Third Party & Independents Archives

Obama, the Unconstitutional War President

Besides the modern precedence of President Obama’s defeats in the Supreme Court in regards to their 9-0 rulings against him, the President has repeatedly violated the wording and spirit of the Constitution, as well as his own words, several times in waging war, a power that was given to the Congress for a variety of good reasons.

Let’s take a look at the US Constitution’s text on the war powers.

To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

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;

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, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

The President’s powers are:

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, and he shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.

It is very clear that the US Constitution defined that the power to determine when the military could be called forth against foreign entities.  Once called forth, the President directs the actions of those troops, but only after being authorized.

Of course, this President and many of his supporters will attempt to use either the War Powers Act and the AUMF as the authorization for the President to attack places like Syria, Libya and Iraq.  But there are some problems when we look at the actual text of those authorizations.

The text of the War Powers Resolution says:

SEC. 2. (c)  The constitutional powers of the President as Commander-in-Chief to introduce United States Armed Forces into hostilities, or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances, are exercised only pursuant to (1) a declaration of war, (2) specific statutory authorization, or (3) a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.

SEC. 3. The President in every possible instance shall consult with Congress before introducing United States Armed Forces into hostilities or into situation where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances, and after every such introduction shall consult regularly with the Congress until United States Armed Forces are no longer engaged in hostilities or have been removed from such situations.

Sec. 4. (a) In the absence of a declaration of war, in any case in which United States Armed Forces are introduced--
(1) into hostilities or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances;
(2) into the territory, airspace or waters of a foreign nation, while equipped for combat, except for deployments which relate solely to supply, replacement, repair, or training of such forces; or
(3) (A) the circumstances necessitating the introduction of United States Armed Forces;
     (B) the constitutional and legislative authority under which such introduction took place; and
     (C) the estimated scope and duration of the hostilities or involvement.

Sec. 4. (b) The President shall provide such other information as the Congress may request in the fulfillment of its constitutional responsibilities with respect to committing the Nation to war and to the use of United States Armed Forces abroad.
Sec. 4. (c) Whenever United States Armed Forces are introduced into hostilities or into any situation described in subsection (a) of this section, the President shall, so long as such armed forces continue to be engaged in such hostilities or situation, report to the Congress periodically on the status of such hostilities or situation as well as on the scope and duration of such hostilities or situation, but in no event shall he report to the Congress less often than once every six months.

SEC. 5. (a) Each report submitted pursuant to section 4(a)(1) shall be transmitted to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and to the President pro tempore of the Senate on the same calendar day. Each report so transmitted shall be referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives and to the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate for appropriate action. If, when the report is transmitted, the Congress has adjourned sine die or has adjourned for any period in excess of three calendar days, the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate, if they deem it advisable (or if petitioned by at least 30 percent of the membership of their respective Houses) shall jointly request the President to convene Congress in order that it may consider the report and take appropriate action pursuant to this section.

SEC. 5. (b) Within sixty calendar days after a report is submitted or is required to be submitted pursuant to section 4(a)(1), whichever is earlier, the President shall terminate any use of United States Armed Forces with respect to which such report was submitted (or required to be submitted), unless the Congress (1) has declared war or has enacted a specific authorization for such use of United States Armed Forces, (2) has extended by law such sixty-day period, or (3) is physically unable to meet as a result of an armed attack upon the United States. Such sixty-day period shall be extended for not more than an additional thirty days if the President determines and certifies to the Congress in writing that unavoidable military necessity respecting the safety of United States Armed Forces requires the continued use of such armed forces in the course of bringing about a prompt removal of such forces.
SEC. 5. (c) Notwithstanding subsection (b), at any time that United States Armed Forces are engaged in hostilities outside the territory of the United States, its possessions and territories without a declaration of war or specific statutory authorization, such forces shall be removed by the President if the Congress so directs by concurrent resolution.

And the AUMF:

Section 2 - Authorization For Use of United States Armed Forces

(a) IN GENERAL- That 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.

(b) War Powers Resolution Requirements-

(1) SPECIFIC STATUTORY AUTHORIZATION- Consistent with section 8(a)(1) of the War Powers Resolution, the Congress declares that this section is intended to constitute specific statutory authorization within the meaning of section 5(b) of the War Powers Resolution.
(2) APPLICABILITY OF OTHER REQUIREMENTS- Nothing in this resolution supersedes any requirement of the War Powers Resolution.

So, very clear.  The US President can only put forces in the field, including bombing foreign entities, without Congressional approval via a declaration of war or statutory law, unless there is “a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces”.  Currently, the only authorization of the use of force in place that the US can use is the AUMF which limits the attacks to “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”.

Libya did not meet this requirement, neither does ISIS.  In fact, the only current military actions that could be included into that current authorization is the actions ongoing in Afghanistan, though there is some concern about the current state of affairs in that country.

