By Dr. Harold Pease
What are my constitutional rights in school with respect to Christmas? It might surprise some to learn that the Constitution does not allow the government to prevent you from doing most things that you do at home also in public—even at school. The Constitutionally ill-informed like to refer to the “separation of church and state” as the rational for a prohibition of religious or seasonal expression in public places. No such language exists in the Constitution. To prevent you from doing these things would be as unconstitutional as mandating that you do.
Actually the language of the First Amendment, from which opponents to religion derive this falsehood, is “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Such was included for the sole purpose of preventing the government from creating a state approved organization of religion as had happened in Europe for more than a thousand years. Simply, government may not establish a state religion. Instead, government is charged with protecting “the free exercise thereof.”
So decorate your school Christmas trees (not diversity trees), distribute your Christmas cards with Biblical messages on them (not Holiday Cards) to your school mates, greet your school friends and colleagues with Merry Christmas (not Happy Holidays), sing “Silent Night” and “Joy to the World,” in your school choirs and for heaven sakes do not let your teachers or administrators change Christmas Break to Winter Break or “Sparkle Season.” You have a culture and heritage to preserve, so say the courts. You may even have a nativity scene in the classroom or on school grounds but outside activities are better left to parent organizations.
Some might say that I am giving you the view and practice of 50 years ago. That is so but amazingly that view remains in place. Whereas the Supreme Court has participated in constitutional distortion in so many other areas in the past, the original view, the “free exercise” of religion, still holds. The Court has not ruled on any measure that would silence those who celebrate Christmas openly and in public places. If it did so it might fairly be accused of creating an organization of the irreligious to destroy religious freedom.
Yes, you might get a letter from the ACLU threatening your “free exercise thereof” of religion but the Supreme Court has never upheld their view—in fact, the opposite has been established in case after case. Because they have been successful in creating the opposite public impression they can bully and bluster the ignorant into forfeiting this constitutional right.
Should they do more than bluster, which is unlikely given their loss ratio, defending your right to celebrate Christmas in the traditional—even historical manner—is protected by the Constitution and defended by the Alliance Defending Freedom who have recently sent a letter to more than 13,000 school districts nationwide offering their free legal assistance. Attorneys all over the country volunteer their services to protect this part of the Constitution. Should a student or faculty member feel threatened by their leadership or wish council on this subject they can be reached at 1-800-835-5233 and such are invited to visit www.AllianceDefendingFreedom.org. The Alliance will be happy to send a letter encouraging them to honor your First Amendment rights.
Alliance literature notes the things that may be done in the public setting. Colleges may decorate campus Christmas trees. Christmas programs may include religious songs. The courts have recognized for many years that Christmas carols have achieved a cultural significance that justifies their being performed in public schools. Moreover, teachers may constitutionally present Christmas passages from the Bible when treating the event in the historical sense. The First Amendment does protect the right of individuals to private religious expression on public property—even nativity scenes. Even showing paintings of Jesus Christ in public parks is constitutional. May the government sponsor religious displays inside government buildings? Of course!! How could the Supreme Court rule otherwise? Moses with the Ten Commandments is chiseled in stone on their building. Prayer is held every working morning in both the House and Senate chambers and each dedicate a room for quiet meditation and prayer for our legislators.
So I invite you to push the limits of freedom. How else will it be retrieved? If not you then who? If not now then when? Doing nothing only exacerbates the problem and encourages opponents to bluster and intimidate all the more.
Merry Christmas my liberty loving friends.
By Dr. Harold Pease
Should the patriots once again have ability to rewrite the Declaration of Independence what would they say? How might it be different? Many have asked, “Is it time to restate the obvious? We have lost much of our liberty, as they had, from their elected government.”
There is no reason to believe that the committee, headed by Thomas Jefferson, would retract the base for the right of revolution from “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God”—definitely a higher level than mere man. Nor is there any reason to believe that they would retract “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Nor the right of revolution when all other means are exhausted, as they had, which is so eloquently stated in the remainder of the second paragraph. So we would expect them to retain the means of making revolution—the right to bear arms. The general theme of the last three paragraphs, that “in every stage of these Oppressions we have Petitioned for Redress” and “with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor,” would be retained as well.
What is, however, perplexing is how many of the listed oppressions—the causes of the American Revolution—have returned in our day. Jefferson targeted the King for the oppressions but Parliament, an elected body, was actually responsible for most of them as is Congress in our day. These include: “He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.” This would be our unelected federal bureaucracy today, 2.8 million strong. The $50 million for IRS parties and $70 million for IRS bonuses in 2013 come to mind. We have yet to hire the 16,000 new folks to administer our socialized medicine (Obamacare) programs, yet another enormous swarm “to eat out our substance.” These officers live off the wealth produced by others.
