I am invited to a large numbers of “leaders” meetings around the state to build coalitions with groups. These are “liberty” groups. They are filled with people from all walks of life, young and old and from many political parties. I am obviously there to represent the Libertarian Party at these meetings.
What I have always found to be the breaking of these coalitions is one key thing and that one thing builds into a very bad outcome. I think where there becomes some animosity between the “liberty Republicans” and the Libertarians is that we are not fighting for the same things. I know many “liberty Republicans” try to say that we are, but in reality we are fighting for very different things.
“Liberty Republicans” are fighting to influence the GOP. They are fighting for a seat at the table within their own party. They are fighting to change policy, hearts and minds within their party to the ideas of liberty. Libertarians are fighting to change the hearts and minds of the people (not the political involved people but the everyday and apathetic voter) to the ideas of liberty.
Polls show that only 12% of the GOP are “liberty Republicans” while 48% are evangelical Christians or the “Christian Right.” They are outnumbered 4 to 1 by a group that will always want to legislate morality due to their skewed version of Christianity. (I’m a Christian and former children’s pastor, so please do not say I do not understand the faith) That makes a “takeover” impossible.
That 48% also means that the GOP will always have some policy of legislating morality. This in turn means the GOP will never be on the same page legislatively as Libertarians.
Also, we get offended by the term “take back” of the GOP that “liberty Republicans” use. Historically the Republican Party started as the “Party of Lincoln” (as it was Lincoln who was the first Republican voted into a high office after the downfall of the Whigs) which would mean the party did not stand for states rights. Since it’s inception it has shredded the Constitution and proven that any state that dare “defy” the Federal Government be punished.
The “Goldwater Revolution” failed in reforming the party. The “Reagan Revolution” failed to reform the party as Reagan himself was forced to compromise his own principles while in office and grow government at an exponential rate to “get along.” The “Ron Paul Revolution” has failed at reforming the party.
There is a common theme in this debate. Why continue to reform a party that has made it a point to not be reformed? Do we have time to wait to reform a political party that is dedicated to employing whatever tactics possible to not be reformed?
We are not fighting for a seat within the GOP and in reality we feel that this fight within the Republican Party is a waste of valuable time that could be used to change actual legislation and actual governmental policy.
We are not fighting to change people’s opinions in our own party. We are fighting for Freedom within our country. Our party already agrees with us. There is no need for us to fight within the GOP. The numbers prove it is a losing battle. We are also not fighting the same fight as the GOP since our belief system on legislating morality is entirely different.
Personally, I have worked with many “liberty Republicans” in the past but it has seemed like the “help” only goes one way because of the loyalty oath of the Republican Party. I have worked on many “liberty Republican’s” campaigns and worked hard to get them through the primaries. Walking doors, phone banking, messaging, fundraising and many other tasks. When the primaries are over if that candidate does not win and there is a Libertarian in the race, I have always been left on my own from everyone who I had just worked with for the Republican. The answer is always that they can’t help because of the Republican loyalty oath. So it is expected that Libertarians work to help Republican candidates but we don’t get the same in return.
At the end of the day, we are political parties and our goals are to get candidates elected. That puts the two parties at odds from the beginning. I always want to get the best candidate in each position elected (no matter what letter they have by their name) but my value system is very different than many of the “liberty Republicans” or Republicans in general. Civil liberties are crucial to me, so if a candidate is good on economics but wants to regulate morality that is a deal breaker and I will actively work against them. Many other Libertarians feel the same way.
What it comes down to a lot of times is that a Libertarian’s enemy is Democrats that are incumbents, dishonest, socialists or are bought by lobbyists and big corporations. Our enemy is also Republicans that do not respect Libertarians, are dishonest, want to advance a social agenda, incumbents or are bought by lobbyists and big corporations.
That means in a lot of times our enemy in a race is the Republican candidate even when “liberty Republicans” are willing to overlook some things because of economic issues. That coupled with the “one-sided” working together makes it nearly impossible to get Libertarians to work with most people who decide to go through the Republican Party.
By Danielle Alexandre
Although the official start of the 2014 Florida Legislative Session doesn’t start until March, our legislators have been hard at work filing legislation and planning the demise of more of our liberty.