From our own President just a year ago concerning the AUMF:

[T]he choices we make about war can impact -- in sometimes unintended ways -- the openness and freedom on which our way of life depends.  And that is why I intend to engage Congress about the existing Authorization to Use Military Force, or AUMF, to determine how we can continue to fight terrorism without keeping America on a perpetual wartime footing.

The AUMF is now nearly 12 years old.  The Afghan war is coming to an end.  Core al Qaeda is a shell of its former self.  Groups like AQAP must be dealt with, but in the years to come, not every collection of thugs that labels themselves al Qaeda will pose a credible threat to the United States.  Unless we discipline our thinking, our definitions, our actions, we may be drawn into more wars we don't need to fight, or continue to grant Presidents unbound powers more suited for traditional armed conflicts between nation states.

So I look forward to engaging Congress and the American people in efforts to refine, and ultimately repeal, the AUMF's mandate.  And I will not sign laws designed to expand this mandate further.  Our systematic effort to dismantle terrorist organizations must continue.  But this war, like all wars, must end.  That's what history advises.  That's what our democracy demands.

And from our own President while he was running for office:

The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.

As Commander-in-Chief, the President does have a duty to protect and defend the United States. In instances of self-defense, the President would be within his constitutional authority to act before advising Congress or seeking its consent. History has shown us time and again, however, that military action is most successful when it is authorized and supported by the Legislative branch. It is always preferable to have the informed consent of Congress prior to any military action.

And from Joe Biden:

It is precisely because the consequences of war – intended or otherwise – can be so profound and complicated that our Founding Fathers vested in Congress, not the President, the power to initiate war, except to repel an imminent attack on the United States or its citizens. They reasoned that requiring the President to come to Congress first would slow things down… allow for more careful decision making before sending Americans to fight and die… and ensure broader public support.

The Founding Fathers were, as in most things, profoundly right.

ISIS is not an imminent danger to the US, Libya was not an imminent danger to the US.  This President talks the talk, but does not walk the walk. 

A great quote from Jack Goldsmith in Time:

Future historians will ask why George W. Bush sought and received express congressional authorization for his wars (against al Qaeda and Iraq) and his successor did not. They will puzzle over how Barack Obama the prudent war-powers constitutionalist transformed into a matchless war-powers unilateralist. And they will wonder why he claimed to "welcome congressional support" for his new military initiative against the Islamic State but did not insist on it in order to ensure clear political and legal legitimacy for the tough battle that promised to consume his last two years in office and define his presidency.

Posted by Rhinehold at September 13, 2014 1:38 AM
Comments
Comment #383100

Three Reasons We Should Not Fight ISIS

1. ISIS isn’t that powerful.

War hawks such as Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) claim that “the threat ISIS poses cannot be overstated.” That is itself an overstatement. The FBI and Homeland Security both say ISIS isn’t a credible threat to the American homeland. The group may be great at using social media to exaggerate its power, but estimates of its troop strength range between 10,000 and 30,000 and most analysts talk about a core group of a few thousand fighters.

2. It’s a regional conflict.

ISIS controls territory inside Iraq and Syria. But even President Obama concedes that ISIS does not currently pose a threat “beyond that region.”

Iraq and Syria—and their neighbors, including Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and the Kurds—are the ones that must deal with this problem. Iraq’s army has more than one-quarter of a million U.S.-trained troops, the Peshmerga almost as many. Iran’s active forces number over half a million.

3. What counts as victory?

In announcing bombing runs and sending more American soldiers to the Middle East, President Obama not only failed to call for congressional authorization, he neglected to discuss any sort of exit strategy. That’s a prerequisite for any responsible war plan. As important, his definition of success—we will “ultimately destroy” ISIS—is a goal nobody has ever achieved against any terrorist group.


Posted by: Rhinehold at September 13, 2014 2:10 AM
Comment #383159

Rhinehold,

According to POLITIFACT

Goodlatte made the claim that the Supreme Court’s “9-0 decision last week was the 13th time the Supreme Court has voted 9-0 that the president has exceeded his constitutional authority.” That’s a stretch, at best.
The only decision among the 13 in which the High Court clearly found Obama “had exceeded his constitutional authority” was the case Goodlatte said occurred “last week.” The late June decision in NLRB v. Noel Canning found that Obama had overstepped his authority in making three appointments to the National Labor Relations Board without Senate approval.
OMG! Tyranny… really funny guys.

Another absurdity from the right wing hate media:
Feinstein a “Hawk”? That is really really really funny.

Posted by: Dave at September 13, 2014 11:45 PM
Comment #383162

Dave, and Politifact is in full on deflect mode and their argument is about as stupid as anything I’ve read on the internet…

http://reason.com/blog/2014/09/09/obama-loses-9-0-at-scotus-new-york-times

Although the president claimed to be exercising his constitutional power to “fill up all vacancies that may happen during the recess of the Senate,” the Senate was not—according to its own rules—in recess at that time. Obama’s unilateral actions therefore ran afoul of the separation of powers and exceeded his lawful executive authority. As the Supreme Court unanimously put it, “for purposes of the Recess Appointments Clause, the Senate is in session when it says it is.”

