President Obama has famously issued a deadline to Congress to pass a healthcare package before the August recess. And those bold marching orders are causing even the press to wonder if it’s the president’s role to tell Congress what laws to pass, and perhaps that the president is assaulting the constitutional separation of powers.
“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” For most Americans, the 27 words of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution are not all that hard to understand: a citizen has a fundamental right to “keep and bear Arms” and as is true with freedom of religion and freedom of speech, this right is sacrosanct, and any effort to abridge such constitutional guarantees is seen as a threat to the fundamental rights of the American people.
Ever since the separation-of-church-and-state ruling in 1947, there has been an ever-intensifying effort to denude our public sphere of religious symbols and sentiments. The latest attack is a lawsuit to prevent "In God We Trust" and the Pledge of Allegiance from being engraved on the newly-built Capitol Visitor Center in Washington, D.C.
The Supreme Court ruled 8 to 1 that the strip search of a 13-year-old Arizona girl by school officials in pursuit of drugs (Ibuprofen) did indeed violate her constitutional rights — the Fourth Amendment ban on unreasonable searches and seizures, specifically. But by a 7 to 2 vote they also maintained that the individual school officials responsible for the strip search should not be held liable, in Safford v. Redding.
On June 16, the Public Broadcasting Service decided to forbid member stations from carrying any new religious TV programs while allowing the few stations that are already doing so to continue. As the Washington Post reported on June 17, this was a step back from a proposed ban on all religious programs except those that take a journalistic or documentary approach without favoring a particular religious view. Under a complete ban, some PBS stations would have had to give up their affiliation — and, presumably, the funding that comes with it — if they wanted to keep broadcasting local church services or devotional programs.
There are few topics that can divide people who are normally ideological bedfellows like the legal doctrine of the “incorporation” of the Bill of Rights against the states and the Second Amendment. This subject is rearing its head again with the upcoming appointment of a new Supreme Court justice as well as federal courts' recent conflicting opinions in regards to the Second Amendment. The Wall Street Journal reports that on June 2nd, “A federal appeals court in Chicago ruled … that the Second Amendment doesn't bar state or local governments from regulating guns, adopting the same position that Judge Sonia Sotomayor, President Barack Obama's nominee to the Supreme Court, did when faced with the same question earlier this year.”
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) reported on June 3 that U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker has dismissed dozens of lawsuits charging illegal spying on Americans through warrantless surveillance. The EFF and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) plan to appeal the decision to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
In his weekly Internet and radio address on Saturday, President Barack Obama said that Memorial Day is “a time to reflect on what this holiday is all about; to pay tribute to our fallen heroes; and to remember the servicemen and women who cannot be with us this year because they are standing post far from home — in Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the world.” The president also said that “we have a responsibility to serve all of them as well as they serve all of us,” but that “all too often in recent years and decades, we, as a nation, have failed to live up to that responsibility.”
In a speech given on May 21 at the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute in Washington, former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney said President Barack Obama and other officials have largely "mischaracterized" the Bush administration's approval of "enhanced" interrogation techniques. Cheney said: "The interrogations were used on hardened terrorists after other efforts failed. They were legal, essential, justified, successful, and the right thing to do."