Tag Archives: US Constitution

Do your job, Mr. Texas AG

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has sworn an oath to defend, among other things, the U.S. Constitution, which Texans still must obey under the law.

The Constitution, as interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court, has an equal-protection clause that says all Americans are entitled to be treated equally. That means gay couples, men and women, who choose to marry some of the same gender.

So, when a justice of the peace refuses to follow the law, gets sanctioned by the Texas Commission on Judicial  Conduct, and then gets sued by the JP for allegedly violating her religious liberty, then the AG is bound by law to defend the TCJC. That’s how I read it.

Paxton ain’t doing it.

Oh, no. He is siding with the justice of the peace, Dianne Hensley, for refusing to preside over same-sex marriages, citing her religious convictions, which endorse only marriages between one man and one woman.

But wait! The SCOTUS has determined that gay marriage is legal in this country. That includes Texas, doesn’t it? Aren’t we part of the United States of America, the nation governed by a secular Constitution?

I am all in favor of religious liberty. This is just my interpretation, though, but I always have considered religious liberty to have boundaries. People are free to worship as they please, or not worship a deity. Religious liberty grants them that right. However, public officials who take an oath to follow the laws of the land have responsibilities to adhere strictly to that oath.

The JP is wrong to deny marrying individuals on the basis of their gender. The AG is wrong to refuse a legally constituted state agency that has ruled appropriately against the JP.

Just do your job, Mr. Attorney General.

Worst fears of POTUS have come true

I sought repeatedly during the 2016 presidential campaign and thereafter to drive home a fundamental point about Donald John Trump.

It is that the current president of the United States had contributed not a single moment of his adult life to public service, that his entire mission in life was focused solely on self-enrichment, self-aggrandizement, self-promotion.

I am saddened to declare that I believe many millions of Americans’ worst fears about this president have come true.

A new book, “Very Stable Genius,” appears to confirm what this blog has sought to put forth. Donald Trump’s presidency is built on one premise: to do whatever is necessary to boost the fortunes of the president of the United States.

I’ve read a few excerpts of the book, written by Washington Post reporters Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker. I plan to purchase it when it goes on sale this week.

The book reportedly bristles with reporting about examples of the president dismissing the advice and counsel of his key advisers. He ignores and disparages the military commanders who surround him. He handles his own communications operation. He listens to no one. Trump relies only on his own instincts.

The president’s attention span is reportedly comparable to that of a gnat. He doesn’t read. He doesn’t study. He doesn’t learn. Donald Trump doesn’t ask probing questions.

As I have sought to lay out there from this platform, the man elected three years ago to the only public office he has ever sought has not grown into the office. Trump hasn’t learned anything about governance.

Leonnig and Rucker reportedly have revealed what many of us have believed all along. I am not going to say “I told you so,” but by golly, the temptation to do so surely exists.

Oh well. I guess I just did.

Impeachment is quite ‘constitutional,’ Mr. President

So, here we go.

Donald John Trump’s legal team has declared that the impeachment articles that will be serve as the basis for a U.S. Senate trial to determine whether Trump keeps his job as the current president of the United States are “unconstitutional.”

What? They can’t be serious!

The impeachment articles alleging abuse of power and obstruction of Congress are as “constitutional” as they can possibly be. How do I know that? Because I have read the Constitution and the process that unfolded in the House of Representatives to produce the impeachment articles followed the Constitution to the letter.

The nation’s governing framework lays out in black and white that the House shall have “sole power” to impeach a president. That’s what it did. The House didn’t break any rules, didn’t violate any law, it didn’t skip any pre-ordained process laid out. The House followed the process to the letter.

Donald Trump solicited the president of Ukraine for a political favor. He wanted Ukraine to launch an investigation into a possible political foe. He then sought to withhold military aid to Ukraine, which is fighting rebels backed by Russia. Right there is your abuse of power, Mr. President.

The second article of impeachment? It involves obstruction of Congress. Trump blocked congressional subpoenas, ordering aides to refuse to answer them. Congress cannot do its oversight duties without being able to summon witnesses to answer questions from House members. So, there is your obstruction of Congress.

It was all done according to the process laid out in the Constitution.

For the Trump legal defense team to offer up a lame “unconstitutional” rationale is ridiculous on its face.

Sanctuary cities for unborn? Oh, my … get ready for the fight

Three Texas communities — Big Spring, Colorado City and Rusk — have thumbed their collective noses at a legal activity that I acknowledge fully has its sworn enemies.

The cities all have created what they are calling “Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn.” They have declared that abortion is illegal in their cities and I will presume women who obtain them are subject to criminal prosecution.

Abortion-rights activists are furious, as they should be. Why? Well, it’s a simple notion, truth be told. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1973 that a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy was legally protected under federal law. Subsequent high court rulings have upheld the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.

Thus, the activity remains legal. Does it produce a desirable outcome? Of course not. However, I am in no position — nor is anyone else, for that matter — to dictate to a woman how she must make such a gut-wrenching decision. That is her call in consultation with her partner, her physician … and her conscience.

