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Friday, July 31, 2020

Constitutionally, the job of your local sheriff

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


The County Sheriff is your last line of defense against government tyranny and unconstitutionality.  The sheriff is elected by the people, not appointed by government, therefore they are independent from government control and scrutiny.  A governor cannot legally suspend or fire a County Sheriff, the fate of the office of the Sheriff lies in the hands of the voters in his county.  Recognizing our Natural Rights, and the rule of law, a sheriff’s county is his domain, where it is historically his job (going all the way back to England before the founding of this country) to collect local taxes, and run the local unit of the State militia (which includes the unorganized militia of armed citizens as defined in the U.S. Code, and Founding Father George Mason’s definition,  “What is the militia?  It is the whole people, except for a few public officials”) and even defy unconstitutional laws if they decide those laws are illegal.  In short, the County Sheriffs around the country are the army in place to protect the citizens from government tyranny, both federal and State.  The sheriffs have taken an oath to protect and defend the U.S. Constitution, and it is their job to resist officials and laws that violate the Supreme Law of the Land.  It is their job to stand up to the federal and State governments and ensure that they don’t abuse the citizens with tyrannical laws, policies and dictates that violate the rule of law, the U.S. Constitution, and the State constitution.  Included in that is also the authority to forbid federal and State agents from coming into his county attempting to enforce laws that the sheriff fully understands to be unconstitutional, and organizing the local militia to defend the county against attackers and tyranny.  The sheriff belongs to the people, and it is the job of the sheriff to secure the rights of liberty of the people against tyranny from either the federal government, or the State.

-- Political Pistachio Conservative News and Commentary

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Temecula Constitution Class

Wednesday Night's Temecula Constitution Class is back. I hope you can attend.  Location is 28120 Jefferson Ave, center with Rosa's Cantina and Tortilla Factory, in back of center next to tattoo shop.  5:30 pm start.  Pizza's on me.

Constitution Class Handout
Instructor: Douglas V. Gibbs
 
 
 
Lesson 02
 
Legislative Powers
 
Establishing the Legislative Branch
 
 
 
Legislative Powers

Article I, Section 1: All Legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.
 
Article I establishes the Legislative Branch of the federal government. Article I, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution establishes the two parts of Congress, and grants all legislative powers to the two Houses of the Congress of the United States. When studying the language used in Article I, Section 1, the original intent by the Founding Fathers becomes clear.
 
The first word in the first section of Article I is the word "all." The definition of all is "the whole of a particular thing."
 
The next words in Article I, Section 1 are legislative powers. Legislative powers are the ability to make law, modify law, repeal law, and anything else that has to do with affecting law.
 
The next word in the clause is "herein." The primary definition of herein is "here in this document."
 
After herein is the word granted. Granted is defined as "to give," "to allow," or more specifically "to legally transfer." If powers are granted, then there must be a "grantor," as well as a grantee. As we learned in our discussion regarding The Preamble, the "grantor" of the authorities enumerated in the Constitution is the States.
 
"Shall be" is definitive. The Constitution in its first clause reads, "All legislative powers herein granted shall be. . .," shall be meaning "it is," or "it will be."
 
"Vested" is much like "granted." Vested is a legal transfer of something, or in this case, an allowance to have legislative powers at the federal level granted to Congress.
 
The Congress of the United States is the legislative branch of the federal government, and this clause indicates that not only will the Congress be granted all legislative powers given to the federal government, but that the branch of government consists of two houses; a Senate and House of Representatives.
 
All legislative powers, according to this clause, are granted to the Congress by the States for the purpose of making law, modifying law, or repealing law. The powers are herein granted, which means that the laws must fall within the authorities granted by the text of the U.S. Constitution. In other words, laws made must remain consistent with the "powers herein granted."
 
Based on language used in the first clause of the United States Constitution, when members of the judiciary legislates from the bench, or the President issues an executive order to modify a law, such action is unconstitutional. After all, "all legislative powers" were granted to the Congress, not to the judicial branch, or the executive branch.
 
Since all legislative powers belong to the Congress, that means any regulations by federal departments that are not in line with laws made by the Congress that are in line with the authorities granted by the Constitution are unconstitutional as well. All legislative powers belong to the Congress, therefore any "legislative actions" by regulatory agencies, which are a part of the executive branch, are not in line with the original intent of the Constitution.
 
Powers the federal government has were "granted" by the States. "We The People of the United States" granted those powers to the federal government through the Constitution. Therefore, if the federal government acts in a manner that is not consistent with the contract between the States and the U.S. Government, the States have the option to ignore those unconstitutional actions by the federal government. This action of ignoring unconstitutional law is the States' way of being the final arbiters of the Constitution. The term for this kind of action by a State is nullification. Thomas Jefferson, in his draft of the Kentucky Resolutions, explained that any unconstitutional law is null and void, and as an illegal law, the States have the right to nullify it.
 
The concept that only Congress has legislative powers, only the executive branch has executive powers, and the judicial branch only has judicial powers, as described in the first sentence of each of the first three articles of the Constitution, is called Separation of Powers. The purpose of this philosophy is to disallow different branches from abusing the powers not granted to that branch, as well as to protect against collusion.
 
The Separation of Powers also exists between the States, and the federal government. Most authorities granted to the federal government are powers the States did not reserve to themselves. Most authorities retained by the States are not authorized to be administered to by the federal government. There are a few authorities that are concurrent, meaning that both the federal government, and the States, have some authority over the issue. One issue that is concurrent is immigration, which will be addressed later in this book. Sole authority over a particular power is called Exclusive Powers.
 
House of Representatives

Article I, Section 2 establishes, and defines, the House of Representatives. The members of the House of Representatives are divided among the States proportionally. As it is today, the House of Representatives was the voice of the people in the federal government. Each Representative is chosen to serve for two years, which means every two years every Representative is up for re-election, if they choose to run.
 
The eligibility of a Representative as explained by Article I, Section 2 requires that the candidate must be at least twenty-five years of age, and been a citizen of the United States for at least seven years. The age is lower than for Senators. Representatives were not expected to be as politically savvy as the Senators, and tended to have less experience. The age requirement simply reflected that. Political knowledge and experience tends to come with age.
 
Divided allegiance was a serious concern to the Founding Fathers. The requirement that Representatives have been citizens of the United States for at least seven years reflects that concern. Seven years, for a Representative of the people, was assumed to have been long enough for the Representative to have thrown off any allegiances to other nations.
 
The third clause of Article I, Section 2, includes the 3/5s clause, which was changed by the 14th Amendment following the American Civil War.
 
The Southern States used slaves for their agricultural economies. The southern states were needed to ratify the new constitution. As a condition for ratifying the Constitution, the southern states demanded that the slaves be counted as one whole person each. The idea was that if the slaves were counted as whole persons, the apportionment would tip the scales in their favor through increased representation in the new United States House of Representatives. White populations in the southern states were lower in number when compared to the northern states, due to the rural nature of the Slave States to the south.
 
The Northern States, under the heavy influence of merchants, political elitists, and a group of abolitionists, wanted the slaves counted as "zero" in order to reduce the number of representatives the southern states would receive, which would give the majority to the northern states, thus giving the north more legislative power. With this additional voting power in the House of Representatives, the northern states sought to have greater influence on the federal government through legislation. The plan was to use their legislative power to tyrannically force the southern states into submission, and to eventually abandon slavery.
 
In the interest of compromise, to convince the southern states to ratify the constitution, while giving the northern states the satisfaction that the southern states did not get exactly what they wanted, the decision was made that slaves would be counted as 3/5 of a whole person for the sake of apportionment. In other words, it was not a declaration that they believed blacks to be less than a person, but simply to affect the census in such a way that too much power through apportionment would not be given to either The North or The South, while also ensuring that the Constitution got ratified.
 
