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    Capitol Hill Blunders Again


    For the few Americans who watched President Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate, they witnessed yet another blunder, this time not only by the Democrats, but also by the Republicans.

    However, before I get to the Republican blunder, let’s look at the many blunders by the House of Representatives.

    No one can honestly argue that the House did a good job during its impeachment hearings that led to the Articles of Impeachment. They rushed out Articles so lacking in Constitutional legitimacy to be laughable if they were not such a serious attack on what the Founding Fathers and framers of the Constitution believed were proper grounds to remove a sitting president. The actual Articles, as pointed out by Prof. Alan Dershowitz, himself a Democrat who voted for Hilary Clinton, simply do not meet the Constitutional standard. At least that is his opinion.

    Don’t get me wrong. The Articles of Impeachment cited serious transgressions. The facts alleged, if true, most certainly warranted hearings. And if the House had taken the time to call more witnesses and allow for more discovery, even if it meant going to court to enforce subpoenas, they might well have discovered what could constitute “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors” (as the Constitution requires to impeach and remove a president).

    The first article alleges President Trump abused his power by soliciting “the interference of a foreign government, Ukraine, in the 2020 United States Presidential election.” The second article charges President Trump with obstruction of Congress by instituting an “unprecedented, categorical, and indiscriminate defiance of subpoenas issued by the House of Representatives …”.

    Let’s look at them in reverse order.

    We can dismiss the second article out of hand.  “Unprecedented, categorical, and indiscriminate defiance”?  Really?  I seriously doubt that there is anything unprecedented, categorical, or indiscriminate in Washington politics. Worse, the House clearly had a remedy assuming any legitimacy to the allegation. They should have gone to court to enforce their subpoenas. That is the accepted and proper remedy for defiance of service of process. Indeed, Congress has gone to court many times to enforce subpoenas. Think about it – if they had done so here and if a witness or President Trump then defied a court order to appear or produce, there would be no question such behavior would be a legitimate basis for impeachment if perpetrated by the President. Instead, the House chose not to exhaust its proper remedies and instead decided (on a purely partisan basis) that it did not have to go to court to resolve the issue. No serious Constitutional scholar can defend the House’s second Article when it failed to follow the judicial process underpinning the doctrine of separation of power between the Legislative and Executive branches of government. Therefore, the second article fails on its face.

    The first article, however, would have been more interesting if the House fully investigated it. With proper witnesses and discovery of documents, the House might well have been able to deliver evidence to the Senate that would have turned some Republican Senators to their side. The House chose not to do so. What they did instead was produce testimony and documents filled with opinions, hearsay, and evidence woefully inadequate to warrant a conviction. Nor in their hearings did the House allow President Trump to call his own witnesses or to cross-examine those who did testify. While it is the right of the House majority to make such procedural decisions, in hindsight, I think we all have to agree that its failure to be deliberative and more diligent severely undermined the legitimacy of the first Article of Impeachment. They should have – and could have – done a better job.

    They did not.  And to sit on the Articles for weeks before sending them to the Senate made them look all the more foolish. Put simply, they blundered.

    When the House did finally deliver the Articles to the Senate, the first thing the House Managers wanted was more witnesses, including some who they could have called at the House hearings but chose not to. Moreover, they wanted more documents that they failed to subpoena during their hearings. Both requests were tantamount to an admission that the House failed to finish its job before asking the Senate to try the President. Worse, it made their claim that they had a “rock-solid” case all the more fallacious. Another blunder.

    Senator McConnell and nearly every Republican Senator who could find a microphone or television camera jumped on the bandwagon of “no more witnesses”.  Senator Schumer and his cohorts likewise jumped on the bandwagon that more witnesses were necessary to find the truth, essentially admitting that the House case was weak. Never mind that Senator Schumer decried the idea of more witnesses when he sat in President Clinton’s impeachment. No one should assume that politicians – on either side of the aisle – are consistent in their views. What they believe is always dependent upon partisan winds. One day they say something is mandated to reach a decision and the next day they claim the very same thing is unnecessary.  t is no wonder so few Americans trust politicians.

    Now the Republicans have blundered.

    Witnesses could have been called at the Senate trial. But it is also clear that the decision to call additional witnesses or demand more documents rests solely with the Senate and if a majority should decide more witnesses and documents are not necessary, that decision is final. It is no different than the House’s decision to not allow President Trump to call or cross-examine witnesses in the House hearings.