At this early point in the process, the majority of the legislation is to compensate employees who have been injured on the job or inmates that have been wrongly incarcerated. There are, however, a few bills we should all be keeping on eye on.
HB 1 Genetically Engineered Foods – This bill would mandate labeling for any food containing a genetically modified product.
HB5 Traffic Safety- This bill bans drivers under the age of 18 from using any electronic device while driving. Last session a ban on texting was already placed on all Florida drivers but this bill would take that one step further for our young teen drivers. What is most interesting is that there is no exception for using a GPS. This means that drivers under 18 can not use a GPS to ensure they find their desired destination.
HM15 Fair Tax Act of 2013 – Although this bill is nonbinding, it would urge the US Congress to impose the Fair Tax and abolish the income tax. It will be interesting to see how much support this piece of legislation can garner.
HB17 & HB 19 Motorist Safety – This bill would create a voluntary “yellow dot” medical registry for drivers. This registry is said to help first responders better treat patients at traffic accidents but will be a very costly program and one that may not have many positive results. The unintended consequence will be another database of citizens personal and private information in the name of safety.
HB 25 Public School Curricular Standards and Assessments- This bill would ultimately “halt” the implementation of Common Core Standards until a more thorough impact study can be completed.
HB 27 Cost-effective Purchasing of Health Care- This act would create a panel to determine the best medical treatment for patients on medicaid. This would also require patients to get a 2nd opinion before treatment of certain illnesses
HB33 Self Defense – This legislation would require county Sheriff’s offices to set guidelines for neighborhood watch programs. Changes the means in which the use of force is acceptable and puts the burden of proof on using deadly force onto the person using such force.
HB39 Juries in Criminal Trials – This would increase the number of jurors in a criminal trial to 12.
This of course is just the beginning of the legislation that will be pouring out of Tallahassee in the months to come. As we prepare for another battle with our state legislature, there are lobbyists who are getting ready to take that fight on with us.
If you would like to know more about the “liberty lobbyists” here in Florida, please visit The Liberty First Network website. Find out how you can help preserve liberty in Florida.
Today in a vote of 217 to 205 the US House of Representatives said “no” to an amendment that would protect some of your 4th Amendment rights against the blanket surveillance of the NSA (National Security Agency).
The Amash-Conyers Amendment, was not a complete protection of the 4th Amendment. The Amendment would still permit the government to acquire business records, car rental reservations, hotel receipts and other “tangible things” in accordance with an investigation. The NSA could also collect these and telephone metadata without a warrant and without probable cause on American citizens.
The Amash-Conyers Amendment would end mass surveillance on all American citizens. It would limit the collection of records to only those with a reasonable connection to a person under investigation. This amendment would require more judicial oversight within a FISA court. The NSA or FBI would have to now show the FISA court that the record sought was relevant to a national security investigation and specifically pertained to the person or persons under investigation.
While not perfect, the Amash-Conyers Amendment was at least a step in the protection of the American public’s privacy. It was reasonable and should have been an easy compromise between a blanket surveillance of every American and national security. This amendment should not have been controversial.
Republicans in the House of Representatives did not agree, as 134 representatives (including 15 from Florida) voted no to the Amash-Conyers Amendment. A mere 94 Republicans were in favor of the amendment and 111 Democrats were also in favor of protecting the rights of the American people.
After today’s vote, the American people can expect every phone call, numbers dialed, numbers of incoming calls, times of the calls and routing information will be collected and databased by our government. You do not have to be involved in a crime or even suspected of wrongdoing. We are all just being watched and the Republicans have made sure that would continue.
By Paul Henry ~ Liberty First Network
The Seventh Amendment is another one that is not so widely known, and is only one sentence long. It deals with lawsuits and the right to a trial by a jury. Here’s the text:
In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
Source material and recommended reading: 7th Amendment
Our founders believed a trial by a jury was important, if you read the Sixth Amendment’s post here last week, you can see how focused they were on legal proceedings. This came about again based on their life experience with the King of England. One of the complaints noted in the Declaration of Independence was that the King would not allow trial by jury in the colonies. This was due to the colonists often rejecting English law- this is something known as jury nullification where the jury finds the law is improper and decides not to punish the person in court. A secondary consideration was that this allowed the people to have a say in the outcome of a trial instead of the government doing so.
