Death Penalty Foes Forget Constitution Allows It / Gorsuch’s First Big Top Court Vote Allows Arkansas Execution

Death Penalty Foes Forget Constitution Allows It

A protest of the death penalty is seen outside the Board of Church & Society near the US Supreme Court on March 15, 2017, in Washington, D.C. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

By Jonah Goldberg, Friday, 21 Apr 2017 12:48 PM

·0

The debate over the death penalty can be infuriatingly dishonest.

Consider the April 17 broadcast of Fox News Channel’s "Special Report with Bret Baier" (a show on which I am an occasional commentator).

Casey Stegall reported on the legal battle in Arkansas, where officials want to execute eight death row inmates in 11 days before their supply of midazolam expires. This is one of the drugs used to carry out lethal injections.

Stegall did his legwork. He talked to Susan Khani, the daughter of the woman murdered, execution-style, by Don Davis in 1990. She told Stegall the last quarter century has been agony for her, adding, "He is just a very cruel person. He needs to be put to death."

Stegall then talked to the usual death penalty opponents. First was Robert Dunham of the Death Penalty Information Center, who said, "There is a myth that family members of murder victims will get closure out of executions. In fact, for many of the family members, that does not happen."

So let’s start there. To say that something is a "myth" is to suggest that it is untrue. The Loch Ness Monster is a myth. Bigfoot is a myth. But on Dunham’s own terms, some family members do get closure. He didn’t say, "No family members of murder victims get closure." He said "many," a subjective term that could mean pretty much any number short of "most."

Stegall then talked to Stacy Anderson of the American Civil Liberties Union, which is concerned that we might execute the wrong person. "We know that 156 innocent people have been found on death row in the last 20 years," she said.

Added Stegall: "The ACLU says cost is another driving force of the decline. Litigating death penalty cases is expensive since the condemned often spend years filing appeals and lawsuits."

This is also true. But you know what group is arguably most responsible for raising the cost of the death penalty? The American Civil Liberties Union.

The ACLU is well within its rights to clog the courts with lawsuits. But there’s something remarkably cynical about barraging the courts with often frivolous complaints that raise the costs of the death penalty, then pretending that your objection is the cost.

Indeed, Arkansas is racing to use its drugs before they expire because death penalty opponents have worked tirelessly to make such drugs extremely difficult to obtain.

The same cynicism applies to concerns about innocent people being wrongly executed. I’m in favor of the death penalty. You know what? I’m also passionately opposed to executing the wrong person.

But Don Davis eventually admitted to murdering Jane Daniels in cold blood after breaking into her home, so objections that some other death row inmate might be innocent have no bearing on his case.

Ironically, immediately after Stegall’s report, anchor Bret Baier announced: "A massive manhunt is underway at this hour for a suspect who police say engaged in a heinous public crime that can truly be called a sign of the times."

The suspect was Steve Stephens, the so-called "Facebook Killer," who video-recorded himself admitting that he was about to murder someone randomly. He then got out of his car, walked up to 74-year-old Robert Godwin, a father of 10 and grandfather of 14, and casually executed him. Stephens then posted the video on Facebook.

Stephens killed himself two days later. But say he hadn’t. Obviously, he would have gotten a trial. Let’s suppose he was found guilty and got the death penalty. We would still be subjected to all of the sleight-of-hand rhetoric about the risk of executing innocent people, the costs, etc., even though there would be zero doubt in this instance.

We’d probably also hear that the death penalty is "racist" — Stevens was black — despite the fact that Stevens’ victim was black as well. Meanwhile, Don Davis is white.

It is entirely legitimate and honorable to oppose the death penalty on principle. The problem is that this is a constitutionally ridiculous position given that the plain text of the Constitution itself allows for the death penalty in several places.

Acolytes of the "living Constitution" want to believe that nothing bad (as defined by them) can be constitutional. I don’t think the death penalty is bad, but if you want to get rid of it, amend the Constitution. Otherwise, opponents should stop pretending their real objection is something else.

