Categories
Founders Freedom Memorial Day Truth

Memorial Day: Our Principles Are Still Worth Fighting For!

By KrisAnne Hall, JD

Our contemporary American experience seems often Orwellian. We have a Congress that denies our Rights in the name of security. We have a judiciary that often denies the Constitution and violates it by asserting a power to make law. Many patriots have expended a great deal of energy this year in the fight to see our Liberty protected and America’s greatness restored. We are all aware that there are still many struggles ahead and mountains yet to be conquered. But let us be reminded of a hope that is rooted firmly in the original American experience that makes our land so exceptional.

Our history is rich with men and women who have surrendered all so that many could live in the greatest place the world has ever known. For over 700 years before the Declaration of Independence, men and women were learning the lessons that would be taught to our founders. Lessons that would infuse our founders with the courage and hope that would build this exceptional land.

Patrick Henry said, “I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience. I know no way to judge the future but by the past.” He was letting us know that his knowledge of those last 700 years, were the very reason he knew how this fight would turn out. He knew that every time men and women understood the value of Liberty and pledged all to protect it, they were always victorious.

These guarantees of history must have raced through Henry’s head; 1100 Charter of Liberties, Magna Carta, 1628 Petition of Right, 1641 Grand Remonstrance, and his very own Bill of Rights of 1689. These were battles fought in the name of Liberty and he knew that victory was a guarantee. This is our history. This is our guarantee. This is our victory!

We have so much to be thankful for. Let us not forget that Liberty is a gift that was purchased for us with great sacrifice. Among the many things we have to be thankful for, we must be eternally grateful for the wisdom of men and women that understood that Liberty was a gift from God and that all God’s gifts are worth our every sacrifice. John Adams, in a letter to Abigail in 1777 expressed this sacrifice.

“Posterity! You will never know how much it cost the present generation to preserve your freedom! I hope you will make a good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in Heaven that I ever took half the pains to preserve it.”

We must honor this sacrifice by honoring their memory and continuing their efforts. Too often I see the revisionism of our history in an effort to demean these men and women with the purpose of destroying our Constitution. We do not properly respect their efforts by allowing these lies to be taught to our sons and daughters. We must teach the truth. We owe it to them. We owe it to our children. It is our hope.

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I am not trying to give the founders some divine status or even suppose them a level of perfection that they did not have. We must understand that our Liberty was not founded upon people, but upon principles. The people that gave us our exceptional American principles were flawed vessels just like you and me. However, the really amazing part of this history is that flawed men understood that the foundation of an enduring union must be Liberty moored in morality.

Consider these words by Alexander Hamilton:

“Equal pains have been taken to deprave the morals as to extinguish the religion of the country [France], if indeed morality in a community can be separated from religion…The pious and moral weep over these scenes as a sepulcher destined to entomb all they revere and esteem.

“The politician who loves liberty sees them with regret as a gulf that may swallow up the liberty to which he is devoted. He knows that morality overthrown (and morality must fall with religion), the terrors of despotism can alone curb the impetuous passions of man, and confine him within the bounds of social duty.” The Stand, No. III (April 7, 1798)

Our founders knew that Liberty is a combination of two equally important parts — it is freedom under the constraints of moral law. Liberty cannot survive where there is pure freedom. Pure freedom gives man the right to do whatever is right in his own mind: cheat, lie, rob, murder. Pure freedom is anarchy. At the same time, Liberty cannot survive with moral law alone. Moral law not mingled with freedom is theocracy. Theocracy in the hands of men is tyranny in the name of religion. Our founders attempted give us this balance and secure the blessings of liberty for us in our founding documents. If we abandon our history, we abandon our founding documents and disregard our moral foundations, then liberty is in peril.

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Thomas Jefferson gave us this warning: “Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are a gift from God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that is justice cannot sleep forever.”

