How The Supreme Court Constitutes America – Guest Essayist: William Morrisey

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In defending the establishment of the United States Supreme Court, Alexander Hamilton maintained that the absence of an independent judicial power had handicapped the government established by the Articles of Confederation. The way the Articles government had been structured made the rule of law–even the modest legislation enacted by Congress–more or less impossible.

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Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church And School v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (2012) (Part 2) – Guest Essayist: John O. Tyler

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Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC (2012): Protecting Religious Liberty in American Schools

In Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (2012), the federal government tried to force a church, against its will, to hire a minister to teach in the church’s school. The US Supreme Court held that the federal government could not force the church to do so. Churches are free to shape their faith and mission under the Free Exercise clause by selecting their own ministers and religious teachers. The Establishment Clause prohibits any government involvement in their selection.

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Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church And School v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (2012) – Guest Essayist: Gennie Westbrook

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The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” The Supreme Court has interpreted this prohibition to mean that state action that imposes restriction on the free exercise of religion is permitted only when there is a “compelling state interest in the regulation of a subject within the State’s constitutional power to regulate…” and even then, only “to prevent grave and immediate danger…”

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Justice Anthony Kennedy (Born 1936) – Guest Essayist: Tony Williams

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Republican President Dwight Eisenhower reputedly said that appointing Chief Justice Earl Warren and Justice William Brennan were among his biggest mistakes as president as they helped usher in a wave of liberal jurisprudence at odds with Eisenhower’s conservative philosophy.  Republican President George H.W. Bush might have said the same about Justice David Souter for the same reasons.  Finally, Republican President Ronald Reagan would have agreed that Justice Anthony Kennedy surprisingly became a swing vote who could lean left.

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Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2010) – Guest Essayist: Joerg Knipprath

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In 2011, the Supreme Court decided Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA). A California law prohibited the sale of violent video games to minors and required labelling of content and designation of suitable users. Parents would still have the choice to buy video games deemed violent and give them to their children. The law was challenged as violating the free speech rights of minors. Without getting into the raw details, as described in the state’s brief and acknowledged by some of the justices, these games invited the players to torture, murder, and humiliate characters. The attorneys for the purveyors of this entertainment assured the justices that such displays of violence were a traditional teaching tool for America’s youth, and that, unless children have unrestricted opportunity to purchase these materials, freedom of speech would be devastated.

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Crawford v. Marion County Election Board (2008) – Guest Essayist: State Representative David Eastman

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Does the Constitution Give Americans the Right to Vote Without Photo Identification?

In 2005, the State of Indiana passed a state law requiring that most Indiana voters who voted on Election Day would have to show government-issued photo ID before voting. The law provided an exception for those who lived in senior centers, and provided an alternate method of voting if you lost, forgot, or could not afford to get a photo ID. Note: The law also provided free state photo ID’s to those who did not already possess an Indiana driver’s license.

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Bush v. Gore (2000) And Bush v. Palm Beach County Canvassing Board (2000) – Guest Essayist: James D. Best

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The 2000 presidential election came down to who won Florida. Twenty-seven days after the election, the presidency remained undecided. Surrogates for George W. Bush and Al Gore clashed in a close-quarters fight that seemed to have no end.  Both parties persisted and refused to yield. The media filled nearly every broadcast moment and column inch of newsprint with the maneuvers and shenanigans of both parties. The pursuit of minutia, gossip, and a major scoop drove wall-to-wall reporting of the countless twists, turns, and skirmishes.

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McDonald v. Chicago (2010) – Guest Essayist: David Raney

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The U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 McDonald v. Chicago case considered whether the Second Amendment’s protection of the individual right to possess and use privately-owned firearms as affirmed in the Court’s 2008 District of Columbia v. Heller decision also applies to state and local governments.

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District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) (Part 2) – Guest Essayist: David Raney

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The U.S. Supreme Court’s 2008 District of Columbia v. Heller case considered whether the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects an individual right to possess and use privately-owned firearms.

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District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) – Guest Essayist: James D. Best

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District of Columbia v. Heller provided clarity to a long and quarrelsome debate about the application of the Second Amendment. The crux of the case was whether the right to “keep and bear arms” was an individual right or a collective right associated with regulated militias. The Supreme Court (5-4) ruled the Second Amendment an individual right.

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Gonzales v. Carhart (2007) – Guest Essayist: Steven H. Aden

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Vote: (5 to 4) Majority: Roberts, Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, and Alito. Dissenters: Stevens, Souter, Ginsburg, Breyer.

Gonzales v. Carhart is one of those rare cases that highlights the difference an election can make to Supreme Court decision-making. While the Justices of the Supreme Court are (arguably) largely immune from political pressure because they serve for life, they are nominated by Presidents and confirmed by Senates that answer to the People. For this reason, the makeup of the Court is unavoidably a product of the political process, and this process can yield strikingly different results depending on the makeup of the bench.

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Cherokee Nation v. Georgia (1831) And Worcester v. Georgia (1832) – Guest Essayist: John Vinzant

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In 1827, the state of Georgia passed several acts that affected the Cherokee Nation within Georgia’s borders.  Georgia extended criminal jurisdiction over crimes committed by Cherokees within the Cherokee Nation.  Traditionally and legally, the Cherokee had their own criminal jurisdiction.  The Georgia legislature also declared the Cherokees had no legal title to the land that the state would respect.  Consequently, surveyors were dispatched with military support to begin surveying Cherokee land for development and settlement.  The governor was authorized to take possession of Cherokee gold mines.  All contracts made between Georgia and the Indians were voided.  Georgia legislators believed the Cherokee, in light of events would leave voluntarily.

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Justice Antonin Scalia (1936-2016) – Guest Essayist: Joerg Knipprath

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During the Senate hearings on his nomination to the Supreme Court, Judge Neil Gorsuch commented, “Justice [Antonin] Scalia’s legacy will live on a lot longer than mine.” Whether or not this is a prophetic remark is too early to tell. However, Judge Gorsuch’s statement recognizes the enormous impact that Scalia has had–and will have–on American constitutional law.

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Lawrence v. Texas (2003), United States v. Windsor (2013) And Obergefell v. Hodges (2015) – Guest Essayist: Daniel A. Cotter

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Lawrence v. Texas (2003), United States v. Windsor (2013) and Obergefell v. Hodges (2015): The June 26th SCOTUS Trifecta by Justice Anthony Kennedy

On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States held a special Friday session the week before end of term to announce its decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, in which the Court held that the “Fourteenth Amendment requires a State to license a marriage between two people of the same sex.”  The Obergefell opinion marks the third of three June 26th Supreme Court decisions since 2003 recognizing human rights and protections for gay people. All three were authored by Justice Anthony Kennedy, making him a hero in the LGBT community.

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Roe v. Wade (1973) And Planned Parenthood Of Southeastern PA v. Casey (1992) – Guest Essayist: Tony Williams

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Before the 1960s, all states had stringent laws banning abortions.  The women’s movement of the 1960s demanded access to abortion as one of the rights of women. Abortion rights activists began working at liberalizing state laws on abortion since it was a state issue in the federal system.  The advocacy successfully chipped away at several laws, though by the time of Roe v. Wade in 1973, roughly forty states still had strong laws against abortion.

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Griswold v. Connecticut (1965) – Guest Essayist: Joerg Knipprath

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In June, 1961, the Supreme Court declined to rule on the constitutionality of an 1879 Connecticut law that prohibited the use of contraceptive devices for the purpose of preventing pregnancy, as well as the counseling of such use. The law applied to married and unmarried couples. However, the law had apparently only been enforced once, in 1940, in a test case, where the charges were dismissed after the state supreme court upheld the law. In the more recent challenge, Poe v. Ullman, two couples and their doctor from the Yale University Medical School sought a declaratory judgment that the statute was unconstitutional. The Supreme Court noted that there had been no threat of prosecution by the state, the statute had not been enforced in the past, and contraceptives were freely sold in Connecticut drugstores, so that the case lacked the genuine dispute required by the Constitution for federal court action. Several justices dissented, one of whom, Justice John Marshall Harlan II, would pave the way for the next challenger.

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Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. (1906-1997) – Guest Essayist: Daniel A. Cotter

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Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. (1906-1997): An Associate Justice Who Led the Court and Which is Often Referred to as The Brennan Court

On July 20, 1990, Associate Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. resigned from the Supreme Court of the United States, after serving nearly 34 years (including three months with a recess appointment and two months while his nomination was confirmed).  Only five justices served longer on the Supreme Court and only one justice wrote more opinions.  Brennan was an election year appointment by President Dwight Eisenhower.

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New York Times v. Sullivan (1964) – Guest Essayist: Gennie Westbrook

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A group of well-known civil rights leaders ran a full-page advertisement, “Heed Their Rising Voices,” in the New York Times on March 29, 1960. The ad described an “unprecedented wave of terror” in police attacks and other government sponsored oppression against peaceful demonstrators in Montgomery and other southern cities. The ad closed with a plea for readers to provide both moral support and financial donations to sustain the civil rights movement because America’s “good name hangs in the balance before a watchful world, the America whose heritage of Liberty these Southern Upholders of the Constitution are defending, is our America as well as theirs.”

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Justice Hugo Black (1886-1971) – Guest Essayist: Daniel A. Cotter

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Hugo Black (1886-1971): The Justice with the Plain Meaning Approach

Hugo Black served more than thirty-four years on the Supreme Court, the fifth longest tenure in the Court’s history.  During his time on the Court, Black developed a reputation as a justice who strongly believed the United States Constitution was to be given its plain and original meaning.

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Dennis v. United States (1951) – Guest Essayist: State Representative David Eastman

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Is Advocating the Violent Overthrow of the United States a First Amendment Right?

On June 22nd 1940, France surrendered to Germany, and the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Smith Act the very same day. It was believed that the rapid fall of France was due in no small part to subversion by communists allied with Germany. There was concern that U.S. entry into the war might lead to similar subversive plots taking place here in the United States. Most prominently, the Smith Act made it illegal to advocate the violent overthrow of the U.S. government or to form an organization for that purpose. Read more

Chief Justice William Howard Taft (1857-1930) – Guest Essayist: Daniel A. Cotter

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Chief Justice William Howard Taft (1857-1930): The Only Former President to Serve on the Supreme Court of the United States

When Chief Justice Edward White died in May 1910, President Warren G. Harding immediately turned to former President William Howard Taft, who had appointed White to the Supreme Court, to succeed White.  Taft served on the Supreme Court for just less than ten years until his resignation on February 3, 1930. Charles Evans Hughes, another justice whom Taft had appointed to the Supreme Court, replaced Taft as Chief Justice, serving in that role from 1930 to 1941. This column explores William Howard Taft’s career and his Supreme Court tenure and legacy.

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Gitlow v. New York (1925) And Bradenburg v. Ohio (1969) (Part 2) – Guest Essayist: Gennie Westbrook

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Benjamin Gitlow and Clarence Brandenburg would seem to have had little in common, but each was responsible for bringing a case that resulted in an important revolution in interpreting the meaning of free speech.

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Gitlow v. New York (1925) And Bradenburg v. Ohio (1969) – Guest Essayist: Jeffrey Sikkenga

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The late 19th and early 20th Centuries saw the passage of a number of state and federal laws allowing prosecutions for political speech that advocated or implied violence against government. In 1917 and 1918, for example, Congress passed the Espionage Act, the first major federal law against seditious speech since the Sedition Act of 1798.

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Engel v. Vitale (1962) And Everson v. Ewing (1962) (Part 2) – Guest Essayist: Tony Williams

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“Almighty God, we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers, and our country:” Engel v. Vitale (1962)

In the Everson v. Board of Education of Ewing Township (1947), the Supreme Court decided that it was constitutional for the state of New Jersey to reimburse parents for the cost of bus transportation, even to a parochial school. In rendering the decision, the Court attempted to use evidence from the nation’s founding to prove that there was a “wall of separation between church and state.”

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Engel v. Vitale (1962) And Everson v. Ewing (1962) – Guest Essayist: Joseph Knippenberg

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In Engel v. Vitale (370 U.S. 421 [1962]), the Supreme Court took up the question of school prayer and rejected as unconstitutional the New York state practice of beginning each school day with the recitation of the Regent’s Prayer.  It was the first of a series of decisions regarding public prayer that included rejecting recitation of the Lord’s Prayer and the reading of bible verses in schools (Abingdon v. Schempp [1963]), rejecting invocations and benedictions at public school graduation ceremonies (Lee v. Weisman [1992]), rejecting student-led prayer at high school football games (Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe [2000]), implicitly and conditionally upholding a moment of silence at the beginning of the school day (Wallace v. Jaffree [1985]), and upholding prayer at legislative and other public meetings (Marsh v. Chambers [1983] and Town of Greece v. Galloway [2014]).  While the Court’s doctrine has developed over time—above all, in explicitly distinguishing prayer in schools from prayer in other public settings—many of the issues and many of the problems in its jurisprudence were already evident in this first case.

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Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (1841-1935) – Guest Essayist: Daniel A. Cotter

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Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (1841-1935): The Oldest Justice at Retirement from the Supreme Court              

I, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., after serving as a Massachusetts Supreme Court judge for twenty years, was nominated to a vacancy on the Supreme Court of the United States and served for almost thirty years on the highest court in the nation, retiring at age 90.  Justice Holmes took his seat on the United States Supreme Court in 1902, at the age of 61, becoming the 58th Justice of the Supreme Court, and one of the most quoted justices in the Supreme Court’s history as well as one of the best known of the justices.    
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Abrams v. United States (1919) – Guest Essayist: Joerg Knipprath

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“Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press ….” Though there is some debate over its original meaning, the First Amendment is commonly thought to have prohibited administrative prior restraint on public speaking or writing. Still, a speaker or publisher was responsible for the consequences of his words. If the words were, broadly speaking, directed to incite people against the established authority of the government, it was common to punish such spoken words as sedition and printed words as seditious libel.

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Richmond v. J.A. Croson Co. (1989) – Guest Essayist: Tony Williams

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“A Puzzle Inside an Enigma: Untangling Affirmative Action”

In Regents of the University of California v. Bakke (1978), the Supreme Court invalidated fixed quota systems for affirmative action as a remedy for historic racism, but decided that using race as a factor in college admissions was constitutional. It was a confusing decision with a 4-4-1 vote with the justices all concurring in part and dissenting in part (and resulting in a 5-4 decision). Bakke did very little to settle the constitutionality of affirmative action or even to clarify the issue—indeed, it only confused the issue further.

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Griggs v. Duke Power (1971), California v. Bakke (1978), USWA v. Weber (1979), Fullilove v. Klutznick (1980) – Guest Essayist: Gennie Westbrook

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The 1950s and 1960s saw significant gains for civil rights of African Americans. In the 1950s, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered public schools desegregated and the non-violent civil rights movement led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. kept the continuing disadvantages faced by African Americans in the public eye. In the 1960s, federal laws protecting civil rights, voting rights, and housing rights began to chip away at the injustices resulting from racial prejudice and discrimination. In the 1970s the movement continued, focusing on additional perplexing questions related to the constitutional principle of equality in employment and college admissions.

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Chief Justice Earl Warren (1891-1974) – Guest Essayist: Daniel Cotter

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Earl Warren: The Governor from California Becomes The 14th Chief Justice

Nine chief justices and nearly 120 years separate John Marshall from Earl Warren.  While each chief has influenced the Supreme Court and helped to shape its history, Warren and Marshall are often mentioned together as the greatest of the 17 chiefs.  This column explores Earl Warren’s career and his Supreme Court tenure and legacy.
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Bolling v. Sharpe (1954) And Brown v. Topeka Board Of Education (1954) And Cooper v. Aaron (1958) – Guest Essayist: Tony Williams

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Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (1954)

In December 1952, African-American lawyer Thurgood Marshall appeared before the Supreme Court representing a seven-year-old black girl from Topeka, Kansas named Linda Brown who had to ride the bus to her segregated black school instead of walking to the neighborhood school.  Marshall and other NAACP Legal Defense Fund lawyers were there for three days of oral arguments in five consolidated cases dealing with segregated schools.  Three hundred spectators packed the hearing room while four hundred anxiously waited in the corridors.

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United States v. Carolene Products Co. (1938) (Part 2) – Guest Essayist: Robert Lowry Clinton

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United States v. Carolene Products Co. 304 U. S. 144 (1938)

This case belongs to a string of cases dating from the late nineteenth century involving substitute or imitation dairy products. Carolene Products arose from a controversy over “Milnut,” a beverage made from mixing skimmed milk with another product that is not milk fat (usually vegetable oil, in this case, coconut oil). In 1923, Congress passed the Filled Milk Act, which prohibited the transportation of filled milk in interstate commerce. Despite the fact that congressional investigators concluded that filled milk was not harmful in itself but was problematic only when falsely labelled and marketed as real milk, the statute nonetheless declared that filled milk was “an adulterated article of food, injurious to the public health,” and a “fraud upon the public.”

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United States v. Carolene Products Co. (1938) – Guest Essayist: William Morrisey

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United States v. Carolene Products Co. 304 U. S. 144 (1938)

If you concede the constitutionality of the administrative state, where does that leave citizens’ liberties? That is, if you claim(some might say pretend) that the United States Constitution authorizes unelected, tenured officials the power to frame, enforce, and adjudicate laws you grant a privilege that looks very much like the abrogation of the Constitution’s separation of powers, brushing aside Thomas Jefferson’s maxim that the accumulation of these powers in one set of hands is the definition of tyranny. Under these circumstances, how will citizens’ liberties be protected? Who will do it? This is the question addressed in the Carolene Products case–specifically, in the fourth footnote to the majority opinion, written by Justice Harlan Stone. It has been described as the most famous footnote in the history of the Court.

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Jones v. Alfred H. Mayer Co. (1968) – Guest Essayist: Gennie Westbrook

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In the Civil Rights Cases of 1883, the Supreme Court had ruled 8-1 that the Civil Rights Act of 1875, outlawing racial discrimination in most public places, was unconstitutional. The owners of businesses such as railroads, theatres, and hotels could impose segregation in their facilities, or they could refuse to serve African Americans altogether. The Court adopted a narrow reading of the Civil War amendments, ruling relative to the Thirteenth Amendment that such segregation was not a “badge or incident of slavery,” and that the protections of the Fourteenth Amendment applied against state action, not against private behavior. African Americans endured legal, economic, and social discrimination, as well as brutal and systemic racial violence with little hope of relief for the next seven decades.

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The Insular Cases (1901) – Guest Essayist: Joerg Knipprath

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A large mural in the Capitol Building in Washington is titled “Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way.” It was painted by Emanuel Leutze in 1861 as a representation of Manifest Destiny, the optimistic world view of 19th century Americans that the country inevitably would be settled from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific. Manifest destiny was not a strategy or even a policy, but a slogan that represented an aspiration. It was the emergence of an American Empire. It might be a republic in form, but it would be an empire in expanse, wealth, and glory. The term was frequently used even by good American republicans, such as Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and John Marshall, when discussing their political philosophy.

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Justice John Marshall Harlan (1833-1911) – Guest Essayist: Daniel A. Cotter

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John Marshall Harlan: The Great Dissenter

John Marshall Harlan served more than thirty-three years on the Supreme Court, the sixth longest term in the Court’s history.  During his long tenure, Harlan became known as “The Great Dissenter,” signing more than 300 dissenting opinions from 1877-1911.  Harlan’s grandson, John Marshall Harlan II, would later also serve on the Supreme Court.

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Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) – Guest Essayist: Daniel A. Cotter

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In 1890, Louisiana passed the Separate Car Act which required railroads to provide separate accommodations, including separate cars, for blacks and whites.  A group of Creoles and blacks in New Orleans formed a committee, the Citizens’ Committee to Test the Constitutionality of the Separate Car Law, to challenge this law.  Homer Plessy, whose light-colored skin made him appear to be white but was classified as “colored” under Louisiana law because he was one-eighth black, agreed to bring a test case on behalf of the Committee. He bought a first class ticket and boarded a train in New Orleans in a “whites only” car.  Plessy was arrested by a detective who had been hired by the Committee to ensure that Plessy would be charged with violating the Separate Car Act.  The Louisiana court found Plessy guilty of violating that Act and Plessy sought Supreme Court review of that ruling.  The Supreme Court heard the case, with the main issues being whether the Separate Car Act violated the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution and whether the Separate Car Act labeled blacks with a badge of inferiority.

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Civil Rights Cases (1883) – Guest Essayist: Gennie Westbrook

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The Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, ratified in 1865, outlawed slavery throughout the United States. The Fourteenth Amendment, ratified in 1868, defined citizenship and prohibited the states from violating equal protection and due process of law for all persons. During Reconstruction following the Civil War, states of the former Confederate States of America were required to ratify these amendments before readmission to the Union, and as long as Union troops occupied the defeated South, the rights of African Americans were somewhat protected. Once Reconstruction formally drew to a close in 1876, however, freedmen and their descendants lost these constitutional legal protections and were unable to put into effect their rights to life, liberty, and property.

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Justice Stephen J. Field (1816-1899) – Guest Essayist: Joerg Knipprath

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It is an understatement to describe Stephen Johnson Field as a giant among Supreme Court justices. He served more than 34 years on the Court, longer than any but Justice William Douglas. He authored 544 opinions, exceeded only by Justice Samuel Miller. He and his fellow justices during the 1880s, including Miller, Joseph Bradley, and John Marshall Harlan composed what, collectively, was likely the most intellectual bench in Supreme Court history.

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The Slaughterhouse Cases (1873) – Guest Essayist: Joerg Knipprath

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Presiding over a trial in the federal Circuit Court in Corfield v. Coryell (1825) to recover a seized vessel, Supreme Court Justice Bushrod Washington took the occasion to ponder the expansive scope of the Privileges and Immunities Clause of Article IV of the Constitution. Because the clause is to facilitate interstate comity and harmony, it protects citizens traveling from one state to another against having the host state abridge their rights compared to those enjoyed by its own citizens, simply on account of the visitors’ out-of-state status. Not all rights are equally important, so Washington attempted a definition. The rights were those “which are, in their nature, fundamental; which belong, of right, to the citizens of all free governments.”

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Chief Justice Roger B. Taney (1777-1864) (Part 2) – Guest Essayist: Tony Williams

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Roger B. Taney was born and raised on a southern Maryland tobacco plantation.  He attended Dickinson College and received a classical education before reading law under Jeremiah Chase, one of three judges on the state’s General Court.  He passed the bar exam and married the sister of his close friend, Francis Scott Key.  He entered politics and won a seat in the Maryland House as a Federalist.  He supported the War of 1812 and broke with the Federalists over their opposition to the war.  He adopted Jeffersonian views that would lay the foundation for the rise of the Democratic Party.

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Chief Justice Roger B. Taney (1777-1864) – Guest Essayist: Daniel A. Cotter

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Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall, the fourth Chief Justice, served thirty-four-and-a half years in that role. Roger B. Taney, who succeeded Marshall, served for twenty-eight-and-a- half years, including during almost the entirety of the Civil War. (Marshall and Taney are, respectively, the first- and second- longest serving Chief Justices.)  

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Ex Parte Merryman (1861) – Guest Essayist: Allen Guelzo

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On April 27, 1861, President Abraham Lincoln took one of the most dramatic steps ever taken by an American chief executive, and suspended the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus. He did so, under a provision in Article 1, section 9 of the Constitution: The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it. But the rationale for the suspension, as well as the significance of the suspension itself, caused the most profound constitutional conflict in American history.     

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Dred Scott v. Sanford (1857) (Part 2) – Guest Essayist: Tony Williams

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Arrogance & Injustice in the Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857) Case

In the 1850s, the United States was deeply divided over the issue of slavery and its expansion into the West. The northern and southern sections of the country had been arguing over the expansion of slavery into the western territories for decades. The Missouri Compromise of 1820 had divided the Louisiana Territory at 36’30° with new states north of the line free states and south of the lines slave states. The territory acquired in the Mexican War of 1846 triggered the sectional debate again. In 1850, Senator Henry Clay of Kentucky engineered the Compromise of 1850 to settle the dispute. But, in 1854, the Kansas-Nebraska Act permitted settlers to decide whether the states would be free or slave according to the principle of “popular sovereignty.” Pro and anti-slavery settlers rushed to Kansas and violence and murder erupted in “Bleeding Kansas.” Meanwhile, southern talk of secession was in the air, and observers warned of civil war.
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Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857) – Guest Essayist: Daniel A. Cotter

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Dred Scott was born into slavery in Virginia around 1799, but was moved to Missouri where he was sold to Dr. John Emerson, an army surgeon.  Given Dr. Emerson’s military career, he moved frequently and took Scott with him.  Eventually, Dr. Emerson moved with Scott to the State of Illinois and the Territory of Wisconsin, both free territories.  While in the Wisconsin Territory, Scott married Harriett Robinson, another slave who was also sold to Dr. Emerson.  In 1838, Dr. Emerson married Eliza Irene Sandford from St. Louis.  In 1843, Dr. Emerson died shortly after returning to his family from the Seminole War in Florida.  His slaves continued to work for Mrs. Emerson and were, as was common at the time, occasionally hired out to others.  In 1846, Dred and Harriet Scott each filed suit in St. Louis to obtain their freedom, on the basis that they had lived in a free state and territory, and the rule in Missouri and some other jurisdictions at the time was “once free, always free.”  When the suit reached the Supreme Court of the United States, the main issue presented was whether slaves had standing to sue in federal courts.

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Furman v. Georgia (1972) – Guest Essayist: State Representative David Eastman

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Is the Death Penalty Cruel and Unusual Punishment?

Furman v. Georgia was another 5-4 decision by the United States Supreme Court; meaning, that if any one of the nine justices on the Supreme Court had changed their mind, the result would have been very different. The case dealt with three men who had been convicted in either Georgia or Texas. Two of the men were convicted of rape. The third was convicted of murder. All three men were given the death sentence following separate jury trials. 

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Palko v. Connecticut (1937) – Guest Essayist: Robert Lowry Clinton

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Palko v. Connecticut resulted from the appeal of a capital murder conviction. Palko was charged with killing a police officer during the commission of an armed robbery. Although he was charged with first degree murder, he was convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. The state of Connecticut appealed the sentence, alleging that the trial judge had failed to admit relevant testimony and given erroneous instructions to the jury. The state supreme court ordered a retrial, at the conclusion of which Palko was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to death. Palko appealed the second conviction and sentence in the state courts but lost, after which he petitioned the United States Supreme Court, arguing that the second trial amounted to double jeopardy in violation of the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution, which provides that no person shall “be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb.” Palko argued further that protection against double jeopardy was an essential ingredient of the due process of law guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment, which provides that no state may deprive a person of life, liberty or property without due process of law. This amendment, designed primarily to safeguard the rights of newly-freed slaves, had been adopted in the aftermath of the Civil War in 1868.