Jonah Goldberg is a syndicated columnist and author. He explores politics and culture for National Review as a senior editor. He is the author of "Liberal Fascism" and "The Tyranny of Cliches: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas.” For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

.

Gorsuch’s First Big Top Court Vote Allows Arkansas Execution

(AP)

Friday, 21 Apr 2017 04:23 PM

Justice Neil Gorsuch took his first major action on the U.S. Supreme Court by casting the deciding vote to let Arkansas begin executing a group of death-row inmates.

In a series of orders Thursday night, the high court cleared the state to execute Ledell Lee, one of eight convicted murderers that Arkansas has been trying to put to death before one of its lethal-injection drugs expires at the end of the month. Arkansas executed Lee minutes after the court rejected the last of his requests.

Gorsuch joined his four fellow Republican appointees — Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas, Anthony Kennedy and Samuel Alito — in the majority. They didn’t explain their reasons.

The court’s four liberal justices each voted to grant at least one of the requests to halt the executions. Justice Stephen Breyer said the state didn’t have an adequate reason to rush.

“Apparently the reason the state decided to proceed with these eight executions is that the ‘use by’ date of the state’s execution drug is about to expire," Breyer wrote. "That factor, when considered as a determining factor separating those who live from those who die, is close to random."

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan also voted to block the executions.

The inmates said the state’s drug protocol, which includes the controversial sedative midazolam, puts them at risk of an unnecessarily painful death. They said the odds were increased by Governor Asa Hutchinson’s original plan to execute all eight of them over the course of 11 days.

The state has scaled back its plans in the face of orders from other courts affecting some of the inmates. Arkansas had been planning to execute four inmates this week.

Arkansas, which hadn’t executed anyone since 2005, is among states that have had difficulty acquiring the drugs it needs for lethal injections, largely because of restrictions imposed by pharmaceutical companies.

Lee was convicted of the 1993 strangulation of Debra Reese in a Little Rock suburb. He maintained his innocence and his lawyers were seeking additional DNA testing.

Revenge of the Nation-State

Revenge of the Nation-State

Rich Lowry · Jan. 27, 2017

The first week of the Trump administration has been a vindication of the American nation-state.

Anyone who thought it was a “borderless world,” a category that includes some significant portion of the country’s corporate and intellectual elite, has been disabused of the notion within about the first five days of the Trump years.

The theme running throughout President Donald Trump’s inaugural address was the legitimacy of the nation-state as a community, a source of unity and the best means of advancing the interests of its citizens. The address was widely panned, but early polling indicates the public didn’t share the revulsion of the commentariat. The speech’s broadly nationalistic sentiments were bound to strike people as common sense.

“At the center of this movement is a crucial conviction: that a nation exists to serve its citizens.” Who else would it serve?

“From this moment on, it’s going to be America first.” Why would anything else come first?

Trump’s speech was less poetic, but in one sense more grounded than George W. Bush’s call for universal liberty in 2005 or Barack Obama’s vision of international cooperation leading to a new era of peace in 2009. Trump spoke of “the right of all nations to put their own interests first.”

If Bush was a vindicator of universal freedom, and Obama, in his more soaring moments, a citizen of the world, Trump is a dogged citizen of the United States, concerned overwhelmingly with vindicating its interests.

His executive order authorizing the building of the wall is an emphatic affirmation of one of the constituent parts of a nation, namely borders.

In general, immigration is an important focus for Trump’s nationalism because it involves the question of whether the American people have the sovereign authority to decide who gets to live here or not; of whether the interests of American or foreign workers should be paramount; of whether we assimilate the immigrants we already have into a common culture before welcoming even more.

The Trump phenomenon is pushback against what the late political scientist Samuel Huntington called in his 2004 book “Who Are We?” the “deconstructionist” agenda, a decades-long project of the country’s “de-nationalized” political and intellectual elites.

Beginning in the 1960s and 1970s, Huntington argues, “they began to promote measures consciously designed to weaken America’s cultural and creedal identity and to strengthen racial, ethnic, cultural, and other subnational identities. These efforts by a nation’s leaders to deconstruct the nation they governed were, quite possibly, without precedent in human history.”

