband Kanishka Berashk, a citizen and resident of Afghanistan. She wanted to bring him to the United States. Nine months later, the State Department denied the petition based on a broad provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act that excludes aliens on terrorism-related grounds. Berashk asked for clarification of the visa denial and was told that it is not possible for the Embassy to provide him with a detailed explanation of the reasons for denial.

After several other unsuccessful attempts to receive explanation of the visa denial, Din sued and argued that denying notice for aliens who were not granted a visa based on terrorism grounds is unconstitutional. The federal district court held that Din did not have standing to challenge the visa denial notice. The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed and held that the government is required to give notice of reasons for visa denial based on terrorism grounds. The Ninth Circuit held two things: (1) that a U.S. citizen has a protected liberty interest in her marriage that entitled her to review of the denial of a visa to her non-U.S.-citizen spouse, and (2) that the US government deprived her of that liberty interest when it denied the spouse’s visa application without providing a more detailed explanation of its reasons.

The case was appealed to the Supreme Court in 2013 and was decided in 2015. The question presented was this: “Is the government required to give a detailed explanation for denying an alien’s visa based on terrorism-related ground under the Immigration and Nationality Act?”

In a 5-4 decision for Kerry, delivered by the late Justice Antonin Scalia, the Supreme Court held that Mrs. Din was not deprived of any constitutional rights in the due process of law by denying a full explanation of why an alien’s visa was denied. The Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment states that no citizen may be deprived of “life, liberty, or property” without due process, but judicial precedent has held that no due process is owed when these interests are not at stake. Because none of these interests are implicated in the denial of a nonresident alien’s visa application, there is no denial of due process when the visa application is rejected without explanation. Although “liberty” has been construed to refer to fundamental rights, there is no precedent that supports the contention that the right to live with one’s spouse is such a fundamental right.

The Court agreed with Secretary John Kerry (State Department) that the U.S. has never recognized a liberty interest in having a citizen’s alien spouse admitted to the U.S, and that Congress has plenary power to deny admission. As Scalia wrote: “Neither Din’s right to live with her spouse nor her right to live within this country is implicated here. There is a “simple distinction between government action that directly affects a citizen’s legal rights, or imposes a direct restraint on his liberty, and action that is directed against a third party and affects the citizen only indirectly or incidentally.” The Government has not refused to recognize Din’s marriage to Berashk, and Din remains free to live with her husband anywhere in the world that both individuals are permitted to reside. And the Government has not expelled Din from the country. It has simply determined that Kanishka Berashk engaged in terrorist activities within the meaning of the Immigration and Nationality Act, and has therefore denied him admission into the country.”

The Court further analyzed whether procedural due process requires consular officials to give notice of reasons for denying a visa application. In Justice Anthony Kennedy’s concurring opinion, he wrote: “Notice requirements do not apply when, as in this case, a visa application is denied due to terrorism or national security concerns.” Because the consular officials satisfied notice requirements, there was no need for the Court to address the constitutional question about the right to live with one’s spouse. Furthermore, Kennedy reasoned that because the decision was made based on a “facially legitimate and bona fide reason,” the courts need not look any further, especially when national security is involved. He wrote that notice requirements “do not apply when, as in this case, a visa application is denied due to terrorism or national security concerns.”

VIII. No Discrimination –

The Left and the media has been misrepresenting President Trump’s Executive Order on immigration and refugee admission as a “Muslim ban” – or, more cleverly, a ban on immigration from “Muslim-majority countries.” In truth, the ban applies to everyone from the countries of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen – Muslim, Christian, whatever. In fact, one of the first families caught at the airport when the executive order went into effect was a Christian family from Syria.

These seven nations were not chosen at random. They were all singled out as exceptional security risks in the Terrorist Prevention Act of 2015 and its 2016 extension. In fact, President Trump’s order does not even name the seven countries. It merely refers to the sections of U.S. Code that were changed by the Terrorist Prevention Act, signed by President Obama in 2015 and then extended in 2016.

The list of seven nations which was compiled by Obama’s Department of Homeland Security, actually goes back to Obama’s first term, around 2011. Obama made this list, not Donald Trump, and there was very little resistance from congressional Democrats at any step in the process singling out these countries for the potential danger they pose (or for the inability to provide adequate information on their citizens). And that speaks volumes. There was no resistance because the list was perfectly sensible.

Again, on its face, the Executive Order is neutral. Only the Left reads discrimination into it. Only the Left puts the concerns and rights of non-citizens above those of citizens.

But even if the travel ban were discriminatory, the Supreme Court, in Korematsu, explained how we assess its constitutionality or lack thereof. Justice Black wrote: “It should be noted, to begin with, that all legal restrictions which curtail the civil rights of a single racial group are immediately suspect. That is not to say that all such restrictions are unconstitutional. It is to say that courts must subject them to the most rigid scrutiny. Pressing public necessity may sometimes justify the existence of such restrictions; racial antagonism never can.” In other words, the burden on civil liberties is to be balanced with the public necessity. The burden may also be balanced with the severity of the threat to national security. In short, we have to ensure that government strikes the proper balance between liberty and security, with the greater weight placed properly. A nation devoted to the liberties of its citizens can only live up to those promises as long as it continues to exist. If the nation is cannibalized by the very freedoms that it seeks to protect so that its very existence is threatened, then no one’s rights are secure. Liberty no longer has a safe haven.

If we were to balance the burden on civil liberties by the burden placed on non-citizens (who arguably have no entitlement or right to come here to the United States), in the balancing test outlined by the Supreme Court (aka, “strict scrutiny”), we would need to balance that burden by the need to protect our country and its citizens from the violent attacks that are occurring, and occurring at a greatly increased frequency, by persons of one particular religious sect (or ideology). By all accounts, those seeking to do harm to us (“Death to America!”) will seek to slip into the country through the refugee and relocation programs. We then need to evaluate that burden and ask if it is reasonable and whether there are other less burdensome policies to achieve the same result. Is a 90-day temporary ban reasonable? Is it reasonable to require those seven countries listed in the Executive Order to comply with a request from our State Department and Homeland Security Department to provide reliable and verifiable information on its nationals so that the United States can properly assess and vet these individuals for entry into our cities and communities?

We are not talking about the issue of whether non-citizens living in the United States should be recognized with similar rights as citizens (minus the right to vote and hold office). We are talking about the right to come here in the first place. The “right” of a foreigner to come here necessarily burdens the right of the government to control immigration and set policy for national security.

IX. No Right to Come Here —

It is settled jurisprudence that an unadmitted, non-resident alien has no right of entry into the United States and cannot challenge his denial of his visa application. In other words, he has no protections under our Constitution and no right to use it for purposes to sue. Simply put, he has no standing. [Kleindienst v. Mandel, 408 U.S. 753, cited on pg. 762 (1972)]

The decision of the Supreme Court in Kleindienst was delivered by Justice Harry Blackmun. In that decision, the Court noted Congress’ longstanding power to exclude aliens from the United States, and to set the terms and conditions of their entry. Through the Immigration and Nationality Act, Congress legitimately delegated to the executive the authority to waive a finding of inadmissibility. He described the historical pattern of increasing federal control on the admissibility of aliens, particularly regarding individuals with Communist affiliation or views. Justice Blackmun held that the Court would not intervene so long as the executive used its waiver power on the basis of a facially legitimate and bona fide reason. “In the exercise of Congress’ plenary power to exclude aliens or prescribe the conditions for their entry into this country, Congress in § 212(a)(28) of the Act has delegated conditional exercise of this power to the Executive Branch. When, as in this case, the Attorney General decides for a legitimate and bona fide reason not to waive the statutory exclusion of an alien, courts will not look behind his decision or weigh it against the First Amendment interests of those who would personally communicate with the alien.” At pp. 761-770.].

X. Standing –

The states of Washington and Minnesota alleged that it had standing to challenge the validity of President Trump’s Executive Order, claiming it would suffer irreparable injury. It alleged that the order was directed at the Muslim religion, that there have been no terrorist attacks in the United States from any persons from the countries listed in the ban which would make the religious targeting unconstitutional, and that to block Muslims from entering Washington would cause it irreparable injury. To be clear, the focus of the states’ legal challenge was the way the president’s Executive Order targeted Islam.

Michelle Bennett, lawyer for the federal government, criticized the judge’s issuing the TRO, claiming the states of Washington and Minnesota lack standing. She argues that the states can’t sue on behalf of citizens and the states and also questions the rationale for their particular claim that the ban would cause irreparable injury

What is “standing”?

“Standing” is the term for the ability of a party to demonstrate to the court sufficient connection to and harm from the law or action challenged to support that party’s participation in the case. In law, “standing” is the legal right to bring a lawsuit to court. Usually, it requires that the plaintiff, or the person who brings the case, has either been affected by the events in the case or will be imminently affected or harmed if the court does not address the problem. Standing is also affected by state or federal laws that apply to the events in the case, since some laws do not allow injured plaintiffs to sue certain defendants even if the plaintiff can demonstrate that she was injured by the defendant’s actions.

A plaintiff usually demonstrates that she has standing by including the following elements in her Complaint, which is the document that opens a lawsuit in court and gives the defendant some idea of what he’s being sued for. In order to show standing, most courts require the plaintiff to mention the following three things in the Complaint:

(i) Injury: The plaintiff must show either that she has been injured in a particular way or will be injured in a particular way if the court does not act to prevent it (this is the basis of many requests for injunctions). The injury can be physical, mental/emotional, financial, or an injury to one of the plaintiff’s civil rights, as long as it is a specific injury.
(ii) Causation: The plaintiff must show there’s some connection between the injury and the defendant’s actions or planned actions. In a Complaint, causation is usually shown by a single sentence linking the defendant’s acts to the plaintiff’s injury. Complicated questions involving cause in fact or proximate cause are usually saved for trial.
(iii) Addressability: The situation has to be one the court can fix in some way, whether it’s by issuing an injunction, ordering the defendant to pay damages, or by some other particular method.

In order to keep lawsuits focused on a plaintiff who was actually injured and a defendant who may be responsible, U.S. courts have, over the years, limited the kinds of cases a plaintiff has standing to bring.

Currently, a plaintiff does not have standing if any of the following are true:

(i) The plaintiff is a third party who was not injured herself, but is suing on behalf of someone who was injured. Exceptions to this rule include parents who sue on behalf of their injured children and legally-appointed guardians who sue on behalf of their wards. Courts have also allowed organizations to sue on behalf of their members in a few cases where it was obvious that all the members faced the same injury.
(ii) The plaintiff tries to sue on behalf of some large, unidentified group who may or may not be injured. Often called “taxpayer standing,” this rule prevents cases in which one plaintiff attempts to sue the government on the grounds that the plaintiff, a taxpayer, doesn’t like what the government is doing with tax revenues. So far, the only exception to this rule has been certain cases brought under the First Amendment Establishment Clause to prevent the government from funneling taxpayer dollars to particular religious institutions.

(iii) The plaintiff is not in the “zone of interest” or “zone of injury.” In other words, the plaintiff is not the kind of person a particular law was designed to protect, and/or the plaintiff is not the kind of person that lawmakers expected to be injured if they did not enact the law. For instance, a plaintiff who has severe dog allergies does not have standing to sue a dog owner for failing to license her dog, since “severe allergy attacks” were not the kind of injury the dog license law was designed to prevent, and “people with severe dog allergies” were not the kind of people the law is designed to protect. (A severe allergy sufferer may, however, have standing to sue a neighbor dog owner for nuisance or even assault if, for instance, the neighbor encourages the dog to approach the allergic plaintiff even though the neighbor knows this will make the plaintiff very ill and might even cause death.)

The state of Washington (and then Minnesota would join in) asserted it had standing to bring the challenge by claiming that the Order would “adversely affect the States’ residents in areas of employment, education, business, family relations, and freedom to travel,” and that these harms “extend to the States by virtue of their roles as parens patriae of the residents living within their borders.” Furthermore, the states claimed that they would be harmed by virtue of the damage that implementation of the Order has inflicted upon the operations and missions of their public universities and other institutions of higher learning, as well as injury to the States’ operations, tax bases, and public funds. They claimed the harm is significant and ongoing. Judge Robart agreed with the states’ position.

