President Obama is again asserting his right to act unilaterally and without congressional approval in going to war. In what has become a mantra for this Administration, Obama reportedly told members of Congress that he does not need congressional approval to unleash a comprehensive military campaign against the Islamic State. The President informed a few members at a dinner — a striking image of how low congressional authority has become in our tripartite system of government.
Archive for the ‘Constitutional Law’ Category
There is an interesting case of religious freedom that has arisen at Creech Air Force base in Nevada where an unnamed airman has been told that he will not be allowed to re-enlist because he does not want to take an oath including the words “so help me God.” He is an atheist and, for obvious reasons, finds the words objectionable. Curiously, despite that fact that he clearly does not believe in God, the Air Force wants him to swear to God as a condition for his serving his country. It is not only a violation of this constitutional rights under the First Amendment but an offense to the many atheists who have served and continue to serve our country.
Ghoncheh Ghavami, 25, is the latest victim of Sharia law and the denial of basic rights to women in some Muslim countries. Ghavami has been in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison for over 40 days after committing the unpardonable sin of try to enter a stadium to watch the Iranian national men’s team was playing Italy. She was part of a large group of women who simply wanted to be able to watch a soccer game but under Sharia law in Iran it is a crime for women to even be at a sporting match with men. The world community has gone to Facebook and other social media sites to demand her release but she continues to languish in a prison known for its torture and raping of inmates.
Egypt has continued its crackdown on social and religious minorities under Sharia law with the arrested of seven men for debauchery, “incitement to debauchery” and “publishing indecent images” after they were shown taking part in a “gay marriage” video on social media networks. The prosecutor declared that the video was “humiliating, regrettable and would anger God.”
By Mike Appleton, Weekend Contributor
“The First Amendment mandates governmental neutrality between religion and religion, and between religion and nonreligion.”
-Epperson v. Arkansas, 393 U.S. 97, 104 (1968)
“This commission chooses to stand by the tradition of opening its meetings in a manner acknowledging the beliefs of a large segment of its constituents.”
-Brevard County (Florida) Commission Chair Mary Bolin Lewis (August 15, 2014)
On August 19th the County Commission in Brevard County, Florida voted unanimously to reject a request by the Central Florida Freethought Community, an organization of atheists, agnostics, humanists and free-thinkers, to be added to a rotating list of groups invited to give the opening invocation at commission meetings. Instead, the commission approved a letter drafted by the county attorney offering the group three minutes to speak during the public comment portion of its meetings. According to the letter, the rejection was appropriate because, “The prayer is delivered during the ceremonial portion of the county’s meeting, and typically invokes guidance for the County Commission from the highest spiritual authority, a higher authority which a substantial body of Brevard constituents believe to exist.”
The Brevard County decision comes on the heels of the Supreme Court’s opinion in Town of Greece v. Galloway, 572 U.S. ______ , 134 S.Ct. 1811 (2014), a case that more than anything else illustrates that the current state of Establishment Clause jurisprudence is, to put it bluntly, a mess. (more…)
There is a bizarre case out of Maryland where school officials sent teacher and novelist Patrick McLaw, 23, to an emergency medical evaluation for publishing, under a pseudonym, a novel about a school shooting. That’s it. A language-arts eight grade teacher at Lane Middle School writes a book about a school shooting and he is put on leave by the Dorchester County Board of Education, investigated by the Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office, and sent away for evaluation. “The Insurrectionist” happens to be set 900 years in the future but the board couldn’t just wait for the shooting to occur and had to act. What is striking is that all of these steps have been taken and McLaw has been effectively treated as a danger to children but no one has said a thing beyond the novel that is the basis for the actions. Was there something else that raise the danger of a violent act by McLaw? Officials have not been shy about distributing McLaw’s picture, assuring parents that they will protect their children (presumably from McLaw), and generally portraying him as a possible threat to children. Yet, when it comes to the basis for these actions, no one is saying a thing.
It appears that a Massachusetts man has been arrested for impersonating a transformer. Barricade (an evil Decepticon) to be exact. The driver had his Maserati “dipped” to resemble the character and was pulled over in Braintree, Massachusetts. His car has the words “Decepticons punish and enslave” painted along the side. It is not clear if the officer was a Decepticon or just a clueless deputy. He faces fines of $1000 or more, probation or, in the most extreme cases, up to five years in jail for impersonating an officer.