Or at least that’s what the Supreme Court wrote. Liberal pundit Linda Greenhouse of The New York Times claims to have divined a different message. “By any objective view,” she writes in a recent op-ed, “this narrowly technical decision was a major victory for the president.”

It’s true that Noel Canning could turned out even worse for the White House. Four justices, for example, would have gone further than the majority opinion and placed far greater limits on presidential power. But that hardly changes the fact that Obama’s three purported recess appointments were ruled unconstitutional by all nine members of the Court.

According to Greenhouse, “Only an inside-the-Beltway commentariat, infected by a toxic politic atmosphere that obliterates all nuance, could have construed the decision as a defeat.” I wonder what sort of commentariat could construe a 9-0 loss as a “major victory.”

Let’s list Obama’s 20 PREVIOUS 9-0 losses at the Supreme Court…

http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/381676/ted-cruz-obamas-20-unanimous-supreme-court-losses-outpace-bush-and-clinton-joel-gehrke

And those aren’t all of his losses.

“This tally does not capture all of the Obama Administration’s losing arguments, as it does not include unanimous rejections for more governmental power made in the Obama Administration’s friend-of-the-court (amicus) briefs supporting non-federal parties, which would put the Obama Administration’s losses much higher,”

Sorry Dave, but this administration has been trying to expand Presidential power ever since it got into office and has been rebuffed on an unprecedented number of occasions.

The defeats include cases such: as Judalang v. Holder, when the court faulted the Obama team for making an “arbitrary and capricious” attempt to rewrite the rules governing who is eligible for relief from deportation; Henderson ex rel. Henderson v. Shinseki​, in which Obama’s lawyers argued wrongly “that the Department of Veterans Affairs can wholly ignore a veteran’s appeal of a VA regional office’s benefits ruling when the appeal was not filed within the 120-day deadline”; and Bond v. United States, in which the “DOJ argued that an international treaty gave Congress the power to create federal criminal law for wholly local conduct.”

Then there is

United States v. Jones, 132 S. Ct. 945 (2012):

The Department of Justice (DOJ) sought the right for the government to attach a Global Position System device to a vehicle and monitor its movements without cause, unsuccessfully arguing that the Fourth Amendment, which protects Americans from unreasonable search and seizure, does not extend to electronic tracking devices.


…Thus, according to DOJ, police could attach a GPS to a car and monitor its movements in public without a search warrant or any cause to believe a crime would be committed.

and

Bond v. United States.

The government tried to use a federal statute against chemical weapons to prosecute a woman who put toxic chemicals on the door handle of a car owned by a woman her husband was having an affair with.

The majority opinion, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, criticized the government’s “boundless” interpretation of the chemical weapons law, which was intended to prosecute acts of war, especially terrorism.

I know you want it to be the case that Obama hasn’t been pushing the powers of the Presidential office and has been getting rebuffed by the Supreme Court, even by his own appointees. But it just isn’t.

Posted by: Rhinehold at September 14, 2014 2:55 AM
Comment #383172
“We’ve made it very clear from the start,” McDonough told “Fox News Sunday.” “Just as we have been at war with Al Qaeda, in similar fashion we are at war with ISIL.”

If the administration wanted to be ‘clear’, wouldn’t they do the legally and constitutionally correct thing and get a Declaration of War as they are required to do?

Meh, it’s just a goddamn piece of paper I guess…

Posted by: Rhinehold at September 14, 2014 2:40 PM
Comment #383207

National Review is a partisan and biased source while reason.com is a bunch of neo-fascist libertarians. Such sources can only (generously) be called suspect, but more appropriately be called the “lunatic ravings of the right wing hate media”. I’m sure you were more than happy when Politifact called the President’s “You can keep your plan” the “Lie of the Year” but now they’re in “deflect mode”? sure they are…
Rightists need to get out of the bubble more often and accept the lies and misdirections broadcast by the right wing hate media for what they are, lies and misdirections used to soothe the cognitively dissonant, and realize that nobody here is a constitutional law scholar. Long copies of laws and quotes aren’t useful, they’re just long.
As for government overreach, no duh. Ever since Nixon claimed “if the President does it, it’s legal” the executive branch has been pushing its borders. W used 9/11 to accelerate the takeover by the fascist oligarchy war profiteers we have now. Blaming Obama alone is nonsense with the more appropriate blame on those who enabled Scalia and Roberts to shred our constitution and declare corporations people. Meanwhile, it’s only in his second term that Obama has admitted the excesses happening. See his speech this past January. And if you think some whitebread republican successor will do anything different because —put whatever rationalization you might have here— you’re woefully mistaken. The democrats have failed but the do nothing except for the 0.01% republicans are far worse. The libertarians are fascists in self serving Randian free market clothing, the fundamentalists are rapture waiting nihilists, and the leftists are the same angry mobs that fill the teaparty, they just have some real american idealism remaining.
The only hope is overturn Citizens United, undo the DeLay era gerrymandering and hold the fifth estate to actual standards of truth.

