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TSA Showdown Watershed Moment – Supreme Court: Individuals May Challenge Laws Based on the 10th Amendment – Libya: No Life Zone

June 21, 2011

TSA Showdown a Watershed Moment in Battle For Freedom

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Paul Joseph Watson
Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A bill that would criminalize invasive TSA pat downs in Texas has risen like a phoenix from the flames, with Governor Rick Perry being forced to include the item on the agenda for the current special session of the legislature, setting the stage for what could potentially become a watershed moment in the battle to peel back a federal power grab that has characterized the advance of big government.

TSA Pat Down

Despite initially shirking responsibility by erroneously claiming that the bill did not have enough support to pass, Governor Perry was forced to place the item on the special session agenda yesterday, meaning TSA workers could face a year in jail or a $4,000 fine if they “touch the anus, sexual organ, buttocks, or breast of another person, even through that person’s clothing for the purpose of granting access to a building or a form of transportation,” according to the text of the legislation.

Under the terms of the Texas Constitution, Perry has the authority to forward bills for the consideration of the special session, and that’s precisely what he did yesterday, announcing, “Legislation relating to prosecution and punishment for the offense of official oppression of persons seeking access to public buildings and transportation.”

Following Perry’s announcement, sponsor of the bill Senator Dan Patrick stated, “The people’s voice has been heard in Austin. Thanks for the literally thousands of calls & e-mails. This is a “Come & Take It Moment” again for Texas… Once again Texas will take a stand that will reverberate around the nation.”

Absent the dirty tricks that shot down the progress of the legislation the first time around, the bill should have no problems in getting enough votes to be passed – the majority of state Senators support SB 29, with a number still undecided and just two against. The schedule for the special session is due to run until June 30, but Perry also has the authority to extend this deadline.

The real test will be how the federal government reacts to the passage of the legislation, a response which is likely to be characterized by two separate arguments.

One – the feds will simply claim that the bill is superseded by the Supremacy Clause of the US constitution, arguing that states cannot regulate the federal government, and will order TSA goons to continue groping Americans. This will kick start a massive states’ rights battle, but TSA workers will still be reticent to abuse their power for fear of lawsuits. However, if they pursue this route, the feds won’t have a leg to stand on. The Supremacy Clause merely states that the Constitution is supreme, not that the authority of the government is supreme. Indeed, if anything the Supremacy Clause works in favor of the anti-pat down bill because it reinforces the protections guaranteed by the fourth amendment against unreasonable searches and seizures.

Two – the government will adopt an altogether more aggressive approach and repeat their threats of financial terrorism by resolving to impose a federal blockade to prevent flights operating out of Texas airports. This tactic was used to kill HB 1937 before it could even reach the Senate last month following the circulation of a letter written by DoJ Attorneys that threatened to cancel all commercial flights in the state. The power of the federal government to impose a de facto “no fly zone” over Texas is non-existent. If this is attempted, Texas airports could simply replace all TSA workers with private screeners and give the feds a symbolic middle finger. What’s more likely to happen is some kind of compromise deal, but TSA agents would still be less likely to carry out grope downs for fear of lawsuits.

Years of growing outrage over TSA grope-downs and naked body scanners has culminated in this momentous showdown. The outcome of this fight will determine the course of this issue for years to come, and will shape whether the TSA becomes a literal occupying army in a Sovietized America, or whether the organization itself and the Homeland Security takeover in general withers and dies.

URGENT – Contact the undecided Senators on this list and urge them to show their support for Senator Dan Patrick’s TSA Anti-Groping bill — SB 29.



Supreme Court: Individuals May Challenge Laws on 10th Amendment Grounds

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Written by Michael Tennant   New American
Tuesday, 21 June 2011 09:30

The U.S. Supreme Court may have just opened the floodgates to individuals wishing to challenge various federal laws on the grounds that they violate the 10th Amendment. In a unanimous decision, the court ruled that individuals do have standing to make such legal challenges if they can demonstrate that they will suffer harm if the laws they are challenging are applied to them.

The case at hand involved a Pennsylvania woman, Carol Anne Bond, who, upon finding that her best friend, Myrlinda Haynes, had given birth to a child by Bond’s husband, decided to exact revenge. She began by harassing and threatening her former friend. Later she tried to poison Haynes with a caustic chemical by smearing it all over Haynes’s possessions. Haynes managed to avoid all but a tiny amount of the poison, suffering a small burn on her thumb but otherwise escaping unscathed. Getting no help from local authorities in putting an end to this horrific situation, she turned to the U.S. Postal Service, which presumably got involved because her mailbox was one of the things Bond had contaminated. The Postal Service turned out to be far more helpful than the local police: Its surveillance cameras caught Bond in the act, whereupon she was arrested and charged with violating a federal law implementing the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention.