    By a vote of 51 to 49, the Senate defeated a motion to call more witnesses. The issue was resolved. Had it gone the other way, many believe the trial would have continued for months. That was something no Democrat Senator trying to win his or her party’s nomination for President wanted.

    In the midst of all the political wrangling, House Manager Adam Schiff reportedly made a bold proposal. Some say out of desperation. Others say it was a strategic move. Schiff said, “I will make an offer to opposing counsel, who have said that this will stretch on indefinitely if you decide to have a single witness. Let’s cap the depositions to one week.”

    Whether Schiff formally made the offer or not, the Republicans never took him up on it. That was their blunder.

    Certainly, one more week would not have changed the inevitable outcome of acquittal. Thanks to leaks at the New York Times and letters from lawyers for likely witnesses, it is clear what the new Democrat witnesses were going to say.  And if the Republicans called witnesses like Vice President Biden, any first-year law student could handle the questioning. Nothing new would be learned.

    Here is the blunder.  Had the Republicans taken Schiff up on his offer, the House and Senate Democrats would no longer be able to claim there was no fair trial.  Had the Republicans given Schiff another week, Democrats would no longer have a credible claim that the Senate was guilty of a cover-up or overseeing a sham trial.  While some Democrats might continue to campaign on such accusations, they would carry no weight. Moreover, by calling a few more witnesses over an additional week, the country might have been spared what will undoubtedly be new hearings in the House in yet another partisan spectacle to smear the President and his associates. Likewise, if the Republicans called the Bidens, it might have spared likely hearings in the Senate in its own partisan effort to smear the Bidens and others.

    Perhaps Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski said it best, “Given the partisan nature of this impeachment from the very beginning and throughout, I have come to the conclusion that there will be no fair trial in the Senate. I don’t believe the continuation of this process will change anything. It is sad for me to admit that, as an institution, the Congress has failed.

    “It has also become clear some of my colleagues intend to further politicize this process, and drag the Supreme Court into the fray, while attacking the Chief Justice. I will not stand for nor support that effort. We have already degraded our institution for partisan political benefit, and I will not enable those who wish to pull down another.

    “We are sadly at a low point of division in this country.”

    Senator Murkowski is right. There was no fair trial in the Senate because there was no fair hearing in the House. This was all a partisan, political charade to help Democrats beat President Trump in 2020. Now, who is interfering with an election?  I doubt any Democrat or other Republican will show the same courage and conviction of Senator Murkowski to tell the American people the truth. The impeachment process was entirely about partisan politics and not Constitutional principles.

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    What the United States Can Take Away from Hong Kong’s Protests

    What began as a protest against Hong Kong’s proposed extradition law has evolved far beyond that. Protests in China’s most autonomous special administrative region have progressed to uncharacteristically violent levels. Law enforcement is combating and killing protesters in the streets. Such blatant acts of protest are strange for a typically orderly culture. So, why is this happening, and what can we take away from it?

    The aggravator here was certainly the recent extradition policy proposal. A law titled the “Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation Bill 2019” (the Future Offenders Bill) would have allowed Hong Kong to extradite fugitives to mainland China, Taiwan, and Macau. The bill’s purpose was purportedly to close legal loopholes that thwarted extradition of those charged with serious crimes. For example, in one reported case involving a murder in Taiwan, the Hong Kong resident accused of the crime could not be extradited to Taiwan to face the charges (CNN). In theory, the proposed bill would have enabled this case and others of its kind to move forward and ultimately get justice for victims.

    As a special administrative region of China, Hong Kong enjoys certain degrees of freedom that other areas of China do not. Under China’s “one country, two systems” regime, Hong Kong has a somewhat separate legal system. This allows for limited free press and competitive, free market business practices. Hong Kong citizens who enjoy such freedoms feared the implementation of the new law would allow the government to extradite journalists critical of the regime, activists fighting for a democratic system, and business transactions deemed by powers in Beijing to not be in best interests of mainland China. After much forceful protesting—a march of roughly 1 million participants, the likes of which haven’t been seen since China’s reacquisition of Hong Kong in 1997 — the bill was withdrawn.