While Benjamin Franklin warned America’s founders directly:

“In the beginning of the Contest with Great Britain, when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayer in this room for Divine protection…. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of Superintending Providence in our favor…have we now forgotten that powerful Friend? or do we imagine we no longer need His assistance?…. God Governs in the affairs of  men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?”

Patrick Henry said “Three millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us.”

Did these brave men and women live without fear? Hardly so! Mercy Otis-Warren articulated this dilemma so well.

“I have my fears. Yet, notwithstanding the complicated difficulties that rise before us, there is no receding; May nothing ever check that glorious spirit if freedom which inspires the patriot in the cabinet and the hero in the field, with courage to maintain their righteous cause, and to endeavor to transmit the claim to posterity, even if they must seal the rich conveyance to their children with their own blood.”

They knew that bravery was not the absence of fear, but doing what you must in the face of fear. They knew that the battle for Liberty, as Mercy called it, was a righteous cause. Knowing the source of her courage is the key to understanding her resolve. Mercy wrote a letter to her friend Mrs. Macauley in 1774, from this letter we can know the source of her strength. She said they were “ready to sacrifice their devoted lives to preserve inviolate, and to convey to their children the inherent rights of men, conferred on all by the God of nature.”

The key to victory, the key to the courage that brings victory is not simply fighting the fight, but knowing we fight a righteous battle for the One who gave us that Liberty. Our founders were in a position to pledge their lives, the lives of their families, everything that they had because they were firmly rooted in all the assurances of Liberty. Our founders knew that Liberty is a gift from God, and those that stand for God’s gifts will be victorious through God’s promises. They firmly believed that living in tyranny was worse than dying for Liberty. They knew that through their faith in Christ, their rewards in standing for God’s gift would be certain, whether on the battlefield or in Heaven.

As Thomas Paine so eloquently put it, “These are the times that try men’s souls.” But Paine’s full statement gives a richness that is lost with the initial quote alone. Payne continues to tell us who will last in this battle and why they will last.

“The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing (sic) its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated.”

If we want to have the resolve that Mercy Otis-Warren spoke of, the confidence that Patrick Henry displayed, we must know what Thomas Jefferson knew so we will not become the sunshine patriots Thomas Paine condemns. We must know Liberty is a gift from God. We must know this Gift, although coming at a high price, is worth fighting for because God is with us. If God be with us, who can be against us?

As an exceptional union built upon exceptional principles, we cannot deny that we are built with a foundational understanding of an exceptional God. Thomas Jefferson reminds us that, “We are not in a world ungoverned by the laws and the power of a Superior Agent. Our efforts are in His hand, and directed by it; and He will give them their effect in His own time.”

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Because of our historical understanding that America was built on the principles of freedom and morality, America has always been the haven of rest when tyrants oppress their own. She is the vineyard of innovation and opportunity. We are a people that open our arms to the tired, to the poor, to the oppressed, to the huddled masses yearning to breathe free. No other people can claim this legacy; no other people have this birthright. This is the shining city upon a hill, and we cannot hide our light under a bush.

The focus of our education should not be on the flaws of the men who gave us our Constitution, but on the exceptional principles that they gave us. We have an exceptional union where “all men are created equal and endowed with certain inalienable rights.” A land birthed by the principle that the power of the government is to be held by the people and not where the government holds power over the people. A country that believes the principle that says all are free to worship according to the dictates of their conscience, and all are equally free, “Jews, Turks, pagans, and Christians.” We have prospered based on the principle that ideas and hard work open the door to prosperity regardless of bloodline, skin color or social status. A land that has remained free based on the principle that liberties remain secure by maintaining the right to defend self, property and Liberty.

In the profound words of Daniel Webster, “Is our Constitution worth preserving? Guard it as you would guard the seat of your life, guard it not only against the open blows of violence, but also against that spirit of change…Miracles do not cluster. That which has happened but once in six thousand years, cannot be expected to happen often. Such a government, once destroyed, would have a void to be filled, perhaps for centuries, with revolution and tumult, riot and despotism.” An Anniversary Address by Daniel Webster July 4th 1806

Let us maintain a true focus on what is important. In this day it is so popular to denigrate America for every little flaw. Why not take back a bit of American Exceptionalism? Why not embrace what makes us different from every other place on the globe? America is exceptional because we are built on exceptional principles. Principles of Liberty, freedom, morality, and equality as derived from our Creator. And these principles are STILL WORTH FIGHTING FOR!