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Meyer v. Nebraska (1923) And Pierce v. Society of Sisters (1925) – Guest Essayist: Joerg Knipprath

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In The Republic, Plato designed his ideal society as one in which the wives and children of the Guardians (the ruling elite) would be held in common. This would prevent the corrosive societal effects of nepotism that result when parents raise their children and, due to their natural affinity, seek to secure wealth and status for their offspring at the expense of the common welfare. The children would be reared by officials of the State: “The proper officers will take the offspring of the good parents to the pen or fold, and there they will deposit them with certain nurses who dwell in a separate quarter.” There was also the eugenicist angle: “[B]ut the offspring of the inferior, or of the better when they chance to be deformed, will be put away in some mysterious, unknown place, as they should be.” The “children of gold,” though, would undergo rigorous, State-controlled training to prepare them for their leadership role.

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Chicago, Milwaukee And St. Paul Railroad v. Minnesota (1890) – Guest Essayist: Richard E. Wagner

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Chicago, Milwaukee and St, Paul Railroad v. Minnesota, 134 U.S. 418 (1890) became a landmark case in establishing a new direction for government regulation of business, though that new direction gave way to the coming of the New Deal. Prior to the Chicago, Milwaukee decision, courts had pretty much deferred to legislatures in deciding whether legislation passed constitutional muster. For the most part, courts would not inject themselves into controversies regarding the legislative regulation of business. This changed with the Chicago, Milwaukee decision.

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Ex Parte Vallandigham (1864) And Ex Parte Milligan (1866) – Guest Essayist: Gennie Westbrook

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Article 1 Section 9, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution enshrines the “Great Writ,” a protection against arbitrary imprisonment that dates back at least to the Magna Carta of 1215: “The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it.” The writ provides that, when government holds a suspect in custody, he has the right to be taken before a judge who determines whether there is good cause for the arrest, and must be released if there is no legitimate reason for government to hold him.

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Pollock v. Farmer’s Loan And Trust Co. (1895) – Guest Essayist: Robert Lowry Clinton

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Pollock v. Farmer’s Loan & Trust Company, 158 U. S. 601 (1895), arose when a stockholder of the company sued to prevent the company from voluntarily paying a tax on its profits. The tax had been assessed pursuant to an act of Congress that levied a tax of two percent per year on incomes over $4,000.00. The act, known as the Wilson-Gorman Tariff Act of 1894, was very broad in scope, and was initially designed to lower tariff rates in response to the Panic of 1893. Evidently many additions and exceptions were added to the bill before its final passage, and President Grover Cleveland, initially supportive of the measure, ultimately allowed the law to be passed without his signature.

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The Legal Tender Cases (1870) – Guest Essayist: Kevin Walsh

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The legal tender controversy involved Supreme Court decisions that spanned a decade and a half beginning in 1870 with Hepburn v. Griswold 75 U.S. 603 (1870), in which the Legal Tender Act of 1862, 12 Stat. 345, making United States Treasury notes legal tender, was invalidated on constitutional grounds.  In Hepburn, Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase, who as secretary of the Treasury during the Civil War was a key player in the Legal Tender Act’s passage, held for the majority that congressional authorization of the notes (also referred to as “fiat currency” or “greenbacks”) to be used as legal tender violated the Fifth Amendment Due Process Clause protecting property.

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Sturges v. Crowninshield (1819) and Ogden v. Saunders (1827) – Guest Essayist: J. Eric Wise

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Bankruptcy Power – Sturges v. Crowninshield, 17 U.S. 122 (1819) and Ogden v. Saunders, 25 U.S. 213 (1827)

Shortly after the first person mixed her labor with a thing and called it “mine,” some person furnished property to another, together with an obligation to return it. With that, the problems of debtor and creditor were born.

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Justice Mahlon Pitney (1858-1924) – Guest Essayist: Richard Epstein

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Mahlon Pitney was appointed to the United States Supreme Court by President William H. Taft in 1912, and served there for ten and one-half years until his retirement in December, 1922.  He is generally regarded as a footnote in the annals of American Supreme Court justices.  But for the ten years that he was on the Court, he was in my view a powerful intellect who often bested both Justices Holmes and Brandeis on the many occasions when their views clashed. 

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Coppage v. Kansas (1915) – Guest Essayist: Gennie Westbrook

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During what Mark Twain called the Gilded Age at the end of the nineteenth century, American commerce grew exponentially and the American economy became the largest in the world. Wealthy industrialists organized their businesses to maximize efficiency and profits, contributing to an increase in buying power for all segments of American society and drawing millions of immigrants from around the world to the United States for opportunity. Workers, toiling long hours in dangerous conditions, sought to organize themselves, too, forming labor unions to bargain collectively for better wages and working conditions. The early attempts at labor solidarity found only very limited success as management blocked their efforts through strike-breaking and intimidation. Conflicting interests between labor and management led to confrontations and violence in several major industries in the intermittent recessions that occurred in the latter decades of the 1800s.

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Adair v. United States (1908) – Guest Essayist: State Representative David Eastman

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Can Congress Discriminate Against Non-Union Members?

In 1898, Congress passed the Erdman Act, making it a crime to fire an employee for belonging to a union. Because the Constitution does not expressly give the federal government the power to regulate employment, Congress limited the law to apply only to employees involved in interstate commerce, thereby taking advantage of a clause in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, which states:

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Lochner v. New York (1905) – Guest Essayist: Tony Williams

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Making up Rights?: Lochner v. New York (1905)

In April 1901, Utica, New York bakeshop owner, Joseph Lochner, was arrested for allowing one of his few employees, baker Aman Schmitter, to work more than sixty hours in a week. A grand jury indicted Lochner for violating a New York bakeshop law regulating work hours. In February 1902, he was tried, convicted, and fined fifty dollars for his misdemeanor crime.

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Holden v. Hardy (1898) – Guest Essayist: Gennie Westbrook

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During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the industrial revolution transformed the American landscape, culture, economy, and relationships between workers and management. The transformation brought significant gains in prosperity for both workers and management, but it also meant laborers worked long hours in dangerous conditions in factories and mines. Workdays of ten to twelve hours were common, with reduction of wages during economic slumps. There was no job security, and lack of safety features led to frequent grisly accidents caused by hazardous working conditions. Workers organized labor unions to bargain collectively for improvements in pay and other working conditions. Management almost always resisted the labor union demands, and each side worked to influence laws in its favor. The United Mine Workers Union was founded in 1890, followed by several other unions organized throughout the 1890s. Also throughout the 1890s, strikes, uprisings, and sometimes violent confrontations between labor and management broke out as workers attempted solidarity in pursuit of better wages, shorter hours, and safer working conditions. Management responded to these initiatives by firing labor union leaders, hiring strike-breakers, intimidating workers, and using political influence to block any lasting legal reforms.

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Justice David J. Brewer (1837-1910) – Guest Essayist: Daniel A. Cotter

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David J. Brewer: Foreign Born Justice Who Sat with His Uncle

David J. Brewer was born on June 20, 1837, in Smyrna, Asia Minor (today Turkey), the fourth of six Supreme Court Justices born outside the United States.  Brewer sat on the Court with his uncle, Stephen J. Field, to date the only relatives to serve contemporaneously, with Brewer serving twenty years on the Court before his death in 1910.

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In re Debs (1895) – Guest Essayist: Gary Porter

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Obstruction of Commerce & the Mail

“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night (nor Pullman Strike) stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”   This (slightly altered) saying, an inscription found on the General Post Office in New York City, is widely regarded as the motto of the U.S. Postal Service.  It is not, at least not officially, but you get the drift: nothing will be allowed to prevent delivery of the U.S. mail.

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Garcia v. San Antonio Metropolitan Transit Authority (1985) – Guest Essayist: Joerg Knipprath

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In 1976, Americans celebrated a bicentennial, the anniversary of a revolution against an intrusive, heavy-handed, and unresponsive national government. Repeated petitions and remonstrances by the people’s elected local representatives had been dismissed and ignored by the political elite who controlled that far-away national government, and who considered the people ignorant bumpkins. Among the causes of revolution listed in the published indictment of that elite in 1776 had been the chief executive’s use of his quill to veto beneficial laws; his failure to enforce laws properly enacted; his actions and obstructions that clashed with pressing immigration issues; his expansion of uncontrolled bureaucracies, when he “erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our People, and eat out their substance”; his policies that failed to secure the frontier and protect the inhabitants there against violence by marauders; and his encouragement of “domestic insurrections” that threatened social peace. Yet that chief executive had not acted alone. The legislature of that distant government had passed unconstitutional laws, such as those that overrode the people’s own local laws and altered fundamentally the constitutional relationship between the national government and theirs.

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Wickard v. Filburn (1942) – Guest Essayist: Daniel A. Cotter

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In 1938, Congress passed the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938 (the “1938 Act”), which it enacted to address and correct provisions of the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1933 for farm subsidies that the Supreme Court had found unconstitutional.  The 1938 Act established marketing quotas and price controls.  Roscoe Filburn, a farmer in Ohio, admittedly sowed twelve acres of wheat more than he was permitted under the 1938 Act, but none of it was sold on the open market.  Filburn was fined $117.11 for violating the 1938 Act.  Filburn sued, challenging the penalty.  The main issue before the Supreme Court was whether wheat that Filburn used for personal consumption was subject to the quotas imposed by the 1938 Act and whether local commerce could be regulated by the Federal government under the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution. 

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National League of Cities v. Usery (1976) – Guest Essayist: Nick Dranias

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National League of Cities v. Usery: “I’m Not Dead”

As the Left often does, once they are out of national power, they rediscover the power of state sovereignty. Ironically, they are using it to resist the new administration’s federal immigration policy in formalistically the same way as did the Right during the early days of the Obama administration—albeit in service of an opposite outcome.

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National Labor Relations Board v. Jones And Laughlin Steel Company (1937) – Guest Essayist: Joerg Knipprath

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After his landslide reelection victory in 1936, President Franklin Roosevelt delivered a message to Congress on February 5, 1937, that decried the alleged, but fictional, congestion of judicial dockets due in part, he explained, to the incapacity of aged or infirm judges. He proposed a law that would allow him to appoint up to six new Supreme Court justices in addition to the current number, one for each justice over age 70. He repeated the gist of what came to be known as his Court-packing plan in a “Fireside Chat” to the American people on March 9, 1937.

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Carter v. Carter Coal (1936) – Guest Essayist: Gennie Westbrook

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George Lafayette Carter was a reclusive Virginia industrialist who became a millionaire through business developments based on mining in what became known as the Mountain Empire, encompassing parts of Tennessee, Virginia, Kentucky, and West Virginia. By the time of his death in 1936, he had built his fortune through extensive coal field purchases, founding numerous businesses including Carter Coal and Iron Company. George L. Carter and his wife, Mayetta Wilkinson Carter, had only one child, James Walter Carter. James managed his father’s businesses beginning in 1933.

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Justice Louis D. Brandeis (1856-1941) – Guest Essayist: Daniel A. Cotter

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Louis Brandeis: First Jewish Justice of the Supreme Court

Until 1916, the United States Supreme Court had never had a Jewish justice.  That changed on January 28, 1916, when Louis Brandeis, the “People’s Lawyer,” was nominated to the highest court in the land by President Woodrow Wilson. Brandeis served for almost twenty-three years and authored several significant opinions during his time on the Supreme Court.

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Schechter Poultry Corp v. U.S. (1935) – Guest Essayist: Tony Williams

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The “Sick Chicken” Case: Schechter Poultry Corp v. U.S. (1935)

In 1933, the American economy was mired in the great depths of the Great Depression characterized by unprecedented unemployment and deflation of prices for business and farmers. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his advisors believed that the problems of the economy were rooted in excessive business competition resulting in low prices, faltering incomes, and underconsumption. In 1933, Congress passed the National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) to stimulate business recovery and economic growth as part of the New Deal. The legislation established National Recovery Administration (NRA) as an executive agency to work with business to craft a variety of industrial codes and regulations for entire industries to decrease competition by setting codes within industries. The goal was to set production quotas to increase prices and introduce labor regulations including a minimum wage to benefit workers. The Roosevelt administration sought to prevent “unfair competition,” ironically by allowing business to cooperate in a way that broke antitrust laws.

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Gold Clause Cases (1935) – Guest Essayist: Keith E. Whittington

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Soon after his first inauguration, President Franklin D. Roosevelt tried to close the gold window. At the time, the American currency was tied to the value of gold, and the financial crisis was putting serious pressure on government gold reserves. To deal with the problem, the government devalued the dollar. As an emergency measure, Congress passed a joint resolution declaring that the federal government would no longer recognize any debts that required “payments in gold or a particular kind of coin or currency, or in an amount of money of the United States measured thereby.” During World War I, however, the U.S. Treasury had issued Liberty Bonds that provided that the “principal and interest hereof are payable in United States gold coin of the present standard of value.” Some of those bonds were now due, and creditors filed suit against the federal government demanding payment in the promised gold coin.

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Home Building & Loan v. Blaisdell (1934) – Guest Essayist: James D. Best

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To stem home and farm foreclosures during the Great Depression, Minnesota passed a law which allowed a mortgagor to pay court-determined rent set below the contractual mortgage amount. The mortgage holder could not foreclose as long as the mortgagor paid the reduced rent.

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Nebbia v. New York (1934) – Guest Essayist: Gennie Westbrook

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In the late 1920s, farmers across the country generally did not participate in the prosperity of the decade. They were often unable to sell their crops to distributors for sufficient prices to cover their costs of production. Especially in New York, where the milk industry was the cornerstone of agricultural economy, tension between dairy farmers and distributors resulted in angry confrontations. The Great Depression further exacerbated economic chaos and hardship throughout the American economy, making it even more difficult for farmers to adjust to the economic collapse. One farmer wrote to a local newspaper in 1932, “Every can of milk we sell leaves us further in debt than we were before we produced it. This robbery must stop soon or reform will be too late to help us.” By March and April of 1933, farmers and dairymen in various areas joined together in “Milk Wars” and “Farm Strikes” to try to prevent farm products from getting to towns and cities, in hopes that the resulting scarcity would lead to higher prices. They set up blockades to stop any trucks carrying dairy and farm products, seized the cargo and destroyed it.

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Champion v. Ames (1903) – Guest Essayist: Joerg Knipprath

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The Industrial Revolution created theretofore unimaginable wealth, some of which trickled down as wages to workers in the mills and factories of the 19th century. Though substandard by today’s measure, those wages were sufficiently high and working conditions sufficiently appealing to attract people from farms to the growing cities. Waves of immigrants, mostly impoverished Europeans, flooded the labor pool, as well. That labor surplus depressed wages, which, in turn, kept low-skilled workers poor, at least in relation to the growing middle and upper classes. Churches and other private relief societies undertook the increasingly urgent efforts to ameliorate the poverty of the working class.

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Allgeyer v. Louisiana (1897) – Guest Essayist: Gennie Westbrook

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After the Civil War, United States commerce experienced rapid growth, both among the states and in international markets. Congress passed the Interstate Commerce Act in 1887 regulating interstate trade. Many state legislatures wrote constitutional provisions and statutes intended to protect their states’ businesses from what they perceived as unfair competition from other states.

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United States v. E.C. Knight (1895) – Guest Essayist: Tony Williams

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Federal Regulation and the Rise of Big Business: United States v. E.C. Knight (1895)

The late nineteenth century was a time of business consolidation as the American economy experienced a “great merger movement” with the rise of big business. Through means foul and fair, corporations formed trusts that dominated entire industries to combat competitive pressures that drove prices and at times to monopolize for control. The sugar industry was a part of this consolidation movement.

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Trustees of Dartmouth College v. Woodward (1819) – Guest Essayist: Daniel A. Cotter

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Dartmouth College was chartered in 1769 by King George III. In 1816, over thirty years after the conclusion of the American Revolution, New Hampshire’s legislature attempted to alter Dartmouth College’s charter  by giving  the Governor of New Hampshire authority to appoint trustees to the board and creating a state board with veto power over trustee decisions—in effect, converting the school from a private to a public institution.  The existing trustees filed suit against William Woodward, the newly appointed secretary under the new charter, claiming that the acts of the legislature violated the Constitution.  The main issues presented by the trustees’ suit were whether the Contract Clause of the United States Constitution applied to private corporations and whether the corporate charter of Dartmouth College could be changed by the New Hampshire legislature.

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New Jersey v. Wilson (1812) – Guest Essayist: Gary Porter

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New Jersey v. Wilson, 11 U.S. 7 Cranch 164 164 (1812)

Are the terms of a contract inviolate?  Can a contract run in perpetuity and affect something other than the parties involved?  Can contracts be impaired (modified or broken) without the consent of both parties?    These were the questions facing the Court in 1812 when they accepted an appeal of New Jersey v. Wilson.

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Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad Co. v. City of Chicago (1897) – Guest Essayist: Daniel A. Cotter

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In October 1880, the Chicago City Council decided to widen Rockwell Street, requiring the City to acquire certain private property owned by individuals and a right-of-way owned by the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad Company.  The City of Chicago brought a condemnation suit in state court, and the jury awarded compensation to the individuals but only awarded one dollar to the railroad for its right-of-way.  The railroad appealed, asserting that the condemnation was a taking in violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.  The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed the judgment and the railroad thereafter appealed to the United States Supreme Court on a writ of error.  The issue before the Supreme Court was whether a provision in the Bill of Rights to the United States Constitution applies to a state through the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

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Baker v. Carr (1962) – Guest Essayist: Joerg Knipprath

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In 1962, the Supreme Court embarked on what has been described by one scholar as “the most significant reformist activism in which the Warren Court engaged,” other than civil rights cases involving blacks. The constitutional arena was the apportionment of legislative districts, and the case was Baker v. Carr. Chief Justice Earl Warren called Baker “the most important case of [his] tenure on the Court.” Apportionment is the periodic drawing of lines by a state for its congressional districts and for its state legislative districts. Until Baker, federal courts had stayed out of what Justice Felix Frankfurter in a prior case had called a “political thicket,” because it was a “non-justiciable political question.” Such questions could not be resolved by courts for reasons that Justice William Brennan addressed in Baker.

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San Antonio v. Rodriguez (1973) – Guest Essayist: Gennie Westbrook

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From our nation’s earliest days, the national government has been involved in education, due to its significance in preparation for constructive citizenship in a republican form of government. In 1787 the Northwest Ordinance set aside public lands specifically for the establishment of schools. Through additional grants of land and money, formation of administrative agencies, the G.I. Bill, and court-ordered desegregation, federal policy has influenced education throughout our history, though traditionally the details of implementation were worked out at state and local levels.

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Justice George Sutherland (1862-1942) – Guest Essayist: Daniel A. Cotter

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Justice George Sutherland: One of the Four Horsemen              

Introduction 

In the Supreme Court’s history, six justices were born outside of the United States.  The fifth of those born on foreign soil was George Sutherland (second born in England).  After a career in private practice and public office, Sutherland became an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court in 1923, and would figure prominently in the New Deal jurisprudence as one of the “Four Horsemen” of the Supreme Court.

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Village of Euclid v. Ambler Realty Co. (1926) – Guest Essayist: Richard E. Wagner

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In Euclid v. Ambler, the Supreme Court upheld the right of the Village of Euclid in Ohio, mostly farmland east of Cleveland, to impose zoning restrictions on property owners. Today, zoning is a near-universal practice. While zoning did not originate with the village of Euclid, the Euclid case was the first federal case, and it became a beacon of attraction for zoning upon reaching the Supreme Court. Since Euclid, municipalities in America have had nearly unlimited ability to restrict how landowners can use their property, provided only that they assert that they have a good public purpose in doing so.

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Gelpcke v. City of Dubuque (1863) – Guest Essayist: Gary Porter

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Gelpcke v. City of Dubuque, 68 U.S. 1 Wall. 175 (1863) – “Oscillations” in the Law

On its face, Gelpcke v. Dubuque appears to be about the validity of municipal bonds and not much else, but there were deeper legal issues at play. Namely, who has the ultimate authority to interpret a state constitution or statute, the highest state court or the federal courts (including the Supreme Court)? And when a state supreme court gives a new interpretation to a state statute, does that constitute an amendment of the statute, i.e. does it have the status of “law?” If so, and this has the effect of rendering a contract void, can this then bring the opinion of the state supreme court into conflict with the U.S. Constitution, i.e., the Impairment of Contracts clause?

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Texas v. White (1869) – Guest Essayist: Marshall DeRosa

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TEXAS v. WHITE ET AL., 74 U.S. 700 (1869) is one of the most important decisions made by the Supreme Court, because it addresses the nature of the Union. More specifically, is the Union bound together through the consent of the States or the coercive power of the United States government.

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Prigg v. Pennsylvania (1842) – Guest Essayist: Gennie Westbrook

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In 1776, the Declaration of Independence asserted that “all men are created equal.” And yet, slavery was legal in all thirteen colonies at the time. Beginning with Pennsylvania in 1780, northern states moved toward the revolutionary ideal by enacting gradual abolition statutes. All children born in Pennsylvania after that time were free persons, though any child born to slaves was required to work for his/her mother’s master until age 28.

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Cooley v. Board of Wardens (1851) – Guest Essayist: Joerg Knipprath

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Unlike many of his decisions, Chief Justice John Marshall’s opinion in the foundational case Gibbons v. Ogden (1824), which upheld the right of Gibbons to operate a ferry between Elizabethtown, New Jersey, and New York City in competition with his former partner, Ogden, was well-received by the public. It negated a New York State monopoly grant and struck a blow in favor of restive younger entrepreneurs who hoped to prosper by providing technological innovation and expanding infrastructure as the country’s population and commerce grew.

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Charles River Bridge v. Warren Bridge (1837) – Guest Essayist: Joerg Knipprath

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In 1785, Boston’s population was around 18,000; across the Charles River, Charlestown counted 1,200. Forty years later, Boston’s population had more than tripled, to 60,000; that of Charlestown to 8,000. The need to accommodate the increased travel and commerce between Boston and points inland resulted in protracted litigation before the Supreme Court in the 1830s in the Charles River Bridge v. Warren Bridge case.

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Briscoe v. Bank of Kentucky (1837) – Guest Essayist: Tony Williams

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In 1832, Nicholas Biddle, president of the Second Bank of the United States, applied for an early renewal of the bank’s charter.  He feared that bank opponent, President Andrew Jackson, would move to destroy the bank after he was re-elected.  So, Biddle tried to outmaneuver the president before the election.  His opponent, Henry Clay, and other National Republicans (future Whigs), supported Biddle’s move because they wanted to make it a campaign issue. Both houses of Congress voted to re-charter the bank in July.

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Craig v. Missouri (1830) – Guest Essayist: Daniel A. Cotter

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In 1821, the State of Missouri enacted legislation entitled, “An act for the establishment of loan offices,” which permitted the Missouri Treasurer to issue loan certificates – a form of paper currency issued by the state – up to a total of $200,000.  The Missouri Supreme Court found the loans to be valid, and the appellants submitted a writ of error to the United States Supreme Court.  Missouri Senator Thomas Hart Benton argued the Missouri law was a valid exercise of state sovereignty and also urged the Supreme Court to declare unconstitutional Section 25 of the Judiciary Act of 1789, the putative basis for the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction over the case. The Court decided both issues.

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Barron v. Baltimore (1833) – Guest Essayist: Tony Williams

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In the early 1830s, the city of Baltimore was developing as a bustling urban center and port.  The city diverted the streams around John Barron’s successful wharf and lowered the water level, which negatively impacted his business.  He sued the city to recover his financial losses. 

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Willson v. Black Bird Creek Marsh Company (1829) – Guest Essayist: Andrew Langer

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The Dissolution of the Dormant Commerce Clause:  Willson v. Black Bird Creek Marsh Co.

In The Colorado Kid, author Steven King says, “Sooner or later, everything old is new again.”  This is certainly true when it comes to issues of public policy and constitutional law.  In this essay, we discuss the concept of the “Dormant” Commerce Clause, specifically within the context of navigable waterways.  The issue of who has jurisdiction over “navigable” waters is one that remains a subject of enormous debate—especially as the environmental movement has pushed an ever-more-marginal definition of “navigability” in order to pull more waters under the jurisdiction of the federal government.

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Green v. Biddle (1823) – Guest Essayist: Andrew Langer

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Green v. Biddle: Clear Title and the Relationship of States to the Federal Government

The easy conveyance of clear title to real property is an essential element of both a stable and prosperous civil society. “Clearing” title by conveying “unappropriated” lands to a central government is one way that fledgling or developing nations spur exploration, settlement, and development of lands.  Such was the issue in the 1823 Supreme Court Case, Green v. Biddle, 21 US 1 (1823), wherein the conveyance of certain unappropriated lands from Virginia to the federal government resulted in confusion when much of that land was used to create the state of Kentucky.

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Fletcher v. Peck (1810) – Guest Essayist: Joerg Knipprath

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At the Peace of Paris that ended the Revolutionary War, the United States (defined, as in the Declaration of Independence, as the individual states) were recognized by the British as free and independent. While the British relinquished to those United States territory from the Atlantic to the Mississippi, the several states did not thereby relinquish their own, sometimes conflicting, claims to that land. The Articles of Confederation provided procedures for the settlement of boundary disputes between states under the aegis of Congress and also anticipated that there might be disputes between grantees of land from two different states. Yet, no state was to be deprived of land for the benefit of the United States, so the Confederation Congress could not force the states to cede their western land. Still, a number of states released their claims, so that Congress gained de facto control over those lands and organized the Old Northwest under the Northwest Ordinance of 1787.