    Hong Kong wants democracy and a rule of law. Such notions are antithetical to China. The violence of law enforcement against the protesters raises questions of human rights and police brutality. It culminated in a bloody, week-long siege when protesters occupied Polytechnic University’s Hong Kong campus. The police stormed in, ostensibly to regain control of what they considered a situation spiraling out of control.  In the aftermath, Hong Kong city leader Carrie Lam, who maintained a hard line against anti-government protests, experienced major losses in local elections (Associated Press). The pro-democracy bloc won control of 17 out of 18 district councils. While she refused to make any concessions to the protesters, she did say she would accelerate discussions to address grievances. Only time will tell if she is being truthful.

    The United States cut off the supply of anti-riot materials to China in solidarity with Hong Kong’s movement toward democracy. While more symbolic than substantive (China certainly has whatever it needs to quell riots), it does illustrate how we as a nation support our core ideology to preserve the founding principles of our Constitution. The destruction of democracy in Hong Kong also provides a good lesson here at home: we should never forget the importance of the freedoms provided in the Constitution and resist any government attempts to dilute them or worse, take them away.

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    The Senate as Impartial Jurors

    “I solemnly swear that in all things appertaining to the trial of Donald John Trump, now pending, I will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws, so help me God.” 

    When the impeachment trial of President Trump begins in January, it will be only the third time in our history that an impeached president has faced trial. The Senate tried and acquitted both Andrew Johnson and William Clinton. Richard Nixon resigned before the House of Representatives voted to impeach him. If the Senate convicts President Trump, it will be the first removal from office of a sitting president since our Constitution’s ratification in 1788. Given the historical gravity of such a decision, one would want our elected officials, both in the House and in the Senate, to make their decision not on partisan politics but on an impartial evaluation of the facts.

    We all know that did not happen in the House and is not going to happen in the Senate. President Trump will be acquitted by a vote along party lines and face reelection in November. Even if some party members vote against their leadership, those who wish to oust the president will never get the 67 votes they need. This piece of your history will pass quickly for this president but sets a frightening precedent for all future presidents facing a Congress controlled by an opposing party. Impeachment will become a political tool rather than the somber remedy the Constitution provides for “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

    The pundits on both sides of the political spectrum have debated all of this ad nauseam. Those observations are not new. There is one point, however, that has received far less attention than it deserves.

    If charged with a crime, you are entitled to a trial by an impartial jury of your peers. That is a right in our Constitution. If a juror is prejudice or partial, he or she cannot sit on a jury. It is a fundamental right we all enjoy, ensuring a fair trial.

    In an impeachment trial of a sitting president, the Chief Justice of the United States sits as the judge. The House of Representatives appoints a team to act in the role of prosecutor and present their case. The President, as the defendant, is entitled to have his team at the trial defend his rights. The Senate – all 100 members – sit as the jurors and vow to undertake their duties as jurors pursuant to a solemn oath to, “do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws, so help me God.” 

    In the Federalist Papers, Founding Father Alexander Hamilton understood the meaning of the impeachment power in the House and trial in the Senate. In addressing the role of the House of Representatives, Hamilton wrote:

    The prosecution of them, for this reason, will seldom fail to agitate the passions of the whole community, and to divide it into parties more or less friendly or inimical to the accused. In many cases it will connect itself with the pre-existing factions, and will enlist all their animosities, partialities, influence, and interest on one side or on the other; and in such cases there will always be the greatest danger that the decision will be regulated more by the comparative strength of parties, than by the real demonstrations of innocence or guilt.

    That is precisely what we witnessed in the House.

    Hamilton had some thoughts on the Senate’s role as well. He wrote:

    Where else than in the Senate could have been found a tribunal sufficiently dignified, or sufficiently independent? What other body would be likely to feel confidence enough in its own situation, to preserve, unawed and uninfluenced, the necessary impartiality between an individual accused, and the representatives of the People, his accusers? 

    A Senator must approach the trial without a predetermined vote to convict or acquit. If they are unable to be impartial until presentation of all the evidence, they are not qualified to sit as a juror.

    You would think members of the Senate, many of whom are lawyers, would understand that obligation and abide by their duty. Think again.

    Senators on both sides of the aisle have been unable to remain silent and instead have turned the circus we witnessed in the House into an equally repulsive display of partisan politics in the Senate. We are used to it in almost everything they do today from immigration, to budgeting, to infrastructure, to medical care and more. With few exceptions, it seems the Democrats and Republicans cannot agree on anything regardless of the relative merits either side presents. That is politics as usual and it has been that way since partisan debate began. No surprise.