KrisAnne Hall is a former biochemist, Russian linguist for the US Army, and former prosecutor for the State of Florida. KrisAnne also practiced First Amendment Law for a prominent Florida non-profit Law firm. KrisAnne now travels the country teaching the foundational principles of Liberty and our Constitutional Republic. KrisAnne is the author of 6 books on the Constitution and Bill of Rights, she also has an internationally popular radio and television show and her books and classes have been featured on C-SPAN TV. KrisAnne can be found at www.KrisAnneHall.com.


Today’s news moves at a faster pace than ever, and a lot of sources are not trustworthy. Whatfinger.com  is my go-to source for keeping up with all the latest events in real time from good sources.


 

Categories
Constitution Founders Government States Supreme Court Truth

Supreme Court Rediscovers States Rights, But…

By KrisAnne Hall, JD

In a baby step back toward protecting reserved state powers, the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday overturned a 25-year-old federal law called The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). The Act was originally signed into law in 1992 to target organized markets for sports gambling.  This federal law was not a flat ban on sports-gambling schemes, but only a law that prohibited States from permitting sports gambling by State law.

In an opinion written by Justice Alito, the majority of the court decided this law was a violation of the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution. Alito says, “The legislative powers granted to Congress are sizeable, but they are not unlimited. The Constitution confers on Congress not plenary legislative power but only certain enumerated powers. Therefore, all other legislative power is reserved for the States, as the Tenth Amendment confirms.” The Tenth Amendment limitation is referred to by the court as the “anti-commandeering doctrine.”

The people of New Jersey want to legalize sports gambling but PASPA makes it illegal for States to legalize any “sports gambling schemes.” The people of New Jersey argued that this federal law infringed upon the State’s sovereign authority. The State relied upon two cases; New York v. US (1992) and Printz v. US (1997) that struck down federal laws that imposed improper regulatory powers upon the States. In Printz v. US, the Supreme Court used Federalist Papers 39 as support for their opinion in which James Madison explained:

“[T]he local or municipal authorities form distinct and independent portions of the supremacy, no more subject, within their respective spheres, to the general authority, than the general authority is subject to them, within its own sphere. In this relation, then, the proposed government cannot be deemed a NATIONAL one; since its jurisdiction extends to certain enumerated objects only, and leaves to the several States a residuary and inviolable sovereignty over all other objects.”

In these cases, the Supreme Court recognized that there are separate and independent jurisdictions that exist within the two sovereign spheres of government; the State and the Federal. When the power has not been delegated to the Federal government, that power remains with the State and outside of the Federal government’s power to impose laws upon the State. Following this same standard, established by the Tenth Amendment in the Constitution, Justice Alito and the majority recognized the State’s authority to regulate gambling lies within the sovereign realm of the state’s authority and that Congress directing state legislatures to prohibit sports gambling is not an enumerated power delegated by the Constitution to the federal government. Alito wrote:

“The anti-commandeering doctrine may sound arcane, but it is simply the expression of a fundamental structural decision incorporated into the Constitution, i.e., the decision to withhold from Congress the power to issue orders directly to the States.”

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It is refreshing to see the Supreme Court return to this fundamental and essential truth; that the States are independent sovereigns and the federal government can only lawfully exercise powers that have been properly delegated. This Court also recognized the constitutional principle of the sovereignty of the States in NFIB v. Sebelius when Chief Justice Roberts, writing the majority opinion said:

“In the typical case we look to the States to defend their prerogative by adopting ‘the simple expedient of not yielding’ to federal blandishments when they do not want to embrace federal policy as their own.  The States are separate and independent sovereigns. Sometimes they have to act like it.”