G.R. Mobley, author of We the People, Whose Constitution Is It Anyway?, believes the Founding Fathers missed a great opportunity to abolish slavery. He supports the idea that the 3/5s Clause was an error in judgment by the Founders, and that the authors of the Constitution should have only allowed those States that rejected slavery to be members of the union under the Constitution. By failing to ratify the Constitution the southern slave states would then have been on their own as a separate union. Pressure from the Spanish in Florida, and the threat of invasion by Spanish forces, would have then encouraged the slave states to abolish slavery, so that they may rejoin the union, and enjoy the strength of the union of all thirteen States.
 
Historically, it is impossible to know if that is exactly how it would have played out. Regardless of the opportunity, the Founders largely believed they had to compromise to ensure every State remained a member of the union, and ensure that they would receive the required nine ratifications of States in order to put the new federal government into motion.
 
Article I, Section 2, Clause 3, in addition to containing the 3/5s Clause, also establishes the census. The census is a required a head count to be taken once every ten years in order to determine the enumeration for establishing the number of Representatives each State shall receive. The clause also indicates that the number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty thousand. This means there cannot be more than one Representative for a district of thirty thousand. However, it does not indicate there must be one Representative per thirty thousand. If that was the case, we would have thousands of Representatives.
 
Article I, Section 2, Clause 4 states that whenever vacancies happen in the House of Representatives, it is the duty of the Executive Authority to issue Writs of Election to fill such vacancies. What this means is that the Governors of the States have the duty to ensure there is a special election to fill any vacancies that may happen in the House of Representatives.
 
The House of Representatives chooses for itself its own Speaker of the House, and other officers.
 
According to Article I, Section 2, Clause 5, the House of Representatives has the sole power of impeachment. To impeach is to charge with misconduct. The formal process of impeachment may lead to removal of an official accused of unlawful activity or other offenses deemed to be impeachable offenses. Impeachment is not defined as removal from office, though removal from office is often the result of impeachment proceedings. In history, two presidents have been impeached, but neither were removed from office. The presidents who faced impeachment were Andrew Johnson (serving as President of the United States from 1865 to 1869), and William Jefferson Clinton (1993-2001). President Richard Nixon resigned in 1974 before impeachment proceedings began.
 
The United States Senate

Article I, Section 3 established, and defines, the United States Senate. The representation of the States in the U.S. Senate is equal, two per State. The Senators serve for six years, which means every two years an election is held for one-third of the Senate seats. The required minimum age of a Senator is thirty years, five years older than that of a Representative. The increased age requirement for Senators reveals the importance of longer life and political experience, as considered by the Founding Fathers. Allegiance to the United States also remained important to the framers in the U.S. Senate, requiring that Senators need to be nine years a citizen of the United States, rather than the seven years as required of Representatives.
 
Article I, Section 3 originally required that Senators were chosen by the legislatures of the States, rather than voted into office directly by the voters. The appointment of Senators by their State legislatures changed to the vote of the people in 1913 with the ratification of the 17th Amendment. By the State legislatures appointing the Senators, it made the Senate the voice of the States, while the House of Representatives was the voice of the people. By the Houses of Congress being different, it created a natural check and balance, which did not allow the representation of the people to accomplish anything without approval of the voice of the States, and vice versa.
 
Article I, Section 3, Clause 4 establishes the Vice President as the President of the Senate. The Vice President, though a member of the executive branch, is also connected to the legislative branch. The Vice President may preside over the sessions of the U.S. Senate, and even participate in the debates, but in the end, the Vice President has no vote in the U.S. Senate, except as the tie-breaking vote.
 
During the early days of our nation the Vice President attended a large number of sessions of the Senate. He served as the voice of the executive branch in the Senate, ensuring the States' representation in Congress had the opportunity to be exposed to the executive branch's opinions regarding the issues that concerned the States, and the union as a whole.
 
As with the House of Representatives, the Senate chooses its own officers. One of those officers is the President pro tempore, which is the President of the Senate when the Vice President is not present.
 
The House of Representatives has the sole power of impeachment. Article I, Section 3, Clause 6 gives the U.S. Senate the authority to try all impeachments. No conviction can be reached unless two-thirds of the U.S. Senate membership is present. Impeachment cannot extend further than the removal of the impeached from office, and the disqualification to hold any office in the future. However, a legal case can still be brought against the convicted from other sources, according to the law. Since the U.S. Senators were originally appointed by the legislatures of the individual States, this means that impeachment charges could be brought by the people (House of Representatives), but it took the States (Senate) to hear the case, and make the final determination after all evidence was provided. During impeachment hearings, the Chief Justice presides over the hearing, as provided by Article I, Section 3.
 
The 17th Amendment changed the dynamics of our governmental system. Note that many functions by the executive branch are subject to the advise and consent of the Senate. The Senate ratifies treaties, holds hearings for any appointments the executive branch nominates, and the Senate holds the sole power for holding hearings on impeachments. This is because actions by the federal government are subject to approval by the States. The States granted the federal government its powers in the first place.
 
The House of Representatives, as the voice of the people, and the Senate, as the voice of the States, and the natural check and balance that is the result of that relationship between those two Houses of Congress, also enables both Houses together to be a valuable check against the executive branch. One of the emanations of that correlation is the ability of Congress to override a veto with a 2/3 vote. The authority to override vetoes was established to enable the People, and the States, when they are in full agreement regarding a proposed bill, to be able to ensure a law is put into place, and to constrain the executive together through the power of combined vote.
 
Elections and Assembly of Congress

Article I, Section 4 begins, "The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof." This clause establishes that each State may have its own methods for electing members of the Congress. The same applies, as determined in Article II, to presidential elections. If there is a discrepancy, or a question regarding the acceptance of ballots, it is not the job of the courts to make final determination. Article I, Section 4 gives that authority to the State legislatures.
 
The same clause adds, after giving the State legislatures authority over federal elections, that "Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing Senators."
 
Congress, as discussed earlier, is bicameral. The two Houses of Congress are the House of Representatives, and the United States Senate. The House of Representatives, at the time of the writing of the Constitution, was designed to be as it is now, the voice of the people. Representatives have always been elected by a direct vote. The United States Senate was the voice of the States, appointed by the State legislatures. The appointment of the Senators by representatives of the people is an example of an indirect vote.
 
As the representation of the people, and the States, Congress was not seen as the greatest potential danger in the federal government. Congress was the voice of the people and the States in the federal government; the eyes of the parents to ensure the central government did not grow beyond the authorities granted to it. With Congress representing the oversight by the people, and the States, the oversight powers given to the federal legislature often led to other authorities that allowed Congress to act as a check and balance against potentially dangerous government activity. Giving Congress oversight authorities was a way to ensure that Congress participated in the concept of a government "by the consent of the governed."
 
Though elections were established with the State legislatures prescribing the times, places and manner of holding elections, as a check and balance against that authority, Congress may pass laws to "make or alter such regulations."
 
At the end of the clause giving Congress the authority to act as an oversight regarding the manner in which elections are held, a qualifier is present, expressing, "except as to the Places of chusing Senators."
 
A majority of delegates at the Federal Convention in 1787, by the conclusion of the assembly, were strong supporters of the sovereignty of the States, and the parental nature of the States in relation to the newly formed federal government, and the duty of the States as the final arbiters of the United States Constitution to ensure the new government functioned within the limitations granted to it. A part of that function by the States included the very important fact that the States had a voice in Congress with appointed U.S. Senators. The framers did not want that authority to be tinkered with, so they remind future generations at the end of this clause that though Congress has lawmaking authorities, and oversight authorities, manipulating the dynamics of government where the people, and the States, have a voice in the United States Congress is something not to be fiddled with. A similar advisement also appears at the end of Article V., "and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate."
 
Oversight powers by the States were seen by the framers as being a right of the States, and as with natural rights of the people, a right is not something that should be able to be taken, but if the holder of the right wishes to give it away, no law can prevent such a foolish action.
 
The second paragraph of Article I, Section 4 reads, "The Congress shall assemble at least once in every Year." The first thought regarding this clause by the typical reader may be, "Of course. How can they get anything done if Congress isn't assembling?"
 
Another question may be, "Why did the framers feel it to be necessary to insert this clause into the Constitution?"
 
