Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Temecula Constitution Class: Reconstruction Amendments

Final Class of the Year!!!!! 

Temecula Constitution Class
Wednesdays 6:00 pm
GOP HQ
28120 Jefferson Ave.
Temecula, CA  

Constitution Class Handout
Instructor: Douglas V. Gibbs
 
 
 
Lesson 18
 
The Civil War Amendments 13, 14, and 15
 
The End of Slavery
Prior to the Civil War, any federal legislation related to slavery dealt with the importation of slaves. Aspects of slavery inside State lines were considered a State issue.
 
Article I, Section 9, Clause 1 abolished the Atlantic slave trade, and the United States Government intervened militarily to ensure the law prohibiting the importation of slaves was enforced. The Framers of the Constitution believed that in order to ensure the southern States did their part in ratifying the Constitution, while remaining consistent with the concept of the federal government only having authority over external issues, and disputes between the States, they could not abolish slavery nationally through the articles presented by the Constitution. A large number of delegates at the federal convention in 1787 desired the immediate abolition of slavery, but the fear was that the southern States would not only refuse to ratify the Constitution, but that they would refuse to remain a part of the union, eventually succumbing to attacks from Florida and absorbed into the Spanish Empire.
 
A proposed amendment to abolish slavery during the American Civil War finally passed the Senate on April 8, 1864, by a vote of 38 to 6, but the House did not approve it.
 
When the proposed amendment was reintroduced by Representative Ashley, President Lincoln took an active role in working for its passage through the House by ensuring the amendment was added to the Republican Party platform for the upcoming Presidential elections. Lincoln's efforts, combined with the result of the War Between the States, ensured the House passed the bill on January 31, 1865, by a vote of 119 to 56.
 
The 13th Amendment was ratified into law on December 6, 1865.
Terms:
Atlantic Slave Trade - Started by the Portuguese, but soon dominated by the English, the Atlantic Slave Trade was the sale and exploitation of African slaves by Europeans that occurred in and around the Atlantic Ocean from the 15th century to the 19th century.
 
War Between the States - The Civil War was fought from 1861 to 1865 after Seven Southern slave States seceded from the United States, forming the Confederate States of America. The "Confederacy" grew to include eleven States. The war was fought between the States that did not declare secession, known as the "Union" or the "North", and the Confederate States. The war found its origin in the concept of State's Rights, but became largely regarding the issue of slavery after President Abraham Lincoln delivered the Emancipation Proclamation. Over 600,000 Union and Confederate soldiers died, and much of the South's infrastructure was destroyed. After the War, Amendments 13, 14, and 15 were proposed and ratified to abolish slavery in the United States, and to begin the process of protecting the civil rights of the freed slaves.
 
Questions for Discussion:
 
1. Why wasn't slavery abolished at the founding of this nation?
 
2. Why did the House of Representatives not originally approve this amendment?
 
3. How has the abolition of slavery affected this nation since the ratification of the 13th Amendment?
 
Resources:
 
Congressional Proposals and Senate Passage Harper Weekly. The
Creation of the 13th Amendment. Retrieved Feb. 15, 2007
 
Joseph Andrews, A Guide for Learning and Teaching The Declaration of
Independence and The U.S. Constitution - Learning from the Original Texts Using Classical Learning Methods of the Founders; San Marcos: The Center for Teaching the Constitution (2010).
 
Citizenship, Civil Rights, and Apportionment
            Citizenship Clause
 
The 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution failed in 1866 after the southern States rejected the proposed amendment. After a second attempt to ratify the amendment, it was adopted on July 9, 1868. The ratification of the 14th Amendment occurred after the federal government began to govern the South through a system of military districts. Some historians question the validity of the ratification of the 14th Amendment because it is believed by these historians that the southern States ratified the amendment under duress, and pressure applied by the northern governorships in each of the southern States during the early part of the Reconstruction Period.
 
The first clause of the 14th Amendment is known as "The Citizenship Clause." The clause was intended to ensure the children of the emancipated slaves, as well as the newly freed slaves, would be considered citizens without any room for argument. The clause reads:
 
"All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside."
 
This clause has been misinterpreted to mean all persons born in the United States are automatically citizens, which is not the case. The defining term in this clause that enables the reader to recognize that citizenship needs more than just being born on American soil reads: "subject to the jurisdiction, thereof."
 
To understand the term jurisdiction, one may go to the debates on the congressional record of the 14th Amendment. In those debates, and in articles of that time period written to explain the intent of the language of the amendment, one finds that "full jurisdiction" was meant to mean "full allegiance to America." The intention was to protect the nation against persons with divided loyalties.
 
The writers of the 14th Amendment wished to follow the importance of "full loyalty" as portrayed by the Founding Fathers. As far as the founders were concerned, there could be no divided allegiances. They expected citizens to be fully American.
 
Despite the defeat of the Confederacy in the American Civil War, the emancipated slaves were not receiving the rights and privileges of American citizens as they should have been. The former slaves were present in the United States legally, and because they were here legally they were "subject to the jurisdiction thereof," but they were still not receiving any assurance of equal protection under the law.
 
The Civil Rights Act of 1866 was created in the hopes of correcting the problem. Some of the language in the Civil Rights Act of 1866 states, "All persons born in the United States, and not subject to any foreign power, excluding Indians not taxed, are hereby declared to be citizens of the United States. ... All persons within the jurisdiction of the United States shall have the same right in every State and Territory to make and enforce contracts, to sue, be parties, give evidence, and to the full and equal benefit of all laws and proceedings for the security of persons and property as is enjoyed by white citizens, and shall be subject to like punishment, pains, penalties, taxes, licenses, and exactions of every kind, and to no other."
 
The definition of "persons within the jurisdiction of the United States" in that act was all persons at the time of its passage, born in the United States, including all slaves and their offspring, but not having any allegiances to any foreign government.
 
Michigan Senator Jacob Howard, one of two principal authors of Section 1 of the 14th Amendment (Citizenship Clause), noted that its provision, "subject to the jurisdiction thereof," excluded American Indians who had tribal nationalities, and "persons born in the United States who are foreigners, aliens, who belong to the families of ambassadors or foreign ministers."
 
Senator Howard's responses to questions regarding the language he used in the Citizenship Clause were recorded in The Congressional Globe, which are the recorded transcripts of the debates over the 14th Amendment by the 139th Congress:
 
Mr. HOWARD: "I now move to take up House joint resolution No. 127."
 
The motion was agreed to; and the Senate, as in Committee of the Whole, resumed the consideration of the joint resolution (H.R. No. 127) proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States.
 
