Constitution

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Unconstitutional: The War on Our Civil Liberties is a 2004 documentary produced by Robert Greenwald and sponsored by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) after the wake of 9/11 and the ensuing passage of the so-called Patriot Act in October 2011. Ned Martel of the New York Times wrote the following:

In “Unconstitutional,” for example, a Syrian asylum-seeker named Safouh Hamoui, who started a market and raised his family in Seattle, is awakened by gun-toting law officers. Immigration officials detain his wife and several adult children and then keep him captive for nearly a year. The narrator skims over the fact that Mr. Hamoui had been awaiting deportation because of his lawyer’s carelessness (not that such an offense should be punishable in this way).

Imagine the signals the Hamoui file must have sent to security officials: this man could fly planes and had flouted some unspecified immigration procedures. But his demeanor and the embraces of his children upon his return suggest injustice inflicted by pursuers of justice, and that’s really all we have to go on. There are more than 1,000 other detentions, the film asserts, with less happy endings and even murkier facts presented. Still, the on-camera complaints of civil liberties advocates are echoed by some staunch Republican lawmakers, and the Patriot Act’s authors thus appear unapologetic in deporting some good guys along with the bad.1

In 2011, President Barak Obama signed a four-year extension to key components of the Patriot Act though Federal courts have ruled that a number of provisions are unconstitutional.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3105519703637733227

Sources:

  1. “Attempts to Sort Out and Make Sense of History”. New York Times. 1-Oct-04.

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A story in Salt Lake’s Deseret News recently reported that the Utah Legislature has been discussing the following question: Do Americans live in a republic or a democracy?1 Despite my own mishap regarding this question2, James Madison described the advantages of a republic versus a democracy when he wrote:

From this view of the subject it may be concluded that a pure democracy, by which I mean a society consisting of a small number of citizens, who assemble and administer the government in person, can admit of no cure for the mischiefs of faction. A common passion or interest will, in almost every case, be felt by a majority of the whole; a communication and concert result from the form of government itself; and there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party or an obnoxious individual. Hence it is that such democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths. Theoretic politicians, who have patronized this species of government, have erroneously supposed that by reducing mankind to a perfect equality in their political rights, they would, at the same time, be perfectly equalized and assimilated in their possessions, their opinions, and their passions.

A republic, by which I mean a government in which the scheme of representation takes place, opens a different prospect, and promises the cure for which we are seeking. Let us examine the points in which it varies from pure democracy, and we shall comprehend both the nature of the cure and the efficacy which it must derive from the Union.

The two great points of difference between a democracy and a republic are: first, the delegation of the government, in the latter, to a small number of citizens elected by the rest; secondly, the greater number of citizens, and greater sphere of country, over which the latter may be extended.

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  1. Fidel, Steve. “Is the United States a Republic or a Democracy?”. 27 Feb 2011.
  2. See American Form of Government.

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KSL’s recent coverage of the ouster of Senator Bob Bennett from the United States senate apparently as a result of the Tea Party’s activism appears superficial and is noteworthy for a number of reasons. For example, on Friday night editorial director Duane Cardall read the following statement:

Bob Bennett in Tea Party exchange Senator Bob Bennett has served the people of Utah well for nearly 18-years.

It’s unfortunate the general populace didn’t have opportunity to decide whether or not he should be retired at the end of his third term. Instead, his fate rested in the hands of a few thousand delegates at last weekend’s state GOP convention who seemed determined to defeat him, whatever the cost.

Senator Bennett certainly has solid conservative credentials, but also an understanding of the art of political compromise and the ability to work closely with those of all persuasions. It is a gift sorely lacking in today’s divisively toxic political climate. And, sadly it is an attribute that likely contributed to his defeat as anti-Washington fervor spreads across the nation.

KSL doesn’t endorse candidates, and our criticism of what happened last Saturday should not be construed necessarily as support for Senator Bennett’s re-election. Our concern is the way he was so unceremoniously, even boisterously defeated by a system that rewards extremist rhetoric more than rational dialogue. That this dedicated and capable public servant would be roundly booed, even vilified by resolution, speaks volumes about the tenuous nature of politics today.

