Newsletter | March 9, 2023
This country and this people seem to have been made for each other, and it appears as if it was the design of Providence that an inheritance so proper and convenient for a band of brethren, united to each other by the strongest ties, should never be split into a number of unsocial, jealous, and alien sovereignties. –John Jay, Founding Father and author of Federalist No. 2
Our ongoing series on The Federalist Papers has explored many of the key concerns addressed in the 85 essays and articles written by three of our Founding Fathers, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison. In urging the thirteen states to ratify the Constitution, the authors enumerated the moral and spiritual virtues of a faithful federal government that would bind those who fought for liberty against the British Crown in a continuing common cause and shared destiny. But there were practical reasons for a central government, too — perhaps most importantly, to guarantee security to its people.
Indeed, history shows that, in addition to trade, security is why people willingly enter into associations with others to form communities. A network of families is better equipped to defend life, property, and liberty better than a single family. And along those lines, in Federalist No. 2, Jay argued that a federal government is better suited than the individual states to conduct relations with foreign nations. A federal government is not only more capable of waging war than smaller state governments but is also better designed to conduct diplomacy.
Jay and the Founders were primarily worried about the British and the Spanish, world powers with territories in the Americas that bordered some of the newly independent states.
“The bordering States,” wrote Jay, “will be those who, under the impulse of sudden irritation, and a quick sense of apparent interest or injury, will be most likely, by direct violence, to excite war with these nations; and nothing can so effectually obviate that danger as a national government, whose wisdom and prudence will not be diminished by the passions which actuate the parties immediately interested.”
In other words, a federal government comprising states not directly affected by the actions of foreign powers would be better able to resolve potential conflicts peacefully.
But to fully understand what Jay means, let’s use the family analogy again and consider the Hatfields and McCoys, two famously feuding West Virginia clans. Imagine if the Hatfields had formed an alliance with, say, the Browns, and the McCoys with the Smiths. Neither the Browns nor the Smiths would eagerly enter a conflict on account of the longstanding dispute between their allies. To avoid shedding their own blood on someone else’s behalf, they’d be inclined to promote peaceful means to resolve the issue. Further, because alliances raise the cost of conflict — adversaries understand that they are fighting not just one entity but rather an assembly — the parties are more likely to decide against conflict.
Another advantage to establishing a capable federal government, according to Jay, is that it would draw the best talent from around the thirteen states, providing a larger pool of able statesmen. As a result, writes Jay, “the administration, the political counsels, and the judicial decisions of the national government will be more wise, systematical, and judicious than those of individual States, and consequently more satisfactory with respect to other nations, as well as more safe with respect to us.”
Americans today have reason to question this piece of Jay’s reasoning. The current government’s foreign adventures, in particular, the money and arms the White House has sent to Ukraine with the support of Republican and Democratic officials alike, show little signs of foreign policy wisdom.
Nonetheless, even as the same government treats half the citizens of America as if they were hostile actors, the fact is that we need real statesmen, for there are foreign powers around the world that wish America harm. A strong foreign policy, based on the principles set down by the Founding Fathers, is a crucial foundation of our peace and prosperity.
The Federalist Papers, published between October 1787 and May 1788, provide us the chance to reflect on the history of our nation, the serious issues confounding our Founding Fathers then, and where our country stands today. Please take this week’s Reader’s Survey and let us know your thoughts and insights on the topic we address above. And, on Monday at 9 a.m., tune in to watch America’s Future Executive Director, Mary O’Neill, during her live show America’s Mondays With Mary when she will share some of our fellow Americans’ perspectives.
The Light of Liberty Shines Brighter with Knowledge
When delegates met at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787 to sign their names to what would become the supreme law of our land – the United States Constitution – they were participating in an event that came to chart humanity’s new course. They paved the way for the birth of a new nation and passed the torch of freedom to generations to come.
Now, it is our turn to see that the light of liberty shines bright for our children and grandchildren. The starting point for freedom to reign through the ages is knowledge. In America’s Future first book, Exploring America’s Founding Documents, we shared insights and information about the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights to increase or refresh the knowledge of those who seek it out. Thousands of people read the online version and hundreds more ordered the print version for their homes and families.
Today, America’s Future announces the release of Understanding The Separation Of Powers Principles, the second book in our original study series, in its digital format. The public is invited to order free copies of the print versions of either or both books by submitting the order form here.
Understanding The Separation Of Powers Principles takes a deep dive into our system of government with its three branches and the checks and balances that make our nation unique from all others. The book is highly visual with vintage photos and original content, covering the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial branches, our structure of accountability, how state governments reflect the federal structure and the powers of each and those they share, the significance of the Tenth Amendment, and other historic information such as the names of the Framers of the Constitution and the states they represented at the time.
For some, our study series of books will be a refresher course. For families, they provide a great way to learn together and share information. For homeschoolers, they add value and tools to resource libraries and curriculum development about American history, civics, or social studies.
Whatever the case may be, we encourage you to access the books online or order print editions to gain knowledge and stay informed about our great country, its rich history, and why freedom is so cherished. To view Understanding The Separation Of Powers Principles digitally, click here. To order a free copy of the print edition for either, or both books, please click here. To learn more about our country’s history, please watch our series of videos called, “Passing the Torch of Freedom.”
Welcome back to our series surveying the 27 constitutional amendments ratified over the course of our history as a sovereign nation, a Constitutional Republic. Each amendment revises our Constitution, alters the course of history, and, in one way or another, advances America closer on her path to exceptionalism. The article below reviews the Twentieth Amendment.
Known as the “Lame Duck” Amendment, the Twentieth Amendment changed the start dates of federal terms of office following federal elections for the offices of President, Vice President, and members of Congress. The modification shortened the transition period between a November election day and the date newly elected officials would take office.