In issuing the Temporary Restraining Order, Judge Robart wrote: “It is an interesting question in regards to the standing of the states to bring this action. I’m sure the one item that all counsel would agree on is that the standing law is a little murky. I find, however, that the state does have standing in regards to this matter, and therefore they are properly here. And I probed with both counsel my reasons for finding that, which have to do with direct, immediate harm going to the states, as institutions, in addition to harm to their citizens, which they are not able to represent as directly.”

On the same day that Judge Robart issued the TRO (February 4), the government submitted an Emergency Motion to the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit requesting that the injunction (or TRO) to be vacated.

The government’s position is that the states of Washington and Minnesota lack standing and that they failed to make a legitimate showing of standing in their motion for the TRO. In its Emergency Motion to the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the government asserted:

“The district court reasoned that the Washington has Article III standing because the Order “adversely affects the States’ residents in areas of employment, education, business, family relations, and freedom to travel,” and that these harms “extend to the States by virtue of their roles as parens patriae of the residents living within their borders.” But a State cannot bring a parens patriae action against federal defendants. In dismissing Massachusetts’ challenge to a federal statute designed to “protect the health of mothers and infants” in Massachusetts v. Mellon, the Supreme Court explained that “it is no part of a State’s duty or power to enforce [its citizens’] rights in respect of their relations with the federal government.” 262 U.S. 447, 478, 485-86 (1923); South Carolina v. Katzenbach, 383 U.S. 301, 324 (1966). The district court also reasoned that “the States themselves are harmed by virtue of the damage that implementation of the Order has inflicted upon the operations and missions of their public universities and other institutions of higher learning, as well as injury to the States’ operations, tax bases, and public funds.” These attenuated and speculative alleged harms are neither concrete nor particularized. With respect to Washington’s public universities, most if not all of the students and faculty members the State identifies are not prohibited from entering the United States, and others’ alleged difficulties are hypothetical or speculative.

That is particularly true given the Order’s waiver authority. See Executive Order §§ 3(g), 5(e). Furthermore, any assertion of harm to the universities’ reputations and ability to attract students is insufficiently concrete for standing. Whitmore v. Arkansas, 495 U.S. 149, 155 (1990). And although Washington suggested that the Order might affect its recruitment efforts and child welfare system, it conceded that it could not identify any currently affected state employees, nor any actual impact on its child welfare system.

Washington’s contentions regarding its tax base and public funds are equally flawed. See Florida v. Mellon, 273 U.S. 12, 17-18 (1927) (finding no standing based on Florida’s allegation that challenged law would diminish tax base); see also, e.g., Iowa ex rel. Miller v. Block, 771 F.2d 347, 353 (8th Cir. 1985). Nor does Washington have any “legally protected interest,” Arizona Christian Sch. Tuition Org. v. Winn, 563 U.S. 125, 134 (2011), in the grant or denial of entry to an alien outside the United States. The INA’s carefully reticulated scheme provides for judicial review only at the behest of an alien adversely affected, and even then only if the alien is subject to removal proceedings, see 8 U.S.C. § 1252.

Under longstanding principles exemplified by the doctrine of consular non-reviewability, an alien abroad cannot obtain judicial review of the denial of a visa (or his failure to be admitted as a refugee). Brownell v. Tom We Shung, 352 U.S. 180, 184 (1956). It follows that a third party, like Washington, has no “judicially cognizable interest,” Linda R.S. v. Richard D., 410 U.S. 614, 619 (1973), in such a denial. Or to put it in Administrative Procedure Act (APA) terms, review is precluded by the INA, the relevant determinations are committed to the Executive’s discretion (indeed, to the President, who is not subject to the APA), and Washington lacks a cause of action. 5 U.S.C. §§ 701(a), (702).”

The Ninth Circuit denied the government’s motion.

Did the Ninth Circuit engage in partisan politics by denying the government’s motion ?

XI. Conclusion —

In conclusion, in light of the government’s obligation to keep the country safe and secure, in light of its war powers, its powers with respect to immigration, foreign policy, and national security, and noting that the temporary ban is neutral with respect to the religion of the people impacted, the Executive Order should be upheld. Furthermore, even if the Order targets a class of persons, a balancing test will show that the temporary nature of the ban is more than reasonable in light of the threats posed by terrorists who may try to use the relocation efforts to gain access to the United States and do irreparable harm. Finally, the Executive Order is merely a reasonable expansion of a program that has already been in place under the previous administration.

References:

Executive Order: “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States” (Jan. 27, 2017). Referenced at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/01/27/executive-order-protecting-nation- foreign-terrorist-entry-united-states

Temporary Restraining Order (Washington v. Donald Trump, President of the United States), issued by Judge Robart. https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/3446391-Robart-Order.html

The FEDRAL GOVERNMENT’S APPEAL: of The State of Wasington’s Emergency Motion for Administrative Stay and Motion for Stay Pending Appeal (State of Washington v. Donald Trump, President of the United States, in the US Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit) – http://www.politico.com/f/?id=0000015a-0c44-d96b-a7fe-1efdf8da0001

8 U.S. Code §1187 – Visa Waiver Program for Certain Visitors. Referenced at: https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/8/1187

Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). 8 U.S.C. 1187, Section 217 – VISA WAIVER 2/ PROGRAM FOR CERTAIN VISITORS. Referenced at: https://www.uscis.gov/ilink/docView/SLB/HTML/SLB/0-0-0-1/0-0-0-29/0-0-0-4391.html

8 U.S Code Chapter 12: IMMIGRATION and NATURALIZATION – aka, The Immigration and Naturality Act of 1952. Referenced at: https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/8/chapter-12

“A Constitutional Basis for Defense,” The Heritage Foundation. Referenced at: http://www.heritage.org/defense/report/constitutional-basis-defense

Matthew I. Hirsch, “The Visa Waiver Program,” (8 U.S.C. 1187, Section 217: Visa. Waiver Waiver”) Referenced: http://hirschlaw1.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/website.aila_.visawaiver.pdf

John Howard, “The Seven Nations Covered by Trump’s Executive Order,” Breitbart, Jan. 30, 2017. Referenced at: http://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2017/01/30/7-nations-named-trump-executive-order-security-nightmares/

Korematsu v. United States, 323 U.S. 214 (1944). https://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/323/214

Kerry v. Din, 576 U.S. ___ (2015). https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/14pdf/13-1402_e29g.pdf

Kleindienst v. Mandel, 408 U.S. 753 (1972). https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/408/753/case.html

Asra Q. Nomani, “This is Daniel Pearl’s Final Story,” Washingtonian. Referenced at: https://www.washingtonian.com/projects/KSM/

Sean Hannity, “There are Four Times the US Stopped Immigrants from a Particular Group.

Referenced at:  http://www.hannity.com/articles/immigration-487258/here-are-four-previous-times-the-14188916/

Daniel Greenfield, “When Roosevelt Banned Muslims from America,” Frontpagemag, August 18, 2016.  Referenced at:  http://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/263879/when-teddy-roosevelt-banned-muslims-america-daniel-greenfield

Ann M. Simmons and Alan Zarembo, “Other Presidents Have Blocked Groups of Foreigners from the US, But Never So Broadly,” LA Times, January 31, 2017.  Referenced at:  http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-immigrant-ban-history-20170130-story.html

The Alien & Sedition Acts, Constitutional Rights Foundation.  Referenced at:  http://www.crf-usa.org/america-responds-to-terrorism/the-alien-and-sedition-acts.html

 

What is Standing? (Rottenstein Law Group). http://www.rotlaw.com/legal-library/what-is-standing/

Washington shopping mall mass shooter – an illegal immigrant (from a Muslim country) who voted 3 times. Referenced at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0cDwCK3Dpcg [Published on Sep 28, 2016. A man who went on a shooting rampage in a store in the Cascade Mall in Burlington, Washington is in custody, accused of killing five people. The suspect, Arcan Cetin, a 20-year-old, is being charged with five counts of first-degree premeditated murder. There’s also another element to the story that could result in other charges for Cetin. The Cascade mall shooter isn’t a U.S. citizen, but voted in 3 election cycles. From King 5: The Cascade Mall shooting suspect, Arcan Cetin, may face an additional investigation related to his voting record and citizenship status. Federal sources confirm to KING 5 that Cetin was not a U.S. citizen, meaning legally he cannot vote. However, state records show Cetin registered to vote in 2014 and participated in three election cycles, including the May presidential primary. While voters must attest to citizenship upon registering online or registering to vote at the Department of Licensing Office, Washington state doesn’t require proof of citizenship. Therefore, elections officials say the state’s elections system operates, more or less, under an honor system. — Just a couple years ago, then-Attorney General Eric Holder said vote fraud was “a problem that doesn’t exist.” They operate on the honor system? What could go wrong? — That can’t be so. We’ve been assured voter fraud is a myth. The story doesn’t say who Cetin voted for. This story highlights that immigration laws and criminal laws aren’t the only laws that illegal immigrants break and are breaking. Why was FOX News the only national news organization covering this story?

Justice Jeanine Pirro (Justice with Jeanine) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PSsjcLUM6xI

APPENDIX:

Executive Order: “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States (Jan. 27, 2017)

EXECUTIVE ORDER

Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America, including the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. 1101 et seq., and section 301 of title 3, United States Code, and to protect the American people from terrorist attacks by foreign nationals admitted to the United States, it is hereby ordered as follows:
Secti  on 1. Purpose. The visa-issuance process plays a crucial role in detecting individuals with terrorist ties and stopping them from entering the United States. Perhaps in no instance was that more apparent than the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, when State Department policy prevented consular officers from properly scrutinizing the visa applications of several of the 19 foreign nationals who went on to murder nearly 3,000 Americans. And while the visa-issuance process was reviewed and amended after the September 11 attacks to better detect would-be terrorists from receiving visas, these measures did not stop attacks by foreign nationals who were admitted to the United States.
Numer  ous foreign-born individuals have been convicted or implicated in terrorism-related crimes since September 11, 2001, including foreign nationals who entered the United States after receiving visitor, student, or employment visas, or who entered through the United States refugee resettlement program. Deteriorating conditions in certain countries due to war, strife, disaster, and civil unrest increase the likelihood that terrorists will use any means possible to enter the United States. The United States must be vigilant during the visa-issuance process to ensure that those approved for admission do not intend to harm Americans and that they have no ties to terrorism.
der to protect Americans, the United States must ensure that those admitted to this country do not bear hostile attitudes toward it and its founding principles. The United States cannot, and should not, admit those who do not support the Constitution, or those who would place violent ideologies over American law. In addition, the United States should not admit those who engage in acts of bigotry or hatred (including “honor” killings, other forms of violence against women, or the persecution of those who practice religions different from their own) or those who would oppress Americans of any race, gender, or sexual orientation.
Sec.   2. Policy. It is the policy of the United States to protect its citizens from foreign nationals who intend to commit terrorist attacks in the United States; and to prevent the admission of foreign nationals who intend to exploit United States immigration laws for malevolent purposes.
Sec.   3. Suspension of Issuance of Visas and Other Immigration Benefits to Nationals of Countries of Particular Concern. (a) The Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Director of National Intelligence, shall immediately conduct a review to determine the information needed from any country to adjudicate any visa, admission, or other benefit under the INA (adjudications) in order to determine that the individual seeking the benefit is who the individual claims to be and is not a security or public-safety threat.
(b)   The Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Director of National Intelligence, shall submit to the President a report on the results of the review described in subsection (a) of this section, including the Secretary of Homeland Security’s determination of the information needed for adjudications and a list of countries that do not provide adequate information, within 30 days of the date of this order. The Secretary of Homeland Security shall provide a copy of the report to the Secretary of State and the Director of National Intelligence.
(c) To temporarily reduce investigative burdens on relevant agencies during the review period described in subsection (a) of this section, to ensure the proper review and maximum utilization of available resources for the screening of foreign nationals, and to ensure that adequate standards are established to prevent infiltration by foreign terrorists or criminals, pursuant to section 212(f) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1182(f), I hereby proclaim that the immigrant and nonimmigrant entry into the United States of aliens from countries referred to in section 217(a)(12) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1187(a)(12), would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, and I hereby suspend entry into the United States, as immigrants and nonimmigrants, of such persons for 90 days from the date of this order (excluding those foreign nationals traveling on diplomatic visas, North Atlantic Treaty Organization visas, C-2 visas for travel to the United Nations, and G-1, G-2, G-3, and G-4 visas).
(d) Immediately upon receipt of the report described in subsection (b) of this section regarding the information needed for adjudications, the Secretary of State shall request all foreign governments that do not supply such information to start providing such information regarding their nationals within 60 days of notification.
(e) After the 60-day period described in subsection (d) of this section expires, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State, shall submit to the President a list of countries recommended for inclusion on a Presidential proclamation that would prohibit the entry of foreign nationals (excluding those foreign nationals traveling on diplomatic visas, North Atlantic Treaty Organization visas, C-2 visas for travel to the United Nations, and G-1, G-2, G-3, and G-4 visas) from countries that do not provide the information requested pursuant to subsection (d) of this section until compliance occurs.
(f) At any point after submitting the list described in subsection (e) of this section, the Secretary of State or the Secretary of Homeland Security may submit to the President the names of any additional countries recommended for similar treatment.
(g) Notwithstanding a suspension pursuant to subsection (c) of this section or pursuant to a Presidential proclamation described in subsection (e) of this section, the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security may, on a case-by-case basis, and when in the national interest, issue visas or other immigration benefits to nationals of countries for which visas and benefits are otherwise blocked.
(h) The Secretaries of State and Homeland Security shall submit to the President a joint report on the progress in implementing this order within 30 days of the date of this order, a second report within 60 days of the date of this order, a third report within 90 days of the date of this order, and a fourth report within 120 days of the date of this order.