For all he’s done for Utah, Bob Bennett deserved better.1

While the editorial rightly pointed out the polarizing nature of political debate in a two-party system, it entirely missed the point that Utah citizens deserve more from its elected officials. Senator Bennett serves in the senate at the behest of the citizens of the state – not the other way around. Also, while political compromise may seem laudatory, at what point do the statist policies of an ever encroaching government end and personal responsibility and accountability stand firm?

State delegate Connor Boyack recently commented on the senator’s seeming lack of principle:

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  1. Senator Bennett”. 14 May 2010. KSL.com. 16 May 2010.

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The process for approving President Obama’s supreme court nominee Elena Kagan has become a significant news item of late. Supreme Court Nominee Elena KaganFor example, today’s civics “Lesson Plan” at the New York Times suggested a methodology for reviewing Ms. Kagan’s nomination in order to help students “determine whether they believe she should be appointed to the bench after learning about her experience, background and stances. They then develop a ‘game plan’ for supporting or opposing the nomination.”

Below is an excerpt of how they suggest teachers approach discussing the nomination with their students:

Ask students to share what they already know about the U.S. Supreme Court using such questions as: What do Supreme Court justices do? What is judicial review? What does it mean to interpret the United States Constitution? How does a person become a Supreme Court Justice? Why are a nominee’s political leanings and judicial ideology a matter of interest and concern, particularly to members of the Senate?

Next ask students to brainstorm the qualities and experience they think a Supreme Court justice should have, given their understanding of the position. List these on the board and discuss them briefly.

Then ask students to share what they have heard or read about Elena Kagan, such as her experience as U.S. Solicitor General or dean of the Harvard Law School. If students do not mention it themselves, tell them that Ms. Kagan has not served as a judge, which is not a requirement. Indeed, though most Justices have had judicial experience prior to their Supreme Court appointments, 40 (out of 111 total) have not, including chief justices William Rehnquist (who immediately preceded Chief Justice Roberts), Earl Warren and John Marshall.1

The article goes on to suggest other ways in which to view Ms. Kagan’s nomination.

In some respects, this lesson contains information that bears some similarities to a talk given by Rex E. Lee, former Solicitor General in the Reagan administration, almost 20 years ago in a devotional address at Brigham Young University. In that talk, he suggested the consequences attendant to interpreting the Constitution and the importance of pending judicial nominees:

One of the most important features of the American Constitution, both in theory and in practice, is the magnificent breadth of its most important provisions–notably the commerce clause, most of the Bill of Rights guarantees, and the Fourteenth Amendment’s due process and equal protection clauses. The lack of specificity of these and other provisions has almost certainly been essential to the ability of this document drafted in 1787 to survive over 200 years of the largest and most unanticipated change that any country at any time has ever experienced.

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  1. Doyne, Shannon and Holly Epstein Ojalvo. “On the Bench? Vetting Supreme Court Nominee Elena Kagan”. 11 May 2010.

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Last night an article containing the Solemn Proclamation to All Nations was posted. This proclamation was written in 1845 by the Quorum of Twelve Apostles to the kings of the world, the president-elect, governors of the land, and all nations of the earth in fulfillment of D&C 124:1-11.

It was first printed in a sixteen-page pamphlet in New York City on April 6, 1845, and again in Liverpool, England, October 22, 1845. It was addressed to the rulers and people of all nations. This document was an announcement that God had spoken from the heavens and had restored the gospel of Jesus Christ to the earth. It spoke of blessings and of punishments to come, issued a warning voice, and invited all who were interested to assist in the building of the kingdom of God on the earth in preparation for the Savior’s second coming.1

The proclamation stands as a bold testimony and witness of the restoration of the gospel. Please leave your comments to this article below.

  1. Matthews, Robert J. “Proclamations of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.” 1992. Encyclopedia of Mormonism. 10 Apr 2010.

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