Tag Archives: US Constitution

Roe v. Wade far from ‘settled’

If you thought the landmark Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the United States had become “settled law,” you had better think again.

The 1973 Roe v. Wade decision is now under a full frontal assault by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and the Republican-controlled Texas Legislature. Texas now has a law on the books that prohibits a woman from obtaining an abortion as early as six weeks into her pregnancy.

President Biden calls the law “unconstitutional.” The current Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 to let the law take effect even though it is being contested by multiple lawsuits.

One of the four dissenting justices, Stephen Breyer, calls the SCOTUS decision “very, very, very wrong.”

The Texas Tribune reports: The Texas law is novel for incentivizing private citizens to police abortions. It empowers anyone living in the state of Texas to sue an abortion provider or anyone else they suspect is “aiding and abetting” abortions after the six-week mark. Those opposing the law say this may be far-ranging and could include the abortion provider or anyone who provided transportation to a woman, or counseled or referred a woman for an abortion.

Stephen Breyer calls Supreme Court decision on Texas abortion law ‘wrong’ | The Texas Tribune

There’s a fascinating bit of irony at play here. Conservatives proclaim proudly that they oppose what they call “judicial activism.” They say they dislike court decisions that go beyond the Constitution’s strict adherence to original intent.

From my perch in North Texas, it appears that most of the court’s conservatives — except for Chief Justice John Roberts, who sided with the liberal wing — are engaging in a raw form of judicial activism by dismissing the lawsuits and declaring that a law that is being challenged should take effect.

Wouldn’t a “conservative” court just let the litigation play out and stay out of the way?

Settled law? Not when you have a group of judicial activists on the nation’s highest court.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Optimism put to test

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Those of you who know me best will understand that I am an eternal optimist. I tend to see the best in people; too often, I admit that they let me down.

My wife tends to look more skeptically at individuals she meets for the first time, which is smart in that it saves her the grief of dealing with disappointment.

My optimism extends also to the state and strength of our nation, which I admit fully and freely is undergoing many stresses that threaten its very fabric.

The pandemic continues to ravage our population. We are ending a war in Afghanistan and are watching the bad guys seize the government they once ran. We have a former president of the United States whose cult following continues to wreak havoc on our democratic processes.

Will any of these factors individually doom our nation? Will they do so collectively? Can we stop any of these things from reaching critical mass? Can we stop them all?

No and yes to the first and second set of questions. At least that is how I see it.

Our framers crafted a government built to withstand these challenges. They sought to create “a more perfect Union.” They knew better than to seek absolute perfection. They knew the nation under construction in the 18th century would be an ongoing work in progress likely for as long as the republic existed.

I am going to retain my optimism even as we struggle with these battles. Indeed, any concession to the worst-case scenarios out there would consign me to a level of anxiety that I am not sure I could handle.

So, perhaps my optimism is a self-defense strategy. Whatever. I’ll maintain it until the bottom falls out and rely on the wisdom that President Ford offered when he took office at the end of an earlier monumental crisis.

He told us: “Our Constitution works.”

Biden calls out ‘Big Lie’

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

By all means, President Biden is correct to call out the Big Lie for what it is, an assault on democracy itself.

Moreover, the president is correct to lay the blame for this assault directly at the feet of the individual he defeated in the November presidential election.

Biden has joined the fight against Republican efforts to subvert Americans’ ability to vote. He also has joined the chorus of those of us out here who are appalled that POTUS 45 — who once swore an oath to protect and defend the Constitution — has been leading the effort to undermine it … even while he served as president!

As The Hill reported:

Biden blasted efforts from Trump and others to sow doubt about the election months after it concluded, which have spurred action from GOP-led state legislatures to push new elections laws that would limit absentee voting and make it more difficult for certain groups to vote.

“It’s clear, for those who challenge the results or question the integrity of the election, no other election has ever been held under such scrutiny or such high standards. The Big Lie is just that, a Big Lie,” Biden said at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.

