Newsletter | January 26, 2023
Whether it is signs of our two-tiered system of governance, vaccine and mask mandates, or the insults heaped by one half of the country on the other, we see evidence of the growing fissure dividing America. We are divided not by race, nor even strictly speaking by class. Rather, our country is split between those who believe they have the right to rule their fellow citizens and Americans who are subjected to the abuse of their self-described “betters.”
Our Founding Fathers anticipated such a possibility, and so this week, we again turn to The Federalist Papers for perspective as part of our continuing series on this historic collection of articles and essays written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay. The collection was published between October 1787 and May 1788, arguing for the virtues of the Constitution and urging citizens of our newly founded country to ratify it.
Thanks to a long-running musical about his life, Hamilton is perhaps the best-known of its authors, but James Madison is one of the most important minds our country has ever produced. Indeed, his ideas about the nature of man and politics shape our daily existence, for he played a crucial role in drafting the constitution and the Bill of Rights. And thus to history, he is known as the “Father of the Constitution.”
Last week we looked at Federalist 10, in which Madison argued that direct democracy would give rise to the “tyranny of the majority.” He contended instead that a republican form of government in which citizens elect delegates to vote on laws was best suited to the character of our diverse people. In Federalist 39, he described in more detail what he meant by “republican.”
First, he explained what it wasn’t. Some governing bodies that called themselves republics, like ancient Rome, Venice, and Poland, were in reality run by “hereditary nobles.” This was government by, for, and of the elites. But in the case of the United States, wrote Madison, republican government would be derived not by a “favored class” of “tyrannical nobles” but rather “from the great body of the people.”
Federalist No 39 also addressed concerns that the individual states would forfeit their distinct identities as part of the new federal government designed by the Constitution. Madison fired back. “Each State,” he wrote, “in ratifying the Constitution, is considered as a sovereign body” and would maintain its sovereignty. This check against the power of the federal government would preserve the people’s right to self-government.
Nothing illustrates the insights that Madison imparted in Federalist No. 39 better than the Covid-19 lockdowns. Federal and state officials imagined themselves as an aristocracy entitled to impose idiosyncratic and irrational measures that punished middle-class Americans. Accordingly, many fled those petty tyrannies for sovereign states like Florida, where they again found freedom under independent-minded governors and legislators.
At America’s Future, we marvel at the genius of our Founding Fathers, to whom we are grateful not only for our history but also for our future as a free people.
We want to hear from you. Please take this week’s Reader’s Survey and let us know your thoughts about the topic addressed above. We appreciate your time and are grateful for your insightful comments. We read them all and share some of them every Monday at 9 a.m. during America’s Future live broadcasts with our Executive Director Mary O’Neill on America’s Mondays With Mary. Thank You!
Taking A Stand & Speaking Up For Our Children
Launched last month, America’s Future has been growing a nationwide network of Americans to coordinate its education effort in communities while bringing attention to mass audiences through media interviews and speaking engagements. Last weekend, America’s Future leaders and members of the PDPC Little Flower Advisory Board were front and center at the Reawakening America Tour in Nashville, TN as part of its effort to jumpstart the initiative.
Board Chair, General Mike Flynn, Executive Director Mary O’Neill (pictured above), along with powerhouse speakers and PDPC Advisory Board members Liz Crokin and Lara Logan, also an America’s Future board member, all spoke during the two-day event, exposing the perpetrators and encouraging attendees to become a part of the PDPC network.
“Children hold the promise and dreams of the future of America,” said Executive Director O’Neill. “Yet, thousands of children are suffering in our society today through trafficking, neglect, exploitation, and abuse that goes unabated. This must end if our nation is to survive. We urge all Americans to join us in taking a stand and speaking up. Every child has the right to be nurtured, protected, defended, and to always feel safe. When children cry out for our help, we must not let them down.”
For more details about PDPC and how you can help, visit PDPC.AmericasFuture.net and sign-up to be part of our nationwide network.
The Fourteenth Amendment – Based On The Principle Of Equal Justice For All
Welcome back to our series addressing the amendments to our Constitution. In the last three editions of our newsletter, we have covered the 11th, 12th, and 13th amendments, which brings us to the Fourteenth Amendment this week. Readers can find the first 10 amendments to the Constitution – the Bill of Rights – in the online version of our book, Exploring America’s Founding Documents, by clicking here. If you would like to receive a free print copy, please do so by clicking here.
Ratified in the summer of 1868, three years after the end of the Civil War, the Fourteenth Amendment was one of three amendments passed during the Reconstruction era (1865-1877), the 10-15 year timeframe after the War ended when leaders and thinkers turned their attention to reconstructing a unified nation, abolishing slavery, and establishing civil and legal rights in favor of all persons born or naturalized in the United States.