"The 1st Amendment is to section one, declaring that all persons born in the United States and Subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the States wherein they reside. I do not propose to say anything on that subject except that the question of citizenship has been fully discussed in this body as not to need any further elucidation, in my opinion. This amendment which I have offered is simply declaratory of what I regard as the law of the land already, that every person born within the limits of the United States, and subject to their jurisdiction, is by virtue of natural law and national law a citizen of the United States. This will not, of course, include persons born in the United States who are foreigners, aliens, who belong to the families of ambassadors or foreign ministers accredited to the Government of the United States, but will include every other class of persons. It settles the great question of citizenship and removes all doubt as to what persons are or are not citizens of the United States. This has long been a great desideratum in the jurisprudence and legislation of this country."
 
Senator Howard even went out of his way to indicate that children born on American soil of foreign citizens are not included.
 
Clearly, the framers of the 14th Amendment had no intention of freely giving away American citizenship to just anyone simply because they may have been born on American soil.
 
The second author of the Citizenship Clause, Illinois Senator Lyman Trumbull, added that "subject to the jurisdiction of the United States" meant "not owing allegiance to anybody else."
 
The full quote by Senator Trumbull:
 
"The provision is, that 'all persons born in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens.' That means 'subject to the complete jurisdiction thereof.' What do we mean by 'complete jurisdiction thereof?' Not owing allegiance to anybody else. That is what it means."
 
Trumbull continues, "Can you sue a Navajo Indian in court? Are they in any sense subject to the complete jurisdiction of the United States? By no means. We make treaties with them, and therefore they are not subject to our jurisdiction. If they were, we wouldn't make treaties with them...It is only those persons who come completely within our jurisdiction, who are subject to our laws, that we think of making citizens; and there can be no objection to the proposition that such persons should be citizens."
 
Senator Howard concurred with what Mr. Trumbull had to say:
 
"I concur entirely with the honorable Senator from Illinois [Trumbull], in holding that the word 'jurisdiction,' as here employed, ought to be construed so as to imply a full and complete jurisdiction on the part of the United States, whether exercised by Congress, by the executive, or by the judicial department; that is to say, the same jurisdiction in extent and quality as applies to every citizen of the United States now."
 
Based on these explanations by the writers of the clause, then, it is understood that the intention was for those who are not born to American citizens to have no birthright to citizenship just because they simply were born inside the borders of this country.
 
The courts have interpreted the Citizenship Clause to mean other things, but we must remember that the Constitution cannot be changed by the courts. Changes to the Constitution can only be made by amendment (Article V.).
 
It was through the progressive actions of the Lincoln administration in the American Civil War, and the actions of the courts to incorporate the Bill of Rights to the States, that America ceased to be "The United States Are," and became a more nationalistic "The United States Is."
 
            Privileges and Immunities Clause
 
The next clause, "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States," was expected to protect the newly emancipated slaves from local legislation that may treat them differently. This clause was a direct response to the Black Codes, laws passed in the States that were designed to limit the former slaves from obtaining all of the freedoms they thought they had been guaranteed.
 
The Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment prohibits state and local governments from depriving persons of the proper due process of law. The right to a fair trial was to be extended to all persons, including the emancipated slaves.
 
            Due Process Clause and Equal Protection Clause
 
The Due Process Clause, and the Equal Protection clause, have been the subject of debate since the language written by Congressman John Bingham, the principal author of the later part of Section 1 of the 14th Amendment, was first penned. Bingham believed the federal government should use all national tools available to ensure the southern States behaved as instructed. Bingham repeatedly stated his belief that the Fourteenth Amendment would enforce the Bill of Rights against the States, but the majority of the members of Congress present did not concur with his muddled and inconsistent argument.
 
Author Raoul Berger, in his book Government by Judiciary, discussed whether the 14th Amendment should be construed to enforce the Bill of Rights against the States. Relying on the analysis of Professor Charles Fairman in his published article, Does the Fourteenth Amendment Incorporate the Bill of Rights?, Berger concluded that Bingham was a "muddled" thinker whose views should be discounted. Berger agreed with Fairman that the framers of the 14th Amendment did not intend it to enforce the Bill of Rights against the States. Berger rejected even selective incorporation, arguing that the Amendment's framers did not intend that any of the first eight amendments should be made applicable to the States through the 14th Amendment
 
Antislavery activists largely supported Bingham's conclusion that that Bill of Rights must be applied to the States, and such application must be enforced by the federal government. Though the Bill of Rights was originally intended by the Founding Fathers not to apply to the States, and with less than a centuryt since the American Revolution and the writing of the Constitution behind them, Bingham's supporters contended that local jurisdiction over cases regarding an individual's rights could no longer be allowed because the southern States could not be trusted to be fair to the newly emancipated slaves.
 
Bingham's call for an incorporation of the Bill of Rights to the States established the concept that all people's rights are supposed to be protected by the federal government. The Founding Fathers did not apply the Bill of Rights to the States from the beginning because giving that kind of power to a potentially tyrannical federal government carries with it many pitfalls. As the quote by Gerald Ford goes, "A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have." Nonetheless, despite the dangers of a central government dictating to the States regarding their laws regarding individual rights, because of the mistreatment of the former slaves by the Southern States, the Privileges and Immunities Clause, the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause, have been commonly interpreted to mean that the Bill of Rights is applicable to the States.
 
Since the Incorporation of the Bill of Rights did not take hold as a result of the 14th Amendment, as the statists that supported Bingham's position had desired, the federal courts stepped in and took pursuit. Pursuing a nationalist agenda, the courts disregarded the original intent of the Framers of the Constitution, as well as the conclusions of the Congress regarding the 14th Amendment, and began to selectively incorporate the Bill of Rights to the States, beginning with the Slaughterhouse Cases just five years after the ratification of the 14th Amendment in 1868. A five to four vote by the high court interpreted the Privileges and Immunities Clause as the authority to enforce The Bill of Rights against the States. Subsequent cases also used the 14th Amendment as an authority for incorporation.
 
The courts, through this process of incorporating The Bill of Rights to the States, have changed the Constitution through unconstitutional means, and against original intent. As originally intended, all provisions in the U.S. Constitution apply to the federal government, unless otherwise noted. The Bill of Rights was originally intended to apply only to the federal government, and if we are to remain in line with the original intent of the Founding Fathers, State sovereignty must remain protected by that original intent.
 
The attitude of the southern States, and their refusal to treat the former slaves fairly led to a perceived need for clarification and enforcement by the federal government, which led to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, and eventually to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.
 
A separate but equal doctrine existed for more than fifty years, despite numerous attempts to ensure blacks enjoyed full rights and privileges of citizenship.
 
In modern politics, laws continue to test the limits of the Equal Protection Clause. While the clause was intended to make sure that everyone is treated equally under the law, politicians supporting the Affordable Care Act have handed out exemptions to members of Congress, and some individuals or corporations, allowing those that receive the exemptions to be treated differently under the law.
 
            Apportionment
 
Section 2 of the 14th Amendment altered the rules for the apportioning of Representatives in the Congress to the States. The enumeration was changed to include all residents, while also calling for a reduction of a State's apportionment if it wrongfully denies any adult male's right to vote.
 
