Archive for the ‘The Constitution’ Category

Paula Gloria and Joe Barton on marijuana laws: Off with its head.

August 2, 2011 1 comment

Apparently the cops had no warrant when they busted down Joe Barton’s door.  Of course Libertarians would be outraged. But Joe Barton and Paula Gloria aren’t really Libertarians – at least not the big L type.  Most people aren’t as radical as Libertarians on Marijuana laws right?  Well perhaps you haven’t been far enough down the Rabbit Hole.

Note: Paula Gloria and Joe Barton will be the guest speakers at the Manhattan Libertarian Monthly Meeting, Next Monday August 8th, 2011.  The meeting is free and all are welcome to attend.  More Info here.

Here are some excerpts from my recent conversation with Paula and Joe.

Q: Please introduce yourself and tell us why Libertarians should be interested in your talk on Monday.

Paula:  I’m actually not informed enough about Libertarian positions. I can make some comments about medical marijuana. We are for freeing all the prisoners. We are for upholding the Constitution. We are for due process. To have a grand jury indictment you should have a victim of a crime.  Somebody should be able to say they have been hurt.  We are the People.  We are sovereign. We can do anything we want as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else or prevent anyone else from exercising their rights.

Q: Can you give us a little background and tell us what the title of your talk means?

Paula: I’m the host of a show called “Farther Down The Rabbit Hole” which comes out daily at 12 noon on the community affairs channel on Manhattan Neighborhood Network.  It goes to about 600,000 households. Four years ago I started posting some of the shows on YouTube and because of that I was able to get a lot of feedback from people. Blogging is a really exciting way to develop our understanding and become good members of society and in particular I started to learn about the power of our Constitution and the importance of our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

On Monday we will talk about “How to stand up vs run into machine gun fire”.  The importance of standing up versus walking into machine-gun fire means if you’re trying to do something that’s very difficult to do and you have opposition like a police state you want to make sure you have the best power behind you. We feel we have the Constitution behind us and if people understand the Constitution and understand the importance of God-given inalienable rights, that power can transform machine-gun fire. It can convince people who are trying to fight you, that they really should be with you. We are all Americans. We may have different ways of exercising our rights which is how it was meant t be as long as they don’t hurt other people.

Joe:  We believe we are becoming a police state. But rather than confront the police we prefer that people start taking their grievances to the courts and stand on constitutional issues. We are into supporting anybody who is standing up and protecting and defending the Constitution in court.

Paula: We support all marijuana reforms whose priority is to free the non-violent prisoners. We believe that the so-called marijuana laws are not even constitutional and if people understood how to argue in court they would win and the courts would do the right thing and uphold people’s inalienable rights.

Joe : the Constitution guarantees us the right to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness and according to the Constitution only a crime that has a victim is really a criminal offense. Our legislators have gotten so out of hand, they’ve made so many laws that our prisons are full right now of citizens convicted of crimes with no victim. We need to wake people up and liberate our country. We need to take back the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and stop filling our prisons with nonviolent people who were convicted of victimless crimes. How can you have a crime when there’s no victim?

Q:  What about court cases that support the federal government’s right to interfere in medical marijuana states?

Joe : Every person who goes to court should take a stand, and  more people should support the people going to court. Go to court with them. Give publicity to anybody who is really taking a stand.  As far as the rulings, what we need to do is have enough people wake up and speak up and even start writing to the Supreme Court.  If a nationwide letter campaign was written by the American people, which the Libertarian party could probably get behind, get everybody to write letters to the Supreme Court saying “We are We The People and you work for us. You are giving away our rights. You are selling out to big business. You took an oath to defend and protect the Constitution and we expect you to do that.  You aren’t doing that when you protect government and corporations against the people.”