Sec. 4. Implementing Uniform Screening Standards for All Immigration Programs. (a) The Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Director of National Intelligence, and the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation shall implement a program, as part of the adjudication process for immigration benefits, to identify individuals seeking to enter the United States on a fraudulent basis with the intent to cause harm, or who are at risk of causing harm subsequent to their admission. This program will include the development of a uniform screening standard and procedure, such as in-person interviews; a database of identity documents proffered by applicants to ensure that duplicate documents are not used by multiple applicants; amended application forms that include questions aimed at identifying fraudulent answers and malicious intent; a mechanism to ensure that the applicant is who the applicant claims to be; a process to evaluate the applicant’s likelihood of becoming a positively contributing member of society and the applicant’s ability to make contributions to the national interest; and a mechanism to assess whether or not the applicant has the intent to commit criminal or terrorist acts after entering the United States.
(b) The Secretary of Homeland Security, in conjunction with the Secretary of State, the Director of National Intelligence, and the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, shall submit to the President an initial report on the progress of this directive within 60 days of the date of this order, a second report within 100 days of the date of this order, and a third report within 200 days of the date of this order.
Sec. 5. Realignment of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for Fiscal Year 2017. (a) The Secretary of State shall suspend the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for 120 days. During the 120-day period, the Secretary of State, in conjunction with the Secretary of Homeland Security and in consultation with the Director of National Intelligence, shall review the USRAP application and adjudication process to determine what additional procedures should be taken to ensure that those approved for refugee admission do not pose a threat to the security and welfare of the United States, and shall implement such additional procedures. Refugee applicants who are already in the USRAP process may be admitted upon the initiation and completion of these revised procedures. Upon the date that is 120 days after the date of this order, the Secretary of State shall resume USRAP admissions only for nationals of countries for which the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, and the Director of National Intelligence have jointly determined that such additional procedures are adequate to ensure the security and welfare of the United States.
(b) Upon the resumption of USRAP admissions, the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of Homeland Security, is further directed to make changes, to the extent permitted by law, to prioritize refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality. Where necessary and appropriate, the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security shall recommend legislation to the President that would assist with such prioritization.
(c) Pursuant to section 212(f) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1182(f), I hereby proclaim that the entry of nationals of Syria as refugees is detrimental to the interests of the United States and thus suspend any such entry until such time as I have determined that sufficient changes have been made to the USRAP to ensure that admission of Syrian refugees is consistent with the national interest.
(d);Pursuant to section 212(f) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1182(f), I hereby proclaim that the entry of more than 50,000 refugees in fiscal year 2017 would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, and thus suspend any such entry until such time as I determine that additional admissions would be in the national interest.
(e) Notwithstanding the temporary suspension imposed pursuant to subsection (a) of this section, the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security may jointly determine to admit individuals to the United States as refugees on a case-by-case basis, in their discretion, but only so long as they determine that the admission of such individuals as refugees is in the national interest — including when the person is a religious minority in his country of nationality facing religious persecution, when admitting the person would enable the United States to conform its conduct to a preexisting international agreement, or when the person is already in transit and denying admission would cause undue hardship — and it would not pose a risk to the security or welfare of the United States.
(f) The Secretary of State shall submit to the President an initial report on the progress of the directive in subsection (b) of this section regarding prioritization of claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution within 100 days of the date of this order and shall submit a second report within 200 days of the date of this order.
(g) It is the policy of the executive branch that, to the extent permitted by law and as practicable, State and local jurisdictions be granted a role in the process of determining the placement or settlement in their jurisdictions of aliens eligible to be admitted to the United States as refugees. To that end, the Secretary of Homeland Security shall examine existing law to determine the extent to which, consistent with applicable law, State and local jurisdictions may have greater involvement in the process of determining the placement or resettlement of refugees in their jurisdictions, and shall devise a proposal to lawfully promote such involvement.
Sec. 6. Rescission of Exercise of Authority Relating to the Terrorism Grounds of Inadmissibility. The Secretaries of State and Homeland Security shall, in consultation with the Attorney General, consider rescinding the exercises of authority in section 212 of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1182, relating to the terrorism grounds of inadmissibility, as well as any related implementing memoranda.
Sec. 7. Expedited Completion of the Biometric Entry-Exit Tracking System. (a) The Secretary of Homeland Security shall expedite the completion and implementation of a biometric entry-exit tracking system for all travelers to the United States, as recommended by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States.
(b) The Secretary of Homeland Security shall submit to the President periodic reports on the progress of the directive contained in subsection (a) of this section. The initial report shall be submitted within 100 days of the date of this order, a second report shall be submitted within 200 days of the date of this order, and a third report shall be submitted within 365 days of the date of this order. Further, the Secretary shall submit a report every 180 days thereafter until the system is fully deployed and operational.
Sec. 8. Visa Interview Security. (a) The Secretary of State shall immediately suspend the Visa Interview Waiver Program and ensure compliance with section 222 of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1222, which requires that all individuals seeking a nonimmigrant visa undergo an in-person interview, subject to specific statutory exceptions.
(b) To the extent permitted by law and subject to the availability of appropriations, the Secretary of State shall immediately expand the Consular Fellows Program, including by substantially increasing the number of Fellows, lengthening or making permanent the period of service, and making language training at the Foreign Service Institute available to Fellows for assignment to posts outside of their area of core linguistic ability, to ensure that non-immigrant visa-interview wait times are not unduly affected.
Sec. 9. Visa Validity Reciprocity. The Secretary of State shall review all nonimmigrant visa reciprocity agreements to ensure that they are, with respect to each visa classification, truly reciprocal insofar as practicable with respect to validity period and fees, as required by sections 221(c) and 281 of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1201(c) and 1351, and other treatment. If a country does not treat United States nationals seeking nonimmigrant visas in a reciprocal manner, the Secretary of State shall adjust the visa validity period, fee schedule, or other treatment to match the treatment of United States nationals by the foreign country, to the extent practicable.
Sec. 10. Transparency and Data Collection. (a) To be more transparent with the American people, and to more effectively implement policies and practices that serve the national interest, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Attorney General, shall, consistent with applicable law and national security, collect and make publicly available within 180 days, and every 180 days thereafter:
(i) information regarding the number of foreign nationals in the United States who have been charged with terrorism-related offenses while in the United States; convicted of terrorism-related offenses while in the United States; or removed from the United States based on terrorism-related activity, affiliation, or material support to a terrorism-related organization, or any other national security reasons since the date of this order or the last reporting period, whichever is later;
(ii) information regarding the number of foreign nationals in the United States who have been radicalized after entry into the United States and engaged in terrorism-related acts, or who have provided material support to terrorism-related organizations in countries that pose a threat to the United States, since the date of this order or the last reporting period, whichever is later; and
(iii) information regarding the number and types of acts of gender-based violence against women, including honor killings, in the United States by foreign nationals, since the date of this order or the last reporting period, whichever is later; and
(iv) any other information relevant to public safety and security as determined by the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Attorney General, including information on the immigration status of foreign nationals charged with major offenses.    (b) The Secretary of State shall, within one year of the date of this order, provide a report on the estimated long-term costs of the USRAP at the Federal, State, and local levels.    Sec. 11. General Provisions. (a) Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:
(i) the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or
(ii) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.
(b) This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.    (c) This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

DONALD J. TRUMP

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Nullify Now! Coming to Raleigh, NC

Nullification - Tenth Amendment language    by Diane Rufino, May 27, 2013
The NC Tenth Amendment Center is organizing a Nullify Now! Rally in Raleigh this fall. Nullify Now! is a national tour, sponsored by the Tenth Amendment Center and Foundation for a Free Society, to educate and activate Americans on the Jeffersonian principle of Nullification. Nullification, simply put, is the right of the state, under the Tenth Amendment and Supremacy Clause, to reject, nullify, and refuse to enforce unconstitutional federal acts – from all three branches!!  The Raleigh event will be in September or October, depending upon the venue that is chosen. We want to start getting the word out now and ask that people share the information with as many people and groups as possible. There is perhaps nothing more important in the defense of liberty in our current precarious times than the education of ordinary Americans and state officials on the topic of Nullification. And given the hostility of our current leadership in the state legislature to states’ rights movements and the general reluctance in both houses to stand up to unconstitutional federal action, the time is now to begin that education.  Nullify Now.

The event capitalizes on the best-selling book “Nullification: How to Resist Federal Tyranny in the 21st Century,” by historian Thomas Woods.  Thanks to this important contribution by Mr. Woods, the doctrine of nullification, a founding principle, is being re-introduced to Americans and being revived all over the country. Its power and significance is ever more clear now that our own government has become a source of tyranny and oppression. Thomas Woods is a Senior Fellow at the Mises Institute and the author of other best-sellers, such as “Meltdown,” and “Rollback.”

In a nutshell, nullification is a constitutional doctrine that acknowledges the division of power between the federal government and the States – ie, the federal nature of our government. The right of each sovereign – the federal government and each state – to jealously guard its powers, and the Supremacy Clause of the US Constitution, which announces that only those laws made in pursuance to the delegated powers to each branch, are supreme and enforceable. In other words, any law that is not made in pursuance of a power expressly delegated to the government or any law made that abuses any constitutional power is null and void and unenforceable. The term “Nullification” was coined by Thomas Jefferson in 1799 in addressing the unconstitutionality of the Alien and Sedition Acts, but the fact is that the doctrine is as deeply rooted in our founding as is the sovereignty of the individual, the inalienability of fundamental liberties, federalism, supremacy, and checks and balances. When the state delegates met in Philadelphia in 1787 to draft a new constitution, their task was to design a common government that would take care of overlapping functions and allow the states to sufficiently unite. James Madison, the major architect of the Convention and of the “new” government, arrived in Philadelphia with quite a different scheme than what he eventually came to embrace. He arrived as a “nationalist,” believing in a strong national government of centralized powers that compromised the sovereignty of the individual states. In fact, his scheme of government would have given the federal government a “negative” (or a veto) on any state action that the government believed was at odds with its interests. But communications with Thomas Jefferson (letters from France) and a stark rejection by an overwhelming majority of delegates helped him understand the wisdom of a “federal” government of limited powers, with the “negative” (or veto) being given to the States who would be the sovereigns most likely to find their powers intruded upon and jeopardized.  Therefore, the legislative branch was designed as a bicameral branch, with one house representing the interests of the states (Senate), which gave the states an immediate opportunity to “negate” or veto an act of the legislature that it believed exceeded the scope of the Constitution and encroached upon the powers of the States.  To further entrench the notion that States retain the bulk of their sovereign powers and therefore have a right to assert them, the Tenth Amendment was proposed by the states and added to the Constitution (otherwise they wouldn’t ratify it).  A state “negative” is what Jefferson would later refer to as “nullification.”

