legal

Appeals court rules Pennsylvania county can keep cross on its seal

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday a Pennsylvania county’s 70-year-old seal and flag is allowed to remain after being targeted by the Freedom From Religion Foundation. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia ruled 3-0 Thursday that after the Supreme Court upheld the Bladensburg “Peace Cross” war memorial in June as a historic monument, the Lehigh County can maintain its seal as a symbol that “has become part of the community.” The seal and flag feature grain silos, the Liberty Bell, a heart, among other items. But it was the cross at the center of the seal that the Wisconsin-based group had a problem with. FFRF sued the county in 2016 to get the cross removed. A federal judge ruled in FFRF’s favor in 2017 based on the Lemon test from the Supreme Court case, Lemon v. Kurtzman, requiring courts to decide whether the government is trying to “endorse” religion with a mention of God or religion, something the court has moved away from since the June decision by the Supreme Court. “It is common sense that religion played a role in the lives of our nation’s early settlers,” said Diana Verm, senior counsel at Becket, a religious liberty law firm. “It is only right that Lehigh County can continue honoring its history and culture.” The group that complained about the seal was disappointed in the court’s decision. “The appeals court decision validates a Lehigh County seal that sends a wrong, exclusionary message,” Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF co-president, said in a statement. “The county should be welcoming of all residents regardless of religion — and it’s appalling that the court didn’t prod county officials to move in that direction.” First Liberty Institute, which successfully defended the Bladensburg Peace Cross at the Supreme Court, filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case and said the mere presence of a cross “does not establish a religion.” “The Supreme Court made it clear in its recent decision in The American Legion v. American Humanist Association that the days of offended observers forcing governments to scrub all public references to the divine are over,” Stephanie Taub, First Liberty Institute general counsel, said in a statement. “We’re thrilled to see our victory in that case already making an impact.”

Great news!  This is a HUGE victory for religious rights!  We’re thrilled to see the anti-religious bullies getting smacked down in federal court.  Outstanding!!    🙂

Supreme Court: Right to bear arms protected by highest category of liberty recognized by law

Last weekend’s mass murders in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, have produced a flood of words about everything from gun control to mental illness to white nationalism. Most of those words have addressed the right to keep and bear arms as if it were a gift from the government. It isn’t. The U.S. Supreme Court has twice ruled in the past 11 years that the right to keep and bear arms is an individual pre-political liberty. That is the highest category of liberty recognized in the law. It is akin to the freedoms of thought, speech and personality. That means that the court has recognized that the framers did not bestow this right upon us. Rather, they recognized its pre-existence as an extension of our natural human right to self-defense and they forbade government — state and federal — from infringing upon it. It would be exquisitely unfair, profoundly unconstitutional and historically un-American for the rights of law-abiding folks — “surrender that rifle you own legally and use safely because some other folks have used that same type of weapon criminally” — to be impaired in the name of public safety. It would also be irrational. A person willing to kill innocents and be killed by the police while doing so surely would have no qualms about violating a state or federal law that prohibited the general ownership of the weapon he was about to use. With all of this as background, and the country anguishing over the mass deaths of innocents, the feds and the states face a choice between a knee-jerk but popular restriction of some form of gun ownership, and the rational and sound realization that more guns in the hands of those properly trained means less crime and more safety. Can the government constitutionally outlaw the types of rifles used by the El Paso and Dayton killers? In a word: No. We know that because in the first Supreme Court opinion upholding the individual right to keep and bear arms, the court addressed what kind of arms the Second Amendment protects. The court ruled that the Second Amendment protects individual ownership of weapons one can carry that are of the same degree of sophistication as the bad guys have — or the government has. The government? Yes, the government. That’s so because the Second Amendment was not written to protect the right to shoot deer. It was written to protect the right to shoot at tyrants and their agents when they have stolen liberty or property from the people. If you don’t believe me on this, then read the Declaration of Independence. It justifies violence against the British government because of such thefts. Governments are the greatest mass killers on the planet. Who can take without alarm any of their threats to emasculate our right to defend our personal liberties?

Agreed..   Thanks to Andrew Napolitano for reminding us how much our precious Second Amendment is protected.  Andrew is a former judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey.  He is the author of nine books on the U.S. Constitution.

