The CONSTITUTION of the UNITED STATES
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-- Heritage Guide to the Constitution (standards for impeachment) - a teaching moment - Posted 11/18/13  On the Heritage Web Site
-- Legal Immigrant understands Second Amendment better than most Americans - 2/2/13
-- Why We Use Electoral College rather than the Popular Vote - 11/07/16
-- Extended version on the Heritage web site - posted 9/16/17
-- Naturalization - best reading concerning
 

 Legal Immigrant Understands Second Amendment Better Than Most Americans

Posted on February 2, 2013       by Giacomo 83

659In the past month, there has been a great deal of debate over gun control and the push by the Obama administration and other Democrats to disarm the American people. Emotions have been running high on both sides of the issue. Many involved with one side or the other are so wrapped up in the debate they fail listen to what others are saying.

But one man, Henson Ong, sat before a seemingly hostile gun prevention hearing in Hartford, Connecticut and delivered perhaps one of the best short pieces on the preservation of the Second Amendment and gun ownership than anyone else I’ve heard lately. What’s even more powerful is that Ong is a legal immigrant who said that he is an American by choice.

Ong just didn’t spout an emotional tirade against the anti-gun people. Instead, he used American history, American court cases and laws as the basis for his argument against more gun control and the banning of assault-style weapons. He spoke about how some of America’s high schools had rifle teams, how boy scouts had marksmen merit badges, rifles could be purchased at hardware stores and mail order. Yet with ammunition being readily available, during these times, the nation did not have mass shootings at schools like we have today.

So he asks the question, what changed?

Ong says it was not the availability of guns that changed, but what changed was societal decay. He stated that if gun control worked that Chicago and Washington DC would be the safest cities in the nation, but they have the toughest gun laws and highest crime and murder rates. He then challenged the idea that assault-style rifles are weapons of mass destruction by quoting government documents to the contrary.

In so many other facets of American culture, the people that have come here from other countries often have a better understanding of what America is all about and what our Founding Fathers meant it to be than those of us that were born here. Some of them like Henson Ong, believe so strongly in America that they take the time to learn our history and our laws and rights, because they didn’t have those rights in their homelands.

If you understand the issue like Ong, that it is not about guns, but about political agendas designed to rid us of our rights and guns, then forward this on to all of your politicians and urge them to listen to Ong’s words of wisdom and fight Obama and the liberal Democrats from stealing our rights and our guns.
 

 Why We Use Electoral College, Not Popular Vote

Jarrett Stepman / November 07, 2016

The Electoral College remains in place over two centuries after the framers of the Constitution empowered it to select presidents. Though occasionally maligned, this system of electing a chief executive has been incredibly successful for the American people.

Many modern voters might be surprised to learn that when they step into a ballot box to select their candidate for president, they actually are casting a vote for fellow Americans called electors. These electors, appointed by the states, are pledged to support the presidential candidate the voters have supported. The Electoral College holds its vote the Monday after the second Wednesday in December following the election.

The Founding Fathers created the Electoral College after much debate and compromise, but it has provided stability to the process of picking presidents. Though the winner of the national popular vote typically takes the presidency, that vote failed to determine the winner in four elections: 1824, 1876, 1888, and 2000.

Some see the Electoral College as a peculiar and mystifying institution that ensures only a few, select individuals will ever cast a direct vote for president in the United States. Others complain that the system rewards smaller states with more proportional power than the large ones.

Every four years, around election time, there are murmurs about revamping the system and moving toward a direct, national popular vote.

The Founders’ College

As one of The Heritage Foundations legal experts, Hans von Spakovsky, noted in a paper on the Electoral College: “In creating the basic architecture of the American government, the Founders struggled to satisfy each state’s demand for greater representation while attempting to balance popular sovereignty against the risk posed to the minority from majoritarian rule.”

Some elements of the Electoral College, such as the indirect vote through intermediaries, were hotly debated at the 1787 Constitutional Convention. It was eventually justified in part as a stopgap to potentially reverse the vote if the people elected a criminal, traitor, or similar kind of heinous person. The Founders wanted to empower democratic elements in the American system, but they feared a kind of pure, unrestrained democracy that had brought down great republics of the past.

The product of the Founders’ compromise has been well balanced and enduring, and we would be wise to leave it intact.

Alexander Hamilton defended the Electoral College in Federalist 68. He argued that it was important for the people as a whole to have a great deal of power in choosing their president, but it was also “desirable” that “the immediate election should be made by men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station, and acting under circumstances favorable to deliberation, and to a judicious combination of all the reasons and inducements which were proper to govern their choice.”

Hamilton also wrote that this system of intermediaries would produce a greater amount of stability, and that an “ … intermediate body of electors will be much less apt to convulse the community with any extraordinary or violent movements, than the choice of one who was himself to be the final object of the public wishes.”