For almost 200 years, the federal government has looked to its constitutional limitations with disdain.  It dared to take the position that the Constitution is one of hidden and implied powers and that government needs what it needs.  And it found a way around those limitations. First the Supreme Court delegated itself the exclusive power to declare what the Constitution means and what powers the government has. Yes, a branch of the government declared it would figure out what powers it has. And from that moment, the exercise of constitutional interpretation evolved into an opportunity for nine unelected individuals to use the bench to re-interpret our Constitution, to transform the intent of government, and to effect societal change (good and bad). Thomas Jefferson warned about this: “To consider the Judges of the Superior Court as the ultimate arbiters of constitutional questions would be a dangerous doctrine which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy. They have with others, the same passion for party, for power, and for the privileges of their corps – and their power is the most dangerous as they are in office for life, and not responsible, as the other functionaries are, to the Elective control. The Constitution has elected no single tribunal.  I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of society but the people themselves.”  The questions are these: Will federal politicians act to limit their own power?  Will federal judges limit their power?  The answer to both questions is no.  If  the federal government – all 3 branches – were ever to be the sole and exclusive arbiter of the extent of their own power, that power would always grow. And then we are in a position where the “abuses and usurpations” of government and of human liberties that were levied against King George of England and which justified the fight for our independence are being willingly tolerated here in the United States in the 21st century.  Nothing can be more dangerous since the Constitution is the document that protects our precious rights laid out in the Declaration of Independence. Education on the doctrine of nullification is an education on how the States and the People can constitutionally exercise rights that the government now believes don’t exist.

Critics contend that states have no power to review the constitutionality of federal laws and federal action.

“That’s what the courts are for,” they say.  Those very courts, after the Supreme Court’s pronouncement in Marbury v. Madison (1803) that the federal courts are to interpret the Constitution and judges are limited by its precise wording and intention, have gone way beyond simple constitutional interpretation to make policy from the bench. Those very courts, after the decision in Marbury, have reclassified the Constitution as a “living, breathing document” that is no longer confined to traditional interpretation.  Those same courts have rendered decisions on secession and nullification when those topics aren’t even addressed in the Constitution (federal courts are limited to federal questions – alleged violations of the US Constitution, federal law, or a treaty to which the US is a party).  Those same courts told Dred Scott that black people don’t have any rights under our Declaration or Constitution and approved the indefinite detention of an entire race of citizens in the 1940′s.  No freedom-loving person should be looking at the courts to defend and preserve liberty.

The States, and not the courts, will be the ones to stop unconstitutional federal mandates.  As Thomas Jefferson said, Nullification is the “Rightful Remedy.”

Since September 2010, the Tenth Amendment Center has been hosting a national tour to educate people on this topic and to re-engage them with their Constitution and principles of freedom. The goal is to teach about nullification, its constitutional basis, when it’s been used in history, why the criticisms (ie, “It’s unconstitutional because the Supreme Court has ruled on it” and “The Civil War settled it”) are misinformed, why nullification has become more popular, why Americans need to learn about this doctrine, and its potential. So far, Nullify Now! events have been held in Orlando, Philadelphia, Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Austin, Jacksonville, and Manchester, NH.  Raleigh is the next conference. Our neighbors, South Carolina and Virginia, are both planning them in their states. Future events are also being organized in the Bay Area, CA, Seattle, Las Vegas, Miami, Indianapolis, Chicago, and in the states of Idaho, Wisconsin, and South Dakota.

The opponents of nullification and the mainstream media want Americans to believe that Nullification is an evil doctrine because it was used to support slavery. They want to shame citizens into believing that to support this concept is to be un-American and to somehow endorse the mindset that gave rise to the Civil War. These false arguments are the very reason that the Tenth Amendment Center felt it was necessary to begin a campaign of proper education.  The truth will allow everyone to come to an educated conclusion about nullification.

The Tenth Amendment knows that the topic of Nullification is one clouded in mystery. People want to know more but don’t know where to learn about it truthfully. They want to believe there is a constitutional way for their states to protect their individual rights. In North Carolina, people have heard disturbing comments from their elected state leaders in the past year, such as the following: “Because NC lost the Civil War, we have no right to second-guess the actions and policies of the federal government.”  “The state constitution forbids us to second-guess the federal government. It’s essentially a surrender document that hasn’t been amended.”  “The 10th Amendment no longer means what it used to. That was decided by the Civil War.”  “The US Constitution doesn’t mean what it used to and we really don’t know what it means now.”  ”Nullification is an outdated, racist doctrine that was used for bad and has no legitimacy.” “The legitimacy of Nullification was decided by the Supreme Court.”  Can these statements possibly be correct?  Education will give people of North Carolina the answer. We hope it will also educate those officials who articulated these offensive positions. Fortunately, the Tenth Amendment Center promotes the topic of Nullification from the mouth and pen of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, our most important of Founding Fathers. Each wrote a critical founding document and therefore are the proper authorities on the subject.

I’m sure liberty-minded folks support the notion that the federal government is one of limited powers and that the Supremacy Clause is a recognition of that limit and not an open invitation to the government to rule supremely on any and all objects it wants to. It can’t be that the federal government has the sole and exclusive authority to declare what the constitution means and how it applies to its branches and powers. The government can’t be sole and exclusive authority on the extent of its own powers. It’s a sure path to tyranny. I agree that the term “Nullification” scares many people and puts them on the offensive because of the crisis of 1832 with John Calhoun and South Carolina and because of the actions of Southern Democratic leaders in the post-Brown v. Board of Education era to repudiate the decision to integrate schools and society. I certainly get it and understand the negative connotations. But the positive exercises (not necessarily summoning the term “nullification”) have far out-weighed them, such as the actions of the Sons of Liberty which so thoroughly frustrated the British agents in the colonies prior to 1776 that such intolerable acts as the Stamp Act and Quartering Acts could never be enforced, the insistence in the Constitutional Convention in 1787 and in the individual state ratifying conventions for a state “negative” on the federal government (the Senate branch and the Tenth Amendment are examples), the nullification of the Fugitive Slave Act by the southern states, the nullification by a state court of Wisconsin (Glover case 1854) of the Fugitive Slave Act (in fact, the WI court said, despite what the US Supreme Court would later say in Dred Scott that Africans were not a class of persons covered by the Constitution or Declaration and hence were not entitled to any protections offered by those documents, including not having a right to bring suit, slaves and former slaves absolutely have a right to bring an action in a court of law), the state opposition to the federal Real ID which has effectively prevented its enforcement, the nullification of the NDAA by Virginia, and the rejection of state health insurance exchanges by 26 states as a way to show their opposition to federal intrusion into a state matter – healthcare, These are just a few instances of nullification (the pushing back of the federal government because it attempted to over-reach its constitutional authority.

There are many things going on at the national level which threaten our precious American freedoms. The War on Terrorism has expanded executive powers and extended the Rules of War to our homeland, thereby clashing with our Bill of Rights. There is talk of limiting the scope of the Second Amendment. The federal taxing power has been expanded by the Obamacare decision to give the government the option of coercing and controlling human conduct in the marketplace and in controlling human behavior in general.  Unelected officials are using the full power of the federal government to target, harass, censor, and intimidate American citizens. And privacy rights have never been so fragile. Everyone has an issue that is important to them, whether it be gun ownership rights, losing control over one’s healthcare because of Obamacare, gay marriage, the expansion of Homeland Security to spy on ordinary Americans, the drones-in-the-sky program, etc.  It may not be my issue or your issue, but collectively they all touch on the one thing that unites us in a common title – that of an “American.”  Americans enjoy a country where the government is tasked first and foremost with protecting their freedom.  When I think of how groups try to shut each other down or marginalize their issues, I can’t help but think of the words that Pastor Martin Niemoller wrote in light of the Nazi Holocaust:

First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out–
because I was not a communist;

Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out–
because I was not a socialist;

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out–
because I was not a trade unionist;

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out–
because I was not a Jew;

Then they came for me–
and there was no one left to speak out for me.

To minimize the freedom and expression of one group is to minimize freedom and express for all.

Take, for example, the Daily Kos. It accuses conservatives of trying to prevent and thwart social progress in the United States.  It writes that “their weapons of choice are nullification and secession.” It writes that conservatives resort to “these pernicious ideas in order to prevail on such issues as the rights of the unborn and gun rights.” To equate conservatives as enemies of the state is to silence the voice of our Founding Fathers on critical issues that touch on successful government and human liberty. To shut down those who speak for the unborn is to deny the unborn a voice.

The Daily Kos is wrong.  The weapon of choice for conservatives is education.

Please plan to attend the Nullify Now! event in Raleigh this fall. Once the date and venue are set, it will be posted on the NC Tenth Amendment Center website and Facebook page. In the meantime, please help spread the word.

      ***  Diane Rufino is the Deputy Director of the NC Tenth Amendment Center

The Constitutionality of Gun Control Laws

Second Amendment - Poster (vulture)    by Diane Rufino

On January 16, 2013, President Obama signed 23 Executive Orders which he claimed are aimed at reducing gun violence.  Now begins the initiative to bring his comprehensive gun control scheme to Congress. The cornerstone of the scheme will include more inclusive and scrutinous background checks and a ban on assault weapons.  The National Rifle Association, however, doesn’t buy the story that the administration is selling. In fact, it believes there is a more ominous plan down the road.  The NRA is using a Justice Department memo it obtained, dated January 4, 2013 and written by one of the Justice Department’s top crime researchers, to argue that the Obama administration itself doesn’t believe that its proposed gun control plans will work to cut down on violence. Rather, it believes it will ultimately need to seize firearms and require national gun registration.  These, of course are ideas that the White House has not proposed and claims it does not support.

At this point, President Obama wants to ban assault weapons and ammunition magazines that exceed 10 rounds.  He and his fellow gun law proponents argue that no one should need more than that.  And the President is pushing for universal background checks for nearly all gun purchases. Today, checks are only mandatory on sales by federally licensed gun dealers, not transactions at gun shows or other private sales.

The Memo critiques the effectiveness of gun control proposals, including many that were put forward by the executive orders and now by proposed legislation, such as the registration and the assault weapon and ammunition magazine bans.

The memo says straw purchases and gun thefts are the largest sources of firearms used in crimes, and says such transactions “would most likely become larger if background checks at gun shows and private sellers were addressed.”  (Straw purchases are when criminals and those who are legally prohibited from owning a firearm have another person make the purchase for them). The memo says requiring background checks for more gun purchases could help, but also could lead to more illicit weapons sales. Criminals are not going to submit to background checks honestly.  They will continue to use false names and offer false information.

At the same time, President Obama is looking to stack the federal courts with anti-gun judicial nominations. For example, he is presently pushing Caitlin Halligan, currently the NY’s Solicitor General and an attorney with a long track record in favor of gun control, for the DC Court of Appeals. In fact, one Senate Republican said that she is the most “anti-Second Amendment nominee Obama has ever put forward.”  The final transformation of America will eventually occur at the hands of federal court judges who haven’t studied the writings of the Founding Fathers and who don’t understand the scheme of ordered liberty they envisioned for this country.

On January 18, Beaufort County, NC was the first local entity in the nation to take a stand against the President’s agenda to regulate gun rights and to stand up for the phrase in the Second Amendment which reads “The right of the people to have and bear arms shall not be infringed.” The Beaufort County Board of Commissioners passed the strongest Second Amendment Protection Resolution to date in North Carolina. Other counties in the state have followed suit, including Pitt, Franklin, Lenoir, and Cherokee – with varying degrees of strength and effectiveness). And still there are other counties who would like to adopt resolutions but have reservations as to what they can do legally.

The bottom line is that state and local elected representatives, as well as state and local civil servants, swear an oath to the US Constitution. They pledge a solemn vow, invoking the name of our Creator, to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.  The oath is not to support a “living constitution”; nor is it a promise to support any and all actions of the federal government, which is organized under the Constitution. The oath is to obey and support only lawful orders. After all, a legal framework with defined limitations is what is at the heart of our constitutional republic. In America, government is tasked with constraining people in unlawful conduct, but it is also obliged to constrain itself as well.  The framework was designed for a specific purpose, and that purpose is articulated most splendidly in the Declaration of Independence – for the free exercise of our God-given rights and liberties.

In helping those counties, those local Sheriffs, and those state officials assess the legality of taking a position seemingly antagonistic to the federal government, there are a series of questions to ask and answer.

Is the Particular Federal Law Supreme? –

The issue at stake is which federal laws are to be considered “Supreme,” and thus trump state law where there is any conflict and preclude any state from interfering with or frustrating the federal scheme. The Supremacy Clause (Article VI, clause 2) reads: “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.”

The general rule – the correct rule – is that constitutional federal law trumps state law where it conflicts. The state law must therefore yield to the federal law.  This was the government’s argument when it challenged Arizona’s immigration bill, SB 1070.  In that case, the Supreme Court found that the government is indeed supreme on immigration, but nonetheless upheld parts of the Arizona bill because it concluded that they furthered and assisted the federal scheme.