If Trump is a welcome rebuke to this attitude, caveats are necessary:

A proper American nationalism should express not just an affinity for this country’s people, as Trump did in his inaugural address, but for its creed, its institutions and its history. These are absent from Trump’s rhetoric and presumably his worldview, impoverishing both.

Trump’s nationalism has the potential to appeal across racial and ethnic lines, so long as he demonstrates that it isn’t just cover for his loyalty to his preferred subnational group.

If Bush was overly expansive in his international vision, Trump could be overly pinched. Bush’s anti-AIDS program in Africa was unvarnished humanitarianism — and will redound to his credit, and the credit of this nation, for a long time.

Finally, Trump’s trade agenda also is an expression of his nationalism. Trade deals should have to pass the national-interest test. But protectionism is, historically, a special-interest bonanza that delivers benefits to specific industries only at a disproportionate cost to the rest of the economy.

All that said, the nation-state is back, despite all the forecasts of its demise. It is no more in eclipse than religion, which we also were told would fade away as humanity embraced a more secular, cosmopolitan future.

The lesson is that it’s a mistake to predict the inevitable decline of things that give meaning to people’s lives and involve fundamental human attachments. The nation is one of them, something that Trump, if he gets nothing else, instinctively understands.

With Gratitude and Thanksgiving: From two of the finest true blue American Patriots

Alexander’s Column

Gratitude and Thanksgiving

"I do recommend and assign Thursday … next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be." —George Washington (1789)https://patriotpost.us/

Alexander’s Column

With Gratitude and Thanksgiving

By Mark Alexander

Conservatism Has Not Failed (and is still what will save U.S.)

Conservatism Has Not Failed

By Robin Smith · Feb. 17, 2016

In this Republican primary, as in others, the word “conservative” is used in tag lines, mail pieces, robo calls and advertisements as a tickler to gain the attention of an intense voting base of citizens. It’s a political term and identifier filled with meaning, but that meaning is battered by forces desperate to control its definition.

What does it really mean to be conservative?

As a doctrine, the foundations of conservative belief are grounded in our Declaration of Independence. It’s a combination of individual liberty and personal responsibility. A conservative views our individual rights as those which pre-exist the state. Therefore, “unalienable rights” conferred by “our Creator” transcend and eclipse those “rights” awarded, most often at the expense of other individuals, by a man-made institution — the state.

As our Founders understood and eloquently penned, it is “self-evident” that “all men are created equal,” not by a state or a regulated statute, but by God. Among our unalienable rights — those that cannot be transferred to another or denied an individual — are “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” for which a government is “instituted among men” deriving its powers from “the consent of the governed.”

Conservatives do not believe the state or the government awards rights to individuals. Instead, a conservative views the state’s attempt to create “equality” as forcibly inducing sameness using a manufactured sense of fairness and false philanthropy. This government-induced sameness penalizes and shames excellence and those committed to a higher level attainment, while it materially rewards consistent failure.

Conservatives embrace and encourage the guidance of a moral compass to cultivate a society of individuals whose decorum and demeanor manifests conduct that is orderly, productive, self-sustaining, personally accountable and decent. In such a society, fewer laws and regulations are needed. As John Adams noted two centuries ago, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

Indeed, the enumerated, limited powers of our federal government provided through the Law of the Land, the U.S. Constitution, are those viewed as pillars of a conservative government structured to “establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Conversely, modern-day liberals and some “moderate” Republicans view our government as the tool to shape and reshape on an ongoing basis the societal norms and “rights” of individuals with a malignancy of laws, regulations and mandates. The effect of this is to turn each American into a ward of the state, with their rights conferred from the same and their needs met collectively.

What does it really mean to be a conservative, in 2016? It means, most likely, that you are marginalized and mocked because you believe in the best of humanity because of its created existence in equality and potential. You are likely to be degraded as “greedy” when you want the government to get less than the 10% your Creator asks of your earnings and work-generated wealth. A conservative in 2016 is justifiably angry at the governing elites who’ve taken you for granted election cycle after election cycle while the burden of casting your vote is a profound decision knowing that America is only as great as its people and its leaders.