Biden rips Trump’s ‘big lie’ in voting rights address | TheHill

By my understanding of the term, I consider the ex-POTUS’s effort to undermine a free and fair election to be an act of treason. He incited the Jan. 6 insurrection. He continues to tell the Big Lie about alleged voter fraud. He has broken state and federal laws by seeking to get state election officials to overturn balloting results.

And yet there are those among us Americans who want the ex-Liar in Chief to return to the White House? So help me, I don’t which factor angers me more: that the ex-POTUS keeps telling the Big Lie or the cultists continue to believe it … and act on it!

The duly elected POTUS has weighed in. I am glad to hear the stern language he has used to call the Big Lie what it is.

How much will it cost, governor?

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

The individual who preceded Joe Biden as president of the United States used to proclaim that “Mexico is going to pay for the wall.”

It didn’t happen. It won’t happen. Not ever.

Now we have the governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, declaring his intention to build a wall along the state’s lengthy border with Mexico. He isn’t making the same preposterous claim that the ex-POTUS did. However, we need some specifics on this matter if it manages to survive the expected challenges to whether it is even constitutional for a state to assume a federal responsibility.

Texas border wall may not be feasible, or even legal | The Texas Tribune

How much will it cost, Gov. Abbott?

You see, the U.S. Constitution requires in the Fifth Amendment that the government provide “just compensation” for any private property seized for public use. Texas’s share of public land comprises a tiny fraction of its total land mass along the border, which will require the state to pay a whole lot of money it takes from private ownership. So, we have that expense.

As for the rest of the price tag, which would be bound to skyrocket as the state grapples with ways to erect a secure border, well, we haven’t heard a word from Gov. Abbott on how much that might cost you and me.

The state’s economy happens to be performing quite well in the wake of this COVID pandemic. However, we shouldn’t be asked to spend an unspecified amount of money to seal off our southern border from “hordes of criminals” who, in my view, do not exist.

Not ‘too soon’ to debate gun violence

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Eight more Americans died this week in a shooting that erupted in Indianapolis, Ind., and once again we’re sending our “thoughts and prayers” to the victims’ loved ones.

A solution to the gun violence remains a mystery. President Biden, though, is trying to appeal to our sense of national shame. He said, according to RealClearPolitics.com:

“This has to end. It is a national embarrassment … Every single day, there’s a mass shooting in the United States,” President Biden continued. “Who in God’s name needs a weapon that can hold 40 rounds?”

Biden said: “Congress has to step up to act and pass bills on gun reform. We need to ban assault weapons. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t also be working on COVID and the economy.”

Joe Biden on Gun Violence: Mass Shootings “Every Day” Are “A National Embarrassment” And “It Has To End” | Video | RealClearPolitics

The president is preaching to the proverbial choir here, man. But the ongoing spasm of gun violence is a “national embarrassment.” I have difficulty explaining to my overseas friends how American politicians can allow this to continue.

I do my best, though, to explain to them foreigners the nuance contained in the Second Amendment to our Constitution. It reads: “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

The one element of that Amendment that I cannot explain is the construction of the single sentence, which seems to contain a couple of non-sequiturs. I cannot connect the part about the “well-regulated Militia” with the “right of the people to keep and bear Arms.”

But it’s written into our nation’s founding government document. That makes it virtually impossible to trifle with.

However, I shudder at the thought of all this violence. I have trouble facing down my overseas friends who challenge the idea that our political leaders cannot find a solution that keeps faith with what our founders carved out.

OK, so here we are. Eight more victims have been slain by a madman. We need to ramp up the debate right now over how we can eliminate this “national embarrassment.”

Motor vehicles are heavily regulated, too

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

A fascinating item showed up this morning on my Facebook news feed that tells us that they’ve been regulating automobiles for decades, but that “no one has taken our cars away.”

Well …

What do you think of that? I happen to think it is a relevant statement in light of the building debate — yet again — over whether there can be sensible, constitutional gun regulations in this country.

The discussion has flared once more in light of two horrific massacres, in Atlanta and then in Boulder, Colo. Eighteen people died in the carnage.