The Texas Tribune reports: The American Civil Liberties Union has said it is seeking to strike them down. Three towns — Mineral Wells, Omaha and Jacksboro — have voted down similar ordinances or walked them back under advice from city attorneys.

Big Spring, Colorado City and Rusk haven’t yet made their decisions final.

I am all for local control. I dislike states telling cities and towns that they cannot, for example, install electronic devices to help police enforce traffic laws. However, the U.S. Constitution remains the law of the land and in the case of abortion, the Supreme Court already has stood behind the Constitution as the final arbiter on the inflammatory issue of whether a woman can choose to terminate a pregnancy.

Texas already has told cities they cannot create sanctuaries to shield undocumented immigrants from deportation. Yes, I am aware of the intense political differences between illegal immigration and abortion.

But the Texas cities that are seeking to create “sanctuaries for the unborn” need to prepare for a fight that they should not win.

I believe the learned professor is wrong about abuse of power

At the risk of wading into an argument over an issue that ought to be way above my skill level, I want to take issue with a learned law professor’s assertion that “abuse of power” is not an impeachable offense.

With all due respect to the great Alan Dershowitz, it is my considered opinion that presidents of the United States can be impeached over abusing the awesome power of their exalted office.

Dershowitz is going to argue next week in the impeachment trial of Donald John Trump that the Constitution shouldn’t be subjected to this action on the basis of what the House of Representatives has decided. The House impeached Trump on two counts: obstruction of Congress and abuse of power.

The abuse occurred, according to the articles of impeachment, when Trump asked Ukraine for a political favor; he wanted the Ukrainians to investigate Joe Biden and Hunter Biden and, in effect, interfere in the 2020 election because Joe Biden is a possible opponent of Trump. He then withheld military aid to Ukraine, which the Government Accounting Office has said is in violation of the law.

My goodness. If that isn’t an abuse of power, then the term has no meaning.

My reading of the Constitution, which I’ve been doing a lot of lately, tells me the founders were deliberately vague on what constitutes “high crimes and misdemeanors.” Dershowitz seems to suggest that because abuse of power does not fall into a category of a criminal offense, that it doesn’t quality as an impeachable offense. Other scholars have argued that the founders hadn’t yet established any statutes when they wrote the impeachment clause into the Constitution. Therefore, those offenses could be interpreted broadly.

I’ll go with them and not with Dershowitz.

I am not going to say the Harvard law professor emeritus is a dummy. Far from it. I just believe he has concocted a standard that I don’t think exists in the U.S. Constitution.

Of course, this is an academic exercise anyhow, given the Senate’s likely disposition to avoid convicting Trump of what I believe is a “high crime and misdemeanor.” The GOP-led Senate is more prone to protect the president than the document they all took an oath to “protect and defend.”

ERA is dead? ‘Not hardly’

I have been thinking about a recurring line in the western film “Big Jake,” starring the late John Wayne.

Whenever Jake would encounter someone from his past, the other guy would say, “I thought you were dead,” to which Jake would reply, “not hardly.”

So it is with the Equal Rights Amendment. I thought the ERA was dead. Well, as Big Jake would say, “not hardly.”

Virginia’s legislature this week became the 38th — and ostensibly final — state to ratify the ERA, which found its way out of Congress in 1971. It was thought to be a cinch for ratification. Except that opposition rose against it from conservative activists, led by the late Phyllis Schlafly. The ERA was written to provide “equal rights” to everyone regardless of their gender. I happen to endorse the ERA, which I did when I first heard of it way back when.

The Texas Legislature voted to ratify the ERA in 1972, which makes me happy. Five states have voted to rescind their ratification votes. The amendment needs 38 states to ratify it for it to become a part of the Constitution.

Now, does this mean the ERA becomes the 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution? Well, no.

Some groups suggest that time ran out, even though the Constitution does not specify any time limits for amendments that go to the states for ratification. They suggest that the ERA has not survived a sort of statute of limitations.

My own hope is that the current political climate, punctuated by the #MeToo movement and the growing intolerance of the way powerful men treat women, will breathe new life into the ERA.

The Equal Rights Amendment should have become part of the Constitution long ago. It’s not too late to do the right thing for more than half of our nation’s population.

Waiting for the next ‘trial of the century’ … to date

It now appears that Americans won’t have too much longer to wait for the next trial of the century.

Pass the popcorn and the Pepto.

Donald Trump is about to stand trial in the U.S. Senate on grounds that he abused the power of the presidency and obstructed Congress. The House of Representatives impeached him on those grounds. The vote was largely partisan. The vote at the end of the Senate trial figures to be equally partisan. Trump will not be tossed out of office.

Dang it, anyhow! That’s how the system works.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced today she will send the articles of impeachment to the Senate next week. She has instructed House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler to prepare for the selection of House “managers” who will prosecute the case against Trump.

OK, it appears that Trump’s escape from conviction is a done deal. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is going to violate the oath he and his colleagues will take to be “impartial” in their deliberation, has declared his intention work hand in glove with the White House. He’s taking his cue from Trump’s legal team.

There might be witnesses called. I say “might,” because it’s not assured. It damn sure should be required.

