From Right to Left – A Call for Reform of Civil Assett Forfeiture

civil asset forfeiture paved with good intentions

“This system—where police can seize property with limited judicial oversight and retain clarence_thomas_u_s_supreme_court_justiceit for their own use—has led to egregious and well-chronicled abuses. These forfeiture operations frequently target the poor and other groups least able to defend their interests in forfeiture proceedings.” – Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas

From the Heritage Foundation on the Right to the American Civil Liberties Union on the left come urgent calls for civil asset forfeiture law reform.

From the Right

“Civil asset forfeiture is based on a fiction, albeit one of ancient lineage, that property can be guilty of a crime and thereby forfeited to the sovereign regardless of whether any individual is ever charged with (and much less convicted of) a crime related to that property. It is a fiction because things obviously cannot think or act, but there is a laudable goal behind this fiction: the development of a means to deprive criminals of the fruits of their nefarious labor, sometimes in cases where it may be clear that particular property was used in a crime, but where the “kingpin”—be it a drug dealer, fraudster, foreign kleptocrat, or terrorist—is impossible to identify or is outside the United States, and to use some of those funds to compensate the victims of crime… in many instances, what began as a means to a laudable end has become an end in itself.” – John Malcolm, The Heritage Foundation, 20 April 2015

From the Left

“Police abuse of civil asset forfeiture laws has shaken our nation’s conscience. Civil forfeiture allows police to seize — and then keep or sell — any property they allege is involved in a crime. Owners need not ever be arrested or convicted of a crime for their cash, cars, or even real estate to be taken away permanently by the government.

Forfeiture was originally presented as a way to cripple large-scale criminal enterprises by diverting their resources. But today, aided by deeply flawed federal and state laws, many police departments use forfeiture to benefit their bottom lines, making seizures motivated by profit rather than crime-fighting. For people whose property has been seized through civil asset forfeiture, legally regaining such property is notoriously difficult and expensive, with costs sometimes exceeding the value of the property.” – American Civil Liberties Union

Public Opinion Agrees with the Left and the Right

“Eighty-four percent (84%) of Americans oppose civil asset forfeiture–police “taking a person’s money or property that is suspected to have been involved in a drug crime before the person is convicted of a crime,” according to a new Cato Institute/YouGov survey of 2,000 Americans. Only 16% think police ought to be allowed to seize property before a person is convicted.” – The Cato Institute, 13 December 2016

The Opposition: Law Enforcement Agencies

James Mclaughlin, executive director of the Police Chiefs Association said, “We oppose really all changes to asset forfeiture. We always do.”

The governor did not sign into law Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform.

Weighing Cost vs. Benefits of Civil Asset Forfeiture

Greg Glod, a senior policy analyst with the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative think tank, said there is no data that shows that seizing assets has put a huge dent in drug cartel operations.

“If you look at how much money has actually been forfeited, it seems like a

COST VS BENEFITS
Loss of Liberty has no benefits

lot, but when you average cash that’s forfeited, it’s generally from $0 to $5,000,” he said. “And overall, it’s only in the hundreds of millions of dollars, and we know how much drug cartel money actually comes through here. So it really has not, from those statistics, done a lot to actually disrupt cartel members and their drug-trafficking organizations.”

Follow the Money

  • District attorneys across Texas in 2016 were in court fighting for more than $55 million in seized cash to be forfeited to the state, according to reports counties submitted to the Attorney General’s office.
  • At the end of 2016, district attorneys statewide had a total balance of more than $36 million in forfeited money, according to reports counties submitted to the Attorney General’s office.

Legislative Actions

The 2017 Texas Legislature took up the issue by proposing bills to eliminate the practice of Civil Asset Forfeiture. State Senator Konni Burton (R-Fort Worth) introduced SB 380 and State Representative Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston) put forward HB 1394 on this matter.

I will work for a constitutional amendment to the U.S. Constitution by way of a Convention of States and an amendment to the Texas Constitution through our 2019 Texas Legislature.

John White
Rockwall, Texas

Why a Balanced Budget Amendment? The Minimum Wage Debacle

The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA) set $0.25/Hour in 1938.

Minimum Wage: What’s the history?

 

minimum wage debacle
by Steve Breen 6/13/2017

 

“Higher minimum wages both reduce overall employment and encourage relatively affluent workers to enter the labor force. Minimum wage increases often lead to employers replacing disadvantaged adults who need a job with suburban teenagers who do not.” – James Sherk, Research Fellow, Labor Economics at The Heritage Foundation

Fact: The FLSA was anything but ‘fair’ because it did not apply to all hourly workers, farm workers, for example.

Fact: Many types of employment today are not covered by the FLSA or any of its subsequent derivatives. Current and past minimum wage laws do not apply to many jobs in America, waiters, for example. Learn more from the Dept. of Labor.

We as a nation have come to a place in history, a point in time, where the federal budget can no longer sustain massive socialistic spending as national debt approaches $20 TRILLION.

Neither your household or business can long remain financially viable if spending outstrips income. It’s truly not rocket science.