For fear that the former slaves would support the Republicans, southern Democrats worked feverishly to dissuade blacks from voting. Section 2 addressed this problem by offering to the southern States the opportunity to enfranchise black voters, or lose congressional representation.
 
            Consequences of Insurrection
 
Section 3 of the 14th Amendment prohibits the election or appointment to any federal or state office of any person who had held any of certain offices and then engaged in insurrection, rebellion or treason. A two-thirds vote by each House of the Congress could override this limitation. The interest was to ban the service of any members of the Confederacy that refused to renounce their participation in the Confederacy.
 
            Public Debt as a Result of the War
 
Section 4 of the 14th Amendment confirmed the legitimacy of all United States public debt appropriated by Congress. The clause also indicated that neither the United States nor any State would pay for the loss of slaves or debts that had been incurred by the Confederacy. This clause was to ensure that all States recognized the validity of the debt appropriated by Congress as a result of the war, while bonds secured by the Confederacy in order to help finance the South's part of the war "went beyond congressional power."
 
Political battles over the debt ceiling in 2011 and 2013 encouraged some politicians to argue that the "validity of the public debt" clause outlawed a debt ceiling, because placing a limit on federal spending interferes with the duty of the government to pay interest on outstanding bonds and to make payments owed to pensioners (such as Social Security). The clause in the 14th Amendment addressing the validity of the public debt, however, was never intended to be a general clause to be used by future administrations, but a specific clause only addressing the debt accrued as a result of the American Civil War.
 
            Enforcement
 
The final clause of the 14th Amendment authorizes Congress to "enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article." Federal intrusion upon the States, however, has been a long-time fear by those that support the concept of State Sovereignty. The question regarding enforcement was addressed in the Civil Rights Cases of 1883, where the opinion of the Supreme Court interpreted Section 5 of the 14th Amendment to mean that "the legislation which Congress is authorized to adopt in this behalf is not general legislation upon the rights of the citizen, but corrective legislation".
 
In a more recent case, City of Boerne v. Flores, 1997, the Supreme Court ruled that Congress's enforcement power according to the last clause of the 14th Amendment is limited to only enacting legislation as a response to a "congruence and proportionality" between the injury to a person's 14th Amendment rights and the means Congress adopted to prevent or remedy that injury.
 
Court interpretation of the Constitution can be a dangerous practice, and we must remember that any interpretation of the Constitution offered by the courts in a ruling are merely opinions. The final authority regarding the definitions of Constitutional law resides with the people, through their States. Any allowance of the courts to fully define the Constitution at the whims of the judges opens up the opportunity for the courts to change definitions for ideological purposes, resulting in a judicial oligarchy, rather than a constitutional republic driven by the consent of the governed, and the self-evident standards of Natural Law.
 
Terms:
Black Codes - Laws put in place in the United States after the Civil War with the effect of limiting the basic human rights and civil liberties of blacks.
 
Constitutional Republic - Government that adheres to the rule or authority of the principles of a constitution. A representative government that operates under the rule of law.
 
Equal Protection Under the Law - Laws must treat an individual resident or citizen in the same manner.
 
Incorporation of the Bill of Rights - The process through court rulings based on the interpretation of the 14th Amendment to apply the Bill of Rights to the States.
 
Jurisdiction - Full loyalty, a condition in which all foreign allegiances have been released; not owing allegiance to anybody else.
 
Military Districts - Districts created in the seceded states (not including Tennessee, which had ratified the 14th Amendment and was readmitted to the Union), headed by a military official empowered to appoint and remove state officials.
 
Nationalist - An advocate of Nationalism.
 
Natural Law - Unchanging moral principles regarded as a basis for all human conduct; observable law relating to natural existence; birthright law.
 
Original Intent - Original meaning of the United States Constitution as intended by the framers during the Federal Convention of 1787, and the subsequent State Ratification Conventions.
 
Public Debt - National debt; the financial obligations of a national government resulting from deficit spending.
 
Reconstruction Period - Period following the American Civil War during which the United States government began to rebuild the States that had seceded from the Union to form the Confederacy, lasting from 1865-1877. During Reconstruction, the federal government proposed a number of plans and committed large amount of resources, to the readmittance to the union, and the rebuilding, of the defeated Confederate States.
 
Separate But Equal - Various laws designed to undermine the 14th Amendment requirement that former slaves be treated equally under the law, contending that the requirement of equality could be met in a manner that kept the races separate. The result of these laws was a generally accepted doctrine of segregation throughout The South.
 
State Sovereignty - The individual autonomy of the several states; strong local government was considered the key to freedom; a limited government is the essence of liberty.
 
United States are - These States that are united; a group of sovereign member States in America voluntarily united into a republic.
 
United States is - Nation of the United States containing a number of States similar to provinces ruled over by a centralized federal government.
 
Questions for Discussion:
 
1. How might have the governors of the military districts influenced the ratification of the 14th Amendment?
 
2. Does the Citizenship Clause have anything to do with Natural Born Citizenship? Why?
 
3. Why was Congress concerned with the threat of divided allegiance?
 
4. Did the 14th Amendment eliminate laws like the Black Codes, as intended?
 
5. How is it that despite the original intent of those that voted for the 14th Amendment that the Bill of Rights not be applied to the States most of the first ten amendments have been applied to the States anyway?
 
6. What pieces of legislation since the ratification of this amendment have been passed in order to ensure that the Equal Protection Clause is properly enforced?
 
Resources:
Congressional Globe, 39th Congress (1866) pg. 2890: Senator Jacob
Howard States the Intent of the Fourteenth Amendment Published in the Congressional Record, May 30, 1866.
 
Civil Rights Act, The - April 9, 1866,
http://www.tedhayes.us/CVR_civil_rights_act_of_1866.htm
 
Doris Kearns Goodwin, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of
Abraham Lincoln; New York: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks (2005)
 
Frank J. Williams, Judging Lincoln; Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press (2002)
 
John F. Marszalek, Sherman: A Soldier's Passion for Order; New York:
Vintage Civil War Library (1993)
 
Joseph Andrews, A Guide for Learning and Teaching The Declaration of
Independence and The U.S. Constitution - Learning from the Original Texts Using Classical Learning Methods of the Founders; San Marcos: The Center for Teaching the Constitution (2010).
 
Thomas J. DiLorenzo, The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham
Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War; Roseville, California: Prima Publishing, a division of Random House (2002)
 
William S. NcFeely, Grant; New York: W.W. Norton & Company
(1981)
 
Voting Rights
The 15th Amendment was designed to protect the voting rights of all citizens, regardless of race, color, or if the voter had previously been a slave or indentured servant. As stated in the amendment, this article applies to both the federal government, and the States.
 
