Alarming poll on First Amendment justifies zealous defense of the Second

Retired Circuit Justice Kozinski once said:
“The Second Amendment is a doomsday provision, one designed for those exceptionally rare circumstances where all other rights have failed—where the government refuses to stand for reelection and silences those who protest; where courts have lost the courage to oppose, or can find no one to enforce their decrees. However improbable these contingencies may seem today, facing them unprepared is a mistake a free people get to make only once.
Fortunately, the Framers were wise enough to entrench the right of the people to keep and bear arms within our constitutional structure. The purpose and importance of that right was still fresh in their minds, and they spelled it out clearly so it would not be forgotten.”

It seems that “….silences those who protest.” is not so  ‘improbable’ these days, is it?

A poll conducted by Caravan Surveys for the Campaign for Free Speech revealed alarming support among Americans for rewriting the First Amendment and underscores the danger of putting constitutionally-protected fundamental rights up to a public vote.

According to the survey, “some 51 percent of people in the US believe that the (First) amendment…should be updated to reflect the cultural norms of today.” The poll of 1,004 respondents also revealed that 48 percent believe “hate speech,” while not defined, should be illegal and half of the people think punishment should include possible imprisonment or fines. A whopping 57 percent of poll respondents think the government should be able to penalize news agencies for publishing “content that is biased, inflammatory, or false.”

The poll results have frightening ramifications for our free speech and free press rights. The fact that a majority of people now seem to be rethinking our freedoms guaranteed under the Bill of Rights should be troubling to all Americans.

What is equally troubling is the failure of the establishment media to see the parallels between this sudden attack on the First Amendment and the ongoing crusade against the Second Amendment.

As authors of the recently-released book “Good Guys with Guns,” we recognize there are good journalists with keyboards and bad journalists with keyboards. Good ones should not be penalized for the misbehavior of the bad ones. The same principle must apply to how we treat the rights of more than 100 million American gun owners who have never harmed anyone or committed any crime, yet how many editorial pages have repeatedly demanded more restrictions on the Second Amendment because some people break the law?

When talking about constitutionally-enumerated rights, great care must be taken to separate rights from privileges. For too many years, far too many people in the media have treated the Second Amendment as a privilege to be heavily regulated. The Campaign for Free Speech poll puts such corrosive thinking in its proper perspective.

Simply, you cannot advocate restrictions or abolition of your neighbors’ rights, which you don’t support, without putting your own rights at risk. With the release of these new survey results, that vulture has come home to roost.

Michael Bloomberg is an enemy of freedom

Michael Bloomberg is probably running for president. That’s bad news.

According to the New York Times, the former New York City mayor is making preparations to file for the Alabama Democratic primary. Alabama isn’t an early voting state, but it has an early registration deadline. Key Bloomberg advisers told the Times that this doesn’t mean he’ll surely enter the race, but that he will if he thinks it’s necessary: “We now need to finish the job and ensure that Trump is defeated — but Mike is increasingly concerned that the current field of candidates is not well positioned to do that.”

While I certainly understand the abstract appeal of the idea of adding a more moderate voice to a Democratic primary field that currently boasts Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders as front-runners, voters shouldn’t mistake Bloomberg for someone any more hospitable to liberty and freedom. In fact, the former mayor has made an entire career out of cracking down on individual liberty and building up the nanny state.

Don’t forget, he spent his tenure as NYC mayor fighting the problems that truly matter by … attempting to ban large sodas? And since leaving office, he’s spent much of his time crusading against vaping despite it being much healthier than traditional smoking.

Even on more serious issues, Bloomberg shows contempt for freedom and constitutional liberties. For instance, he supports a robust anti-Second Amendment agenda, which includes everything from so-called universal background checks to all-out bans on certain types of guns to bans on entire age groups from exercising their right to self-defense. And he’s spent millions of dollars trying to elect legislators willing to whittle away at the Second Amendment.

He fairs only somewhat better on First Amendment issues.

For instance, Bloomberg openly dismisses the idea of a free press when he says he expects his reporters at Bloomberg News to never cover him critically. Imagine that attitude in the Oval Office in the hands of someone who has already displayed ample willingness to use the powers of the government to squash individual liberties. Bloomberg’s contempt for press freedom led even a Washington Post writer to decry his “disturbing attitude toward the First Amendment — and democracy generally.”