“He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.” Bradley tanks were used against the Branch Davidian Church during the Clinton Administration, and FEMA and the federalized National Guard were used in New Orleans during the hurricane Katrina under George W. Bush. The recently passed National Defense Authorization Act legalizes military kidnapping of American citizens thought by the President and military to be “terrorist” and shipped to Guantanamo Bay and detained without trial indefinitely. Civil power was/is told to be secondary or non-existent in these examples.
“He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Act of pretended Legislation:” The United Nations was created by treaty. It’s law, often “foreign to our constitution” is becoming recognized universal law with authority to supersede national law. The Supreme Court often references UN law to establish constitutionality of U.S. law. A pending case is the UN Small Arms Treaty which opponents of gun control fear will be used to nullify our Second Amendment.
“For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent.” Anytime a president offers money to a foreign country by way of treaty, as did President Jimmy Carter in the Panama Canal Treaty, he is taxing us without our consent. Only the House of Representatives, which is excluded from treaty making, can raise a bill of revenue. When the Senate, which is supposed to approve all treaties, and the President offer money in a treaty it “imposes taxes on us without our consent.” Today presidents offer reams of money to foreign countries without a thought to asking the people first, as required by the Constitution.
“For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury.” The National Defense Authorization Act, signed into law on New Years Eve 2011 by President Barack Obama, potentially removes trial by jury altogether for citizens thought by the president to be terrorists. A term never defined. If a trial is held at all it will be out of the country and in a military court—without the benefit of the Bill of Rights.
“For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences.” Once again the NDAA transports us secretly, unbeknown to our friends and family and potentially without notice to civil authorities, to Cuba for indefinite detention. Nothing that the British did to us in 1776 was more drastic than this.
“For…altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments.” Our government has been moving from a republic to a democracy and now into socialism for many decades led by both major political parties. At least Barack Obama was honest with us when he promised to “fundamentally change” our government if elected.
“For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.” Our legislatures have been suspended when five things, now very common, happen: 1) when Congress usurps the powers of state governments to themselves, 2) when Congress allows an unelected bureaucracy to add sometimes thousands, of new regulations to a new law, 3) when the President makes law by executive order, 4) when the President appoints so-called Czars to administer programs and write new law for areas where the Constitution never gave the federal government any jurisdiction, 5) and when the Supreme Court rules in such a way as to create new law as in Obamacare.
I suppose the “Tories” in our day would argue, as they did then, “But our elected government gave us all these laws” (oppressions), thus it is okay because “we did it to ourselves.” That argument was made then as well but fortunately it did not keep the rest of us, the Patriots, from revolting nonetheless. Let us revolt by our vote to once again remove the returning offending tyranny and oppressions. Please share.
By Dr. Harold Pease
Recent revelations on either the National Securities Administration’s seven-year accumulation of your phone calls and email massages, or, the 35 years of FISA court’s special surveillance requests on 34,000 citizens, has caused many to look to the Constitution for protection from their own government. Is government spying on its own citizens constitutional?
In the Constitution the words national security are not used but common defense is mentioned twice, first in the Preamble, which is but a statement of intent and is not generally seen as usable for codification of law. Article I, Section 8 houses the four powers of congress: to tax, to pay the debts, to provide for the general welfare and to provide for the common defense. Sections 2-9 are the qualifiers on what is meant by common defense so as to limit government’s inclination to define everything as common defense, as it now has national security. All the war powers belong to congress alone. Only after a war is declared does the president have commander and chief responsibilities over the military. Unfortunately for big government advocates, collecting and storing data on its citizens is not cited or even alluded to.
Fortunately for us this behavior is specifically forbidden in the Fourth Amendment which reads: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” The amendment was specifically designed to prevent government spying.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated is the strongest possible language conceivable. In their day the British government used what was called “a general search warrant” which allowed their agents to harass the people thought to be doing, or saying, something disapproved by the government. No such flexible interpretation was allowed in our government. In our day, computers are your papers. Simply confiscating them and storing them, perhaps indefinitely, should be no different than the police walking into your home and taking any letters, or messages, that you have received, or are about to send, from you and housing them in police headquarters in case they should need them in a later day. Moreover, unreasonable was not to be decided by the police.
