Tag Archives: U.S. Constitution

Texas AG facing serious ethical probe

AUSTIN, TX - FEBRUARY 18: Texas Governor Greg Abbott (2nd L) speaks alongside U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) (L), Attorney General Ken Paxton (2nd R), Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick (R) hold a joint press conference February 18, 2015 in Austin, Texas. The press conference addressed the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas' decision on the lawsuit filed by a Texas-led coalition of 26 states challenging President Obama's executive action on immigration. (Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)

Ken Paxton took a serious oath when he became the Texas attorney general.

He put his hand on a Bible and vowed to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States and of the state.

Then the U.S. Supreme Court did something Paxton — I presume — didn’t expect. It ruled that gay marriage was legal in all 50 states. All of ’em. Including Texas.

How did Paxton react? He said county clerks weren’t bound by the court ruling, that they could refuse to issue marriage licenses to gay couples if the issuance of such documents violated their religious beliefs.

Oops! Can’t do that, said the State Bar of Texas.

It’s now going to launch an ethics investigation to see if Paxton — who’s already been indicted for securities fraud by a Collin County grand jury — violated his oath.

Well, of course he did!

If I were able to make a call on this, I’d declare that the AG broke faith with the oath he took. So did that county clerk in Kentucky, Kim Clark, who refused to issue marriage licenses to gay couples and who spent some time in jail because of that refusal.

What I can’t quite fathom is how these elected public officials feel they can get away with refusing to serve all their constituents. Paxton is a statewide officeholder, representing 26 million Texans. He won election in 2014 and then swore to follow the laws of the land. Not just those with which he agrees.

The Texas bar would seem to have an easy decision on its hands as it regards whether Paxton violated his oath of office. The tougher decision will be in the sanction it should level against him.

I am not going to say he should be removed from office.

Honestly, though, it baffles me constantly that these public officials — who get paid to represent every constituent — think they can select which laws to obey and which laws to flout.

That oath is clear. They cannot make that choice.

At all.


Governor allows clerks to hide their names


Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin took office and immediately issued a series of executive orders. Let’s look at one of them.

It no longer requires county clerks to put their names on marriage licenses. Can we hear an “amen!” from Kim Davis, the Rowan County clerk who refused to do her job as required by law, and her oath, on the grounds that issuing such licenses to gay couples violated her religious beliefs?

Bevin’s order intends to protect the religious rights of county clerks who object to issuing the licenses on religious grounds.

I believe the main issue here is whether county clerks — who take an oath to protect and defend their state and federal constitutions — are obligated to marry anyone who seeks a license. The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees that all citizens are guaranteed equal rights and protection under the law and it makes no stipulations about their sexual orientation.

If Gov. Bevin’s order now guarantees that all Kentucky residents can now seek and receive legal marriage licenses, without regard to whom they are marrying, then he’s done the right thing.


Sen. Cruz is eligible, period, Rep. Grayson


Alan Grayson is a Florida Democratic U.S. representative who repeatedly exhibits his ability to be the loudest blowhard on the block.

Grayson vows to file a lawsuit if the Republican Party selects Texas U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz as its presidential nominee next summer. Why? Well, Grayson said Cruz isn’t constitutionally qualified to serve as president. Grayson, thus, has become the de facto head of a new  presidential birther movement.

News flash, Alan: Yes … he … is!

Cruz was born in Canada to a Cuban father and, here it is, an American mother. That, right there, made young Teddy a U.S. citizen from the very moment he came into this world. He is qualified to run for president. He would be qualified to serve as president.

Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution stipulates that “no person except a natural born Citizen” is qualified to serve as president. Mrs. Cruz gave birth to her baby Teddy and that is all the qualification he needs to run for the presidency.

Meanwhile, Rep. Grayson needs to devote a lot more of his attention to the affairs of his Florida congressional district and stop looking for ways to garner cheap publicity.


Cruz splits with Trump over Muslim registry

liberty religion

Are you sitting down?

Of course you are. So … I’m about to say something positive about Sen. Ted Cruz, who has actually expressed a difference of opinion with Donald Trump, a fellow Republican candidate for president of the United States.

Trump’s offensive notion of establishing a registry for Muslims has come between the men.