Alan Dershowitz: Mueller wrongly introduces dangerous concept of ‘exoneration’ in review of Trump actions

The word of the day, following the confusing and confused testimony of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller before two House committees Wednesday, is “exonerate” – or more precisely, “not exonerate.” Exoneration is not the job of our legal system. Mueller’s attempt to introduce it is an extraordinary and dangerous innovation that would endanger the presumption of innocence we all have under the law. During and following Mueller’s testimony, much of the media went into overdrive highlighting one sentence in the former special counsel’s 448-page report on Russian interference in our 2016 presidential election, as if it were breaking news. The sentence, which Mueller reiterated in his testimony, said: “Accordingly while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.” But this sentence from the Mueller report, which was completed in March, was not news at all. Mueller simply repeated that formulation Wednesday and some Democrats treated it as a breakthrough invitation to begin impeachment proceedings. There is a grave and frightening danger in introducing the concept of exoneration into our legal system. It suggests that a person may still be presumed guilty even if the decision was made not to prosecute him or her, or even if a jury rendered a verdict of not guilty. Surely, this is the impression that the Mueller report and Mueller himself intended to convey by the sentence, which is the last one in his report. Surely, this is the impression that the Democrats are trying to convey to voters. But the truth is that even a full trial doesn’t exonerate or not exonerate anyone, since the rules of evidence limit the testimony and other evidence that can be heard by a jury. Exoneration is for God, historians and other non-legal institutions that have access to the totality of information. It should never become part of our legal system and it should never be used as a partisan political weapon by politicians. Mueller should never have spoken of exoneration in his report or in his testimony. Under Mueller’s concept of exoneration, a criminal investigation would become a three-part multiple-choice test with “guilty,” “not guilty” and “exonerated” as the three choices. In the context of a prosecutorial decision, the choices would be “prosecute,” “don’t prosecute,” “exonerate” and “not exonerate.” But these choices are not part of the American legal system. Our system operates on a binary approach, not a multiple-choice one. When a prosecutor decides not to prosecute, or when a jury renders a verdict of not guilty, that has to be the last word when it comes to the criminal law. By introducing the concept of “not exonerated” the special counsel exceeded his own powers and even those of the Justice Department. There is absolutely nothing in the Justice Department rule book or in the regulations governing the role of a special counsel that gives him or her the power to exonerate or not exonerate. And for good reason Prosecutors and special counsels only hear evidence on one side of the case. Their job is to determine whether there is probable cause to send the case to a judge or a jury for a full trial, with cross-examination, defense witnesses and zealous defense lawyers. Mueller should have been questioned hard about the use of the term “exonerate.” He was asked a few questions, which he studiously avoided answering. There should be a separate set of hearings, both in the House and Senate, to deal, as a matter of principle, with the idea of introducing the dangerous concept of exoneration into our legal lexicon. Scholars and others should be invited to testify about the implications of prosecutors or special counsels using that term in their reports or public statements. To illustrate the dangers of public officials using this term, think back to what disgraced former FBI Director James Comey said with regard to Hillary Clinton’s handling of emails when he held a news conference in the closing days of the 2016 presidential election campaign. Though Comey didn’t use the term “not exonerated” – instead he expressed his opinion that although Clinton would not be prosecuted, she displayed extreme carelessness – he basically told the world that she had not been exonerated. Democrats, including me, railed against Comey for going beyond the traditional statement that a decision had been made not to prosecute Hillary Clinton. But today, some of these same Democrats are exulting about Mueller’s statements that President Trump was not exonerated. This double-standard fails the “shoe on the other foot test,” which demands that the same standards be applied regardless of party affiliation. So let’s redact the words “exonerate” and “exonerated” from the Mueller report, from the vocabulary of prosecutors and from our legal system. These words set an absurd standard that wrongly casts a shadow of suspicion over people who are not charged with crimes or found not guilty after a trial.

Agreed!  And well said, professor!  For our new readers, Dr. Alan M. Dershowitz is Felix Frankfurter professor of law, emeritus, at Harvard Law School. His latest book is “The Case Against Impeaching Trump.” Follow him on Twitter: @AlanDersh Facebook: @AlanMDershowitz.  Dr, Dershowitz is also a loyal Democrat, and was a big Hillary supporter.  So, that gives him even more credibility in this discussion.  Thanks Sir!    🙂

Alan Dershowitz: Congress is not above the law when it comes to impeachment – Don’t weaponize the Constitution