Posted by: Dave at September 14, 2014 11:44 PM
Comment #383214

“The only hope is overturn Citizens United, undo the DeLay era gerrymandering and hold the fifth estate to actual standards of truth.”

Nicely stated, Dave.

Posted by: Rich at September 15, 2014 12:26 AM
Comment #383215
National Review is a partisan and biased source while reason.com is a bunch of neo-fascist libertarians.

I have an idea, David. How about attacking the message and not the messenger? Your sad attempt to deflect by denouncing the source of the listing of cases is sad.

But tell me, what part of reason.com and libertarianism is ‘neo-fascist’…

    The support for same sex marriage since the party was formed in 1972? (When did the Democrats get around to supporting it, 2012?)
    The pro-choice position that they hold, on more than just abortion.
    The anti-war stances that they hold regardless of who is president?

Or something else? I would be interested in hearing your extensive knowledge of libertarians and reason.com to explain the label of ‘neo-fascist’.

I’m sure you were more than happy when Politifact called the President’s “You can keep your plan” the “Lie of the Year” but now they’re in “deflect mode”? sure they are…

More than happy? Not really. The President lied, it is an easily verifiable fact. That Politifact tried to walk away from that by saying it was just the readers who thought that, not them, it really didn’t give them a lot of credit. Bad journalism is bad journalism. I’m not myopic enough to discount an article from a source just based on the source alone. I might call it into question but then I will research and find out the truth behind it. There are very few sources that are 100% wrong, Dave, as much as you want it to be so you can keep your personal echo chamber spinning around in your head.

nobody here is a constitutional law scholar. Long copies of laws and quotes aren’t useful, they’re just long.

I use the words that were written down and the reasons behind them by the people who wrote them. I’m sorry that the English language is too hard for you to understand. That was one of the things that Madison said,

It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood.

BTW, I have been working on my law degree so I would say I have a little more of a working knowledge on the subject that some here… It’s not really that hard, I mastered Nuclear Physics and Computer Science, law is a piece of cake really.

But, let’s talk to some actual ‘constitutional scholars’.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2014/09/12/prominent-legal-scholars-critique-obamas-decision-to-wage-war-against-isis-without-congressional-authorization/

President Obama’s declaration of war against the terrorist group known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria marks a decisive break in the American constitutional tradition. Nothing attempted by his predecessor, George W. Bush, remotely compares in imperial hubris.

Mr. Bush gained explicit congressional consent for his invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. In contrast, the Obama administration has not even published a legal opinion attempting to justify the president’s assertion of unilateral war-making authority. This is because no serious opinion can be written.

This became clear when White House officials briefed reporters before Mr. Obama’s speech to the nation on Wednesday evening. They said a war against ISIS was justified by Congress’s authorization of force against Al Qaeda after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and that no new approval was needed.

But the 2001 authorization for the use of military force does not apply here. That resolution — scaled back from what Mr. Bush initially wanted — extended only to nations and organizations that “planned, authorized, committed or aided” the 9/11 attacks….

Not only was ISIS created long after 2001, but Al Qaeda publicly disavowed it earlier this year. It is Al Qaeda’s competitor, not its affiliate.

Just so you know, that quote was made by Bruce Ackerman, a LIBERAL constitutional law scholar.

Bruce Arnold Ackerman (born August 19, 1943) is an American constitutional law scholar. He is a Sterling Professor at Yale Law School.

In 2010, he was named by Foreign Policy magazine to its list of top global thinkers.

So, well, there you go. I doubt it will help you here at all to realize that EVEN GEORGE BUSH had enough respect for the constitution to ask Congress for authorization to wage war…

Blaming Obama alone is nonsense

No one is blaming Obama alone for anything. I have posted here in the past, as have all libertarians, even the ones at reason.com, that Bush pushed the powers of the President to the breaking point.

But Obama hasn’t just pushed them, he’s broken through in such an obvious and nefarious way that even the Supreme Court and his own nominees to that office are slapping down. That’s a whole new level. And to be so completely blind to that fact is an amazing level of partisanship that should be taught in every civics class as the exact thing you shouldn’t be doing.

And if you think some whitebread republican successor will do anything different because —put whatever rationalization you might have here— you’re woefully mistaken

I most certainly hold no such allusion. Of course, by doing what he has done this president has just given him the power to do it. How can anyone on the left stand up against a warmongering Republican president when the president that they supported, like you are doing now, was not even given lip service of pulling it back. Full steam ahead, in hour desire to win the day today you are handing your eventual Republican president who will one day win all of the power they need to bomb the *(&^ out of anyone they want, anytime, for any reasons. Congrats!