During the convention in 1787, there were some who felt this clause was "overburdensome." Government was not supposed to dominate their everyday lives. The members of Congress were not professional politicians, nor did they care to be. They had businesses to run, and lives to live. Surely, the attitude of many of the Founding Fathers was, there is not enough business to compel Congress to meet every single year!
 
Those who supported the concept of an annual meeting reminded the others that Congress was the check the people and the States had available to them in the federal government. It was the duty of Congress to serve as a check against the President, and the federal judiciary. To be an effective check, Congress must meet at least once per year. The clause, it was argued, was for the benefit of the people.
 
In present day politics, the opposite seems to be the norm. Government is viewed as being broken if they do not act on an endless and constant flow of issues, committees, and crises. Politicians view their position as their job, rather than a service they are providing.
 
Originally, the required meeting day was the first Monday in December. That was later changed to noon on the third day of January by the 20th Amendment.
 
Congressional Procedure

Article I, Section 5 requires Congress to have a minimum number of members present in order to do business. That majority constitutes a quorum, and if the Congress deems it necessary, the present members may set fines for members who do not show up. The Houses of Congress may remain in session, during which no formal business is conducted because the House does not have a quorum, so as to prevent executive actions that may be carried out during recess. This kind of session is called a pro forma session.
 
In Article II, Section 2, the President is given the authority to make recess appointments, when Congress is not in session. Normally, the United States Senate has advise and consent authority over appointments, which means that appointments of personnel to fill vacancies are possible for the President to grant, but such appointments requires the approval of the United States Senate (voice of the States). If the Senate is not in session, and an appointment is necessary, the President may make appointments, but the terms of those appointments only last to the end of the Senate's next session. If the Senate is in a pro-forma session, the President may not make any appointments. With Congress only in session when there is work to be done, and the Founders believing that would likely only be once a year, the ability of the President to make appointments when Congress is not in session was a valuable, and necessary, tool. In today's political environment, it seems like Congress is always in session, so recess appointments are not as common.
 
In early January of 2012, President Barack Obama used a recess appointment to name Richard Cordray the new Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The CFPB is a powerful bureaucracy created by the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial overhaul legislation. However, even though most of the members of Congress were on vacation, the United States Senate was still in session. President Obama's definition of recess, it turned out, was broader than the Constitution's definition. In reality, the U.S. Senate was in pro-forma session. John Berlau, Director of CEI's Center for Investors and Entrepreneurs, called the nomination of former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray "very troubling," criticizing both Obama's controversial use of a recess appointment, and the selection of Cordray itself. Berlau later asked, "What's next, appointing nominees when the Senate takes a bathroom break?"
 
Article I, Section 5 also allows each House of Congress to determine its own rules, keep a journal to record proceedings and votes, and that neither house may adjourn without the permission of the other. Section 5 also establishes that if a member of a house does not follow the established rules, the house may punish its members for disorderly behavior, and by a two thirds vote may actually expel a member from Congress.
 
The establishment of rules, holding a hearing in regards to the breaking of those rules, and punishing a member for his behavior, as set forth by Article I, Section 5, was used when Charles Rangel broke the rules of the House of Representatives. He faced a panel for his actions, and was punished by censure in December of 2010. He later sued, spending about a third of his 2014 campaign cash on legal bills in a failed bid to overturn his fall from congressional grace. On December 11, 2013, a federal judge in Washington dismissed the lawsuit, filed by Rangel in the previous April, to get the censure overturned.
 
The mandate to keep a journal to record proceedings and votes was included in this section because the Founders wanted government to be transparent, accessible, and accountable to the people. Deals behind closed doors were not supposed to be a part of our political system.

Congressional Compensation, Privileges, Restrictions

When President George Washington took office, he refused to accept the constitutionally allowed compensation for holding the office. He viewed his office as being a privilege, and an opportunity to once again serve the country he loved. During the Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin considered proposing that elected government officials not be paid for their service. By the end of the debate, it was decided that government representatives should receive fixed stipends by which they may be compensated for the devotion of their time to public service. It was also determined, however, that the compensation should not be so high that it would become the motive for seeking office.
 
Article I, Section 6 of the Constitution addresses compensation, and the rules regarding such. Section 6 also establishes that members of Congress may not be detained while traveling to and from Congress, and that they cannot hold any other office in government while in Congress.
 
Protection from arrest while traveling to and from Congress was not only a privilege based on those enjoyed by their counterparts in the British Parliament, but also a protection from political enemies who may wish to keep certain members of Congress from voting.
 
This section also indicates that no member of Congress shall be appointed to a later office if while in Congress the office was created, or a raise in pay was enacted for that office.
 
To explain this clause, let's visit a recent violation of it during the Obama administration.
 
After Barack Obama won the 2008 Presidential Election, he announced that Hillary Clinton would be his new Secretary of State. The position of Secretary of State received a pay raise while Hillary Clinton was a member of the United States Senate. Article I, Section 6 states that "No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States, which shall be been created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been encreased during such time." Since Clinton was a Senator at the time the position of Secretary of State was given a raise, technically she was not eligible for the position to which she was appointed. To resolve this problem, and still allow Mrs. Clinton to accept the position, the Democrats applied the Saxbe Fix, meaning they undid the raise, and Hillary Clinton received the compensation that was in place before the vote she participated in while in the Senate. The Saxbe Fix, or a Salary rollback, is an unconstitutional action. The clause in the Constitution is clear: "No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been encreased during such time."
 
The Saxbe Fix, or the rollback of the salary, does not change the fact that the emoluments increased during the time Hillary Clinton was in the U.S. Senate.
 
As a tool, the Saxbe fix was nothing new. The salary rollback in the case of a violation of Article I, Section 6, a mechanism by which the President of the United States can avoid restrictions by the United States Constitution which prohibits the President from appointing a current or former member of Congress to a position that was created, or to an office position for which the pay and/or benefits were increased, during the term for which that member was elected until the term has expired, was first used in 1909. The "Saxbe" name was applied to the political maneuver later in history. The Saxbe Fix is named for William Saxbe, a Senator appointed Attorney General by President Richard Nixon in 1973.

Terms:
 
Adjourn: Suspend proceedings to a later time and/or place.
 
Censure: Procedure for publicly reprimanding a public official for inappropriate behavior. There are normally no legal consequences. Censure is not mentioned in the Constitution, but is a procedure devised by the legislature as a tool for formal condemnation of a member of the congressional body.
 
Congress of the United States: The legislative branch of the federal government which consists of two houses; a Senate and House of Representatives. The Congress is the only part of the federal government granted the authority of legislative powers.
 
Granted: To confer, give, or bestow. A gift of legal rights or privileges, or a recognition of asserted rights, as in treaty. To legally transfer.
 
Impeachment: To charge with misconduct. Formal process that may lead to removal of an official accused of unlawful activity; impeachment does not mean the removal from office, though removal from office is often the result of impeachment proceedings.
 
Legislative Powers: The ability to make law, modify law, repeal law, and anything else that has to do with affecting law.
 
Nullification: State power to ignore unconstitutional federal law.
 
President pro tempore: Second highest ranking official of the United States Senate. Vice President is President of the Senate and the highest-ranking official of the Senate despite not being a member of the body. During the Vice President's absence, the president pro tempore presides over its sessions or appoints another senator to do so. The president pro tempore is elected by the Senate and is customarily the most senior senator in the majority party.
 
Pro Forma Session: A session in either house of the United States Congress at which no formal business is expected to be conducted, so as to fulfill the obligation "that neither chamber can adjourn for more than three days without the consent of the other." Pro forma sessions are also used to prevent the President from pocket-vetoing bills, calling the Congress into a special session, and to prevent the President from making recess appointments.
 
Quorum: Minimum number of members of an assembly necessary to conduct the business of that group.
 
Saxby Fix: Salary rollback. A mechanism by which the President of the United States can avoid restrictions by the United States Constitution which prohibits the President from appointing a current or former member of Congress to a position that was created, or to an office position for which the pay and/or benefits were increased, during the term for which that member was elected until the term has expired. First used in 1909, the Saxbe Fix is named for William Saxbe, a Senator appointed to Attorney General by Nixon in 1973.
 