The problem is the incorrect assumptions  too many government officials make – at both the federal and state level.  These assumptions are as follows: (1)  That every federal law is supreme law of the land under the Supremacy Clause; and  (2) That every federal law is constitutional.

Blind allegiance to the perceived supremacy of the federal government is disloyalty to the Constitution and to the United States.  In fact, it is a crime. Chief Justice John Marshall explained this in the landmark case Marbury v. Madison (1803):

With respect to the Constitution’s requirement, in Article VI, that federal officials, including judges, take an oath to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.”)  “Why does it direct the judges to take an oath to support it?

The particular phraseology of the Constitution of the United States confirms and strengthens the principle, supposed to be essential to all written constitutions, that a law repugnant to the Constitution is void; and that courts, as well as other departments, are bound by that instrument. It is also not entirely unworthy of observation that, in declaring what shall be the supreme law of the land, the Constitution itself is first mentioned; and not the laws of the United States generally, but those only which shall he made in pursuance of the Constitution, have that rank.

Why does a judge swear to discharge his duties agreeably to the Constitution of the United States, if that Constitution forms no rule for his government? If it is closed upon him, and cannot be inspected by him?  If such be the real state of things, this is worse than solemn mockery. To prescribe, or take this oath, becomes equally a crime.”

Chief Justice Marshall used the example of a federal judge, but mockery and disloyalty apply to all those officials who accept and pledge the responsibility that the oath demands.

Is it Constitutional? –

In looking at federal law, the first question you should ask is whether it is constitutional.  Because under the Supremacy Clause, only laws made in pursuance to the Constitution are supreme.  If they are not, they are not only unconstitutional but they are also not supreme law.

As we all know, individuals are free to do whatever they want, unless they are constrained by the law.  Government, on the other hand, can only act pursuant to the powers they are expressly delegated in the Constitution.  Government needs express authority to act, and when it acts pursuant to powers not delegated or oversteps powers that are intended to be limited, then those acts have no legitimacy and are not enforceable upon the people. That is the contract that the people have with the federal government, under the US Constitution.  Same goes for the states and the state constitutions.

So, the first question to ask is whether the particular federal law has a proper constitutional foundation.  All of our Founding Fathers agreed that any act that violates the Constitution is null and void and not a valid, enforceable law.  Our entire Constitution consists of limitations and a series of checks and balances. Our Founders talked at length about the checks and balances in the Constitutional Convention. They talked about the separation of powers and the jealous arrangement whereby each branch would jealously guard their own powers from the encroachment of any of the other branches. They would gladly do so to prevent one branch from becoming too powerful in the exercise of government and  too powerful over the other two branches.  Furthermore, our Founding Fathers build our government on a federal scheme. We are a federation of sovereign states and not a consolidation of people.  Our system is federal and not national.  In our federal scheme, as embodied by the Tenth Amendment, the precious balance of power and limitations imposed by the Constitution was intended to be kept in check by the tension presented by having two sovereigns – or Dual Sovereignty.  A “sovereign” possesses supreme power.  A sovereign state, for example, has the supreme power to legislate for its safety, security,  people, and best interests.  Under our system of Dual Sovereignty, the federal government is deemed to be sovereign (again, the Supremacy Clause) when it acts pursuant to its constitutionally limited and legitimate powers (17 or so in Article I, Clause 8, and about 21 total in the entire Constitution).  It is a limited sovereign.  The states, on the other hand, as articulated in the Tenth Amendment, retain and reserve the great bulk of remaining powers to legislate and regulate within their territories and are therefore sovereign with respect to those powers.  James Madison addresses the nature of the division of powers best in Federalist Papers No. 45:

“The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State. The operations of the federal government will be most extensive and important in times of war and danger; those of the State governments, in times of peace and security.”

Even the design of the government itself was premised on the federalist scheme so that the States themselves would intimately provide a necessary check on the power of the federal government. At the Constitutional Convention in 1787, when James Madison initially proposed that the federal government be given a “negative” (ie, “veto” power over acts of the state legislatures that it deemed frustrated the goals of the government, the states successfully countered back with the exact opposite – a state “negative” over the federal government. In discussing the second branch of the legislature – the Senate – the delegates specifically talked about this branch providing an immediate “negative” (ie, a “veto” power) over the actions of government. The Senate was intended to be the physical presence of the States within the structure of the government, always able to protect their interests and protect their sovereign powers.  (Of course, this notion of a state “negative” is the basis of the doctrine of nullification). The states provided a federal balance in other aspects as well.

In Federalist No. 45, Madison explained:

“The State governments may be regarded as constituent and essential parts of the federal government; whilst the latter is nowise essential to the operation or organization of the former. Without the intervention of the State legislatures, the President of the United States cannot be elected at all. They must in all cases have a great share in his appointment, and will, perhaps, in most cases, of themselves determine it. The Senate will be elected absolutely and exclusively by the State legislatures. Even the House of Representatives, though drawn immediately from the people, will be chosen very much under the influence of that class of men, whose influence over the people obtains for themselves an election into the State legislatures. Thus, each of the principal branches of the federal government will owe its existence more or less to the favor of the State governments, and must consequently feel a dependence, which is much more likely to beget a disposition too obsequious than too overbearing towards them.”

In Federalist No. 78, Alexander Hamilton articulated the danger in overstepping the bounds of federal power and federal authority:

“There is no position which depends on clearer principles, than that every act of a delegated authority, contrary to the tenor of the commission under which it is exercised, is void. No legislative act, therefore, contrary to the Constitution, can be valid. To deny this, would be to affirm, that the deputy is greater than his principal; that the servant is above his master; that the representatives of the people are superior to the people themselves; that men acting by virtue of powers, may do not only what their powers do not authorize, but what they forbid.”

Recently, Tennessee’s Attorney General, Robert Cooper, wrote a legal opinion stating that Tennessee’s    proposed piece of legislation, SB0250 (“An Act to amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 4,

Chapter 54, relative to the Tennessee Firearms Freedom Act”), is unconstitutional because it violates the Supremacy Clause of the US Constitution.  SB0250 was written to expand and amend the Tennessee Firearms Freedom Act to address federal actions in the state. Specifically, the bill adds the following section to the Firearms Freedom Act:

(a) The general assembly declares that any federal action prohibited by this chapter relating to firearms, firearms accessories or ammunition, whether made in Tennessee or not, is not authorized by the United States constitution and violates the restrictions contained therein and is hereby declared to be invalid in this state; that said federal action shall not be recognized by this state; and that said federal action is rejected by this state and shall be null and void and of no effect in this state.

(b) Any federal action shall be deemed an intentional violation of state sovereignty and shall be unenforceable within the borders of Tennessee if the federal action does or attempts to:

(1) Infringe on, ban, regulate, or restrict state government, local government or civilian ownership, transfer, possession or manufacture of a firearm, a firearm accessory or ammunition in this state;

(2) Require any state government, local government or civilian owned firearm, firearm accessory, or ammunition in this state to be registered or tracked in any manner; or

(3) Impose federal taxes, fees or any other charges on any state government, local government or civilian owned firearm, firearm accessory, or ammunition that are payable to any government entity.

(c) No public official, employee, or agent of this state or any of its political subdivisions shall:

(1) Act to impose, collect, enforce, or effectuate any penalty in this state that violates the public policy set forth in this section; or

(2) Cooperate with or assist with the enforcement of federal action prohibited by this chapter.

Attorney General Cooper wants the legislature and the People of the Tennessee to believe that the following federal acts and constitutional and therefore supreme:  (i) a ban on firearms; (ii) tracking of ammunition; (iii) federal taxes on firearms and their accessories;….

Where exactly in the Constitution did the states delegate the power to regulate firearms?  It doesn’t. What the States did demand, on the other hand, was the Second Amendment, which states that: “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.”

Some argue that the federal government has some regulatory authority under the Commerce Clause, but that argument would be wrong.  Again, we have the Second Amendment (and in fact, the Bill of Rights in general).  The Preamble to the Bill of Rights states the intention of the States in adopting them:  “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 ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.”   As we all know, the States refused to ratify the US Constitution until a Bill of Rights, proposed by the States themselves, was added.  So we see that the Bill of Rights, and in this case the Second Amendment, puts further restrictions on the federal government. These “declaratory and  restrictive clauses” further restrain the government in the exercise of their delegated powers.  As an example, Congress was delegated the power to regulate interstate Commerce (“to make regular”).  After the Bill of Rights was added, the government was prohibited from using the Commerce power to infringe on the right of the people to have and bear arms.

The Second Amendment states specifically and succinctly – “the right of the people to have and bear arms shall not (must not) be infringed.”  There simply is no wiggle room.  The federal government, therefore, has no authority to regulate in this area and thus, the federal acts mentioned above are not constitutional.

Does the Federal Judiciary Have Exclusive Power to Make Determinations of Constitutionality? –

The second question to ask is which branch/tribunal/entity has the exclusive power to make the determination of constitutionality.  The Supreme Court, in Marbury v. Madison(1803) has delegated that power to itself.  It was not delegated to the federal courts in the US Constitution.  Nowhere in Article III is the Supreme Court given “exclusive” jurisdiction.  Alexander Hamilton wrote about the weight to be afforded the federal judiciary in Federalist No. 78:

“Whoever attentively considers the different departments of power must perceive, that, in a government in which they are separated from each other, the judiciary, from the nature of its functions, will always be the least dangerous to the political rights of the Constitution; because it will be least in a capacity to annoy or injure them. The Executive not only dispenses the honors, but holds the sword of the community. The legislature not only commands the purse, but prescribes the rules by which the duties and rights of every citizen are to be regulated. The judiciary, on the contrary, has no influence over either the sword or the purse; no direction either of the strength or of the wealth of the society; and can take no active resolution whatever. It may truly be said to have neither FORCE nor WILL, but merely judgment; and must ultimately depend upon the aid of the executive arm even for the efficacy of its judgments.

If there should happen to be an irreconcilable variance between the two (the legislative and the judicial branches), that which has the superior obligation and validity ought, of course, to be preferred; or, in other words, the Constitution ought to be preferred to the statute, the intention of the people to the intention of their agents. Nor does this conclusion by any means suppose a superiority of the judicial to the legislative power. It only supposes that the power of the people is superior to both; and that where the will of the legislature, declared in its statutes, stands in opposition to that of the people, declared in the Constitution, the judges ought to be governed by the latter rather than the former. They ought to regulate their decisions by the fundamental laws, rather than by those which are not fundamental.”

Under the contractual nature of the Constitution (ie, the States negotiated the terms of the Constitution and were its signers, thus agreeing to be bound by its terms including the surrender of some of their sovereign power which is the necessary “detriment” or “consideration” which contract law uses to find a valid contract), the states are the legitimate parties and are therefore in the legal position to explain the terms under which they signed.  In other words, the States are in the proper position to define the extent of the powers that they delegated to the federal government.  The government itself is not a party to the contact and in fact, is its creation.  And as the plain words of the Constitution express and the Federalist Papers explain, the right to be the exclusive interpreter of the Constitution was not delegated to the Supreme Court (or the federal courts in general).

Mr. Robert Cooper, the Tennessee AG, mentions the possibility that the federal acts might be unconstitutional.  At the end of the brief he filed, Cooper wrote: “While the bills themselves declare that certain federal firearms regulations are unconstitutional, that determination  rests with the federal judiciary and not a state legislature.”  He rests his assertion on the Marbury v. Madison case, which was mentioned above.  But he misconstrued Chief Justice Marshall’s ruling.  Chief Justice Marshall merely asserted in that case that the Supreme Court CAN, in fact, nullify an act of Congress by declaring it unconstitutional. But nowhere does he assert that the Court has exclusive authority to rule on constitutionality.  The discussion of this topic is addressed below:

“The people have an original right to establish, for their future government, such principles as, in their opinion, shall most conduce to their own happiness is the basis on which the whole American fabric had been erected. The exercise of this original right is a very great exertion; nor can it, nor ought it, to be frequently repeated. The principles, therefore, so established, are deemed fundamental. And as the authority from which they proceed is supreme, and can seldom act, they are designed to be permanent. This original and supreme will organizes the government, and assigns to different departments their respective powers. It may either stop here, or establish certain limits not to be transcended by those departments. The government of the United States is of the latter description. The powers of the legislature are defined and limited; and that those limits may not be mistaken, or forgotten, the Constitution is written. The distinction between a government with limited and unlimited powers is abolished if those limits do not confine the persons on whom they are imposed, and if acts prohibited and acts allowed are of equal obligation.