The only hope is overturn Citizens United

So our only hope is to destroy the most basic right that the citizens have to speak freely? I would say that isn’t hope at all, but an abandonment of our principles and the admission that the Great Experiment has failed. Enjoy your fascist agenda of silencing your opposition (that is exactly what you are calling for). The only fascist speaking on this thread right now is you, Dave.

Posted by: Rhinehold at September 15, 2014 12:31 AM
Comment #383216
Nicely stated, Dave.

An unbelievable abandonment of everything this country was founded upon. :/ Oh well, I guess it doesn’t really matter where you live anymore, we might as well join the EU and allow the illegality of speech that they enjoy. Not sure anywhere left in the world actually understands and respects the notion of not putting people in jail for speaking their mind.

Posted by: Rhinehold at September 15, 2014 12:33 AM
Comment #383220
Fascist ideology consistently invokes the primacy of the state.

Fascists advocate a mixed economy, with the principal goal of achieving autarky to secure national self-sufficiency and independence through protectionist and interventionist economic policies.

Walter Laqueur says that fascists would not necessarily accept the label of ‘anti-democratic’. In fact many of them argued that they were fighting for a purer and more genuine democracy in which the participation of the individual in politics would not be mediated by professional politicians, clerical influences, the availability of the mass media, but through personal, almost full-time involvement in a political movement and through identification with the leader who would represent the feelings and sentiments of the whole people.

Which party does that sound like…? Who are the ones trying to limit the freedom of speech and the press to only approved messages? Who identifies with and never questions their leader?

When you have a party that rejects the primacy of the state but rather requires a constitution and limited/separated powers, that’s the opposite of fascism. It’s what we call LIBERTARIANISM.

That you suggest libertarians are fascists when they are the exact opposite of such either means you are using the Orwellian term of fascism (George Orwell wrote in 1944 that “the word ‘Fascism’ is almost entirely meaningless … almost any English person would accept ‘bully’ as a synonym for ‘Fascist’”. Richard Griffiths said in 2005 that “fascism” is the “most misused, and over-used word, of our times”.) or you truly don’t know what the hell you are talking about.

Here’s a word for you.

Totalitarianism:

“Totalitarianism or totalitarian state is a concept used by some political scientists in which the state holds total authority over the society and seeks to control all aspects of public and private life wherever possible.”

and another, Authoritarianism:

“Authoritarianism is a form of government characterized by absolute or blind obedience to [formal] authority, as against individual freedom and related to the expectation of unquestioning obedience.

Juan Linz, whose 1964 description of authoritarianism is influential, characterized authoritarian regimes as political systems by four qualities: (1) “limited, not responsible, political pluralism”; that is, constraints on political institutions and groups (such as legislatures, political parties and interest groups), (2) a basis for legitimacy based on emotion, especially the identification of the regime as a necessary evil to combat “easily recognizable societal problems” such as underdevelopment or insurgency; (3) neither “intensive nor extensive political mobilization” and constraints on the mass public (such as repressive tactics against opponents and a prohibition of anti-regime activity) and (4) “formally ill-defined” executive power, often shifting or vague.

Who do those words best represent? I’m looking at the current Democratic Party…

Fascism is sometimes called ‘Totalitarian Democracy’ or ‘Authoritarian Democracy’.

As opposed to ‘Liberal Democracy’ which states:

“Liberal democracy is a form of government in which representative democracy operates under the principles of liberalism, i.e. protecting the rights of the individual, which are generally enshrined in law. It is characterised by fair, free, and competitive elections between multiple distinct political parties, a separation of powers into different branches of government, the rule of law in everyday life as part of an open society, and the equal protection of human rights, civil rights, civil liberties, and political freedoms for all persons. To define the system in practice, liberal democracies often draw upon a constitution, either formally written or uncodified, to delineate the powers of government and enshrine the social contract.”

You know, libertarians. Classic Liberals. Liberals who are liberals before the word came to mean progressives.

Today’s ‘liberals’ are neo-liberals/progressives. Or, better terms are totalitarian and authoritarian. Thinking that the government has a say in every single aspect and are of our society.

Tell me, where does the government not play a role, progressives? Where does the government not have a say in how I live my life? Because right now, it doesn’t seem like there is anywhere where a totalitarian in the Democratic party is wanting to place their noses…

Hell, they’re even trying to take over the internet for pete’s sake!

An perfect example:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xwejQBIyjow

Hint: If you are pro choice ONLY when it comes to abortion, you aren’t pro choice.

Posted by: Rhinehold at September 15, 2014 3:22 AM
Comment #383226

“An unbelievable abandonment of everything this country was founded upon.”

Rhinehold,

Not true.

Bestowing Constitutional rights under the guise of personhood on corporations would be a truly strange concept for the Founding Fathers. At the time, corporations were entities chartered by the states for limited commercial purposes and limited in time. They had no rights other than those conveyed by the state in their charters. They certainly didn’t have Constitutional rights independent of their charters. The fact that most states prohibited corporate political contributions under penalty of criminal law says volumes about what they thought of corporate involvement in politics.