This amendment is unique and squarely confronts issues of fairness, equality, and justice. It operates as a vehicle or mechanism to ensure protections provided by the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses against unwarranted interference by the federal government apply equally to unreasonable actions taken by state governments. It also incorporates the first eight amendments within our Bill of Rights. Prior to the July 1868 ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment, the individual rights, freedoms, and protections enshrined, therein, only applied to redress or prevent violations by the federal government. Individuals, therefore, were not protected by the Constitution against state government action.
In tandem with the Fifth Amendment, the Fourteenth Amendment also reflects American principles of fairness and justice and provides for “equal justice for all” by establishing a standard and burden of proof the government must meet to demonstrate due process was afforded to a citizen prior to unwelcomed and injurious state government action.
As for due process protections against federal government action (governed by the Fifth Amendment) and against state government action (governed by the Fourteenth Amendment), in 1950, our Supreme Court set forth and detailed the following minimum procedural requirements necessary for the government to demonstrate due process was respected for purposes of deprivation of life, liberty or property: (1) adequate notice; (2) opportunity to be heard; (3) an impartial tribunal.
Though the Fourteenth Amendment is comprised of five sections, Section 1 is almost always the focal point of any Fourteenth Amendment debate, discussion, ruling, or law review article. In fact, it is routine for landmark Supreme Court decisions to be based on or spring from the 80 words that form this one section of the Fourteenth Amendment. Though this section is only 80 words, it tackles complex notions of citizenship, fairness, equality, and procedural safeguards (put into place to balance out government power over an individual and to thwart corruption). Therefore, Section 1 is more manageable by breaking it up into four separate clauses. It states,
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.
No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States;
Nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law;
Nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
We, at America’s Future, embrace the position that God-given rights and freedoms are inalienable and deserve absolute protection against abridgment by our government. Our right to due process protections prior to uninvited governmental interference with our life, liberty or property is deeply entrenched in America’s history and traditions and is at the heart of the American system of ordered liberty.
SCOTUS to Hear Case about “True Threat” Under The First Amendment
To keep our readers up-to-date and well-informed, we continue reporting on cases currently in front of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS). This week we turn to a case that SCOTUS, on January 13, 2023, announced it would resolve. The case is Billy Raymond Counterman v. The People of the State of Colorado, SCOTUS Dkt. No. 22-138 and the full docket can be accessed here.
The issue relates to the burden of proof with respect to “true threats,” or unprotected speech as governed by the First Amendment and its exceptions.
The question presented to SCOTUS is whether the government must show that the speaker subjectively knew or intended the threatening nature of the statement or whether it is enough to show that an objective “reasonable person” would regard the statement as a threat of violence.
The facts of this case, according to SCOTUS filings, relate to numerous Facebook messages that were received by a Colorado female musician in 2014 that she interpreted as threatening, noting to her family that the messages frightened her. The musician eventually blocked the sender of the messages, Mr. Counterman, from her Facebook, contacted an attorney, reported Mr. Counterman to law enforcement, and obtained a protective order.
In 2016, a Colorado jury convicted him on multiple counts, including stalking. He was sentenced to four and one-half years in jail.
Prior to trial, the court denied a motion to dismiss filed by Mr. Counterman, noting the decision was based on the objective standard, which asks only whether a reasonable person would be frightened by the speech at issue, in this case, the Facebook messages. Employing the objective standard essentially forecloses judges and juries from considering evidence of a defendant’s mental state, i.e. intent, in a criminal matter.
Permitting prosecution without the government having to prove a defendant’s intent flies in the face of standard criminal law practice. Criminal convictions based on witness statements and written messages on social media alone could have a chilling effect on free speech and may further muddy the water with respect to the government establishing all elements of a crime were met, including requisite intent to commit a crime. Considering SCOTUS tackled a “true threats” case in 2015 reversing the criminal conviction in Elonis v U.S., 575 U.S. 723 (2015), an 8-1 decision that did not resolve the First Amendment issues nor set forth the final standard for lower courts to employ. It appears SCOTUS is now poised to tackle the more complex constitutional issues.
As usual, SCOTUS has a lot to unpack. Courts around the country have issued inconsistent decisions applying conflicting standards in these unusual types of cases involving a First Amendment issue underlying a criminal charge. SCOTUS is tasked with a balancing act in this case. The purely objective test may have a chilling effect on free speech. However, protecting reckless threatening statements may allow speech that should not be afforded First Amendment protection. Judges across our country in federal and state courts would likely appreciate guidance as to the differences between the standards.
To access the SCOTUS website for more information, please visit https://www.supremecourt.gov.
Department of Justice Mistreats January 6 Political Prisoners
This is the fourth 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.
Generally, prison is for those convicted of crimes, not those only accused. Under normal conditions, most who commit non-violent federal crimes, who are first offenders, and who do not present a flight risk are released before trial. All of those descriptions apply to most of the persons arrested in connection with the events of January 6, but these special defendants are being held before trial for many months, some even without indictments having been issued by grand juries. The Biden Department of Justice appears determined to make a special example of these MAGA prisoners.
