Constitutional Question Resolved For a Pay Raise

On April 4, 1841 William Henry Harrison became the first United States president to die in office. The Constitution did not address critical questions regarding succession and the status of Harrison’s Vice-President, John Tyler.  Tyler would act to resolve one of the issues, apparently for personal, not constitutional reasons. Lack of Constitutional Clarity The Constitution’s […]

Book Review: The Second Revolution and The 2nd Amendment

“The laws that forbid the carrying of arms … disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes…. Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an […]

Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman and the Founders’ Faith in Grand Juries

“I consider trial by jury as the only anchor ever yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution…”  Thomas Jefferson The death of Trayvon Martin during an altercation with George Zimmerman prompted calls for a national discussion about race relations that went all the way to […]

Boston Marathon Bomber, Miranda Warnings and the Public Safety Exception

Law enforcement’s goal of taking Boston Marathon Bombing Suspect #2, [1] Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, alive was commendably achieved.  A principle reason for this goal was to question Tsarnaev about further potential dangers to the public.  The FBI has announced its intent to question him “extensively” prior to reading him Miranda warnings, relying upon the “public safety” exception […]

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 […]

The Origin and Meaning of the Miranda Warnings

The Miranda warnings are part of American criminal justice and American popular culture.  Where do they come from? What do they mean? Ernesto Miranda was the name of a 23 year old Mexican immigrant.  The United States Supreme Court in 1966 announced a constitutional rule of criminal procedure requiring that police must advise a suspect of several […]

Gideon v. Wainwright, 50 Years Later, Did Clarence Gideon Write His Appeal? Part 2

Clarence Earl Gideon had an eighth grade education and a long criminal history. He had been sentenced to prison for the fifth time. Upon his arrival he began to study law for long hours in the prison library. As the story goes, eventually, with a pencil and paper he scratched out an appeal to the […]

Gideon v. Wainwright, 50 Years Later, Did Clarence Gideon Write His Appeal? Part 1

Thanks to television crime dramas and police shows, everyone is familiar with the following: “You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you.” The story of those familiar words started with a Bay Harbor, FL poolroom break-in in 1961. The break-in resulted in the arrest, […]

The Negro and the Constitution by Martin Luther King, Jr.

The oratory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. moved people to action to address the wrongs of racial discrimination.  He is best known for his “I Have a Dream” speech on August 28, 1963, given at the Lincoln Memorial before an estimated audience of 250,000 and millions more on television and radio in a exemplary […]

A Mom’s Note, A Son’s Vote and the Nineteenth Amendment

Ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment to the US Constitution guaranteed the right to vote for women across the United States.  Constitutional studies usually focus on the Supreme Court and its opinions.  This approach often loses the personal stories of the real people behind the Constitution’s every word.  The tale of Febb Ensminger Burn and her […]