I think that the role of politically organized lobbying efforts, e.g., the K Street Project, would be a real surprise to the Founding Fathers. They thought that they were creating a system that would not be subject to the undue influence of corporate money. Their experience with favored corporate commercial grants under the Crown, e.g., East Indies Company, was not something they desired to replicate.

In terms of holding accountable bloggers to some standard of truth, I can only wish. It is something to aspire to but not something that could be mandated or reasonably policed.

Posted by: Rich at September 15, 2014 9:47 AM
Comment #383228

Rich,

No one has bestowed any constitutional rights onto any corporations in the real sense. Corporations are not ‘people’, except in terms of contract law. They ARE, however, associations of individuals, not different than unions, partnerships, political parties, etc.

What Citizens United found was that the people who run the corporations didn’t lose their constitutional rights just because they were in a corporations.

The fact that most states prohibited corporate political contributions under penalty of criminal law says volumes about what they thought of corporate involvement in politics.

Political contributions are STILL prohibited under penalty of criminal law. Nothing in that area has changed.

If corporations had been given constitutional rights, they would be allowed to contribute to candidates, they would be allowed to vote, etc.

However, just because people act within the auspices of a group, in the case a corporation, or a union, doesn’t give the government the power to violate their rights.

In much the same way a ‘corporation’ doesn’t have 5th amendment rights, you still cannot just enter onto the premises of a corporation and search it without a warrant. This isn’t because we think it’s a bad idea, it’s because the people who own and run the corporation don’t lose their 5th amendment rights just because they are part of a corporation. In the exact same way, they don’t lose their 1st amendment rights either…

From the Citizens United ruling:

“If the First Amendment has any force, it prohibits Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or associations of citizens, for simply engaging in political speech.”

What is a corporation but an association of citizens? What is the technical difference between a union and a corporation?

The majority argued that the First Amendment protects associations of individuals in addition to individual speakers, and further that the First Amendment does not allow prohibitions of speech based on the identity of the speaker. Corporations, as associations of individuals, therefore have speech rights under the First Amendment. Because spending money is essential to disseminating speech, as established in Buckley v. Valeo, limiting a corporation’s ability to spend money is unconstitutional because it limits the ability of its members to associate effectively and to speak on political issues.

As to what the founding fathers would have thought? They would have been appalled that anyone was trying to block free speech in any way by anyone, regardless if they were pooling their wealth together to achieve that speech or not. While they disliked political parties far more than they had any concern about corporations, they still recognized that they were a necessary evil.

Remember the details of the case. A group of people pooled their funds together to create a political documentary. The government said that they couldn’t do that. Why? Simply because they pooled their money together and protected those funds in the form of a corporation?

What exactly would limiting the buying of advertising of a political nature accomplish? All a corporation would have to do is give the money to an individual who would then be free to purchase the advertising. Seems like a stupid jump to have to go through to achieve the exact same thing.

And if you can block groups of people from buying political advertising, why give unions a pass? Why give corporations like the NAACP or Sierra Club a pass? Why give the press a pass, who has far more influence than any corporation? Remember, the NAACP and most other civil rights organizations are organized under 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code — exactly the same designation as Citizens United. All modern press entities are designated as corporations as well. By giving unions, political organizations and the press a pass and limiting other exactly associated individuals, you are picking and choosing which individuals are allowed to speak and which aren’t. Which is precisely one of the actions that make up Fascism.

And what did Jefferson think of limiting any free speech?

Jefferson was unfailingly against government curbs on any type of speech. “The people are the only censors of their governors,” he wrote to Edward Carrington on January 16, 1787, calling a free press “the only safeguard of the public liberty. The way to prevent these irregular interpositions of the people is to give them full information of their affairs thro’ the channel of the public papers, & to contrive that those papers should penetrate the whole mass of the people. The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.” Jefferson did not fear deception by special interests, writing to Judge John Tyler in 1804 that the people “may safely be trusted to hear everything true and false, and to form a correct judgment between them.”

All you are saying when you limit the free speech of individuals just because of their association is that you do NOT trust the people to hear everything, true and false, and to form a correct judgment between them.

It’s the same problem with trying to restrict the freedom of the press to make them ‘always speak the truth’, because then we have to designate people to be the ‘arbiters of truth’. Our founding fathers wanted the people to be exposed to everyone’s ideas and options and let THEM decide for THEMSELVES what they agreed with and what they didn’t.

Most of the constitutional amendments and laws offered by the political Left exempt some or all of these various institutions from the ban on freedom of speech, in addition to media corporations such as Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN. Time-Warner, not even the biggest of the six mega-media corporations that control 90-95 percent of the information Americans see on a daily basis, had $29 billion in expenditures in 2011, about three times the expenditures expected in all campaigns this year — president, Senate, House, as well as state and municipal elections (including independent expenditures). If corporate freedom of speech is not a right protected by the U.S. Constitution, why should corporate press giants be so privileged? And if not, what is the meaning of freedom of the press if their communications about government require government approval?