As a first principle your house and papers are off-limits to the government. All searches are unreasonable without probable cause that you are doing something harmful to others. Probable cause must be decided independently from the police unless you are in the act of doing something unlawful and immediate police response is necessary. Elected judges exist for assessing probable cause. Should they get too cozy with the police there exist other checks to keep them restrained as, for example, their defeat in the next election. As initially interpreted there were to be few federal laws hence few unelected federal justices. This was to be a state, county, or city matter. Rousted out of a good sleep in the middle of the night, judges were not likely to be too happy having to assess frivolous charges.
There exists no constitutional authority for a blanket extraction of all your electronic data. Judges swear an oath to preserve the Constitution. They are not to perform with a private view outside that document. Notice also the specific restrictive phraseology with respect to this power; they are to particularly describe “the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized”—evidence that something unlawful happened. There is no authority for a “fishing expedition.” NSA spying on its own citizens without a search warrant is clearly unconstitutional.
So what of the government’s secret FISA court where over the last 35 years special federal (unelected) judges have only turned down 11 spying requests out of 34,000 made. Isn’t that based upon probable cause? Not necessarily! The request is more likely made because they lack probable cause and wish to find it by accessing your private records or conversations. We might think more positively toward the existence of the secret FISA court were it not for three big negatives: judges are not elected and accountable to the people, the court operates behind an impenetrable double-door in a vault-like room in total secrecy, and the rules empowering the spying activities are different than those allowed other judges in other federal courts. In any other court, for an ordinary surveillance warrant, a judge must find that a suspect “is” involved in a crime. Under FISA the standard is lowered to “may be involved.” An ordinary wiretap runs 90 days. FISA taps can last a year. A suspect under ordinary criminal surveillance “must be told” about it eventually but not under FISA. And finally, if prosecuted, a defendant is never allowed to see the top-secret warrant applications used against him, which is a probable violation of the Six Amendment as well.
Moreover, the FISA court violates the Fifth Amendment in that the accused is, in a very real sense, forced to be a witness against himself—perhaps the only witness. It is his papers, emails, and phone conversations that convict him.
No federal government! You must tear down your $2 billion NSA Bluffdale, Utah spy facility capable of storing a Yottabyte of our private information against our will. You must do likewise to your Oak Ridge plant that houses the fastest computer in the world designed to analyze our private data for your own purposes; and the latest revelation—to share that information with seven sister federal agencies. Spying on your own people is a blatant violation of the Constitution. You may argue that you are only protecting us from bad people out there but who protects us from you? Fortunately the Constitution does if only enough will begin to use it in their voting practices and those we elect will honor their pledge to protect it, and us, from you.
Dr. Harold Pease is an expert on the United States Constitution. He has dedicated his career to studying the writings of the Founding Fathers and applying that knowledge to current events. He has taught history and political science from this perspective for over 25 years at Taft College. To read more of his weekly articles, please visit www.LibertyUnderFire.org.
By Dr. Harold Pease
With the recent outbreak of establishment media coverage of the National Security Administration’s, NSA, spying on over 100 million Americans, recording their telephone conversations, emails, and other electronic messages for the last seven years, the attention has turned to whatever happened to congressional or judicial oversight. Defenders of the spying are assuring us that such is in place and we should not worry. The government’s surveillance of its own citizens is old news dating back to at least 35 years as is the government’s secret court, the FISA court, authorizing them to do so. I have told my students about this court for at least 25 years.
This secret court began during the Jimmy Carter Administration with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, in 1978. Initiated by Ted Kennedy it had strong bipartisan support. It was created as a response to President Richard Nixon’s usage of federal resources to spy on political activist groups during his tenure as president, which likely violated the Fourth Amendment. Ironically, the solution, legalized spying on our own citizens, was a greater violation of the Amendment than before. Few voices opposed giving the government extra spy power during the “Cold War” when it seemed that the whole planet was falling under the totalitarian influence of communism but, once legalized, the surveillance moved to other groups notably the socialists who opposed the Vietnamese War.
CBS News commentator Dan Rather, in his program, Eye on America, was one of the first to speak out on the intricacies of this secret court and he did so in 1994–nineteen years ago. He correctly spoke to the issue that all federal courts are supposed to be open, that the Constitution has no place for secret courts. His program opened, “Chances are you have never heard of this court because it does operate in secret.” The FISA court “holds no public hearings, classifies its rulings top secret and has wide freedom to order domestic spying in the name of national security.” Alan Deshowitz, a defense attorney at the time, was cited as having said, “The idea of there being a secret court in America is so UN-American and the end result is that the rights of American citizens are being violated by this court. What is at stake here is the liberty of the American people. Secrecy and liberty are incompatible.”