The Constitution is either a superior paramount law, unchangeable by ordinary means, or it is on a level with ordinary legislative acts, and, like other acts, is alterable when the legislature shall please to alter it. If the former part of the alternative be true, then a legislative act contrary to the Constitution is not law: if the latter part be true, then written constitutions are absurd attempts on the part of the people to limit a power in its own nature illimitable. Certainly all those who have framed written constitutions contemplate them as forming the fundamental and paramount law of the nation, and consequently, the theory of every such government must be, that an act of the legislature, repugnant to the constitution, is void.

The particular phraseology of the Constitution of the United States confirms and strengthens the principle, supposed to be essential to all written constitutions, that a law repugnant to the Constitution is void; and that courts, as well as other departments, are bound by that instrument.”

The Marbury v. Madison case sent up a red flag to Thomas Jefferson who was perhaps our most important and prolific Founding Father.  In reaction to Chief Justice Marshall’s opinion in Marbury, Jefferson grew terribly suspicious of the Supreme Court and warned that judicial review would lead to despotism. He wrote:

“The germ of dissolution of our federal government is in the constitution of the federal judiciary: an irresponsible body, working like gravity by night and by day, gaining a little today and a little tomorrow, and advancing its noiseless step like a thief, over the field of jurisdiction until all shall be usurped from the States, and the government of all be consolidated into one. To this I am opposed; because, when all government, domestic and foreign, in little as in great things, shall be drawn to Washington as the centre of all it will render powerless the checks provided of one government on another and will become as venal and oppressive as the government from which we separated.”

Attorney General Cooper also cited Cooper v. Aaron, a Supreme Court case from 1958 which held that state government officials are bound to comply with Supreme Court rulings and court orders based upon the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Constitution. This case addressed the remnants of the Jim Crow South and Arkansas’ refusal to enforce the desegregation mandate of Brown v. Board of Education (Cases I and II, 1953 and 1954, respectively).  Cooper referenced Cooper v. Aaron to assert the supremacy of the federal judiciary and to affirm that its rulings cannot be challenged by any state.

Again, Cooper v. Aaron rests on a fallacious or bastardized interpretation of Marbury. Such a notion obliterates the notion of a constitutional system and makes the Supreme Court the sovereign.  I shouldn’t even have to point out the absurdity of the Court making itself supreme.

Edwin Meese, Attorney General under President Ronald Reagan, said this about theCooper decision: “The logic of Cooper v. Aaron is at war with the Constitution, at war with the meaning of the rule of law.”  We need look no farther than the Dred Scott case (1857).  The Dred Scott decision not only denied even free blacks citizenship but went on to declare all those of African descent to be inferior and suitable only to serve others. To see the inherent flaw in this idea of judicial supremacy would be to accept that the Dred Scottdecision was the legitimate law of the land.  Abraham Lincoln would not accept it.  In response to the ruling, he said: “If the government, upon vital questions affecting the whole of the people is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court, the people will have ceased to be their own rulers, having to that extent practically resigned their government into the hands of that imminent tribunal.”

If we accept the misguided notion that the Supreme Court is the final interpreter of the meaning and intent of the Constitution, then we have to accept that the decision in Dred Scott is the law of the land (which is still good Supreme Court jurisprudence by the way since it was only overturned legislatively, if you will, by constitutional amendment).  The justices in that case didn’t interpret the Constitution; rather, they used the bench for a most insidious function – to make social policy.  Dred Scott was a slave who traveled with his slave master from a slave state to a non-slave state.  He then challenged his bondage.  The question, therefore, before the Court was not only whether he should be considered free but whether he even had the legal right (as a black man) to challenge his slave status.  Justice Taney wrote the opinion:

“We think they are not, and that they are not included, and were not intended to be included, under the word “citizens” in the Constitution, and can therefore claim none of the rights and privileges which that instrument provides for and secures to citizens of the United States. On the contrary, they were at that time considered as a subordinate and inferior class of beings who had been subjugated by the dominant race, and, whether emancipated or not, yet remained subject to their authority, and had no rights or privileges but such as those who held the power and the Government might choose to grant them.

It is true, every person, and every class and description of persons who were, at the time of the adoption of the Constitution, recognized as citizens in the several States became also citizens of this new political body, but none other; it was formed by them, and for them and their posterity, but for no one else. And the personal rights and privileges guaranteed to citizens of this new sovereignty were intended to embrace those only who were then members of the several State communities, or who should afterwards by birthright or otherwise become members according to the provisions of the Constitution and the principles on which it was founded. It was the union of those who were at that time members of distinct and separate political communities into one political family, whose power, for certain specified purposes, was to extend over the whole territory of the United States. And it gave to each citizen rights and privileges outside of his State which he did not before possess, and placed him in every other State upon a perfect equality with its own citizens as to rights of person and rights of property; it made him a citizen of the United States.

It becomes necessary, therefore, to determine who were citizens of the several States when the Constitution was adopted. In the opinion of the court, the legislation and histories of the times, and the language used in the Declaration of Independence, show that neither the class of persons who had been imported as slaves nor their descendants, whether they had become free or not, were then acknowledged as a part of the people, nor intended to be included in the general words used in that memorable instrument.”

When the Supreme Court itself acts outside and above the bounds of constitutional power, which party can declare such?

That was a problem that Thomas Jefferson’s addressed  in 1804: “The Constitution meant that its coordinate branches should be checks on each other. But the opinion which gives to the judges the right to decide what laws are constitutional and what not, not only for themselves in their own sphere of action but for the Legislature and Executive also in their spheres, would make the Judiciary a despotic branch.”

The fact is that the men who drafted our founding documents – James Madison and Thomas Jefferson – did not subscribe to the notion that only the federal courts could determine constitutionality.  Jefferson wrote this: “The several States composing the United States of America, are not united on the principle of unlimited submission to their General Government;….  that the government created by this compact was not made the exclusive or final judge of the extent of the powers delegated to itself; since that would have made its discretion, and not the Constitution, the measure of its powers.”  [Resolutions of 1798].

James Madison wrote: “The states, then, being the parties to the constitutional compact, and in their sovereign capacity, it follows of necessity that there can be no tribunal, above their authority, to decide, in the last resort, whether the compact made by them be violated; and consequently, that, as the parties to it, they must themselves decide, in the last resort, such questions as may be of sufficient magnitude to require their interposition.”  [Report of 1800]

The Impact of the American Revolution on the Drafting and Intent of the Second Amendment –

A third inquiry might be a look at the (historical) events that shaped and guided the Founders and the drafters of the Second Amendment.

As we all remember from our early American history, the Boston Tea Party prompted a very strong response from the King of England.  It would be the series of intolerable acts known as the Coercive Acts which would offend so greatly the colonists notion of freedom that independence became the only solution.

All of the particular provisions of the Coercive Acts were offensive to Americans, but it was the Quartering Act and the possibility that the British might deploy the army to enforce them that primed many colonists for armed resistance. The Patriots of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, resolved: “That in the event of Great Britain attempting to force unjust laws upon us by the strength of arms, our cause we leave to heaven and our rifles.”

The Royal Governor of Massachusetts, General Thomas Gage, had forbidden town meetings from taking place more than once a year. When he dispatched the Redcoats to break up an illegal town meeting in Salem, 3000 armed Americans appeared in response, and the British retreated. Gage’s aide John Andrews explained that everyone in the area aged 16 years or older owned a gun and plenty of gunpowder.  They could not tolerate this.

Military rule would be difficult to impose on an armed populace. Gage had only 2,000 troops in Boston. There were thousands of armed men in Boston alone, and more in the surrounding area. Gage’s response to the problem was to deprive the Americans of gunpowder.

Although colonial laws generally required militiamen (and sometimes all householders, too) to have their own firearm and a minimum quantity of powder, not everyone could afford it. Consequently, the government sometimes supplied “public arms” and powder to individual militiamen. Policies varied on whether militiamen who had been given public arms would keep them at home. Public arms would often be stored in a special armory, which might also be the powder house.

Before dawn on September 1, 1774, 260 of Gage’s Redcoats sailed up the Mystic River and seized hundreds of barrels of powder from the Charlestown powder house.  The “Powder Alarm,” as it became known, was a serious provocation. By the end of the day, 20,000 militiamen had mobilized and started marching towards Boston.  In Connecticut and Western Massachusetts, rumors quickly spread that the Powder Alarm had actually involved fighting in the streets of Boston, but accurate reports were provided just in time and war was temporarily averted.  The message, however, was unmistakable: If the British used violence to seize arms or powder, the Americans would treat that violent seizure as an act of war, and would fight.

Tension continued to grow as the British continued to seize firearms and gunpowder and block the importation of arms and ammunition to America in an effort to disarm the rebellious colonists.

On March 23, 1775, Patrick Henry would give his famous fiery speech to the Virginia legislature, which had to meet in secret at St. John’s Church in Richmond because the British were clamping down on their rights to govern themselves. In that speech, he delivered those famous words: “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death!”  What was the reason for those words?  Well, at the time, King George had declared all 13 North American colonies to be in a state of open rebellion. Lord Dunsmore, the Royal Governor of Virginia, had ordered all the gunpowder in Williamsburg seized and stored aboard his ship anchored in the Virginia harbor, to keep it out of the hands local patriot forces. In his speech, Henry argued that the British plainly meant to subjugate America by force. Because every attempt by the Americans at peaceful reconciliation had been rebuffed, the only remaining alternatives for the Americans were to accept slavery or to take up arms. And so he urged that Virginia organize a militia to stand up to the British.

In just 3 weeks, the American Revolution would begin.

On the night of April 18, the royal governor of Massachusetts, General Thomas Gage was ordered by King George III to suppress the rebellious Americans, had ordered 700 British soldiers to confiscate weapons stored in the village of Concord and capture Sons of Liberty leaders Samuel Adams and John Hancock, who were both reported to be staying in the village of Lexington.

As word of General Gage’s intentions spread through Boston, it prompted the patriots to set up a messaging system to alert the countryside of any advance of British troops. Paul Revere arranged for a signal to be sent by lantern from the steeple of North Church – one if by land, two if by sea.  On the night of April 18, 1775 the lantern’s alarm sent Revere, William Dawes and other riders on the road to spread the news. The messengers cried out the alarm, awakening every house, warning of the British column making its way towards Lexington. In the rider’s wake there erupted the peeling of church bells, the beating of drums and the roar of gun shots – all announcing the danger and calling the local militias to action. In the predawn light of April 19, the beating drums and peeling bells summoned between 50 and 70 militiamen to the town green at Lexington. As they lined up in battle formation, they heard the sound of the approaching Redcoats. Soon the British column emerged through the morning fog.  At Lexington Green, one eyewitness report claims that British Major Pitcairn ordered the Bostonians to “Lay down your arms, you damned rebels, or you are all dead men.”  At that moment a shot was fired. It may very well have been accidental. Nonetheless, hearing the shot, British troops fired upon the small group of militia, killing eight men and wounding ten more. The militia then retreated into the woods.  And so started the first battle in the American Revolutionary War.

What transpired after the day of “the shot heard ’round the world” was perhaps more significant in some respects. That event was Gen. Gage’s attempt to confiscate the arms of all the inhabitants of Boston. Disarming the militiamen in the countryside had a plausible purpose—the Crown was the “legitimate” government and the militiamen were engaged in rebellion. But to disarm every peaceable inhabitant of Boston without them having committed any unlawful act or threatening any transgression was conclusive evidence to the colonists, including many not yet committed to fight for either side, that their fundamental rights as Englishmen were being destroyed.

What happened in the days leading up to skirmish on Lexington Green, when the British sought to disarm the colonists, and what happened in the days following Lexington and Concord, with the wholesale confiscation of firearms from the people of Boston, remained fresh in the minds of our Founders and framers.  It would have a profound impact on them and play a major role in the construction and adoption of the Second Amendment.