And I saw one person make a great point that everyone seems to be missing…

Fundamentally, the objections to Citizens United are objections to freedom of speech and amount to cheerleading for centralized government censorship of political dissent. It says that when people associate, they give up their rights to criticize their government. This, of course, is bunk. Why would a single person have the right to publish a newsletter calling his congressman out for voting to spend us into bankruptcy, but then suddenly lose that right the moment he associates with 1,000 of his fellow citizens to do precisely the same thing?

The anti-Citizens United movement is all about forgetting the First Amendment’s rule that “Congress shall make no law” abridging freedoms of speech, press and association. “No law” means just that. No Law. If Congress can make a law abridging any kind of freedom of press or speech or association, then the words of the First Amendment are less than worthless.

Posted by: Rhinehold at September 15, 2014 11:22 AM
Comment #383306

Rhinehold,

Simple question; since when do constitutional rights extend to non-humans?

Posted by: Dave at September 16, 2014 5:01 PM
Comment #383350

Dave,

Simple answer. They don’t.

Now my simple question:

How many corporations are owned and ran by non-humans?

Posted by: Rhinehold at September 17, 2014 4:18 AM
Comment #383355

Rhinehold;

How does a corporation, a legal entity designed to protect the owners of those corporations from the liabilities garnered by that corporations activities, earn the same rights as the humans that run it? The people have rights, the corporation is a business and has no rights. For example, Hobbylobby is a perfect example of libertarian neo-fascism. The owners, as private people, can practice their religious beliefs unfettered. In a free society the company they run must not be allowed to inflict their religious beliefs against its employees. My company, for example, would preclude hiring people with antebellum Southern ancestors, practicing christians and libertarians on the grounds that they are all immoral groups inimical to my honestly held belief system.

As Rich pointed out above:

Bestowing Constitutional rights under the guise of personhood on corporations would be a truly strange concept for the Founding Fathers. At the time, corporations were entities chartered by the states for limited commercial purposes and limited in time. They had no rights other than those conveyed by the state in their charters. They certainly didn’t have Constitutional rights independent of their charters. The fact that most states prohibited corporate political contributions under penalty of criminal law says volumes about what they thought of corporate involvement in politics.

Posted by: Dave at September 17, 2014 10:40 AM
Comment #383372
How does a corporation, a legal entity designed to protect the owners of those corporations from the liabilities garnered by that corporations activities, earn the same rights as the humans that run it?

And I’ve already answered this, Dave.

No one is granting any rights to anyone. No ‘non-human’ is being given rights. BTW, a little civics for you, rights in the United States don’t come from the government…

BUT, the people who own, run and participate in the corporation do not lose their rights just because they choose to do so within the auspices of that legal entity.

If you and I were to get together and go halfsies on a political ad, do we have that ‘right’? What would you think of a government that came in and then said ‘no, you two cannot buy that ad because you are doing it together’? That government who does that is saying that just because we associate freely, we lose our free speech rights. Do you think that is valid?

If we pool our money with 1000 people, do we lose our right to speak because we are assembled together in an association?

If we legalize that association, do we then lose that right?

At what point does our association together allow the government to throw us into jail just because we speak out politically?

The people have rights, the corporation is a business and has no rights.

I don’t know how many times I have to say this to you…

NO ONE IS SAYING THAT THE CORPORATION HAS RIGHTS. When that is stated, it is just a shorthand legalese for saying that the people WITHIN the corporation retain their rights.

BTW, not all corporations are businesses. The NAACP is the exact same corporate form as Citizens United was. As is the Sierra Club. As is the NY Times. Those are all examples of corporations, yet you say that because the people in those corporate identities have legalized their association that they are stripped of their rights just because of that association?

For example, Hobbylobby is a perfect example of libertarian neo-fascism.

Again, you show that you have ZERO understanding of both libertarianism and neo-fascism. Explain to me exactly how a philosophy that is the exact opposite of fascism is actually fascism. Until you do, any suggestion you make that libertarians are neo-fascists is null and void.

In a free society the company they run must not be allowed to inflict their religious beliefs against its employees.

And they aren’t. They are not preventing their employees from doing anything because of the company’s religious beliefs. It is just not required to PAY for their employees acting against their religious beliefs.

My company, for example, would preclude hiring people with antebellum Southern ancestors, practicing christians and libertarians on the grounds that they are all immoral groups inimical to my honestly held belief system.

Right. But if your company hired a christian, they would not be able to prevent them from engaging in a marriage ceremony in a church. But they are not required to PAY for that marriage ceremony if they disagree with that action on religious grounds.

As Rich pointed out above

And as I already pointed out, the founding fathers had a lot to say about corporations, parties and factions. They weren’t big fans. In fact, they were probably more nervous about political parties than corporations. But more than that they felt that free speech was more important.

