Bunkerville defendant kicked off the witness stand by judge for, well, defending himself

First Amendment area cordoned off by BLM.

The judge in the trial of four defendants in the 2014 Bunkerville standoff with BLM agents attempting to confiscate rancher Cliven Bundy’s cattle has made it clear she will not allow a defense based on First or Second Amendment rights or claims that BLM misbehavior provoked the protest.

On Thursday she cut short the testimony of defendant Eric Parker after he tried to mention in his defense testimony a “First Amendment area” the BLM had set up to isolate protesters — an area that Gov. Brian Sandoval said “tramples upon Nevadans’ fundamental rights under the U.S. Constitution” — and attempted to mention where a BLM sniper was positioned.

BLM snipers?

The judge told Parker to step down without completing his testimony.  Reportedly there will be no cross examination and no jury questions.

Now, if Parker can’t even mention the First or Second Amendment, can he mention the Sixth?

You know, the one that guarantees the right to a speedy and public trial, rather than one that takes place a year and a half after an arrest; the one that guarantees an impartial jury, rather than one stacked by the prosecution to remove anyone who has ever even heard the phrase “jury nullification”; the one that guarantees the right to obtain witnesses in his favor, rather than having witnesses testify without the jury present, as happened earlier in the week.

This is the text of the Sixth Amendment:

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

No need to mention the Eighth’s prohibition against excessive bail and cruel and unusual punishment, nor the Fifth’s double jeopardy clause since the first trial ended in a hung jury, probably due to all that nonsense about constitutional rights to free speech, assembly and bearing arms that this jury will not hear.

Protesters outside courthouse. (R-J pix)

 

 

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Trump still disparaging the very document he must swear to protect and defend

trumpflag

Quick, somebody get Donald Trump one of those pocketbook copies of the Constitution and Bill of Rights and read it to him aloud, slowly, starting with, “Congress shall make no law …”

On the campaign trail Trump has repeatedly disparaged the rights contained in the First Amendment and several others.

“We’re going to open up those libel laws,” Trump said in February. “So when The New York Times writes a hit piece which is a total disgrace … we can sue them and win money instead of having no chance of winning because they’re totally protected,” paying no heed to Supreme Court rulings such as Times v. Sullivan, which said public figures such as him had to show actual malice or reckless disregard for the truth to win damages.

He also suggested closing mosques because really bad things happen in them — another First Amendment diss.

Now, this week the president-elect took to his favorite forum, Twitter, to call for jailing and revoking citizenship for flag burners, paying no heed to 1989’s Supreme Court decision in Texas v. Johnson, which declared unconstitutional a Texas law making flag burning a crime or 1990’s U.S. v. Eichman, which did the same for a federal law passed after the Texas law was struck.

Justice William Brennan, who wrote for the majority in both cases, concluded in the Eichman ruling:

We are aware that desecration of the flag is deeply offensive to many. But the same might be said, for example, of virulent ethnic and religious epithets … vulgar repudiations of the draft  and scurrilous caricatures …

If there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that the Government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.

Punishing desecration of the flag dilutes the very freedom that makes this emblem so revered, and worth revering.

Someone should read that to Trump, too, though it is more than 140 characters.

The oath of office also exceeds Twitter limits:

Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation: — “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” — Article II, SectionN 1, Clause 8

 

 

 

 

Happy belated Bill of Rights Day

Several years ago I penned this for the Review-Journal. OK, I missed Dec. 15 by a couple of days this year.

On this day in 1791 the Bill of Rights were ratified by three-fourths of the states. At the insistence of the Anti-Federalists led by Thomas Jefferson the first 10 amendments were added to the new Constitution.

They might more properly be called a Bill of Prohibitions, since they are not so much a delineation of rights as a list of things the federal government may not take away from individuals and the states and local governments.

Bill of Rights

This is our day to celebrate the First Amendment prohibition against establishing a state religion, despite odd rulings about nativity scenes and posting the Ten Commandments, and the right of free speech and press, despite McCain-Feingold limits on campaign spending and advertising. (Since somewhat overturned by Citizens United.)

This is our day to celebrate the Second Amendment, despite requirements to register handguns and other laws.

We celebrate the Fourth Amendment prohibition against unlawful search and seizure, despite the Hiibel case in which Larry Hiibel was arrested for not giving his name to a Humbolt County deputy. (Not to mention civil asset forfeitures.)

