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Constitution


  • Originally published 06/26/2014

    Supreme Court Curbs President’s Power to Make Recess Appointments

    The court ruled unanimously that President Obama had violated the Constitution in 2012 by appointing officials to the National Labor Relations Board during a short break in the Senate’s work when the chamber was convening every three days in pro forma sessions.

  • Originally published 05/23/2013

    Michael Lind: Voting is Not a Right

    Michael Lind is the author of Land of Promise: An Economic History of the United States and co-founder of the New America Foundation. Is it time, at long last, for the citizens of the United States to enjoy the constitutional right to vote for the people who govern them?Phrased in that way, the question may come as a shock. The U.S. has waged wars in Iraq and Afghanistan justified, at least in rhetoric, by the claim that people deserve the right to vote for their leaders. Most of us assume that the right to vote has long been enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.Not according to the Supreme Court. In Bush v. Gore (2000), the Court ruled that “[t]he individual citizen has no federal constitutional right to vote for electors for the President of the United States.” That’s right. Under federal law, according to the Supreme Court, if you are a citizen of the United States, you have a right to own a firearm that might conceivably be used in overthrowing the government. But you have no right to wield a vote that might be used to change the government by peaceful means....

  • Originally published 03/10/2013

    Compromise as the Constitution’s Foundation

    U.S. Capitol rotunda. Credit: Matt Wade Photography.Practical politicians – like the very human politicians portrayed in the movie Lincoln – wrote the U.S. Constitution. Deep mistrust and bitter disagreements divided these politicians, as they did in the Civil War era and as they do now, in the fight over sequestration and the budget deficit. They negotiated their way through these differences; compromise produced the Constitution, as it later produced the Thirteenth Amendment and the other landmark measures of American government. Their own compromises left us a government that cannot work without compromise.

  • Originally published 03/07/2013

    Adam Winkler: Is the Filibuster Unconstitutional?

    Adam Winkler is a professor at UCLA School of Law and the author of Gunfight: The Battle over the Right to Bear Arms in America.As political theatre, Senator Rand Paul's marathon, 13-hour filibuster to protest the Obama administration's dreadful drone policy was gripping. While filibusters have become commonplace these days, they usually only involve a simple notice that one intends to filibuster, which then puts the onus on the other side to round up the 60 votes for "cloture" to end the threat. Paul, however, chose to filibuster the old-fashioned way, by standing on the Senate floor and speaking, as Paul said, "until I can no longer speak." While Paul's valiant protest captured the attention of the political twitterati and evoked comparisons to the classic Jimmy Stewart filibuster film, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, it raised an important question few people were asking: Is the filibuster unconstitutional? 

  • Originally published 02/04/2013

    The Income Tax Amendment Turns One Hundred and It’s Worth Celebrating

    Image via Shutterstock.Yesterday was Super Bowl Sunday, and like tens of millions of Americans, I watched the game last night, blackout and all. Yesterday morning, though, I celebrated a less popular institution: the federal income tax. February 3 marked the centennial of the Sixteenth Amendment, which wrote that tax into the Constitution.Why do I feel so alone?

  • Originally published 01/29/2013

    Actually, Scalia's Legal Logic Permits Gun Control

    Image via Wiki Commons.In the wake of the mass killing of schoolchildren in Newtown, Connecticut, there's been renewed national debate on gun control, especially placing restrictions on individual access to military-style weapons.

  • Originally published 01/10/2013

    Channelling George Washington: Junking the Constitution

    Credit: Wiki Commons/HNN staff."Mr. Madison, call your office!""I beg your pardon?"I’m only half kidding. As if we didn’t have enough trouble holding the country together, a law professor at university located in our national capital recently published an article in a major newspaper, entitled 'Let’s Give Up on the Constitution.'" "Why does he think we should do that?""He quotes Tom Jefferson, who believed every constitution should expire after a single generation. The professor doesn’t seem to realize he’s succumbing to Tom’s wackiest idea, 'The Earth Belongs to the Living.' Tom picked it up in France, along with his consuming love for French radicals who killed tens of thousands of innocent people to purify their revolution.""What else did 'The Earth Belongs to the Living' include?"

  • Originally published 06/14/2014

    Is the NDAA Notification Requirement Unconstitutional?

    If Obama is right about the NDAA, he should start releasing far more prisoners from Guantánamo. A firestorm has erupted over the Obama administration’s release of five Guantánamo captives in exchange for the Taliban’s release of American soldier Bowe Bergdahl. Putting aside all the rest of the strategic, moral, and practical arguments, I want to focus on the legal side. Many of Obama’s critics say that his move violated the NDAA notification requirement, signed by Obama (who issued a signing statement suggesting he thought it was unconstitutional). The requirement mandates that the president inform Congress of Guantánamo releases.

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