As the third reconstruction amendment, the 15th Amendment faced another challenge that was unexpected. In some States the requirements were that all voters and candidates must be Christians. As originally written, the amendment would require these States to change their rules regarding the manner of elections. Realizing the ratification of the amendment may depend on the support of the States with Christianity requirements regarding elections, the amendment was revised in a conference committee to remove any reference to holding office or religion and only prohibited discrimination based on race, color or previous condition of servitude.
 
Democrat Party created militias, like the Ku Klux Klan, continued to try and intimidate black voters and white Republicans. The federal government promised support, assuring that black and Republican voters could both vote, and serve, in confidence. When an all-white mob in the Battle of Liberty Place attempted to take over the interracial government of New Orleans, President Ulysses S. Grant sent in federal troops to restore the elected mayor.
 
President Rutherford B. Hayes narrowly won the election in 1876. To appease the South after his close election, in the hopes of gaining their support and soothing angry Democrats, President Hayes agreed to withdraw the federal troops who had been occupying the South since the end of the Civil War. The hope was that the southern States were ready to handle their own affairs without a need for any interference from the North.
 
In the process, President Hayes also overlooked rampant fraud and electoral violence in the Deep South, despite several attempts by Republicans to pass laws protecting the rights of black voters and to punish intimidation. Without the restrictions, voting place violence against blacks and Republicans increased, including instances of murder.
 
By the 1890s many of the southern States had enacted voter eligibility laws that included literacy tests and poll taxes. Since the black population was normally steeped in poverty, the inability to afford the poll tax kept them from voting in elections.
 
It took nearly a century for the promise of the Fifteenth Amendment to finally take hold. The ratification of the 24th Amendment in 1964, which eliminated poll taxes, and the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, served to ensure that blacks in the South were able to freely register to vote, and vote without any obstacles.
Terms:
Poll Tax - A tax levied on people rather than on property, often as a requirement for voting.
 
Questions for Discussion:
 
1. Why was the wording of the Fifteenth Amendment changed to not include discrimination based on religion?
 
2. Why do you think the Democrat Party played a part in forming the Ku Klux Klan?
 
3. Why did President Hayes withdraw federal protections against racial discrimination in the South?
 
4. How did poll taxes enable the Southern Democrats from keeping Blacks from being able to vote without violating the Constitution?
 
5. Why do you think it took nearly a century for the promise of the Fifteenth Amendment to be realized?
 
Resources:
 
Congressional Globe, 40th Cong., 3d Sess (1869) pg. 1318
 
Foner, Eric, Reconstruction: America's Unfinished
Revolution, 1863-1877; New York: Harper Perennial Modern
Classics (2002)
 
Gillette, William, The Right to Vote: Politics and the Passage of the
Fifteenth Amendment; Baltimore: John Hopkins Press (1969)
 
 
Copyright 2015 Douglas V. Gibbs

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Corona Constitution Class: Judicial Branch

Last Class of the Year!!!!!  See you tonight.

Corona Constitution Class
Tuesdays, 6:00 pm
CARSTAR/ALLSTAR Collision
522 Railroad Street
Corona, CA

Constitution Class Handout
Instructor: Douglas V. Gibbs

 
 
 
Lesson 08
 
Judicial Branch
 
Establish Justice
 
The United States Constitution was written to establish a federal government for the United States of America. Article III establishes the federal court system. Article I, Section 8 gives the Congress the power to "constitute tribunals inferior to the supreme Court." Given the power to establish these courts, Congress also has the authority to do away with any of these inferior courts. This power of Congress is repeated in Article III, Section 1 during the first sentence.
 
When reading Article III, one must keep in mind the fact that the article was specifically written to affect the federal court system, not the state courts. The authorities contained within this article, and the restrictions thereof, are to be applied to the federal courts, not the state courts. One must also bear in mind, as one reads this article, the additional limits placed on the federal courts by the 11th Amendment. No case against a state by citizens of another state, or by the citizens or subjects of a foreign state, shall be heard by a federal court.
 
In other words if citizens of a State sues a State, or foreign government sues a State, the case can't go to the federal courts. The highest that case can go is the State Supreme Court. These limitations placed upon the court system by the 11th Amendment were proposed by the people (House of Representatives) and the States (Senate), and finally ratified by the States, in order to better control a federal court system that was attempting to compromise State Sovereignty. Judges, the lesson of the 11th Amendment shows us, are not the wielders of the rule of law. They are not the powerful men of honor when it comes to the law. The guardians of the rule of law are the people, and the States. The courts had proven that they can become an enemy of the law, proclaiming that their rulings are the rule of law, but as the 11th Amendment reminds us, the judges are merely men, and their system is the rule of man attempting to manipulate the law through their rulings. For their bad behavior, the people and the States judged them, and further limited them with a new constitutional amendment.
 
 
Good Behavior
 
The conventional understanding of the terms of federal judges is that they receive lifetime appointments because no time restriction is placed upon them in the Constitution. The only limitation on term placed upon the judges can be found in Article III, Section 1 where the Constitution states that judges, both of the supreme and inferior courts, "shall hold their offices during good behavior." Conventional wisdom dictates that bad behavior is defined as unlawful activities.
 
The definition of bad behavior is not limited to only illegal activities. Judges take an oath to preserve, protect, and defend the United States Constitution, which is the Law of the Land. Bad behavior, then, from the point of view of the Founding Fathers, may also include unconstitutional actions, or failure to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution.
 
Impeachment by Congress may be used if a judge acts in bad behavior. If a judge refuses to attend the hearing at the behest of the United States Senate, the federal marshall may be used to retrieve the judge, and compel them to stand before Congress to answer for their bad behavior. Congress is the check and balance against the courts, not the other way around.
 
 
 
 
 
Limits
 
The powers of the federal courts "shall extend to all cases, in law and equity, arising under this Constitution, the laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their authority."
 
The federal courts, in other words, may hear all cases that fall within their authority. These cases are regarding those in which the federal government has authority, be it by laws passed within the authorities granted to the federal government by the Constitution, or regarding issues related to treaties made that have been signed by the President and ratified by the U.S. Senate. The courts may not hear cases that are regarding issues not within the authorities of the federal government.
 
A recent example would be the flurry of federal court rulings against State laws defining marriage as between a man and a woman. In California, the State's attempt to protect the government definition of marriage was with Proposition 8. The proposition changed the State Constitution to read that marriage is between a man and a woman. Marriage is not an issue that falls under the authorities of the federal government as expressly granted by the Constitution, nor is the issue of marriage prohibited to the States. Therefore, as per the authorities granted, and not granted, in line with the 10th Amendment, the government authority over marriage is reserved to the States. Since the issue of marriage is a State issue, the case should not have gone beyond the State Supreme Court. The federal courts hearing the case regarding Proposition 8, or any of the State laws regarding marriage, are acting unconstitutionally. The governors of these States, whose marriage laws were overturned by an activist federal court system, have the right to disregard all rulings by the federal courts on this issue. The action of ignoring the rulings is a type of nullification, and States have the right to nullify unconstitutional laws or actions by the federal government..
 