The 1994 program continued, “Behind the stone walls of the Justice Department’s sixth floor the court sits in an ultra-high security vault, guarded by impenetrable double doors. There, seven federal judges hear surveillance requests from the FBI, the CIA, and the Department of Defense. And it appears the court has never heard a request it didn’t like. Over the years the government has asked for 7,500 surveillance warrants. The number refused by the court is zero. The government has never been denied.” In 1994 this amounted to two surveillance approvals on U. S. citizens a day. There was no follow up on how the information obtained was used in the defense of freedom.
It gets worse, “The questions “under FISA aren’t quite as tough as they are in even an ordinary criminal case. In any other court for an ordinary surveillance warrant a judge must find that a suspect is involved in a crime. Under FISA the standard is lowered to ‘may be involved.’ An ordinary wiretap runs 90 days. FISA taps can last a year. A suspect under ordinary criminal surveillance ‘must be told’ about it eventually but not under FISA. And finally, if prosecuted, a defendant is never allowed to see the top-secret warrant applications used against him.” Ironically, all this is happening “in a windowless vault just beyond Constitution Avenue,” the program concluded.
To date the secret court has reviewed 33,900 requests denying, in its 35-year history, only eleven—so much for oversight. This means that 968 Americans are approved for secret spying, through wiretapping and other surveillance techniques, each year with only one rejection. This number is not to be confused with the 100 million Americans subjected to secret blanket extraction of their electronic data for the last seven years for some future purpose by the NSA. These are they where your Congress, through FISA, authorized actual study of your private information without your permission or knowledge. I guess that is okay as long as it is on someone else. The problem is, it may be on you for the last anti government thing you said or wrote. How Orwellian is this? Tell your congressman to end the FISA secret court. Secrecy and liberty are incompatible.
Dr. Harold Pease
Why is the establishment press just now acknowledging the idea that our own government has been spying on us when credible witnesses and whistleblowers have offered documentation on this for years? Everyone is now talking about the huge secret spy NSA facility in Bluffdale, Utah the size of five capital buildings scheduled for completion this September, as though this is something new. I had myself photographed in front of the site last September. The networks and Congress seemed shocked at the revelation but Congress had to authorize the $2 billion facility expenditure for Bluffdale and a similar amount for a sister NSA facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. All of this is simply old news.
What follows is what we knew more than a year ago. Wired magazine front-paged this story a year ago last April when it wrote: “Deep in the Utah desert, the National Security Agency is building the country’s biggest spy center. It’s the final piece of a secret surveillance network that will intercept and store your phone calls, emails, Google searches… (Watch what you say).”
Noted author James Banford, one of America’s leading authorities on the National Security Agency, then wrote, “ Under construction by contractors with top-secret clearances, the blandly named Utah Data Center is being built for the National Security Agency. A project of immense secrecy, it is the final piece in a complex puzzle assembled over the past decade. Its purpose: to intercept, decipher, analyze, and store vast swaths of the world’s communications as they zap down from satellites and zip through the underground and undersea cables of international, foreign, and domestic networks… Flowing through its servers and routers and stored in near-bottomless databases will be all forms of communication, including the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls, and Google searches, as well as all sorts of personal data trails—parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases, and other digital “pocket litter” (“The NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center. Watch What You Say.”) The project is code named “Stellar Wind.”
In the scheme of things, launched in 2004 under the George W. Bush Administration, but vastly expanded under Barack Obama, the NSA Bluffdale facility will house all electronic information in the world. That is why it is being equipped to hold a Yottabyte of information. A Yottabyte is 1,000 Zettabytes (the number 1 followed by 24 zeros — 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000). So Bluffdale is primarily a storage facility. The philosophy is that the “more data, the more telephone calls, the more email, the more encrypted data that you have—the more patterns that you’re likely to discover.”
The NSA Oak Ridge facility houses the super computer, installed in 2006, capable of finding patterns and printing them out in milliseconds in a process code named “brute force.” The “goal was to advance computer speed a thousand fold, creating a machine that could execute a quadrillion (1015) operations a second, known as a petaflop—the computer equivalent of breaking the land speed record.” With upgrades the computer, called “jaguar for its speed, it clocked in at 1.75 petaflops, officially becoming the world’s fastest computer in 2009,” is housed in Building 5300. There “318 scientists, computer engineers, and other staff work in secret on the cryptanalytic applications of high-speed computing and other classified projects” (Cryptome, March 16, 2012, “NSA Decryption Multipurpose Research Facility”).