Congress passed the Twentieth Amendment on March 2, 1932, and it was ratified by the states on January 23, 1933. It has six sections and reads, in part:
The terms of the President and the Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January, and the terms of Senators and Representatives at noon on the 3d day of January, of the years in which such terms would have ended if this article had not been ratified; and the terms of their successors shall then begin.
Prior to the ratification of the Twentieth Amendment, the newly elected Congress would first convene in December every odd-numbered year. This means that when November elections were held in even-numbered years (e.g. 1996, 2000, 2004, etc.), Congress members voted out of office would retain authority for thirteen months to consider pending legislation, vote on bills, cause chaos, and wreak havoc without regard to the best interests of the constituents they were hired (and then fired) to represent. To allow an unelected official, recently ousted from his or her job, to vote on impactful legislation would lend itself to “votes of vengeance” and abuse of authority.
The Twentieth Amendment also establishes the status of both the President-elect and the Vice President-elect if unique and unexpected events were to take place during the transition period between the election and the beginning of a term of office set forth in the Amendment. For example, the Twentieth Amendment provides that if a President-elect dies prior to the beginning of his or her first term in office, the Vice President-elect shall become President at the beginning of the first term. This means that the change of command will continue despite the death of a President-elect.
In addition, this amendment to our Constitution grants Congress certain powers in order to address unique scenarios if both the President-elect and the Vice President-elect became unqualified to serve prior to the start of their terms of office. To date, the Twentieth Amendment has not been a focal point of any Supreme Court of the United States decision.
Editor’s Note: The Twenty-fifth Amendment, which we will explore in our continuing series on Constitutional amendments, will eventually expand upon scenarios regarding the succession of the Presidency.
How DOJ Lawyers Protect the Biden Family
This is the tenth entry in our expanded IN FOCUS section addressing corruption in the U.S. Department of Justice and the self-destruction of the FBI. Readers will find the compilation of the complete series of articles at Unequal Justice Under Law.
In October 2022, even the Washington Post reported that federal prosecutors likely had enough evidence to charge President Biden’s son Hunter Biden with both gun and tax charges. Attorney General Merrick Garland has promised Congress that the U.S. Attorney for Delaware who had been appointed for President Trump had “full authority” to prosecute Hunter. Yet nearly a half-year later, no charges have been brought.
Just this month, AG Garland admitted that he would need to “authorize” any prosecution of Hunter Biden, but he assured Congress that he would do so if asked. If AG Garland would need to “authorize” the prosecution of the son of the President who appointed him, and to whom he reports, doesn’t that sound like a conflict of interest?
This is certainly not the first time the Justice Department lawyers have found themselves in a compromising position when asked to investigate the potential criminal actions of a President, a Vice President, or their family members. A procedure exists to handle such a situation — the appointment of a Special Counsel. A federal regulation, 28 C.F.R. § 600.1, requires: “The Attorney General, or in cases in which the Attorney General is recused, the Acting Attorney General will appoint a Special Counsel when he or she determines that criminal investigation… is warranted, and [that] investigation or prosecution…would present a conflict of interest for the Department….” (Emphasis added.)
As to the gun charges, Hunter Biden asserted on a federal firearms purchase form (ATF 4473) that he was not currently using illegal drugs, when, in fact, he was doing so, which he seems to have admitted. By denying use of illegal drugs, Hunter Biden was able to obtain a gun that would have been illegal for him to purchase had he provided true information. A false answer on that ATF form is the basis for a felony charge.
As to the tax charges, the problem stems from reports that Hunter Biden failed to report income he received from foreign sources on his federal income tax return.
And Hunter is not the only member of the Biden family under federal investigation. The president’s brother, James Biden, is also the target of a federal investigation. James Biden is alleged to have made a half-million dollars in loans to himself from the now-defunct Americore Health hospital business, which have not been repaid.
On October 17, 2022, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) sent a letter to AG Garland, FBI Director Christopher Wray, and Delaware U.S. Attorney David Weiss, alleging that FBI whistleblowers had uncovered evidence of “significant, impactful and voluminous evidence with respect to potential criminal conduct by Hunter Biden and James Biden.” Grassley attached a contract to his letter indicating $5 million was to be paid from the Chinese government-connected company to Hunter and James Biden for work done while Joe Biden was Vice President.
Despite the seriousness of these charges, and unlike the DOJ’s investigation of President Trump, thus far, the DOJ has flatly refused to appoint a Special Counsel to investigate the Bidens. On September 16, 2022, Senators John Cornyn (R-TX), Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Grassley and 27 others wrote a letter to Garland demanding that Weiss be given special counsel powers. But other Senators wonder if giving U.S. Attorney Weiss Special Counsel status would solve the problem, as it was Weiss who decided to pause a criminal investigation of Hunter Biden months before the 2020 election.
Congressman Jim Jordan (R-OH), Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, also called out the DOJ’s special counsel double standard. He wrote to AG Garland questioning why “you have declined to appoint a special counsel in this matter, despite appointing special counsels in other investigations. Your refusal to appoint a special counsel here is conspicuous in this context.”
As recently as October 12, 2022, when confronted by the fact his son may be indicted, President Biden doubled down, telling CNN: “I’m proud of my son.” While that may be a natural, human response, it provides even more reason for AG Garland to appoint a truly independent Special Counsel.
If AG Garland, a U.S. Attorney, and other DOJ lawyers are allowed to stall and allow the statute of limitations on Biden family crimes to run out, there will be little reason for Americans to trust anything that federal prosecutors say, and we can expect more and more juries to simply acquit anyone charged with a crime by the Biden “Justice” Department.
To read the entire series of articles, please click here.
Reminders & Updates
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