The Meaning of the Second Amendment –

And a fourth question to ask is what was the meaning of the Second Amendment when it was passed (because each of our first ten amendments holds a special place in America’s understanding of ordered liberty as the nation was congealed in 1788-89). The following are crucial points to be considered:

(a)  The 2nd Amendment to the Constitution of the United States reads as follows, “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 amendment, as written, is very clear.  First the right to keep and bear arms is not subject to any qualification, conditions, or degrees. Secondly, the right shall (ie, “must”) not be infringed. What is it about the phrase “shall not be infringed” that the government and critics fail to understand?  Since the amendment is a prohibition on government, it is a restraining order on government.  Henry St. George Tucker, a lawyer who put his career on hold to fight the American Revolution, set out in 1790 to write an American edition of Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Law of England.  In 1803 he completed and published it.  Commonly referred to as “American Blackstone,” it was the definitive treatise on American law and became essential reading for every lawyer of the day.  In explaining the American right to keep and bear arms, Tucker wrote these words:  “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed and this without any qualification as to their condition or degree, as is the case in the British government.”  In the appendix to his text, Tucker provided a fuller explanation of the Second Amendment:  “This may be considered as the true palladium of liberty…. The right of self defense is the first law of nature: in most governments it has been the study of rulers to confine this 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….”

(b)  The Preamble to the Bill of Rights, as with any preamble, states the intent and purpose of the particular amendments. The Preamble reads:

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 ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.

         RESOLVED by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, two thirds of both Houses concurring, that the following Articles be proposed to the Legislatures of the several States, as amendments to the Constitution of the United States, all, or any of which Articles, when ratified by three fourths of the said Legislatures, to be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of the said Constitution..

On December 15, 1791, Virginia became the 10th of 14 states to ratify, thus giving the Bill of Rights the two-thirds majority of state ratification necessary to make it legal.

(c)  The Second Amendment doesn’t grant rights; it recognizes rights. The Second Amendment, which embodies the most fundamental right of self-defense, self-protection, and self-preservation, was considered by our Framers as obvious, “natural,” and a “self-evident truth.”  The Declaration of Independence articulates clearly that while individuals have the inalienable right of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, they also have the natural right to defend them. In fact, it is precisely the primary role of government. The Declaration states: “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 of 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…”     According to the Declaration, the rights of self-defense, self-protection, and self-preservation are as fundamentally and inherently endowed as the rights to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

The framers, tasked with defining the foundation of our new nation, were immersed in the prevailing republican thought of the day, as articulated in the writings of Locke, Montesquieu, Rousseau, Madison, Hamilton, Jefferson, and others, which discussed “natural rights” in some detail.  Others, known as the anti-Federalists, argued that at least some of the rights needed to be made explicit in the Bill of Rights to avoid having future generations with less understanding of republican theory weaken in their defense of those rights. The right to keep and bear arms is a natural right of individuals under the theory of democratic government. This was clearly the understanding and intent of the Framers of the U.S. Constitution and was a long-established principle of English common law at the time the Constitution was adopted, which is considered to be a part of constitutional law for purposes of interpreting the written Constitution.  Alexander Hamilton summed the position well in Federalist Papers No. 28: “If the representatives of the people betray their constituents, there is then no recourse left but in the exertion of that original right of self-defense which is paramount to all positive forms of government, and which against the usurpations of the national rulers may be exerted with infinitely better prospect of success than against those of the rulers of an individual State. In a single State, if the persons entrusted with supreme power become usurpers, the different parcels, subdivisions, or districts of which it consists, having no distinct government in each, can take no regular measures for defense. The citizens must rush tumultuously to arms, without concert, without system, without resource; except in their courage and despair.”  [http://constitution.org/leglrkba.htm%5D

 (d)  The Second Amendment also recognizes the right, power, and duty of the people to organize into militias and defend their state.  Indeed, at the time the Second Amendment was adopted, it was understood that the people were the militia. George Mason said it best during the debates in the Virginia Ratification Convention on June 16, 1788: “I ask, sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people..” [See Elliot’s Debates, Vol. 3]  In Federalist Papers No. 29, Alexander Hamilton indicated that a well-regulated militia is the people in a state of preparedness. Tench Coxe, in his article “Remarks on the First Part of the Amendments to the Federal Constitution,” (written under the “A Pennsylvanian”) in the Philadelphia Federal Gazette, June 18, 1789, explained: “Whereas civil rulers, not having their duty to the people duly before them, may attempt to tyrannize, and as military forces, which must be occasionally raised to defend our country, might pervert their power to the injury of their fellow citizens, the people are confirmed by the article [the Second Amendment] in their right to keep and bear their private arms.”

And what was the purpose of a state militia?  Our Founding Fathers understood an armed citizenry was necessary for more than just protecting the state’s security and interests. US Rep. Elbridge Gerry (Mass) spoke on this topic when debating the Second Amendment from the floor of the Congress after James Madison proposed the draft of the Bill of Rights: “What, Sir, is the use of a militia? It is to prevent the establishment of a standing army, the bane of liberty …. Whenever Governments mean to invade the rights and liberties of the people, they always attempt to destroy the militia, in order to raise an army upon their ruins.”  [See Annals of Congress at 750; August 17, 1789]  George Mason repeated the same admonition in the Virginia Ratification Convention (June 1788): ” … to disarm the people – that was the best and most effectual way to enslave them.”

And Noah Webster effectively articulated the principles underlying our Constitution and Bill of Rights in his publication An Examination of the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution (Philadelphia 1787).  He wrote: “Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe.  The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretense, raised in the United States. A military force, at the command of Congress, can execute no laws, but such as the people perceive to be just and constitutional; for they will possess the power, and jealousy will instantly inspire the inclination, to resist the execution of a law which appears to them unjust and oppressive.” But perhaps no one is more qualified to explain the intent of the Second Amendment than Thomas Jefferson who was the man responsible for finally convincing James Madison to draft them. Jefferson wrote: “No Free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.” In 1787, he wrote: “What country can preserve its liberties if its rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms.” [Letter to William Stephens Smith; See Jefferson’s Papers 12:356]  Even Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story understood the purpose of an armed citizenry (and hence the intent of the Second Amendment): “The militia is the natural defense of a free country against sudden foreign invasions, domestic insurrections, and domestic usurpation of power by rulers. The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of the republic; since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers; and will generally … enable the people to resist and triumph over them.”  [Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, p. 3:746-7, 1833

(e)  While the U.S. Constitution does not adequately define “arms,” we have a clear understanding of its historical context.  The Federalist Papers and other writings of the Founding Fathers and their contemporaries mention “arms” to suggest it has a rather broad definition. For example, in Federalist No. 29, Alexander Hamilton emphasized the deterrent effect of a citizen militia against the U.S. Army: “If circumstances should at any time oblige the government to form an army of any magnitude, that army can never be formidable to the liberties of the people while there is a large body of citizens, little, if at all, inferior to them in discipline and the use of arms, who stand ready to defend their own rights and those of their fellow-citizens.” A reading of Federalist No. 26 will help us understand that when our Founders envisioned the fundamental right of individuals to take up arms against an oppressive government, they understood that sometimes the oppressor was protected by state-of-the-art weaponry (as were the British forces). In other words, the body of citizens must be armed and disciplined accordingly to be a formidable force against a tyrannical government. When the Second Amendment was adopted, the common understanding was that “arms” comprised those weapons that could be carried and discharged/operated by hand, including muzzle-loaded muskets and pistols, swords, knives, bows with arrows, and spears. However, a common-law definition reads “light infantry weapons which can be carried and used, together with ammunition, by a single militiaman, functionally equivalent to those commonly used by infantrymen in land warfare.” That certainly includes modern rifles and handguns, full-auto machine guns and shotguns, grenade and grenade launchers, flares, smoke, tear gas, incendiary rounds, and anti-tank weapons.  It would not, however, include heavy artillery, rockets, or bombs, or lethal chemical, biological or nuclear weapons. The standard, therefore, has to be that “arms” includes weapons which would enable citizens to effectively resist government tyranny.  The rule should be that “arms” includes all light infantry weapons that do not cause mass destruction.  If we follow the rule that personal rights should be interpreted broadly and governmental powers narrowly, which was the intention of the Framers, instead of the reverse, then “arms” must be interpreted broadly.  [http://constitution.org/leglrkba.htm%5D

(f)  Nowhere in the Constitution of the United States is the federal government vested with the authority to impose acts, laws, executive orders, rules, or regulations relating to civilian firearms, firearm accessories, or ammunition. The right to “keep and bear arms” is absolute and not subject to any qualification, conditions, or degrees.  [Although some may argue that the government has some regulatory power under the Commerce Clause, the Bill of Rights was adopted as a further limitation on this power; See (b)]  Samuel Adams emphasized this point in Massachusetts’ Ratification Convention (January 1788): “That the said Constitution shall never be construed to authorize Congress to infringe the just liberty of the press or the rights of conscience; or to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms … ”  Thomas M. Cooley, renowned jurist (1824-1898), wrote in his text General Principles of Constitutional Law, Third Edition [1898]: “The right [to bear arms] is general. It may be supposed from the phraseology of this provision that the right to keep and bear arms was only guaranteed to the militia; but this would be an interpretation not warranted by the intent. The militia, as has been explained elsewhere, consists of those persons who, under the laws, are liable to the performance of military duty, and are officered and enrolled for service when called upon…. If the right were limited to those enrolled, the purpose of the guarantee might be defeated altogether by the action or the neglect to act of the government it was meant to hold in check. The meaning of the provision undoubtedly is, that the people, from whom the militia must be taken, shall have the right to keep and bear arms, and they need no permission or regulation of law for the purpose. But this enables the government to have a well regulated militia; for to bear arms implies something more than mere keeping; it implies the learning to handle and use them in a way that makes those who keep them ready for their efficient use; in other words, it implies the right to meet for voluntary discipline in arms, observing in so doing the laws of public order.”

In light of the authority above, it would appear that all federal acts, laws, executive orders, rules or regulations tending to infringe upon the right of law-abiding persons to have and bear firearms, firearm accessories, or ammunition are in violation of the 2nd Amendment, as well as the 10th Amendment and Supremacy Clause, of the US Constitution.

The Heller and McDonald Decisions –

It just so happens that at this point in time, the Supreme Court has confirmed the original meaning of the Second Amendment.

The District of Columbia v. Heller (2009) and McDonald v. City of Chicago (2010) cases marked the first time in about 70 years that the Supreme Court was willing to consider the meaning of the Second Amendment.  For the first time, the Court was presented with the question of whether the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to bear arms for private purposes.  In Heller, the Court held that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia and to use that firearm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self- defense. The Court based its holding on the text of the Second Amendment and its history, as well as applicable language in state constitutions adopted soon after the Second Amendment.

The McDonald case came to the high Court from the Seventh Circuit, where the panel of judges held that states had the right to enact gun bans because the Fourteenth Amendment did not require the states to respect the rights protected under the Second Amendment.  Luckily, the Supreme Court reversed the Seventh Circuit.  It held that, indeed, the Fourteenth Amendment makes the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms for the purpose of self-defense applicable to the states.  In analyzing whether a particular right protected in the Bill of Rights applies to the States through the Fourteenth Amendment, the Court has come up with a threshold determination and that question asks whether the particular right is one that is “fundamental to the Nation’s scheme of ordered liberty” or one that is “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition.”  If the Court determines that it is so, then the Court will declare that the particular right is appropriately applied to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment.  Based on the review done in Heller and the decision it reached, the Court in the McDonald case recognized that the right to self-defense was one such “fundamental” and “deeply rooted” right.  Justice Clarence Thomas went through a detailed analysis to explain just how deeply-rooted that right is.

Prior to the Heller case, the last case the Supreme Court heard on the Second Amendment was United States v. Miller, in 1938.  It was a questionable decision then and unfortunately, because of the Court’s doctrine of stare decisis (“that which has been decided”: otherwise known as court “precedent”), the Court was still bound by it.  Actually, the argument was never asserted in Miller that the Second Amendment protects the individual right to bear arm. Yet the Supreme Court nevertheless upheld a federal gun control law and said that the Second Amendment only protects arms that are reasonably related to the maintenance of a state militia.

Since that horrible decision, federal circuit and federal district courts have ruled on dozens and dozens of cases in which gun control laws were challenged under the Second Amendment and they have consistently read the Second Amendment to protect a state’s right to preserve a militia and have it armed…  but not as an individual right to bear arms for private purposes unrelated to militia services.  So, while the militia theory of the Second Amendment, or collective rights theory of the Second Amendment, had only been vaguely mentioned by the Supreme Court in Miller, it had become the dominant law of the land in the federal courts in the 70 years prior to Heller.