As students of ancient history, the Founders feared the destructive passions of direct democracy, and as recent subjects of an overreaching monarch, they equally feared the rule of an elite unresponsive to the will of the people. The Electoral College was a compromise, neither fully democratic nor aristocratic.

The Constitution states:

Each state shall appoint, in such manner as the legislature thereof may direct, a number of electors, equal to the whole number of senators and representatives to which the state may be entitled in the Congress.

In addition to balancing the protection of individual rights and majority rule, the Founding Fathers attempted to create a “federalist” system that would keep most of policymaking power reserved to states and localities. America’s presidential election system also was designed to empower the states, not just the American people as an undifferentiated mass.

The total number of electors and thus electoral votes across all states and the District of Columbia—included after the passage of the 23rd Amendment—adds up to 538. The winner must receive a majority, or 270, of these votes to become president.

The system empowers states, especially smaller ones, because it incentivizes presidential candidates to appeal to places that may be far away from population centers. Farmers in Iowa may have very different concerns than bankers in New York. A more federalist system of electing presidents takes that into account.

The states are free to select the method in which they choose their electors. In the early days of the republic, most states chose to have their legislatures pick electors, rather than the people. But, over time, the states shifted to choosing electors via the state’s popular vote instead. Every state has opted for popular election at least since the Civil War.

Calls to Abolish

Modern opponents of the Electoral College argue against what they call antidemocratic aspects of the institution, criticizing both the intermediary electors and the state-by-state system of voting.

Calls to fundamentally change the Electoral College reached a peak after Republican George W. Bush defeated Democrat Al Gore in the tightly contested 2000 election. Gore narrowly won the national popular vote, and many of his supporters howled that the system—even without the Supreme Court stepping in—was unfair.

One organization, National Popular Vote, has worked toward eliminating the Electoral College through an amendment to the Constitution or a state compact. National Popular Vote argues that the current system encourages presidential candidates to spend most of their time in “swing states” rather than campaigning for votes across the entire country.

This plan for a national popular vote has received a moderate level of support, but Heritage’s von Spakovsky has called it bad policy, based on mistaken assumptions. Swing states, he wrote, “can change from election to election, and many states that are today considered to be reliably ‘blue’ or ‘red’ in the presidential race were recently unpredictable.”

Many states have signed on to a bill that essentially would tie a state’s electoral votes to the national popular vote. Those states will pledge to swing all of their electoral votes to the winner of the national vote.

But this is because the incentives would be to appeal only to the biggest population centers. Swing states change over time, and the 2016 election could be a prime example of swing-state unpredictability and erosion of the traditional partisan political map.

Additionally, if the president were elected by unfiltered national vote, small and rural states would become irrelevant, and campaigns would spend their time in large, populous districts.

Over 200 Years of Success

Unneeded tinkering with a process that is over two centuries old could destabilize one on the steadiest political systems in the world.

As author and Texas lawyer Tara Ross wrote in a Heritage Foundation memorandum:

America’s election systems have operated smoothly for more than 200 years because the Electoral College accomplishes its intended purposes. America’s presidential election process preserves federalism, prevents chaos, grants definitive electoral outcomes, and prevents tyrannical or unreasonable rule. The Founding Fathers created a stable, well-planned, and carefully designed system—and it works.

On Election Day, Americans should appreciate the great and long-lasting constitutional tradition bequeathed to them — including the quirky Electoral College system created by the nation’s Founders.

http://dailysignal.com/2016/11/07/why-the-founders-created-the-electoral-college/
 

Repeal The Second Amendment? That's Not So Simple. Here's What It Would Take

March 1, 2018

Ron Elving 2017

"The Second Amendment."

If you've lived in America, you've heard those words spoken with feeling.

The feeling may have been forceful, even vehement.

"Why? The Second Amendment, that's why."

Politics

What Would It Take To Repeal The 2nd Amendment?

The same words can be heard uttered in bitterness, as if in blame.

"Why? The Second Amendment, that's why."

Or then again, with reverence, an invocation of the sacred — rather like "the Second Coming."

Talk of gun rights and gun control is back on full boil after 17 people were killed in the Parkland, Fla., school shooting, so the conversation turns to the Second Amendment quickly and often.

We are talking, of course, about the Second Amendment to U.S. Constitution, in the Bill of Rights.

It reads in full:

"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."

Simple. And not simple. Assuming it means just what it says, just what does it actually say?

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Trump Angers Conservatives Over Guns While Negotiating With Lawmakers On TV

Scholars have parsed the words, and courts and lawyers have argued over their meaning. Historians have debated what was meant by "well-regulated militia" back in 1789.