Oh, and Bloomberg thinks marijuana legalization is “the stupidest thing anyone has ever done.” That’s right, he believes we should throw people in cages for smoking a plant in their backyard. Of course, I doubt the mayor wants to play by his own rules — he has admitted to smoking weed in the past.

There are, of course, some things to like about Michael Bloomberg. He supported charter schools as mayor of New York City and is at least somewhat fiscally conservative. And in a field that included aspirants as insufferable as Beto O’Rourke and Bill de Blasio, there’s no way he’ll be the most obnoxious candidate we’re forced to hear out.

But none of this makes the mayor’s policy positions any less disqualifying.

Bloomberg’s affinity for the nanny state and antipathy toward personal liberty led a writer at the libertarian magazine Reason to dub him a “billionaire busybody who can be counted on to oppose individual freedom in almost every area of life.” Let’s hope that billionaire busybody doesn’t become our next president.

Indiana Supreme Court Applies Eighth Amendment to Curb “Oppressive” Asset Forfeitures.
The ruling is a continuation of the same case in which the federal Supreme Court ruled that the Excessive Fines Clause of the Eighth Amendment is “incorporated” against state governments and applies to asset forfeitures.

In February, in the case of Timbs v. Indiana, a unanimous Supreme Court ruled that the Excessive Fines Clause of the Eighth Amendment applies to state and local governments (as well as the federal government) and that it constrains civil asset forfeitures. Civil asset forfeiture policies enable law enforcement agencies to seize property that they suspect might have been used in a crime—including in many cases where the owner has never been convicted of anything, or even charged. Abusive forfeitures are a a widespread problem that often victimizes innocent people and particularly harms the poor. The scale of this legalized robbery is staggering. In some years, federal law enforcement alone seizes more property through asset forfeiture than burglars steal throughout the nation.

The Timbs decision could potentially lead to tighter constraints on asset forfeiture. But the Supreme Court left one key issue unaddressed: what qualifies as an “excessive” fine in the asset forfeiture context? The federal Supreme Court remanded that question to the Indiana Supreme Court, from which the case had been appealed to the federal Supreme Court in the first place. Earlier this week, the Indiana court issued a decision laying criteria for what qualifies as “excessive.” Nick Sibilla of the Institute for Justice (the public interest law firm that represented the property owner before both the federal and state supreme courts), has a helpful summary in an article in Forbes:

To determine if a forfeiture would be “grossly disproportional” and unconstitutional under the Excessive Fines Clause, the Indiana Supreme Court devised a three-factor test. First, Hoosier courts will now have to consider the “harshness of the punishment,” which may include considering if the forfeiture would remedy the harm cause by the offense and to what extent, as well as property’s value and role in the offense.

Judges will also need to determine what effect forfeiting the property would have on the owner. After all, courts already consider a person’s economic resources when it comes to levying court costs and civil punitive damages.

“The owner’s economic means—relative to the property’s value—is an appropriate consideration,” Chief Justice Rush wrote. “To hold the opposite would generate a new fiction: that taking away the same piece of property from a billionaire and from someone who owns nothing else punishes each person equally.”

Second, courts in Indiana must determine the “severity of the offense,” which includes examining statutory penalties, the sentence imposed, and the harm cause by the crime. Finally, judges will also be required to consider an owner’s culpability and “blameworthiness for the property’s use as an instrumentality of the underlying offenses.” A forfeiture may be unconstitutionally excessive “if a claimant is entirely innocent of the property’s misuse.”

This test is likely to significantly curb abusive forfeitures in the state of Indiana, particularly in cases where the owner is in fact innocent of any crime, but merely had the misfortune of owning a car or other property that someone else allegedly used in the commission of some offense. The court emphasized that “if a claimant is entirely innocent of the property’s misuse, that fact alone may render a use-based… fine excessive.”

The court points out that “in recent decades, the absence of certain shields against the oppressive use of civil forfeiture has encouraged the widened use of aggressive in rem for forfeiture practices.” This decision will help change that.

At least for the moment, the new test will only apply in Indiana courts. But, as  the first state supreme court ruling on the subject to follow the federal Supreme Court’s decision in this same case, it could influence future decisions on the subject in other state and federal courts.

Bill would prevent potential killers from renting ‘terror trucks,’ says N.J. congressman

Yes, they really do elect people this stupid to congress.