Although this is just a small step, Alito and the majority court may be steering the federal government back in the proper direction; one not only required by the Constitution but also by those who wrote it.  Alexander Hamilton makes this very clear in Federalist #78:

“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.”

Hamilton is explaining in this text that for a federal law to be valid, it must not only comply with the text of the Constitution, it must also be consistent with the “tenor of the commission under which it is exercised.” The Constitution requires adherence to the intent of the drafters as well as the words of the document. In a display of adherence to this intent, Justice Alito quotes the Declaration of Independence and Madison’s Federalist #39 in his majority opinion to once again remind the people and their Congress that the States are sovereign.

“When the original States declared their independence, they claimed the powers inherent in sovereignty — in the words of the Declaration of Independence, the authority ‘to do all…Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do’…the States…retained ‘a residuary and inviolable sovereignty.’”

However, one point Alito seems to miss in his opinion is that the power to regulate gambling is not a power that is delegated at all to the federal government. He claims that “[c]ongress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each State is free to act on its own.” In this broad assertion of power, Alito actually sides with Justice Ginsberg and the dissent; that the federal government is realistically unlimited in its exercise of power. Justice Thomas, in his concurring opinion, is the only Justice who denies this assertion of unlimited authority:

“Unlike the dissent I do “doubt” that Congress can prohibit sports gambling that does not cross state lines.”

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Indeed, you may search the entire text, you may scour the writings of the drafters of the Constitution, but you will never find an authority delegated to the federal government to regulate such activity. The assumed authority to do so comes from an interpretation of the Commerce Clause, in which the federal government stretches the meaning and application way beyond the “tenor of the commission” of the Constitution. As Madison explained in 1792, during the Cod Fishery debate, the clauses within the Constitution are not powers delegated at all; they are merely explanations of “the purpose of the powers which are delegated.” These clauses were never intended to be boilerplate blank checks written to Congress to create whatever law they could somehow justify. Madison issues a very stern warning against using these clauses for that purpose.

“…for if the clause in question really authorizes Congress to do whatever they think fit…it would subvert the very foundations, and transmute the very nature of the limited government established by the people of America.”

What Alito suggests is that the powers of the federal government are not limited by the Constitution, but by mere will enforced by interpretation of clauses. Alito seems to only differ from the dissent in policy but not in principle. However, as Alito does assert in his opinion, the Tenth Amendment is very clear: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” However, his final statements seem to assert that there are no reserved powers that rest within the States.

What Alito is really saying is that all power exists within the federal government and anything the feds choose not to use, is then “available” to be exercised by the States. Alito’s claim then becomes the very manifestation of Madison’s warning, transmuting the limited nature of the federal government to one that is limited only by its own interpretation and desire for power. Alito is not supporting a Constitutional Republic, but an unlimited federal kingdom that grants permissions to its vassal colonies — the states.

There should be no doubt as to the limited authority of the federal government. There should be no doubt as to the reserved powers and sovereignty of the States. Both are well documented within the Constitution and in the drafters’ explanations of the Constitution. However, this fundamental and essential principle necessary for the existence of our Constitutional Republic still eludes too many of our justices who claim the federal government can regulate the lives of the citizens in whatever manner they choose, as long as they can create an articulate justification and manipulate the Constitution, irrespective of the tenor in which it was written.

It is a step in the right direction to see the Court once again asserting the Sovereignty of the States.  However, what is the real difference between the majority and minority opinions when they both support an unlimited congressional authority over the people and left over power for the States?

KrisAnne Hall is a former biochemist, Russian linguist for the US Army, and former prosecutor for the State of Florida. KrisAnne also practiced First Amendment Law for a prominent Florida non-profit Law firm. KrisAnne now travels the country teaching the foundational principles of Liberty and our Constitutional Republic. KrisAnne is the author of 6 books on the Constitution and Bill of Rights, she also has an internationally popular radio and television show and her books and classes have been featured on C-SPAN TV. KrisAnne can be found at www.KrisAnneHall.com.


