Tag: Constitution

Constitutional Amendment Film Fest

 

If one should have a movie theater in the District of Columbia, why wouldn’t you have a Film Festival to salute each of the Amendments to the United States Constitution?

I guess one reason why you wouldn’t is that you might lose money on the run, but other than that…

I have slated a film for each amendment of the constitution and admit some picks are better than others. Feel free to suggest substitutes. Who knows? Various amendments might be the subject of Movie Fight Clubs someday. But for now, here’s what I got…

Student Debt Cancellation Is Constitutionally Infirm

 

In one of the most audacious acts of his presidency, President Biden recently issued a fact sheet offering “Student Loan Relief for Borrowers Who Need It Most.” To Biden, that group consists of all individuals who have received student loans but have not yet paid them off, with an exception for loan payments made during the pandemic. The president wants to give this group “breathing room as they prepare to start repaying loans after the economic crisis brought on by the pandemic.” The terms of the proposed loan forgiveness program are clear: the Department of Education will allow for $20,000 in debt relief to Pell Grant recipients—undergraduates with exceptional financial needs—and $10,000 for other students, so long as their individual income is under $125,000 per year (or $250,000 for a married couple). The plan also makes a number of technical adjustments that cut repayment rates for future loans.

The equity of this program has been under fierce attack for forcing the impending financial shortfall on the shoulders of individuals who have already repaid their loans, blue-collar workers who never took out loans, and the general taxpayer who already faces heavy rates. And the burden is no small thing: the Wharton financial model projects that the cancellation program will cost over $500 billion, and could jump to over a trillion dollars depending on future regulations and practices on both existing and new loans.

One might expect that a program of this magnitude would receive extensive congressional discussion followed by legislative approval. One would be disappointed. Here, the president is proceeding by executive order, which he claims is authorized under the HEROES Act of 2003 (an acronym for The Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students Act). Biden relied on an extensive memo by Christopher Schroeder, the head of the Office of Legal Counsel, an office within the Department of Justice that provides legal advice to the president and all executive branch agencies. The memo does not hold water. The key provision of the HEROES Act on which it relies reads:

Join Jim and Greg as they discuss major news from three different spots around the globe. First, they are cautiously optimistic as new British Prime Minister Liz Truss promises to govern as a conservative and that means cutting taxes to grow the economy. They also cheer the people of Chile for overwhelmingly rejecting a new far left constitution that looks an awful like the goals of Democrats in the U.S. And they brace for a very rough winter in Europe as Russia says it will restrict energy exports until “the collective west” backs off its sanctions towards Moscow.

A Stable Constitution for Unstable Times

 

One of the most fundamental questions of political theory is deceptively simple: why have a constitution at all? The answer to this question should be easy, given the widespread adoption of written constitutions in recent years, even if their substantive provisions vary widely from country to country.

Regrettably, however, the success of constitutionalism is far from guaranteed if social conditions do not support limited government, which is why so many constitutions have very short half-lives. The most notable exception to this unhappy fate is the American Constitution of 1787—up and running, with many changes along the way, for 235 years. Its duration is not just happenstance, for it rests on a sound intuitive assessment of how governments should generally work. To understand why some constitutions work, consider the arguments against constitutional precommitments.

One argument for not having a constitution is that legislation is a better way to deal with social problems. The legislator never has to plan solutions far in advance of their implementation, and thus has better information about conditions on the ground that let a legislature use its commendable financial resources and expert staff to fashion a solution. Therefore, there is a knock-down argument that some legislation is always necessary, and that not all matters can be resolved by some combination of social norms and private agreements, although these two are essential components of any holistic solution of good government.