U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer wants to prevent would-be killers from renting “terror trucks” and other vehicles that could be used in deadly attacks, such as the rampage in Lower Manhattan two years ago in which eight people were killed, including a 32-year-old New Jersey man.

The bi-partisan legislation would ask federal authorities to identify “red flags” of possible terrorists and then share that information with car rental companies.

“They represent a new weapon of mass destruction,” Gottheimer, D-5th Dist., said at an event in New Milford, referring to rented trucks used in terrorist attacks to mow down bystanders here and in Europe.

“Terrorists shouldn’t be able to rent terror trucks,” he said. “We commit ourselves to take these next steps.”

The legislation is named the Darren Drake Act, named after the New Milford man who died when a truck jumped onto a riverfront path in New York City, plowing into pedestrians and bicyclists in 2017.

“You don’t get better,” Jimmy Drake told reporters, referring to the loss of his son, which he called “a living nightmare.”

“(But) Darren would be very, very proud,” he said. “If Darren knew that because of his sacrifice that people would live, he would be jumping up and down.”

The Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration would be tasked with creating the system and sharing the information with rental companies, Gottheimer said.

The congressman said there “were flags raised” against the terrorist who is accused of killing Drake and seven others in the 2017 attack that could have possibly prevented the attack if the legislation was in place. But he didn’t provide any details of the warning signs.

 

Kennewick woman needs 300k signatures to repeal I-1639

Hey Phat One! Help get word of this out.

KENNEWICK, Wash. — A Second Amendment advocate from Tri-Cities is gathering signatures to repeal initiative 1639.

Radona Devereaux tells Action News she worked with a number of gun-advocate groups to assemble the final initiative.

Now she says they need nearly 300 thousand signatures from registered Washington voters before Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019.

From there, Devereaux says the petitions go to Olympia to get certified and if everything checks out we could be voting on a repeal next November.

She’s urging folks across the state to get involved.

“Use your voice, vote. Sign a petition,” Deveraux says. “If you didn’t participate in the last election, because there was a really low voter-turnout, get educated. Sign the petition and get a second chance.”

She encourages Tri-Citians to be on the lookout for fluorescent signs on street corners this weekend.

According to Devereaux, gun rights advocates across the state are working to gather signatures, including a number of local businesses.

If you’d like to review the initiative and sign your name, or you know someone who wants to gather signatures, she says B & B Express Printing in Kennewick has the PDF.

Bernie Sanders sounds ready to set up collective farms

Bernie Sanders in the Democratic debate last night had big plans for remodeling the country on socialist lines.

He’s guaranteeing everything — jobs, education, health care —, to everyone, in exchange for total power to decide what’s best for us. Sound like a bargain?

Here’s his call to “eliminate” the kulaks — er, billionaires:


According to The Hill:

Questioned whether he was sure that the federal government could adequately provide jobs for all adults in the workforce, Sanders replied, “Damn right we will.”

He’s throwing out all kinds of jobs to presumably draw in union support.

Yet 15 million jobs pretty well means a huge revamp of the economy.  How’s he going to hire 15 million people?  Employing just one person in the private sector takes a lot of checking and competition to select the best candidate.  Holding out a hiring spree for 15 million presumably laid off workers after Sanders gets done with the economy sounds more like Stalin’s institution of collective farms.

First problem: Why should these jobs replace the jobs the private sector had for such workers?  What we have here is government picking and choosing which jobs should exist.  If Vozhd Bernie wants a highway built, workers will have the choice of that job or no job, and that’s assuming that this would be done freely.  Historywise, it certainly won’t be.

What  would Bernie do if workers didn’t want those particular jobs?  What if, say, a trained beautician or dog-groomer wanted to stay in his job but couldn’t because his job had been taxed out of existence to fund the great green job machine?

For Bernie, central planning is what it’s all about.

What if someone didn’t want to dig ditches and preferred to remain a college professor instead?  This is what actually happened in Pol Pot’s Cambodia.  That laid off professor was pretty much made to dig ditches for the collective good.

Franklin Graham: I Will Not Worship ‘Rainbow Pride Flag’

Celebrated Christian evangelist Franklin Graham has taken issue with the Democrats’ extreme push of the LGBTQ agenda, saying he will stand with biblical morality.

“I will not bow down at the altar of the LGBTQ agenda nor worship their rainbow pride flag,” Rev. Graham said in reaction to Beto O’Rourke’s promise to strip churches of their tax-exempt status if they do not recognize homosexual marriage.