Some say the framers only meant to protect well-organized militias in the respective states, forerunners of today's National Guard. Others say the framers also intended to shield the guns of individuals, the weapons they would use if those militias were called upon to fight.

Heller brings some clarity

To some extent, the issue was clarified, if not settled, by the Heller decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in 2008. The 5-4 decision held that the Second Amendment meant individuals had an inherent right to own guns for lawful purposes.

Heller applied that standard to overturn a ban on privately held handguns, enacted in the District of Columbia. But the same basic reasoning has also been used to defend the private ownership of AR-15-type rifles such as the one used in Parkland and other mass shootings in recent years.

Congress Stalled On Bills To Tighten Gun Background Check System

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Congress Stalled On Bills To Tighten Gun Background Check System

Congress tried to ban "assault-style" weapons in 1994 but put a 10-year sunset provision in the law. It survived court challenges at the time, but when the 10-year term had passed, the majority control of Congress had also passed — from the Democrats, who had enacted the ban, to the Republicans, who let it lapse.

Since then, all efforts to restrict the sale of such weapons have failed. Even relatively bipartisan attempts at strengthening other restrictions, such as the Manchin-Toomey background check expansion bill in 2013, have fallen short of the necessary supermajority needed for passage in the Senate.

It was not, as President Trump alleged Wednesday, because of a lack of "presidential backup." President Barack Obama supported the bill, as Sen. Pat Toomey, a Pennsylvania Republican, pointed out to Trump. Republicans filibustered the bill, which got 54 votes.

In each case, defenders of gun rights have invoked the Second Amendment, the text that casts a long shadow across all discussions of guns in the U.S. At times, it seems to all but end such discussion.

Parkland changes calculus

But now, the tide is running the other way. The Parkland shootings have created a new moment and a new movement, led by teenagers who survived the tragedy and took their protests to social media and beyond.

Suddenly, even Trump is tossing out ideas about keeping students safe, arming teachers, restraining gun sales through background checks and higher age limits, and even banning accessories such as "bump stocks" that enable nonautomatic weapons to fire rapidly and repeatedly.

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The Two-Way

Georgia's Lt. Gov. Threatens To Kill Tax Break For Delta Air Lines Amid NRA Spat

And it's still unclear what Trump wants exactly. Republicans on Capitol Hill seem flummoxed by Trump's posture.

After Trump's made-for-cable bipartisan meeting at the White House with members of Congress, Texas Republican John Cornyn, a leader on gun issues in the Senate, seemed to scratch his head.

"I think everybody is trying to absorb what we just heard," Cornyn told reporters. "He's a unique president, and I think if he was focused on a specific piece of legislation rather than a grab bag of ideas, then I think he could have a lot of influence, but right now we don't have that."

He added that he didn't think simply because the president says he supports something that it would pass muster with Republicans. "I wouldn't confuse what he said with what can actually pass," Cornyn said. "I don't expect to see any great divergence in terms of people's views on the Second Amendment, for example."

Ah, and there are those two words again — Second Amendment.

If new restrictions are enacted — a prospect far from certain, as Cornyn rightly points out — they will surely be tested in the courts. There, it will be argued that they infringe on the rights of law-abiding citizens to "keep and bear" firearms.

In other words, they will run afoul of, that's right, the Second Amendment.

Anticipating that, some gun control advocates — and at least one lifelong Republican — want to leap to the ultimate battlement and do it now. They want to repeal, or substantially alter, the formidable amendment itself.

Which Direction Is Trump Heading On Guns?

Analysis

Which Direction Is Trump Heading On Guns?

That would seem logical, at least to these advocates. If some 70 percent of Americans want more gun control and the Second Amendment stands in their way, why shouldn't they be able to do something about it?

Someday, it is conceivable, the people and politicians of the United States may be ready for that. But it will need to be a very different United States than we know today.

Why? Because amendments to the Constitution, once ratified, become fully part of the Constitution. Changing or removing them requires a two-stage process that has proved historically difficult.

The Founding Fathers were willing to be edited, it seems, but they did not want it to be easy. So they made the amending process a steep uphill climb, requiring a clear national consensus to succeed.

Why it takes consensus

A proposed amendment to the Constitution must first be passed by Congress with two-thirds majorities in both the House and the Senate.

The two chambers have not achieved such a margin for a newly written amendment to the Constitution in nearly half a century. The last such effort was the 26th Amendment (lowering the voting age nationwide from 21 to 18), and it cleared Capitol Hill in March 1971.

(There has been another amendment added since, in 1992, but it had been written and approved by Congress literally generations ago. More about that curious "zombie" amendment below.)

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Renewing Call To Arm Teachers, Trump Tells Governors The NRA Is 'On Our Side'

Even after surviving both chambers of Congress in 1971, the 18-year-old vote amendment still had to survive the second stage of the process — the more difficult stage.