    This is different. Each Senator will take a special oath — an oath that many cannot now honestly give. Far too many, yearning for a camera, are guilty of political pandering. They are not impartial. They have made their decision before the trial begins. Under traditional rules, they cannot sit on the jury.

    Sadly, such hypocrisy will not stop any of them. They will all sit as jurors and make the most profound decision a U.S. Senator can make in flagrant violation of the oath they gave. 

    Regardless of how you feel about the president, the behavior of many Senators is shameful and adds to the reasons so many Americans rightly question the integrity of our elected officials.

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    Impeachment Hearings: What You Need to Know

    What eventful days it has been on Capitol Hill!

    On Tuesday, four witnesses testified over a span of 11+ hours discussing their insights into Trump’s request to have President Volodymyr Zelensky and his team investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter’s involvement in the 2016 election—all allegedly resulting in Trump’s decision to withhold $400 million in Ukrainian military aid.

    The first called to testify by the Democrats was Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman—the US’s top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council.  Accompanying him was Jennifer Williams, one of Vice President Pence’s national security aides. She too was called by the Democrats.  Both listened to the July 25, 2019 call between President Trump and Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky. Colonel Vindman claimed Trump’s demands for Ukraine to investigate former VP Joe Biden were “inappropriate” and “likely to have significant implications for national security” (as reported by the New York Times). Jennifer Williams agreed that withholding Ukraine’s military aid was “damaging to Ukraine’s ability to confront Russian aggression” (Jennifer Williams via NYT).

    On Tuesday, Trump’s former special envoy to Ukraine, Kurt Volker, and Tim Morrison, the National Security Council’s former senior director for Russia and Europe, testified as witnesses submitted by Republicans. Volker mostly played the “I didn’t know anything” card while Morrison indicated that the July 25 call did not contain any wrongdoings or illegalities.

    Wednesday’s round of hearings brought an interesting twist—one Democrats have been anxiously awaiting from the very beginning. Gordon Sondland, ambassador to the European Union, testified against President Trump implicating that there was indeed a quid pro quo “With regard to the requested White House call and White House meeting,” (Gordon Sondland via NPR). Laura Cooper—a deputy assistant secretary at the Defense Department—then testified, defending the president saying, “there was no wrongdoing because the Ukrainians weren’t even aware that a hold was put on the aid” (NPR).

    Thursday concluded with Dr. Fiona Hill, the White House’s former top Europe and Russia expert, and David Holmes, a United States Embassy official located in Ukraine who happened to be a witness to a phone call between President Trump and Gordon Sondland (NYT). Dr. Hill essentially blamed Ukraine for meddling in the 2016 elections, not Russia. She and David Holmes also claimed that the name “Burisma” (a Ukrainian energy company) was actually code for investigating the Bidens (NYT). Holmes said he was under the impression that Trump’s reason behind withholding Ukraine’s military aid was an “expression of dissatisfaction” or “as an effort to increase the pressure on them to do so” (David Holmes via NYT).

    So what’s next? Even more—what does this mean for Trump in the 2020 election?  It remains to be seen if the House will impeach the president.  It’s a very serious and precedent setting decision we all hope will be considered carefully and fairly. However, as I explained in an earlier blog, our Founding Fathers predicted more than 200 years ago that House proceedings looking into impeachment were expected to be political circuses.  This past week has lived up to that prediction.  If the House does vote to impeach, the case will fall into the hands of the Senate where the charges will most likely be dismissed or President Trump will be formally acquitted.  Only a major bombshell will garner the 67 votes necessary to convict and remove the president.  As some commentators have asked, is the reality behind the House proceeding nothing more than an exercise by Democrats to keep Trump from being re-elected?  Will the new normal for presidents in parties opposite the majority in the House be forever looking over their shoulders at the prospect of impeachment for whatever political winds might bring?

    The sad news is we have to watch political theater as each side postures with constant insults and accusations.  For every person who testifies in support of impeachment, another testifies against it.  If it goes to the Senate and a trial is undertaken, we can expect even more partisan politics as the Republicans get their chance to make the rules.  That’s the bad news.  The good news is in November those who should be deciding the fate of Donald Trump, one-third of the Senate, and the entire House of Representatives will be in the People – the ultimate arbiters in our Constitution on who sits in the White House and on Capitol Hill.  You and me.  So let us make sure we vote and send whatever our message is to those sitting in Washington today about how we feel they’ve governed in the face of an immigration crisis, a crumbling infrastructure, a broken health care system, nuclear proliferation, trade imbalances, out of control spending, and more.