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Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer (1952) – Guest Essayist: Daniel A. Cotter  

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At times during our nation’s history, the executive branch of the United States government has tested the limits of its power by taking actions that are not explicitly granted to the president or executive branch.  For example, in Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer (the “Steel Seizure Case”) (1952), the Supreme Court addressed the issue of executive power during emergencies in the absence of express statutory or Constitutional authority.  The Supreme Court decision spans more than 140 pages, including Justice Hugo Black’s opinion for the majority, holding that President Harry S. Truman had exceeded the limits of the president’s power, as well as concurring opinions from each of the five members of the Court agreeing with Black’s conclusions, and a long dissent by the Chief Justice. The decision and bases for the Steel Seizure Case are hard to discern from the six opinions written to support the majority.  Justice Robert Jackson’s concurrence is often cited to assess the limits of executive power, as it sets forth a categorization that is the most comprehensible of the six opinions.

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United States v. Curtiss-Wright Export Corp. (1936) – Guest Essayist: Daniel A. Cotter

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The three branches of the United States government are often questioned with respect to whether their exercise of powers exceeded the limitations imposed upon them by the United States Constitution. In U.S. v. Curtiss-Wright Export Corp. (1936), the issue was the extent of the president’s and executive branch’s power to conduct the foreign affairs of the United States. The decision has been recognized as a very influential one, establishing the president’s supremacy when it comes to foreign affairs.

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Field v. Clark (1892) – Guest Essayist: Joe Postell

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Can Congress give away its legislative powers to other branches of government, including administrative agencies?  In the case of Field v. Clark, the Supreme Court decisively said “no,” laying down a precedent that stands against much of what our government does today.

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McCulloch v. Maryland (1819) – Guest Essayist: Tony Williams

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In May, 1818, James William McCulloch was a cashier at the Baltimore branch of the Second Bank of the United States.  McCulloch issued a series of bank notes on which the bank did not pay a Maryland state tax.  The state treasurer quickly sued to recover the money and won a judgment in Maryland’s highest court. The Supreme Court soon accepted the case, which would have a profound impact in defining the principle of federalism, the reading of the Necessary and Proper Clause in the Constitution, and the national vision of the Marshall Court.

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Ex Parte McCardle (1869) – Guest Essayist: Joerg Knipprath

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Ex parte McCardle was forged in the superheated atmosphere of Southern reconstruction after the Civil War. The struggle to shape that reconstruction pitted the “Radical” Republicans (representing the pre-war abolitionist wing) against moderates within the party. Democrats, reduced to a rump faction, could do little more than get out of the way and, if palatable, delicately offer support to the Republican moderates. The political and constitutional fault line cut between the restrained Lincoln-Johnson presidential reconstruction based on maintaining the existing federalism, but with abolition of slavery, and the program of congressional radicals to treat the South as a conquered province reduced to territorial status, prostrate before Northern arms and to be cleansed of the twin stains of slavery and secession by stripping the erstwhile states of their old constitutional privileges.

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Propeller Genesee Chief v. Fitzhugh (1851) – Guest Essayist: Joerg Knipprath

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On June 19, 1846, the Rochester, New York, Democrat newspaper reported that over 4,000 people assembled to witness the launch of a new steamship (then often called a “propeller” due to the novel screw propulsion mechanism), the Genesee Chief. She was described as “faultless in her model and appointments.” At 144 feet long, with 20 state rooms, and berths for 75 cabin and 100 steerage passengers, with room for more, she was to be the start of regular steamship service between Rochester and Chicago.

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Justice Joseph Story (1779-1845) – Guest Essayist: Daniel A. Cotter

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Justice Joseph Story: The Youngest Justice Appointed to the Court                

Most lawyers in private practice at the age of 32 are preparing for potential consideration for, and transition to, partnership.  At that same age, after a distinguished government and law firm career in Boston, Joseph Story took his seat on the United States Supreme Court in 1811, becoming the 18th Justice of the Supreme Court and the youngest justice appointed to the Supreme Court.  Story served on the Court for almost thirty-four years, writing a large number of opinions and dissents.  His tenure coincided with those of two of the longest serving Chief Justices in the Supreme Court’s history, John Marshall and Roger B. Taney.

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Swift v. Tyson (1842) – Guest Essayist: Daniel A. Cotter

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Section 34 of the Judiciary Act of 1789 provides that “the laws of the several states, except where the Constitution, treaties or statutes of the United States shall otherwise recognize or provide” were to be applied and followed “as rules of decision in trials at common law.” George Swift, a Maine resident, was assigned a bill of exchange from John Tyson in New York.  The bill was dishonored when it became due, and Swift brought a diversity action in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York seeking payment.  New York common law held that bills of exchange could not be assigned, and the federal court found in Tyson’s favor on that basis.  Swift appealed to the United States Supreme Court, and the main issue before the court was whether the reference to “the laws of the several states” in Section 34 included common law decisions as well as enacted statutes.

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Cohens v. Virginia (1821) – Guest Essayist: Joerg Knipprath

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Over the years, the Supreme Court has addressed several constitutional topics in cases involving lotteries. Perhaps none is as significant as Chief Justice John Marshall’s opinion in Cohens v. Virginia. The case was the third major act in a decades-long contest over the nature of the Union and, more specifically, over the constitutional relationship between federal and state laws and between the federal and state judiciaries. On the last point the contest directly involved repeated clashes between the United States Supreme Court and the Virginia Court of Appeals (the state supreme court), and between two dominant jurists, Marshall and the chief judge of Virginia, Spencer Roane. Cohens v. Virginia is the climax in the story of those two rivals.

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Chief Justice John Marshall (1755-1835) – Guest Essayist: William Morrisey

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“The Great Chief Justice,” John Marshall (1755-1835)

The longest-serving Chief Justice in our history, author of every major Supreme Court ruling in the first third of the nineteenth century—including the one establishing the principle of judicial review—John Marshall earned undisputed honor as “the Great Chief Justice.” He deserves honor also as a great man.

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Marbury v. Madison (1803) – Guest Essayist: Daniel A. Cotter

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Marbury v. Madison (1803) – A Landmark Decision Establishing The Supreme Court’s Role

In an effort to fill the Chief Justice vacancy on the Supreme Court before leaving office, President John Adams offered the position to John Jay, who declined, citing the lack of dignity and respect of the Supreme Court.  Secretary of State John Marshall was with Adams when Adams received Jay’s rejection letter and, with time running out, Adams offered Marshall the Chief Justice position, which Marshall accepted. The Senate confirmed Marshall on January 27, 1801, and he became Chief Justice.  However, a Democratic-Republican Party-led Congress repealed the Judiciary Act of 1801 (aka the “Midnight Judges Act”) and subsequently replaced it with the Judiciary Act of 1802, causing the Supreme Court to be on hiatus from December 1801 until February 1803.

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The United States Supreme Court: Landmark Decisions and the Justices Who Made Them – Guest Essayist: William Morrisey

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Introduction: Why Study the Landmark Decisions?

What does it mean to “constitute” America?

How would anyone do that? And why?

And what is “America,” anyway?

“America can mean simply the “New World”—the two American continents, “new to the late-Renaissance Europeans who stumbled upon them en route to China, if not to the Asian settlers who’d lived here for centuries. In that sense, hundreds of millions of Americans now live in dozens of countries, under several distinctive forms of government.

Given the prominent display of the Stars-and-Stripes flag on the Constituting America website, no one reading these words will imagine “America” to mean that, here. We mean the United States of America, a particular country in America, which declared its independence, its self-government, from an empire ruled from Europe. To assert self-government requires one to establish the terms and conditions by which that government will proceed. By leaving home, a young man or woman declares independence from parents: Very well then, but how will you live, under your newfound self-rule? You say you want to live at liberty, pursuing happiness, but what’s your plan? Read more

Actress Janine Turner propels student’s career

 

 

Contact: Shonda Werry

Constituting America

Tel: 202-246-0307

Email: constitutingamerica@yahoo.com

 

CONSTITUTING AMERICA PROMOTES STUDENT’S PSA:

3.4 MILLION VIEWS

Constituting America, founded by actress Janine Turner (Northern Exposure, Friday Night Lights, Cliffhanger) and Cathy Gillespie, to air student’s winning PSA on the Constitution nationwide on February 13th.

February 8, 2017

(Colleyville, TX) Constituting America has announced that 236 television stations and the Direct TV and Dish Networks will air the award-winning Public Service Announcement (PSA), Something Beautiful, written and directed by high school senior Laura Leigh Hicks on Monday, February 13th on the program NewsWatch. The animated PSA will be viewed by an anticipated 3.4 million Americans in every major media market across the country – from California to New York; from Texas to North Dakota and everywhere in between!

The PSA, which challenges viewers to read the U.S. Constitution, won Constituting America’s national “We the Future” Contest. Click here to watch the 1 minute PSA now!

In an effort to use the arts and media to promote the non-partisan relevancy of the Constitution and propel the students’ careers, Constituting America submits students’ winning PSA’s to television stations for airing and the PSA has already aired on 54 television stations nationwide. Laura Leigh Hicks hails from Steens, Mississippi and previously served as the president of her school’s chapter of the Eta Sigma Alpha Honor Society.  

Founded by Actress Janine Turner (Northern Exposure, Friday Night Lights, Cliffhanger) and co-chaired by Janine and Cathy Gillespie, Constituting America is a non-profit, non-partisan organization whose mission is to utilize the culture and multi-media outreach such as music, film, television, internet, and social media to reach, educate and inform America’s adults and students about the non-partisan relevancy of the U.S. Constitution and the foundation it sets forth regarding our freedoms and rights. Their multi-tiered approach features the “We The Future Contest,” Winner Mentor Trips and Winner Promotion, “The George Washington Speaking Initiative for Schools and Civic organizations,” “90 Day Online Founding Document Studies with Constitutional Scholars, Constituting America Lecture Events and Patriot Clubs. National Youth Director Juliette Turner reaches youth across America with her bestselling book, Our Constitution Rocks!, and motivational speeches, videos and media interviews.

Janine Turner, Cathy Gillespie, and Laura Leigh Hicks are available for interviews.
For more information visit http://constitutingamerica.org

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Constituting America’s Seventh 90 Day Study: The United States Supreme Court: Landmark Decisions And The Justices Who Made Them

INTRODUCTION

The United States Supreme Court: Landmark Decisions And The Justices Who Made Them

 

JUDICIAL POWERS

Marbury v. Madison (1803) – Justice of the Peace William Marbury versus Jefferson’s Secretary of State James Madison who was not allowed to deliver commissions for judicial appointments: Boundary between constitutionally separate executive and judicial branch powers.

Chief Justice John MARSHALL (1755-1835) Served 34 years on the Supreme Court.

Cohens v. Virginia (1821) – Brothers Philip and Mendes Cohen were convicted of selling National Lottery tickets in Virginia.  The two argued that this violated “free flow of commerce” as stated in the Constitution.

Swift v. Tyson (1842) – George Swift received a bill of exchange which was fraudulently obtained by John Tyson.  After the courts in New York decided in favor of Tyson due to New York State law, Swift appealed to the Supreme Court: Federal courts and state common law.

Justice Joseph STORY (1779-1845) – Served 33 years on the Supreme Court.

Propeller Genesee Chief v. Fitzhugh (1851) – Following a collision on Lake Ontario, there were questions of which courts had jurisdiction.

Ex parte McCardle (1869) – William H. McCardle, a newspaper editor who wrote critical articles about the Military Reconstruction Act, was arrested.  He claimed that both the Act and his prosecution were unconstitutional: Congress and Supreme Court appellate review of habeas corpus.

 

CONGRESSIONAL POWERS

McCulloch v. Maryland (1819) – After Congress chartered the Second National Bank of the United States, the state of Maryland passed a law imposing taxes on that bank. James McCulloch, a teller for the bank, refused to pay the tax: Commerce Clause; constitutionality in creation of the Second Bank of the United States; federal law and state law.

Field v. Clark (1892) – Regarding duties collected on goods imported by Marshall Field & Company, John M. Clark, tax collector, argued that the Tariff Act of October 1, 1890 was actually a law even though it was passed by Congress: Presidential powers, and challenges to laws.

 

PRESIDENTIAL POWERS

U.S. v. Curtiss-Wright Exports (1936) – When Curtiss-Wright Export Corporation violated an embargo, to prohibit trade, enacted by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, it argued that the President should not have been given this power: Congress and lawmaking authority to the President.

Youngstown Sheet and Tube Company v. Sawyer (1952) – Youngstown Sheet and Tube Company versus Commerce Secretary Charles Sawyer: Congress, the Constitution, and presidential power to issue an order.

 

FEDERALISM AND STATES’ SOVEREIGNTY

Fletcher v. Peck (1810) – After it was determined that the Georgia legislature took bribes for the passage of the Yazoo Land Act, the new legislature repealed the act and voided all sales coming from it. Robert Fletcher sued John Peck for selling him land with no clear title: Contract Clause of the Constitution.

Green v. Biddle (1823) –When Kentucky became an independent state, it signed a compact with Virginia to protect property rights. Kentucky then passed a law that impaired this compact, causing a dispute over ownership of the property: John Green versus Richard Biddle and the Contracts Clause of the Constitution on public and private agreements.

Willson v. Black Bird Creek Marsh Company (1829) – When Thomas Willson broke through a dam built by the Black Bird Creek Marsh Company, the company sues as it was authorized to build the dam by Delaware law.  Willson argued that the dam was in violation of the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, and that he had a constitutional right to navigate coastal streams.

Barron v. Baltimore (1833) – When the city of Baltimore diverted the flow of streams to aid in street construction, it damaged Barron’s wharf.  John Barron sued the mayor of Baltimore, claiming that the Bill of Rights, specifically the Fifth Amendment, applied to states as well regarding just compensation for private property takings for public use.

Craig v. Missouri (1830) – In 1821, the state of Missouri printed money to loan to farmers.  When Hiram Craig defaulted on his loan, he was sued by the state to force payment.  It was argued that states issuing bills of credit unconstitutional in the first place.

Briscoe v. Bank of Kentucky (1837) – After Kentucky authorized a state owned bank to issue bills of credit, the bank loaned bills to Briscoe. When he failed to pay, the bank sues him. Briscoe claimed that the bank, and therefore Kentucky, had violated Article 1 Section 10 of the Constitution.

Charles River Bridge v. Warren Bridge (1837) – In 1785, the Charles River Bridge Company was granted a charter to construct a bridge between Boston and Cambridge. Years later, the state of Massachusetts allowed the Warren Bridge Company close to the Charles River Bridge.  The Charles River Bridge Company claimed that it had exclusive rights to build a bridge and that the contract with Massachusetts had been violated.

Cooley v. Pennsylvania Board of Wardens (1852) – In 1803, Pennsylvania enacted a law that regulated pilots of ships. Aaron Cooley violated this law by entering the state’s harbor without the guidance of a local pilot. Cooley claimed this was unconstitutional.

Prigg v. Pennsylvania (1842) – After Edward Prigg was convicted in Pennsylvania of capturing and returning a slave from Maryland, he appealed, arguing that the Pennsylvania law making his actions illegal was in conflict with the U.S. Constitution. Ableman v. Booth (1859): Sherman Booth was arrested by U.S. Marshal Stephen Ableman for rescuing an escaped slave in Wisconsin. When Booth was freed because the Wisconsin state government refused to recognize the authority of the federal courts, the case was appealed to the Supreme Court.

Texas v. White (1869) – George W. White, the State of Texas, and the constitutionality of secession from the Union.

 

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

Gelpcke v. Dubuque (1863) – After a city government in Iowa refused to honor railroad tax bonds, Herman Gelpcke and other bondholders sued, in federal court, the City of Dubuque in an attempt to recover interest on the bonds.

Euclid v. Ambler Realty (1926) – In order to prevent the Village of Euclid, Ohio, from growing too large, the village developed zoning laws. Ambler Realty’s property was divided into three classes, therefore hindering it from developing the land for industry. Ambler Realty sues, arguing that the zoning laws deprived it of its property without due process.

Justice George SUTHERLAND (1862-1942) – Served 15 years on the Supreme Court.

San Antonio v. Rodriguez (1973) – Demetrio Rodriguez and other members of the Edgewood Concerned Parent Association in Texas, involving the San Antonio Independent School District, brought forward a suit claiming that the state’s method of school financing violated the assertion of equal protection under the law.

 

ELECTIONS AND REPRESENTATIVE GOVERNMENT

Baker v. Carr (1962) – The Tennessee State Constitution required that legislative districts be redrawn every ten years. Former Mayor Charles Baker argued that this had not been done since 1901, resulting in unfair representation. Tennessee Secretary of State Joe Carr was sued since he was ultimately responsible for conduct of elections and publication of district maps. The state courts sided with the state of Tennessee, and it was brought to the U.S. Supreme Court.

 

PROPERTY RIGHTS

Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad v. Chicago (1897) – When the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad Company was only awarded one dollar for the Chicago city council appropriating the right of way for its property, the railroad company appealed.  The City of Chicago argued that due process of law only required allowing the railroad company’s case to be heard.

 

COMMERCE AND CONTRACTS

New Jersey v. Wilson (1812) – In 1758, the New Jersey legislature made an agreement with the Delaware Indians, giving them a portion of land which could never be sold or taxed. In 1801, the Indians were given permission to sell the land, and in 1804 the legislature repealed the land’s tax exemption. It was argued that the land purchaser has “all the rights of the Indians.”

Dartmouth College v. Woodward (1819) – Dartmouth College was chartered in 1769 by King George III. In 1816, after the revolution, New Hampshire’s legislature attempted to alter the charter and make the privately funded school, public. The existing trustees filed suit against William Woodward, the new appointed secretary under the new charter, claiming that the legislature violated the Constitution.

U.S. v. E.C. Knight (1895) – In 1892, the American Sugar Refining Company acquired E.C. Knight Co. and other sugar companies, resulting in a 98% monopoly of the sugar refining industry. President Grover Cleveland advised the national government, also known as the “Sugar Trust Case,” to sue the E.C. Knight Company under the Sherman Anti-Trust Act to prevent this. The company argued that the government could not regulate the manufacturing of goods through the antitrust or “competition law,” but could only regulate distribution of goods.

Allgeyer v. Louisiana (1897) – In an attempt to protect its citizens from deceitful companies, the state of Louisiana passed a law prohibiting out-of-state insurance companies from conducting business in the state without being authorized by the state. When the E. Allgeyer & Company of Louisiana violated this statute and purchased insurance from New York, Allgeyer claimed that this law violated the Fourteenth Amendment.

Champion v. Ames (1903) – Charles Champion was indicted for shipping Paraguayan lottery tickets from Texas to California under the Federal Lottery act, which prohibited the sales of lottery tickets across state lines.  Champion claimed that the power to regulate commerce does not include the power to prohibit commerce.

Nebbia v. New York (1934) – After Leo Nebbia was fined for violating the price regulations for milk set by the New York state legislature, he challenged the conviction by arguing that the regulations violated the Equal Protection Clause and Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Home Building and Loan v. Blaisdell (1934) – During the Great Depression, Minnesota extended the time available for people to redeem their mortgages from foreclosure.  Lenders argued that this violated Article 1, Section 10 of the Constitution which prohibits a state from “impairing the Obligation of Contracts.”

Gold Clause Cases (1935) – The Supreme Court decided upon whether Congress’ joint resolution to cancel all gold clauses in public and private contracts was constitutional.

Schecter v. U.S. (1935) – The Supreme Court decided upon whether the National Industrial Recovery Act, a main part of President Roosevelt’s New Deal, was constitutional.

Justice Louis D. BRANDEIS (1856-1941) – Served 22 years on the Supreme Court.

Carter v. Carter Coal (1936) – Carter, a shareholder of the Carter Coal Company, argued that the Bituminous Coal Conservation Act, which regulated the coal mining industry, was unconstitutional, as coal mining is not interstate commerce.

National Labor Relations Board v. Jones and Laughlin Steel (1937) – After the National Labor Relations Board ruled against Jones and Laughlin Steel for discrimination, the company refused to comply with the ruling, stating that the act was unconstitutional.

National League of Cities v. Usery (1976) – The National League of Cities sued claiming that the Fair Labor Standards act, specifically the requirement of states to pay employees a new minimum wage and overtime, was unconstitutional.

Wickard v. Filburn (1942) – Filburn, a farmer in Ohio, was fined for violating a federal rule limiting wheat production.  Filburn sued, arguing that his local business could not be regulated under the constitution.

Garcia v. San Antonio Metropolitan Transit Authority (1985) – When Congress failed to exempt state-owned mass transit systems from its minimum wage and overtime statutes, it was argued that this violated state’s sovereignty granted to it under the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution.

 

LABOR

In re Debs (1895) – In 1984, the president of the American Railway Union was involved in the Pullman Strike.  When the government ordered the strikers to return back to work because the strike turned violent, Debs challenged the federal government’s ability to intervene.

Justice David J. BREWER (1837-1910) – Served 20 years on the Supreme Court.

Holden v. Hardy (1898) – The state of Utah passed a law limiting the number of hours one could work in a smelter or mine.  It was argued whether or not this law was constructional.

Lochner v. New York (1905) – New York law prohibited a bakery employee from working more than ten hours a day and sixty hours a week. It was argued that this law was in violation of “freedom of contract” under the due process clause.

Adair v. U.S. (1908) – William Adair was indicted after he fired a railroad employee for belonging to a labor union, which was a direct violation of the Erdman Act of 1898.  Adair argued that the ban on forbidding workers from joining labor unions was unconstitutional.

Coppage v. Kansas (1915) – Coppage, an employer, forbade his employees from joining labor unions.  Such anti-union contracts were prohibited by Kansas state law.  Coppage argued that this law violated his due process rights.

Justice Mahlon Pitney (1858-1924) Served 10 years on the Supreme Court.

 

MONEY AND FINANCE

Sturges v. Crowninshield (1819) and Ogden v. Saunders (1827) – It was argued whether or not state bankruptcy laws violated the Constitution, as the Constitution grants that power to Congress.

Legal Tender Cases – These cases decided upon whether legal tender in the form of paper money violated the Constitution.

Pollock v. Farmers Loan and Trust (1895) – Pollock owned stock in the Farmers Loan and Trust Company.  When the company announced that it would comply and pay the taxes under the Wilson-Gorman Tariff Act, he sued, claiming that the law was unconstitutional..

 

DUE PROCESS OF LAW AND DEFENDANTS’ RIGHTS

Ex parte Vallandigham (1864), and Ex parte Milligan (1866) – These cases decided upon when a person should be tried in a military tribunal and when a person should be tried in civilian courts under the Constitution.

Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul Railroad v. Minnesota (1890) – When the Minnesota Supreme Court refused to overturn a regulatory agency’s set railroad rates, it was appealed to the Supreme Court.  The companies argued that the rates were set without due process of law.

Meyer v. Nebraska (1923), and Pierce v. Society of Sisters (1925) – These cases argued civil liberties in education, claiming that these regulations violated the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Palko v. Connecticut (1937) – Following being sentenced to both first-degree and second-degree murder, Palko appealed, claiming that the Fifth Amendment protecting against double jeopardy applied to state governments, as well.

 

CRIMINAL LAW

Furman v. Georgia (1972) – This case argued whether or not the death penalty is considered cruel and unusual punishment.

 

CIVIL RIGHTS

Dred Scott v. Sanford (1857) – When Scott, a slave, sued for his freedom, it was argued that he had no right to sue in federal courts, as slaves were not considered citizens.

Ex parte Merryman (1861) – Lieutenant John Merryman was arrested, charged with, among other things, various acts of treason. He requested a writ of habeas corpus, and a hearing. In U.S. legal history, this is an American Civil War case contesting the president’s power to suspend the writ of habeas corpus during a national emergency and for public safety.

Chief Justice Roger TANEY (1777-1864) Served 28 years on the Supreme Court.

The Slaughterhouse Cases (1873) – When a city in Louisiana attempted to regulate and take over the slaughterhouse industry, butchers sued on the grounds of due process, privileges or immunities, and equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Justice Stephen J. FIELD (1816-1899) Served 34 years on the Supreme Court.

Civil Rights Cases (1883) – It was argued that the Civil Rights Act of 1875 violated the Constitution because Congress did not have the authority to regulate private matters.

Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) – Argued that segregation laws were unconstitutional, even if segregated facilities were “separate but equal.”

Justice John Marshall HARLAN (1833-1911) – Served 34 years on the Supreme Court.

The Insular Cases (1901) – Argued how to govern U.S. territories, as nothing was specifically said about it in the Constitution.

Jones v. Alfred H. Mayer Co. (1968) – Determined whether or not Congress could regulate the sale of private property in an effort to prevent discrimination.

United States v. Carolene Products Co. (1938) – When Carolene Products Company violated a federal law prohibiting filled milk to be shipped in interstate commerce, the company argued that this law violated the Commerce Clause and on due process grounds.

Bolling v. Sharpe (1954) and Brown v. Topeka Board of Education (1954) and Cooper v.

Aaron (1958) – Argued that school segregation was unconstitutional and that states are bound by the Supreme Court’s decisions.

Chief Justice Earl WARREN (1891-1974) – Served 15 years on the Supreme Court.

Griggs v. Duke Power (1971) and California v. Bakke (1978) and USWA v. Weber (1979) and Fullilove v. Klutznick (1980) – These cases argued the constitutionality of efforts to battle discrimination. 

Richmond v. J. Croson Company (1989) – Argued whether or not a city giving preference to minority businesses for municipal contracts was constitutional.

 

FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS

Establishment Clause:

Abrams v. United States (1919) – Argued whether inciting resistance to a war violated the First Amendment of the Constitution.

Justice Oliver Wendell HOLMES, Jr. (1841-1935) – Served 29 years on the Supreme Court.

Engel v. Vitale (1962) and Everson v. Ewing (1962) – Decided on whether or not promoting a particular religion in schools in unconstitutional.

Freedom of Speech:

Gitlow v. New York (1925) and Bradenburg v. Ohio (1969) – Argued whether or not being convicted for speech that promotes anarchy, violence, or terrorism violates an individual’s right to free speech.

Chief Justice William Howard TAFT (1857-1930) – Served 8 years on the Supreme Court.

Dennis v. United States (1951) – Dennis, General Secretary of the Communist Party USA, was convicted for speech plotting to overthrow the government.  It was argued that this conviction is a violation of the First Amendment.

Justice Hugo BLACK (1886-1971) – Served 34 years on the Supreme Court.

Freedom of the Press:

New York Times v. Sullivan (1964) – Argued whether or not Alabama’s law on libel, by not requiring a person to prove harm violates an individual’s right to free speech.

Justice William J. BRENNAN, Jr. (1906-1997) – Served 33 years on the Supreme Court.