NSA Whistleblower William Binney said, “Domestically, they’re pulling together all the data about virtually every U.S. citizen in the country and assembling that information, building communities that you have relationships with, and knowledge about you; what your activities are; what you’re doing. So the government is accumulating that kind of information about every individual person and it’s a very dangerous process.” He estimated that one telecom alone was sending the government an “average of 320 million logs every day since 2001.”
So, when the Los Angeles Times reported on June 6, 2013 that “Government is tracking all U.S. phone calls,” that “The National Security Agency has stored data on calls to and from nearly every American for 7 years in search of patterns suggesting terrorist activity,” and that officials still say that they are not eavesdropping, it is still a lie, a matter of public record, and thus old news. It is great to see the establishment press catch up. Now who authorized these millions of unconstitutional warrant-less wire tapes on you and your friends and who signed off on funding the billions of dollars for these facilities? Will the Congress catch-up too, investigating what should have been looked into years ago? Not unless you push them.
Pease visits spy facility Sept. 20, 2012 months before establishment news finally broke the story.
By Dr. Harold Pease
The Constitution is exceptionally clear on the origin of all taxes. “All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives,” not the Senate (Article I, Sec. 7). When is the House going to protect its powers from the Senate’s intrusive attempts to steal its power? Recently the Senate passed the “Marketplace Fairness Act” by a vote of 69-27, an Internet sales tax, giving states the authority to require on-line retailers, with no physical presence in those states, to collect sales taxes. Americans will pay more taxes with this bill than without. It is a bill for raising revenue and it did not originate in the House as mandated by the Constitution.
To put the Senate in its constitutional place the House should never take this bill up. Instead, if they feel such legislation is needful, they should originate their own bill after which invite the Senate to take a new bill through the committee process and to the floor once again. I might also suggest not doing so for a year or two just to make the message stronger. “You are infringing on our constitutional jurisdiction.” If the Senate will not do so, the House should consider the bill non-existent. Under no circumstances should they accept this bill as appropriate action on the part of their sister law-making body. Retailers, on the other hand, should refuse to pay this tax and challenge it in the courts on the constitutional grounds cited above.
Unfortunately, this is becoming a practice on the part of the U.S. Senate. Yet another infringing piece of legislation has also just passed the Senate Judiciary Committee in a 13-5 vote, the so-called “Gang of Eight” immigration bill, S.744, obviously originating therein. The Heritage Foundation estimates that this bill will cost taxpayers a net $6.3 trillion above what illegals contribute through taxes over the next 50 years providing benefits for millions now living in the United States. There may be debate over the numbers but what is clear is that the bill did not originate in the House of Representatives as constitutionally required and that Americans will pay more taxes with this bill than without it. Therefore it constitutes an unconstitutional tax.
The worst of all such recent intrusive taxes was “The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” known as Obamacare, also originated in the Senate, not in the House as constitutionally required. Weeks ago I wrote of the extensive efforts on the part of the Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, to cover this up following the judicial decree of Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. proclaiming it a tax when the administration had argued otherwise. The establishment media should have been all over this story and was not. Obamacare may be the only revenue-raising bill in American history originated and processed by the Senate alone. Nothing could be more unconstitutional!!
So why does this matter, a tax is a tax? For thousands of years governments taxed their citizens with no limits. Rulers lived lavishly off the wealth extracted from their poor subjects with little or no mercy toward them—lavish physical structures and frivolous wars of conquest were too often the norm. The Founders wisely took this power from the rich and gave it to the poor by requiring that the poor, then the majority, had to consent to any taxation over them. The power to tax is the only constitutional power exclusively given to the masses. The House of Representatives was the only branch of government designed to actually represent them as it is based upon population. The Senate was to represent the states, the people only indirectly.
As far as I know the United States is the first, possibly the only, country in world history that puts its tax base with the masses who pay the taxes. It is a priceless freedom. If we are over-taxed in the United States we have chosen to be so and one body alone is responsible—The House of Representatives. No tax can constitutionally originate with the President or the Supreme Court, (even if Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. says that it is okay), not even the Senate, although it can modify as on other bills once originated by the House. The House is also in charge of spending. We must not let this freedom dwindle or allow the line between the two legislative branches to be blurred into oblivion.
By letting “origin” slide in these three matters, the House looses its clear distinction on the origin of taxes and the people their right of first approval of taxation for generations yet unborn and probably forever. If left unchallenged these three offending bills, one already implemented, severely damage Article I, Section 7 of the Constitution. All involved are under oath to preserve the Constitution. There is nothing in the Constitution more clear than this. Liberty is lost one piece at a time. It is also restored one piece at a time. Pass this around.