Paula: We fear that the medical marijuana laws are actually going increase regulation and if you increase regulation you have more government. We want less government and to free the prisoners.  Half a million people are in jail now unconstitutionally. A felony is a very serious, horrible thing. The founding fathers understood that it would be an extreme case that you arrest somebody and that you would put somebody in prison, so when you start looking at false arrest and imprisonment you begin to see what’s happened is an atrophying of the Constitution. Special interests have raided the country. If people don’t understand their rights they can’t stand up for them in a timely way. You have to call the court’s attention to the fraud. Until you call fraud to the core court’s attention the court is not obliged to do anything. Once people understand their powers and our constitutional principles they can stand up and say  “hey you judges, you swore and oath to protect our rights, you work for us, protect our rights”.

Q: Would you comment on Federal interference in medical marijuana states?

Joe: the Democrats and Republicans, all they do is pass power back and forth and the people keep losing more and more rights. Over the years Libertarians have asked me to help support them and the Green party asked me to support them. But one of my problems with all the politicians is the Republicans and Democrats are power mad and the Libertarians and the Greens really have no balls. They’re afraid to really go out on the edge. If the Libertarian party really wants to do something it’s got to get much more in touch with the people and much more radical. I don’t mean wild radical. I mean radical as far as taking on the Democrats and Republicans and really bringing the issues up. Don’t half step. Come out and say it.

Paula: You have the Constitution behind you there’s a great case,  Shuttlesworth v Birmingham  . If the state turns a liberty into a privilege, a citizen can engage in the right with impunity. One of the charges against Joe was growing marijuana without a license. A lot of people might say this is New York there is no license for growing marijuana.  But our concern is, and we cite case law again, Murdoch v Penn  , where the First Amendment right was upheld. The Supreme Court determined the state cannot convert a liberty into a privilege, license it and attach a fee to it.  So Joe in arguing his case, is not saying give me a license. He is saying you don’t need a license to grow marijuana.  And anybody has a right, in this case the right to grow marijuana under the right of a freedom of the pursuit of happiness.  You can read all of our arguments.  So these statutes that are not constitutional – the citizen can engage in the right with impunity.  But the citizen has to know how to stand up in a timely way in court and not be tricked out of giving up his rights.  Mostly when the courts uphold special interests over We the People, they do it through trickery and getting you in different jurisdictions.

In the case of the medical marijuana laws life might be given to somebody, a medical patient who otherwise without marijuana wouldn’t have life. But what about a law where you are taking the marijuana away from people who are illegally busted in order to provide that medicine? On one hand you’re saying it’s a crime (to have marijuana) and on the other hand government is confiscating marijuana with the intent to sell it to medical marijuana patients, which is stealing from growers so the government can profit. If government can distribute or license pharmaceutical companies government is stealing from the people for pharmaceutical profits and when they license pharmaceutical companies they incarcerate We the People for not having licenses.  This is arbitrary, regulation against the people in favor of big business by gathering what supposed to be criminal to give it away to patients.  Not give it away – I’m sure governments will have a big fee attached to it.

Q: Joe, what’s the status of your case?

Joe: there are two court cases. In the first one they came in with a knock warrant but they busted down my door anyway! The police trespassed on two occasions. After coming up a half mile driveway posted with many no trespassing signs, they came up on my porch and were looking in my window and sniffing at my door to try to smell marijuana so that they could get a warrant which is illegal.  That case is on appeal right now.  Then they came back again three years later.  The police officer met my son on the porch said he smelled marijuana again and forced his way into the house without a warrant. We are going to court right now on that.  When my son stepped out on the porch he told the cop you need a warrant but the cop forced his way in any way.  They had us there for two hours out in the car in the winter with no coats on.  Then they brought us to the police station for eight hours while they went and got a warrant to try to make good on coming in without a warrant, which under our Constitution is illegal.

Q: Do you see anything improving or any progress on the anti-prohibition movement?

Joe:  The American people are so squeezed and the politicians have sold us out to big business and corporations. Look how many people are losing their homes while we bailed out the banks. We give billions of dollars to the banks while people are evicted, American citizens, from their homes.  I see within the next year to two years you’re going to see the American people rise up like they never rose up before.  Unless the Libertarian party really comes out and takes a real stand and is very active they are going to be left behind.

Paula:  Let me read this from Norton v Shelby County .