Questions for Discussion:
 
1. If only Congress can make law, then why do some politicians believe that Executive Orders can modify law, or that regulatory agencies can create new regulations to enforce laws that were never passed by Congress?
 
2. The word "granted" reminds us that all powers once belonged to the States, and some of those authorities were "granted" to the federal government for the purpose of carrying out the tasks necessary for the protection, preservation, and promotion of the union. If the federal government was created by the States, then how can statists justify their belief that all federal laws trump all State laws?
 
3. Why do you think the Congress has two legislative houses?
 
4. Why do you think representatives are only elected for two years?
 
5. Why is it significant that only the House can originate bills for raising revenue?
 
6. Why is the power of impeachment belonging to the House so important?
 
7. As President of the Senate, what kind of role should the Vice President play in the day to day activities of the United States Senate?
 
8. Why do you think the House of Representatives has the sole power of impeachment, but the Senate has the task of hearing the case?
 
9. How are the dynamics of our governmental system different in relation to how the Senators are appointed, or voted for?
 
10. How was the Senate expected to check the House of Representatives, and work together with the House to check the Executive and Judiciary?
 
11. Why do you think the authority for prescribing the times, places, and manner of holding elections was given to the State Legislatures?
 
12. Why was Congress given the allowance to pass laws that may make or alter such regulations?
 
13. Why was the federal government prohibited from influencing the places for choosing Senators?
 
14. To conduct business, the houses of Congress need a quorum. If they do not have a majority, they may remain in session through a rule established by Congress called pro forma. What advantages does pro forma give the houses of Congress when it comes as serving as a check against the executive branch?
 
15. Why do you think neither house can adjourn without the permission of the other?
 
16. The houses of Congress establish their own rules of procedure. If a member breaks any of these rules, Congress also has the authority to punish the rule breaker. One type of punishment is called censure. How is censure an adequate punishment?
 
17. How has the concept of transparency changed over the last two hundred years?
 
Resources:
 
Edwin Mora, "Top Democrat Dodges Question on Constitutionality of Obama Appointments, Says Pro Forma Sessions Are 'Games Being Played'," CNSnews.com (January 6, 2012): http://cnsnews.com/news/article/top-democrat-dodges-question-constitutionality-obama-appointments-says-pro-forma
 
 
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).
 
Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen, A Patriot's History of the United States; New York: Sentinel (2004).
 
Madison's Notes on the Constitutional Convention, Avalon Project, Yale University: http://avalon.law.yale.edu/subject_menus/debcont.asp
 
Philip B. Kurland and Ralph Lerner, The Founder's Constitution - Volume Two - Preamble through Article I, Section 8, Clause 4; Indianapolis: Liberty Fund (1987).
 
Saxbe, William B. I've Seen the Elephant: An Autobiography. Kent State University Press (2000).
 
 
 
Copyright: Douglas V. Gibbs, 2014

No case in the world of child transmitting COVID-19 (coronavirus)

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

Doctor: "Kids don't drive COVID-19."

https://gab.com/a/posts/104591612298957345 watch the video.

Keeping kids out of school is politically and monetarily driven.

Hydroxychloroquine works, and it works as a preventative measure as well.

Lockdowns are not reducing deaths.  Sustainable approach includes opening up schools and opening up businesses ... as opposed to putting edicts on people.

Politicians are interfering with the Doctor/Patient relationship by not allowing pharmacies to honor prescriptions for hydroxychloroquine.

Case numbers are inaccurate, and irrelevant.



-- Political Pistachio Conservative News and Commentary

Ronald Reagan Warned Us

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





-- Political Pistachio Conservative News and Commentary

Monday, July 27, 2020

Time for Civil Disobedience is Now!

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

In a 5-4 Decision the United States Supreme Court has determined that California restricting church gatherings is not unconstitutional, and does not violate the "free exercise clause of the First Amendment."  The Ninth Circuit Judges, regarding restrictions against churches regarding the free exercise of their religion, and more specifically, worship services, said, "constitutional standards that would normally govern our review of a Free Exercise claim should not be applied."  The last time I checked, the First Amendment does not say, "Freedom of Religion, unless there's a virus."

The court's decision is unconstitutional.  They are wrong.  Liberty must prevail.  And it is time the American People send that message.

In 1777 a small pox epidemic swept through the fledgling United States, and it occurred while we were fighting for our independence.  The British Troops had stronger immunity to the disease because its presence in Europe had been long standing.  In response to the disease, despite its 10% mortality rate, new United States offered a voluntary vaccine, quarantined the sick (not the healthy), and remained open for business and at war with the Redcoats through the disease's journey along our shores.  While some precautions were taken voluntarily, the decisions were left up to the people, not through government mandate.

A little more than a decade later the Yellow Fever swept through Philadelphia, taking the life of the mayor, Samuel Powel, during the epidemic.  Powel, and his wife Elizabeth, had been given the opportunity by the George Washington family to wait out the disease at their home on Mount Vernon in Virginia in the name of safety, but the Powel couple felt their presence as a firm voice of leadership in Philadelphia was more important.  Some people died, most survived, and liberty was never compromised during the affair.  After the Yellow Fever departed, the immune systems of the Americans grew even stronger, and the country continued on to become the greatest this world has ever seen.

Now, we face a novel coronavirus that, if you honestly look at the numbers, has a survival rate of over 98%.  The death numbers have been padded, and we have been told a massive spike in cases has gripped our country, but interestingly enough the number spiked as testing increased.  In other words, due to testing, we don't have more cases, we simply have more cases we know about as a result of the testing.

This mild virus has, honestly, killed some people, but largely those who have underlying health issues already in place.  But, for the most part, it is nearly harmless, and usually asymptomatic, to anyone under 60, and is a slightly stronger bug for those over 60.  As a result of a minor virus, we have refused to trust our immune systems, gone against science with "run and hide" strategies, we have shut down our economy, and worse, we have allowed the tyrants in political office to run wild with their authoritarianism.

We have complained, we have yelled, and we have taken them to court, and the dictators continue to do the evil things they do without any consequence. 

The time for that stops now.

Remember how proud we were of the rise of the Tea Party Movement when President Obama's policies threatened our Liberty?  We rallied, we shouted, and we were rewarded with a caucus in Congress, and with the election of a President named Donald J. Trump who has shown us that he has an incredible ability to stand firm, with a resolve of steel.

Have we learned nothing from him?

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. did more than complain and form rallies.  He committed civil disobedience to ensure that the Civil Rights Movement moved forward and got national attention.  Should we not be doing the same in the face of this moment in history when tyrants are stomping all over our liberty?

Despite the Supreme Court's ruling, it is time for churches to stand in defiance.  They need to unite, and hundreds of churches around California, and thousands around the country, need to openly hold worship services, regardless of what the ruling elite is mandating.

We also need to hold "face parties," where those of us who refuse to wear masks visit public locations in groups to get our point across.  Target liberal businesses, government facilities, and the lobbies of media outlets freaking out about the Wuhan Chinese COVID 19 virus.  First, one person walks in without a mask.  As the person who thinks they are security for the establishment tells the person they need to have a mask on, another unmasked person needs to walk in.  Then another.  Then another.  Do it until the whole place is full of people not only not wearing masks, but hugging and talking and shaking hands with each other.  Let them arrest the whole group, if that is what is necessary to get media attention, and the attention of the American People.

That's the rub.  You must have the stomach for civil disobedience.  You must be willing to take a risk that may include arrest, or worse.

I will wrap up with this little story to help you understand the perspective we need to be having.

In 2016 I had a Trump/Pence sticker in the window of my car, and a woman said that I was brave, and she would not do the same because she feared someone scratching her paint job on her car by running a key along the side of it if she put a similar bumper sticker on her vehicle.

"Think about what you just said," I responded.  "The Founding Fathers put on the line their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor, and you are worried about a paint job."

Liberty deserves better.  It is time for civil disobedience.  It is time for us to risk more than just a paint job on our car.  But, to make it work, WE must organize, and WE must do it.  Otherwise, we cease to be We the People, and we become, "those who once enjoyed liberty, but threw it all away to be in bondage in the name good intentions and a virus."