The only thing about Cruz’s criticism — such as it is — that bothers me is that he qualified it by calling himself a “big fan” of Trump. He differs with him on the idea of keeping such an eagle eye on Muslims because of their faith.

Cruz said the “First Amendment protects religious liberty.”

That, folks, is the central reason why Trump’s idea is a non-starter.

Some critics have compared the idea of a religious registry — even for U.S. citizens — smacks of what Nazi Germany did to Jews living in that country prior to the outbreak of World War II. We all know where that effort led.

Trump has been trying to take back what he apparently told a reporter about whether he’d like to establish a data base to monitor Muslims. He said he didn’t say that precisely. The record, though, suggests he did when pressed by a reporter.

As the Texas Tribune reported: “I don’t know what Mr. Trump did or didn’t say,” Cruz told reporters after a town hall Friday afternoon in Harlan. “On the question of should the federal government keep a registry of any religious group? The answer’s of course not.”

So, there you have it. Cruz and Trump actually disagree on something.

From where I sit as I watch Cruz’s campaign for the presidency, that’s progress.


Voting: Feels like the first time …

Old fashionet American Constitution with USA Flag.

A young Facebook friend of mine posted a giddy comment about something she did today for the first time.

She voted.

The object of her excitement was being able to vote “FOR” the multipurpose event venue that city voters today are deciding whether to endorse or reject.

I’m glad my young acquaintance is so thrilled at voting for the first time. I hope she remains engaged, involved and energized by the political process that has rippled through the city in recent weeks.

I remember my own first vote. It was, shall we say, a very long time ago.

It was 1972. I had turned 21 two years earlier. The minimum voting age would be reduced to 18 in 1971 with enactment of the 26th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

So, that meant I could vote in 1972. I got involved politically in the presidential campaign of U.S. Sen. George McGovern. I had separated from the Army in 1970, re-enrolled in college in January 1971 and became involved in the anti-Vietnam War movement.

Heck, I’d taken part in that war and was as confused over the reasons for fighting it upon my return to the States as I was when I went over there in the spring of 1969.

McGovern became my candidate of choice. I registered new voters among fellow college students. We held rallies, carried signs, chanted slogans … all those things that young activists do when they’re fired up about a candidate or a cause.

Well, all that energy didn’t produce the desired result.

President Nixon cruised to re-election that year, winning 61 percent of the popular vote and 49 of 50 states.


Still, it didn’t dim my love of politics and policy … and my strong desire to make sure my vote is counted at any and every level of government.

That is my wish for my young Facebook friend as she moves forward with her own life and her own interest in politics and public policy.

Keep up the good fight, young lady.


Faith should be off limits on the campaign trail


I keep coming back to a simple phrase in the U.S. Constitution.

Article VI says there will be “no religious test” for anyone seeking public office.

Isn’t that clear? As in crystal clear?

Why, then, is Donald Trump injecting faith in the Republican Party’s presidential primary campaign by questioning whether one of his opponents, Ben Carson, worships outside the mainstream?

Trump proclaimed the other day he is a Presbyterian. “I’m Presbyterian. Boy, that’s down the middle of the road, folks, in all fairness. I mean, Seventh-day Adventist, I don’t know about. I just don’t know about.”

Carson is a Seventh-day Adventist.

How does this guy get away with saying these things about his political adversaries?

A candidate’s faith is supposed to be off the table. The Constitution — the document that politicians, Democrat and Republican and alike say they revere — lays it out there in stark terms. There must be “no religious test.”

Trump, though, flouts his professed respect for the Constitution while questioning whether another candidate’s faith is mainstream enough to suit the voters both men are courting as they fight for their party’s presidential nomination.

What’s more … the guy is getting away with it!

God help us …


Bring back Newt?

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich speaks at the Richard Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, California in this May 24, 2007 file photo. REUTERS/Mark Avery

You’re never too old to learn something.

I found that out today. I did not know, for example, that the U.S. Constitution does not require the speaker of the House of Representatives to be a current member of the House.

Do you know what this means? The Republicans who control the House conceivably could go outside the body to find someone to lead it.

I’ve been watching the federal government for nearly 40 years and I did not know this about the House.

This opens up the list of candidates for the speakership to a remarkable degree.