This week on “The Learning Curve,” co-hosts Gerard Robinson and Cara Candal talk with Richard Epstein, the inaugural Laurence A. Tisch Professor of Law at NYU School of Law, and author of The Classical Liberal Constitution: The Uncertain Quest for Limited Government. He describes the influence of 17th and 18th-century English ideas on our Founding Fathers’ views of ordered liberty and self-government. He traces federalism’s legal roots and explains why the concept of “competitive federalism” among the states and with the national government remains hotly contested. They discuss federalism as it relates to education, with early state constitutions delegating wide authority to local governments and citizens. Professor Epstein distinguishes federalism from infamous states’ rights arguments from antebellum America, or unjust state and local laws like Jim Crowism and segregation, and offers insights on how to strike a balance between the federal, state, and local governments in terms of ensuring basic rights. He explores how policymakers at all levels should think about using classical liberal constitutionalism to achieve wider access to educational excellence. The interview concludes with Professor Epstein’s reading from his book.

Stories of the Week: In the UK, the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Entrepreneurship has issued a report calling on the government to prioritize instruction in entrepreneurial skills. In Utah, women constitute 72 percent of K-12 educators, but only 13 percent of school superintendents, according to 2019 study by the national School Superintendents Association.

Reading, Listening, and Watching

 

Here I’m providing snapshots of media I’ve consumed lately since there’s too much material for discrete reviews. Note: The Kindle and audiobooks were deals I acquired on the cheap.

Signing Their Rights Away – This book provides absorbing bios for the thirty-nine signers of the Constitution. (A similar work on the Declaration is entitled Signing Their Lives Away.)  Each piece gives background on the signer’s family life, his career, his part in the Constitutional Convention, and key life events after the signing. I got this as a Kindle deal for under two dollars, and it has been worth it to awaken my mind to facts surrounding this era. For example, I was under the impression that there were just a handful of upstanding “founding fathers” at the birth of our country. This book corrects that assumption, revealing that there were other astute men on hand helping to hammer out an agreement and promote the Constitution to their home states.  I also realize that there was an astonishing amount of wealth in our land even back then; that many of the signers, if not lawyers, were surveyors or merchants; that coming to agreement on the Constitution took weeks of summer meetings in a stifling room; that there were sharp disagreements, especially on how representation in Congress could be fair to both large and small states; and that a number of the wealthy participants also speculated (foolishly) on tracts of land to the west.

Join Jim and Greg as they cheer the Supreme Court decision confirming that gun owners do not need to “show cause” to get a concealed carry permit. They also criticize four Senate Democrats for demanding Google not include any information on pregnancy resource centers when people search for abortion services. And they wonder why the Biden administration is banning Juul vaping products.

Use Article V to Solve the Debt Crisis

 

Over the last few decades, no force on earth has been able to halt the explosive growth of US federal debt.

At the conclusion of WWII, fiscal conservatives were aghast that our national debt had ballooned to $259 billion. By the end of the Vietnam war it stood at $533 billion and, despite urgent warnings, was over $5,674 billion by the end of the century. Today it stands at $30,000 billion ($30 trillion) after the Biden administration’s horrific spending spree conducted on the pretext of limiting the fallout from Covid.

The reason is pretty simple. Spending other peoples’ money is politically popular. Taxes are not and budget cutting is risky.

Join Jim and Greg as they dive into billionaire Elon Musk’s proposal to buy Twitter and why it makes the left so angry. They also dissect a new report quoting multiple officials alleging California Sen. Diane Feinstein is quickly losing her mental acuity. And Joy Behar of “The View” bizarrely claims that the Supreme Court is poised to “pass a bill” to allow open carry in New York despite the high court having no such power.

Member Post

 

The question was first raised in 2015, if not before. Could then-President Barack Obama, having been elected twice, run as then-Vice President and putative Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s running mate? Betting sites focused on the 2020 election gave it 2 percent odds. And those same sites are taking bets for 2024. Preview Open

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Advise. Don’t Consent.

 

Justice John Masrshall by Henry Inman

Justice John Marshall by Henry Inman.

Lawrence Tribe says that the Vice President cannot legally function as a tie-breaker in a judicial confirmation vote.

If he’s right, that would give the GOP leverage in the confirmation process. But the Senate GOP needs to take its role seriously. Too many Republicans say things like, “The President should get the justices he wants, as long as the nominees are qualified.” Lindsay Graham has put that saying into practice.