-- Political Pistachio Conservative News and Commentary

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Constitution Radio: The Wayward Courts

Live from my perch in Brookings, Oregon ...

Constitution Radio with 
Douglas V. Gibbs



Saturdays, 1-3 pm Pacific


951-922-3532.

The U.S. Supreme Court just told churches "too bad, the Natural Right of Religious Freedom has been suspended in the name of a virus".

The vote was 5 to 4, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. joining the court’s four-member liberal wing to form a majority.

“Although California’s guidelines place restrictions on places of worship, those restrictions appear consistent with the free exercise clause of the First Amendment,” Chief Justice Roberts wrote in an opinion concurring in the unsigned ruling.

“Similar or more severe restrictions apply to comparable secular gatherings, including lectures, concerts, movie showings, spectator sports and theatrical performances, where large groups of people gather in close proximity for extended periods of time,” the chief justice wrote. “And the order exempts or treats more leniently only dissimilar activities, such as operating grocery stores, banks and laundromats, in which people neither congregate in large groups nor remain in close proximity for extended periods.”

I don't don't remember seeing a caveat that says, "Freedom of Religion unless there's a virus".

The crew began my 25 Myths of the U.S. Constitution, and this week, we've gotten to Myth #4: The Supreme Court Interprets the Constitution, and Can Decide if a Law is Constitutional or Not.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Riverside County COVID-19 Statistics

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

While I believe the numbers are being exagerrated, even with the pumped up numbers the COVID-19 scamdemic is truly a political move that has none of the dangers we are being told...

Courtesy of California Senate elect Melissa Melendez
COVID-19 Facts for Riverside County as of 7-17-20
Total Tested-307,617
Tested Negative-91%
Tested Positive-28,695
Tested Positive-9%
Total Deaths-587
Death Rate for Positive Covid-19 Cases-2%
Death Rate for Total Riverside County Population-.0234%
Average age of death - 72
Hospital Beds:
Total Beds-3476
Beds In Covid Use-535
ICU Beds
Total ICU Beds-492
Total ICU Bed Covid Use-130
Death Ages
Age 0-17 zero deaths
Ages 18-24 - 3 deaths
Ages 25-44 - 23 deaths
Ages 45-64 - 146 deaths
Ages 65-84 - 286 deaths
Ages 85 and up - 129 deaths

-- Political Pistachio Conservative News and Commentary

Wretchedness

Dear Reader,

I have been out of town so my writing has dwindled to nothing over the last few days. But, as I sit here and flip through my phone, looking at the news of the day, I can only shake my head in dismay, disappointment, and fear.

Over the years in my lifetime I have seen us go from a country fully believing in "In God We Trust", to one that is struggling with immorality, political upheaval, a turning away from our foundation of Liberty, and one that is committing cultural suicide that rivals historical episodes such as the Israelites dancing around a golden calf as Moses came down from the mountain.

And, I weep.

"Never before had there been greater wretchedness in the country ... And they said openly that Christ and his saints slept." -- The Peterborough Chronicle

The Peterborough Chronicle, one of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, provides a view of history of England after the Norman Conquest. I found the quote on the opening pages of "When Christ and his Saints Slept" by Sharon Kay Penman, a work of historical fiction.

Today we are experiencing no greater wretchedness than has been seen in the history of this country, but I don't believe it is because Christ and his saints sleep, but because the church leadership in this country, and in this world, has allowed it to happen by running their faith under the tap which spews lukewarm Christianity.  Like Nineveh, if we do not fall to our knees in prayer, and if we don't begin acting like the children of the One True God, and the Bride of Christ, this society and all that we have fought for over more than the last two and a half centuries will be lost, as the communists would say, to the dustbin of history.

First Amendment

Freedom of Religion ... Pray About It
Freedom of Speech ... Talk About It
Freedom of the Press ... Write About It
Freedom of Assembly ... Gather About It
Freedom to Petition the Government ... Be Activists About It

Blessings,

Douglas V. Gibbs

Monday, July 20, 2020

Face Masks: Business Recognizes Medical Exemptions (and Liberty)

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

I don't wear a face covering in public, or at all for that matter, during this COVID-19 scamdemic.  In addition to my political problems with it, I also have medical exemptions, anyway.  I am hard of hearing, so I actually have to tell people to take off their masks so I know what they are saying.  Secondly, I have vertigo issues, and cutting off my oxygen supply increases my odds of dropping to the floor for hours as I ride the rollercoaster of dizzyness and spinning.  I am so tired of arguing with businesses in California over it who, time and time again have refused business to me even after I explain my reason for not wearing a mask, and explain to them that if I put on a mask I will be on the floor in distress and my wife will be getting their names for the impending law suit.  In Southern California the attitude about face coverings is so bad that a few weeks ago while walking with my cane in front of a grocery store, a private citizen slammed me against the wall saying as he did so, and as I fell to the ground, "Wear a f***ing mask, a**hole."  I have been yelled at, I have had fingers shaken at me and middle fingers flipped at me, and anger spewed at me for not wearing a mask ... even though, as I walk with my cane, there is an obvious medical condition going on.

Despite me going through some recent vertigo episodes, my wife and I have taken another trip (our fourth this year and since the alleged outbreak of the Chinese Wuhan Coronavirus), to our second home in Oregon.  Since our caretaker died last February, it has become imperative for us to go up there to take care of a lot of business, and prepare for an inevitable move out of California to the Oregon Coast.  As we arrived I was curious about the difference in weather, and my phone's internet connection advised me of a thirty degrees drop in temperature.  As we pulled into town I also observed a number of differences.  Life in Oregon (while still struggling under the iron thumb of Democrat leadership) is much different than what is going on in California.  While more people are wearing masks right now, as compared to the last time I was up here last month and in March, not once has anyone given me a dirty look or asked me about not wearing a mask.  We went to the grocer's, a mini-mart, a small convenience store, and an equipment retailer, all without a single concern about my lack of a mask on my face.

Then, I went out to eat with my wife, and the Oregonian attitude became suddenly crystal clear.  This was the sign on the door at the restaurant we visited in Gold Beach, Oregon:


Every American, politician from citizen, should read this, heed this, and then throw off their masks because to be honest, anyone sucking in less oxygen than we can in our normal unmasked lives are placing themselves at medical risk, in my humble opinion, which makes everyone medically exempt.

By the way, the steamed mussels, clam chowder, and fish sandwich was awesome at The Port Hole in Gold Beach.  You gotta visit it if ever you are in the area.

-- Political Pistachio Conservative News and Commentary

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Temecula Constitution Class Special Night

Tonight we will be in class in Temecula. Hope to see you there.  Location is 28120 Jefferson Ave, center with Rosa's Cantina and Tortilla Factory, in back of center next to tattoo shop.  5:30 pm start.  I will be there early if you wish to talk, pick my brain, or just hang out.  Pizza's on me.

We will do a quick rehash of the Preamble for the new folks, and then start on Lesson Two, Legislative powers ... of which the handout is below.

Constitution Class Handout
Instructor: Douglas V. Gibbs

 
 
 
Lesson 02
 
Legislative Powers
 
Establishing the Legislative Branch
 
 
 
Legislative Powers

Article I, Section 1: All Legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.
 
Article I establishes the Legislative Branch of the federal government. Article I, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution establishes the two parts of Congress, and grants all legislative powers to the two Houses of the Congress of the United States. When studying the language used in Article I, Section 1, the original intent by the Founding Fathers becomes clear.
 
The first word in the first section of Article I is the word "all." The definition of all is "the whole of a particular thing."
 
The next words in Article I, Section 1 are legislative powers. Legislative powers are the ability to make law, modify law, repeal law, and anything else that has to do with affecting law.
 
The next word in the clause is "herein." The primary definition of herein is "here in this document."
 
After herein is the word granted. Granted is defined as "to give," "to allow," or more specifically "to legally transfer." If powers are granted, then there must be a "grantor," as well as a grantee. As we learned in our discussion regarding The Preamble, the "grantor" of the authorities enumerated in the Constitution is the States.
 