 

PERSONAL CONDUCT AND PRIVACY

Griswold v. Connecticut (1965) – It was argued that a Connecticut law banning forms of contraceptives violated an individual’s right to privacy.

Roe v. Wade (1973) and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern PA v. Casey (1992) – Determined whether aspects of abortion laws violated an individual’s right to privacy.

Lawrence v. Texas (2003), United States v. Windsor (2013) and Obergefell v. Hodges (2015) – These cases argued civil rights for homosexuals and whether or not laws infringing on these rights violated the Constitution.

Justice Antonin SCALIA (1936-2016) – Served 30 years on the Supreme Court.

 

FOREIGN POLICY AND TREATY LAW

Cherokee Nation v. Georgia (1831) and Worcester v. Georgia (1832) – These cases dealt with government authority for relations with the Native American nations.

 

MODERN SUPREME COURT CASES

Gonzales v. Carhart (2007) – The court upheld the federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, approving for the first time a prohibition of a specific abortion procedure.

Vote: (5 to 4) Majority: Roberts, Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, and Alito. Dissenters: Stevens, Souter, Ginsburg, Breyer.

District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) – The court ruled for the first time that the Second Amendment provides an individual right of gun ownership, unrelated to militia service.

Vote: (5 to 4) Majority: Roberts, Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, and Alito. Dissenters: Stevens, Souter, Ginsburg, Breyer.

McDonald v. Chicago (2010) – Application to the states of the right to keep and bear arms.

Vote: (5 to 4) Majority: Alito, Roberts, Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas. Dissenters: Stevens, Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor.

Bush v. Gore (2000) and Bush v. Palm Beach County Canvassing Board (2000) – The Supreme Court ruled that the state of Florida’s court-ordered manual recount of vote ballots in the 2000 presidential election, between Vice President Al Gore and Texas Governor George W. Bush, was unconstitutional.

Vote: (5 to 4) Majority: Kennedy, O’Connor, Rehnquist, Scalia, Thomas. Dissenters: Stevens, Souter, Ginsburg, Breyer.

Crawford v. Marion County Election Board (2008) – The court ruled Indiana’s requirement that voters show a photo id does not violate the Constitution.

Vote: (6 to 3) Majority: Roberts, Stevens, Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, and Alito. Dissenters: Souter, Ginsburg, Breyer.

Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission – The court agreed corporations and unions could make unlimited independent expenditures in campaigns, saying restrictions violated free speech.

Vote: (5 to 4) Majority: Roberts, Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, and Alito. Dissenters: Stevens, Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor.

Justice Anthony KENNEDY (born 1936) – Began serving on the Supreme Court February 1988.

Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission – United States Supreme Court unanimously ruled that federal discrimination laws do not apply to religious organizations’ selection of religious leaders.

Vote: (8-0) Majority: Roberts, Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, Alito, Ginsburg, Breyer, and Sotomayor.

 

CONCLUDING ESSAY

The United States Supreme Court: Landmark Decisions And The Justices Who Made Them

 

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1880, James Garfield Defeats Winfield Scott Hancock: The Tariff Controversy, Post-Civil War – Guest Essayist: Kirk Higgins

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When one reflects on the history of the United States, the politics of the Gilded Age are often overlooked. Many find little value in understanding the intricacies of the political wheeling and dealing, often engineered by political machinery in both major parties. Nevertheless, these elections are as a part of the collective American consciousness as any before or since. They are central to understanding the American political character as it dealt with the aftereffects of the great national tragedy that was the American Civil War.

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Impact Statement

We are the only organization that utilizes the movies, music and television with the kids’ own works, to inspire Americans of all ages to learn about the U.S. Constitution by distributing their works through the national media.

Our Impact

The core of our mission is to educate Americans about the Constitution and the rights and liberties it provides and protects for all of us. We accomplish that mission through several programs, including our keystone program — the national We The Future Contest for kids. We also have an exciting new program that features Constituting America Founder and Co-Chair Janine Turner and daughter, National Youth Director Juliette, speaking in person and via “Skype” to classrooms around the country. Our 90 in 90 Study Program: History Holds the Key to the Future is a scholastic study with essays on the founding documents of our country, written by constitutional scholars from the best universities and law schools in the country. Here are a few of the major programs with the highlights and impact we have accomplished over the past six years (2010-2015):

  • We The Future Contest: We have received entries from students in 47 states and have awarded more than $95,000 in scholarship funding for the national We The Future Contest winners.
  • Mentoring Trips: Our winners have traveled on all expense paid trips to Philadelphia for performances at the National Constitution Center, educational tours and learned from historical interpreters! Last year they traveled to Nashville (mentored by Vince Gill), Hollywood (mentored by Gary Sinise) and Washington, DC (mentored by Bret Baier and Brit Hume) for meetings, performances and all dined with a constitutional scholar! This summer brings trips to Nashville (Lari White & Chuck Cannon); and New York (Sean Hannity & Monica Crowley & film producer Micheal Flaherty).

National Exposure & Impact Of Our Contest Winners’ Winning Works

  • NEW for 2016: We have hired Grassroots Promotion to promote winning songs with guaranteed radio station airplay, in addition to Rocking For Freedom CD available on iTunes & e-music platforms. To date, Joy Frost’s song has aired on 44 radio stations over 1,250 times with more spins being added daily & achieved top 20 ranking in Play MPE’s download ranking! Check out our past best song winner, Emily Keener, on this season’s The Voice!
  • Distribution of the Students’ Films and Constituting America’s Documentaries to Film Festivals: We The Future Contest winning short films and Constituting America produced documentaries were accepted at 8 film festivals across the country, with one winning two awards, reaching an audience in excess of 45,000!
  • Students’ PSA’s to Television: 31 TV stations are currently playing our We The Future Contest winning PSAs, reaching over 2 million households.

Resources for Schools

  • School Speaking & Skype Program: Now utilizing Skype and Google Hangouts featuring Janine Turner, Juliette Turner and our winners to conduct virtual classroom presentations promoting constitutional education – over 166 speeches to over 10,000 adults & students; with one minute “teaching clips” from the speeches reaching 100’s of thousands!
  • Distribution of Constituting America Documentaries: Produced and distributed 20,000 Constitutional Documentaries to schools.
  • Distribution of Our Constitution Rocks Books to Schools: Over 11,000 Our Constitution Rocks books have been distributed to teachers, school administrators, after school programs, and legislators at state and federal level by an enthusiastic outside donor.
  • 90 in 90 Essay Project: Academic studies on the Federalist Papers, the Constitution, the Amendments, and the Classics that inspired the Constitution resulted in 632 essays contributed by 98 constitutional scholars. Last year’s study on executive overreach had over 36,000 social media shares! This year’s study entitled “The Intrigue of Presidential Elections And Their Constitutional Impact” launched February 15, 2016.

Spreading The Word

  • Patriot Clubs: 27 active Patriot Clubs in 13 states, working locally and regionally to promote our programs, education and awareness among adult communities and students.
  • Social Media: Constituting America and Janine Turner’s combined Facebook accounts have over 196,230 fans and combined Twitter accounts have over 23,900 followers.

James Madison Defeats DeWitt Clinton: The Wartime Election Of 1812 – Guest Essayist: Sam Agami

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The waging of war is the greatest challenge any person in national authority can face.  It is an all-consuming task.  It is an undertaking that can destroy both leader and nation.  Of all governments, Constitutional Republics face the greatest challenge.  Conscripting armies, rationing materials, the issuing and obeying of unquestionable orders; all of these go against the very nature of a Constitutional republic.  In a time where national sovereignty is at stake, it is tempting to overlook the importance of core principles such as the consent of the governed and rule of law.  How many republics across the globe have transitioned into military dictatorships that started as temporary states of emergency?   As Abraham Lincoln so famously reflected in Gettysburg in 1863, “…we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived (in liberty) and so dedicated can long endure…”    

Read more

1800, Thomas Jefferson Defeats John Adams: The First Peaceful Transfer Of The Presidency From One Political Party To Another – Guest Essayist: Kevin Gutzman

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John Adams’ narrow victory over Thomas Jefferson in the election of 1796 foreshadowed the contentious political environment of Adams’ sole term. Soon enough, the Republican opposition went into full battle mode, and Adams’ refusal to respond by playing party chieftain goes a long way toward explaining his narrow loss in 1800. Read more

Constituting America’s Sixth 90 Day Study: The Intrigue of Presidential Elections and Their Constitutional Impact

Monday, February 15, 2016
Introduction by Constituting America Founder & Co-Chair, Janine Turner & her daughter, Juliette Turner, author of Our Presidents Rock (Harpers Collins/Zondervan)

Tuesday, February 16, 2016
Why Was The Electoral College Created? – Tara Ross, author of Enlightened Democracy, the Case for the Electoral College.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016
Does The Electoral College Still Work? – Tara Ross, author of Enlightened Democracy, the Case for the Electoral College. 

Thursday, February 18, 2016
(1789) George Washington: The First Election Under the New Constitution – James D. Best, author of Tempest at Dawn, a novel about the 1787 Constitutional Convention, Principled Action, and the Steve Dancy Tales

Friday, February 19, 2016
(1792) George Washington Sets the Tone for America as Its First Elected President – Joerg Knipprath, Constitutional Law Professor, Southwestern Law School, CA

Monday, February 22, 2016
(1796) John Adams Defeats Thomas Jefferson – Joerg Knipprath, Constitutional Law Professor, Southwestern Law School, CA

Tuesday, February 23, 2016
(1800) Thomas Jefferson Defeats John Adams: The First Peaceful Transfer of Presidency From One Political Party to Another – Kevin Gutzman, Professor and Chairman, Department of History, Western Connecticut State University and Author, James Madison and the Making of America

Wednesday, February 24, 2016
(1800) The Election Of 1800: Constitutional Implications Of The Alien & Sedition Acts – Tony Williams, Professional Development Instructor, Bill of Rights Institute; Author, Washington and Hamilton: The Alliance that Forged America

Thursday, February 25, 2016
(1800) Electoral College Tie Between Jefferson and Burr, Throwing an Election Into the House of Representatives for the First Time – Joerg Knipprath, Constitutional Law Professor, Southwestern Law School, CA

Friday, February 26, 2016
(1804) Thomas Jefferson Defeats Charles Pinckney: The Significance of the 12th Amendment – James Legee, Program Director, The Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge; Adjunct Professor, Albright College, PA

Saturday, February 27, 2016
(1804) The Constitutional Significance of the Louisiana Purchase: An Election Issue – Robert McDonald, Professor of American History, United States Military Academy, West Point; Author, Confounding Father: Thomas Jefferson’s Image in His Own Time (forthcoming)

Monday, February 29, 2016
(1808) James Madison Defeats Charles Pinckney: The Embargo Act of 1807 – Tony Williams, Professional Development Instructor, Bill of Rights Institute; Author, Washington and Hamilton: The Alliance that Forged America

Tuesday, March 1, 2016
(1812) James Madison Defeats De Witt Clinton: The Issues of a Wartime Election – Sam Agami, History Teacher, Princess Anne Middle School, VA

Wednesday, March 2, 2016
(1816) James Monroe Defeats Rufus King: The Hartford Convention – Joerg Knipprath, Constitutional Law Professor, Southwestern Law School, CA

Thursday, March 3, 2016
(1816) Constitutional Issues Surrounding the Second Bank of the U. S. – Kyle Scott, Professor of Political Science, University of Houston, TX; Author, The Federalist Papers: A Reader’s Guide

Friday, March 4, 2016
(1820) James Monroe Won Unopposed: The Missouri Compromise – Daniel Cotter, Adjunct Professor, The John Marshall Law School; Immediate Past President, The Chicago Bar Association

Monday, March 7, 2016
(1820) McCulloch v. Maryland: A Campaign Issue – Robert Lowry Clinton, Professor and Chair Emeritus, Department of Political Science, Southern Illinois University Carbondale; Author, Marbury v. Madison; Judicial Review

Tuesday, March 8, 2016
(1824) John Quincy Adams Defeats Henry Clay, Andrew Jackson, and William Crawford: Constitutional Implications of the Rise of Party Nominating Conventions and the Empowerment of Popular Votes in Elections – Joe Postell, Professor of Political Science, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, CO

Wednesday, March 9, 2016
(1824) The Second Instance of an Election Decided in the House of Representatives – Tony Williams, Professional Development Instructor, Bill of Rights Institute; Author, Washington and Hamilton: The Alliance that Forged America

Thursday, March 10, 2016
(1828) Andrew Jackson Defeats John Quincy Adams: The Two-Party System – Mark Cheathem, History Professor, Cumberland University, TN

Friday, March 11, 2016
(1828) Controversy Over Andrew Jackson’s War Record and the Question of Civilian Control Over the Military – William Morrisey, William and Patricia LaMothe Chair in the United States Constitution at Hillsdale College; Author, Self-Government, The American Theme: Presidents of the Founding and Civil War and The Dilemma of Progressivism

 Monday, March 14, 2016
(1832) Andrew Jackson Defeats Henry Clay, William Wirt: The Re-Chartering of the Bank of the U.S. – Joerg Knipprath, Constitutional Law Professor, Southwestern Law School, CA

 Tuesday, March 15, 2016
(1832) The Anti-Masonic Controversy – Daniel Cotter, Adjunct Professor, The John Marshall Law School; Immediate Past President, The Chicago Bar Association

Wednesday, March 16, 2016
(1836) Martin Van Buren Defeats William Henry Harrison, Daniel Webster, Hugh White: The Unusual Practice of Running Three Candidates by One Party (the Whigs) in Different Parts of the Country – Lisa Ice-Jones, Administrator, President William Henry Harrison’s Grouseland Mansion and Museum

Thursday, March 17, 2016
(1836) The Tariff Issue and the Constitution – Daniel Cotter, Adjunct Professor, The John Marshall Law School; Immediate Past President, The Chicago Bar Association

Friday, March 18, 2016
(1840) William Henry Harrison Defeats Martin Van Buren: The Appeal of Running Military Heroes for President and the Issue of Generalship as a Qualification for Executive Office – Lisa Ice-Jones, Administrator, President William Henry Harrison’s Grouseland Mansion and Museum

Saturday, March 19, 2016
John Tyler (1841-45) excerpt from “Presidential Leadership: Rating the Best and the Worst in the White House,” a Wall Street Journal Book; James Taranto and Leonard Leo, Editors; Free Press, 2004. – John S. Baker, Professor of Law Emeritus, Louisiana State University Law School

Monday, March 21, 2016                                                          
(1844) James K. Polk Defeats Henry Clay, James Birney: Texas Annexation as it Related to the Issue of Slavery – Daniel Cotter, Adjunct Professor, The John Marshall Law School; Immediate Past President, The Chicago Bar Association

Tuesday, March 22, 2016
(1844) The Issue of Oregon Territorial Boundary – Tony Williams, Professional Development Instructor, Bill of Rights Institute; Author, Washington and Hamilton: The Alliance that Forged America

Wednesday, March 23, 2016
(1848) Zachary Taylor Defeats Martin Van Buren, Lewis Cass: Popular sovereignty in the territories, which was Cass’s issue and which would continue to affect U. S. Constitutional politics for the next decade – Joerg Knipprath, Constitutional Law Professor, Southwestern Law School, CA

Thursday, March 24, 2016
(1848) Abolitionism and the Constitution – Daniel Cotter, Adjunct Professor, The John Marshall Law School; Immediate Past President, The Chicago Bar Association

Friday, March 25, 2016
(1852) Franklin Pierce Defeats Winfield Scott, John Pitale: The Controversy Over the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 – Daniel Cotter, Adjunct Professor, The John Marshall Law School; Immediate Past President, The Chicago Bar Association

Monday, March 28, 2016
(1856) James Buchanan Defeats Millard Fillmore, John C. Fremont: The Kansas-Nebraska Act – James D. Best, author of Tempest at Dawn, a novel about the 1787 Constitutional Convention, Principled Action, and the Steve Dancy Tales

Tuesday, March 29, 2016
(1856) The Rise of the Republican Party – Joerg Knipprath, Constitutional Law Professor, Southwestern Law School, CA

Wednesday, March 30, 2016
(1860) Abraham Lincoln’s Cooper Union Address and Mathew Brady’s Lincoln Photo: The Making of the President – James D. Best, author of Tempest at Dawn, a novel about the 1787 Constitutional Convention, Principled Action, and the Steve Dancy Tales

Thursday, March 31, 2016
(1860) Abraham Lincoln Defeats Stephen Douglas, John C. Breckinridge, John Bell: Constitutional Issues Surrounding Secessionism And “The Crisis of the House Divided” – James D. Best, author of Tempest at Dawn, a novel about the 1787 Constitutional Convention, Principled Action, and the Steve Dancy Tales

Friday, April 1, 2016
(1860) Stephen Douglas’s Understanding of the Constitution – David Shestokas, Author, Constitutional Sound Bites; Host, Constitutionally Speaking

Saturday, April 2, 2016
(1860) John C. Breckinridge’s Understanding of the Constitution – Joerg Knipprath, Constitutional Law Professor, Southwestern Law School, CA

Monday, April 4, 2016
(1860) John Bell’s Understanding of the Constitution – Daniel Cotter, Adjunct Professor, The John Marshall Law School; Immediate Past President, The Chicago Bar Association

Tuesday, April 5, 2016
(1860) Abraham Lincoln’s Understanding of the Constitution, Part 1: Its Relation to the Declaration of Independence – J. Eric Wise, Partner, Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP in New York City

Wednesday, April 6, 2016
(1860) Abraham Lincoln’s Understanding of the Constitution, Part 2: The Importance of the Union – David Shestokas, Author, Constitutional Sound Bites; Host, Constitutionally Speaking

Thursday, April 7, 2016
(1864) Abraham Lincoln Defeats George McClellan: Constitutional Issues Raised by Lincoln’s Conduct of the War – Daniel Cotter, Adjunct Professor, The John Marshall Law School; Immediate Past President, The Chicago Bar Association

Friday, April 8, 2016
(1864) Holding a Presidential Election During a Civil War – Joerg Knipprath, Constitutional Law Professor, Southwestern Law School, CA

Monday, April 11, 2016
“Civil War Amendments” to the Constitution – James Legee, Program Director, The Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge; Adjunct Professor, Albright College, PA

Tuesday, April 12, 2016
(1868) Ulysses S. Grant Defeats Horatio Seymour: Reconstruction and the Constitution – Forrest Nabors, University of Alaska at Anchorage Professor of Political Science

Wednesday, April 13, 2016
(1868) Constitutional Issues Surrounding Black Suffrage – Forrest Nabors, University of Alaska at Anchorage Professor of Political Science

Thursday, April 14, 2016
(1872) Ulysses S. Grant Defeats Horace Greeley: The Continuing Controversies Over Reconstruction – Forrest Nabors, University of Alaska at Anchorage Professor of Political Science

Friday, April 15, 2016
(1872) Civil Service Reform – Forrest Nabors, University of Alaska at Anchorage Professor of Political Science

Monday, April 18, 2016
(1876) Rutherford B. Hayes Defeats Samuel Tilden: The End of Reconstruction – Forrest Nabors, University of Alaska at Anchorage Professor of Political Science

Tuesday, April 19, 2016
(1876) Rutherford B. Hayes v. Samuel Tilden: Controversy Over Election Returns in This Election – Forrest Nabors, University of Alaska at Anchorage Professor of Political Science

Wednesday, April 20, 2016
(1880) James Garfield Defeats Winfield Scott Hancock: The Tariff Controversy, Post-Civil War – Kirk Higgins, Senior Manager of Education Bill of Rights Institute

 Thursday, April 21, 2016
(1884) Grover Cleveland Defeats James G. Blaine: The Issues Surrounding the Furor Stirred by the “Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion” Slogan, Regarding Religious Freedom and Anti-Catholic Prejudice – Peter Roff, Advisory Board Member, Constituting America; Contributing Editor, U.S. New and World Report

Friday, April 22, 2016
(1888) Benjamin Harrison Defeats Grover Cleveland: The Constitutional Issues Raised by Cleveland’s Veto of Pension Legislation for Veterans – Brion McClanahan, Author, The Founding Fathers Guide to the Constitution

Monday, April 25, 2016
Grover Cleveland: Twenty-second and Twenty-fourth President of the United States – Juliette Turner, author of Our Presidents Rock (Harpers Collins/Zondervan)

Tuesday, April 26, 2016
William McKinley: Twenty-fifth President of the United States  – Juliette Turner, author of Our Presidents Rock (Harpers Collins/Zondervan)

Wednesday, April 27, 2016
(1896) William McKinley Defeats William Jennings Bryan: The Gold Standard vs. Bimetallism – Karl Rove, Former Deputy Chief of Staff to President George W. Bush and author of The Triumph of William McKinley, Why the Election of 1896 Still Matters

Thursday, April 28, 2016
(1904) Theodore Roosevelt Defeats Alton Parker: Anti-Trust Legislation – Steven Aden, Senior Counsel, Alliance Defending Freedom

Friday, April 29, 2016
(1904, 1908) Theodore Roosevelt’s “Square Deal” vs. William Jennings Bryan’s Populism – Daniel Cotter, Adjunct Professor, The John Marshall Law School; Immediate Past President, The Chicago Bar Association

Monday, May 2, 2016
(1908) William Howard Taft Defeats William Jennings Bryan – Daniel Cotter, Adjunct Professor, The John Marshall Law School; Immediate Past President, The Chicago Bar Association

Tuesday, May 3, 2016
Progressivism and Its Theory of Constitutionalism – Matthew Spalding, Ph.D. – Associate Vice President and Dean of Educational Programs, The Allan P. Kirby, Jr. Center for Constitutional Studies & Citizenship, Hillsdale College 

Wednesday, May 4, 2016
(1912) Woodrow Wilson Defeats William Howard Taft, Theodore Roosevelt, Eugene Debs: Woodrow Wilson’s “New Freedom” – Tony Williams, Professional Development Instructor, Bill of Rights Institute; Author, Washington and Hamilton: The Alliance that Forged America

Thursday, May 5, 2016
(1912) Theodore Roosevelt’s “New Nationalism” – William Morrisey, William and Patricia LaMothe Chair in the United States Constitution at Hillsdale College; Author, Self-Government, The American Theme: Presidents of the Founding and Civil War and The Dilemma of Progressivism

Friday, May 6, 2016
(1912) Eugene Debs’ Socialism and the U. S. Constitution – Joerg Knipprath, Constitutional Law Professor, Southwestern Law School, CA

Monday, May 9, 2016
(1916) Woodrow Wilson Defeats Charles Evans Hughes – Daniel Cotter, Adjunct Professor, The John Marshall Law School; Immediate Past President, The Chicago Bar Association

Tuesday, May 10, 2016
Warren G. Harding: Twenty-Ninth President of the United States – Juliette Turner, author of Our Presidents Rock (Harpers Collins/Zondervan)

Wednesday, May 11, 2016
(1920) The Sedition Act and Eugene Debs: Raising of the issue of the “Red Scare” – Daniel Cotter, Adjunct Professor, The John Marshall Law School; Immediate Past President, The Chicago Bar Association

Thursday, May 12, 2016
(1924) Calvin Coolidge Defeats Robert M. LaFollette, Burton K. Wheeler (Progressive Party), and John W. Davis: The Direct Election of Presidents – Joe Postell, Professor of Political Science, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, CO

Friday, May 13, 2016
Women’s Suffrage and the Impact on Presidential Elections – Rachel Sheffield, Policy Analyst, DeVos Center for Religion & Civil Society, The Heritage Foundation

Saturday, May 14, 2016
Herbert Hoover: Thirty-first President of the United States – Juliette Turner, author of Our Presidents Rock (Harpers Collins/Zondervan)

Monday, May 16, 2016
(1928) The Effects of Urbanization on the U. S. and Its Implications for Constitutional Government – Scot Faulkner, Former Chief Administrative Officer of the U.S. House of Representatives and as a Member of the Reagan White House Staff

Tuesday, May 17, 2016
(1932) Franklin D. Roosevelt Defeats Herbert Hoover: How the Great Depression Threatened Constitutionalism – Daniel Cotter, Adjunct Professor, The John Marshall Law School; Immediate Past President, The Chicago Bar Association

Wednesday, May 18, 2016
(1932) The “New Deal” – Tony Williams, Professional Development Instructor, Bill of Rights Institute; Author, Washington and Hamilton: The Alliance that Forged America

Thursday, May 19, 2016
(1936) Franklin D. Roosevelt Defeats Alfred Landon: Administrative Centralization and Its Implications for Constitutionalism – Joerg Knipprath, Constitutional Law Professor, Southwestern Law School, CA

Friday, May 20, 2016
(1936) Supreme Court Opposition to New Deal Laws – Horace Cooper, Legal Commentator; Adjunct Fellow, National Center for Public Policy Research

Monday, May 23, 2016
(1940) Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Unprecedented Run for a Third Term – Andrew Bibby, Interim Director, Center for Constitutional Studies, Utah Valley University

Tuesday, May 24, 2016
(1944) Franklin D. Roosevelt Defeats Thomas Dewey: Constitutional Implications of Roosevelt’s Liberal Internationalism, United Nations – Tony Williams, Professional Development Instructor, Bill of Rights Institute; Author, Washington and Hamilton: The Alliance that Forged America

Wednesday, May 25, 2016
(1948) Harry Truman Defeats Thomas Dewey, Strom Thurmond (“Dixiecrat”), Henry Wallace (Progressive Party): “States’ Rights” and Civil Rights Issues Raised by Dixiecrats – William Morrisey, William and Patricia LaMothe Chair in the United States Constitution at Hillsdale College; Author, Self-Government, The American Theme: Presidents of the Founding and Civil War and The Dilemma of Progressivism

Thursday, May 26, 2016
(1948) Harry Truman: The Atomic Bomb, Cold War, Marshall Plan & The Fair Deal and Civil Rights Reform – Juliette Turner, author of Our Presidents Rock (Harpers Collins/Zondervan)

Friday, May 27, 2016
(1952) Dwight D. Eisenhower Defeats Adlai Stevenson: Communism and Civil Liberties – Horace Cooper, Legal Commentator; Adjunct Fellow, National Center for Public Policy Research

Monday, May 30, 2016
A Memorial Day Message – Janine Turner, Constituting America Founder & Co-Chair

Tuesday, May 31, 2016
(1956) Dwight D. Eisenhower Defeats Aldai Stevenson – Jim Legee, Program Director, The Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge; Adjunct Professor, Albright College, PA