Today’s news moves at a faster pace than ever, and a lot of sources are not trustworthy. Whatfinger.com  is my go-to source for keeping up with all the latest events in real time from good sources.


 

Categories
Constitution Founders Truth

The Power To Pardon: A Necessary Mercy and Corrective

By KrisAnne Hall, JD

The power to pardon has been controversial since the times of kings.

Throughout history, there has been apprehension that there would be abuse of this power by executives conflicted by the need for a means to offer mercy. These concerns were no different at the time of the drafting of our Constitution.

In September 1787, George Mason, designer of the Bill of Rights, expressed his doubts about the use of the power of pardon in cases of treason:

“The President of the United States has the unrestrained power of granting pardons for treason, which may be sometimes exercised to screen from punishment those whom he had secretly instigated to commit the crime, and thereby prevent a discovery of his own guilt.”

The Anti-Federalist Cato echoed this concern in his #67 letter regarding the power of pardon for treason:

“…which may be used to screen from punishment those whom he had secretly instigated to commit the crime, and thereby prevent a discovery of his own guilt…”

Cato, in this letter, asks the question of the ages regarding the application of this power:

“Will not the exercise of these powers therefore tend either to the establishment of a vile and arbitrary aristocracy or monarchy?”

Another Anti-Federalist, Brutus, wrote of his concerns of this “kingly” power in his letter #1:

“…designing men…will use the power, when they have acquired it, to the purposes of gratifying their own interest and ambition, and it is scarcely possible, in a very large republic, to call them to account for their misconduct, or to prevent their abuse of power.”

However, Alexander Hamilton counters with a response to these concerns in Federalist #74. He explains this power has always been a part of the executive for two very important purposes.

First, as a way for the executive to offer grace and mercy:

“Humanity and good policy conspire to dictate, that the benign prerogative of pardoning should be as little as possible fettered or embarrassed.”

Secondly, to be an important check and balance upon the judicial branch:

“The criminal code of every country partakes so much of necessary severity, that without an easy access to exceptions in favor of unfortunate guilt, justice would wear a countenance too sanguinary and cruel.”

 

Pardon as a corrective for corrupt courts

Events of history confirm the need for the ability to apply grace in a rigid criminal code and to correct the overzealous hand of a magistrate. Despite of the concerns regarding the executive, the exercise of the power of pardon has often been more of an indication of a corrupt judiciary rather than executive abuse.

Presidents have used the power of pardon from the very beginning of our Constitutional Republic.

President George Washington granted pardon to those who participated in the Whiskey Rebellion. President Thomas Jefferson, after signing the repeal of the Alien and Sedition acts, pardoned those who had been convicted of those unconstitutional and arbitrary laws. Jefferson wrote in his pardon of David Brown:

“That I Thomas Jefferson, President of the United States of America, in consideration of the premises and of divers other good causes me thereunto moving, have pardoned and remitted and by these presents do pardon and remit to the said David Brown…”

The power of pardon for the president is not unlimited. Article 2 section 2 clause 1 of the Constitution establishes this executive power:

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

The president cannot pardon after impeachment and he has no authority to pardon for state crimes — only federal crimes. The president can issue a pardon at any point, beginning with the commission of the crime through conviction, and even after the sentence has been served.

The only restriction is that the president cannot issue a pardon before a crime is committed. That would truly make a king.

KrisAnne Hall is a former biochemist, Russian linguist for the US Army, and former prosecutor for the State of Florida. KrisAnne also practiced First Amendment Law for a prominent Florida non-profit Law firm. KrisAnne now travels the country teaching the foundational principles of Liberty and our Constitutional Republic. KrisAnne is the author of 6 books on the Constitution and Bill of Rights, she also has an internationally popular radio and television show and her books and classes have been featured on C-SPAN TV. KrisAnne can be found atwww.KrisAnneHall.com