The mantra invoked by those Democrats who are seeking to impeach President Trump is that “no one is above the law.” That, of course, is true, but it is as applicable to Congress as it is to the president. Those members of Congress who are seeking to impeach the president, even though he has not committed any of the specified impeachable offenses set out in the Constitution, are themselves seeking to go above the law. All branches of government are bound by the law. Members of Congress, presidents, justices and judges must all operate within the law. All take an oath to support the Constitution, not to rewrite it for partisan advantage. It is the law that exempts presidents from being prosecuted or impeached for carrying out their constitutional authority under Article 2. The same Constitution precludes members of Congress from being prosecuted for most actions taken while on the floor of the House and Senate or on the way to performing their functions. The same Constitution, as interpreted by the courts, bestows immunity on judges for actions that would be criminal or tortious if engaged in by non-judicial individuals. None of this means that these government officials are above the law. It means that their immunized actions are within the law. The Constitution, which is the governing law, precludes Congress from impeaching a president for mere “dereliction” of duty or even alleged “corruption.” Under the text of the Constitution, a president’s actions to be impeachable must consist of treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors. The framers of the Constitution considered broadening the criteria for impeachment to include maladministration in office. But this proposal was soundly rejected, on the ground that it would give Congress too much power to control the president. Yet Democrats who are now seeking to impeach the president, despite the absence of impeachable offenses, are trying to do precisely what the framers of the Constitution forbade them from doing: exercising control over a president that is not authorized in the Constitution itself. Consider, for example, Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., who has said the following: “Impeachment is about whatever the Congress says it is. There is no law that dictates impeachment.” It is she, and other like-minded members of Congress, who are claiming the right to be above the law. That is a dangerous claim whether made by a president or by a member of Congress. The framers of the Constitution did not want a weak president subject to the political control of Congress. Members of the Constitutional Convention explicitly expressed that view in rejecting criteria for impeachment short of criminal conduct. In the absence of the specified criminal conduct, the remedy for a non-impeachable president lies with the voters, not Congress. There are other constitutionally authorized remedies as well. These include reasonable congressional hearings conducted under the oversight powers of Congress. These hearings, too, must not be conducted for partisan purposes, but rather for legitimate legislative purposes, such as enacting new laws that evidence of the hearings show are necessary. The current hearings do not meet these standards. They are obviously calculated to obtain partisan advantage in the run-up to the 2020 election. Another option would be for Congress to appoint a nonpartisan expert commission, such as the one appointed following the 9/11 attacks. This commission could look deeply and objectively at all the issues growing out of the 2016 election, particularly Russian efforts to interfere in the American political process. The commission’s goal would not be criminal prosecutions, but rather preventive measures to assure no repetition in the 2020 and subsequent elections. Unfortunately, we live in a time of extreme partisanship, and no one seems interested in nonpartisan truth or in measures that help all Americans rather than only one party. The time has come to stop weaponizing the Constitution and our legal system for partisan advantage. Impeachment would be a lawless response to undertake, as is the use of partisan committees to obtain an electoral advantage. No one is above the law, but no one is beneath the legal protection of the law as well. Both parties should operate within the law for the benefit of the American people.

Agreed!!  And well said, Sir.  Dr. Alan M. Dershowitz, the author of that outstanding legal op/ed, is Felix Frankfurter professor of law, emeritus, at Harvard Law School. What you may find surprising is that Dr. Dershowitz is a proud liberal who makes a point to let folks know he proudly voted for Hillary.  He is one of the few intellectually honest liberals out there, who was recently DISinvited from appearing on CNN.  So, we’re happy to post his article here.  His latest book is “The Case Against Impeaching Trump.” Follow him on Twitter: @AlanDersh Facebook: @AlanMDershowitz.  Please consider this your Read of the Day.  If you read only one thing today here at The Daily Buzz, then READ THIS!!…and then forward it to all of your friends and family members, especially those who are Democrats or who watch MSNBC or CNN…and watch their heads explode.    🙂

Federal Appeals court rules House of Representatives can bar secular prayer from atheist

A D.C. federal appeals court ruled Friday that the House of Representatives does not have to allow a self-described atheist to deliver secular prayers. The Good Friday ruling concerned efforts by Dan Barker, co-president of the Freedom from Religion Foundation, to pray in the House chamber as a guest chaplain — only to be turned down by Father Patrick Conroy, the House chaplain. The court, however, sided with Conroy in determining the House was in its right to require prayers be religious in nature. “We could not order Conroy to allow Barker to deliver a secular invocation because the House permissibly limits the opening prayer to religious prayer. Barker has therefore failed to state a claim for which relief can be granted,” the opinion stated. Article I, Section 5 of the Constitution declares that both the House and Senate “may determine the rules of its proceedings.” Barker had alleged that Conroy rejected him “because he is an atheist.” But the court determined that while that may be true, the House requirement that prayers be religious holds weight. “In other words, even if, as Barker alleges, he was actually excluded simply for being an atheist, he is entitled to none of the relief he seeks,” the opinion said. The tradition of House and Senate prayers goes back to 1789. The House and Senate both begin their legislative days with a religious invocation, frequently delivered by Conroy and his Senate counterpart Barry Black.