The Republican Party has mouthed the words of conservative thought and principle over many years to ingratiate those who live in pursuit of our unalienable rights. Yet the Grand Old Party has allowed the value of its name to be cheapened by poll-driven policies and messages scratched out to tickle ears, not withstand the pressures of time.

As the old adage goes, “In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.”

Conservatives adapt to certain elements of style and cultural fads while holding fast to the timeless principles of a constitutional government.

During this election year, recognize the faulty argument offered for a “mainstream” view and role of government that’s popular among those who want big-government taxing and spending in the name of “fairness.”

Conservativism or conservative policy has not failed.

Conversely, a perverted version of our founding doctrine has been referenced and employed that doesn’t collaborate, but rather compromises. The version of conservatism that lies beneath the subterfuge of “center-right” policies today is truly a Trojan Horse that has yielded historically high and wasteful spending that cannot continue; funds failure in both government-controlled educational systems and health care; has refused to address and enforce legal immigration; and has sat paralyzed in fear as America’s worst president has degraded and destroyed much of our country’s greatness through his unbridled reckless policies.

Conservativism has not failed because the policies rooted in its doctrine have not been fully implemented. Instead, governing elites flush with cash use phrases and marketing that sound and look conservative but really aren’t. To these, conservatism is not a doctrine, but a tool of deceit.

Conservatives, indeed, want America to stand in its majesty of individual freedom and hope. So, what do you say? Let’s do something different and actually try authentic, principled conservatism in governance.

Christmas in America

 christmas jq adams
1788 Christmas Sermon
A sermon preached by James Dana in New Haven, CT on Christmas Day, 1788. Read Sermon
1818 Christmas Sermon
A Christmas sermon preached by Aaron Bancroft in Worcester, MA in 1818.  Read Sermon 1838 Christmas Sermon
A sermon preached by Joseph Dow in Hampton, NH on Christmas Day, 1838.  Read Sermon

1844 Christmas Sermon
A Christmas sermon preached by Robert Hallam in New London.  Read Sermon

Christmas with the Presidents
Throughout the years, America’s presidents have celebrated Christmas as the birth of our Savior. This short video highlights some of the remarkable artifacts from our collection to show how Christmas has been commemorated under various presidents. Read Article & Watch Video

Who Was Charles Carroll?
Find out more about Charles Carroll, an American Founding Father. Read Article

More From WallBuilders:
Americans Want Christmas, More Religion in Schools
Americans continue to strongly support the celebration of Christmas in public schools, places that most already believe lack enough religion. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 76% of American Adults believe Christmas should be celebrated in public schools. Just 15% disagree… Read More
Obama, Hillary Want Jesus’ Kingdom Without Jesus
Recent events show that many contemporary politicians and their minions want the City of God without God, the fruit of Jesus’ Kingdom without Jesus, the transforming work of the Holy Spirit without the Holy Spirit, and absolute truth without absolutes… Read more

Court slaps down petulent fools, Finds WWI Cross on Govt. Land Is Constitutional

Court Finds WWI Cross on Govt. Land Is Constitutional

The Peace Cross WWI Memorial (Newsmax Photo File)

By Joe Schaeffer | Monday, 30 Nov 2015 10:11 PM

A federal court in Maryland ruled Monday that a World War I memorial cross on government-owned property is constitutional because it is not meant to be religious in purpose.

The cross, which stands at a busy intersection of two roads in Bladensburg, just outside of Washington, D.C., is known locally as the Peace Cross, the Baltimore Sun reports.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland ruling is a victory for the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, which is responsible for the public grounds on which the cross is situated, and the American Legion, which constructed the cross in 1925 "and continues to use the site for Memorial Day and Veterans Day" events, the Sun reports.

"We’re obviously disappointed with the ruling," said Monica Miller, senior counsel for the lead plaintiff in the complaint against the cross, the American Humanist Association, the Sun reports.

The group advocates "a progressive society where being ‘good without a god’ is an accepted way of life," the Sun states.