    Ask yourself this:  Do any of them deserve to be reelected?

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    A Reminder Regarding Freedom of the Press

    Kaitlan Collins, a CNN White House reporter, was recently informed that she was no longer welcome to participate in the “next event” which took place in the White House Rose Garden.  President Trump was unhappy by her questioning in an earlier press conference.

    Conservatives and the President may not like CNN and Ms. Collins any more than liberals dislike Fox News and its reporters.   But that is no foundation to deny press access to news conferences in or out of the Rose Garden.

    In a rare and refreshing example of solidarity, FOX News President and Executive Editor Jay Wallace said: “We stand in strong solidarity with CNN for the right to full access for our journalists as part of a free and unfettered press.”  Fox News anchor Bret Baier added,“[Collins’] questions were also Fox’s questions, and NBC’s questions, and ABC’s questions. And that’s partly why there’s been an unusual show of solidarity for this.”

    This shouldn’t be hard for the Administration to understand.  The principle has been part of our core beliefs for more than 250 years.  It’s the First Amendment to our Constitution: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

    While I imagine President Trump would like to distance himself from the Congress referred to in the clause, as our President, the rights guaranteed the press under the First Amendment should not be abrogated because of temper tantrums.  Let Ms. Collins back in.

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    Why Not Win with the Truth?

    New Jersey has a controversial Senate election this November. The likely challenger for incumbent Robert Menendez is Republican Bob Hugin, a former pharmaceutical executive. The ads have started. Problem is, they’re devoid of substance and filled with personal attacks.

    In particular, Hugin’s most recent ad is filled with lies. No doubt we’ll eventually see the same from Menendez. Such is the case with political advertising today – lies, misrepresentations, and no substance on the issues. Even when an issue is addressed, it’s in vague terms with no specific plan on how those issues will be resolved. God forbid if a politician actually tells you what they’re going to do. You have a right to know that before you enter the voting booth. And you should not vote for any candidate who is not clear on the specific direction he or she thinks is best for you.

    Unfortunately, today’s politicians think we’re all either right or left, conservative or progressive, or hawks or doves. How about intelligent and reasonable and sick and tired of the partisan politics played in Washington and State capitals while we continue to see no meaningful progress on important issues?

    Hugin, for example, attacks Menendez with accusation, based upon a Senate ethics probe and an indictment against Menendez claiming he used the influence of his office to benefit of a longtime friend and political supporter. In exchange, Menendez allegedly received expensive gifts, lavish vacations and more than $750,000 in campaign contributions. All that is public record so it’s fair game. But Hugin’s ads either state or most definitely imply that Menendez was guilty. That’s a lie. He has never been convicted of any of the allegations. And while I’m certainly not supporter of Menendez, he deserves better and Hugin needs to be more responsible before he will earn my vote and, hopefully, yours.

    Sadly, it will take little time for Menendez to start personal attacks on Hugin. Truth is, Hugin has his seen his share of controversy too. I’ll refrain from listing them. But I have no doubt Menendez will. And he’ll probably be just as misleading as Hugin.

    So it will be politics as usual. Lies, misrepresentations, and no substance. As Hugin says of Menendez, “New Jersey deserves better.” Mr. Hugin needs to know that New Jersey’s voters need better than him, too.

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    Pleading the Fifth and the Constitution

    The Russian investigation is an ongoing federal exploration that has been underway since before the November 2016 presidential election.  Each time a new name is revealed or leaked, that person is dragged into the spotlight of the House intelligence committee investigating President Trump’s ties to Russia.  Many of these people, most recently Fusion GPS (the firm that created the dossier of memos on the alleged Russian aid) and Carter Page (Former Trump policy advisor) plead their Fifth Amendment right.

    The fundamental underpinning behind this action is the Bill of Rights’ Fifth Amendment to our Constitution and its promise that “no person shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”

    The Bill of Rights assures us that the oppression and suppression that caused America to fight its revolution for freedom will never be repeated.  When anyone invokes these protections, it is not for us to be critical or judgmental.  Indeed, it is reason to celebrate and remember that such inalienable rights do not exist elsewhere in the world and are a blessing we must never forget.