Wednesday, June 1, 2016
(1960) The Election of the First Catholic President as a Vindication of the First Amendment’s Clauses on Religious Freedom and Religion Establishment – Tony Williams – Professional Development Instructor, Bill of Rights Institute; Author, Washington and Hamilton: The Alliance that Forged America

Thursday, June 2, 2016
(1964) Lyndon B. Johnson Defeats Barry Goldwater: The “Great Society” and the Constitution – Brion McClanahan, Author, The Founding Fathers Guide to the Constitution

Friday, June 3, 2016
(1968) Richard Nixon Defeats Hubert Humphrey, George C. Wallace: The Rise of the “New Left” – Steve Knott, Co-author with Bill of Rights Institute’s Tony Williams, Washington and Hamilton: The Alliance That Forged America

Saturday, June 4, 2016
(1968) Supreme Court Decisions on Civil Rights—an Issue Raised by George C. Wallace – Daniel Cotter, Adjunct Professor, The John Marshall Law School; Immediate Past President, The Chicago Bar Association

Monday, June 6, 2016
(1972) Richard Nixon: Thirty-Seventh President of the United States – Juliette Turner, author of Our Presidents Rock (Harpers Collins/Zondervan)

Tuesday, June 7, 2016
A Different Take on Watergate – John Marini, Senior Fellow, Claremont Institute, California; Fourth book in progress, American Constitutionalism and the Administrative State

Wednesday, June 8, 2016
(1972) Richard Nixon Defeats George McGovern: Watergate – David Kopel, Research Director at the Independence Institute, and Adjunct Professor of Advanced Constitutional Law at Denver University, Sturm College of Law

Thursday, June 9, 2016
Our Constitution Works: President Ford’s Date With Destiny – Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation, Grand Rapids, Michigan

Friday, June 10, 2016
(1976) Jimmy Carter: Thirty-Ninth President of the United States – Juliette Turner, author of Our Presidents Rock (Harpers Collins/Zondervan)

Monday, June 13, 2016
(1980) Ronald Reagan Defeats Jimmy Carter, John Anderson: The Critique of the Administrative State – Andrew Langer, President, Institute for Liberty

Tuesday, June 14, 2016
(1984) Ronald Reagan Defeats Walter Mondale: Geraldine Ferraro Nomination as Vice President and the Constitutional Implications of the Feminist Movement – Tony Williams, Professional Development Instructor, Bill of Rights Institute; Author, Washington and Hamilton: The Alliance that Forged America

Wednesday, June 15 – Thursday, June 16, 2016
(1988) George H.W. Bush Defeats Michael Dukakis – Tony Williams, Professional Development Instructor, Bill of Rights Institute; Author, Washington and Hamilton: The Alliance that Forged America

Friday, June 17, 2016
(1992) Bill Clinton Defeats George H.W. Bush – Juliette Turner, author of Our Presidents Rock (Harpers Collins/Zondervan)

Monday, June 20, 2016
(1992) Bill Clinton Defeats George H.W. Bush – Juliette Turner, author of Our Presidents Rock (Harpers Collins/Zondervan)

Tuesday, June 21, 2016
(1992) Bill Clinton Defeats George H.W. Bush – Juliette Turner, author of Our Presidents Rock (Harpers Collins/Zondervan)

Wednesday, June 22, 2016
(1996) Bill Clinton, Presidential Elections, And Constitutional Rule Of Law – Brian Chilton, former University Of Virginia School Of Law Associate Editor & Executive Editor, Virginia Law Review; Author, Issachar’s Heirs

Thursday, June 23, 2016
(2000) George W. Bush Defeats Al Gore, Ralph Nader: A Case Study On Choosing Electors – The Honorable John N. Hostettler, former Congressman from Indiana; Director, The D. James Kennedy Center for Christian Statesmanship; Author of Ordained and Established: A Statesman-Citizen’s Guide to the United States Constitution

Friday, June 23, 2016
(2004) George W. Bush Defeats John Kerry: Terrorism and the Constitution – Andrew Langer – President, Institute for Liberty

Monday, June 27, 2016
(2008) Barack Obama: Forty-Fourth President of the United States – Juliette Turner, author of Our Presidents Rock (Harpers Collins/Zondervan)

Tuesday, June 28, 2016
(2012) Barack Obama Defeats Mitt Romney – Michael Barone, co-author of The Almanac of American Politics and Senior Political Analyst for the Washington Examiner; Resident Fellow, American Enterprise Institute

Wednesday, June 29, 2016
Conclusion: Constitutional Issues in the 2016 Election – William Morrisey, William and Patricia LaMothe Chair in the United States Constitution at Hillsdale College; Author, Self-Government, The American Theme: Presidents of the Founding and Civil War and The Dilemma of Progressivism

 

SoundCloud Archive

The Federal Fruit and Vegetable Cartels – Guest Essayist: Daren Bakst

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If you grow fruits and vegetables, the federal government might limit how many fruits and vegetables you can sell. Some raisin growers learned this the hard way when they were fined by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for not turning over part of their crop to the federal government.

This year, the United States Supreme Court in Horne v. USDA decided this “raisin case,” holding that under the Fifth Amendment, the federal government was taking the raisins and therefore must provide just compensation to the raisin growers.

While an important victory for property rights, raisin growers may still be subject to USDA meddling into their sales. On a USDA web page, they acknowledge that the raisin supply restrictions will be amended in light of the Horne case. The agency could be trying to figure out a new way to restrict the sale of raisins.

It is shocking that a farmer can’t make an honest living selling a legal product without the federal government coming in and telling them how much they can sell. This is reality though. It’s also not just a raisin problem, but much broader. These supply restrictions are the result of what are known as marketing orders.

The Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937 authorizes the use of fruit and vegetable marketing orders. These New Deal programs attempt to create stable markets for certain commodities. Marketing orders, among other things, authorize research and promotion of commodities, establish minimum quality standards, and sometimes limit supply through volume controls (i.e. supply restrictions).

They are initiated by industry and must be approved by two-thirds of growers. The government acts as the enforcer for industry, requiring everyone affected by a specific order to abide by its legally enforceable provisions. In this way, industry members use government compulsion rather than private cooperation to maintain “order” in the marketplace. It doesn’t matter if a covered grower doesn’t support the marketing order or didn’t vote for it, they have to abide by its terms.

The USDA gives its blessing to these fruit and vegetable cartels, which would likely violate federal antitrust law absent government intervention. The industry leaders running these cartels are seeking to benefit the industry, and more likely specific members of the industry. The interests of consumers are of little to no concern.

Currently, there are 28 fruit and vegetable marketing orders. Of these, 10 have authorized supply restrictions. Only two have supply restrictions that are active (i.e. in effect): spearmint oil and tart cherries. This low number of active supply restrictions is evidence that they are unnecessary; 26 of 28 marketing orders don’t have active supply restrictions.

While supply restrictions may be the most egregious aspect of marketing orders, these orders in general are the problem. Nobody should be forced to be part of any association of individuals, including these cartels. These orders are egregious, plain and simple. Even two Supreme Court justices not necessarily known as free market champions captured the absurdity of marketing orders.

The first time the Horne case came to the Court (it came twice), Justice Elena Kagan quipped, “And now, the Ninth Circuit can go and try to figure out whether this marketing order is a taking or it’s just the world’s most outdated law.”

And Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who held that the government had not actually taken the raisins, noted in her dissent: “The Order may well be an outdated, and by some lights downright silly, regulation. It is also no doubt intrusive.”

These orders are outdated, silly, and intrusive. Worse though, they are completely counter to the idea of a free society where Americans have the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The USDA may implement these orders, but it is Congress that gave the agency the green light to wield this incredible power. Only Congress can fix this situation.

Daren Bakst is the Research Fellow in Agricultural Policy at The Heritage Foundation. Bakst frequently submits comments to regulatory agencies and has appeared in or been quoted by a wide range of media outlets such as The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The Washington Times, CNN, Fox Business News, Al-Jazeera America, and U.S. News and World Report. A licensed attorney, he holds a law degree from University of Miami and a master of laws degree from American University.

 

 

Article II

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Article. II.

Section. 1.

The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years, and, together with the Vice President, chosen for the same Term, be elected, as follows

Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector. Read more

Long and Little Known: How Incoherent Statutes Harm Liberty & the Rule of Law

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“It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men

 of their own choice if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so

 incoherent that they cannot be understood . . . .”

                                    —James Madison, Federalist 62

 

In support of the federal Constitution, James Madison explained that “It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood.”1 Mr. Madison understood law “to be a rule of action,” and asked, “but how can that be a rule, which is little known, and less fixed?”2   Today, more than two centuries later, Mr. Madison’s warning has proven both prescient and forgotten.  With federal bills and statutes droning on for hundreds and thousands of inscrutable pages of legal jargon, federal legislation has grown so voluminous Read more

Patriot Clubs Gen

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The Supreme Court: Paving The Way For Executive Branch Overreach – Guest Essayist: Elliot Engstrom

Last week, the United States Supreme Court once again opted not to rule a key provision of the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional. The case at issue, King v. Burwell, was technically not a challenge to the Affordable Care Act itself but rather the IRS’s implementation of the Act.

 

“In a democracy,” Chief Justice Roberts wrote for the majority, “the power to make the law rests with those chosen by the people. Our role is more confined—“to say the law is.”

 

Such a statement is quite ironic given that the decision takes a statutory phrase and then contorts it to say the exact opposite of its natural meaning. While the policy implications of the Supreme Court’s upholding of the ACA will likely grab most of the headlines in the coming weeks, the Court’s complete abdication to the Executive on matters of statutory interpretation could shake the very foundations of our democracy for decades to come.

 

Administrative agencies like the Internal Revenue Service are outgrowths of the Executive Branch, which is charged with enforcing our nation’s laws. Therefore, any power given to such an agency is by implication given to the Executive. Last week’s decision granted administrative agencies a powerful new tool for reaching far beyond their congressional mandate. In doing so, the Court has paved the way for the Executive Branch to overreach even further beyond its congressional mandate by appealing to the principles enunciated by the Roberts court.

 

The fundamental question at issue in King v. Burwell was whether the IRS had exceeded its congressional mandate. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) sets up a scheme through which individuals purchase health insurance through government-run “Exchanges.” The ACA, as written, authorizes the IRS to provide tax subsidies only to those who purchase their healthcare though an Exchange “established by the State.” However, the IRS opted to provide subsidies to Americans who purchased their health insurance through Exchanges established by both the state and the federal government.

 

Chief Justice Roberts admits outright that “the context and structure of the Act compel us to depart from what would otherwise be the most natural reading of the pertinent statutory phrase.” Justice Scalia had a biting response to this statement:

 

The Court claims that “the context and structure of the Act compel [it] to depart from what would otherwise be the most natural reading of the pertinent statutory phrase.” I wholeheartedly agree with the Court that sound interpretation requires paying attention to the whole law, not homing in on isolated words or even isolated sections. Context always matters. Let us not forget, however, why context matters. It is a tool for understanding the terms of the law, not an excuse for rewriting them.

 

The saddest part about Justice Scalia’s dissent is that, as of the Court’s opinion this morning, he is wrong. He is not wrong because he is articulating the principles of statutory construction incorrectly. He is now wrong because the Supreme Court is not simply an interpreter of law – it is also itself a creator of law.

 

Generally, regulations are evaluated under the Chevron test to determine whether they exceed the mandate of Congress. That test asks whether to grant deference to a government agency’s interpretation of a statute that it administers.

 

However, the Court opted not to use the Chevron framework. Its stated reason for doing so was because this is an “extraordinary” case that affects a question of deep “economic and political significant” – the question of whether subsidies are available on Federal Exchanges. Under this rationale, the Court stretched the amount of deference due to administrative agencies to the point where the Internal Revenue Service now has the “discretion” to take an action that is the exact opposite of what the statute explicitly states.

 

In order to determine whether such deference is warranted under Chevron, the Court is first supposed to ask whether Congress has spoken directly to the precise question at issue. If the intent of Congress is clear, that is the end of the matter. However, if Congress has not directly addressed the question at issue, then the Court should simply determine “whether the agency’s answer is based on a permissible construction of the statute.”

 

It would seem that the Court, before ever taking up the case, decided that it would find a way to uphold the Affordable Care Act. However, in doing so it has handed administrative agencies, and therefore the Executive, a powerful new tool. For years to come, executive-level agencies will argue in federal courts throughout the nation that they have discretion to do as they please, all due to the fact that their actions affect questions of “economic and political significance.” This Court has left its subordinate tribunals with the task of determining when an issue of such “significance” that executive agencies should have unfettered discretion to ignore the limitations of Congress and instead unilaterally carry out the will of the Executive.

 

The Roberts court today secured its legacy as a Court that twisted the law in order to serve a predetermined purpose of upholding the political class’s cause of choice. If it was not bad enough that this legacy in the short term leaves the American people with a healthcare system that focuses on “coverage” and “insurance” rather than actual access to healthcare and cost controlling measures, in the long term the Court’s jurisprudence will surely be cited for years to come as the tool of choice for the Executive Branch to expand its power far beyond its congressional mandate.

 

Elliot Engstrom is an attorney with the Civitas Institute Center for Law and Freedom, www.nccivitas.org.

 

Click Here to Read More Essays From This Year’s 90 Day Study!

A Memorial Day Message by Constituting America Founder & Co-Chair Janine Turner

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Constituting America first published this message from Founder & Co-Chair Janine Turner over Memorial Day Weekend, 2010, the inaugural year of our organization.  We are pleased to share it with you again, as we celebrate our 5th birthday!  On this Memorial Day weekend, I think it is appropriate to truly contemplate and think about the soldiers and families who have sacrificed their lives and loved ones, and given their time and dedication to our country. Read more

How Can Words On Parchment Constrain Executive Overreach? Guest Essayist: James D. Best

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“Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed”  The Declaration of Independence used these words to legitimize our founding as a nation. Fifteen simple words, but they embodied a world-shattering idea. Kings supposedly derived their authority from God, but the Declaration declared that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” These subversive words flipped the divine right of kings on its head. Instead of kings, God endowed all of mankind with natural rights. Read more

Congress Shall Make No Law – Encroaching On The First Amendment – Guest Essayist: Peter Roff

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On the subject of free speech the founders could not have been clearer. When they wrote that “Congress shall make no law” inhibiting its exercise or that of freedom of the press they were quite specific.

Read more

Set Up A Google Hangout/Skype Session Or “In Person” Speech With a Movie Star!

Are you looking for a fun way to get your students excited to learn about the U.S. Constitution?

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SpeechScreenShot3Constituting America founder and co-chair, Actress Janine Turner (Northern Exposure, Cliffhanger, Friday Night Lights), joined by Constituting America National Youth Director Juliette Turner and/or one or more of our“We The Future” student contest winners, will speak to your child’s classroom in person, or via Skype or Google Hangout!

HERE’S HOW IT WORKS:

Janine and Juliette and/or our Contest Winners will provide a non-partisan, age appropriate conversation about the Constitution for any educational department: Drama classes, music classes, government and history classes, English classes and more are all welcome! Our winners will show you how they used their songs, short films, public service announcements, artwork, poems, and speeches, to both promote the U.S. Constitution, and to win scholarships, trips around the country, cash prizes and more!

Janine and Juliette will teach your students about the U.S. Constitution in a non-partisan way –  covering a fun “Constitution Quiz” that emphasizes the roles of various branches in our government and some of the most important points about the U.S. Constitution.

This is also a unique opportunity for your students to speak with Janine about pursuing a career in Radio, Television, or Film.

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SkypeSeesions

These non partisan, educational internet sessions are tailored to your teaching schedule and classroom needs – we can work with speaking slots as short as 15 minutes or as long as 35 or 40 minutes and can cover specific topics upon request. These sessions are free learning opportunities for your students. There is no cost to your school! Internet sessions are perfect for home school groups, scout troop meetings, Patriot Club meetings or anywhere else that young people are gathered who want to learn about the Constitution, and our exciting “We The Future” Contest!

What Teachers Say:

“Wow! To hear someone with this much passion for making sure our youth have a thorough understanding of the Constitution is amazing. Our students at “The” Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy enjoyed the challenges presented by Janine and appreciated the opportunity to learn from a truly zealous advocate of the document that founded these United States of America. Thanks for a GREAT presentation. The students enjoyed it and so did I. They are chomping at the bit for your return.”  – Tom McLaughlin, Teacher, “The” Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy, Dallas, Texas, May 2015

Our experience with Constituting America was unique and inspirational.  My students were able to make real-world connections with people who care deeply for our country’s founding documents.  They were blessed to receive relevant material that bring the subject to life in a way that traditional textbooks do not.  I often struggle as a teacher with a balance between that which we must learn and that which makes learning worthwhile.  Constituting America brought both of those together in a memorable way that my students and I will never forget.   Thank you from East Texas!  Jeff Sims, East Texas Charter School, September 2016

RESERVE YOUR SKYPE / GOOGLE HANGOUT SESSION Or “In Person” Speech NOW:

E-Mail: ConstitutingAmerica1787@yahoo.com

Phone: 1-888-937-0917

Schools & Organizations Constituting America Founder  Co-chair Janine Turner has spoken to (by Skype or In Person):

Adventures of Eastern Tennessee Homeschool – Knoxville, Tennessee

Alpha Chi Omega Alums – Colleyville, TX

American Heritage Girls – St. Louis, MO

Arise Ministries – Oklahoma, OK

Atlantic Middle School – Quincy, MA

Babes Chicken Dinner House Restaurants Employees (Frisco, Carrollton, Garland, Arlington)

Ballard High School – Seattle, Washington

Ballwin Homeschool Group – Ballwin, MO

Benchmark Elementary Teacher-in-Service Day, Phoenix, AZ

Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts – Dallas, TX

Boy Scout Troop 57 – Garland, Texas

Boy Scout Troop 1910 – Keller, Texas

Boys and Girls Club – Arlington, Texas

Boswell High School – Fort Worth, Texas

Boyd High School–McKinney, Texas

Bussey Middle School – Garland, Texas

CAN! Academy – Dallas, Texas

Cheryl Felicia Rhoads Northern Virginia Acting School – Falls Church, Virginia

Congressman Johnson’s Congressional Youth Advisory Council – McKinney, Texas

Conover Road Elementary – Colts Neck, New Jersey

Constitutional Leadership Seminar – Yorktown, VA

Convention of the States – A project of Citizens for Self-Governance – Dallas, TX

Cooke County Republican Party – Convention of States – Gainesville, Texas

Covenant Christian Academy – Colleyville, Texas

Cumberland Road Elementary – Fishers, Indiana

Cuyuna Regional Medical Center – Brainerd, MN

Dallas Salesmanship Club – Dallas, TX

DAR Capitol Hill Chapter – Washington, DC

Desert Townhall – Palm Desert, California

Eagle Mountain Elementary – Fort Worth, Texas

Eddins Elementary – McKinney, Texas

Evangel Classical Academy – Alabaster, Alabama

Fort Worth Country Day – Fort Worth, Texas

Founders Classical Academy – Lewisville, Texas

Gainesville Rotary Club – Gainesville, Texas

Grace Covenant Academy – Frisco, Texas

Grapevine Faith Christian School (Juliette Turner) – Grapevine, Texas

Great Homeschool Convention – Ft. Worth, Texas

Green Oaks School – Arlington, Texas

Harwood Junior High – Bedford, Texas

Highland Park High School – Dallas, Texas

Imagine International Academy of North Texas –McKinney, Texas

Irving Sunrise Rotary Club – Irving, Texas

iHigh Graduation – Lewisville, TX

iSchool High – Lewisville, Texas

John Ben Shepperd Leadership Institute – Austin, Texas

Kingwood Middle School – Kingwood, Texas

Knights of Columbus – Irving, Texas

Knoxville Home School – Knoxville, TN

Leo Linbeck Google Hangout – Colleyville, TX

Lyles Middle School – Garland, Texas

Los Angeles Film School – Los Angeles, California

Meadow Oaks Academy – Mesquite, Texas

McSpedden Elementary – Frisco, Texas

Middle Tennessee State University – Nashville, TN

Mooneyham Elementary – Frisco, Texas

Mt. Vernon High School – Alexandria, Virginia

Mt. Vernon Estate (Juliette Turner) George Washington Symposium – Alexandria, Virginia

Naaman Forest High School – Garland, Texas

New Horizons of Southwest Florida After School Program  – Bonita Springs, Florida

New York Film Academy – Los Angeles, California

North Texas Homeschool Families – organized by Justice of the Peace Russ Casey

North Richland Hills Homeschool Group – North Richland Hills, Texas

Northstar Academy – Arlington, Texas

Restoring Liberty – Dallas, Texas

Riverside Military Academy – Gainesville, Georgia

Rucker Elementary – Prosper, Texas

Smith’s Station High School – Smith’s Station, Alabama

SMU – College Republicans – Dallas, Texas

Sons of the American Revolution – Garland, TX

Sunnyvale Middle School – Sunnyvale, Texas

St. Vincent’s School – Bedford, Texas

Stone Brook Learning Center and Meadow Oaks Academy – Mesquite, TX

Tarrant County College – Fort Worth, Texas

Teach Them Diligently Home School Conference – Dallas, Texas

Texas A&M  – College Republicans

Texas A&M – Women’s Leadership Conference

Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital – Flower Mound, Texas

The Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy – Dallas, Texas

The Constitution Leadership Initiative – Yorktown, Virginia

University Park Elementary School – Dallas, Texas

Wayside Middle School – Fort Worth, Texas

Westlake Academy – Westlake, Texas

Wilshire Elementary – Euless, Texas

Winchester-Frederick-Clarke Republican Women – Winchester, VA

W.T. White High School – Dallas, Texas

Wayne County Schools – Smithville, Ohio

Young Academy – Southlake, Texas

Yucca Middle School – Clovis, New Mexico

 

Janine Turner & Cathy Gillespie

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Truth Act

Federalist Paper 62 “The internal effects of a mutable policy are still more calamitous. It poisons the blessing of liberty itself. It will be of little avail to the people, that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is to-day, can guess what it will be to-morrow. Law is defined to be a rule of action; but how can that be a rule, which is little known, and less fixed?” Alexander Hamilton/James Madison

 

Let your voice be heard that you support limiting the size and length of bills, and making bills coherent for the American people and members of Congress to read and understand.

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The Truth Act*makes the bills simple not “voluminous” and easy to understand not “incoherent” for both legislators and the American people.† Thus, it will be beneficial to the people, and to the Republic, that “laws are made by men of their own choice.”

T-The bills (including amendments) put forth by legislators are to be limited to single subjects,†and THIRTY pages, with U.S.†legal code interpretations in the side margins. An accompanying version of the bill is to be written in 5th grade reading level for easy and nationwide comprehension.

R-The bills (and consequent amendments) are to be READ by the legislators – the new amendments are to be underlined with the old version included for clarity. They are to be available for the American people to read – at least thirty days before voting.

U-The bills (and consequent amendments) are to be UNDERSTOOD by the legislators.

T-Before voting on the bills, Congressmen and Senators are to TESTIFY under oath that they have read and understood the bills and consequent amendments to the bills.

H-The American people are to HEAR the proposed – and final – version of the bills. The bills are to be read on camera and put online so that the people may HEAR (as well as read) the bill at least 30 days before voting on the bill occurs.

The indeterminably disastrous†effects of such voluminous and incoherent bills such as the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), Dodd Frank, the Patriot Act and the upcoming Immigration Bill are all examples of bills that were/are too voluminous and incoherent for both legislators and the American people, leading to America’s demise and Americans  loss of liberty.

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*The Truth Act is a work in progress. Send me your comments/suggestions!

Constituting America’s Awards

 

Announcing Lexi Lassiter, 2015 Winner: Turner Maurice Gauntt Jr. Exemplary Citizen Award 

8Alexis Lassiter is a remarkable young woman whose high school attributes, achievements and character mirror those of Turner Maurice Gauntt, Jr.’s. Lassiter, a freshman at the University of Texas at Austin, is pursuing a degree in Mechanical Engineering in addition to completing the Business Foundations Certification program. Graduating fifth in her class from Athens High School, she achieved Distinguished Honors, becoming an Athens Public Education Foundation four-year scholar.

Through high school, she participated in numerous school and community activities. As a debate team member from grades 9-12, she participated in Policy debate, Duo Interpretation, Prose, and Extemporaneous Speaking on district, regional and state levels. She earned Texas Forensic Association (TFA) State qualification and was the highest Junior National Forensic League (NFL) point earner.

As an active member of the Athens High School Drama Department, she participated each fall in production, her characters ranging from a zombie in Maul of the Dead, to Miss Hannigan in Annie, to the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland. Each spring, she competed in the One-Act Play on district, regional, and state levels. Her department earned second place at the state competition, and she received two All-Star Cast awards on district and regional levels.

All four years of high school Lassiter was a member of Key Club and Student Council, becoming Parliamentarian of Student Council her sophomore and junior years, and Vice President her senior year in addition to serving as Key Club President. She was inducted into the National Honors Society at the end of her sophomore year, and became Community Service Officer her senior year, planning community service activities and making outside opportunities available to other members.

In addition, Lassiter participated in countless community service projects: fundraising for typhoon relief; breast cancer awareness; soup kitchen; Humane Society; collecting toys for the Fire Department; sending care packages for overseas military members; and working the city-wide “Pancake Day” with Kiwanis, for example.

Outside of school, Lassiter participated in summer musicals at the Henderson County Performing Arts Center along with being a First Presbyterian Church of Athens youth group member. She served as Youth Representative on the Youth Advisory Council.

Lassiter was also an ambassador for the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership seminar the summer following her sophomore year. This seminar pushes young adults toward leadership through volunteering for service projects, listening to successful motivational speakers, and having collaborative discussions where students gain more ambition to change the world. Lassiter enjoyed the seminar so much she decided to return as a Junior Facilitator the following two years and plans to continue. She is happy to log more than the required 100 hours of community service each year to catalyze the excitement and growth of each student who attends HOBY.

A strong sense of community persists in the small town of Athens where Lassiter grew up. Joining organizations that embrace and enhance such an essence has been entirely heart-warming for her.

Though Athens provided Lassiter with so much, she is excited to see what the University of Texas at Austin has in store for her and her future.