A former executive director of the organization spurred the filing of the complaint against the cross.

"I thought, ‘Well, that’s odd. What’s that doing there?’" Fred Edwards told the Sun last year. "That certainly gives the impression of government endorsement of religion … I just wondered how that kind of thing had continued."

The American Center for Law & Justice, which defends the rights of the religious, painted Edwards in another light.

The cross stood without issue for decades, the ACLJ says, until "[o]ne angry atheist, literally riding his bike around town, discovered" it.

"He was ‘shocked’ at the sight of the cross and ‘upset’ that the cross could possibly be displayed to honor our nation’s veterans…."

The ACLJ reports the plaintiffs complained of "unwelcome contact" with the cross as they traveled past the area.

"One of the plaintiffs actually says that he is ‘personally offended and feels excluded’ because the cross honors our nation’s veterans, the ACLJ states.

"In fact, the lawsuit states that he was ‘shocked when he first saw the cross and it upsets him whenever he passes it.’"

The ACLJ quoted the court’s ruling as to why the cross was constitutional:

“[A]lthough the construction of a cross can be for a religious purpose, in the period immediately following World War I, it could also be motivated by ‘the sea of crosses’ marking graves of American servicemen who died overseas. The Monument’s secular commemorative purpose is reinforced by the plaque, the American Legion’s seal, and the words ‘valor,’ ‘endurance,’ ‘courage,’ and ‘devotion’ written on it.

"None of these features contains any religious reference."

Supreme Court justice properly blocks Native Hawaiian vote count

Supreme Court justice blocks Native Hawaiian vote count

Published November 30, 2015 Associated Press

FILE – In a Friday, Oct. 23, 2015 file photo, Bill Meheula, left, an attorney for Nai Aupuni, speaks to reporters outside U.S. District Court in Honolulu. A U.S. Supreme Court justice on Friday issued a temporary stay blocking the counting of votes in an election that would be a significant step toward Native Hawaiian self-governance. Justice Anthony Kennedy’s order also stops the certification of any winners pending further direction from him or the entire court. (AP Photo/Audrey McAvoy, File)

HONOLULU – A U.S. Supreme Court justice on Friday issued a temporary stay blocking the counting of votes in an election that would be a significant step toward Native Hawaiian self-governance.

Justice Anthony Kennedy’s order also stops the certification of any winners pending further direction from him or the entire court.

Native Hawaiians are voting to elect delegates for a convention next year to come up with a self-governance document to be ratified by Native Hawaiians. Voting ends Monday.

A group of Native Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians is challenging the election, arguing Hawaii residents who don’t have Native Hawaiian ancestry are being excluded from the vote. It’s unconstitutional for the state to be involved in a racially exclusive election, they say.

The ruling is a victory on many fronts, said Kelii Akina, one of the Native Hawaiian plaintiffs and president of public policy think-tank Grassroot Institute of Hawaii.

"First, it’s a victory for Native Hawaiians who have been misrepresented by government leaders trying to turn us into a government-recognized tribe," he said in a statement. "Secondly, it is a victory for all people of Hawaii and the United States as it affirms racial equality."

Nai Aupuni, the nonprofit organization guiding the election process, is encouraging voters to continue casting votes, said Bill Meheula, an attorney representing the group.

"Reorganizing a government is not easy and it takes the courage and will of the candidates to take the first step to unify Hawaiians," he said in a statement. "Help them by voting now."

Attorneys representing the state have argued that the state isn’t involved in the election.

"The state has consistently supported Native Hawaiian self-governance," state Attorney General Doug Chin said in a statement. "This is an independent election that may help chart the path toward a Native Hawaiian government. Today’s order does not prevent people from voting in this election. It only places a hold on counting those votes until the Supreme Court determines how to proceed."

Former U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka spent about a dozen years trying to get a bill passed that would give Native Hawaiians the same rights already extended to many Native Americans and Alaska Natives.

When it became clear that wouldn’t happen, the state passed a law recognizing Hawaiians as the first people of Hawaii and laid the foundation for Native Hawaiians to establish their own government. The governor appointed a commission to produce a roll of qualified Native Hawaiians interested in participating in their own government.