A perfect example by James Madison who stated:

“Liberty is to faction what air is to fire, an aliment without which it instantly expires. But it could not be less folly to abolish liberty, which is essential to political life, because it nourishes faction, than it would be to wish the annihilation of air, which is essential to animal life, because it imparts to fire its destructive agency.”

The fact that most states prohibited corporate political contributions under penalty of criminal law says volumes about what they thought of corporate involvement in politics.

Giving money directly to a candidate is not free speech. And it is also still illegal for a corporation to engage in.

Buying an advertisement IS free speech. No one should be put in jail for exercising their free speech. Whether they do it singly, in a group, in a union, in a corporation or any other association of people we can think of.

Posted by: Rhinehold at September 17, 2014 3:37 PM
Comment #383474

Rhineohld,

Unfortunately you’ve shown zero understanding of what I said. My position is clear

allowing personal belief systems to be an excuse for coporations to be excused from following the law is fascism in that the owners of the coporations get to define the social and legal relationships between people and business
My example was Hobbyland not having to follow the ACA because of “religion”. The owners weren’t required to pay for birth control, the corporation was. I can go point by point to highlight the other conditional moralities and logical gymnastiocs you’re trying to bolster your argument with but I’ll ask you, if you’re interested, to select your top one or two. I’ll reply to those.

Posted by: Dave at September 18, 2014 8:49 AM
Comment #383483

I forgot to include this link in my post.

Posted by: Dave at September 18, 2014 9:22 AM
Comment #383499
Unfortunately you’ve shown zero understanding of what I said.

I have a perfect grasp on what you’ve said. It’s just wrong, as I have pointed out. It may be the way you WANT things to be, but it isn’t how things are. All you are telling Hobby Lobby is that now that you think you have some say in how they run their business they should either close up shop or stop providing health insurance to their employees. I don’t think the majority of their employees would be happy about either solution.

Posted by: Rhinehold at September 18, 2014 1:38 PM
Comment #383500

BTW, I forgot my link:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_Freedom_Restoration_Act

Introduced by a Democrat, signed by a Democrat, passed with near unanimous support.

Posted by: Rhinehold at September 18, 2014 1:55 PM
Comment #383523

What I’m saying is that a corporation is not a person and has no religion and has no rights. If the owners of Hobby Lobby want to inflict their religion on their employees then they must unincorporate and act as individuals. Is Hooby Lobby the one point you want to debate?
As for your law, I don’t care what party votes for what. Additionally, your reference doesn’t prove anything close to what you imagine it proves (it was held unconstitutional and only applied to people).
Finally, for some foolish reason you seem to think I’m a democrat. Another thing you have completely wrong.

Posted by: Dave at September 18, 2014 10:27 PM
Comment #383629
If the owners of Hobby Lobby want to inflict their religion on their employees then they must unincorporate and act as individuals.

I’m trying to figure out what sense this makes…

First, Hobby Lobby is not ‘inflicting their religion’ on anyone. They are running THEIR business as they choose. They are not preventing anyone from getting any medical treatment that they want to have, they are just not PAYING for it. You don’t seem to be able to make that distinction for some reason.

Second, what you are basically saying is that if they weren’t incorporated you wouldn’t have a problem with them being able to run their business as they choose. You are agreeing with me that by doing the simple act of incorporating their business they lose their 1st amendment rights. You want to violate their rights to free association. Why do you have such a problem with corporations?

A corporation is nothing but a legal structure so that all members of a business don’t have to sign all documents that are needed to run the business. If Hobby Lobby wants to change delivery services, if they weren’t incorporated, all owners would have to sign the contracts that enact that agreement. It also provides a legal contractual agreement on how the business is managed in case of legal disputes between the owners. Finally, it protects the personal assets of the owners from the actions of the business.

That’s it. There’s nothing at all nefarious about operating a corporation.

Would a limited partnership have to give up their 1st amendment rights if they engage in such a partnership? How about a union? Does the NAACP or Sierra Club have to give up their 1st amendment rights because they are a corporation or is it just for-profit organizations you want to strip rights from?

Please explain to me why the simple act of entering into a corporate structure means that the individual owners of the corporation lose their 1st amendment rights?

Posted by: Rhinehold at September 22, 2014 10:59 AM
Comment #383633
By the time Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville arrived in the United States in the 1830s, political issue organizations (corporations) were more powerful than the political parties and the press. De Tocqueville saw this as a great credit to the United States. “In no country in the world has the principle of association been more successfully used or applied to a greater multitude of objects than in America,” he wrote in his 1835 first volume of Democracy in America. “An association consists simply in the public assent which a number of individuals give to certain doctrines and in the engagement which they contract to promote in a certain manner the spread of those doctrines. The right of associating in this fashion almost merges with freedom of the press, but societies thus formed possess more authority than the press.”

http://www.thenewamerican.com/usnews/politics/item/12784-are-corporations-entitled-to-free-speech

Posted by: Rhinehold at September 22, 2014 11:30 AM
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