For more information about the Turner Maurice Gauntt, Jr. Exemplary Citizen Award, and to nominate a student, visit us at: http://constitutingamerica.org/the-turner-maurice-gauntt-jr-exemplary-citizen-award/


2015 Constitutional Champion Award: Congressman Bob Goodlatte

Constituting America recognizes individuals who have demonstrated their strong allegiance to upholding the very laws outlined in our U.S. Constitution and to carry forward the intentions of our Founding Fathers. This year our Constitutional Champion Award goes to Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Congressman Bob Goodlatte.

 

Goodlatte

In the 113th Congress, Bob Goodlatte was elected to serve as Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, which is called the “lawyer” for the House of Representatives because of its jurisdiction over matters relating to the administration of justice in federal courts, administrative bodies, and law enforcement agencies. It also has the important responsibility and jurisdiction of the impeachment process.

An especially important role the House Judiciary Committee holds is Guardian of the U.S. Constitution. It also has jurisdiction over Amendments to the U.S. Constitution – among many other items.

For the first time in history in 2011, under the leadership of Chairman Goodlatte and the House Judiciary Committee, the House read the Constitution on the House floor. This tradition has been continued in 2013 and 2015, at the beginning of each Congress.

Chairman Goodlatte worked to go one step further on this symbolic gesture – he led the effort to require a Constitutional justification for every piece of legislation introduced – and he has continued to work to strengthen that requirement every Congress.

But Chairman Goodlatte hasn’t just symbolically defended the Constitution by having it read on the House floor and requiring members to justify legislation they introduce by citing the jurisdictional clause in the Constitution for their legislation – the Chairman has stood up for the Constitution at every opportunity – stood up to and shined a light on executive power grabs on issues ranging from the Affordable Care Act, to immigration, to the EPA. Chairman Goodlatte has utilized legislative action, the power of the purse, and even helped bring litigation against aggressive executive branch overreach in order to maintain the checks and balances and separation of powers designed by our founders and outlined in the U.S Constitution.

Chairman Goodlatte has a deep appreciation for, and most importantly, understanding of our United States Constitution and our country’s founding principles, and we could have no better defender of the U.S. Constitution than House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte: Constituting America’s 2015 Constitutional Champion!


 

Constitution Day Dinner Celebration
September 12, 2014
Las Colinas, Texas 

2014 Constitutional Champion Award: U. S. Senator Ted Cruz

The Constitutional Champion Award

TedCruzConstituting America recognizes individuals who have demonstrated their strong allegiance to upholding the very laws outlined in our U.S. Constitution and to carry forward the intentions of our Founding Fathers. This year our Constitutional Champion Award goes to Senator Ted Cruz.

In 2012, Ted Cruz was elected as the 34th U.S. Senator from Texas. A passionate fighter for limited government, economic growth, and the Constitution, Ted won a decisive victory in both the Republican primary and the general election, despite having never before been elected to office.

Propelled by tens of thousands of grassroots activists across Texas, Ted’s election has been described by the Washington Post as “the biggest upset of 2012 . . . a true grassroots victory against very long odds.”

National Review has described Ted as “a great Reaganite hope,” columnist George Will has described him as “as good as it gets,” and the National Federation of Independent Business characterized his election as “critical to the small-business owners in [Texas, and], also to protecting free enterprise across America.”

Ted’s calling to public service is inspired largely by his first-hand observation of the pursuit of freedom and opportunity in America. Ted’s mother was born in Delaware to an Irish and Italian working-class family; she became the first in her family to go to college, graduated from Rice University with a degree in mathematics, and became a pioneering computer programmer in the 1950s.

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Ted’s father was born in Cuba, fought in the revolution, and was imprisoned and tortured. He fled to Texas in 1957, penniless and not speaking a word of English. He washed dishes for 50 cents an hour, paid his way through the University of Texas, and started a small business in the oil and gas industry. Today, Ted’s father is a pastor in Dallas.

Before being elected, Ted received national acclaim as the Solicitor General of Texas, the State’s chief lawyer before the U.S. Supreme Court. Serving under Attorney General Greg Abbott, Ted was the nation’s youngest Solicitor General, the longest serving Solicitor General in Texas, and the first Hispanic Solicitor General of Texas.

In private practice in Houston, Ted spent five years as a partner at one of the nation’s largest law firms, where he led the firm’s U.S. Supreme Court and national Appellate Litigation practice. The National Law Journal has called Ted “a key voice” to whom “the [U.S. Supreme Court] Justices listen.” Ted has been named by American Lawyer magazine as one of the 50 Best Litigators under 45 in America, by the National Law Journal as one of the 50 Most Influential Minority Lawyers in America, and by Texas Lawyer as one of the 25 Greatest Texas Lawyers of the Past Quarter Century. From 2004-09, he taught U.S. Supreme Court Litigation as an Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Texas School of Law.

Ted graduated with honors from Princeton University and with high honors from Harvard Law School. He served as a law clerk to Chief Justice William Rehnquist on the U.S. Supreme Court. He was the first Hispanic ever to clerk for the Chief Justice of the United States.

Ted and his wife Heidi live in his hometown of Houston, Texas, with their two young daughters Caroline and Catherine.

Our Military Constitutional Champions:

CA_Vets

This award is in recognition of our military heroes who served our country and swore under oath to serve our country and uphold the U. S. Constitution. These patriots not only served our country in the military, but they have also demonstrated exemplary service to their communities.

COL (Ret) Tom Adcock served for more than 25 years in the U. S. Army before embarking on a 17 year second career leading a team of engineers for a Washington, District of Columbia, based firm. Presently he resides in McLean, Virginia, with his wife Betty. In 1957 Tom earned his B. S. Degree from the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York, and in 1963 he earned an M. S. Degree in Electrical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

His U. S. Army troop assignments included Platoon Leader in the 25th Infantry Division’s 125th Signal

Battalion in Hawaii, Division Radio Officer for the 1st Air Cavalry Division in Vietnam, Battalion Operations & Intelligence Officer of the 54th Signal Battalion in Vietnam, Commander of the 51st Signal Battalion in Korea and Commander of the 1st Signal Brigade in Georgia. For his service in Vietnam, Tom was awarded the Bronze Star and two Air Medals.

Tom’s military non-troop assignments included teaching advanced Electrical Engineering courses at West Point, Deputy Chief of the Switching Division and Executive Officer for the Defense Communications Engineering Office of the Defense Communications Agency, Chief of Tactical Satellites, Satellite Branch of J-6 in the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Chief of the Satellite Branch of the NATO Integrated Communications System Management Agency, Chief of the Long Range Plans Branch of the NATO Integrated Communications System Management Agency and the U. S. Army’s Training & Doctrine Command’s System Manager for Tactical Automatic Switching.

After retiring from the Army in 1982, Tom became the Director of Engineering, and three years later a partner, in the legal & technology firm now known as Lukas, Nace, Gutierrez & Sachs with site and system responsibilities for cellular, microwave, paging, radiotelephone and specialized mobile radio. Tom coordinated and supervised the design and construction of the initial cellular systems in more than 10 percent of the 734 U. S. cellular markets. While severing in this capacity, Tom was a licensed Professional Engineer (Electrical Engineering) and a Senior Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers.

The results of Tom’s research while at MIT 1961 – 1963, entitled “Error Statistics with Optimum Pulse Position Modulation,” is Reference 1 in the text “Principles of Communication Engineering” by John M. Wozencraft and Irwin Mark Jacobs. Tom’s publications include “Rolling Out PCS Service,” America’s Network, August 1995; “PCS Q&A,” Cellular Business, May 1994; “Special RSA Highway Cells,” Cellular Business, September 1988; “New Rules for Microwave Radio,” Mobile Communications Business, November 1987; “Cellular Business Expanding Fast,” Washington Technology, October 1987; “An Introduction to RSAs,” Cellular Business, January 1987; and “RSA Design and Construction,” Cellular Business, January 1987.

COLStanCassCOL (Ret.) Stan Cass is a retired career Army officer and operates Cass Farms Co. at Briggsdale with his son, Randy, and his family. He attended Colorado A&M for two years before going to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, NY. He graduated from there in 1957 and later received a BS and MS in Meteorology from Texas A&M. He also attended numerous schools as an Army aviator, including the Army Project Management School, Command and General Staff College, and Army War College.

He was decorated for both valorous and meritorious service. He received the Legion of Merit, with Oak Leaf Cluster; the Distinguished Flying Cross, with Oak Leaf Cluster; the Bronze Star Medal, with Oak Leaf Cluster; the Meritorious Service Medal, and twenty-six Air Medals. He was a Master Army Aviator with approximately 6,000 hours of flying time, in both helicopters and fixed wing aircraft.

Prior to retirement from the Army in 1986, with 29+ years of service, he had most recently been the Project Manager for development of the Hellfire Missile System, a multi-service weapon now extensively used in Iraq, etc. Prior to that he had numerous tours in the States including Ft. Rucker Aviation Center and seven years in the Pentagon; three years in France and Germany; and two tours in Vietnam, the last being Commander of the 11th Combat Aviation Group.

Since retirement he has lived in Ault, CO, and now Eaton, with his wife, and has been farming/ranching at Briggsdale. He also has married daughters living in Florida, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. As an active Mason and Shriner, he is a member of Occidental Lodge #20, AF&AM, and is Past Master three times. He is a life member of the VFW; a member of the American Legion; and is past President of the Northern Colorado Military Officers Association. As a co-chairman of the Weld County Veterans Memorial Committee, he played a significant role in getting a Veterans Memorial built in Greeley, that has become a standard for other cities/towns.

He served a total of seven years as a Trustee and Mayor Pro-Tem of Ault, and almost three years as Mayor; has been Secretary/Treasurer and Vice President of the West Greeley Conservation District Board for twenty four years; was president of Colorado Tillage Association; and was president of Ault Sertoma as well as District Governor of a three state area. He recently served as chairman of the Board of the Community Foundation serving Greeley and Weld County, and is Vice President of Legacy Land Trust in Fort Collins. In late 2011 he was inducted into the Colorado Conservation Hall of Fame. In 2008, he founded the Honor Flight of Northern Colorado that has so far enabled over 1,600 WWII, Korea, and Vietnam Veterans to see their Memorials in Washington, D.C.

BobSmithRear Adm. (USN Ret.) Bob Smith earned a Masters in Aerospace Engineering and is a decorated Combat Fighter Pilot with 132 missions flown in Korea, as well as being a candidate for the Apollo Program. His design and production experience include being the Chief Project Engineer for the F-8 Crusader Airplane Programs; and Program Director of A-7 Corsair II airplanes [both for LTV (formerly Chance Vought) Company]; and Project Director of the B-2 Bomber program.

Bob is also well known in the Electric Vehicle EV industry, having worked with GM, Ford, and the Electric Vehicle of America Association. Bob is currently the Chairman of the Board of Directors of EV Tech Inc. and his experience includes, Vice President-Engineering and Marketing for Turbomeco Engine Corporation; Vice President-Engineering for Electrical Vehicle Power, and Executive Director of the Central Electric Power Coalition, a non- profit made up of electric utilities, Universities e.g. Texas A&M and Oklahoma University, and commercial companies, that promote Electric Vehicles.

 

MauriceGauntt

The Turner Maurice Gauntt, Jr. Exemplary Citizen Award

This $4,540 scholarship is awarded annually by an esteemed panel of judges through Constituting America. The scholarship is named for Turner Maurice Gauntt, Jr. the father of Constituting America’s Founder, Janine Turner. Turner Maurice “Tex” Gauntt, Jr. was born in Dallas, TX, the son of Turner Maurice Gauntt, Sr. and Marguerite McKinzie Gauntt. He graduated from Athens High School where he excelled academically and athletically. His accomplishments included National Honor Society, President of the Key Club, Captain of All-District Football and Basketball teams, Captain of the Athletic Assciation, Babe Ruth Sportsmanship Award, President of the Senior Class, and Most Handsome. He was considered one of Texas’ best high school quarterbacks. His outstanding record led to an appointment to West Point by Congressman John Dowdy of the 7th District of Texas.

During cow year at West Point, Tex roomed with Bruce Turnbull and “Andy” Andrews. Having attended college for two years and the USMA Preparatory School before joining our class, Andy excelled at academics. He was famous for retiring early and then maxing the next day’s classes! After lights out, Tex and Bruce studied by flashlights under their Red Boys. Bruce recalls that at the reveille cannon blast, Andy would shoot out of bed, switch on the sink light, and sing as he shaved. Meanwhile Tex and Bruce yearned for peace and quiet. A trip to Hoffman’s Hardware in Highland Falls resulted in the purchase of a camera flash bulb which was screwed into the sink light fixture. The next morning when Andy hit the light switch, the flash bulb exploded in a blinding flash. Andy reeled backwards crashing over chairs and desks. So ended Andy’s early morning antics.

Firstie-year Tex was selected as Company Commander of I-1. This came as no surprise to those who knew him. He was greatly respected and admired. His leadership qualities were evident from his first days at West Point. Under his leadership the company was awarded the Trill Prize for Best Company and two drill streamers.

Tex roomed with Jack Apperson, the Company Executive Officer, and Dana Mead, the Battalion Commander. Jack recalls Tex doing vertical pushups by standing on his hands, feet straight up, back against the wall, pushing up from the floor.

Before Graduation Parade, rumors circulated about our class running, instead of marching, to join the reviewing party. In 1957 the reviewing party included General Maxwell D. Taylor ’22, then Chief of Staff, United States Army, in addition to the Superintendent and the Commandant of Cadets. At the command for the graduating class to march forward, a rebel yell erupted from H-1’s Rabble Rousing Carl Burgdorf. He pulled out a hidden Confederate Flag and took of running like a jack rabbit. Despite I-1’s proximity to running companies on both flanks. I-1’s firsties marched on, not missing a drum bet, mainly because their leader, Tex, was having none of the rabble running.

Instead he led the company with back straight, chin set, and eyes forward. Both Jack Apperson and Tom Adcock recall Tex turning his head slightly to his right and commanding. “Don’t run, don’t run!” Of the 24 cadet companies all but four ran. The runners soon learned that they would spend major parts of their final cadet days confined to their rooms.

Tex was commissioned in the Air Force. His first training was at Hondo Air Base. While there he met Janice Agee who was attending Trinity University in San Antonio. They were married on Dec. 22, 1957. Tex was assigned to the Strategic Air Command and was selected to pilot the revolutionary, delta-winged B-58 Hustler. This bomber was capable of flying at Mach 2 (twice the speed of sound). B-58 crews were elite, hand-picked from other SAC bomber squadrons. Tex became SAC’s youngest B-58 squadron commander.

In 1965 an in-flight emergency occurred on Tex’s B-58 as an engine caught fire during a training flight over Arkansas. He ordered his two crewmen to bail out and received permission to land his aircraft. He was able to land his B-58 safely despite the engine fire. Unfortunately a heart arrhythmia was found during a post-incident physical exam. He was told he could never return to Air Force flight status, which was a huge disappointment.

Tex telephoned close friend and classmate Stan Cass to transfer to Army Aviation, but before the transfer began, Braniff Airlines made Tex an offer too good to refuse. The couple returned to Texas where Tex joined Braniff and in time moved into the captain’s seat. His career with Braniff was a grand one until Braniff went out of business in 1992. In keeping with his love of flying, Tex became an instructor with High Power Aviation in Grand Prairie until 2012. In 2006 he received the Wright Brothers “Master Pilot” Award from the Federal Aviation Administration. He also flew for Conoco Phillips, flying to and from the north shore of Alaska. In 2012 he was presented an award for Leadership, Professionalism, and Exemplary Contribution.

Tex also became a Real Estate Broker and opened his first office with wife Janice in 1968. He created Texas’ first real-estate franchise. This award-winning company later became Century 21 Lake Country at Eagle Mountain Lake. It and a second office in Colleyville are now owned by son Tim.

Tex’s love for flying was exceeded only by his love for his family. He was proud of them and almost any conversation quickly turned to his wife, children, and grandchildren, and their many successes. He was survived by wife Janice, his son Tim and Tim’s wife Roslyn Gauntt, his daughter, actress Janine Turner (Gauntt), and grandchil- dren Tiffany Gauntt, Turner M. Gauntt IV, Bobby Gauntt, and Juliette Turner. His family loved and adored him and wishes him blue skies and tailwinds forever.

Turner Gauntt always believed that we are blessed to live as citizens of the United States. He loved our country and was willing to sacrifice for her. He was an inspiration by encouraging others to study history, to value lessons learned from both history and great patriots, and to be of service to others. He valued our country’s founding principles and our founding fathers’ wisdom. This award recognizes a recent high school graduate whose character mirrors these values.

This year, our Exemplary Citizen Award winner is Austin Dobbs, a freshman at Baylor University.

AustinDobbsAustin Dobbs is a remarkable young man whose high school attributes, achieve ments and character mirror those of Turner Maurice Gauntt, Jr.’s. Dobbs was Valedictorian of his graduating class from Quitman High School in Quitman, Texas with a 5.4 grade point average. He was Captain of the football team and Captain of the track team. He received All-District Honors for his positions as wide receiver and defensive back and was named First Team Academic All-State as well as serving as Treasurer and Vice President of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Academically, in addition to being Valedictorian, he was President of the National Honor Society, President of the Debate Club, Student Council Vice-President and Senior Class President. He was a State Qualifying Debater for his junior and senior seasons, deemed as one of the top five debaters in the state of Texas and was the State Silver Gavel winner as 2nd in the State of Texas 2013. He received countless academic and character awards within his community. His church and community ser- vice is astonishing with 775 hours served, which includes Program Director of DASH – Drugs, Alcohol, Safety, and Health.

Dobbs is a freshman at Baylor University as a pre-law student pursuing political science as his major. After completion of his undergraduate degree, he anticipates joining what he believes to be one of the greatest branches of our military – the JAG program – because, in Austin Dobb’s words, “everything in this world must be earned and I am intrinsically inclined to repay the world for the countless opportunities with which I have been presented.” He lives by his mother’s motto “ To whom much is given, much is required”. Constituting America, Janine Turner (Gauntt) and the Gauntt Family are proud to present Austin Dobbs with this award in Turner Maurice Gauntt, Jr.’s name.

AustinWithColCass

Constituting America’s First Annual Harold Simmons Award for Excellence in Constitutional Teaching

HaroldSimmonsHarold Simmons was a remarkable, generous, and gifted man who exemplified the American Dream. Mr. Simmons’ first job was as an investigator for the U.S. Civil Service Commission, then as an Assistant Bank Examiner at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and an assistant loan officer at Republic National Bank. After five years, he decided he would rather work for himself. So at age 29, Harold became an entrepreneur when he purchased a small drugstore near SMU in Dallas. He ultimately built a chain of 100 drugstores. His combina- tion of value investing philosophy and conservative financial discipline, combined to create a diversified portfolio that grew substantially over the course of his career. Mr. Simmons was

actively involved in philanthropy with his wife, Annette, and served on various honorary and executive boards. Mr. Simmons also received several local awards for his unwavering support and involvement with Dallas- based charities. Harold Simmons was a man of few words but giant actions. He once said, “Life has been good to me, and I want to be good to life.” This philosophy led to the establishment of The Harold Simmons Foundation in 1988. The Foundation focuses on education, health care, social welfare, civic improvement, and the arts.

Constituting America’s First Annual Harold Simmons Award for Excellence in Constitutional Teaching recognizes a teacher who has demonstrated leadership in her field and innovative ways to educate her students, in the spirit of Harold Simmons who believed that quality education was essential to success in life.

BeverlyZearleyOur first annual teacher award winner is Beverly Zearley. Beverly is an enthusiastic elementary school music teacher whose passion is to instill a love for the United States along with a love for music in her students. Believing she was born with patriotism, as a child Beverly would stop whatever she was doing and put her hand over her heart whenever she heard the National Anthem. She has integrated teaching the National Anthem and the Constitution to her 1st – 5th graders into her elementary vocal music curriculum. Because of her dedication, Paramount Terrace Elementary has been a “National Anthem Project All Star School” from 2006 to the present. Beverly organizes an annual program where students and parents gather around the flagpole so students can share what they have learned about the National Anthem and the Constitution.

 

It is no surprise that in 2012 Beverly was selected to represent her campus as Teacher of the Year and was chosen as a finalist for Amarillo ISD’s Teacher of the Year award. With 23 years of teaching experience, Beverly loves keeping in touch with former students and is currently teaching the children of two former students. Beverly maintains a bulletin board each year in the hallway outside her classroom where she posts newspaper clippings and articles about ex-Paramount Terrace Elementary students. In 2010, Beverly helped organize “Madison’s Bash,” a fundraising event to help a former student battling a rare throat cancer, and Beverly continues to help fundraise for childhood cancer in memory of Madison.

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Beverly loves traveling, especially when it involves camping with her family in New Mexico and Colorado. She has traveled to Chiang Mai, Thailand as an adult sponsor for a mission trip, and in 2010 she had the privilege to travel to Spain as a sponsor with the Amarillo Girl Concert Choir. Beverly served on the Board of Directors for the Amarillo Youth Choir from 2007-2012. Beverly has attended the same church all of her life and enjoys teaching middle school girls and singing on the Praise Team and in the choir. She has served on The Church at Quail Creek’s women’s ministry since 2010 and has taught Sunday School for sixteen years. Beverly is a graduate of West Texas A & M University. She has been married to Vernon for 24 years and is the proud mother of two daughters, Ashleigh, age 20 and Andrea, age 16.

 

We wish to thank our very generous sponsors:

Host Committee:

Amway

Signer:

AT&T Hodges Capital Holly and Phillip Huffines Babes Chicken Dinner House Restaurants and the Vinyard Family

Patriot:

Harold Collum Denise and David Fuller Buck Howard Bruce Leadbetter Lockheed Martin Mary Kay Cosmetics Darlene and Ron Mead Linda and Bob Moak Elise and Jeff Pistor Dennis Stephens/Ben Leman

We wish to thank the following for their generous donation of goods or services:

Babes Chicken Dinner House Restaurants – Dinner Discounts (www.BabesChicken.com) Zonderkidz/Blink Publishing – “Our Constitution Rocks!” by Juliette Turner Dunham Boooks – “A Little Bit Vulnerable” by Janine Turner Kroger Company – Beer, Wine and Flowers (www.Kroger.com)

Mary Kay Cosmetics – Gift Bags (www.MaryKay.com) Don Nabb and DRN Productions – VIP Reception (www.DRNShowBusiness.com) The 440 Alliance Cello Quartet – Musical Performance (www.The440Alliance.com) Foundation Sound and Video – Video, Lighting, and Sound (www.Foundation-Studios.com)

Honorary Event Co-Chairs:

George P. Bush William S. Davis COL (USA Ret) Thomas G. Adcock COL (USA Ret) Stan Cass RADM Robert L. Smith, USN (Ret.). The Honorable John Cornyn The Honorable Joe Barton The Honorable Michael Burgess The Honorable Bill Flores The Honorable Sam Johnson The Honorable Steve Stockman The Honorable Ken Paxton The Honorable Patrick Fallon The Honorable Jeff Leach The Honorable Scott Sanford State Rep-Elect Matt Shaheen The Honorable Patricia “Pat” Hardy The Honorable Geraldine “Tincy” Miller

Event Co-Chairs:

Harold Collum Denise and David Fuller Janice Gauntt Freddie and Don Hodges Holly and Phillip Huffines Judi and Gary Martin Kit and Charlie Moncrief Elise and Jeff Pistor Jocelyn White The Vinyard Family(Babes Chicken Dinner House Restaurants)

*Listing as of September 8, 2014

Robin Jackson Photography: CA Store: Sherry Watters Dunham Boooks Zonderkidz/Blink

Pam Barrett

Janine Turner

Frankie V’s Kitchen

Cher McCoy

Jerriann Massey

Cathy Gillespie

Janine Turner

Amanda Hughes

Janine Turner

Mary Helen

Jerriann Massey

Richard Hopkins (Bedford Gold and Silver)

The Brick Saloon, Roslyn, WA. (Diner from Where Northern Exposure)

Laurie Cockrell Holly Haas-Black Amazing Lash Studio Janine Turner Constituting America Janine Turner Cathy Thorogood

*Listing as of September 8, 2014

$500 Portrait Package & display board Armful of Gifts 2 Hand Painted Wine Glasses $80 value “Holding Her Head High”, Autographed Juliette Turner, “Our Presidents Rock”

2 Constitution Quest Games & display board Large Wood Cross from Janine’s Ranch Gift Basket 2 Hours of Animal Training / Coaching Patriotic Quilt

1776 Movie and Illustrated Book Duo Northern Exposure Complete Set DVDs Patriotic Pillow Special Occasion Call & Display Board Animal Communication & Display Board 2 nights at Hidden Star Retreat for 12 Guests + Amenities Loose gem. 19k Ametrine

Tickets, T shirt & Cap

3 Books Golf Lessons – Golf Links Full Set of Eye Lash Extensions Creative Works (Books, Moves, CD’s, DVD’s etc) Complete Set of CA’s Documentaries and 90 Day Studies Keynote Speaker on Behalf of Constituting America Cake

SEPT. 2014 GALA AUCTION DONATIONS:

Marilyn Hoffman

Claffey Pools Fort Worth Opera TinasPilotShop.com / MarcAir TalionFirearms.com, LLC President George H. W. Bush Doro Bush Koch *Listing as of September 8, 2014

Horse and a 7 night trip to Kentucky for the races with deluxe acomodations in a private villa in the Griffin Gate Resort with a spa package, a dining package and a golf package during the Keeneland race season 2014-15.

Poolside Basket Ball Game Tickets for 2 to Performance of Hamlet Flight Training & Flight Bag AR-15 Range Time / Instruction with Janine Turner Presidential Socks “My Father, My President”, by Doro Bush Koch

For More Information:

Mail:

Constituting America Janine Turner & Cathy Gillespie P.O. Box 1988 Colleyville, Texas 76034

Phone: 1-888-YES-0917

E-Mail:

ConstitutingAmerica1787@yahoo.com – General Inquiries WeThePeople917@yahoo.com – Contest Inquiries 

Constitution Day is Coming Soon!

SAVE THE DATE: SEPTEMBER 17, 2014 FOR CONSTITUTION DAY!