Many may not realize it, but the federal Bureau of Prisons is an agency in the Department of Justice and therefore under the control of Attorney General Merrick Garland. The Bureau of Prisons is a deeply troubled agency in the best of times. (Only weeks ago, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations released a 68-page report entitled “Sexual Abuse of Female Inmates While in Federal Prisons.”).
However, the Justice Department is reserving some of its harshest treatment for January 6 prisoners who are being held in the notoriously brutal District of Columbia jail. In October 2022, 34 of these prisoners wrote a letter detailing the harsh conditions they have endured. Many report being denied visits from family, and even from their attorneys. Indeed, those prisoners actually requested a transfer to Guantanamo Bay prison, where at least prisoners are given exercise, time outdoors, access to religious services, and medical care. According to the letter, they have been denied religious services. Prisoners who have refused to take the dangerous COVID injection are treated even more harshly. Some describe beatings by prison guards.
January 6 prisoner Todd Gardner agreed to a guilty plea to avoid the notoriously anti-Trump District of Columbia juries. He is now awaiting sentencing, which has been delayed for seven months. He recently wrote an “open letter,” published on the AmericanGulag.com website, detailing the abysmal conditions in the D.C. jails.
As a J6 defendant, I am treated poorly, harassed and physically abused. We get fed terrible food in portions smaller than elementary school. I have to constantly ask for money from my mom to get food from the commissary. I have been denied my medications and toilet paper. I have also been denied basic human necessities like water and kept from communicating with my attorney.
In June 2021, journalist Julie Kelly, author of the exposé book entitled, January 6, exposed on television the inhumane conditions in “Biden’s ‘Deplorable Jail.’” Those January 6 prisoners who spoke with Kelly, and laid bare the jail’s Third World conditions, later reported how they were retaliated against by being locked down, including 24 hours of solitary confinement. One prisoner messaged his family, “We just found out they are locking us down for an entire week in retaliation for that [television exposé], with no phone calls, no rec time, 5 min showers, and 24 hours in our cells.”
On July 8, 2021, Obama-appointed federal judge Randolph Moss declared “absolutely unacceptable” the D.C. jail’s refusal to allow a prisoner to see the evidence against him. The judge declared that the jail’s actions were “not consistent with due process.”
On October 13, 2021, Reagan-appointed federal judge Royce Lamberth “held the District of Columbia’s corrections director and jail warden in contempt of court” for mistreating prisoners, and asked the DOJ to investigate potential violations of civil rights. The DOJ claimed that prisoner Christopher Worrell, who suffered hand injuries and a lack of treatment for cancer, had “invented” his medical needs. Eventually, Judge Lamberth ordered Worrell released for treatment, citing “deplorable” conditions in the D.C. jail, and stating that the court had “‘zero confidence’ that the D.C. jail would provide proper treatment and not retaliate against Worrell.”
More often than not, however, judges presiding over January 6 criminal trials appear to be accepting the allegations filed by DOJ lawyers as true and some judges have both attacked President Trump and reprimanded attorneys representing January 6 defendants.
In sentencing January 6 defendant Kyle Young, Obama-appointed judge Amy Berman Jackson accused former President Trump of “trying to subvert” the Constitution, and stated that “[t]he judiciary, of all people, must make it clear that it is not patriotism, it is not standing up for America” for the defendant to stand up for Trump.
Obama-appointed Judge Tanya Chutkan blasted defense suggestions that January 6 defendants were treated unfairly compared to BLM rioters. She stated that it was false equivalence “to compare the actions of people protesting, mostly peacefully, for civil rights” to the rioters “trying to overthrow the government.” She said the riot posed a very real danger to “the foundation of our democracy.”
Obama-appointed Judge Amit Mehta rebuked a defense attorney for arguing that January 6 defendants could not get a fair trial in D.C. because many of its residents “despise…traditional values…,” Mehta said, adding “This brief … reads less like a legal brief than something you might read on a blog…. And that’s not acceptable.”
The D.C. jail even repeatedly refused to allow a congressional visit to a constituent of then-Congressman Louie Gohmert, who reported that a jail supervisor “said she won’t talk anymore and that we’re trespassers.” Calling it like he sees it, Rep. Gohmert added, “We’re in totalitarian, Marxist territory here.”
For the leftwing leaders at the DOJ of what reporter Julie Kelly calls “a war on terror against the political right,” third-world treatment of their political opponents appears to be a premeditated strategy — and the constitutional concepts of due process of law and the prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment are the latest casualties in that war.
Now that the Republicans have assumed control over the House of Representatives, with the constitutional “power of the purse,” the only question is how long it will take for them to use that power to end the Department of Justice’s abusive treatment of the political opponents of the Biden regime.
To read the entire series of articles, please click here.
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