    I applaud their right to assert the Fifth Amendment.  Properly exercising constitutional rights is not for me—or Congress—to judge.  It may make the job of Congress harder.  It may delay the investigation and make it more difficult to find some of the facts.

    But in a contest between efficiency and the Constitution, the Constitution must win.

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    DACA – Demystifying the Blame Game

    President Trump’s latest Executive Order rescinds (over the next six months) President Obama’s Executive Order known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA.  DACA provides protection from the deportation of children brought into this country illegally by their parents.    

    Congress now has six-months to pass legislation to replace DACA before it expires.  The arguments on both sides of the debate are strewn with emotion.  All of that, however, needs to be put aside.  We are simply not a country that deports children who have done nothing wrong and who have contributed to our society and economy as much as anyone born here.  Indeed, many have been more “model citizens” than all too many children who are citizens simply because they were lucky enough to be born within our borders.  Nor, as President Obama said, will deporting any of these children increase jobs or raise wages. 

    There are some facts, however, that media on both sides of the debate have largely ignored.  Those facts put President Trump’s decision into much needed perspective.

    A United States President cannot grant legal citizenship to anyone.  In the face of that reality, President Obama issued his DACA order effectuating a deferral of enforcement of existing laws.  In effect, he told prosecutors to prioritize deportation and focus on illegal aliens with criminal records.  And there were, and still are, more than enough illegal criminal aliens to keep authorities occupied for years.  But the point is that DACA is not a right because a President cannot grant such a right.  It was nothing more than an order from the President that prosecutors were to exercise their discretion and put deportation of DACA registrants on the back burner.

    What media also forgets is that President Obama issued DACA because Congress failed to resolve the issue after repeated tries.  So in frustration, President Obama issued two Executive Orders — DACA and the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA).  DAPA protected illegal aliens who parented children born in the United States.   In doing so, President Obama circumvented the failed legislative process. 

    In November 2014, President Obama attempted to expand DACA.  In response, Republican governors from twenty five states sued to enjoin implementation of DAPA and the expansion of DACA.  In February 2015, the federal court in Texas issued a preliminary injunction enjoining implementation of DAPA and blocking the expansion of DACA.  Eventually, the Supreme Court affirmed the decision in a 4-4 vote.  That vote was taken before President Trump’s nomination of Justice Neil Gorsuch was confirmed.

    President Obama’s original DACA order was not at risk in the case brought by the states under a procedural agreement.  Instead, the parties agreed to defer it for the time being and focus only on DAPA.  But the arguments cited in support of the demise of DAPA equally apply to DACA.  The basis for the DAPA injunction was the court’s finding that the states had a high likelihood of prevailing on their argument that Obama’s DAPA order was unconstitutional.  It’s the same legal argument used to enjoin the implementation of President Trump’s Executive Order allegedly targeting Muslim immigrants.  In both instances, the court said the President most probably exceeded his authority under the Constitution.  Near the end of President Obama’s term, the states also agreed to delay further proceedings until the Trump Administration had an opportunity to revisit President Obama’s order.

    Their deferral, however, did not come without a threat.  The states told the Administration that if by September 5, 2017, it failed to rescind the DACA order, the complaint (in the case that successfully enjoined DAPA) would be amended to challenge both the DACA and DAPA.  Many constitutional experts agree that if that were to happen, DACA would most likely fall.  And then we’d be left with nothing unless the judge in Texas decided to craft his own Solomon like solution.  If he chose to do nothing, chaos would ensue and God only knows what would happen.  So if President Trump had not acted, a Texas judge would have decided the fate of thousands of innocent children. 

    Thus, President Trump had a Hobson’s Choice – a choice where any decision is a bad one.  So under the states’ threat, Trump bought six months for Congress to act before the states add DACA to their suit and kids potentially get deported. 

    Others will now file suits, too.  But none of them are likely to reverse the Supreme Court decision affirming the demise of DAPA nor its precedent if applied to DACA.  So the writing is on the wall.

    No one can possibly want to deport a single kid who has DACA documentation.  Not even President Trump.  But President Obama exceeded his authority with DACA and DAPA just as much as President Trump exceeded his when he issued his immigration order targeting Muslims.  We can’t have it both ways. 