“While acts of a de facto incumbent of an office lawfully created by law and existing are often held to be binding from reasons of public policy, the acts of a person assuming to fill and perform the duties of an office which does not exist de jure can have no validity whatever in law.  An unconstitutional act is not a law; it confers no rights; it imposes no duties; it affords no protection; it creates no office; it is in legal contemplation as inoperative as though it had never been passed”

When my husband was talking about being radical the actual term is being constitutional. In a way the Constitution is a very radical document if you look in world history.  Can we be great enough today so we can maintain it? That’s what I’m saying.  When I read the case law that’s the Supreme Court in legal contemplation.  It’s not the spin factor or hype, it is what our country is founded on.

Joe:  When you talk about legalization,  the government will legalize drugs and then they will say well you can’t get it on the street. The medical thing is a phony thing.  The people will push for medical marijuana and the government will say you can’t consistently deliver the dosage. Then they will license it to pharmaceutical companies and anybody growing on their own will still be illegal and growing without a license and we will still have the prison state. So we want repeal of an unconstitutional law. Let it go back to what it was like before the law ever existed where anybody could grow it and it wasn’t regulated. Look at what is happening in Canada.  Canada has medical marijuana but the medical marijuana patients we have talked to say the marijuana they get from the government is crap and doesn’t  work in relation to their illnesses and they still have to go out on the street and buy so called “illegal” marijuana which works. If the marijuana laws were repealed the free market would produce the best quality.

The government says that people who grow or are selling marijuana are dealing drugs and they are criminals yet the government wants to license pharmaceutical corporations to deal the very same drugs which gives corporations rights and takes them away from the people and even on the statutory level violates anti-trust laws.  The government protects corporate interests by violating the rights of the people which is clearly unconstitutional.

A flesh and blood human being with inalienable rights always trumps a corporation in court if the violated party stands up to become the belligerent claimant.  We don’t trust the government to do what is best for medical patients or the people who grow marijuana.  Here is an example, the mafia used to run numbers the government called them criminals and said they were immoral lock them up put them in jail.  Then once the number runners were out of business the government started lotto saying that the profits would go to better schools.  Here is how that turned out when you bet with the mafia if they said they would pay a hundred dollars they paid a hundred dollars.  Now that the government is running numbers if they say you are going to win a million dollars they then tax it and they don’t pay a million dollars.  As far as the lottery money going to schools our schools are worse now then ever before in spite of billions of dollars taken in by the government from lotto. Where has the money gone?  We should have the best equipped schools in the world.  Government created criminals out of the mafia who honored the rules of the game yet government pays half what they claim and the money doesn’t go to schools.  Who is scamming who?



Related Legal Documents:

Memorandum of  Law



Please join us Monday August 8th for Paula’s and Joe’s talk with the Manhattan LP.  The meeting is free.  All are welcome.  More info here.


Let’s Not Go All Denmark Here

February 14, 2011 Leave a comment

Like most decent people, The Free Agent was brought up never to deface property.  One cannot, however, live in New York without appreciating a certain frisson of anarchistic thrill at the sight of a particularly subversive graffito.  It is a tradition that goes back at least to ancient Rome, when frenzied fan girls were known to record their sexual fantasies concerning gladiators on the walls of the Coliseum.

Likewise, there is a strong tradition in the New York subways of defacing movie posters by scratching out eyes, scribbling on beards, glasses, uni-brows, and in The FA’s home turf of Brooklyn, of sketching the male, ahem, wedding tackle, protruding from the lips of particularly handsome leading men.  While this is an affront to people who make movies and spend money to advertise them, Ryan Reynolds, for example, has not raised his voice to take personal offense at his picture’s defacement.

Which brings The Free Agent to the lawsuit against her beloved Hippy Week.  The gentleman who owns the local sports franchise, the Injuns, is suing for malicious intent he believes motivated a recent cover story.  In addition to three factual errors he believes the story contains, part of the owner’s lawsuit claims that the cover illustration:

is anti-Semitic.

