Newsletter | April 7, 2022
Give me liberty or give me death is not only an expression of total commitment to freedom that generations of Americans have stamped in their memory, but also their hearts. These famous words were first spoken by Patrick Henry on March 23, 1775 to delegates gathered at the Second Virginia Convention to convince them to pass a resolution delivering Virginian troops to fight in the Revolutionary War. It is in that same spirit and shared experience that America’s Future continues its series on exploring our founding documents and significant phrases, traditions, and principles that resonant today and cause Americans to reflect on the realization that our God-given rights are foundational to the survival of this great nation and must be protected and defended against those who seek to destroy America.
The famous phrase punctuated Henry’s remarks that day and is reported to have moved his audience deeply. According to one delegate, the convention sat in profound silence for several minutes after the speech ended. Indeed, Henry had swayed the delegates to form “a committee to prepare a plan for the embodying arming and disciplining such a number of men as may be sufficient” to defend the colonists’ freedom from the British Crown.
Henry, who was a native-born Virginian, farmer, self-taught student of the law, and considerable orator, was – at his core – a man armed with conviction like so many American patriots today willing to step up and speak out against government abuse and overreach – even in the face of the ultimate sacrifice.
Here are the final sentiments delivered by Henry in the rousing speech:
Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!
Interestingly, more than a decade later, during the great debates and discussions in connection with ratifying our U.S. Constitution, Henry posited opposition to such ratification, fearing it would result in too powerful of a central government. He was perhaps the central figure pushing for a Bill of Rights, noting that without a Bill of Rights, the Constitution did not adequately protect every individual’s God-given civil rights. He called liberty “the greatest of all earthly blessings…that precious jewel.”
Many historians agree that Henry’s speeches appealed not only to the hearts of his audience, but also (and just as much) to their collective intellect. Henry’s inspiring rhetorical style arising out of his orator skills coupled with his abiding faith in God made a profound difference during his lifetime, a difference that has endured throughout the ages.
In our Reader’s Survey this week, we pose the question as to how to balance security in light of our God-given rights of freedom and privacy – a continuing debate since the birth of our nation. Please take a moment to give us your insights. We appreciate your time and thank the hundreds of readers who respond to our weekly surveys. And every Monday morning at 9:30, our Executive Director, Mary O’Neill, will share some of your responses during her live broadcast, “America’s Mondays With Mary.” You can access the broadcast by clicking onto America’s Mondays With Mary.
As we learned from our Founding Father, courageous citizens speaking up are the determinate force required to hold government accountable and its power in check.
Our enduring freedom from government overreach, abuse or corruption starts by getting involved in our local communities by running for elected office, staying informed and speaking up at school board meetings or other policy-making boards, working on behalf of a candidate running for office, or simply making sure you are properly registered to vote.
There are other ways to be involved in your community or at a state level that will make the difference in the life of your family, neighbors and friends, and may further the goals of Americans across this nation. The first step is getting involved, stepping up and standing firm in your convictions that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are God-given rights that must be protected. As America’s Future Board Chair, General Michael Flynn, often reminds us, Local Action = National Impact. During this election year, America’s Future urges you to stay informed, get involved and never quit the fight for freedom
AMICUS BRIEF: America’s Future Files Amicus Brief to Protect The Second Amendment
On Friday, April 1, 2022, America’s Future joined 11 amici nonprofit and educational organizations to submit an Amicus brief to the Supreme Court of the United States supporting the position of the Petitioners in their fight to secure the Second Amendment – citizens right to bear arms. In the case, Duncan, et al. v. Rob Bonta, in His Official Capacity as Attorney General of California, No. 21-1194 (2022), Petitioner Virginia Duncan along with similarly situated plaintiffs sued California arguing California Penal Code § 32310, as amended by Ca. Senate Bill 1446 along with Proposition 63 (2016), the combination of which served to prohibit Californian’s possession of large-capacity magazines, is an unconstitutional violation of the Second Amendment right to bear arms.