President Biden has called for an outright ban on assault weapons and for universal background checks on every human being who wants to purchase a firearm. Make ’em wait for, oh, three days before being cleared to walk away with a gun.

Is that reasonable? I believe it is. I mean, if you’re a “law-abiding citizen” of the United States of America, you shouldn’t worry one little bit about waiting for three whole days or so to get your gun. Right?

Does that take away anyone’s Second Amendment right to “keep and bear arms”? I don’t think so, but yet the gun lobby is reigniting the scare campaign that suggests these notions are attempts to take guns away from Americans.

No! They are nothing of the kind! They are initiatives intended to make it just a little more difficult for lunatics to purchase firearms.

As the social media message points, we have been regulating automobile ownership for decades. We have to have insurance. We have to be licensed by the state where we live. If we drive without a license and are caught by police, we can be thrown in jail. If we are involved in an auto wreck and we aren’t properly insured, we also can be jailed, and fined, and held liable for thousands of dollars in medical expenses.

Look along our streets and highways and tell me if you think there’s been a decline in motor vehicle traffic.

Nor would there be a decline in firearms among law-abiding citizens if we attach a few more sensible rules for their purchase.

Ol’ Ben was a wise man

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Benjamin Franklin well might be my favorite Founding Father.

He was an inventor, a diplomat, a writer, a statesman, a scientist and a man of impeccable vision. He was 70 years old and in poor health when he put his name on the Declaration of Independence.

But he knew the value of free speech and vigorous political discourse. A quote from ol’ Ben appeared this week in the Princeton (Texas) Herald that I want to share:

“Freedom of speech is a principal pillar of a free government; when this support is taken away, the constitution of a free society is dissolved, and tyranny is erected in its ruins. Republics … derive their strength and vigor from a popular examination into the action of the magistrates.”

Franklin’s wisdom is worth sharing today because of the battering that free speech and expression has taken in recent years. We’ve just been through a horrendous political era in which the nation elected a man with no understanding of government and of the precepts that drive it. Donald Trump encouraged his followers to “beat the  hell” out of protesters at his rallies. He called the press the “enemy of the people.” He abhors criticism directed at him in any form and along the way developed a following of like-minded individuals who adhere to his strange and dangerous notion of a democratic society.

Benjamin Franklin had it exactly right when he wrote the words I have copied.

Franklin knew about the inherent strength that democracies get from “a popular examination into the action of the magistrates.” My goodness, the very First Amendment to our Constitution guarantees the right of citizens to “peaceably … assemble, and to petition government for a redress of grievances.”

We have heard plenty of talk about the “peaceable” part of protesting. It gets out of hand at times. Violence is not the answer and those of us who value what Benjamin Franklin believed abhor the violence that occasionally erupts when citizens get angry.

I am going to set the insurrection of Jan. 6 aside from this discussion. It was a singularly heinous act by a mob of terrorists who had no intention of seeking a peaceful solution to their grievances.

As we move forward from that horrifying event, let us not lose sight of the principle on which the founders — such as the great Benjamin Franklin — created this government. It is that we are allowed to protest what our government does in the performance of its duties.

The end result of Franklin’s wisdom is the realization that we are the bosses of those we select to represent us.

LGBT bill needs to pass

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

As someone who believes a person’s sexual orientation is delivered at birth, I am perplexed — no surprise here — at Republican opposition to a bill that grants gay people protection against losing their job because of who they love.

The U.S. House of Representatives has approved a bill that prohibits discrimination against LGBT Americans. It faces an uphill climb in the Senate because Senate Republicans believe it infringes on their religious freedom.

Oh, my.

I keep asking myself when I hear this argument: What part of the term “secular document” do these folks not comprehend? Yes, the U.S. Constitution is a secular document drafted by smart men who sought to keep religion out of the nation’s governing framework. Now, I know that they also granted us all religious liberty, that we are free to worship — or not worship — as we please.

The founders also wrote into the Constitution a clause that grants “equal protection under the law” for every single American. It makes no distinction among Americans’ sexual orientation.