As the saying goes, “get three Jews together and you get four opinions”, and each side has lined up rabbis to support their interpretation of the picture.  Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, to whom the owner later promised any proceeds he may win from the suit, sees clear evidence of Hippy Week’s intention to ignite an American Holocaust.  It is, “inappropriate and unacceptable when a symbol like this – associated with virulent anti-Semitism going back to the Middle Ages, deployed by the genocidal Nazi regime, by Soviet propagandists and even in 2011 by those who still seek to demonize Jews today – is used on the front cover of a publication in our Nation’s Capital against a member of the Jewish community.”  (The article did not mention the owner is Jewish.)

On the home turf, Washington Rabbi Danny Zemel sees what The Free Agent sees, run-of-the-mill defacement of the exact nature in which an Injun fan would delight.  “I don’t think this is anti-Semitic.  I think it’s highly juvenile.”  Zemel said, also noting the absence of stereotypical details like a long beard, hat or hooked nose.

It all depends where you start from.  The Free Agent’s friend, Nude Eel, sees “everything is anti-Semitic until proven otherwise,” but was then unable to elaborate on evidence he would accept to prove the negative.  And perhaps he was having The FA on a bit.

In a day when thoughts can be crimes, and in this case, when the actual existence of Hippy Week could be threatened (it will probably win, but could go under fighting the war), it’s important to extend to others the toleration and presumption of benevolence we want for ourselves.

After all, this is the man who passionately defends his team’s name against, and dismisses the opinions of, people who think it’s racist.

NLRB Tells Voters “Talk To The Hand”

January 17, 2011 3 comments

Barak Obama may be paying lip service to the will of the voters after the resounding vote of no confidence in the November elections.  But his bureaucracy either isn’t listening or they just don’t care what the voters want. 

Last November the voters in Utah, South Carolina, South Dakota and Arizona overwhelmingly approved amendments to their state constitutions that in effect guaranty workers the right to a secret ballot for union organizing elections.  Arguably these measures were intended to nullify the proposed federal Card-Check law, deceptively named the Employee Free Choice Act which would remove that guaranty.  

In no uncertain terms, voters told the Federal Government that they preferred to make their own decisions with respect to activity within their own states.   These votes were not even close (sources SC, UT, SD, AZ):

South Carolina 86%

Utah  60%

South Dakota79%

Arizona 60%

 But democracy and federalism be damned, the National Labor Relations Board informed the states’ Attorneys General that they plan to sue the states to force them to submit to federal labor laws.  General Counsel Lafe Solomon argues that the U.S. Constitution’s  Supremacy Clause means that the federal labor law overrides state constitutions.  The Supremacy Clause may mean that legitimate federal law overrides state law.   However, that applies only to legitimate federal law.

 The authority to interfere in business agreements among consenting adults is not found in the enumerated powers that the U.S Constitution designates as the only powers allowed the Federal Government.  Proponents of broad federal regulation of business resort to tortured interpretations of the commerce and welfare clauses to justify the power of the Federal Government to do just about anything.  Of course this is the opposite of the Federal System of limited central government on which the U.S. Constitution is based.

In this case the Federal Government rushes to grant special privileges to labor unions who have faithfully supported big government in return for these special privileges.   I’m not against any group of workers’ right to organize.  But granting them any special legal privileges empowers special interests at the expense of the regular people.  It’s corruption pure and simple.

It’s these payoffs to special interests whether it’s the military-industrial complex, big-pharma, the trial lawyers, the teacher’s union, college students,  toxic mortgage holders, and many others, that have brought the country near bankruptcy.   The only way to stop it is to create meaningful competition among governments.  That is, make it easier to change jurisdictions, including tax jurisdictions.  It’s a lot easier to move to another town or another state than it is to move to another country.

I’m not suggesting that all the states are better than the Feds – some are much worse.  But currently most of the power and tax revenues accrue to the centralized Federal Government.  That defeats the free market competition among governments that the founding fathers intended as a protection of federalism.     Rapacious governments at all levels look for ways to pay for their extravagant payoffs to special interests .  Real competition among tax jurisdictions is the only way to keep in check the politicians and the special interests they serve.  That means much less power and much lower taxes at the federal level.  The states can then make taxing and spending decisions that are more in line with their voters’ preferences.