Hubwonk host Joe Selvaggi talks with Cato Institute Vice President Ilya Shapiro about the recent Supreme Court vaccine mandate rulings and what they tell us about the limits of executive branch power and the sitting justices’ views on the guidance of the U.S. Constitution.
Guest:

Ilya Shapiro is a vice president of the Cato Institute, director of the Robert A. Levy Center for Constitutional Studies, and publisher of the Cato Supreme Court Review. Before joining Cato, he was a special assistant/adviser to the MultiNational Force in Iraq on rule of law issues and practiced at Patton Boggs and Cleary Gottlieb. Shapiro is the author of Supreme Disorder: Judicial Nominations and the Politics of America’s Highest Court (2020), coauthor of Religious Liberties for Corporations? Hobby Lobby, the Affordable Care Act, and the Constitution (2014), and editor of 11 volumes of the Cato Supreme Court Review (2008–18). He has contributed to a variety of academic, popular, and professional publications, regularly provides commentary for various media outlets, is a legal consultant to CBS News. He holds an AB from Princeton University, an MSc from the London School of Economics, and a JD from the University of Chicago Law School (where he became a Tony Patiño Fellow).

Quote of the Week: Your Rights

 

“Your rights get lost when you depart from the original meaning. And then sometimes, wait, it gets worse. Not only does it take stuff away, it puts stuff in there that isn’t.” — Justice Neil Gorsuch

Given this week’s Supreme Court hearings, this quote seemed appropriate. Especially since several Justices put stuff in that isn’t there. Such as statements about 100,000 kids being hospitalized for Covid with many on ventilators. Or that another justice claimed that there were 750 million new cases of Omicron just yesterday. (Even worldwide, that means close to 1/10 of the global population contracted Omicron just this week. In the US? Everyone caught it twice yesterday.) These are the minds that will be deciding the fate of millions. I don’t know if that scares you. It certainly scares me.

Member Post

 

Click here to listen to the podcast! On this episode of the Resistance Library Podcast, Sam and Dave discuss Constitution Day. Constitution Day is a dual observance: It celebrates both the day that the United States Constitution was adopted, as well as honors naturalized citizens of our country. Preview Open

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Member Post

 

Constitution Day is a dual observance: It celebrates both the day that the United States Constitution was adopted, as well as honors naturalized citizens of our country. Prior to 2004, the day was known as Citizenship Day. Its name was changed due to an amendment attached to a spending bill by Sen. Robert Byrd. While there was an archaic form […]

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On Covid and Texas, Biden Courts a Constitutional Crisis

 

When Donald Trump was president, we heard a lot about Norms® and Standards. Trump was accused of violating this vague collection of unwritten rules, a convenient tactic when they couldn’t prove actual crimes. The good news was that Biden’s election would restore this Beltway-approved system of etiquette. How refreshing.

Eight months into his administration, Biden has folded, spindled, and mutilated our Norms® and Standards, even those mandated by the Constitution. Trump was erratic but Biden is openly courting a constitutional crisis.

Pressured by far-left backbencher Cori Bush in August, the White House reinstated an eviction ban already declared illegal by the Supreme Court. Biden knew it was a violation but said: “by the time it gets litigated, it will probably give some additional time.”

Join Jim and Greg as they welcome New York Democrats planning to expedite the impeachment probe of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and a new poll showing most New Yorkers want him out of office. They also hammer President Biden for bringing back the eviction moratorium while admitting the Supreme Court will probably rule against him. And they’re exasperated as NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins goes on national television and tells parents to mask up at home to protect their kids from COVID.

 

Member Post

 

I recently came across a court opinion including a particularly rousing and powerful defense of originalism in the interpretation of the Constitution.  No one, we presume, supposes that any change in public opinion or feeling . . . should induce the court to give to the words of the Constitution a more liberal construction in […]

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Member Post

 

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. What if you don’t believe in a Creator? Or that He has created us all equal? Or that we have […]

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