Just like all the other amendments before it, the new voting age had to be ratified by three-fourths of the states. That is currently at least 38 states. Another way to look at it: If as few as 13 states refuse, the amendment stalls.

This arduous process has winnowed out all but a handful of the amendments proposed over the past 230 years. Every Congress produces scores of proposals, sometimes well over 100. The 101st Congress (1989 to 1991) produced 214.

Some deal with obscure concerns; many address facets of the electoral process — especially the Electoral College and the choosing of a president. Many are retreads from earlier sessions of Congress. The one thing most have in common is that they never even come to a vote.

Two that fell short

In 1995, a watershed year with big new GOP majorities in both chambers, two major constitutional amendments were brought to votes in the Capitol. One would have imposed term limits on members of Congress. It failed to get even close to two-thirds in the House, so the Senate did not bother.

The other proposed amendment would have required the federal government to balance its budget, not in theory down the road but in reality and in real time. It quickly got two-thirds in the House but failed to reach that threshold in the Senate by a single vote (one Republican in the chamber voted no).

In Rural Kentucky, Activists 'Tread Lightly' On Gun Control

National

In Rural Kentucky, Activists 'Tread Lightly' On Gun Control

On A Day Of Gun Protest, Some Montanans Will March For Their Guns

National

On A Day Of Gun Protest, Some Montanans Will March For Their Guns

So even relatively popular ideas with a big head of steam can hit the wall of the amendment process. How much more challenging would it be to tackle individual gun ownership in a country where so many citizens own guns — and care passionately about their right to do so?

Overcoming the NRA and other elements of the gun lobby is only the beginning. The real obstacle would be tremendous support for guns in Southern, Western and rural Midwestern states, which would easily total up to more than enough states to block a gun control amendment.

There have been six amendments that got the needed margins in House and Senate but not the needed margin of support in the state legislatures. The most recent was the Equal Rights Amendment, a remarkably simple statement ("Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State on account of sex") that cleared Congress with bipartisan support in 1972 and quickly won nods from most of the states.

But in the mid-1970s, a resistance campaign began and stymied the ERA in many of the remaining states. The resistance then managed to persuade several states to rescind their ratification votes. With momentum now reversed, the ERA died when its window for ratification closed.

Zombie amendments

Other amendments that met similar fates included one granting statehood to the District of Columbia. Like the ERA, the D.C. amendment had a time limit for ratification that expired. But other amendments sent out for ratification in the past did not have a limit, and so might still be ratified — at least theoretically.

The Zombie Amendments To The Constitution You've Probably Never Heard Of

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The Zombie Amendments To The Constitution You've Probably Never Heard Of

The granddaddy of these "zombie" amendments was the very first among the Bill of Rights, which began with 12 items rather than 10. The proposed amendment sought to regulate the number of constituents to be represented by a member of the House, and its numbers were soon outdated. So it has never been ratified and presumably will not be.

The one other amendment originally proposed in 1789 but not ratified as part of the original 10 amendments sat around for generations. Then it caught the attention of state legislatures in the late 1980s, at a time of popular reaction against pay raises for Congress. This amendment stated that a member of Congress who voted for a pay raise could not receive that raise until after the next election for the House of Representatives.

That amendment was dusted off and recirculated, and it reached the ratification threshold in 1992, more than 200 years after it had first been proposed. It is now the 27th Amendment to the Constitution, and the last — at least so far.

A new Constitutional Convention?

If all this seems daunting, as it should, there is one alternative for changing the Constitution. That is the calling of a Constitutional Convention. This, too, is found in Article V of the Constitution and allows for a new convention to bypass Congress and address issues of amendment on its own.

To exist with this authority, the new convention would need to be called for by two-thirds of the state legislatures.

So if 34 states saw fit, they could convene their delegations and start writing amendments. Some believe such a convention would have the power to rewrite the entire 1787 Constitution, if it saw fit. Others say it would and should be limited to specific issues or targets, such as term limits or balancing the budget — or changing the campaign-finance system or restricting the individual rights of gun owners.

There have been calls for an "Article V convention" from prominent figures on the left as well as the right. But there are those on both sides of the partisan divide who regard the entire proposition as suspect, if not frightening.

One way or another, any changes made by such a powerful convention would need to be ratified by three-fourths of the states — just like amendments that might come from Congress.

And three-fourths would presumably be as high a hurdle for convention-spawned amendments as it has been for those from Congress — dating to the 1700s.

Correction March 1, 2018

In an earlier version of this story, the comma after "A well-regulated militia" was inadvertently omitted from the Second Amendment.

Also, an earlier photo caption misidentified ammunition magazines as clips.