 That would be a step in the right direction. It isn’t the ultimate goal.  While the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects State sovereignty – morally sovereignty resides in the individual.  Recognizing  that a human being is not morally born the subject of any other human being or group is the first step in creating a society where every human being is free to fulfill his/her full potential free of force and coercion by self-serving special interests .  Reducing the power of the Federal Government is just a first step toward improving the human condition.  That means putting the Federal Government back into its constitutionally defined box.  That’s what the nullification movement and the Tenth Amendment movement are about.

As the Federal Government continues to expand its control over every aspect of our lives and businesses challenges to federal regulation of health care, gun rights, drug laws and a dozen or so other topics have mounted. 

The fundamental issue is whether the Federal Government and specifically the Supreme Court, is the only entity that can judge the constitutional legitimacy of Federal Law.  The people who wrote the Constitution didn’t intend it that way (see my blog here).

The legal constitutional argument is one thing – the Federal Government should obey the law as defined by the Constitution.  But how should the Federal Government react when the will of a few hundred corrupt politicians and bureaucrats in Washington D.C. – people  who are dependent on union political contributions –  run roughshod over the will of hundreds of thousands of voters.  This is now more the norm than the exception.  The Federal Government acted against the will of the voters on the bailouts, health care, the wars and REAL ID.  Bills are almost never read by the legislators who force them on us and most of the rules we are told to live by are made by appointed bureaucrats with no constitutional authority at all.  To add insult to injury the political class isn’t subject to its own laws,  for example they have different health care, different retirement benefits, and special parking privileges.

We could wait until it’s too late. We could wait for a future in which many states and perhaps the Federal Government declare bankruptcy, the dollar and the economy go into  freefall,  only the political class can afford health care and we have new wars to take the public’s mind off the failure of government.  That’s exactly the path the Federal Government has us on now.

The alternative, the more civilized path, is to respect the will of the people as expressed by their state and local political institutions and by the individuals themselves.   Maybe that should be in the Constitution.  Hey – guess what – it is!  


BTW – Rick Montes of the Tenth Amendment Center will speak at the Manhattan Libertarian Party Monthly Meeting on March 14, 2010. More info here.

Constitution Day: How many more?

September 17, 2010 3 comments

 On this 223rd anniversary of the creation of the fundamental law of our land, we find ourselves heading for a constitutional crisis.

If you think I’m exaggerating, consider the following:

  • Voters are increasingly angry, resentful and have little confidence in government and elected officials
  • The federal government is increasingly heavy-handed with its authority and is enacting and enforcing legislation without regard for constitutional authority.
  • The Supreme Court claims a monopoly on decisions of constitutionality while frequently making absurd and obviously bad decisions.
  • States are increasingly challenging the federal government’s authority.

 I don’t think the statements above require a whole lot of proof but here are just a few items in support:

This February Rasmussen poll  finds 75% of people surveyed to be angry with government policies and many people to have little or no confidence in both the Democrats and Republicans. The federal government has routinely forced unfunded mandates on the states and enacted blatantly unpopular and expensive laws such as REAL ID. They run roughshod over the will of state voters by continuing to enforce federal marijuana laws in medical marijuana states – regardless of President Obama’s promises. Enormous spending bills such as the bailouts were passed against overwhelming opposition by the voters. The federal government attempted to force massive cultural change in passage of the healthcare legislation against the will of the majority of the voters. The Supreme Court continues to pile up idiotic decisions such as Kelo. There are dozens of state nullification efforts involving a wide variety of laws.  Arizona’s immigration enforcement controversy is widely publicized example of a state challenge to federal authority.  Last April, Texas Governor Rick Perry defended Texas’s right to secede  at a tax day event . Gerrymandering, ballot access laws, campaign finance regulation and a clueless press make electoral change difficult or impossible.  Legislators regularly suggest the Consitution is outdated.