Denial of Second Amendment Rights Warrants a Jury Trial

Earlier this month, the Nevada Supreme Court ruled a person charged with misdemeanor domestic battery is entitled to a trial by jury, because the state Legislature in 2017 enacted a law saying someone convicted of such a crime could have their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms denied.

In keeping with a 1993 U.S. Supreme Court decision, our state’s high court had previously held that only those persons charged with a “serious” crime are entitled to a jury trial, which was defined as a crime carrying a sentence of greater than six months.

The unanimous opinion written by Justice Lidia Stiglich stated the change in state law to prohibit firearms possession by someone convicted of domestic violence effectively increases the “penalty” and makes the crime “serious” rather than “petty.”

“In our opinion, this new penalty — a prohibition on the right to bear arms as guaranteed by both the United States and Nevada Constitutions — ‘clearly reflect[s] a legislative determination that the offense [of misdemeanor domestic battery] is a serious one,’” Stiglich writes in a case out of Las Vegas.

The ruling concludes, “Given that the Legislature has indicated that the offense of misdemeanor domestic battery is serious, it follows that one facing the charge is entitled to the right to a jury trial.”

Attorney Michael Pariente, who represented appellate Christopher Anderson, told the Las Vegas newspaper, “I applaud the Nevada Supreme Court for unanimously doing the right thing. I think it’s a huge decision. They spoke with one voice, and it’s a good day for people who are charged with misdemeanor domestic violence. It forces the prosecutor to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt to a 12-person jury instead of one single, sitting judge.”

But Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford, whose office argued against allowing a jury trial in such cases, put out a statement saying, “The devastating consequences of this decision cannot be overstated. Misdemeanor courts across this state are not equipped for jury trials, and this decision could have a widespread chilling effect on domestic violence victims coming forward. My office is working hand-in-hand with city, county, and federal officials to formulate a response and prevent the domestic violence epidemic in this state from further devastating our communities. The most immediate priority for my office is doing whatever it takes to ensure more people are not killed by their abusers as a result of this decision.”

Frankly, we have to ask: Why did it ever come to this?

The Webster’s definition of “all” is: “the whole amount, quantity, or extent of; every member or individual component of; the whole number or sum of; every.”

You see, Article 3, Section 2, of the U.S. Constitution states: “The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by Jury …”

The Sixth Amendment reads: “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury …”

The Nevada Constitution says: “The right of trial by Jury shall be secured to all and remain inviolate forever …”

How the U.S. Supreme Court decided “petty” crimes do not warrant a trial by jury is beyond our feeble minds, but in any case the Nevada high court is to be applauded for deciding that the denial of the fundamental right to bear arms constitutes a serious matter and deserves a trial by a jury of one’s peers. — TM

University of Wisconsin-River Falls official tells conservative student with ‘free speech ball’ to move or face the cops.

“It’s the policy that conservative students should shut up and keep their heads down if they know what’s good for them.”

University of Wisconsin-River Falls campus official told a freshman student that police would be notified if she refused to get a permit before rolling a “free speech ball” around a grassy area of the public campus.

Sophie Salmon is a freshman at UW-River Falls who is trying to start a Turning Point USA chapter at her new school. As part of her recruitment efforts, Salmon inflated a six-foot “free speech ball” on Thursday. The ball was designed to serve as a platform for students to write whatever they pleased, but it also attracted the attention of university administrators.

“Kids can’t just roll a ball around?”    

After less than half an hour of rolling the ball around campus lawns, Salmon was confronted by UW-River Falls Conference and Contract Services Manager Kristin Barstad outside River Falls’ main building, University Center. The official informed the student that she lacked the proper permissions needed to exercise her free speech on public university property and needed to take the ball elsewhere.

Barstad said that if the student declined to leave the areas, then campus police would be summoned “based on the university policy that you’re violating,” although Barstad said “I’m not going to know that [policy] off the top of my head” but added that Director of University Center and Dining Services Cara Rubis “is going to have those policies.”

Neither Barstad nor Rubis responded to Campus Reform when asked which policy Salmon was allegedly violating.

The incident comes just one month after Campus Reform reported that Wisconsin state lawmakers introduced a bill that, according to a news release, would “direct the UW Board of Regents to implement a policy on free expression which states…that any person lawfully on campus may protest or demonstrate, but actions that interfere with the expressive rights of others are subject to sanction.”