With the video evidence clearly identifying her as the perpetrator, Bond spent little effort arguing in court that she was innocent of any wrongdoing. In fact, she pleaded guilty but reserved the right to appeal, which she did, on the grounds that the law under which she had been charged exceeded the federal government’s enumerated powers, specifically the Article II treaty power. The appeals court, however, decided that her challenge really fell under the 10th Amendment, which reserves to the states or the people all powers not delegated to the federal government. The court then turned around and ruled that as an individual, not a state, Bond did not have standing to mount a 10th Amendment challenge — the argument the federal government had made.

The Supreme Court chose to take up Bond’s case when she appealed. In an interesting twist, by the time the case reached the Supreme Court, the federal government had actually come to agree with Bond that she did indeed have standing to challenge the law’s constitutionality, albeit not on the grounds of the 10th Amendment (because Bond is not a state government) but on the grounds that it exceeds Congress’ enumerated powers. The court rejected the government’s narrow view and ruled that individuals do have standing to challenge federal laws under the 10th Amendment.

Wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy:

Federalism secures the freedom of the individual. It allows States to respond, through the enactment of positive law, to the initiative of those who seek a voice in shaping the destiny of their own times without having to rely solely upon the political processes that control a remote central power.… The individual liberty secured by federalism is not simply derivative of the rights of the States.

An individual has a direct interest in objecting to laws that upset the constitutional balance between the National Government and the States when the enforcement of those laws causes injury that is concrete, particular, and redressable. Fidelity to principles of federalism is not for the States alone to vindicate.

Similarly, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in a concurring opinion with Justice Stephen Breyer, remarked: “Bond, like any other defendant, has a personal right not to be convicted under a constitutionally invalid law.”

The Supreme Court found that the precedent on which the appeals court, following the lead of other appeals courts, had based its ruling — a single sentence in the 1939 case Tennessee Elec. Power Co. v. TVA — might not even apply to the term standing as it was now understood. But even if it did, the court said, the sentence “should be deemed neither controlling nor instructive on the issue of standing as that term is now defined and applied.”

The court’s decision does not necessarily mean that Bond’s six-year prison sentence will be commuted or that the law she is challenging will be found unconstitutional. It merely means that she now has the right to challenge it. That challenge will take place back in the court of appeals, to which the Supreme Court remanded the case.

Indeed, the law professor who was drafted, so to speak, by the Supreme Court to defend the appeals court’s decision once the federal government more or less came around to Bond’s position, made a good case that the law is constitutional. The Atlantic’s Garrett Epps summarizes it thus:

The statute at issue was passed in fulfillment of a treaty obligation, and is justified by the Treaty Power — long considered broader than Congress’s ordinary domestic powers — augmented by the “necessary and proper” clause. The chemical weapons treaty requires the United States to pass criminal laws against use of these compounds by private citizens. Cutting back on Congress’s power to fulfill treaties could threaten the nation’s foreign relations — and undercut a key purpose for which the Constitution was adopted. [Emphasis in original.]

Whether or not Bond succeeds in getting the courts to overturn the chemical weapons law, the Supreme Court has done liberty a favor by opening the door to individual challenges to federal laws on the basis that they violate the 10th Amendment — an opening that freedom-oriented institutions such as the Goldwater Institute are already preparing to exploit as they battle ObamaCare. On the other hand, Timothy Sandefur of the Pacific Legal Foundation cautions that the ruling could also have a negative effect on state lawsuits against ObamaCare because “the lower courts may interpret this as meaning that individual plaintiffs have sufficient alternative ways of raising arguments against the Individual Mandate.”

Furthermore, the ruling does not clear a path for anyone and everyone wishing to sue to overturn various federal laws on 10th Amendment grounds, as Justice Kennedy made clear:

An individual who challenges federal action on these grounds is, of course, subject to the Article III requirements, as well as prudential rules, applicable to all litigants and claims. Individuals have “no standing to complain simply that their Government is violating the law.” Allen v. Wright, 468 U.S. 737, 755 (1984). It is not enough that a litigant “suffers in some indefinite way in common with people generally.” Frothingham v. Mellon, 262 U.S. 447, 488 (1923) (decided with Massachusetts v. Mellon). If, in connection with the claim being asserted, a litigant who commences suit fails to show actual or imminent harm that is concrete and particular, fairly traceable to the conduct complained of, and likely to be redressed by a favorable decision, the Federal Judiciary cannot hear the claim.