In the colonies, a series of laws from England, or “Acts” took place well before the American Revolution of 1776. These were perceived as being more and more tyrannical in nature (see also my recent post with information about the Intolerable Acts). Others were the Navigation Acts, which restricted trade by the colonies and as such income for colonists. When colonists were prosecuted for violations of this Act, other colonists would often nullify the law, so the King changed the way the cases were tried.
There is a very recent modern parallel here. In the past legislative session, an amendment was made to the highway safety bill at 1:35 in the morning on the day before the session ended. It struck the entire law and replaced it with a new law. In that law, the red light camera law was modified, to include changes such as allowing local cities to select who would hear appeals, and then removing any requirement for legal training for these hearing officers, prohibiting them from using formal rules of evidence, and finally adding a large fee retained entirely by the city as a “court cost”. The end result is a system very biased against the defendant. Keep in mind traffic infractions have no right to a jury, as they are non-criminal.
After the revolution, the right to a trial by jury was a topic of concern for the new nation. Criminal cases were covered by the Sixth Amendment, so it was also provided for in the Seventh Amendment after a great deal of discussion. Federalists, those that supported a strong central government, thought that if Congress saw the need for this requirement, they could pass a law to do so. Anti-federalists saw this as a basic need for the Bill of Rights. The Seventh Amendment as we have it was the end result.
Legal issues are decided now using a “trier of the fact” (jury) and a “trier of the law” (judge). After the revolution, juries performed both functions, and this had some negative consequences. What this means is that judges determine what laws apply for a case, and then juries determine the facts of a case. Judges may overturn a jury finding if overwhelming evidence is present to justify it, but all this does is allow for another trial. The judge cannot convict or find in favor for one side.
The Seventh Amendment applies only in suits at “common law”. Common law is based upon court cases or precedents where judges interpret statutes. It is used in most of the United States, England, Canada, and a few other countries. Many other countries such as most of those in Europe use civil law, or law as set by statute. There are some countries that use a mixture of both, and finally some countries mainly in the Middle East and Africa use Sharia law.
The Seventh Amendment applies only in suits in federal court, not state courts. This was the sole amendment in the Bill of Rights not to be “incorporated” (required) to include the states after the 14th Amendment was passed after the Civil War.
The Seventh Amendment was a valuable one based upon a series of bad laws and practices from England. The concept of trial by jury since then has been proved to be imperfect but valid.
By Allan Brooks
We, as gun owners, Second Amendment supporters, and freedom-lovers in general, spend a lot of time talking about legal strategy and we’ve been somewhat successful with that tack. Despite several draconian (and almost certainly unconstitutional) laws passed this year in New York and California (and a few other places), there were legal victories in many states and overall gun laws across the U.S. are much better than they were 20 years ago.
Donating to the NRA, GOA, SAF, and the other alphabet soup pro-gun organizations is a great thing to do and they all put in a lot of hard work to protect and expand our right to keep and bear arms, but we have to be careful not to get so focused on legalities that we lose sight of the big picture. The real fight for the future of the Second Amendment won’t happen in a courtroom. It will happen in your living room when you turn on the TV, it will happen in your child’s classroom, and it will happen in your church on Sunday morning.
The Second Amendment cannot hope to survive for another generation if the predominant culture in America is infected with a pathological hoplophobia. If we’re going to keep gun culture alive, we have to get out and educate people. The worst thing we can do is isolate ourselves as a community. We can’t hide in the shadows, we can’t remain anonymous, and we may need to get outside of our comfort zone a little.
Gun owners are (rightfully) concerned about their privacy and many of us are careful about advertising the fact that we own and/or carry guns. However, one only has to look at the gay-rights movement to see that staying in the closet doesn’t change minds. If we aren’t comfortable talking about guns in public then nobody else will be either and that’s exactly the kind of mentality we should be trying to combat.
To do that on a large scale we need spokespeople that appeal to the general public. Wayne LaPierre is great at what he does, but he (and the NRA in general) is a lightning rod for abuse from the anti-gun groups. People like Colion Noir and Kirsten Weiss are great because they break the OFWG stereotype, but we need more of them. We also need more groups like The Armed Citizen Project getting involved at a neighborhood level.