    So now Congress must act.  If it fails, President Trump says can reconsider and enter an order extending DACA.  In turn, the states will amend their complaint and DACA will likely fall. 

    It’s a mess with plenty of blame to pass around between two presidents who chose to ignore the Constitution and a Congress that can’t do its job.  And without Congressional action, the final decision may be left to a judge in Texas.

    So the message is simple: Congress, do your job and stop the rhetoric.  Pass legislation supporting DACA and DAPA.  America is fed up with your failed leadership.

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    Confederate Statues: Should They Have Been Taken Down?

    In the past few weeks there has been much debate on statues of Confederate soldiers, most notably of General Robert E. Lee. Should these statues stay, or be taken down?

    History is important to learn and remember—and often, not to repeat. I understand the idea of celebrating and honoring those in our history who stood for our principles—and not to honor those who did not, even when they were good people with bad ideas.

    Robert E. Lee was a great general, and a companionate man. However, he chose to defend the confederacy and slavery. That alone puts him into an entirely different category than someone like Ulysses Grant, who was also once a great general who fought during the late years of the Civil War, and then later became the 18th President of the United States. He was also allegedly a drunk. But, whatever his imperfections may have been, Grant never supported slavery.

    But where do we draw the line of what statues or paintings can and cannot be taken down?  While it may be acceptable to take down statues of Confederate heroes—those who fought for slavery —my question is: Why would we stop there?

    Presidents Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren supported the Indian Removal Act of 1830, where the U.S. systematically evicted thousands of Native Americans from their lands, and relocated them elsewhere—denying them their homes and heritage. Many died in the so-called “Trail of Tears.” Jackson and Van Buren supported something that today is viewed by most as reprehensible. Should their statues be torn down? Should Jackson, who was a general in the U.S. Army and annexed Texas, be removed from the $20 bill?

    At the outset of WWII, President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered the internment of Japanese Americans in the United States.  The forced relocation and incarceration in camps dislocated more than 110,000 people of Japanese ancestry, more than 60% of whom were U.S. citizens.  Virtually none of them had done anything wrong.  History teaches us that what Roosevelt ordered was a gross violation of civil rights and a cruel indictment of innocent people without any due process.  He essentially trashed the Constitution. However, he guided the country through most of the Great Depression and World War II, and is considered by many as one of the greatest U.S. presidents.  But his behavior towards thousands of innocent people begs the question: should we tear down the Roosevelt Memorial in Washington?

    Regardless of where you fall in this debate, the next question is who should be empowered to make the judgment on what stays up, and what gets torn down?  I suggest that debate belongs in our local town halls and municipalities —they are the ones who will know that is the best for their communities. Instead of making it a federal or statewide issue, let us leave the decisions to the towns that built the statues for their residents.

    In the end, the problem with tearing down statues – Confederate or otherwise – is that it creates a collision between raw emotions and deep, philosophical issues worthy of intelligent debate. The two never mix well and more often than not present the proverbial Hobson’s Choice where the conclusions by both sides do more to feed the controversy and the divisive (and sometimes violent) discourse that follows.

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    Violence Begets Violence: Condemning the Acts in Charlottesville

    In the past, I have iterated on my blog about the right to peaceful assembly, and how violent assembly is an act that is contemptible and condemned in our Constitution.  After the events that took place in Charlottesville—and since then, in other cities around the country—I would like to once again bring this conversation forward.

    From the Bill of Rights, First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States:

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

    What happened in Charlottesville, including the death of an innocent woman through an extremely violent act, was abominable. Americans must understand that it is their God-given right to a peaceful protest. Once that peace is thrown out the window, they must be severely reprimanded for any violent actions that occur on their behalf, especially if those violent actions include the death of another human’s life.

    You have the right to your voice—use it! And know that when you act violently, your government, local law enforcement, media, friends and family will respect neither you nor your views.  You forfeit that privilege.

    You may not believe that the pen and your voice are mightier than the sword, but history repeatedly shows  they are—and always will be. It worked in 1787 when we ratified a new government. And it works today, when law enforcement and government officials abide by, consult, and argue the meaning of the Constitution.

    Whatever the color of your skin, your gender, your political beliefs, your ideals—respect  what was given to you when you were born in this great country, honored you when you became a citizen, or simply helped you because you hoped to find a better life here, by not sinking low with violence and crime.

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