"Shall be" is definitive. The Constitution in its first clause reads, "All legislative powers herein granted shall be. . .," shall be meaning "it is," or "it will be."
 
"Vested" is much like "granted." Vested is a legal transfer of something, or in this case, an allowance to have legislative powers at the federal level granted to Congress.
 
The Congress of the United States is the legislative branch of the federal government, and this clause indicates that not only will the Congress be granted all legislative powers given to the federal government, but that the branch of government consists of two houses; a Senate and House of Representatives.
 
All legislative powers, according to this clause, are granted to the Congress by the States for the purpose of making law, modifying law, or repealing law. The powers are herein granted, which means that the laws must fall within the authorities granted by the text of the U.S. Constitution. In other words, laws made must remain consistent with the "powers herein granted."
 
Based on language used in the first clause of the United States Constitution, when members of the judiciary legislates from the bench, or the President issues an executive order to modify a law, such action is unconstitutional. After all, "all legislative powers" were granted to the Congress, not to the judicial branch, or the executive branch.
 
Since all legislative powers belong to the Congress, that means any regulations by federal departments that are not in line with laws made by the Congress that are in line with the authorities granted by the Constitution are unconstitutional as well. All legislative powers belong to the Congress, therefore any "legislative actions" by regulatory agencies, which are a part of the executive branch, are not in line with the original intent of the Constitution.
 
Powers the federal government has were "granted" by the States. "We The People of the United States" granted those powers to the federal government through the Constitution. Therefore, if the federal government acts in a manner that is not consistent with the contract between the States and the U.S. Government, the States have the option to ignore those unconstitutional actions by the federal government. This action of ignoring unconstitutional law is the States' way of being the final arbiters of the Constitution. The term for this kind of action by a State is nullification. Thomas Jefferson, in his draft of the Kentucky Resolutions, explained that any unconstitutional law is null and void, and as an illegal law, the States have the right to nullify it.
 
The concept that only Congress has legislative powers, only the executive branch has executive powers, and the judicial branch only has judicial powers, as described in the first sentence of each of the first three articles of the Constitution, is called Separation of Powers. The purpose of this philosophy is to disallow different branches from abusing the powers not granted to that branch, as well as to protect against collusion.
 
The Separation of Powers also exists between the States, and the federal government. Most authorities granted to the federal government are powers the States did not reserve to themselves. Most authorities retained by the States are not authorized to be administered to by the federal government. There are a few authorities that are concurrent, meaning that both the federal government, and the States, have some authority over the issue. One issue that is concurrent is immigration, which will be addressed later in this book. Sole authority over a particular power is called Exclusive Powers.
 
House of Representatives

Article I, Section 2 establishes, and defines, the House of Representatives. The members of the House of Representatives are divided among the States proportionally. As it is today, the House of Representatives was the voice of the people in the federal government. Each Representative is chosen to serve for two years, which means every two years every Representative is up for re-election, if they choose to run.
 
The eligibility of a Representative as explained by Article I, Section 2 requires that the candidate must be at least twenty-five years of age, and been a citizen of the United States for at least seven years. The age is lower than for Senators. Representatives were not expected to be as politically savvy as the Senators, and tended to have less experience. The age requirement simply reflected that. Political knowledge and experience tends to come with age.
 
Divided allegiance was a serious concern to the Founding Fathers. The requirement that Representatives have been citizens of the United States for at least seven years reflects that concern. Seven years, for a Representative of the people, was assumed to have been long enough for the Representative to have thrown off any allegiances to other nations.
 
The third clause of Article I, Section 2, includes the 3/5s clause, which was changed by the 14th Amendment following the American Civil War.
 
The Southern States used slaves for their agricultural economies. The southern states were needed to ratify the new constitution. As a condition for ratifying the Constitution, the southern states demanded that the slaves be counted as one whole person each. The idea was that if the slaves were counted as whole persons, the apportionment would tip the scales in their favor through increased representation in the new United States House of Representatives. White populations in the southern states were lower in number when compared to the northern states, due to the rural nature of the Slave States to the south.
 
The Northern States, under the heavy influence of merchants, political elitists, and a group of abolitionists, wanted the slaves counted as "zero" in order to reduce the number of representatives the southern states would receive, which would give the majority to the northern states, thus giving the north more legislative power. With this additional voting power in the House of Representatives, the northern states sought to have greater influence on the federal government through legislation. The plan was to use their legislative power to tyrannically force the southern states into submission, and to eventually abandon slavery.
 
In the interest of compromise, to convince the southern states to ratify the constitution, while giving the northern states the satisfaction that the southern states did not get exactly what they wanted, the decision was made that slaves would be counted as 3/5 of a whole person for the sake of apportionment. In other words, it was not a declaration that they believed blacks to be less than a person, but simply to affect the census in such a way that too much power through apportionment would not be given to either The North or The South, while also ensuring that the Constitution got ratified.
 
G.R. Mobley, author of We the People, Whose Constitution Is It Anyway?, believes the Founding Fathers missed a great opportunity to abolish slavery. He supports the idea that the 3/5s Clause was an error in judgment by the Founders, and that the authors of the Constitution should have only allowed those States that rejected slavery to be members of the union under the Constitution. By failing to ratify the Constitution the southern slave states would then have been on their own as a separate union. Pressure from the Spanish in Florida, and the threat of invasion by Spanish forces, would have then encouraged the slave states to abolish slavery, so that they may rejoin the union, and enjoy the strength of the union of all thirteen States.
 
Historically, it is impossible to know if that is exactly how it would have played out. Regardless of the opportunity, the Founders largely believed they had to compromise to ensure every State remained a member of the union, and ensure that they would receive the required nine ratifications of States in order to put the new federal government into motion.
 
Article I, Section 2, Clause 3, in addition to containing the 3/5s Clause, also establishes the census. The census is a required a head count to be taken once every ten years in order to determine the enumeration for establishing the number of Representatives each State shall receive. The clause also indicates that the number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty thousand. This means there cannot be more than one Representative for a district of thirty thousand. However, it does not indicate there must be one Representative per thirty thousand. If that was the case, we would have thousands of Representatives.
 
Article I, Section 2, Clause 4 states that whenever vacancies happen in the House of Representatives, it is the duty of the Executive Authority to issue Writs of Election to fill such vacancies. What this means is that the Governors of the States have the duty to ensure there is a special election to fill any vacancies that may happen in the House of Representatives.
 
The House of Representatives chooses for itself its own Speaker of the House, and other officers.
 
According to Article I, Section 2, Clause 5, the House of Representatives has the sole power of impeachment. To impeach is to charge with misconduct. The formal process of impeachment may lead to removal of an official accused of unlawful activity or other offenses deemed to be impeachable offenses. Impeachment is not defined as removal from office, though removal from office is often the result of impeachment proceedings. In history, two presidents have been impeached, but neither were removed from office. The presidents who faced impeachment were Andrew Johnson (serving as President of the United States from 1865 to 1869), and William Jefferson Clinton (1993-2001). President Richard Nixon resigned in 1974 before impeachment proceedings began.
 
The United States Senate

Article I, Section 3 established, and defines, the United States Senate. The representation of the States in the U.S. Senate is equal, two per State. The Senators serve for six years, which means every two years an election is held for one-third of the Senate seats. The required minimum age of a Senator is thirty years, five years older than that of a Representative. The increased age requirement for Senators reveals the importance of longer life and political experience, as considered by the Founding Fathers. Allegiance to the United States also remained important to the framers in the U.S. Senate, requiring that Senators need to be nine years a citizen of the United States, rather than the seven years as required of Representatives.
 
Article I, Section 3 originally required that Senators were chosen by the legislatures of the States, rather than voted into office directly by the voters. The appointment of Senators by their State legislatures changed to the vote of the people in 1913 with the ratification of the 17th Amendment. By the State legislatures appointing the Senators, it made the Senate the voice of the States, while the House of Representatives was the voice of the people. By the Houses of Congress being different, it created a natural check and balance, which did not allow the representation of the people to accomplish anything without approval of the voice of the States, and vice versa.
 