If a prospective homebuyer were to apply for a mortgage with his or her credit score near or below zero, you know the obvious outcome. Don’t you? Right. That loan application would be immediately denied. Is this not the situation with the Federal government?

What to do?

  • Choose to be realistic
  • Tell Congress to balance the budget
  • When the Convention of States convenes, tell your COS representative you want a balanced budget amendment.

John White
Rockwall, Texas

It’s an Emergency So It’s Time to Pull the Cord

The below text was copied verbatim from an email to me from The Convention Courier, Winter 2016/2017 Section 1 

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It’s easy to idolize people, to put them up on a pedestal and assume they’re better than they are. We see

article-v-emergency-pull-cord
Click on the image above to read Article V

it with actors who’ve disappointed us (Bill Cosby), with athletes (Lance Armstrong) and with politicians (all of them).

 

Yes, all of them. Of course, some make their flaws more obvious than others. Richard Nixon resigned in disgrace and Bill Clinton was impeached, but most have failed us in big and small ways. Take conservative hero Ronald Reagan – one of our favorite Presidents here at the COSA office. As a proponent [of] limited government, he vowed to do away with the Department of Education, yet the federal government grew under his administration. (Yes, his Department of Education swelled to an even bigger size.)

After the bitter 2016 Presidential contest, many are hopeful about Donald Trump’s term as President. No matter how many good intentions he has, however, Congress will resist and his power as President is limited. We have witnessed Congress blocking improvements over and over. No one has earned the distrust of American voters like our current crop of so-called political leaders. Ideally, Trump will go to D.C. and “drain the swamp” as he so colorfully put it on the campaign trail. We hope he does. But it’s going to take a lot to remove the sludge of ego and corruption from Congress. Adding better leaders and Cabinet members won’t be enough. A change in personnel is only temporary… only a change in structure, that a Convention of States will secure, is permanent.

Thankfully, our Founding Fathers planned ahead. First, they created three separate branches of government to help keep them all in check. That hasn’t worked out too well. Congress doesn’t act as a limiting force in D.C. – this was most obvious when they almost eliminated the ethics office. The Supreme Court has acted well outside its constitutional bounds, deciding controversial cultural issues by fiat. Plus, President Obama has used more restrictive executive orders than his six predecessors.

Fortunately, the Founders also included an “emergency cord” in Article V that citizens can pull if the three branches fail to keep each other in check. Reforming our government requires more than a few appointments; it requires we go back and really restructure the way our Founders originally intended.

Thomas Jefferson warned against having “confidence in man,” but that we should “bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.” In other words, our Founders expected us to behave in a manner that is consistent with the Constitution, even though modern politicians have forgotten they can’t do whatever they what, whenever they want.

As Trump and Reagan have both used the phrase so well, we do want to “drain the swamp” of that sort of ego, incompetence, and corruption… and, thanks to our Founding Fathers, “We the People” actually have the power and the obligation to do it. Right now, most of America is fed-up with the federal government and is ready to put it back in its constitutionally intended box.

We may never live through another moment more conducive to the convention than right now. As President Trump said himself in his Inaugural Speech, “Today’s ceremony, however, has very special meaning because today, we are not merely transferring power from one administration to another or from one party to another, but we are transferring power from Washington, D.C., and giving it back to you, the people.” The method to make this transfer of power to the people permanent is via calling a Convention of States, and our time is NOW.

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Read the full text of President Trump’s Inaugural Speech: president-trumps-inaugural-speech

SCOTUS Obergefell v. Hodges ruling is “settled law”? What are the facts?

14 July 2015
27 Tammuz 5775
Supreme_Court_US_2010

#SCOTUS Obergefell v. Hodges ruling held that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment guarantees the right to marry as one of the fundamental liberties it protects, and that analysis applies to same-sex couples in the same manner as it does to opposite-sex couples. Barack Obama declared this ruling “a victory for America”. NPR trumpeted the ruling as settled law.

So, five liberal justices declare the Fourteenth Amendment Due Process and Equal Protection clauses applies to unnatural ‘marriage’ as well as it does to natural marriage.

The reader should know Supreme Court opinions are not settled law, but opinions. Only Congress has Constitutional authority to craft laws. In fact, Congress can craft laws that specifically prohibit federal courts, including the Supreme Court, from even allowing a dispute of a law to be considered. Under authority of Article III, Section 2, the Exceptions Clause can be used by Congress to prevent appellate action by the Supreme Court.

PROOF SCOTUS RULINGS ARE NOT SETTLE LAW

Read from the official Government Printing Office “SUPREME COURT DECISIONS OVERRULED BY SUBSEQUENT DECISION” http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/GPO-CONAN-2002/pdf/GPO-CONAN-2002-12.pdf

To date, 220 Supreme Court decisions have been overruled by subsequent decisions of the Supreme Court.

In 1857, the court ruled that African-Americans, whether free or enslaved, could not be U.S. citizens. This unconstitutional and unreasonable ruling was overturned by the Civil Rights Act of 1866, an act of Congress, and by the Fourteenth Amendment, an act of We the People.