ATTN: TEACHERS OF BAND, FILM, ENGLISH, DRAMA, HISTORY, DEBATE & SPEECH! We want to LAUNCH CAREERS in FILM, MUSIC, JOURNALISM & GOVT.SERVICE! with non-partisan Constitutional Fortitude

Constituting America’s 2014 We the Future Contest entry deadline has been extended to September 17, 2014! There is still time for your K-12 students (and any college, graduate or law school students, as well as adults & seniors!) to win prizes, scholarships, and exciting mentoring trips through this fun and engaging contest that helps students learn about the U.S. Constitution in a non-partisan way. Simply visit http://www.constitutingamerica.org/downloads.php to read the rules and information, and share with your students.

High school winners receive $1,000 prizes to be used for their college education. Younger Students win gift cards, and all win national exposure on our website! Song winners will win a mentoring trip to Nashville where they will get their music video produced & song professionally recorded! Short film winners travel to Hollywood to meet actors such as Gary Sinise (Forrest Gump/CSI New York) & others in the industry and watch a TV show or movie being filmed, and PSA, essay and speech winners travel to Washington, DC where Brit Hume, Bret Baier and other DC insiders will spend time with them as mentors! All mentoring trip participants will dine with a constitutional scholar!

Did you know…All schools receiving federal funds are required to hold an educational program on the U.S. Constitution on September 17th each year?

Mark your calendars for September 17, 2014: Constitution Day!!
To help you fulfill this requirement, Constituting America is offering two exciting programs:

1. Book a Q&A “Skype Session” with one of our student contest winners. Kids teaching kids about the U.S. Constitution! Go to this link: http://www.constitutingamerica.org/winners2013.php to view short 2 minute clips of our winners & their winning works! Choose one of our winners to spend time with your class, in a Q&A Skype session (tailored in length and content to your lesson plan and goals) on the Constitution and it’s relevancy today!

2. Exciting, NEW Interactive School Speaker Series for 2014. Interactive Constitution: LIVE is an interactive speaker series featuring representatives of the federal executive, legislative & judicial branches in the fall, and state and local officials in the spring! The branches of government outlined in the Constitution will come alive for your students through this non-partisan, educational, interactive series! Book your school now! Email: constitutingamerica@yahoo.com to book and for more information.

We founded Constituting America because the arts are so pivotal in our lives. Our goal is to utilize the culture and multi-media outreach such as music, film, internet and social media to reach, educate, and inform America’s adults and students about the importance of the U.S. Constitution and the foundation it sets forth regarding our freedoms and rights. Participating in the We the Future contest will help your students do just that. We hope you will spread the word re: the availability of these free educational resources.

Please contact Cathy Gillespie at (202) 255-0101 or email constitutingamerica@yahoo.com for more info!

Sincerely,

Janine Turner
Actress, Northern Exposure
Founder & Co-Chair

Cathy Gillespie
Co-Chair

Constituting America’s Mission

Constituting America’s mission is to utilize the culture and multi-media outreach such as music, film, internet, and social media to reach, educate, and inform America’s adults and students about the importance of the U.S. Constitution and the foundation it sets forth regarding our freedoms and rights. Our multi-tiered approach features a contest for kids, academic forums with Constitutional Scholars, School Speaking Initiative, Patriot Clubs, and National Youth Director Juliette Turner’s book, Our Constitution Rocks, and forthcoming September 2014, Our Presidents Rock.

We are the only organization that utilizes the arts & culture to inspire Americans of all ages to learn about the U.S. Constitution

Our Programs

We the Future Contest – a nationwide contest where students from kindergarten through law school and adults and seniors submit original songs, short films, public service announcements, speeches, drawings, essays, and poems about what the Constitution means to them. Entries are judged by an esteemed panel and through social media, and winners in each category are awarded prizes including $1,000 for high school winners, $2,000 for college, law & grad school winners, gift cards for younger winners, mentoring trips and national publicity. (This year’s entries are due August 15, 2014 – go to http://www.constitutingamerica.org/downloads.php for more rules and information.)

EXCITING NEW INTERACTIVE SCHOOL SPEAKER SERIES FOR 2014: An interactive school speaker series featuring representatives of the federal executive, legislative & judicial branches in the fall, and state and local officials in the spring! The branches of government outlined in the Constitution will come alive for your students through this non-partisan, educational, interactive series! Book your school now! Email: constitutingamerica@yahoo.com for more information.

Our 90-Day Studies of founding documents: The Relevancy of the Federalist Papers; The U.S. Constitution; The Amendments and the Classics That Inspired the Constitution are archived and searchable on our website. Explore original documents as well as 530 essays by 85 constitutional scholars: essays on every Federalist Paper; clauses and sections of the U.S. Constitution and the Amendments, and the classic works spanning centuries that shaped our U.S. Constitution. Access the search box and drop down menu from the front page of our website: constitutingamerica.org

Scholar Speaker Series – NEW for 2014: A Speaker Series featuring our Constitutional Scholars from our 90 Day Studies! Stay tuned for details!

Book a Q&A Skype Session with Our Winners – What is more powerful and entertaining than kids teaching kids about the U.S. Constitution? We will schedule one of our talented contest winners to “skype” into your classroom on a mutually agreeable day and time to share their winning work with your class, in a Q&A session on the U.S. Constitution and its relevancy today. The session can be tailored in length and content to your lesson plan and goals.

Patriot Clubs – organizations we help form at the local level to encourage people of all ages to learn about the Constitution: http://www.constitutingamerica.org/patriotstart.php We have over 30 active Patriot Clubs across the Nation, both in schools, and in communities.

Constituting America’s Impact Statement

DOWNLOAD THE IMPACT STATEMENT HERE

OUR MISSION

Constituting America’s mission is to utilize the culture and multi-media outreach such as

music, film, internet, and social media to reach, educate and inform America’s adults and students about the importance of the U.S. Constitution and the foundation it sets forth regarding our freedoms and rights.

Our multi-tiered approach features a contest for kids, academic forums with Constitutional Scholars, the George Washington – We Are All Americans School Speaking Program, and Patriot Clubs. National Youth Director Juliette Turner engages youth across America with her book, Our Constitution Rocks, speeches, videos and media interviews!

We are the only organization that utilizes the arts and culture to inspire adults and students to learn about the U.S. Constitution!

OUR GOALS

  • ENGAGE ADULTS AND YOUTH THROUGH MEDIA THEY ENJOY & UTILIZE EVERY DAY
  • MAKE IT “COOL” TO CARE ABOUT THE CONSTITUTION BY HAVING KIDS (OUR WINNERS) TEACH KIDS AND PROMOTE OUR FOUNDING VALUES
  • PROVIDE TEACHERS WITH   DOCUMENTARIES, MUSIC VIDEOS, AND CLIPS: RESOURCES ABOUT KIDS MADE BY KIDS
  • HELP EDUCATE PARENTS, WHO ARE THEIR CHILDREN’S BEST TEACHERS, WITH CONSTITUTIONALLY ACADEMIC PAPERS, MP3’S AND VIDEOS

OUR IMPACT

1,199,448 Website Page Views To Date!

DOWNLOAD THE IMPACT STATEMENT HERE

Positively impacting the Culture

We The Future Contest

  • Over 1200 Song, Short Film, PSA, Artwork, Poetry, Speech, Essay Contest Entries from 47 States
  • 51 Contest Winners from 22 States
  • $48,000 in scholarship funds awarded
  • 4 trips to Philadelphia with 16 kids plus a parent for 3 days of history, education
  • & performances of their winning works
  • 4 private tours of Independence Hall
  • 4 performances at the National Constitution Center
  • 223,959 Hits on Youtube & Vimeo from our Contest Entries, Documentaries & Videos
  • Over 20,000 Documentaries distributed to schools across the country

In our Winners’ Words

  • “The whole experience has been amazing to me because I have been able to learn more about the Constitution than I could in just the regular classroom setting. I hope more people participate in this because even if you don’t get chosen, you learn a lot just by trying to enter the contest,” Kenthia Farmer, Tennessee, Best College Short Film Winner.
  • “The whole trip’s been incredible and it’s only been a day,” Annie Nirschel, Best High School Song Winner.
  • “I don’t want to leave. I am sad. I am so sad. I don’t want to get on that plane! I’m hoping I miss my flight so I can stay an extra day. I loved it. Everything was great!  Yesterday (the first day of the trip) was one of the best days of my life. That was a good day. Everything… It was awesome!” Colton Hinderliter, Best High School Short Film Winner.

DOWNLOAD THE IMPACT STATEMENT HERE

Winner Promotions

Our winners’ Public Service Announcements are playing on the following Television Stations:

  • Amarillo (KAMR)

  • Austin (KXAN)
  • El Paso (KTSM)
  • El Paso (KVIA)
  • College Station (KAGS)
  • Waco (KWKT)
  • El Paso (KFOX)
  • Houston (KHOU)
  • El Paso (KDBC)

We submit our winners’ films to film festivals

In 2014 The Palm Beach International Film Festival featured Chasity Cagle’s Winning film & the Tupelo Film Festival is featured Constituting America’s RoadTrip Documentary

We have also submitted our winners’ films to over 50 festivals including:

  • Seattle True Independent Film Festival (STIFF)
  • Teen Truth Film Festival
  • Teen Truth Film Festival
  • Atlanta Film Festival

Our winners have performed at:

  • The National Constitution Center (four years in a row)
  • In front of Independence Hall
  • On the Mike Huckabee radio show
  • On Nashville’s WSM, the station of the Grand Ole Opry &
  • Attended parties at the home of country musician, John Rich
  • At the U.S. Congressional Baseball Game
  • At the Susan B. Anthony Gala in Washington, DC
  • At the Colorado Freedom Festival
  • At the Mansfield, Ohio Central Park Gazebo event
  • At Rotary Events in several states
  • At our Dallas & Stamford Connecticut Constituting America Premieres
  • At our Constituting America Constitutional Champion Gala
  • At a Nashville event featuring female Governors & State Legislators from across the country
  • New Horizons of Southwest Florida (helping at-risk children & teens)

In addition, our winners have

  • Appeared on Fox & Friends
  • Spoken to their schools & school board
  • Participated in Veterans Day Programs
  • Manned booths at school district festivals
  • Recorded podcasts for our 90 Day Studies
  • Been featured in radio, magazine and newspaper stories across the country
  • In our Winners’ words:
    • “Being a musician, any time I can perform in front of an audience, it’s a great experience professionally and Constituting America has given me great audiences to perform for. Constituting America has completely opened up doors. Here in Nashville I got to perform my winning song for a group of female legislators.  Jo Dee Messina, a country star, was there as well some faculty members from Bellmont.  I also got to sing the national anthem for the Congressional Baseball Game. So, I was able to perform for some leaders in the government as well as leaders in the music industry. That was amazing,” Kori Caswell, Missouri, Best College Song Winner
    • “After the trip, actually, Governor Mike Huckabee invited me to appear on his show. Appearing on national television made me feel like I could do anything. It’s experiences like that that make me fall in love with performing and with what I do. Being a part of Constituting America inspired and has continued to inspire me to chase after my dreams and to, in turn, set an example for my generation in the hope that they will dothe same (with the knowledge of all their rights and freedoms here in America)!” Emily Keener, Ohio, Best Middle School Song Winner
    •  “Working with Janine Turner and seeing her passion and energy for the Constitution really inspired me to make a difference in the world and it definitely influenced my career goals,” Natalie Cuzmenco, North Carolina, Best College Short Film Winner.

DOWNLOAD THE IMPACT STATEMENT HERE

Resources for Schools and families

  • The George Washington “We Are All Americans” Speakers’ Initiative Constituting America Founder & Co-Chair Janine has spoken to thousands of students, adults and seniors at schools, community events and senior citizens centers in Texas and across the country.
  • Our Constitution Rocks Book Distribution to SchoolsThis summer, 2014, we are providing over 1400 copies of Constituting America National Youth Director, Juliette Turner’s book, Our Constitution Rocks, to teachers who have pledged to use the book in their classrooms.  Schools are located primarily in Texas in such areas as: Mission, Laredo, Humble, Presidio, Amarillo, Live Oak, El Paso & Liberty. We are also shipping to a Philadelphia school & Virginia Beach school!
  • We the People 9.17 DocumentariesProduced and directed three documentaries available for viewing or download on the Constituting America website and mailed in hardcopy to schools across the country.
    • 20,000 copies provided to schools
    • Over 90,000 plays on Vimeo & Youtube
    • Premiered in movie theaters in Dallas, Texas & Stamford, Connecticut
    • In the Teachers’ words:
      •  “Please send (9) additional copies of “The Constitution-Reality Show Style” to: Everman Independent School District,” Thank you, Marci Jones. “Could I please have a copy of the 40 minute “We the People 9.17 Documentary: The Constitution, Reality Style.” I would like to show it to my second grade students,” Thank You, Kathy Williams.
      •  “I would like a copy of the DVD, “We the People 9.17 Documentary: The Constitution, Reality show Style”. I am the Principal of a School of Choice in Marble Falls, Texas. Thank you for helping us with a Constitution program and the opportunity for some of our students to check into this years contest,” Peggy Little, Principal, FCHS.

National Youth Director Juliette Turner’s Youth Outreach

  • Juliette’s best-selling book, Our Constitution Rocks, hit the shelves in August 2012 and is already in its second printing with over 20,000 copies sold!
  • Thanks to the generosity of Mr. Bill Davis and Congressman Michael McCaul, one copy distributed to every member of Congress prior to Constitution Day 9-17-13. Mr. Davis has also made over 1,000 copies of the book available to students and teachers involved in the Bill of Rights Institute programs and training.
  • Over 800 copies of “Our Constitution Rocks,” have been given away to students as finalist prizes in our “We The Future” contest!
  • Juliette is the youngest author ever to address Mt. Vernon, at the George Washington Symposium & Juliette was one of four featured authors at the 2013 Dallas Celebration of Reading (along with Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, Mark Shriver & ABC’s Byron Pitts.
  • Juliette’s Constituting America videos have over 50,000 views on YouTube & Vimeo

We Attend Educator Conferences Across the Country to Distribute Our Resources Directly to Teachers

  • Since 2011 Constituting America has attended 24 different educator conferences & grassroots conventions in 12 different states, adding 6,274 educators to our mailing list from these conventions.

DOWNLOAD THE IMPACT STATEMENT HERE

For Adults

Archives & Blog – Annual 90 Day Studies

  • 2013 – The Classics That Inspired the Constitution & The Challenges It Faces Today
  • 2012 – Analyzing The Amendments
  • 2011 – The Constitution
  • 2010 – Relevancy of the Federalist Papers
    • 523 Essays from 85 Constitutional Scholars
    • 2,022 comments from Citizens across the Nation
    • 1,664 plays of 2013 90 Day Study Essays on MP3 (Soundcloud)
    • 8,138 plays of 2012 90 Day Study Videos on Vimeo
    • In the Study Participants’ words:
      • “I was so excited to hear about this educational 90 day project. I’ve been with you since the first one with the Federalist Papers and I have learned SO much! Thank you, Thank you, for this wonderful project and opportunity to learn even more about what the history of our Great Nation. I tell everyone I know about this site. Blessing to you both, Janine and Cathie for this, and I can’t wait to come here every day to learn more,” Barb.
      • “Janine & Cathy, thanks for continuing this important educational program. I’m looking forward to deepening my understanding our history and, hopefully, being able to pass on what I learn to others,” Ron.
      • “At the end of another chapter in your valuable work, those of us who have followed Constituting America from the beginning hope that you will continue to provide instructional material for those of us who were not properly instructed in school. Personally, I hope that you can develop [sic] a method of improving the classroom material available to teacher[s] in our school system. May God Bless you,” Jim.

 

  • Our We The People 9.17 Contest is open to adults! Last year, Constituting America launched a new category for adults 65+ to participate in our “We The Future” contest.
    • This year’s best short film winner in the adult category interviewed 55 friends about the U.S. Constitution and started a dialogue that is still ongoing
    • Our fist senior winner is an active 82 year-old from Colorado!
    • American House Senior Living Communities sponsored the Senior Essay portion of our contest, and invited all their residents and the American Association of Mature Citizens (AMAC) promoted our contest to thousands of their members

For All Ages

Patriot Clubs

20 Active Patriot Clubs Across the Nation

  • “I would think that our family always knew about the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, but in studying it in depth has made a huge difference for all of us and our appreciation for the sacrifices and increased our love of this country even more. My biggest takeaway would be the inspiration to carry it to the next level which included homeschooling Halley for two years and steeped in a US history curriculum. It’s been a fun ride. Thank you CA,” Linda Moak, Colorado, Patriot Club Leader.

Consult Our Scholars

  • 85 Constitutional Scholars published on our website available for interviews, questions and speeches

Constituting America Utilizes Social Media to communicate with teachers, parents, citizens and students: 1,752 Twitter followers; 63,714 Facebook fans

DOWNLOAD THE IMPACT STATEMENT HERE

THE IMPACT CONTINUES

  • “College age is the age where a lot of people are voting for the first time… A lot of young people really don’t understand why they are voting or what they are voting for. They just know the Presidential election and there is a lot more to it. I think you have to understand the basic Constitution first before you can just go ahead and just start voting for people, because I think we just vote in our age group and not necessarily know exactly what it is that we are voting for, voting about,”
    ~Kenthia Farmer, Tennessee, Best College Short Film Winner.
  • “I’ve had so much support from Cathy and Janine at Constituting America. They really are invested in the kids that go through this program,”
    ~ Kori Caswell, Missouri, Best College Song Winner, 2012.
  • “The scholarship I received from Constituting America is allowing me to study abroad this coming spring.  Travelling abroad will be an opportunity to see the United States from a global perspective– a perspective which I believe is vital to a full understanding of our Constitution,”
    ~ Hannah Leffingwell, Colorado, Best High School Essay Winner.
  • “Since winning the contest, I have gone on to do a number of other things with CA. One of the biggest things was recording three podcasts for their 90 essays in 90 days.  I got to talk to a Cicero scholar over the phone, and that was really interesting because half the time he was speaking in Italian, and I had to ask him a lot of different questions about Italian words and how to say them. So the whole experience was learning experience and a fun one as well.  Then I’ve also gone on to do Janine Turner’s radio show a couple of times and that’s always a lot of fun,”
    ~ Colton Hinderliter, Georgia, Best High School Short Film & PSA Winner
  • “Well, when I came back from Philadelphia, I made a scrapbook.  I took my scrapbook to school and I encouraged all my friends to enter the CA contest,”
    ~ Myra Vicchrilli, Colorado, Best Poem Winner K-2.
  • “Participating in this contest has helped me learn more about the Constitution. Because I wanted to learn and study about the Constitution so my poem would be accurate for the contest.  And I needed to study for some questions that CA sent us that they would ask us in Philadelphia.  After visiting Philadelphia, I was encouraged to enter again because of how much fun it was and how important it was.  So then I studied and learned even more,”
    ~Bethany Cooksey, Oregon, Best Poem Winner
  • “The entire CA experience, I think, helped me become a more informed citizen.  We hear a lot  about our liberties and our freedoms, especially in the context of what’s going on right now.  You know the electronic surveillance.  Because of my experience with CA, it’s helped me become a more civically aware individual and know my rights, know the extent of the government’s power,”
    ~Joseph Valencia, Colorado, Best Middle School Song Winner
  • “Her (Sadie’s) experience with ya’ll is still one of the highlights of her life. She’s 13 now and is an amazing young woman. She has grown and matured and so has her love of the Constitution and what it means. She recently attended her first caucus here in Utah and loved it. Her involvement with your amazing organization sparked what I believe will be a lifetime love of the Constitution. She wants to be a lawyer so she can protect it,”
    ~Toni Albritton, mother of Sadie Albritton, Best Emblem Winner

 

DOWNLOAD THE IMPACT STATEMENT HERE

Interactive Constitution: Live!

Interactive Constitution: Live

Where Your Student Body Interacts with a Bi-Partisan Political Panel

Contact Constituting America at constitutingamerica@yahoo.com
or (888) 937-0917 to book your school now!

Dear Educator,

Kids are Bored with Speakers

I am pleased to announce the premiere of my foundation, Constituting America’s, special and one of a kind new lecture series, “The Interactive Constitution: Live.” This series will be a two-part session that will occur in the fall and the spring of your school year. It will involve your high school student body in an interactive way. Kids are bored with routine speakers speaking “at” them. Thus, we have created a speakers series that has the speakers speaking “with” them. Your students will be involved in an exciting and inspiring interactive discussion. This series will bring to life the U. S. Constitution in a Bi- PARTISAN way. It will include speakers from a specially hand picked list, (available upon confirmation), that represents the Legislative, Executive and Judicial branches from BOTH parties. In order to explain the relevancy and importance of the U.S. Constitution we are providing speakers that encompass all aspects of the Constitution from the federal, state and local arenas – just as our founding fathers intended it. Many kids are familiar with the President only and are unaware of the necessities of the “people’s branch,’ – the Legislative Branch and the Judicial Branch – not to mention the crucial role States play and their own local communities.

Fall and Spring Sessions

To incorporate all levels of government, our exciting Interactive Constitution: Live series will represent the Federal Government in the fall session and the State and Local governments in the spring session. In the fall session we will have speakers from the United States Legislative, Executive and Judicial branches. In the spring we will have speakers from the States, Local and Community governments. The speakers will sit at a panel and be presented with Constitutionally relevant questions, (that are attached), regarding each branch. My 16 year-old daughter, Juliette Turner (author of the best selling book, Our Constitution Rocks), and I will moderate. A natural “debate” will occur between the “branches,” encouraging your student body to “interact” with questions per topic, or per inspiration!

We Value Bi-Partisan Politics

We VALUE bi-partisan politics as we BELIEVE that the U.S. Constitution is non-partisan. Both parties will be represented simultaneously, thus a natural exchange of views will occur which will inherently sharpen the reasoning skills of your student body. We encourage you to spend a class or two before our visit with the prepared questions to stimulate a lively interaction and debate between the panelists and your student body.

We are enthusiastic about out new speaker series, The Interactive Constitution: Live. Please book your school now. Demand is high. We want your school to be included!

Sincerely,

JanineBlue

Janine Turner

Actress, Northern Exposure Founder & Co-Chair

 

————–Panel Questions————

 

 Legislative Branch Questions

  1. Do you believe it is the right of the branches of government to expand and alter the Constitution or the people’s rights through the Amendment Process?
    1. Where do you believe the people’s representatives, in all branches, have crossed the line?
  2. How important is the Senate approval of Supreme Court Justices?
    1. Do Senators make impartial decisions or party decisions?
  3. George Washington said in his Farewell Address that the party system would be the demise of the country because people would care more about their party than America and Americans. Do you believe this is happening today?
    1. How are political parties beneficial?
    2. How are political parties detrimental?
    3. Chairman Michael McCaul’s Border Security Bill was only 23 pages, including amendments. Are you willing to try to curb the length of bills and make them more transparent for the people?
  4. James Madison said that in Federalist 62 that it is of no avail to elect men of our own choice if the laws are so voluminous that they cannot be read or so incoherent that they cannot be understood. Do you believe this is happening today?
    1. How are the mammoth comprehensive bills beneficial?
    2. How are the mammoth comprehensive bills detrimental?
  5. Do you believe the Legislative Branch is legislating themselves right out of the people’s heart and understanding?
    1. What can the Legislative Branch do to compete with the Executive Branch’s simplified messages?
  6. Do you believe the Executive Branch has usurped the Legislative Branch?
  7. Do you believe the Judicial Branch has usurped the Legislative and Executive branches?
  8. What has been the best Judicial decision in curbing the Legislative Branch?
    1. What has been the best Judicial decision in curbing the Executive Branch?

Executive Branch Questions

  1. The military seems to be most in keeping with George Washington’s warning about the party system

– that it would be the ruin of America. The military is non-partisan. It answers to all presidents of all parties. Please explain the importance of both of these points in regard to defending the country.

  1. How could this non-partisan way of working benefit America and Americans?
  2. Discuss the history of the Defense Department and how it fits under the Executive Branch umbrella.
  3. Discuss how the Founding Fathers wanted a check on the President in the Executive branch and how they separated the powers. One example is the House holding the purse strings.
    1. Discuss how the President in the Executive Branch often circumvents this “check.”
  4. Discuss the “War Powers Act” that the Legislative Branch passed, giving the President unilateral powers regarding war and declaring war for a limited time.
    1. Do you think this Act is beneficial or detrimental?
  5. Discuss the chain of command within the Defense Department.
  6. How has war changed over the years?
  7. What is America’s greatest threat?
  8. Please discuss how all Armed Forces swear allegiance to protect the U.S. Constitution.
    1. Why is this important?

Judicial Branch Questions

  1. What is the most important Supreme Court Decision in preventing tyranny in American history?
  2. What is the most important Supreme Court Decision affecting the American people positively?
    1. What is the most important Supreme Court Decision affecting the American people detrimentally?
    2. What are your views regarding many judges “legislating from the bench?”
  1. Do you believe the Supreme Court or Federal Courts usurp the people’s branch – the Legislative Branch?
    1. Do you believe that the Supreme Court is as our Founding Fathers intended?
  2. Do you believe the impact of Marbury vs. Madison was in keeping with the Founding Fathers’ vision?
  3. What American President in American history did the most to alter the checks and balances of the U.S. Constitution?

State Legislature Questions

So many kids are focused soley on the Federal government, most especially the President. Explain why our Founding Fathers wanted a multi-tiered government.

  1. Explain some of the responsibilities of the State Legislature
  2. What are the responsibilities of the Governor?
  3. Do you believe the Federal government is usurping States’ Rights?
    1. Give some examples
    2. In what way do the states need the Federal government?
    3. Do any of these ways breach the Constitutional limitations
    4. How can the States regain independence?
  4. How do you explain to the voting populace why State elections matter?
  5. How does one get involved in State politics?
  6. How old do you have to be?
  7. How do you feel the 17th Amendment has helped or hurt States’ rights?
  8. How did the 17th Amendment help or hurt the people’s rights and/or liberties?

 

Local Government Questions

  1. What are examples of local government?
    1. Why does local government matter?
    2. Why is it important that people vote in local elections?
    3. How can one be informed about local candidates?
    4. How is local government different now than what our Founding Father’s envisioned?
      1. How do these differences affect liberty?
      2. How do these difference protect liberty?
    5. Explain how the local government best represents the community’s needs?
      1. What is the hardest part about the job?
      2. What is the most rewarding part about the job?
    6. How does one run for office and how old do you need to be?