Other limitations have been placed upon the federal courts as well. The 11th Amendment changed the intent of Article III. As limited as the courts were supposed to be, the Founding Fathers realized the courts weren't limited enough, and as a result, the 11th Amendment wound up being ratified in 1795. The 11th Amendment was encouraged by a federal case called Chisolm v. Georgia (1793).
 
 
Chisolm v. Georgia (1793)
 
An increasing problem with federal intrusion on the States via the federal court system culminated in the case of Chisholm v. Georgia in 1793, which eventually led to the proposal, and ratification, of the 11th Amendment. A citizen of South Carolina sued the State of Georgia for the value of clothing supplied by a merchant during the Revolutionary War. After Georgia refused to appear, claiming immunity as a sovereign state, as per the Constitution (Article III, Section 2) the federal courts took the case. The judges in the court system tended to embrace a nationalist view of the federal government, and their nationalist point of view encouraged the judges to deem that in the Chisolm v. Georgia case, Georgia was not a sovereign state, therefore the Supreme Court entered a default judgment against Georgia. What ensued was a conflict between federal jurisdiction and state sovereignty that reminded the anti-federalists of their fears of a centralized federal government consolidating the states, and destroying their right to individual sovereignty.
 
Realizing that the clause in Article III gave the federal courts too much power over state sovereignty, Congress immediately proposed the 11th Amendment in order to take away federal court jurisdiction in suits commenced against a State by citizens of another State or of a foreign state. This is the first instance in which a Supreme Court decision was superseded by a constitutional amendment, and evidence that the founders saw the legislative branch, and the States, as being a more powerful part of government over the federal judiciary.
 
Authorities
 
The 10th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America states that the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, or prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people. The federal courts are included in that, as being a part of the United States federal government. As a result of the nature of how federal authorities are granted, the federal court system can only hear cases that fall within the constitutional authorities for the federal government.
 
When one understands the importance of protecting state sovereignty, and that the courts are supposed to be very limited in their scope and power, Article III becomes much simpler to understand.
 
As stated earlier in this section, the first sentence of Article III, Section 2, reads: The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States (which are only supposed to be passed if they are within the authorities granted by the Constitution), and Treaties made . . .
 
Notice the phrase, "arising under this Constitution." If the case is not involving the federal government as one of the parties, or is not regarding an issue that falls under the authorities of the U.S. Constitution, the federal courts can simply not take the case. The State Supreme Court, in those cases, is the highest court the case can go to.
 
 
Judicial Review
 
Federal judges maintain that the federal courts have the power of judicial review, or the power to determine the constitutionality of laws. In response to the judicial urgings for the powers to judge the extent of the federal government's powers, in the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions of 1798, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison warned us that giving the federal government through its courts the power of judicial review would be a power that would continue to grow, regardless of elections, putting at risk the all important concept of the separation of powers, and other much-touted limits on power. The final arbiters of the Constitution are not the courts, argued the Founding Fathers who supported the foundation of limiting principles of the U.S. Constitution. The power of the federal government must be checked by State governments, and the people. The States and the People are the enforcers and protectors of the U.S. Constitution.
 
In today's society it is commonly accepted that one of the roles of the federal court system is to interpret the Constitution, and issue rulings determining the constitutionality of laws. The Constitution does not grant this authority. The power of Judicial Review was given to the courts by themselves.
 
The first attempt to establish "Judicial Review" as an authority to the federal court system was through the Judiciary act of 1789, but the authority allowing the United States federal courts to hear a civil case because the plaintiff has alleged a violation of the United States Constitution, federal law, or a treaty to which the United States is a party, was limited to only the United States Supreme Court. The lower federal courts, at this point, were not allowed hear cases questioning the federal government's "federal question jurisdiction." Anti-federalists, and Jefferson Republicans immediately railed against the legislation, arguing that legislation cannot determine authorities granted.
 
The Federalists, in an attempt to allow the lower courts to wield the power of judicial review, briefly created such jurisdiction in the Judiciary Act of 1801, but it was repealed the following year. Unable to establish the federal court system as the final arbiters of the United States Constitution through legislative means, the Federalists turned to the courts themselves to drive into place the controversial authority.
 
During John Adams' final moments in the presidency, he appointed a whole host of "midnight judges" (appointing 16 Federalist circuit judges and 42 Federalist justices of the peace to offices created by the Judiciary Act of 1801) in the hopes of retaining federalist control of the courts as Jefferson's Democratic-Republicans gained control of the Congress, and Jefferson himself accepted the presidency.
 
Thomas Jefferson's Democratic-Republicans were appalled by the appointment of the Midnight Judges, recognizing the stacking of the courts as a desperate attempt by the Federalists to try and continue Federalist influence despite their election loss. In Jefferson's view, the Federalists "retired into the judiciary as a stronghold . . . and from that battery all the works of Republicanism are to be beaten down and destroyed."
 
While Adams was still in office, most of the commissions for these newly appointed judges were delivered. However, unable to deliver all of them before Adams' term expired, some of them were left to be delivered by the incoming Secretary of State, James Madison. Jefferson ordered them not to be delivered, and without the commissions delivered, the remaining new appointees were unable to assume the offices and duties to which they had been appointed to by Adams. In Jefferson's opinion, the undelivered commissions were void.
 
One of those appointed judges was a man named William Marbury. He sued, and the case worked its way up to the Supreme Court. After all of the dust settled, on February 24, 1803, the Court rendered a unanimous (4-0) decision that Marbury had the right to his commission, but the court did not have the power to force Madison to deliver the commission. Chief Justice Marshall wrote the opinion of the court, and in that opinion he wrote that the federal court system has the power of judicial review. Rather than simply applying the law to the cases, Marshall decided, based on case law and precedent, that the courts have the authority to determine the validity of the law as well. This opinion, however, went against all of the limitations placed on the courts by the Constitution.
 
One of the most obvious fundamental principles of the Constitution is the limitations it places on the federal government. The Constitution is designed not to tell the federal government what it can't do, but to offer enumerated powers to which the authorities of the federal government are limited to. The powers are granted by the States, and any additional authorities must also be approved by the States through the ratification of any proposed amendments. It takes 3/4 of the States to ratify an amendment. The congressional proposal of an amendment, with the ratification of that amendment, in the simplest terms, is the federal government asking the States for permission to a particular authority.
 
The power of Judicial Review, or the authority to determine if laws are constitutional, was not granted to the courts by the States in the Constitution. The courts took that power upon themselves through Justice Marshall's opinion of Marbury v. Madison.
 
The federal courts are a part of the federal government. The Constitution was designed to limit the authorities of the federal government by granting only a limited number of powers. Judicial Review enables the federal government, through the courts, to determine if the laws that the federal government made are constitutional. In other words, the federal government, through Judicial Review, can determine for itself what its own authorities are.
 