After Proposition 63 was approved, but prior to its effective date, Plaintiffs sought a preliminary injunction that was granted and later upheld by an appellate court. The federal district court judge presiding over the merits of the case granted the plaintiffs motion for summary judgement, essentially handing the Plaintiffs a “win.” On appeal, a panel of Ninth Circuit judges affirmed the lower court’s decision. At this point, the state of California requested the Ninth Circuit hear the case en banc, meaning all Ninth Circuit judges participate in a review of the Ninth Circuit panel decision. An en banc review was conducted and the Ninth Circuit vacated the decision of the Ninth Circuit panel which resulted in the reversal of the district court summary judgment ruling; keeping this litigation moving forward in the system.
The dissenting opinion in connection with the Ninth Circuit’s en banc decision, authored by Judge Bumatay, shined a light on the unfortunate reality that politics too often plays a part in full Circuit rulings, stating, “[i]n reality, this tiers-of-scrutiny approach functions as nothing more than a black box used by judges to uphold favored laws and strike down disfavored ones.” (Bumatay, J., dissenting)
Central to the Petitioners position is that they are entitled under “possess for lawful purposes magazines that hold more than 10 rounds” by the plain text of the Second Amendment. Additionally, Petitioners raise the landmark Second Amendment 2008 Supreme Court decision District of Columbia v Heller, 554 US 570 (2008) and its plain holding that states in part, “[t]he Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.”
The late Justice, Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority in Heller reminded us that “the inherent right of self-defense has been central to the Second Amendment right.” Even more telling, Justice Scalia warned against the use of “judge empowering interest-balancing inquir[ies]” which is precisely what the Ninth Circuit en banc panel improperly engaged in to issue their patently erroneous decision.
Essentially, no fundamental right guaranteed to “We the People” should be disturbed or impaired through some sort of judicial activism seeking to create a “balancing of interests” tests as though the import of a fundamental right can be diminished – that would be too slippery of a slope and would encourage the Judiciary to engage in the type of political nonsense our Founding Fathers feared and warned against.
Instead, and as Heller demands and as we reiterated in our Amicus brief filed in this case, “any court examining a law prohibiting “arms” need ask only whether the banned item is (1) commonly used, (2) by law-abiding citizens, (3) for lawful purposes, including for self-defense or defense of “hearth and home.” If so, then the banned item is categorically protected under the Second Amendment and no further analysis is needed.
America’s Future along with the other named amici, posit that the United States Supreme Court should issue cert in this case, vacate the en banc panel decision and restore the district court’s ruling upholding the Second Amendment fundamental right to bear arms, unabridged.
On Monday, April 4, 2022, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) issued an opinion in Thompson v. Clark, protecting rights of former criminal defendants to bring civil lawsuits against government officials who violated their Fourth Amendment rights during a prior criminal proceeding(s), in fact, engaged in “malicious prosecution.”
The 6-3 opinion, authored by Justice Brett Kavanaugh, interpreted who, exactly, meets the requirement necessary to have legal standing to sue for malicious prosecution under 42 U.S.C. §1983 (“§1983 “). The precise issue in this case centered on the definition of “favorable termination” because to sue government officials for malicious prosecution, a prospective litigant must first demonstrate that the government’s earlier prosecution was terminated in favor of the criminal defendant.
In writing for the majority, Justice Kavanaugh fashioned the ruling in this case to state, “[t]o demonstrate a favorable termination of a criminal prosecution for purposes of the Fourth Amendment claim under §1983 for malicious prosecution, a plaintiff need not show that the criminal prosecution ended with some affirmative indication of innocence. A plaintiff need only show that his prosecution ended without a conviction.”
42 U.S.C. §1983 is a significant mechanism for holding government officials accountable for actions against citizens, insomuch as the statute affords former criminal defendants an avenue to redress constitutional violations, key among them – Fourth Amendment violations, committed by law enforcement officers who initiate and carry out criminal proceedings for improper and illegitimate purposes. Often malicious prosecution of a target is closely tied to abuse of power and a need to cover up unlawful conduct by government officials.
This case made its way to the SCOTUS essentially because Mr. Thompson was never actually acquitted or deemed innocent of any charge arising out of his arrest, but rather the prosecution was voluntarily dismissed or dropped by the government. Under these circumstances, the question presented to the court was whether Mr. Thompson should be permitted to file suit for malicious prosecution; in other words what does “favorable termination” mean in the context of a criminal matter which does not terminate in either a conviction or an acquittal?
In practical terms, this decision was a victory for Mr. Thompson. This case is also a victory for all those who agree government accountability contravenes government corruption and safeguards our individual rights of liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
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