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The Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution

While the 13th Amendment abolished slavery, it did nothing regarding the legal status of the former slaves. The 14th Amendment gave them citizenship and did much more. At the end of the American Civil War Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1866 granting US citizenship to former slaves. The constitutional authority off Congress to […]

Constitution’s “Origination Clause”: Why Revenue Bills Start in the House, Part 1

This is Part 1 of a three part series discussing the Constitution’s Origination Clause.  Part 2 explains the Senate procedure of  “gut and replace”. Part 3 explains why “gut and replace” violates the Constitution. There are overriding principles embodied in the US Constitution, derived from the Declaration of Independence.  These principles are beliefs about the […]

The US Constitution and Local Government

Discussions of the US Constitution tend to focus upon the actions of the president, congress and the Supreme Court.  While these are consequential, often overlooked is the impact of the Constitution on the actions of local government. Most Americans are aware of the presidential oath of office required of a new president before he begins […]

An Agency Theory of The Constitution as a Power of Attorney

“[W]e must never forget that it is a constitution we are expounding.” Chief Justice John Marshall, McCulloch v. Maryland (1819) Reviewing the 200 years of “expounding” the Constitution has undergone can be quite confounding.  There have been hundreds of Supreme Court opinions. Legal scholars, lawyers, and judges engage in continuing debate over the proper method […]

Obamacare Contraception Mandate Reaches Supreme Court

On August 3, 2011 the Department of Health and Human Services and the Internal Revenue Service jointly issued what has become known as the contraception mandate. This required all employer health plans, including religiously based hospitals, schools, charities and private employers, to offer:  “…all Food and Drug Administration approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and […]

The Second Amendment: A Personal Natural Right to Keep and Bear Arms

“There seems to us no doubt, on the basis of both text and history, that the Second Amendment conferred an individual right to keep and bear arms.”  District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) With those words, Justice Scalia put to rest a debate as to the meaning of the Second Amendment that had persisted for […]

US Constitution’s First Amendment: Right to Petition for Redress of Grievances

The First Amendment of the Bill of Rights addresses five rights.  The limits on government interference with religion, speech and the press were the result of the uniquely American experience. The right to peaceable assembly was a needed protection to exercise the first three. The First Amendment’s fifth right will come as a surprise to […]

American Federalism: Source, Purpose and Establishment Part I

“The federal and State governments are in fact but different agents and trustees of the people, constituted with different powers, and designed for different purposes.” James Madison   The Federalist, No.46 The American freedoms of religion, speech, press and assembly as protected and practiced were new to the world. Those contributions to the world’s political thought were uniquely American. So it is with […]

Natural Law and the Legitimate Authority of the United States

Government needs a basis to exercise authority over people. Citizens must accept government authority.  A government lacking acceptance of the people over whom it exercises authority will not endure.  Such acceptance comes from fear, tradition or philosophy. Dictators obtain authority by instilling fear of disobedience in the populace. A theocracy ordained by God arises from […]

First Amendment to the Constitution: Freedom of the Press

Like Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Speech, in the United States the concept of Freedom of the Press as it developed has been uniquely American.  Along with free speech for the general population, it is surely the source of what has become known as American Exceptionalism. American Exceptionalism Alexis de Tocqueville originally referred to […]