The idea that the federal court system has the authority to interpret the Constitution, and can decide if a law is constitutional or not, is unconstitutional, and is simply an attempt by those that believe in big government to gain power, and work towards a more centralized big federal governmental system.
 
 
Original Jurisdiction
 
In Article III, Section 2, Clause 2 the Constitution reads: "In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party, the supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction."
 
What this means is that in all of those above listed cases, the federal appellate courts cannot take the case. Such cases must bypass the federal appellate system, and go straight to the Supreme Court. Since one of those stipulations is in regards to cases "in which a State shall be a Party," that means that the case "U.S. v. Arizona" where the federal government sued Arizona to block the State's immigration law, was unconstitutional. It was unconstitutional for the inferior federal courts to hear the case. The Supreme Court had original jurisdiction. Therefore, when the district court ruled in July of 2010 on the case, and struck down parts of the Arizona immigration law, not only did that court not have jurisdiction to hear the case in the first place, but the very act of striking down portions of the law was unconstitutional. After all, Article I, Section 1 grants the legislative branch all legislative powers, and those powers would include the ability to strike down law. The courts were not vested with any legislative powers, and therefore cannot strike down laws, or portions of laws.
 
 
Trial by Jury
 
Article III, Section II, Clause 3 sets up the right to a trial by jury, except in the cases of impeachment.
 
This clause also requires that a trial must be held in the state where the crime was committed. If the crime was not committed in any particular state, then the trial is held in such a place as set forth by the Congress.
 
 
 
Treason
 
Article III, Section 3 defines treason, as well as the granting of the power by the Congress to declare the punishment. When the Constitution says that "no attainder of treason shall work corruption of blood, or forfeiture except during the life of the person attained," it means that the punishment cannot be inherited or passed down (corruption of blood), nor shall the person be denied due process (attainder).
 
Corruption of blood also means that all inheritable qualities are destroyed, and the Founding Fathers did not believe this English practice should be an American one.
 
No forfeiture meant that despite treason, the properties of the person could not be forfeited to the government. The property would remain as property of the individual, or remain with family. Even when it came to the despicable act of treason, the founders believed that the individual should be able to retain certain rights.
 
 
Terms:
 
Corruption of Blood: Punishment inherited or passed down, all inheritable qualities are destroyed.
 
Judicial Review: The unconstitutional authority of the federal courts to review law, interpret the Constitution regarding laws, and then determine the constitutionality of laws.
 
Original Jurisdiction: In the Constitution the Supreme Court has original jurisdiction on some cases, which means the case must proceed directly to the Supreme Court, and the high court must make a determination on whether or not to accept the case.
 
Treason:Levying war against the States, or adhering to the enemies of the States, giving aid and comfort to the enemy.
 
Questions for Discussion:
 
1. How would life in the United States be different if there was no federal court system?
 
2. Why did the Founding Fathers limit the authorities of the federal courts?
 
3. How has Judicial Review changed our system of government?
 
4. Why do you think the Supreme Court has Original Jurisdiction over some cases?
 
5. In what ways is the presence of a Judicial Branch important?
 
Resources:
 
Draft of the Kentucky Resolutions (Jefferson's Draft), Avalon Project, Yale University: http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/jeffken.asp
 
Madison's Notes Constitutional Convention, Avalon Project, Yale University: http://avalon.law.yale.edu/subject_menus/debcont.asp
 
Virginia Resolution - Alien and Sedition Acts, Avalon Project, Yale University:
Copyright: Douglas V. Gibbs, 2015
 

Sunday, December 08, 2019

Should Conservatives Watch the NFL

Douglas V. Gibbs
Author, Speaker, Instructor, Radio Host

A couple weeks ago I was at my folks house talking to them as they prepared to move out of their house.  Like many Californians, they are leaving the Golden State for good.  They are building a house in Arkansas and will be staying with my sister in Arizona until it is done.  So, when I was visiting them during those final days in the house I spent my teenage years in, I realized that it would likely be the last time I'd see them for a while as well.  My wife and I stayed for a couple hours, and we talked about just about everything under the sun.

Knowing that my dad (step-dad, actually, but he's been my dad since I was three, though, so, he's dad) could never understand my choice in National Football League teams, I decided to poke a joke.  "How about those Raiders."

I have been a Raiders' fan since the mid-seventies.  Ken Stabler was a scrapper.  Through the blood and grit he always found a way to win.  I absolutely love the game of football, or at least the game it once was.  The touchy-feely, overly protective of the quarterback, make impossible tackles without the head getting involved, league I watch now is entertaining, but not like it used to be.  Back during the days of blood and grit, Dad was a Kansas City Chiefs' fan, and my biological father rooted for the San Francisco 49ers.  As a rebellious young man, it seemed appropriate to pick a team that would tick them both off, so the Raiders was the natural choice.

Dad would usually say something like, "I don't know why you like that team," whenever I ask, "How about those Raiders."  But, it had been many years since we'd talked football, so I wasn't sure what the response would be, this time.  Looking back, I can honestly say I was shocked by the answer I got.

"Why are you still watching the NFL.  Screw the NFL.  They don't deserve my time."

My knee-jerk reaction was, "because of the kneeling during the National Anthem?"

"No," he said, "the NFL lost my viewership long before that.

He explained that in 2014, when the "hands up, don't shoot" gesture by protesters in reference to the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, which led to riots in that part of The Show-Me State, emerged, he was watching a game and the St. Louis Rams came out of the tunnel with their hands up, mimicking the gesture.  The NFL did nothing, and the players were celebrated for dragging their politics onto the field.  He turned off the television that instant, and has not watched an NFL game since.

He, like many of my conservative friends, questioned me as to why I still give professional football any of my time.

Just about everyone I know has abandoned watching the game and buying any official NFL merchandise.  In the case of those folks other than Dad, however, it was the Kaepernick kneel during the National Anthem that did it for them.  So why, they ask me, should any conservative be willing to watch the NFL?

The abandonment of the NFL by Conservative America is based on a boycott mentality.  Football is a product, and if you wish to alter the behavior of the industry, starving it of money and attention should do the job.  I get it, and I agree.  But, that said, we must ask another question.  Should we abandon those who stood up for the flag during the National Anthem, and those players, coaches and other personnel who had a problem with some players playing the "hands up don't shoot" game?

My favorite player in the league is Derek Carr, the quarterback for the Oakland, soon to be Las Vegas, Raiders.  I think he's a talented quarterback that is getting ready to reach elite status under the guiding hand of Head Coach Jon Gruden.  Many Raiders' fans don't agree with me, because after nearly half a dozen years in the league Carr has not been "great."

