Constitution's Week in Review - 3 June 2016

June 6, 2016

The Declaration of Independence

Everyone who has attended my seminar can tell you that there are four documents that have been declared by Congress to be the “Organic Laws of the United States.”  They include the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the Northwest Ordinance of 1787.  I remind my students: it is dangerous to try to interpret the Constitution separate from the philosophy of the Declaration (and the Supreme Court would agree).  But our children in public schools are not always taught the true meaning of the Declaration and how it came to be.  Even some adults have a skewed view of the document.

To try to correct our national ignorance, at least in her state, Louisiana House Republican Valarie Hodges introduced a proposal[1] to have the state’s public school kids recite some portion of the Declaration each day after they recite the Pledge of Allegiance.  Democrats in the legislature pounced on the proposal, among them Democratic Rep. Barbara Norton.  She was quoted as saying: 

“One thing I do know is, all men are not created equal. When I think back in 1776, July the 4th, African-Americans were slaves, and for you to bring a bill to request that our children will recite the Declaration, I think is a little bit unfair to us to ask those children to recite something that’s not the truth.”

Now, I’ve never met Rep. Norton, nor do I know how/where she was educated.  But like many Americans, she has an incomplete view of American history.  The first casualty at Lexington Green on 19 April 1775 was one Crispus Attucks[2] a free black man who decided to fight for his country instead of submit to British tyranny.  Blacks fought alongside whites[3] in the Continental Army, in state militias, and in the navy.  Yes, there were black slaves in most of the southern states.  Some were given their freedom in exchange for joining the army, but most remained enslaved.  As we know, that wrong was eventually righted.

Rep. Norton has obviously never stepped back and given much thought to Jefferson’s words, studied the complete history of the Revolutionary War, nor read Jefferson’s condemnation of the slave trade[4] that was deleted from the final draft of the Declaration.  Perhaps in Rep. Norton’s eyes we are not created equal, but in God’s eyes, we are, and Jefferson knew it.

Article 2:  Abuse of Executive Power
Organized Theft by the IRS

Be careful how and when you withdraw your own money from the bank; if you do something suspicious the IRS might just swoop down and take everything you have by claiming it is “drug money.”  This blatant theft is called civil asset forfeiture based on “structuring” your deposits[5] or withdrawals to avoid mandatory reporting of those over $10,000.  So if you like your privacy and don’t think the government has any business monitoring your use of it, think again.  Thanks to our wonderful Congress and their having passed the Bank Secrecy Act[6] in 1970, you can be fined or even jailed without having done anything wrong.

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The below short video explains asset forfeiture. (Note from editor - you can avoid this by not making deposits "just under $10,00" which is the reporting threshold for financial institutions. They call it "structuring," is a signal for money laundering, and is a big red flag to set forfieture in motion.) 

Article 3:  What’s up at the Supreme Court?

Here’s a nice summary[7] of the cases the Supreme Court is yet to issue rulings on this term.  It shouldn’t be much longer before we hear about some of them.

Immigration and presidential power
Case: United States vs. Texas
Question: Did President Obama overstep his authority as chief executive when he announced the government would defer deportation and offer work permits to about 4 million immigrants here illegally who are the parents of U.S. citizens or legal residents?
State restrictions on abortion clinics
Case: Whole Woman’s Health vs. Hellerstedt
Question:  How far can anti-abortion lawmakers go to restrict abortion clinics through health and safety regulations?
Affirmative action and college admissions
Case: Fisher vs. University of Texas          
Question: May a state university still use racial preferences to complement its admissions process even if it has been able to enroll significant numbers of Latinos and African Americans without using affirmative action?
Drunk driving and search warrants
Case: Birchfield vs. North Dakota
Question: Do suspected drunk drivers have a right to refuse to an alcohol test if a police officer does not have a warrant?
Police stops and exclusionary rule
Case: Utah vs. Strieff
Question: Can police stop a pedestrian or motorist without a good reason, see if they have an outstanding warrant, and if so, then search them for evidence?  Or does the “exclusionary rule” forbid the use of evidence that was found during such an illegal stop?
Guns and domestic violence
Case: Voisine vs. United States
Question: Does a guilty plea for a "reckless" act of misdemeanor domestic violence allow for a lifetime ban on gun ownership?

First Amendment

Sometimes we should look outside the U.S. for trends headed our way, and this is certainly one that should concern us.  Londoners are getting arrested for their social media posts.[8]  We’ve already seen the start of censorship of social media by Facebook and others; and that’s OK, those are privately owned forums and not subject to Constitutional constraints.  But arrests based on some government officials idea of what is “hateful” is another matter entirely.  Can’t happen here?  It easily could with the wrong people in charge of our government.  Stay alert.

Fourth Amendment

Sooner or later criminals will figure out that they shouldn’t carry GPs tracking devices -- opps, I mean cell phones -- during planned criminal activity. The way courts are deciding[9] on police access to cell phone location data obtained from the phone companies, it doesn’t look good for the law breaker. Of course, the police would never ask for the location information on law-abiding citizens, would they?


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Copyright ©2016

Gary Porter is Executive Director of the Constitution Leadership Initiative, Inc., a project to inform Americans about the Founder’s view of their Constitution. In addition to writing "The Constitution's Week in Review" at, he writes regularly for the Fairfax Free Citizen of Fairfax Virginia. Mr. Porter also teaches at various locations, as well as hosting a weekly radio broadcast ("The Constitution Matters"). The program can also be heard live on the Internet every Friday morning at 
Visit Gary Porter's website at