Some of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit say their names appear on the roll without their consent. The non-Hawaiians in the lawsuit say they’re being denied participation in an election that will have a big impact on the state.

The lawsuit points to nearly $2.6 million from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, a public agency tasked with improving the wellbeing of Native Hawaiians, as evidence of the state’s involvement.

More…

Our Federal government cannot take Texas land by redefining a ‘river’ but they did anyway

Our government cannot take Texas land by redefining a ‘river’ but they did anyway

By Joel Stonedale , an attorney with the Center for the American Future at the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

Published November 20, 2015 FoxNews.com

March 7, 2012: In this file photo, the Columbia River flows past the Vista House on Crown Point at right near Corbett, Ore.

Ken Aderholt didn’t realize he lived in a river until federal bureaucrats told him so. It was surprising for a man whose family had lived in the house for generations without it ever floating away or even flooding. But the Bureau of Land Management has decided that the Red River of North Texas is a peculiar one—covered by by old growth trees and grazed by deer and cattle, low on catfish but high in cactus. Never mind that the nearest water flows almost a mile away.

Unfortunately for Mr. Aderholt and countless others that live along the Red River, the federal government’s decision to redefine “river” to include dry uplands means they could lose their homes and ranches. The effect of the redefinition is to move the border of Texas far to the south, transferring thousands of acres of property from Texan ranchers to the government.

The federal government owns a thin strip of land between Oklahoma and Texas—from the middle of the Red River to its southern bank. Oklahoma’s territory includes only the northern half of the river, and Texas begins at the southern bank. This was established by the Supreme Court in a series of cases culminating in a 1923 decision defining the “boundary bank.”

In 2008 the BLM began claiming that the high bluffs that make up the edge of the river valley are the “banks” of the river. That definition of “bank” would make the river several miles wide, causing it to be simultaneously the world’s largest and driest river. The BLM seems determined to show it has no more respect for the English language than it does for property rights.

As the casual observer probably knows, and as the Supreme Court specifically stated, large trees and other vegetation do not grow in riverbeds.

The Supreme Court was clear that the legal definition of “river bank” matches the ordinary English usage of the term. The bank is what separates the sandy riverbed from the vegetation-covered uplands: “On the valley side of the bank is vegetation and on the river side bare sand.”

Yet the BLM has placed survey markers in some places a mile from the river, in areas covered by ancient oaks and ranch houses, all the while claiming it is using the Supreme Court’s 1923 definition of “bank.”

That cannot be. As the casual observer probably knows, and as the Supreme Court specifically stated, large trees and other vegetation do not grow in riverbeds.

Thus, the federal government expands its thin strip of barren sand to include homes and thousands of acres of productive farmland, all without any legislative action or even a definition of “bank” capable of holding water. It gets worse.

Whereas law-abiding bureaucrats would have backed down when they realized they were out of their depth, the BLM decided to muddy the waters further.

It will not say precisely which land it claims to own, only noting that it is probably no more than 90,000 acres. When North Texas landowners questioned BLM officials at a recent meeting in Fort Worth, the officials declined to give any specifics and instead suggested the landowners get a lawyer if they don’t like the BLM’s actions.

And so they did.

We at the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Center for the American Future are suing to stop the land grab.

Texas ranchers have already led the BLM to water. Hopefully the court can make them think.

With Gratitude and Thanksgiving

With Gratitude and Thanksgiving

By Mark Alexander · Nov. 25, 2015

“I do recommend and assign Thursday … next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be.” —George Washington, 1789

2010-11-24-alexander.jpg
In 1789, after adopting the Bill of Rights to our Constitution, among the first official acts of Congress was approving a motion for proclamation of a national day of thanksgiving, recommending that citizens gather together and give thanks to God for their new nation’s blessings.

Patriots, please join me in welcoming this Thanksgiving with a pause to step back and reflect upon how blessed we really are — blessed far beyond any measure of what we deserve. In the enduring struggle to sustain Liberty…