That’s not to say that you have to form a charity and go around handing out shotguns or have your own YouTube channel in order to make a difference. Neighborhood involvement can be as simple as organizing a range day for your office, place of worship, or homeowners association. It might make some people uncomfortable, you might end up paying for a lot of the ammo, and you will certainly end up cleaning all the guns by yourself, but it’s worth it to get new people out to the range and exposed to responsible gun ownership. Think of it as inoculating people against anti-gun agit-prop.
It is, however, not enough for us to only educate adults about guns. We need to be involved in our school districts to keep them from banning any mention of guns or gun-related activities and treating firearms in general like a contagious disease. When I went to high school, we had an air-rifle marksmanship team on campus as part of the Junior ROTC program. There is no reason that air-rifle marksmanship shouldn’t be offered as a regular elective class at most high schools in this country, but the only way it’s going to happen is to get gun owners involved with their local PTA or school board.
Finally, we need to put faces on defensive gun uses. Anti-gun groups never hesitate to parade the victims (or the families of victims) of gun violence in front of the cameras ad nauseam and we need to show the other side. We need to show people the lives that are saved by guns and cold, hard statistics aren’t enough. It won’t be easy. Most near-victims don’t want public attention, they don’t want to be in the limelight. Partly because of potential legal implications, partly because they may be concerned about social stigma, and partly because the people who use guns in self defense are ordinary people who may not feel comfortable being a spokesperson for gun owners.
We need to find the people who are willing step forward and tell their story and we need to help them tell their stories. Because it’s not ok to deny free people their right to self-defense, it is not ok to force people to be victims, and it’s not ok to let the government trample on the rights of the people. That is the spirit of the Second Amendment, that is the spirit that this country was founded upon, and that is the culture that we need to be trying to recultivate in America today.
By Paul Henry ~ Liberty First Network
I’m not talking about the “Docs and Glocks” bill from a while back. This posting deals with HB 1355 (click to read the bill’s text, about 8 pages in PDF format), a Florida law that will affect certain citizens that seek mental health treatment.
What’s wrong with this bill? Doesn’t the NRA support it? Yes, but why then do the Gun Owners of America and National Association for Gun Rights (who do a far better job for gun owners in my opinion) oppose it? Visit their sites to learn why. Here is my take:
Laws such as these sound great, and garner the coveted NRA endorsement, yet in the real world, if someone is wanting to go on a shooting rampage but prior to doing so is thinking about seeking treatment, will they want to do so after reading the required form? If they do not sign, one of the three pre-judicial elements for placing them on the “no gun or permit” list is not met. A prior “involuntary examination” or Baker Act is a requirement before the language of the bill’s voluntary examination penalties kick in. Will there now be a government record of Baker Acts to go along with criminal history? How else will anyone know if there has been an involuntary exam in the past?
Of course, if they have never had any examinations, the law does nothing to negate the danger. This law is an overreaction “we’ve got to do something to keep us safe” law due to the Sandy Hook shootings, just as laws such as REAL ID were a “keep us safe” overreaction to 9/11 that ended up penalizing millions of innocent citizens, to include every driver in Florida.
Would this law have prevented those shootings? No. Adam Lanza never had an involuntary mental examination. There is still debate over whether his mental conditions, Aspbergers and Sensory Integration Disorder, were a cause in the shootings.
If the patient does not sign the form, then one of the three required conditions is not met, so at that point will the doctor file a Baker Act (the involuntary exam) and negate this whole thing? Will the patients then be denied treatment? Could the doctors not have ordered an involuntary exam in the first place if there was clear and convincing evidence of a danger to self or others? Giving this amount of latitude to doctors will allow one with an anti-gun political agenda to abuse their power.
Another concern is this publicizes certain medical records via the Clerk of Court. Just like the “keep us safe” “pill mill” database bill of a couple of years ago, certain medical information is placed into a government database.
The fact is, the law is not broken. Under existing law, people that have been involuntarily examined cannot buy a gun. There was an exception for involuntary examinations that this law does away with. As always, anyone really wanting to kill others will find a way to do so, they may use a knife or steal government weapons. Either scenario is not affected by this law. I’ll paraphrase former Florida Sheriff and State Senator Steve Olerich yet again. In a committee to add regulations to parasailing a while back, he observed the government cannot keep us safe from every harmful thing that comes our way. I’ll add they usually try, at the cost of our freedom.