A few years back in the second to last game of the regular season he broke his leg.  Without Carr at the helm the Raiders went on to lose the last game of the season, and their first playoff game in a very long while.  I believe his offensive line let the defenders through to show him a lesson because he refused to kneel during the National Anthem, and for his verbal support for our country.  Rather than kneel during the song, Carr kneels during prayer, and he was praying for his teammates and fellow NFL personnel while all of that junk was going on.  He had led the Raiders to a 12-3 record that year, and the Super Bowl was a serious topic in conversations about the Raiders that year.  Since then, Carr has been trigger-shy.  A broken leg will do that to you.  I think Gruden has gotten Carr out of that funk, and this year Carr has been much better than he has been in the past.

Carr is a Christian, and wears his faith on his sleeve (and literally on his wrist with a tattoo).  He holds prayer before and after each game with a few players and coaches.  When a microphone is thrust into his face he will at one point or another say, "God Bless."  I talked to a linebacker who played against Carr in high school, and after the young quarterback was sacked, Carr popped up, congratulated the defensive player on his "great hit," and he said "God Bless You," before he trotted back to his side of the line of scrimmage.

"How do you talk trash in a situation like that?" said the young man I was talking to.

Derek Carr is a class act, and he always has been.  He's a shining light in an otherwise secular, left-leaning NFL.  Why would I abandon someone like that because a bunch of players made a spectacle of themselves with the kneeling thing?  I have only bought Derek Carr NFL gear, and I have remained a fan of football, largely because I enjoy the game, but also largely because I don't wish to abandon the one player who stood firm with his hand over his heart when it was the unpopular thing to do.  I don't wish to abandon the player that, when the verbal attacks were flying, was in prayer.

No thanks, I will remain a fan.

So, to answer the question, "Should conservatives watch the NFL?"  That is up to you.  If the "hands up don't shoot" silliness, and the deconstructionist "kneeling to the National Anthem" antics, has you fed up, then I agree.  Don't watch the NFL and don't purchase anything affiliated with professional football.  But, if like me, you wish to support those players who had it right, and stood firm on their convictions, and only kneeled to pray, you might consider doing as I do.  Remain a fan, and only buy merchandise affiliated with the players who are class acts.

-- Political Pistachio Conservative News and Commentary

Saturday, December 07, 2019

Constitution Radio: Improbable America

Constitution Radio with Douglas V. Gibbs

1-3 pm on Saturday Afternoon

archived podcast at 

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Temecula Constitution Class: Amendment 12, Presidential Election and Conspiracy

Class is back tonight!  

Temecula Constitution Class
Wednesdays 6:00 pm
GOP HQ
28120 Jefferson Ave.
Temecula, CA  

Constitution Class Handout
Instructor: Douglas V. Gibbs
 
 
Lesson 17
 
Amendments 11 and 12
 
Further Limiting the Courts, Amendment 11

The Judicial Branch was added almost as an afterthought. The judiciary was originally designed to be the weakest of the three branches of government. The Anti-Federalists feared the judicial branch becoming a judicial oligarchy, and therefore the judicial branch was constructed to only apply the law to cases they hear. All opinions the judges may have of the law after reviewing the law was considered to be only opinion. Any changes to law, regardless of what the courts felt about the law, could only be made legislatively. However, soon after the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, fears of a tyrannical court arose, and so additional limits were placed on the federal courts by the 11th Amendment. No case against a State by citizens of another State, or by the citizens or subjects of a foreign state, shall be heard by a federal court.
 
The 11th Amendment changes the intent of Article III. As limited as the courts were supposed to be, the Founding Fathers realized the courts weren't limited enough, and as a result, the 11th Amendment wound up being ratified in 1795.
 
Federal judges maintained that the federal courts should have the power of judicial review, or the power to determine the constitutionality of laws. In response to the judicial urgings for the powers to judge the extent of the federal government's powers, in the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions of 1798, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison warned us that giving the federal government through its courts the power of judicial review would be a power that would continue to grow, regardless of elections, putting at risk the all important separation of powers, and other much-touted limits on power. The final arbiters of the Constitution are not supposed to be the courts, argued these Founding Fathers who were believers in the limiting principles of the U.S. Constitution. The power of the federal government must be checked by State governments, and the people. The States and the People are the enforcers and protectors of the U.S. Constitution.
 
As you may recall, John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, resigned his position in 1795, disappointed in how few powers the federal courts had. When approached later by President John Adams to return to the United States Supreme Court as the high court's Chief Justice, Jay turned Adams down. He said the Court lacked "the energy, weight, and dignity which are essential to its affording due support to the national government." He also did not wish to serve under Thomas Jefferson, the victor in the 1800 Presidential Election, who was an advocate of limited government, and a judicial branch that existed as the weakest of the three branches of government.
 
While John Jay was Chief Justice, among the influences of his decision that the court was too weak to promote a strong, centralized national government, was the case of Chisholm v. Georgia in 1793, which eventually led to the proposal, and ratification, of the 11th Amendment. A citizen of South Carolina sued Georgia for the value of clothing supplied by a merchant during the Revolutionary War. After Georgia refused to appear, claiming immunity as a sovereign state, as per the Constitution (Article III, Section 2) the federal courts took the case. The nationalist view by the justices deemed that in this case Georgia was not a sovereign State; therefore, the Supreme Court entered a default judgment against Georgia. What ensued was a conflict between federal jurisdiction and state sovereignty that reminded the anti-federalists of their fears of a centralized federal government consolidating the States, and destroying their right to individual sovereignty.
 
Realizing that the clause in Article III gave the federal courts too much power over State Sovereignty, Congress immediately proposed the 11th Amendment in order to take away federal court jurisdiction in suits commenced against a State by citizens of another State, or of a foreign state. This is the first instance in which a Supreme Court decision was superseded by a constitutional amendment, and evidence that the Founders saw the legislative branch and the States as being more powerful parts of government than the judiciary.

Terms:

Constitutional Amendment - Changes made to an existing constitution.
 
Judicial Branch - The branch of the United States Government responsible for the administration of justice; a central judiciary that is limited to federal authorities, and separated from the will of the central leadership.
 
Judicial Review - The unconstitutional authority of the federal courts to review law, interpret the Constitution regarding laws, and then determine the constitutionality of laws.
 
National Government - Any political organization that is put in place to maintain control of a nation; a strong central government that does not recognize the individualism or local authorities of the smaller parts, such as states, of the nation.
 
Separation of Powers - A division of governmental authority into three branches: legislative, executive, and judicial; division of powers between the States and federal government.
 
 
Questions for Discussion:
 
1. Why did the Founding Fathers design our governmental system with the Judicial Branch being the weakest of the three branches of government?
 
2. Why is judicial review only supposed to be an opinion?
 
3. How did Chisholm v. Georgia change the authorities granted to the federal judiciary?
 
4. How does the 11th Amendment protect State Sovereignty?
 
Resources
 
Chisholm v. Georgia, 2 Dall. 419 (1793), Cornell College - Politics:
http://cornellcollege.edu/politics/courses/allin/365-366/documents/chisholm_v_georgia.html

Jefferson's Draft of the Kentucky Resolutions - October 1798, Avalon
Project, Yale University: http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/jeffken.asp

Joseph Andrews, A Guide for Learning and Teaching The Declaration of
Independence and The U.S. Constitution - Learning from the Original Texts Using Classical Learning Methods of the Founders; San Marcos: The Center for Teaching the Constitution (2010).