Score one for the Constitution..and freedom OF religion; not freedom FROM religion.  Our founders would have been proud of this court ruling.  Glad that sh_t disturbing, self-righteous, rabble-rousing, Christian-hating Dan Barker was smacked down.  Excellent!    🙂

Trump picks Gorsuch, Kavanaugh take opposite sides on 2 of 3 Supreme Court rulings Tuesday

President Trump’s two appointees to the U.S. Supreme Court — Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh — were expected to help bring about a “conservative revolution” on the nation’s highest court. But in two out of three rulings by the court Tuesday, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh found themselves on opposing sides. The two cases in which the justices did not agree involved an Indian tribe and Washington state taxes, and another involving maritime law. Gorsuch, who was nominated by Trump in 2017 to fill the seat Senate Republicans held open for more than a year after Justice Antonin Scalia’s death in 2016, sided with the liberal justices in ruling that the Yakama Nation doesn’t have to pay a Washington state fuel tax. He cited an 1855 treaty that made a “handful of modest promises” to the tribe, including the right to move goods to market freely. Yakama Nation Chairman JoDe Goudy praised the ruling. In a statement cited by NW News Network, he wrote: “Today marks a decision that reinforces the Yakama way of life, both in historical context as well as modern interpretation.” Gorsuch’s opinion was joined only by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the leader of the court’s liberal wing. The other three liberal justices voted for the same outcome, but for different reasons. Kavanaugh dissented from the Gorsuch and the liberals. He argued that the 1855 treaty merely gave tribal members equal rights to travel. The other case that saw Kavanaugh and Gorsuch at odds addressed a lawsuit brought by two Navy veterans who had been exposed to asbestos. Writing the court’s opinion, Kavanaugh said that the makers of pumps, turbines and blowers that required asbestos insulation to operate properly should have warned about the health dangers of asbestos exposure. This is so, Kavanaugh wrote, even though the companies did not manufacture or sell the asbestos to the Navy. The liberal justices and Chief Justice John Roberts also were in the majority. Gorsuch, whose dissent was joined by Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas, wrote that the manufacturers “are at risk of being held responsible retrospectively for failing to warn about other people’s products.” Tuesday’s third case demonstrated the more common alliance of the conservative justices. The court’s decision, which saw Gorsuch and Kavanaugh in lockstep with the other conservatives, gave the federal government broader power to detain immigrants who are awaiting deportation anytime after they have been released from prison on criminal charges. The four liberal justices dissented.

Bottom line..  These two Trump appointees to the Supreme Court are NOT “rubber stamps” for the Trump agenda…whatever that may be.  Keep that in mind, the next time you hear some Democrat politician or liberal media person say something like that.

Supreme Court upholds ICE detention without bail for serious criminals

Illegal immigrants with serious criminal records can be held without bail while awaiting deportation even if ICE didn’t immediately pick them up when they were released from prison or jail, the Supreme Court ruled Tuesday. The 5-4 decision marked another rejection for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the liberal panel that covers the country’s West Coast, and that has tested a number of legal theories on immigration law. In this case, the 9th Circuit had ruled that under the law, if U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement immediately arrested someone released from a federal, state or local prison, they could be held without bond in the immigration detention system. But if ICE didn’t immediately arrest them, the migrants must be given a chance to make bond. The case turned on a phrase in the law that says the no-bail determination applies to someone picked up by ICE “when the alien is released” from prison or jail. The lower court ruled “when” must mean the day of release. But Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., writing the majority opinion, said that could create a new loophole for sanctuary cities, which often refuse to alert ICE officers when releasing people from their local prisons and jails. “Under these circumstances, it is hard to believe that Congress made the secretary’s mandatory-detention authority vanish at the stroke of midnight after an alien’s release,” he wrote. He said it made more sense that “when” means at some point after the release, not at the exact moment of it. While many illegal immigrants are released while they await their immigration court proceedings and possible deportation, Congress has deemed some serious criminals to be such safety risks that they must be held by ICE while their cases proceed. Those are the ones affected by Tuesday’s ruling.

Excellent!!    🙂