This is a bad bill that will ultimately be proved ineffective- but only after many more citizens are added to yet another government database.
Gov. Scott has until July 2 to veto this bill. I’m suggesting you call him at 850.488.7146 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and ask him to veto this bill.
By Paul Henry ~ Liberty First Network
Where did that come from? Actually, it was a 1966 Supreme Court decision from a case in Arizona, but the Court relied upon the Fifth Amendment in order to make their decision. Here’s the entire text of the amendment:
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
Source material and recommended reading: 5th Amendment
There is a lot to cover here, so grab a snack or a drink and make yourself comfortable.
The Fifth Amendment like many has several clauses within it. I’ll break each one down.
First is the Grand Jury clause. The idea here was to allow a group of citizens, not a few in the government, the ability to determine if there was cause for a prosecution. Grand juries are secret proceedings. Unlike a trial, there is no guilt or innocence decided by a grand jury. They only determine if there is cause for a prosecution. I learned in the FHP Academy their “verdict” is either a true bill for cause to proceed, or no true bill if there is insufficient cause. Somewhere along the line, the grand jury was transformed into something entirely different- where the prosecutor really controlled it.
Second is an exception to the Grand Jury clause. It’s fairly basic- it applies only to the military or the militia during a time of war or “public danger”. Our founders wanted the military to be free from control by grand juries. They also realized that citizens that had not faced combat may not be the best “peer” to realize the conditions faced by our military. Another concern was that soldiers may be wary of their actions on the battlefield being judged as they would a criminal case. In a shooting war, you pull out a gun and shoot another person. This is usually considered a crime at other times. The underlying concern was that the military members receive a fair trial.
Third is the double jeopardy clause. In England, the King could try cases over and over until the desired verdict was reached. Our founders determined this was unfair to the citizen, and added the language. In modern times, courts have ruled that if two or more jurisdictions can prosecute for the same offense, there is no double jeopardy. An example would be federal and state charges.
Fourth is the self-incrimination clause. This is what the Supreme Court in Miranda used to make their ruling, and this is where the term “pleading the fifth” originates. What many Americans do not realize is that it is limited to criminal cases only. One thing I work on regularly are red light camera issues. One of the most common complaints is that they are “unconstitutional” since the law makes vehicle owners guilty until proved innocent. Where this argument fails legally is that the red light violation is a non-criminal infraction, so this part of the Fifth Amendment does not apply. As a side note, I always like to observe there were no traffic tickets in the late 1700′s. The history of this clause is interesting. In England, it was permissible at one point to force a confession, and this at times included torture. Our founders realized this was wrong, and so they added this clause.
Fifth is the due process clause. This was added to restrain the government from taking your life, liberty, or property without some type of legal process. While this generally does protect us from abusive government, that is not always the case. One example is the IRS withholding a tax refund indefinitely. The goal here, as it was with the exception to the grand jury clause, is to treat people fairly. It was through an interpretation of this clause that the Supreme Court determined these rights applied to restrain both the federal and state (under the 14th Amendment’s due process clause) governments. This in turn is believed to have given the Supreme Court more power than it should have by removing much power from the State legislature and incorporating the Bill of Rights via the 14th Amendment’s due process and equal protection clauses. There exists to this day a difference of opinion on the “incorporation” issue. Is it right that the federal government can compel the States to comply with the Bill of Rights such as due process? As with most issues, there are arguments to be made for each side. Prior to the 14th Amendment, courts had held the Bill of Rights only applied to the federal government, so a State could make a law that banned a citizen from redressing their grievances with their local officials (a First Amendment protection).
Sixth is the just compensation or more commonly called the eminent domain clause. In England as well as colonial America, property could be seized by the government without compensation in order to build a road or a bridge. The goal here is to ensure no one has their property taken by the government without being properly compensated. Eminent domain cases usually involve roads being built through a neighborhood. but on occasion the reasons are nefarious. In recent years, the Supreme Court ruled that economic development was a viable reason for eminent domain seizures. In that particular case, Kelo v. New London in 2005, land was taken to be commercially developed, not for a public need, but the court viewed the public benefits of commercial development as a public need.
The Fifth Amendment has many key provisions within it that our founders believed essential for our then-new country. Some have survived the test of time better than others.