John Boehner announced his intention to quit the House and the speakership. Kevin McCarthy was supposed to be the heir apparent. Then he dropped out today.

Who’s left? The TEA Party caucus of the GOP is beside itself.

Hey, why not enlist former Speaker Newt Gingrich? He said today he’d be willing if a majority of House wanted him to return to Capitol Hill.

Hey, maybe the GOP could call on former Vice President Dick Cheney, who once served in the House. We’ve got a former Republican president out there, George W. Bush, who’s able to serve; former President George H.W. Bush is in failing health.

How about Donald Trump? He’s running for the GOP presidential nomination and he proclaims he is able to do anything under the sun.

Former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is available. Bring him back.

Oh, the possibilities seem endless.


How about this response to birthers?


” … no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”

This passage comes from Article VI of the Constitution of the United States of America.

Why mention it here? Because Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump did not shut down a questioner in a town hall audience this week who said he believes President Obama is a foreign-born Muslim.

I’ve been waiting for a long time — during the length of the president’s time in office — for a politician to tell an ignoramus like the fellow at the Trump campaign event that a politician’s religion has no bearing on his or her qualifications to hold public office.

Trump not only did go there, he didn’t even tell the fellow that the president is, in fact, a Christian who was born in Hawaii in August 1961.

Oh, I almost forgot: Trump himself has been questioning the president’s birth and his constitutional qualifications to serve the office to which he’s been elected twice.

Well, whatever. The issue keeps presenting itself. The president’s place of birth isn’t an issue either, given that his late mother was a U.S. citizen, which granted young Barack “birthright citizenship.”

As for a politician’s religion, I keep referring to Article VI.

There should be “no religious test.”

If only that would end this ridiculous talking point.

If only …


Do your job, Mme. Clerk … or quit!

Old fashionet American Constitution with USA  Flag.

Dear Ms. Davis,

You’ve made a name for yourself: Kim Davis, staunch opponent of gay marriage.

You served a few days in jail because a federal judge held you in contempt of court because you failed to do the job you swore you’d do. Part of your job is to issue marriage licenses to those who request them. The law says you aren’t supposed to discriminate against gay couples if they request a license to be married.

But you did discriminate. You paid a small price by being tossed into jail for a few days.

Well, you’re going back to work Monday.

There likely will be more marriage licenses requests awaiting you; after all, you stopped issuing them to anyone, which is why the judge tossed you into the hoosegow in the first place.

What are you going to do once you show up at the Rowan County clerk’s office there in Kentucky?

Here’s a suggestion from an outpost a good bit west of you: Do your damn job or else turn in your resignation.

You say your religious teaching forbids gay marriage. Who cares? The oath you took doesn’t allow you to stand behind your faith. It says you must uphold the laws of the land. And you also ought to stop the “religious persecution” nonsense … and while you’re at it, tell your Republican presidential candidate/surrogates — such as Mike Huckabee — to can that malarkey as well.

I’m betting real money some gay couples will be at your door when it opens Monday morning.

Just remember: All Americans are entitled to be treated equally. The U.S. Constitution says so. The nation’s highest court has affirmed it.

It’s up to you now. The nation knows how you feel about gay marriage. There’s never been the need for you to use your office to make a personal statement of faith. Do not continue to abuse your public office in that fashion.



Now the clerk is free … to quit her job


Believe this or not, but I am glad that Kim Davis is no longer in jail.

A federal judge ordered the Rowan County (Ky.) clerk to jail because she had stopped issuing marriage licenses to protest the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage all across the United States of America; the ruling includes Kentucky.

I didn’t want her jailed over this.

Davis is free, therefore, to make a critical decision.

She needs to quit her job as county clerk. Heck, she won’t perform all the duties required of her. She cites religious objections to the legalization of gay marriage, even though she has a rather checkered heterosexual marital history herself.

The germane issue is whether Davis will do the job to which she swore an oath.

She insists she cannot. Her husband says she’s become a victim of a government that is persecuting her because of her Christian beliefs — which, by many people’s thinking, is a serious crock of mule fritters. Republican presidential candidates Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz say Davis is a victim of “judicial tyranny,” which also is so much malarkey.

Just quit your job, Mme. Clerk, and take up the cudgel against gay marriage as a private citizen. You are free to do so. No one’s going to arrest you.