Article I, Section 3, Clause 4 establishes the Vice President as the President of the Senate. The Vice President, though a member of the executive branch, is also connected to the legislative branch. The Vice President may preside over the sessions of the U.S. Senate, and even participate in the debates, but in the end, the Vice President has no vote in the U.S. Senate, except as the tie-breaking vote.
 
During the early days of our nation the Vice President attended a large number of sessions of the Senate. He served as the voice of the executive branch in the Senate, ensuring the States' representation in Congress had the opportunity to be exposed to the executive branch's opinions regarding the issues that concerned the States, and the union as a whole.
 
As with the House of Representatives, the Senate chooses its own officers. One of those officers is the President pro tempore, which is the President of the Senate when the Vice President is not present.
 
The House of Representatives has the sole power of impeachment. Article I, Section 3, Clause 6 gives the U.S. Senate the authority to try all impeachments. No conviction can be reached unless two-thirds of the U.S. Senate membership is present. Impeachment cannot extend further than the removal of the impeached from office, and the disqualification to hold any office in the future. However, a legal case can still be brought against the convicted from other sources, according to the law. Since the U.S. Senators were originally appointed by the legislatures of the individual States, this means that impeachment charges could be brought by the people (House of Representatives), but it took the States (Senate) to hear the case, and make the final determination after all evidence was provided. During impeachment hearings, the Chief Justice presides over the hearing, as provided by Article I, Section 3.
 
The 17th Amendment changed the dynamics of our governmental system. Note that many functions by the executive branch are subject to the advise and consent of the Senate. The Senate ratifies treaties, holds hearings for any appointments the executive branch nominates, and the Senate holds the sole power for holding hearings on impeachments. This is because actions by the federal government are subject to approval by the States. The States granted the federal government its powers in the first place.
 
The House of Representatives, as the voice of the people, and the Senate, as the voice of the States, and the natural check and balance that is the result of that relationship between those two Houses of Congress, also enables both Houses together to be a valuable check against the executive branch. One of the emanations of that correlation is the ability of Congress to override a veto with a 2/3 vote. The authority to override vetoes was established to enable the People, and the States, when they are in full agreement regarding a proposed bill, to be able to ensure a law is put into place, and to constrain the executive together through the power of combined vote.
 
Elections and Assembly of Congress

Article I, Section 4 begins, "The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof." This clause establishes that each State may have its own methods for electing members of the Congress. The same applies, as determined in Article II, to presidential elections. If there is a discrepancy, or a question regarding the acceptance of ballots, it is not the job of the courts to make final determination. Article I, Section 4 gives that authority to the State legislatures.
 
The same clause adds, after giving the State legislatures authority over federal elections, that "Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing Senators."
 
Congress, as discussed earlier, is bicameral. The two Houses of Congress are the House of Representatives, and the United States Senate. The House of Representatives, at the time of the writing of the Constitution, was designed to be as it is now, the voice of the people. Representatives have always been elected by a direct vote. The United States Senate was the voice of the States, appointed by the State legislatures. The appointment of the Senators by representatives of the people is an example of an indirect vote.
 
As the representation of the people, and the States, Congress was not seen as the greatest potential danger in the federal government. Congress was the voice of the people and the States in the federal government; the eyes of the parents to ensure the central government did not grow beyond the authorities granted to it. With Congress representing the oversight by the people, and the States, the oversight powers given to the federal legislature often led to other authorities that allowed Congress to act as a check and balance against potentially dangerous government activity. Giving Congress oversight authorities was a way to ensure that Congress participated in the concept of a government "by the consent of the governed."
 
Though elections were established with the State legislatures prescribing the times, places and manner of holding elections, as a check and balance against that authority, Congress may pass laws to "make or alter such regulations."
 
At the end of the clause giving Congress the authority to act as an oversight regarding the manner in which elections are held, a qualifier is present, expressing, "except as to the Places of chusing Senators."
 
A majority of delegates at the Federal Convention in 1787, by the conclusion of the assembly, were strong supporters of the sovereignty of the States, and the parental nature of the States in relation to the newly formed federal government, and the duty of the States as the final arbiters of the United States Constitution to ensure the new government functioned within the limitations granted to it. A part of that function by the States included the very important fact that the States had a voice in Congress with appointed U.S. Senators. The framers did not want that authority to be tinkered with, so they remind future generations at the end of this clause that though Congress has lawmaking authorities, and oversight authorities, manipulating the dynamics of government where the people, and the States, have a voice in the United States Congress is something not to be fiddled with. A similar advisement also appears at the end of Article V., "and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate."
 
Oversight powers by the States were seen by the framers as being a right of the States, and as with natural rights of the people, a right is not something that should be able to be taken, but if the holder of the right wishes to give it away, no law can prevent such a foolish action.
 
The second paragraph of Article I, Section 4 reads, "The Congress shall assemble at least once in every Year." The first thought regarding this clause by the typical reader may be, "Of course. How can they get anything done if Congress isn't assembling?"
 
Another question may be, "Why did the framers feel it to be necessary to insert this clause into the Constitution?"
 
During the convention in 1787, there were some who felt this clause was "overburdensome." Government was not supposed to dominate their everyday lives. The members of Congress were not professional politicians, nor did they care to be. They had businesses to run, and lives to live. Surely, the attitude of many of the Founding Fathers was, there is not enough business to compel Congress to meet every single year!
 
Those who supported the concept of an annual meeting reminded the others that Congress was the check the people and the States had available to them in the federal government. It was the duty of Congress to serve as a check against the President, and the federal judiciary. To be an effective check, Congress must meet at least once per year. The clause, it was argued, was for the benefit of the people.
 
In present day politics, the opposite seems to be the norm. Government is viewed as being broken if they do not act on an endless and constant flow of issues, committees, and crises. Politicians view their position as their job, rather than a service they are providing.
 
Originally, the required meeting day was the first Monday in December. That was later changed to noon on the third day of January by the 20th Amendment.
 
Congressional Procedure

Article I, Section 5 requires Congress to have a minimum number of members present in order to do business. That majority constitutes a quorum, and if the Congress deems it necessary, the present members may set fines for members who do not show up. The Houses of Congress may remain in session, during which no formal business is conducted because the House does not have a quorum, so as to prevent executive actions that may be carried out during recess. This kind of session is called a pro forma session.
 
In Article II, Section 2, the President is given the authority to make recess appointments, when Congress is not in session. Normally, the United States Senate has advise and consent authority over appointments, which means that appointments of personnel to fill vacancies are possible for the President to grant, but such appointments requires the approval of the United States Senate (voice of the States). If the Senate is not in session, and an appointment is necessary, the President may make appointments, but the terms of those appointments only last to the end of the Senate's next session. If the Senate is in a pro-forma session, the President may not make any appointments. With Congress only in session when there is work to be done, and the Founders believing that would likely only be once a year, the ability of the President to make appointments when Congress is not in session was a valuable, and necessary, tool. In today's political environment, it seems like Congress is always in session, so recess appointments are not as common.
 
In early January of 2012, President Barack Obama used a recess appointment to name Richard Cordray the new Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The CFPB is a powerful bureaucracy created by the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial overhaul legislation. However, even though most of the members of Congress were on vacation, the United States Senate was still in session. President Obama's definition of recess, it turned out, was broader than the Constitution's definition. In reality, the U.S. Senate was in pro-forma session. John Berlau, Director of CEI's Center for Investors and Entrepreneurs, called the nomination of former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray "very troubling," criticizing both Obama's controversial use of a recess appointment, and the selection of Cordray itself. Berlau later asked, "What's next, appointing nominees when the Senate takes a bathroom break?"
 
Article I, Section 5 also allows each House of Congress to determine its own rules, keep a journal to record proceedings and votes, and that neither house may adjourn without the permission of the other. Section 5 also establishes that if a member of a house does not follow the established rules, the house may punish its members for disorderly behavior, and by a two thirds vote may actually expel a member from Congress.
 