 

Community Civic Duty Questions

  1. Explain why it is important to be an active citizen in the community even if you do not hold a political position.
  2. Why do so many people not understand why being involved in liberty is so important?
  3. How does a citizen not get discouraged in the political process?
  4. What are some example of citizen duties, responsibilities and opportunities?
  5. How old does one have to be, to be involved?
  6. How do you feel that the Federal government helps or hurts the needs of the local community?
  7. How do you feel the State government helps or hurts the needs of the local community?
  8. Do you believe the Founding Fathers’ vision is being honored?
    1. How has it changed?
    2. What changes are better?
    3. What changes are worse?

The Turner Maurice Gauntt, Jr. Exemplary Citizen Award

SEEKING YOUR MOST OUTSTANDING STUDENT FOR A CASH SCHOLARSHIP OPPORTUNITY

Dear Educator,

I am writing to seek your school’s nomination of your most outstanding graduating senior for a new scholarship opportunity.

Nominations are due June 14, 2017:

The Turner Maurice Gauntt, Jr. Exemplary Citizen Award

This $4,540 scholarship will be awarded annually by an esteemed panel of judges through Constituting America, the non-profit organization I founded in 2010 and co-chair with Cathy Gillespie.

This scholarship is named for my father, Mr. Turner Maurice Gauntt, Jr. who was the inspiration in my founding Constituting America. My father was born on December 18, 1934 and departed this life on January 24, 2014.

My father taught me from an early age that we are blessed to live as citizens of the United States of America. He was a West Point graduate, and flew with the Strategic Air Command. He was one of the first to fly the revolutionary B-58 Hustler at Mach 2. My father was the most brave, honest, and resilient man I have ever known. He inspired me to love our country, and be willing to make sacrifices for her. He inspired me to study history, to value lessons learned from both history and great patriots, and to be of service. My father valued our country’s founding principles and our founding fathers’ wisdom. With his exemplary service, he honored our United States Constitution.

Constituting America is looking for a graduating senior whose character mirrors these values, to receive the first ever Turner Maurice Gauntt, Jr. Exemplary Citizen Award.

TO NOMINATE: Please read below about Turner Maurice Gauntt Jr.’s life and accomplishments, and in six paragraphs explain how your nominee embodies the characteristics of loyalty, honesty, wisdom, service and sacrifice in the four cornerstone areas of the award: Stellar Academic Record Athletic Excellence Community Service Student Body Leadership

Nominations are due June 14, 2017:

Mail to:

Turner Maurice Gauntt Jr, Exemplary Citizen Award, Constituting America
P.O. Box 1988 Colleyville, Texas 76034
Or email to ConstitutingAmerica@yahoo.com

I hope you will take the time to nominate one of your students.

Sincerely,
JanineBlue
Janine Turner

Actress, Founder & Co-Chair, Constituting America

The four cornerstones of this award mirroring Mr. Gauntt’s high school successes are:

STELLAR ACADEMIC RECORD
Mr. Gauntt was a member of the National Honor Society

ATHLETIC EXCELLENCE
Mr. Gauntt was a member of the All-District football and basketball teams, captain of both teams, captain of the Athletic Association, recipient of the Babe Ruth Sportsmanship Award and considered one of the best quarterbacks in Texas.

COMMUNITY SERVICE
Among other things, Mr. Gauntt was a member of the Key Club, and as such participated in countless community service activities.

STUDENT BODY LEADERSHIP
Mr. Gauntt held many student body leadership offices, including President of the Senior Class and was voted most handsome.

TURNER MAURICE GAUNTT, JR. BIOGRAPHY
Mr. Gauntt is from Athens, Texas. After his impressive high school career, he was appointed to the United States Military Academy at West Point. Mr. Gauntt was commissioned in the Air Force and began his training at Hondo Air Base. While there, he met Janice Agree, whom he married after six weeks in 1957.  Upon completion of training, Mr. Gauntt was assigned to the Strategic Air Command, was selected to pilot the revolutionary, delta-winged B-58 Hustler and was a member of the Mach 2 Club – one of the first to fly at twice the speed of sound. Mr. Gauntt received meritorious medals, awards and commendations including the Top Dog Award for fulfilling the mission of the 43rd Bomb Wing, 1963 Award for Exemplary and Outstanding Performance, serving with honor and distinction in the 98th Bombardment Wing and the same award in 1964 for the 98th Strategic Aerospace Wing, and the Department of the Air Force Commendation Medal for Meritorious Service in 1964.

Following his military career, Mr. Gauntt joined Braniff Airlines, ultimately moving into the Captain’s seat until 1982. Continuing his love of flight, he became an instructor with Higher Power Aviation in Grand Prairie, Texas until 2012. In addition, he flew for ConocoPhillips in Alaska.

Throughout his life, Mr. Gauntt retained the belief that Americans are blessed. He demonstrated this belief through his willingness to sacrifice, something that recipients of this award exemplify. Mr. Gauntt was the first to write a check to Constituting America in 2010, our founding year. Awarded to a new recipient each year, the Turner Maurice Gauntt, Jr. Exemplary Citizen Award provides winners with a one-time scholarship payment of $4,540 for the recipient to use towards higher education.

MrGaunttWestPoint2Turner Maurice Gauntt Jr.
(1934 – 2014)

Turner Maurice Gauntt, Jr., was born in Dallas, Texas, on December 18, 1934. He departed this life on January 24, 2014, to join his father, Turner Maurice Gauntt, Sr., his mother, Marguerite McKinzie Gauntt, and sister, Lilibeth Gauntt Tidmore who predeceased him.

He spent most of his early life in Athens, Texas, and graduated from Athens High School. While there he excelled both academically and on the sports field. Among his accomplishments were National Honor Society, President of the Key Club, All District Football and Basketball Teams, Captain of both teams, Captain of the Athletic Association. Recipient of the Babe Ruth Sportsmanship Award, President of the Senior Class and Most Handsome. He was considered one of the best quarterbacks in Texas.

His excellent high school career led to an appointment to The United States Military Academy at West Point. While there he played football under the legendary, Colonel (Coach) Earl Blake, throughout his four years. As a senior, he was chosen Company Commander of I1 Company and was awarded the Trill Prize for Best Company and was applauded for his leadership.WestPoint

Upon graduation he entered the Airforce. His first training base was Hondo, Texas, and while there he met Janice Agee Gauntt while she was attending Trinity University in San Antonio. They were married on December 22, 1957.

He ultimately chose to fly with the Strategic Air Command, and was one of the first to fly the revolutionary, B-58 Hustler at Mach 2.

Deciding on a career change after eight years in the military, the couple returned to Texas. Turner joined Braniff Airlines, ultimately moving into the Captain’s seat until 1982. Translating his love of flight, he became an instructor with Higher Power Aviation in Grand Prairie Texas until 2012.

In addition, he flew for ConocoPhillips in Alaska, from whom he received an award for his Leadership, Professionalism and Exemplary Contribution in 2012. He received, also, The Wright Brothers “Master Pilot” Award from the Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration in 2006.

Also, he became a Texas Real Estate Broker and opened his first office in Euless, Texas, in 1968, along with wife, Janice. He was the first to purchase a real estate franchise, Red Carpet Realtors. Ultimately, the award winning company moved to Eagle Mountain Lake and became Century 21 Lake Country, which is now owned by son, Tim Gauntt, as well as, a second office in Colleyville.

He is survived by wife, Janice, his son and wife, Tim (Turner M. Gauntt, III) and Roslyn Early Gauntt, daughter and actress, Janine Gauntt Turner, and grandchildren Tiffany Gauntt, Turner M. Gauntt IV, Bobby Gauntt and Juliette Turner.

His family loved and adored him and wish him blue skies and tailwinds forever.

Published in Dallas Morning News on Jan. 28, 2014

Answer for Saturday, April 19

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Congratulations to Saturday’s Winner:

Timothy Frazier

“Our Constitution Rocks” Book Winner & Raffle Entry Winner!   

Saturday’s Question Was:

According to James D. Best, how many years did it take to ratify the 27th Amendment?

Saturday’s Answer Was: 

203 years. Proposed in 1789. Achieved 3/4 majority in 1992.

Answer for Monday, April 7, 2014

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Congratulations to Monday’s Winner:

Scott Smith

“Our Constitution Rocks” Book Winner & Raffle Entry Winner!   

Monday’s Question Was:

In her essay on Federalist 31, Constituting America Founder and Co-chair Janine Turner highlights several quotes from Alexander Hamilton. What is the first Hamilton quote Janine cites?

Extra credit: add your thoughts on how this quote is relevant today!

Monday’s Answer Was:

“I repeat here what I have observed in substance in another place, that all observations, founded upon the danger of usurpation, ought to be referred to the composition and structure of the government, not to the nature and extent of its powers. The state governments, by their original constitution, are invested with complete sovereignty.” Read more

Constitution Archives Quiz – Thursday, April 3, 2014

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Use the Constitution Archives Search Box at Top Right of the Homepage to Answer Today’s Question.
Click Here  for More Contest Rules & Information

In her essay on Federalist 48, Janine Turner points out a quote from Thomas Jefferson, as very relevant today. What is the quote?

Extra credit: add your thoughts on how this quote is relevant today!

Answer the question in the “reply” box below the question, after you click “Read Post.” Read more

Constitution Archives Quiz – Monday, March 31, 2014

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Use the Constitution Archives Search Box at Top Right of the Homepage to Answer Today’s Question.
Click Here  for More Contest Rules & Information

In his essay on the Preamble, Dr. David Bobb said that although many interpret “to form a more perfect union” to mean progress, it actually meant what?

Answer the question in the “reply” box below the question, after you click “Read Post.” Read more

Happy Valentine’s Day from Constituting America! What Do You Love About the United States Constitution? Tell Us Here, On Our Blog!

What do you love about the United States Constitution? Is it the Checks and Balances? Separation of Powers? The Amendment Process? Blog with us below, and let us know!

Coming February 20th! Our 90 Day Study of the Amendments to the United States Constitution! Read, Watch, Listen & Blog with Constitutional Scholars and Constituting America Founder & Co-Chair Janine Turner and Co-Chair Cathy Gillespie!

Study a different Amendment or portion of an an Amendment each night as we walk through the 27 Amendments to the United States Constitution, and the amazing Amendment Process!

Mark your calendar to join us February 20th, and for the next 90 days, right here!

 

A Rockin’ Constitution Song for Your New Year’s Eve Party Tonight!

 

September 17, 2012 marks the 225th Anniversary of the signing of the United States Constitution!

Ring in the New Year with this Rockin’ Song by Best High School Song Winner, Jacob Wood:

THESEPRECIOUSWORDSv4051711

Click Here for a free download of the song from Constituting America’s Facebook Page! Scroll down to the words: “Free MP3 Song Download for Fans of Constituting America”!

“What the Constitution Means to Me”                                                                          

Vocals by Jacob Wood
Lyrics by the Founding Fathers and Jacob Wood                                               Background Vocals by Janine Turner, Juliette Turner, additional backgrounds by Johnny Marshall
Music Produced by Amin Emam & Johnny Marshall
Music Mixed by Johnny Marshall & Amin Emam
Recorded and Mixed at Marshall Sound Design
Musicians : Jacob Wood, Johnny Marshall, Jamey Perrenot and Neil Swanson

September 17, 2012 marks the 225th Anniversary of the Signing of the United States Constitution!

September 17, 2012 marks the 225th Anniversary of the Signing of the United States Constitution!

Make it your New Year’s Resolution to study this magnificent document with Constituting America, your family and friends!  How will you celebrate this landmark year?

Below are some ideas:
Encourage your kids K-Law School to enter our We The People 9.17 Contest and win prizes & national exposure: http://www.constitutingamerica.org/downloads.php
Start a Patriot Club: http://constitutingamerica.org/patriotstart.php
Participate in our Analyzing the Amendments Study, beginning February 20, 2012 on our blog: http://constitutingamerica.org/!
Hold a Public Reading of the Constitution in your community: http://www.wereadtheconstitution.com/

Watch this space for more ideas throughout the year!

Click Here for larger image, or scroll down to view the Constituting America card, with cover by 2011 Best Artwork Winner, Emma Harrison!

Protecting Liberty Means Knowing Your Bill of Rights, by Constituting America Founder and Co-Chair Janine Turner

Click Here  to read Constituting America Founder & Co-Chair Janine Turner’s latest Washington Examiner Column: Protecting Liberty Means Knowing Your Bill of Rights!

“Living in a time when the Constitution is either ignored or mis-interpreted, we should thank the Anti-Federalist for their perseverance. The clash of the Federalist and Anti-Federalists led to guarantees of liberties that have been envied throughout the world for over two centuries.

Madison, ironically, believed, and rightly so, “Liberty is to faction, what air is to fire.” In this case, the clash of two factions produced an historic result.”

Read more at the Washington Examiner: http://washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/op-eds/2011/12/protecting-liberty-means-knowing-your-bill-rights/2018572#ixzz1hOuudq1q

Happy Thanksgiving from Constituting America!

Dear Friends,

As we approach Thanksgiving, we wanted to share with you the words of our first President, George Washington, in his 1789 Thanksgiving Proclamation! This was the first time Thanksgiving was recognized by the national government in an official proclamation.

We are thankful to you, for your support of our shared mission: to utilize the culture and multi-media outreach such as music, film, internet, and social media to reach, educate and inform America’s adults and students about the importance of the U.S. Constitution and the foundation it sets forth regarding our freedoms and rights.

We hope you enjoy reading the wise words of our first President, and Father of our Country!

Blessings to you and your family,

Janine & Cathy

http://gwpapers.virginia.edu/documents/thanksgiving/transcript.html

New York, 3 October 1789]

By the President of the United States of America. a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor–and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November 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–That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks–for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation–for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in thecourse and conclusion of the late war–for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed–for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted–for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions–to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually–to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed–to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness onto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord–To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us–and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New-York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Go: Washington

DS, CStbKML; DS, DLC:GW; copy, sold by Christie, Manson, & Woods, International, 21 Oct. 1977. The proclamation was also printed as a broadside. Copies of the broadside are at Harvard University, Yale University, and the Pierpont Morgan Library. Other copies are owned (1992) by Marshall B. Coyne, Washington, D.C., and Ralph Geoffrey Newman, Inc., Chicago. Reprinted in The Papers of George Washington, Presidential Series, v. 4, September 1789-January 1790. (Charlottesville and London: University Press of Virginia, 1993), 131-32.

For background to this document, see Circular Letter to the Governors of the States, 3 Oct. 1789, n.1.


Read more about the background of President Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation here: http://gwpapers.virginia.edu/documents/thanksgiving/intro.html

Best Middle School Song Winner Emily Keener Performs on Huckabee

MUST SEE!! Constituting America’s Best Middle School Song Winner, Emily Keener, performs on Huckabee – and Constituting America Founder and Co-Chair Janine Turner Joins in the Fun from Texas!

June 3, 2011 – Amendment XII of the United States Constitution – Guest Essayist: Joerg Knipprath, Professor of Law at Southwestern Law School

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Amendment XII

The Electors shall meet in their respective states, and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves; they shall name in their ballots the person voted for as President, and in distinct ballots the person voted for as Vice-President, and they shall make distinct lists of all persons voted for as President, and of all persons voted for as Vice-President and of the number of votes for each, which lists they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate;

The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted;

The person having the greatest Number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed; and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice. And if the House of Representatives shall not choose a President whenever the right of choice shall devolve upon them, before the fourth day of March next following, then the Vice-President shall act as President, as in the case of the death or other constitutional disability of the President.

The person having the greatest number of votes as Vice-President, shall be the Vice-President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed, and if no person have a majority, then from the two highest numbers on the list, the Senate shall choose the Vice-President; a quorum for the purpose shall consist of two-thirds of the whole number of Senators, and a majority of the whole number shall be necessary to a choice. But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States.

The election of 1800 was a critical moment in the evolution of American republicanism, even more momentous than the decision of George Washington four years earlier not to seek election to a third term, an election he surely would have had won. Washington’s decision set the stage for the informal term restriction on Presidents that lasted a century and a half. It had to be formalized in the 22nd Amendment after Franklin Roosevelt became, in the phrasing of political opponents, a “Third Termite” and more. Washington’s move, all personal reasons aside, made the point that republics are endangered by long-serving executives. Such longevity, combined with the inherent powers of the office, promotes concentration of power, with a likely cult of personality and attendant corruption.

No less a threat to republics is the failure of the dominant political coalition to yield power when it loses at the polls. That is particularly true when the republic is young and its political institutions not yet fully formed and tested. The history of the world is rife with rulers, swept into office on revolutionary waves that establish formally republican systems, entrenching themselves in ever-more authoritarian manner when popular opinion turns against them. That first election when the reins of government are to be turned over from those who led the system from its founding to those who have defeated them is crucial to establish the system’s republican bona fides. For Americans, that was the election of 1800, when the Democratic Republicans under Jefferson defeated the Federalists under Adams.

If such a change of power is to occur peacefully, optimally the verdict of the voters is clear and the process of change transparent. Anything less greatly reduces the chance for peaceful transition. Judged by those standards, the election of 1800 was a bad omen for Americans at the time. The selection of the President was thrown into the House of Representatives, where it took 36 ballots and considerable political intrigue to select the leader of the victorious group, Thomas Jefferson. In a bit of historical irony, the delay was not due to Federalist plotting, but the fact that Jefferson and Aaron Burr received the same number of electoral votes. Though the latter was the intended vice-presidential nominee, he declined to step aside, making future relations between the two rather frosty. That lengthy and murky process promoted talk of the use of force by both sides, ultra-Federalists for whom the political chaos justified disregarding the election results and rabid Jeffersonians who called on state militias to march on Congress to compel the selection of their champion and to “punish their enemies,” to borrow a phrase.

Fortunately, Adams and (perhaps more reluctantly) Jefferson, along with other cooler heads in both groups, subordinated their immediate political advantage to longer-term republican stability. Adams left town. With political manipulation from, among others, Alexander Hamilton of all people, Jefferson was elected, after all. In turn, Jefferson, prodded by the pragmatic among his advisors, limited political retaliation against his vanquished opponents.

Contributing to the murkiness and indecision of the process was the formal constitutional structure for election of the President. It was anticipated that the system in Article II of electors chosen as directed by the several state legislatures would nominate several candidates for President. After the election of George Washington, it was surmised, no nominee likely would receive a majority vote from those electors. Instead, nominations of up to five individuals (based on each elector voting for two persons) would be presented to the House of Representatives, which would choose as President the person who received the approval of a majority of state delegations in that chamber. Worse, it turned out, the runner-up would be Vice-President.

On first glance, as I explained in connection with Article II, Section 1, clause 3, the system made great ideological and historical sense. Hamilton, one of the principal architects, wrote proudly in Federalist 68 that “if the manner of it be not perfect, it is at least excellent.” The system would produce the most qualified nominees, as those would be selected by a small number of persons who were themselves chosen for their fitness to make wise selections and to avoid “cabal, intrigue, and corruption.” On a more practical level, the system contained checks and balances whereby unqualified local favorites might receive scattered votes, but a group of better-known and more qualified regional and national figures would receive enough votes to be nominated. The selection of the President from the nominees would then be made by the House, whose members’ decisions would, presumably, be reviewed for wisdom and lack of corruption by the voters at the next election.

In fact, the emergence after the Constitution’s adoption of nascent proto-parties spoiled the plan. Initially, a group of Congressmen coalesced around opposition to the ambitious Hamiltonian program of public finance and commercial development represented in the Treasury Secretary’s famous three reports to Congress in 1790 and 1791. Their enigmatic and at times reluctant figurehead was Thomas Jefferson, though most of the organizing was done by James Madison and others. This development had the classic characteristics of what has historically been called a political “faction,” a term that any righteous and self-respecting republican of the time found vile. Factions developed in support of (or, more likely, opposition to) some matter of political controversy or charismatic political figure. They tended to rise and fall with such single issues and figures.

Once a faction formed in opposition to Hamilton, the “spirit of party” (i.e. political self-interest or local parochial advantage, rather than the “common good”) was said to have been loosed in the land. Acting purely out of self-defense, as they assured the people (and themselves), Hamilton’s supporters, too, organized as a coherent group. And whatever charismatic ante the Jeffersonian faction might have from their leader in this political poker game, the Federalists could “see” with the personality and political skills of Hamilton and “raise” with the increasingly partisan stance of George Washington.

Both sides quickly organized into entities that more resembled modern political parties. Both were centered in Congress, but began to make mass appeals to the public. The Federalists were far superior in the number and reach of their newspapers (unlike today’s media, in those days newspapers were refreshingly candid about their political biases). But the Jeffersonians were more adept at public organizing, honing their skills in that arena because they were the minority in Congress during most of this time. Ultimately, it was that latter skill that proved crucial in 1800.

In practice the Congressional caucuses dominated the nomination process, and the discipline of the emerging party organizations—especially of the Jeffersonians–at the state level, effectively turned the electors into voluntary partisan non-entities.  As Justice Robert Jackson satirized them in a dissenting opinion in 1952, “They always voted at their Party’s call, And never thought of thinking for themselves at all.”

Prodded by the debacle of the election of 1800 and the emergence of a rudimentary two-party system, the Congress and the states adopted the Twelfth Amendment. Primarily, this changed only the process by which nominations for President and Vice-President were made and placed the election of the Vice-President in the Senate if there was no electoral vote majority. That has been enough, however, to avoid a repeat of the confusion of the election of 1800, at least once a stable two-party political structure emerged in the 1830s. The election of 1824, similarly chaotic, was the result of the breakdown of the existing structure into multiple competing political factions. Admittedly, there have been a few close calls, such as in 1876 and 2000. The system has worked, though critics might say it has done so in spite of itself. At the very least, it has worked in a manner unforeseen by the Framers.

Incidentally, as the Supreme Court opined in the 1952 case (Ray v. Blair) mentioned above, states can disqualify electors who refuse to pledge to vote for their party’s candidate. The Court reasoned that electors are acting for the states and can be regulated by them. Of course, “automatic” voting for the candidate to whom the elector is pledged can result in a surreal spectacle like that in 1872 when three Democratic electors cast their votes for their candidate, Horace Greeley—who had died.  Justice Jackson’s dissent emphasized the Framers’ design of the role of electors and argued that a state can no more control “the elector in performance of his federal duty…than it could a United States Senator who also is chosen by, and represents, the State.”  About half of the states have laws that purport to punish a “faithless” elector, but no such punishment has ever occurred.

An expert on constitutional law, Prof. Joerg W. Knipprath has been interviewed by print and broadcast media on a number of related topics ranging from recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions to presidential succession. He has written opinion pieces and articles on business and securities law as well as constitutional issues, and has focused his more recent research on the effect of judicial review on the evolution of constitutional law. He has also spoken on business law and contemporary constitutional issues before professional and community forums. Read more from Professor Knipprath at: http://www.tokenconservative.com/.

What Would Our Forefathers Think of America Today?

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by Janine Turner

I have a fantasy. It’s fascinating. It’s futuristic. It’s foretelling.

My fantasy is that our country’s forefathers would miraculously appear today in America. I see them walking among us, dressed in velvet coats and knee pants, hair in a pony tails, hats in hand. Thomas Jefferson in Virginia. Alexander Hamilton on Wall Street. John Adams in Boston. Benjamin Franklin in Philadelphia. And, George Washington in Washington.

I envision it theatrically, of course, with cameras. A panoramic sweep as they turn full circle in awe. What would they think? Would they be proud? Would they be shocked? I, for one, want them desperately to be pleased.

This is an idea that has fascinated me for decades. I can remember asking my father about it when I was nine: “Dad, what would our forefathers think of America if they returned today? About what would they be most disappointed?”

My father, who is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and a man of few words, thought for a moment and simply said, “taxes.”

What would our forefathers think of us today? I yearn for their wisdom. I believe, if they roamed the halls of Congress together and eavesdropped on the conversations, heard the rancor, felt the division,they would say, or at least Thomas Jefferson would say, “Ah, democracy at work.” However, upon further investigation their impressions would sour. They would accurately perceive that the tenor has changed.

During their day, they too differed and fought. They were, at times, wickedly vicious — but it was for Americans. They believed that God wove an innate promise in human beings and they envisioned the infinite possibilities of the mind and soul if freed from tyrannical government. They ardently loved America. Their purpose was for America to be born, to blossom and to be the hope of mankind. They took pride in their remarkable achievements. They believed that their victory over the British and the success in uniting their fledgling country’s passionate diversities as they constructed and ratified the Constitution, were the works of “Divine Providence.”

Brilliant and well read as they were, they would quickly surmise the threats to America. Alarmed by the bitter greed, they would stand at the pulpit of Congress and pound the gavel and say, “Awaken Patriots. Awaken your sense of unity! A Congress divided, for the sake of pride, will most certainly fall. A Congress that betrays its constituents, for the sake of party line, will most assuredly falter. A Congress that bloats bills to the point of obscene obscurity will be condemned.” They would be astounded by a Congress that does not read its own works and warn, “A Congress that cannot or will not read the bills before they vote, before they represent the American people, will, without fail, lead their country and its people to doom.”

When they realize C-SPAN is there, and they would adeptly figure this out, they would look into the camera and warn the American people. They would warn parents that by neglecting to teach their children their rights as embodied in the Constitution as well as the inherent responsibilities of citizenship, they will let America simply slip away. Thomas Jefferson would recount his own words, “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.” They would warn, “It won’t be sudden. It will be insidious. Those who devalue freedom, who underestimate human

genius, integrity and industriousness, will cunningly dominate the debate.”
Benjamin Franklin would recount his own words, “Think what you do when you run in debt; you give to another power over your liberty.” They would say, “By letting Congress bankrupt your country, you most assuredly will lose your freedom, your free will. By letting Congress take away your right to own a gun, you will let a dictator seize your country and your home, because he will encounter no resistance.” They would quote Samuel Adams’ wisdom, “Be forewarned, the pooling of property and the redistributing of wealth are despotic and unconstitutional.”

They would close with biting truths saying, “Without moral values, which should begin in Congress, America will lose her roots, her basis, her thesis.” They would echo Paul Revere and cry out, “Stand up, Americans. The challenge is coming! The challenge is coming! Let freedom continue to ring!” They would exit Congress and they would not be downtrodden. A smile would emanate from their faces, for they know the heart of Americans.

Janine Turner is an actress and writer.