In short the federal government is acting without constitutional authority and against the will of the voters. The Supreme Court rubber stamps federal excess. Government is unresponsive and the voters have little recourse.

The federal government shows no sign of backing off, the voters are angry, and the states are beginning to defy federal authority. America is being torn apart by forcible centralization of authority.

 The founding fathers understood that, without a system of checks and balances, centralized authority would grow and grow until it became a complete tyranny or until the union fractured. That system of checks and balances, while substantially weakened, still exists. Contrary to popular belief, the U.S. Supreme Court is not the ultimate arbiter of Federal authority under the Constitution. The Supreme Court took that power when they gave themselves the power of judicial review in 1803 ( Marbury v Madison ). But they are by no means the only check on Federal power intended by the founding fathers.

The Supreme Court has consistently supported Federal power grabs and can’t be relied on to protect the Constitution. The members are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. It’s a Federal institution. Why would they diminish Federal power?

Just look at the list of bizarre decisions and tortured logic intended to support Federal power grabs.  Here are just a few obvious cases:

 For a great account of the worst of the worst, check out The Dirty Dozen  .

The founding fathers knew this would happen. Here is Jefferson on judicial review by the a Federal Court:

But, you may ask, if the two departments [i.e., federal and state] should claim each the same subject of power, where is the common umpire to decide ultimately between them? In cases of little importance or urgency, the prudence of both parties will keep them aloof from the questionable ground; but if it can neither be avoided nor compromised, a convention of the States must be called to ascribe the doubtful power to that department which they may think best.

 —Thomas Jefferson to John Cartwright, 1824. ME 16:47

If that’s not enough for you here is Robert Yates, a delegate to the Constitutional Convention from New York .

 [I]n their decisions they will not confine themselves to any fixed or established rules, but will determine, according to what appears to them, the reason and spirit of the constitution. The opinions of the supreme court, whatever they may be, will have the force of law; because there is no power provided in the constitution, that can correct their errors, or controul their adjudications. From this court there is no appeal.

 The Constitution would probably never have been ratified without assurances to the states that their sovereignty would be protected and that the tendency toward centralization would be checked. Several states explicitly required the addition of a Bill of Rights and the guaranty of continued state sovereignty was at the top of that list. Those requirements eventually became the tenth amendment.

 The Tenth Amendment Center explains it as follows:

Massachusetts’ proposed first amendment read: “That it be explicitly declared, that all powers not expressly delegated by the aforesaid Constitution are reserved to the several states, to be by them exercised.” Virginia’s proposed first amendment stated: “That each state in the Union shall respectfully retain every power, jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this Constitution delegated to the Congress of the United States, or to the departments of the federal government.” And New York’s proposed fifth amendment demanded that “no power shall be exercised by Congress, but such as is expressly given by this Constitution; and all others, not expressly given, shall be reserved to the respective states, to be by them exercised.” Maryland and South Carolina also submitted proposed State sovereignty amendments.

 A country this large and diverse cannot be ruled by a central iron hand. Bureaucrats cannot possibly make better decisions at a centralized level than free human beings can make for themselves. Only the weak and fearful would submit themselves to domination by the collective – and of course those who profit from the collective’s use of force. More important, centralized authority is anathema to improvement of the human condition. Human beings can only reach their full potential through the exercise of their own free will. Centralization of power does not promote the general welfare economically. It was the worst fear of many of the founding fathers. And it strips us all that makes us human. Our Constitution is truly an amazing and awe-inspiring document. It’s the oldest in the world and it can be argued that it’s what enabled the development of the world’s only super-power and maybe even development of the world’s freest and most successful society. The tenth amendment is the law and the Federal government needs to obey the law. The people’s instinct for freedom and the Federal Government’s thirst for power are on a collision course.

It is said that Benjamin Franklin was asked, at the completion of Constitutional Convention, what kind of government we had. He is said to have answered “A Republic , if we can keep it”.

223 years later, the implied question still remains: can we?