The establishment of rules, holding a hearing in regards to the breaking of those rules, and punishing a member for his behavior, as set forth by Article I, Section 5, was used when Charles Rangel broke the rules of the House of Representatives. He faced a panel for his actions, and was punished by censure in December of 2010. He later sued, spending about a third of his 2014 campaign cash on legal bills in a failed bid to overturn his fall from congressional grace. On December 11, 2013, a federal judge in Washington dismissed the lawsuit, filed by Rangel in the previous April, to get the censure overturned.
 
The mandate to keep a journal to record proceedings and votes was included in this section because the Founders wanted government to be transparent, accessible, and accountable to the people. Deals behind closed doors were not supposed to be a part of our political system.

Congressional Compensation, Privileges, Restrictions

When President George Washington took office, he refused to accept the constitutionally allowed compensation for holding the office. He viewed his office as being a privilege, and an opportunity to once again serve the country he loved. During the Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin considered proposing that elected government officials not be paid for their service. By the end of the debate, it was decided that government representatives should receive fixed stipends by which they may be compensated for the devotion of their time to public service. It was also determined, however, that the compensation should not be so high that it would become the motive for seeking office.
 
Article I, Section 6 of the Constitution addresses compensation, and the rules regarding such. Section 6 also establishes that members of Congress may not be detained while traveling to and from Congress, and that they cannot hold any other office in government while in Congress.
 
Protection from arrest while traveling to and from Congress was not only a privilege based on those enjoyed by their counterparts in the British Parliament, but also a protection from political enemies who may wish to keep certain members of Congress from voting.
 
This section also indicates that no member of Congress shall be appointed to a later office if while in Congress the office was created, or a raise in pay was enacted for that office.
 
To explain this clause, let's visit a recent violation of it during the Obama administration.
 
After Barack Obama won the 2008 Presidential Election, he announced that Hillary Clinton would be his new Secretary of State. The position of Secretary of State received a pay raise while Hillary Clinton was a member of the United States Senate. Article I, Section 6 states that "No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States, which shall be been created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been encreased during such time." Since Clinton was a Senator at the time the position of Secretary of State was given a raise, technically she was not eligible for the position to which she was appointed. To resolve this problem, and still allow Mrs. Clinton to accept the position, the Democrats applied the Saxbe Fix, meaning they undid the raise, and Hillary Clinton received the compensation that was in place before the vote she participated in while in the Senate. The Saxbe Fix, or a Salary rollback, is an unconstitutional action. The clause in the Constitution is clear: "No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been encreased during such time."
 
The Saxbe Fix, or the rollback of the salary, does not change the fact that the emoluments increased during the time Hillary Clinton was in the U.S. Senate.
 
As a tool, the Saxbe fix was nothing new. The salary rollback in the case of a violation of Article I, Section 6, a mechanism by which the President of the United States can avoid restrictions by the United States Constitution which prohibits the President from appointing a current or former member of Congress to a position that was created, or to an office position for which the pay and/or benefits were increased, during the term for which that member was elected until the term has expired, was first used in 1909. The "Saxbe" name was applied to the political maneuver later in history. The Saxbe Fix is named for William Saxbe, a Senator appointed Attorney General by President Richard Nixon in 1973.

Terms:
 
Adjourn: Suspend proceedings to a later time and/or place.
 
Censure: Procedure for publicly reprimanding a public official for inappropriate behavior. There are normally no legal consequences. Censure is not mentioned in the Constitution, but is a procedure devised by the legislature as a tool for formal condemnation of a member of the congressional body.
 
Congress of the United States: The legislative branch of the federal government which consists of two houses; a Senate and House of Representatives. The Congress is the only part of the federal government granted the authority of legislative powers.
 
Granted: To confer, give, or bestow. A gift of legal rights or privileges, or a recognition of asserted rights, as in treaty. To legally transfer.
 
Impeachment: To charge with misconduct. Formal process that may lead to removal of an official accused of unlawful activity; impeachment does not mean the removal from office, though removal from office is often the result of impeachment proceedings.
 
Legislative Powers: The ability to make law, modify law, repeal law, and anything else that has to do with affecting law.
 
Nullification: State power to ignore unconstitutional federal law.
 
President pro tempore: Second highest ranking official of the United States Senate. Vice President is President of the Senate and the highest-ranking official of the Senate despite not being a member of the body. During the Vice President's absence, the president pro tempore presides over its sessions or appoints another senator to do so. The president pro tempore is elected by the Senate and is customarily the most senior senator in the majority party.
 
Pro Forma Session: A session in either house of the United States Congress at which no formal business is expected to be conducted, so as to fulfill the obligation "that neither chamber can adjourn for more than three days without the consent of the other." Pro forma sessions are also used to prevent the President from pocket-vetoing bills, calling the Congress into a special session, and to prevent the President from making recess appointments.
 
Quorum: Minimum number of members of an assembly necessary to conduct the business of that group.
 
Saxby Fix: Salary rollback. A mechanism by which the President of the United States can avoid restrictions by the United States Constitution which prohibits the President from appointing a current or former member of Congress to a position that was created, or to an office position for which the pay and/or benefits were increased, during the term for which that member was elected until the term has expired. First used in 1909, the Saxbe Fix is named for William Saxbe, a Senator appointed to Attorney General by Nixon in 1973.
 
Questions for Discussion:
 
1. If only Congress can make law, then why do some politicians believe that Executive Orders can modify law, or that regulatory agencies can create new regulations to enforce laws that were never passed by Congress?
 
2. The word "granted" reminds us that all powers once belonged to the States, and some of those authorities were "granted" to the federal government for the purpose of carrying out the tasks necessary for the protection, preservation, and promotion of the union. If the federal government was created by the States, then how can statists justify their belief that all federal laws trump all State laws?
 
3. Why do you think the Congress has two legislative houses?
 
4. Why do you think representatives are only elected for two years?
 
5. Why is it significant that only the House can originate bills for raising revenue?
 
6. Why is the power of impeachment belonging to the House so important?
 
7. As President of the Senate, what kind of role should the Vice President play in the day to day activities of the United States Senate?
 
8. Why do you think the House of Representatives has the sole power of impeachment, but the Senate has the task of hearing the case?
 
9. How are the dynamics of our governmental system different in relation to how the Senators are appointed, or voted for?
 
10. How was the Senate expected to check the House of Representatives, and work together with the House to check the Executive and Judiciary?
 
11. Why do you think the authority for prescribing the times, places, and manner of holding elections was given to the State Legislatures?
 
12. Why was Congress given the allowance to pass laws that may make or alter such regulations?
 
13. Why was the federal government prohibited from influencing the places for choosing Senators?
 
14. To conduct business, the houses of Congress need a quorum. If they do not have a majority, they may remain in session through a rule established by Congress called pro forma. What advantages does pro forma give the houses of Congress when it comes as serving as a check against the executive branch?
 
15. Why do you think neither house can adjourn without the permission of the other?
 
16. The houses of Congress establish their own rules of procedure. If a member breaks any of these rules, Congress also has the authority to punish the rule breaker. One type of punishment is called censure. How is censure an adequate punishment?
 
17. How has the concept of transparency changed over the last two hundred years?
 
Resources:
 
Edwin Mora, "Top Democrat Dodges Question on Constitutionality of Obama Appointments, Says Pro Forma Sessions Are 'Games Being Played'," CNSnews.com (January 6, 2012): http://cnsnews.com/news/article/top-democrat-dodges-question-constitutionality-obama-appointments-says-pro-forma
 
 
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).
 
Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen, A Patriot's History of the United States; New York: Sentinel (2004).
 
Madison's Notes on the Constitutional Convention, Avalon Project, Yale University: http://avalon.law.yale.edu/subject_menus/debcont.asp
 
Philip B. Kurland and Ralph Lerner, The Founder's Constitution - Volume Two - Preamble through Article I, Section 8, Clause 4; Indianapolis: Liberty Fund (1987).
 
Saxbe, William B. I've Seen the Elephant: An Autobiography. Kent State University Press (2000).
 
 
 
Copyright: Douglas V. Gibbs, 2014