Trump sought a political favor from a foreign government, Ukraine. He wanted that government to announce an investigation into Joe Biden, a potential 2020 presidential campaign foe. If it did as he asked, Trump said he would send military hardware to Ukraine to assist in its fight against Russia-backed rebels.

Abuse of power, anyone?

Trump also has instructed his key aides to refuse to answer congressional subpoenas to testify before House committees during their “impeachment inquiry.” He has usurped Congress’s constitutional authority to conduct oversight of the executive branch.

Obstruction of Congress? Anyone? Hmm?

I believe he has committed both acts. They are impeachable. They have earned him an early exit from the Oval Office. Except the nation’s founders set the bar quite high for that to occur: Two-thirds of the Republican-controlled Senate needs to agree with yours truly; the Senate will fall short of that high standard.

But … at least the trial will be over. Then our attention can turn to the election. It will be a barn-burner.

I am ready to rumble.

Mr. Majority Leader: Just do your job!

(Photo by Salwan Georges/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

The more I think about it, the more persuaded I become that U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is incapable of doing the job he took an oath to do.

He swore to be faithful to the U.S. Constitution. The nation’s governing document empowers the chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court to preside over a trial of the president, and that empowerment allows the chief justice to administer an oath to senators who then vow to administer “impartial” justice in determining a president’s guilt or innocence.

Why, then, does Mitch McConnell declare his intention to violate that oath by saying he has no intention of being an “impartial juror” in the upcoming trial of Donald Trump, who’s been impeached by the House of Representatives on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

If McConnell will not adhere to the constitutional provisions set forth in the trial, then he needs to recuse himself from the trial itself. He isn’t the only senator who’s vowing to less than impartial. Fellow Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham has declared that he doesn’t need to hear any evidence, that he’s made up his mind that Trump did nothing wrong. Yep, it’s a done deal, says Graham.

To be fair, there likely are some Senate Democrats who also have made up their minds. I do not recall hearing them declare it publicly and brazenly as McConnell and Graham have done. These men’s bias is stated and well-known.

It is amazing in the extreme to hear the Senate majority leader say without hesitation or reservation that he won’t be faithful to the oath that Chief Justice John Roberts will administer to the 100 senators who will act as jurors in the latest trial of the century.

It makes me wonder if the chief justice has any authority to determine whether senators are in contempt of the Constitution.

One can hope …

Memo to Steyer: Congress isn’t ‘appointed’

As if yet another billionaire presidential candidate is more astute than the one who’s in office already.

I heard a TV ad today from Tom Steyer, one of two billionaires seeking the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. Steyer, who burst onto the national scene by financing an impeach Donald Trump effort nationally, needs a basic civics lesson if he’s going to make a pitch for good government.

Steyer’s advertisement, which makes the pitch for mandated term limits, referred — in Steyer’s own voice — to Congress being “appointed to what amounts to a lifetime job.”

C’mon, Tom! Get with the program, dude!

Congress isn’t appointed to anything. House of Representatives members run for election and/or re-election every two years. Senators serve for six-year elected terms.

Therefore, we already have a form of term limits on the books. The U.S. Constitution has taken care of that matter by requiring elections for the entire House every other year, along with one-third of the Senate. Voters have plenty of opportunities, I submit, to limit the terms of members with their ballots.

Whether they choose to keep their House member or their senator in office until hell freezes over is their call exclusively. If their elected official is doing a good job, then they get to keep doing a good job. If not, well, voters can boot ’em out.

Term limits? We have them already!

Get ready for the demagoguery

It didn’t take Donald Trump long to learn a skill we see too often along the campaign trail: the “art” of demagoguery.

He entered political life in the summer of 2015 as a candidate for president of the United States and then told the whole world how Democrats were going to “take your guns away,” how they intend to “get rid of the Second Amendment” to the U.S. Constitution, how they “hate America” and how they are soft on crime, favor “open borders” and want to tax all Americans into the poor house.

The really bad news is that enough Americans living in key Electoral College stronghold states bought into Trump’s demagoguery to push him into the White House.

Let’s all look for much more of the same as this president seeks to win re-election in 2020. The gun argument is most maddening of all.

It’s fascinating to me to note that even with three Democratic presidents serving in the White House dating back to 1977 that there has been no taking away of people’s rights to “keep and bear arms” under the Second Amendment. President Carter didn’t take the guns away; nor did President Clinton; same for President Obama.

Why is that? Well, let’s see, it might have something to do with the check on executive power written into the U.S. Constitution, a document with which the current president has no familiarity. A president cannot change laws without congressional authority. He cannot amend the Constitution without Congress on board, and with three-fourths of the state legislatures on board as well.

And yet Donald Trump is going to campaign for re-election reciting an idiotic, demagogic mantra about how Democratic presidential candidates will seek to take away our rights as citizens.

Memo to The Donald: They can’t do it!

That won’t stop the demagoguery from flowing forth from Trump’s mouth as he tries to frighten Americans into believing the lies built into his campaign rhetoric.

I just want to offer a word of caution: Beware the demagogue who doesn’t offer a shred of understanding of what he is telling you.