Later, in 1896, in Plessy v. Ferguson the Supreme Court ruled “equal but separate accommodations” for blacks on railroad cars did not violate the “equal protection under the laws” clause of the 14th Amendment.

milton-quote-qol-f

Article V of our Constitution lays out authority to amend it. Amendments can be proposed either by Congress or by a Convention of States. In all cases, only We the People can approve amendments. A convention of 2/3 of the states can call the convention to craft proposed amendments. Whether proposed by Congress or a Convention of States, 3/4 must approve it to become law.

It’s time for We the People to assert our authority. Our authority exceeds that of the Congress, the President and the Supreme Court COMBINED.

John White​

212 Years Confusing SCOTUS Opinions with the Supreme Law of the Land

Are Supreme Court rulings valid law?

What says the Constitution?

Article VI (Roman Numeral 6 for low information people)

“This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.”

Let’s break it down.

  1. in first place, the Constitution is the supreme law of the land
  2. laws made in accord to the Constitution are the supreme law of the land
  3. treaties ratified by the Senate are the supreme law of the land

Am I missing something here? Where in Article VI does it say federal court rulings become the supreme law of the land? Nowhere. Never. Not now. Not ever. How is it, for over 212 years we Americans have tolerated and accepted as supreme law ‘case law‘?

U.S. Senator Mike Lee (R-UT)
U.S. Senator Mike Lee (R-UT)

From the Washington Examiner: “Sen. Mike Lee rips Supreme Court justices, Congress for ‘subversion’ of Constitution”, by Paul Bedard | APRIL 3, 2015 | 7:51 AM

“Conservative constitutional expert Sen. Mike Lee blasts Congress, Supreme Court justices and the White House for treating the nation’s founding document as a “nuisance” and subverting the document to create essentially illegal programs including Obamacare.”

“The truth is that our Constitution is being subverted by many of the very people who have solemnly sworn to protect it.” Overall, he said Washington treats the document as “a nuisance.” source: http://ow.ly/Lc8kv

Lawmakers, like sheep wandering about without a shepherd, accepted the 1803 decision from Marbury v. Madison where SCOTUS, led by Chief Justice Marshall, assumed constitutional authority to judge a law passed by Congress AS PER ARTICLE VI. This was truly the very first of many instances of “case law” – law created out of whole cloth, thin air. NOTHING in Article VI authorizes SCOTUS decisions to be the Supreme Law of the Land.

Elena Kagan recently stated the liberal position on court rulings. She said each case had to be viewed in the whole context of the Constitution. Should we then consider speed limit signs in the whole context of a journey across America? No.

The Constitution is unambiguous, written in clear language and underwritten by the Declaration of Independence, Federalist Papers and voluminous writings from our founding fathers.

Convention-of-the-States

Article V was incorporated for the sole purpose of reserving authority to amend the Constitution to the states. This brief but powerful article provides two means for proposing amendments and one means for ratifying them.

An Article V Convention of States Project​ is well underway. This will be our opportunity to restore Original Intent to federal government’s interpretation of the Constitution.

Various ill-informed groups like the NAGR fear a convention. I encourage you to read Article V for yourself. It’s not complicated. It’s not ‘rocket science’ and you don’t need an interpreter.

Learn more about the Convention of States Project in 4 easy steps http://ow.ly/Lc9Zq

John White​

No-Knock Forced Entry Searches Nullify Most Fundamental Duty of Government

30 March 2015

Deadly Encounters

All too often news reporters relay stories across America of raids gone bad. On the basis of the word of an informer or the slightest suspicion, militarized law enforcement teams burst into homes unannounced, often in the dark of night, often with tragic consequences.

Tragic consequences? Yes, like the case of Kane v. Lewis, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled such a raid justified under the Fourth Amendment.

References

A man awakened from sleep by heavily-armed policemen bursting into his apartment grabs the only weapon he had available, a sheathed knife. Officers shot the man in the face and torso, killing him. He was killed over trace amounts of marijuana found in his garbage can.

History of the Fourth Amendment

The irony of the Fourth Circuit Court trampling the Fourth Amendment isn’t to be ignored.

Over two decades leading up to our Unanimous Declaration of Independence, “British troops and enforcement officers were armed with writs of assistance, or general warrants that gave them broad powers to search colonists’ homes. They didn’t need to establish probable cause, or even specificity as to a person or residence. The abuse that came with those warrants made Boston a hub of revolutionary fervor, and memories of that abuse are why the Founders created a Fourth Amendment after the war.” [source cited above]

First grievance cited in the Unanimous Declaration of Independence

“He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.”

Fourth Amendment Text

“The 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.”

Question of Propriety

Convoluted case law has effectively eviscerated the Fourth Amendment. History behind the amendment is unambiguous. Founding fathers George Mason and James Madison crafted this amendment to assure protection of persons and property from overzealous, tyrannical government.

Innocent children have suffered great bodily harm. Unarmed residents have been grievously wounded, disfigured and killed. Property damage is inestimable. Most important of all: governments fail to fulfill the most fundamental role: to secure our natural rights.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed”

Case law and violent break-ins by law enforcement officers executing search warrants most certainly obviate the need for an Article V Constitutional Convention of States to amend the Constitution in order to restore original intent.

John White