Still, the overall thrust of the ruling is decisively in favor of more individual claims of injury as a result of unconstitutional federal laws, which will certainly come in handy in fighting ObamaCare and myriad other statutes. Whether the courts will find the laws in question unconstitutional remains to be seen. But even if they don’t, there’s something to be said for keeping Uncle Sam on the defensive and keeping his lawyers occupied.




No-Life Zone: Deeper and Deeper Into the Mire

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Written by Chris Floyd   
Monday, 20 June 2011 16:44
Obviously, there was a typo in the UN resolution approving NATO’s operations in Libya. It was widely reported that the resolution authorized the establishment of a “no-fly” zone in Libya to protect civilians from being killed by military attack. However, it’s clear now that what the international body really greenlighted was a “no-life” zone, designed to, er, kill people with, er, military attacks.It’s an easy mistake to make, really, transposing the “f” and “l” like that; a UN transcriptionist probably misheard the original intention, then mentally “corrected” it with the “y” to make it read in the more accustomed manner. Happens all the time.In any case, a “no-life” zone is what we have in Libya, as the latest story of civilian casualties from NATO bombs makes clear. In this case, the slaughter was so open and egregious that NATO actually had to admit killing Libyan civilians for the first time; previously, we’ve been asked to believe that dumping tons of high explosives in the middle of a heavily populated city had not harmed the hair of a single innocent head.(The three young grandchildren of Moamar Gadafy that were killed by NATO bombs last month obviously don’t count – because, duh, they were kin to Gadafy! They bear the blood taint of evil. Stalin, who ruthlessly condemned family members of “enemies of the people,” and Hitler, who killed anyone with the slightest tincture of Jewish blood in them, would no doubt be proud to see their rigorous standards of hygiene being adopted by the moral paragons of the “Western alliance.”)

Yet even as the Nobel Peace Laureate and Constitutional law scholar continues a war in Libya that his own top legal advisers tell him is patently unlawful and unconstitutional, he is racheting up yet another illegal war that has already reaped a rich harvest of civilian deaths: in Yemen.

As Jason Ditz notes, the Peace Laureate is using the increasingly violent civil strife in Yemen as a cover for a vast expansion of his drone missile assassination program in that country. These attacks are ostensibly aimed at “eradicating” yet another handful of cranks calling themselves “al Qaeda;” the alleged involvement of this group in a couple of failed “terrorist actions” so ludicrous and inept (exploding underwear!) that a cynic might be tempted to say they were designed to fail is, evidently, a dire and imminent existential threat to the United States, requiring billions of dollars, thousands of missiles – and the lifeblood of hundreds of innocent people – to combat. So saith the Nobel Peace Prizewinner.

In the first half of June alone, the Peace Laureate killed at least 130 people in daily assaults with his big, bold, brave drone missiles, fired by big, bold, brave American operatives back in the States or at some other imperial installation hundreds or thousands of miles out of harm’s way. Some of these attacks have been aimed at alleged members of the local AQ, including, of course, the American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki, who has been publicly condemned to death, without trial, for the crime of exercising his constitutional right to say stupid and hateful things. (Apply that stricture universally, and the entire American political class would be drone food.)
Other attacks have been aimed at – well, we don’t know. We’re not even sure if the CIA – the increasingly powerful and militarized Praetorian Guard in charge of this particular mass killing program – knows who most of the missiles are being aimed at. All we do know is that innocent people are being slaughtered in their dozens and hundreds by American missiles in Yemen. 

Yet with that wise, far-seeing, 11th-dimensional chess brain that the Peace Laureate is famed for, he is already looking to the future. Now that the government upheaval in Yemen has deprived him of a reliable dictator to assist his illegal war of mass assassination, Obama has decided to build yet another secret base somewhere in the volatile region – at a cost of unknown secret billions – for the express purpose of escalating the Praetorian Guard’s robotic killing spree.

There is no rhyme or reason to any of this. Regardless of the ever-shifting explanations our leaders offer – to the public, and, who knows, to themselves – the killing machine has long taken on a momentum of its own. They are now killing people – innocent people, around the world, every day – simply because they can do it. And because it’s the only thing they know how to do, the only way they know how to maintain and extend the brutal domination of world affairs that the American ruling class believes is the sole purpose of our national existence. And because too many elites are making too much money from killing people. And because too many leaders are getting too much pleasure, and filling too many holes in their own crippled souls, from wielding an unaccountable power of life and death over the nations of the earth.