There’s the Fifth’s protection against taking of property except for public purposes that was bounced by the Kelo decision that let government take property for private development.

As for the Sixth’s right to speedy and public trial? Forget it. No explanation needed.

The right to trial by jury according to the Seventh? Try that in traffic court, buddy.

No cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth’s prohibition. Lifetime sentences for possession of pot belie that one.

The Ninth’s and 10th’s guarantees that rights not delineated are prohibited to feds? Let’s see the states try to set the drinking age or voting age or speed limits.

There’s still the Third’s prohibition against housing troops in private homes. (Right?)

Happy birthday, Bill of Rights, long may you be respected.

A couple of years ago I ran across the Cato video below. As my ol’ Pappy used to say: Great minds travel in the same plane, while fools just think alike.

Actually, the Third is also suspect as I reported here. The courts have since ruled that cops are not soldiers. They sure look alike and are armed alike.

 

 

Happy Constitution Day

On this day in 1787, the representatives at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia signed the Constitution. It was ratified by the states and went into effect on March 4, 1789.

You remember the Constitution don’t you?

That’s the document that says the president “shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed …” Not waive, delay or ignore parts of laws the president doesn’t like. Not tell the attorney general to not defend laws such as the Defense of Marriage Act in court. Not use his phone and pen.

Constitution

You know, the piece of paper that says, “All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives …”

It’s those four-handwritten pages that give Congress the power “To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States …” Not to force people to engage in commerce or pay a fine or a tax for not doing so.

They later added the Bill of Rights, which says such things as “right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

It also gave Congress the power to “declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water.”

The instrument also says the “President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.” Not decide for himself when the Senate is in session. At least the court slapped his wrist on that one.

The First Amendment of those Bill of Rights says Congress “shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …” That probably means Congress can’t order a religion to pay for contraceptions, abortifacients and sterilization against its beliefs.

I’m pretty sure the document did not envision a president’s administration creating by regulation laws the Congress refused to pass — think immigration enforcement, EPA, FEC, HHS, HUD, USDA.

As James Madison said, “I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.”

Happy Constitution Day.

First posted on this day in 2014.

Fondly remembering the late, great Bill of Rights

On this day in 1791 the Bill of Rights was ratified by three-fourths of the states, adding 10 amendments to  the new Constitution.

It has been downhill and out the door ever since.

They might more properly be called a Bill of Prohibitions, since they are not so much a delineation of rights as a list of things the federal government may not take away from individuals and the states and local governments.

Perhaps they should now be called the Bill of Vague Suggestions.

The First Amendment has been trampled repeatedly over the years as newspaper editors were locked up by Abraham Lincoln for questioning the Civil War — freedom of the press — and dissenters to the War to End All Wars were jailed by Woodrow Wilson — freedom of speech.

Freedom of religion is hardly extant when devoutly religious people must provide contraceptives in violation of their conscience.

Right to redress of grievances? You’ll be ignored, like the citizens of Nevada who voted 18 years ago to take over federal public land.

Free to assemble? Not if you wish to pass the hat and fund a political campaign without listing your home address to your government overlords.

Some may celebrate the Second Amendment today, but others have circulated a petition to require background checks before obtaining a firearm.

We celebrate the Fourth Amendment prohibition against unlawful search and seizure, despite the Hiibel case in which Larry Hiibel was arrested for not giving his name to a Humboldt County deputy.

There’s the Fifth’s protection against taking of property except for public purposes? That was bounced by the Kelo decision that let government take property for private development.

As for the Sixth’s right to speedy and public trial? Forget it. No explanation needed.

The right to trial by jury according to the Seventh? Try that in traffic court, buddy.

No cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth’s prohibition. Lifetime sentences for possession of pot belie that one, as well as execution of American citizens by drones.

The Ninth’s and 10th’s guarantees that rights not delineated are prohibited to feds? Let’s see the states try to set the drinking age or voting age or speed limits.

There’s still the Third’s prohibition against housing troops in private homes.

Oops, that one went South when the Henderson cops commandeered two homes to use as staging posts during an hours-long standoff with a domestic violence suspect holed up in a nearby home.

The resulting lawsuit claims a “deprivation of rights, privileges, and immunities secured to Plaintiffs under the Third, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.”

So far as I can find the case is either still pending or was quietly settled and ignored by the media.