In the meantime, scholars began to study the Second Amendment and its history.  Over the years, much historical, academic, scholarly material were collected which completely undermined the argument that the Second Amendment protected only a state’s right to preserve a militia and not an individual’s right to bear arms. Over the last 30 years there has been literally a tidal wave of scholarship looking into the original meaning and purpose of the Second Amendment.  The overwhelming majority of studies have sided with view that our Founders sought to protect the individual’s right to bear arms for self-defense.  And it was this new-found understanding and appreciation of the Second Amendment that guided the Court’s decision in Heller and then McDonald.

In February 2003, the six residents of Washington, D.C. filed a lawsuit in the District Court for the District of Columbia, challenging the constitutionality of provisions of the Firearms Control Regulations Act of 1975, a local law (part of the District of Columbia Code) enacted pursuant to District of Columbia home rule. This law restricted residents from owning handguns, excluding those grandfathered in by registration prior to 1975 and those possessed by active and retired law enforcement officers. The law also required that all firearms including rifles and shotguns be kept “unloaded and disassembled or bound by a trigger lock.” A district court judge dismissed the lawsuit. The US Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, however reversed the dismissal and struck down provisions of the FCRA as unconstitutional. In 2008, the case (District of Columbia v. Heller) came before the Supreme Court.  The issue presented was whether the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms for the purpose of self-defense.  The Court held that it does and as such, the DC ordinance which banned the possession of handguns in the home was struck down as an unconstitutional violation of a fundamental and essential individual right.

In 2009, 75-year-old Chicago resident Otis McDonald took the initiative to protect himself from the increased threat of crime in his neighborhood of Morgan Park. Since buying a house there in 1971, he watched as the neighborhood fell into the hands of gangs and drug dealers. His lawn was regularly littered with refuse and his home and garage had been broken into a combined five times, with the most recent robbery committed by a man McDonald recognized from his own neighborhood.  An experienced hunter, McDonald legally owned shotguns, but believed them too unwieldy in the event of a robbery, and wanted to purchase a handgun for personal home defense.  But he was unable to do so under Chicago’s city-wide gun ban. Pursuant to the ban, all handguns were prohibited (after 1982) and all firearms had to be registered. In 2008, he joined three other Chicago residents in filing a lawsuit challenging the ban as an unconstitutional violation of the Second Amendment.  The case (McDonald v. City of Chicago) was heard by the Supreme Court in 2009.

The question presented to the Court was whether the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms is incorporated as against the States by the Fourteenth Amendment’s Privileges or Immunities or Due Process Clauses.  In other words, the Court was asked to determine whether the US Constitution protects the Second Amendment against infringement or violation by the States.  Writing for the majority, Justice Clarence Thomas answered in very strong terms that it does.

American Thinker gave an excellent presentation of the case: “The most important job of the government is the protection of its people. That protection involves their physical safety and the security of their property. It means providing police presence to deter criminals before they commit crimes and harsh penalties for offenders whose crimes were not deterred. The fact is that most crimes cannot be deterred because the bad guys don’t generally mug people in front of the officer on patrol. Since the police can’t be everywhere, people need a way to protect themselves.  And that was how Otis McDonald felt when he walked into a Chicago police station and applied for a .22-caliber pistol two years ago. As the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit challenging Chicago’s 28-year handgun ban, McDonald was a sympathetic figure: an elderly man trying to protect himself from violent hoodlums preying upon his neighborhood.  He was also a neighborhood activist, proposing alternative policing strategies to make his neighborhood safer; his efforts earned him death threats from local gangs.”

The Supreme Court was given statistics from the Chicago Police Department which showed that the City’s handgun murder rate actually increased since the ban was enacted and that Chicago residents now face one of the highest murder rates in the country.  They were given statistics to show that guns increasingly end up in the hands of criminals, gang members, and others who are mal-intentioned.  It is also a statistical fact that legal gun owners are exponentially less likely to commit a crime.  Bob Weir, a former detective sergeant in the New York City Police offered his views on gun control laws: “We have often heard a scenario in which a law-abiding citizen, unable to wait for assistance any longer, took action against an intruder and lived to talk about it. One of the scariest scenes I can imagine is one in which I’m awakened in the middle of the night by strange sounds coming from another room of the house and I have no weapons to protect my family….  During my twenty years as a cop, I took a lot of guns off the bad guys, none of which were registered. How could they be? Bad guys aren’t allowed to have registered guns! Only good guys have that right. Hence, when you make gun possession illegal for the good guys, the bad guys will be the only ones with guns.”

It is also worth noting that in the weeks leading up to the decision, Chicago suffered a surge in gun violence, with between 26-55 shootings per week and many of them being fatalities.  Bob Weir commented: “We’ll never know if some of those lives would have been spared had the victims been armed. But one thing seems obvious: If the guys with illegal guns knew that the rest of the population was unarmed, they could kick down any door and have their way with the residents. The only thing stopping them now is the knowledge that many people have guns and are willing to use and capable of using them to protect their families. We’ve all heard tape recordings of people who dialed 911 as someone was breaking into their home only to be told that the police may be several minutes away.  In cases where the caller was armed, shots could be heard as the intruder gained entry and tried to attack the caller.”

Police will often joke that many street gangs are equipped with enough firearms to take on the Taliban. In New Jersey, a Trenton-area gang threatened war on the Trenton Police. They sent an anonymous letter to the Trenton Times warning that at the hour of their choosing, they would bomb the building. Eventually the Trenton police would uncover an incredible arsenal of weapons that the gang had compiled. No gun control law could have prevented that arsenal. Such laws only strengthen the black market. Furthermore, our law enforcement and criminal justice system has often proven inadequate to protect law-abiding citizens who become victims of crime and inadequate to disarm the thugs that roam freely throughout the country.

To make matters worse, the DC Court of Appeals had handed down a ruling in 1981 that should weigh heavily on anyone even contemplating giving up gun rights to the government. It held that a city has no legally enforceable duty to protect its citizens from crime. That case was Warren v. District of Columbia.  It involved three women who were living in a townhouse in DC. Under DC law at the time, they were forbidden not only to own handguns but also mace, pepper-spray, and other non-lethal tools of self-defense.  Late one evening in March 1975, two thugs broke into the townhouse and attacked the woman downstairs at the time. They began beating her and then raped here. The other two women, hearing the struggle, called 911 and were told that police were being sent.  As the transcript later showed, the dispatcher reported only that there was a domestic disturbance. The squad car that responded simply drove past the residence, didn’t observe any sign of a disturbance, and drove on his way. The women upstairs then called 911 again and were again told that help was on its way. This time, the dispatcher didn’t even bother to send out a radio call.  Believing their friend was dying, the women called down to the intruders, telling them that “Police are on their way!” Instead of fleeing, the thugs went upstairs and forced the women at knifepoint to the apartment below.  For the next 14 hours, the three women were held captive, raped repeatedly, beaten, abused, and forced to commit sex acts upon one another for the intruders’ entertainment. Luckily, the women were spared their lives.

The women sued the District of Columbia for failing to provide police assistance and lost. The DC Court of Appeals agreed and ruled that the city had no legal duty to protect its citizens, even when its employees have given assurances that help would be provided.  Under the ruling, the government is free from responsibility in protecting its citizens even as it is also free to ensure that they cannot protect themselves either.

The Heller and McDonald cases have undermined the government in one aspect of theWarren decision. The government cannot prevent law-abiding citizens from exercising their right to keep and bear arms for self-protection. The Supreme Court, in those cases, held that the right to own a gun (bear arms) is a fundamental right, one that is firmly rooted in our history and heritage, and as such, citizens cannot be denied this right by the federal government or by any State. But we are standing on the precipice of putting the government back in the exact position it was under Warren – absolved from responsibility to protect us and free to prevent us from protecting ourselves.

But permitting the government to condition, qualify, and regulate the right of self-defense will put the power back in the hands of criminals, will put law-abiding citizens at risk, and will set the country on the same path of government gun control that has defined the tyrannical regimes of Europe, Asia, and Africa.  The bottom line is that the measures are unconstitutional and the power to stand up to such unconstitutional measures lies with the States and with each state and local elected official and state and local civil servant who has taken a solemn vow to support and defend the US Constitution.  Unfortunately, as John F. Kennedy once said: “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”

The American people are not going to stand by peacefully and allow their right of self-defense to be eroded. Government must serve the rights of the people.

References:
Tennessee SB0250 –  http://legiscan.com/TN/text/SB0250

Michael Maharrey, National Communications Director for the Tenth Amendment Center, addresses the arguments made by Tennessee Robert Cooper in his brief against SB0250 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=65o_vo8nUIU

The Intent of the Second Amendment –  http://constitution.org/leglrkba.htm

Federalist No. 45 –  http://www.constitution.org/fed/federa45.htm

Federalist No. 78 –  http://www.constitution.org/fed/federa78.htm

Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 137 (1803)

Cooper v. Aaron, 358 U.S. 1 (1958)

Dred Scott v. Sanford, 60 U.S. 373 (1856)

McDonald v. City of Chicago, 153 U.S. 535 (Oct. 2009)

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

Warren v. District of Columbia (444 A.2d. 1, D.C. Ct. of Ap. 1981)

Bob Weir, “Thanks to Otis McDonald and the Supremes,” American Thinker, July 3, 2010.

James Madison: Report on the Virginia Resolutions  (Jan. 1800)  –  http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/v1ch8s42.html

Thomas Jefferson: Resolutions Relative to the Alien & Sedition Act (November 10, 1798) –http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/v1ch8s41.html

The Legal and Historical Roots of  the Second Amendment (video) –http://www.secondamendmentdocumentary.com/

The Police Have No Legal Duty to Protect Its Citizens (from the legal documentary “In Search of the Second Amendment”) –  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lb3rAglRsqU

Alo Konsen, “The Second Amendment Definition of ‘Arms’,” 2003.  Referenced at:http://brainshavings.com/the-right-to-keep-and-bear-what/

Publius Huldah explains why federal gun control laws are unconstitutional –http://publiushuldah.wordpress.com/2013/03/03/publius-huldah-shows-federal-gun-control-is-unlawful/

“Obama Gun Control Ban: Confiscate Firearms, NRA Claims,” Newsday New York, January 23, 2013.  Referenced at:   http://newyork.newsday.com/news/nation/obama-gun-control-plan-seize-firearms-nra-claims-1.4697883

“Here are Obama’s 23 Executive Orders,” Forbes, January 16, 2013 –  http://www.forbes.com/sites/rickungar/2013/01/16/here-are-the-23-executive-orders-on-gun-safety-signed-today-by-the-president/

The 23 Gun Violence Reduction Executive Actions:

1. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system.

2. Address unnecessary legal barriers, particularly relating to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, that may prevent states from making information available to the background check system.

3. Improve incentives for states to share information with the background check system.

4. Direct the Attorney General to review categories of individuals prohibited from having a gun to make sure dangerous people are not slipping through the cracks.

5. Propose rulemaking to give law enforcement the ability to run a full background check on an individual before returning a seized gun.

6. Publish a letter from ATF to federally licensed gun dealers providing guidance on how to run background checks for private sellers.

7. Launch a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign

8. Review safety standards for gun locks and gun safes (Consumer Product Safety Commission).

9. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations.

10. Release a DOJ report analyzing information on lost and stolen guns and make itwidely available to law enforcement.

11. Nominate an ATF director.

12. Provide law enforcement, first responders, and school officials with proper training for active shooter situations.

13. Maximize enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime.

14. Issue a Presidential Memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence.

15. Direct the Attorney General to issue a report on the availability and most effectiveuse of new gun safety technologies and challenge the private sector to developinnovative technologies.

16. Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes.

17. Release a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement authorities.

18. Provide incentives for schools to hire school resource officers.

19. Develop model emergency response plans for schools, houses of worship and institutions of higher education.

20. Release a letter to state health officials clarifying the scope of mental health services that Medicaid plans must cover.

21. Finalize regulations clarifying essential health benefits and parity requirements within ACA exchanges.

22. Commit to finalizing mental health parity regulations.

23. Launch a national dialogue led by Secretaries Sebelius and Duncan on mental health.

Reference:  http://www.forbes.com/sites/rickungar/2013/01/16/here-are-the-23-executive-orders-on-gun-safety-signed-today-by-the-president/