And no one will stop them because too many ordinary people, battered by too many years of the relentless class warfare that has hollowed out their lives and society, and by an endless tsunami of self-righteous, self-glorifying propaganda, have adopted the perverted values of the elite, and given up all notion of a common good or a common humanity, or else have been beaten and broken and driven into hopeless despair, as each turn of the political gyre makes things worse – more harsh, more brutal, more unfeeling, more insecure, more grating, more shallow, more hollow, more deadly, more corrupt.

Yet every day, at every turn, we are told by earnest progressives that we must support the leader of this system, a man who has entrenched and exacerbated its bloodiest and most brutal currents in almost every way. We must support, encourage, and enable assassination, slaughter, corruption and mass murder; we must, as I noted the other day, be prepared to tear small children into bloody pieces, day after day, for no other discernible reason than to preserve the unlawful, immoral domination of a bloodthirsty militarist elite. That’s what it means to be a “progressive” today. (If you want to see this hideous argument demolished with remarkable power, eloquence and savage wit, read the latest posts from Arthur Silber here and here.)

But there is nothing new in this. Even before the Peace Prizer was gifted with the laurel, his zeal, his love for the killing machine was evident. I’ll close here with an excerpt from a piece written in September 2009 that describes where we were then – and, unfortunately, where we are now.

At some point earlier this month, Barack Obama took a moment out of his busy day to sign an “execute order.” That is, he ordered American agents to kill a man without any legal procedure whatsoever: no arrest, no trial, no formal presentation – and disputation – of evidence, no defense…and no warning. They killed him on the open road, in a sneak attack; he was not engaged in combat, he was not posing an imminent threat to anyone at the time, he had not been charged with any crime. This kind of thing is ordinarily regarded as murder. Certainly, if you or I killed someone in this way – or paid someone to do it – then we would find ourselves in the dock, facing life imprisonment or our own execution. But then, you and I are subject to the law; our leaders are not.

Let’s say it again, just to let the reality of the situation sink in a bit further: at some point last week, Barack Obama ordered men in his employ to murder another human being. And not a single voice of protest was raised anywhere in the American political and media establishments. Churchmen did not thunder from the pulpits about this lawless action. The self-proclaimed patriots and liberty-lovers on the ever-more militant Right did not denounce this most extreme expression of state tyranny: the leader’s arbitrary power to kill anyone he pleases. It is simply an accepted, undisputed fact of American life today that American leaders can and do – and should – murder people, anywhere in the world, if they see fit. When this supreme tyranny is noted at all, it is simply to celebrate the Leader for his toughness — or perhaps chide him for not killing even more people in this fashion.

I wrote a great deal about this theme when George W. Bush was president. I began back in November 2001, after the Washington Post reported that Bush had signed an executive order giving himself the power to order the killing of anyone he arbitrarily designated a terrorist. Year after year, I wrote of how this murderous edict was put into practice around the world, and of its virulently corrosive effects on American society.  Now Barack Obama is availing himself of these same powers. There is not one crumb, one atom, one photon of difference between Obama and Bush on this issue. They both believe that the president of the United States can have people killed outside of any semblance of a judicial process: murdered, in cold blood, in sneak attacks, with any “collateral damage” regarded as an acceptable by-product – just like the terrorists they claim to be fighting with these methods.

Nor does this doctrine of presidential murder make any distinction between American citizens and foreigner. Indeed, one of the first people known to have been killed in this way was an American citizen living in Yemen. So let us put the reality in its plainest terms: if the president of the United States decides to call you a terrorist and kill you, he can. He doesn’t have to arrest you, he doesn’t have to charge you, he doesn’t have to put you on trial, he doesn’t have to convict you, he doesn’t have to sentence you, he doesn’t have to allow you any appeals: he can just kill you. And no one in the American power structure will speak up for you or denounce your murder; they won’t even see that it’s wrong, they won’t even consider it remarkable. It’s just business as usual. It’s just the way things are done. It’s just the way we are now.

….The murder will also serve as lesson for would-be terrorists around the world – the same lesson that the War on Terror has been teaching day after day, year after year, from the day it was launched by George W. Bush to its continuance and expansion by Barack Obama today. That lesson is stark and simple: Murder works. Murder is the way to advance your agenda. Murder is what “serious” players on the world stage do. There is no law but the law of power; there is no way but the way of violence. There is no morality, there is no liberty, we share no common humanity.

This is the example that America now sets for the world. This is what we teach our children – and the children of our victims. This is what Barack Obama affirmed once again when he signed his “execute order.”



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