This is a sticky issue. I am acutely aware of the toes it steps on.

BBC reports: The act would also federally codify into law the 2020 June Supreme Court ruling that said employers who fire workers for being gay or transgender are violating civil rights law.

Advocates for the act have argued that the current “patchwork” of state anti-discrimination laws does not provide enough comprehensive protection, and leaves many LGBT individuals at risk.

More from the BBC: Before the vote, the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank said the act “would make mainstream beliefs about marriage, biological facts about sex differences, and many sincerely held beliefs punishable under the law.”

US House passes bill protecting LGBT rights (msn.com)

I have sought to make this case before, but I’ll try once again. The U.S. Constitution governs a nation founded by individuals who sought to live free of ham-handed religious dogma.

Civil rights legislation approved repeatedly over the years and affirmed by the Supreme Court has sought to ensure that all Americans enjoy the same freedom from discrimination. Shouldn’t that include LGBT Americans, too? Of course it should!

Trump to linger a while

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

This much is becoming evident the day after the U.S. Senate failed to convict Donald Trump of inciting the insurrection on Jan. 6.

The ex-president is going to remain within our field of vision for a good bit longer. As much as I want him to fade into the shadows, never to be seen or heard again, I fear my wish will go ignored.

The media cannot seem to get enough of this guy. He fired off a statement Saturday after 57 senators voted to convict him of inciting the riot that stormed Capitol Hill; the guilty votes weren’t sufficient to register as a conviction by the body, though. I’ll call it a “conviction” only because it was a bipartisan vote to punish Trump, with seven Republicans joining their Democratic colleagues to stand for the Constitution and the sacred oaths they took.

Now the talk centers on what it means for the Republican Party. Trump still commands a huge following among the GOP faithful, although their fealty is aimed at the man and not party principle or philosophy.

The 2022 midterm election already is looming just over the horizon and so the pundit class will examine the influence that Trump might exert on the GOP primary fields as they develop across the land. Given that I am not among the GOP faithful, it doesn’t matter very much to me, other than what it might portend for the future of a once-great political party.

I’ve had some critics of this blog suggest I cannot get past Donald Trump. They’re right to this extent: For as long as the media continue to pay attention to him, I feel compelled to offer commentary on what flies out of his mouth. I will do so, albeit a good bit more sparingly than when he was masquerading as president of the U.S. of A.

He’s still out there. Lurking, preening and prancing. That’s what narcissists do. I just want him to vanish.

The logic? Where is it?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Someone will have to explain this bit of logic to me.

Donald J. Trump’s legal team is preparing to argue at their client’s impeachment trial that the trial is unconstitutional. Why is that? Because you cannot “impeach a president” who is no longer in office.

That’s what I hear them preparing to say.

Except for this little factoid. The House of Representatives voted to impeach Donald Trump on Jan. 13. He was still the president of the United States when the House impeached him.

Thus, and this is just little ol’ me, the impeachment is quite constitutional. Donald Trump had a week to go before he high-tailed it to Florida.

The Senate trial cannot remove him from office, which I guess factors into what Trump’s lawyers are thinking. However, and this is important, the Constitution does not specify that a president must still be in office during a trial.

Article I, Section 3 of the founding governing document notes that “judgment shall not extend further than to removal from office.” The founders did not say that removal was the only punishment; my reading of the constitutional text tells me that the punishment could not exceed removal. So … what’s the deal with that argument against conducting an impeachment trial of a former president?

If the Senate convicts Trump — and that is a huge mountain to scale, I know — then it could have a separate vote to bar Trump from ever seeking public office. The conviction bar is high, requiring a two-thirds vote; the ancillary vote requires only a simple majority of the Senate.

I know that I am not a lawyer or a constitutional scholar. I know what the Constitution says, though, and it tells me that a Senate trial meets the constitutional standard.

Impeachment is not the issue. The House delivered the goods while Trump was in office. The burden falls solely on the Senate to demand that Trump be held accountable for inciting the riot that damn near wrecked our democratic form of government.