Philip B. Kurland and Ralph Lerner, The Founder's Constitution -
Volume Five - Amendments I-XII; Indianapolis: Liberty Fund (1987).

Virginia Resolution of 1798, Constitution.org:
http://www.constitution.org/cons/virg1798.htm
 
 
 
Electoral Procedures for Electing President Changed, Amendment 12
 
"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 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 12th Amendment changes the procedure for electing the President and Vice President originally provided for in Article II, Section 1, Clause 3. The procedure has remained the same since its ratification, save for the States changing their procedures from appointing the electors by the choice of the State legislatures, thus following the instructions of the State legislatures, to the citizens voting for who the electors are expected to vote for. Though the electors are free to vote for anyone eligible to be President, in practice they usually vote for the candidates chosen by the voters in their State. 1824 is the last election in which electors were primarily appointed by their State legislature. In that election, six states followed that procedure. South Carolina was the final State to follow the practice, ceasing the appointment of their electors by the State legislature upon the approach of the American Civil War.
 
Each State is constitutionally allowed to choose how to appoint or elect their electors, and the methods vary from State to State. Generally, electors are nominated by their State political parties in the months prior to Election Day. In some States, the electors are nominated in primaries, the same way that other candidates are nominated. Other States nominate their electors in party conventions.
 
The need for the 12th Amendment became apparent after the problems that arose in the elections of 1796 and 1800. The Twelfth Amendment was proposed by the Congress on December 9, 1803, and was ratified by the requisite number of state legislatures on June 15, 1804.
 
Before the 12th Amendment, electors could vote for two candidates, though at least one had to be from a State different from that of the elector (as a protection against a larger State dominating the federal government). A majority of the vote needed to be received in order to win the presidency. If no candidate received a majority vote, then the House of Representatives chose the President.
 
In 1800, after a tie in the Electoral College, the House tied 36 times. That particular election was marked by a battle between the Federalists, and Jefferson's Democratic-Republicans. Even though Burr was Jefferson's running mate, Aaron Burr wound up Jefferson's adversary when the vote went to the House. The lame-duck House controlled by the Federalists threw their support behind Burr, because they did not trust Jefferson's philosophy of a limited government.
 
The term Electoral College did not appear until the early 1800s, and did not appear in legislation until 1845. The concept was designed to act in a manner similar to Congress, where a portion of the election was connected to the population-based premise that was also used by the House of Representatives, and another portion of the Electoral College would be based on the State appointment premise used by the U.S. Senate.
 
In Federalist No. 39, James Madison explained that the Constitution was designed to be a mixture of State-based and population-based government.
 
In Federalist No. 10, James Madison argued against "an interested and overbearing majority" and the "mischiefs of faction" in an electoral system. His definition of "faction" in relation to elections was "a number of citizens whether amounting to a majority or minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adverse to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community." In a republic it was necessary, according to Madison, to vary the distribution of powers, including those powers held by the members of the populace. Only a thorough division of power throughout the American System would protect the United States from the excesses of democracy, and countervail against factions. Madison further explained that the greater the population and expanse of the Republic, the more difficulty factions would face in organizing due to such issues as sectionalism.
 
Prior to the 12th Amendment, the choice of the Vice President went to the second place winner of the presidential election. The Vice President, unlike the President, did not require the votes of a majority of electors. If a tie arose, the Vice President was chosen by the Senate, with each Senator casting one vote. Though it was not specified in the Constitution whether the sitting Vice President could cast a tie-breaking vote for Vice President, because the sitting Vice President is President of the Senate and casts the tie-breaking vote, it is assumed that if that situation had arisen, the sitting Vice President would indeed be the deciding vote for his successor. Because the second place winner became Vice President, it was very possible for the President and the Vice President to be from different parties. In fact, that is what happened in the 1796 election. John Adams won that election as the Federalist Party candidate, and Jefferson became the Vice President as a Democratic-Republican candidate. The fear was that by the two men being of different parties, the Vice President may do what he could to impede the ability of the President, or could even launch an effort to remove the President from office so that the Vice President could succeed to the office of the President.
 
The 12th Amendment eliminated the possibility of problems arising between the President and Vice President due to them being from different parties by having the President and Vice President elected as a ticket, thus lessening the Vice President's motivation for staging a coup.
 
The 12th Amendment also eliminated the "two votes for presidential candidates" method, changing it instead to the electors casting distinct votes for President and Vice President.
 
The 12th Amendment indicates that no elector may vote for both candidates of a presidential ticket if both candidates inhabit the same State as that elector, a provision consistent with the Framer's original language against collusion.
 
The 12th Amendment also clarified language to not allow those constitutionally ineligible to be President from being Vice President.
 
A majority of Electoral Votes is still required for one to be elected President or Vice President. As in the case before the 12th Amendment, when nobody has a majority, the House of Representatives, voting by States and with the same quorum requirements as under the original procedure, chooses a President. The 12th Amendment requires the House of Representatives to choose from the three highest receivers of Electoral Votes, rather than the top five as was the process under Article II, Section 1, Clause 3.
 
The Senate chooses the Vice President if no candidate receives a majority of Electoral Votes. The 12th Amendment requires a quorum of two-thirds for balloting.
 
Terms:
 
Collusion - Conspire together.
 
Electoral College - A body of electors chosen by the voters in each State to elect the President and Vice President of the United States.
 
Limited Government - A government that acts within the limitations granted to it; a governmental system that is restrained by an enumerated list of authorities; a limited government is the essence of liberty.
 
Quorum - Minimum number of members of an assembly necessary to conduct the business of that group.
 
Sectionalism - Loyalty to the interests of one's own region or section of the country, rather than to the country as a whole; loyalty to a political agenda or ideology rather than to the country as a whole.
 
Questions for Discussion:
 
1. Why did the States originally appoint electors, rather than the electors being elected directly by the popular vote by the public?
 
2. What lessons did the Election of 1800 provide?
 
3. Now that the presidential election is determined by party tickets, which ensures
 
Resources
 
David McCollough, John Adams; New York: Simon and Schuster.
(2002)

Edward J. Larson, A Magnificent Catastrophe: The Tumultuous Election
of 1800; New York: Free Press (2007)

Joseph Andrews, A Guide for Learning and Teaching The Declaration of
Independence and The U.S. Constitution - Learning from the Original Texts Using Classical Learning Methods of the Founders; San Marcos: The Center for Teaching the Constitution (2010).

Philip B. Kurland and Ralph Lerner, The Founder's Constitution -
Volume Five - Amendments I-XII; Indianapolis: Liberty Fund (1987).
 
 
Copyright 2015 Douglas V. Gibbs