Tag Archive: Constitution

Gun Nuts Who Base their Views on 2nd Amendment Cannot Seem to Read

With an incendiary headline this post makes an an interesting point about Second Amendment Rights. promoted by Bill Orr

The recent round of protesters who continue to pester State Senate President Sweeney outside his home think they have the ‘constitutional high ground.’ They yell and scream about a lot of things, but mostly, about how the New Jersey legislature, by enacting over the past three decades a fairly strict regimen of gun control, are violating their sacred “Second Amendment Rights.”

Gunnies love to point out that the Amendment’s text contains the “right to keep and bear arms,” and alas, it does. But what they so frequently ignore, or at least, twist, is the opening phrase, written by none-other than James Madison, the Father of the Constitution. In it, Madison predicates that ‘right’ on being part of a “Well-Regulated Militia.”  

New Jersey History I Did Not Know: Thomas Mundy Peterson & the 15th Amendment to the Constitution

Every week I scan two sources for progressive U.S. history that touches on New Jersey. I highly recommend both. Zinn Education Project promotes the use of the late Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States and other materials – offering free, downloadable lessons and articles for middle and high school learning. And This Week in History, compiled by my old friend Carl Bunin of peacebuttons, proprietor of union-made progressive merch.

Thomas Mundy Peterson - NJThis is Thomas Mundy Peterson of Perth Amboy, New Jersey. And this, from Zinn Education Project, is NJ history I did not know:

On Mar. 30, 1870, the Fifteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was formally adopted. The following day, Thomas Mundy Peterson became the first African-American to participate in an election in a state where Blacks had not been allowed to vote before the 15th Amendment.

He participated in a local election in Perth Amboy, New Jersey. He later held political office and sat on a jury. Decades later in 1989, the school where Peterson had worked as a custodian was renamed after him. That school, the Thomas M. Peterson School, is now annexed to the city’s McGinnis Middle School. There’s a plaque outside the building on State Street honoring Peterson.

In 1884, the citizens of Perth Amboy raised $75 (over $1,000 in 2015 dollars) to buy a gold medallion for Peterson to honor him for his vote. He proudly wore the medal, which featured a clean-shaven profile of Abraham Lincoln, until financial difficulties forced him to sell it. The medal now resides at Xavier University in New Orleans.

July 2, 1776: Do you know about this day? And New Jersey’s place in women’s right to vote?

Hat/tip to my friend Carl Bunin, who writes the excellent This Week in History.

New Jersey became the first British colony in America to grant partial women’s suffrage. The new constitution (temporary if there were a reconciliation with Great Britain) granted the vote to all those “of full age, who are worth fifty pounds proclamation money,” [about $8,000 adjusted for inflation] in cash or property, including non-whites and widows; married women were not able to own property under common law.

Whaaaat? Does everybody who goes to school here learn this? I didn’t know, but I went to school elsewhere. Of course, only women of means were allowed, but that applied to both whites and non-whites. Not married women; their husbands apparently owned that vote, just like they owned all the property.

Wikipedia picks it up from there:

Our Letter to Our Legislators on the Failures in the State Attorney General’s Office

We’re going to start hearing more people talk like this. Former Attorney General Robert Del Tufo (1990-93) says AG Hoffman’s lack of engagement in investigating the Christie administration’s actions suggests the AG’s office looks “politically intimidated.” Promoted by Rosi.

Dear Lawmakers:

As the George Washington Bridge scandal created in and by the Governor’s office continues to grow and investigations continue to turn up disturbing new pieces of evidence, perhaps one of the gravest failures of the state to enforce the law is occurring right under our noses. Here, we are referring to the now absolutely bizarre and inexplicable factors behind the lack of interest of the State’s Attorney General’s office in this entire situation.

Our Attorney General, John Hoffman, to our knowledge has yet to launch a single inquiry into the documented illegalities that occurred in the Governor’s administration over the summer and into September. The fact that the public now has clear evidence – really going beyond any reasonable doubt – of high level officials in the Christie administration committing serious crimes and putting the lives of New Jerseyans in danger, with no investigations and/or arrests being ordered on behalf of the state’s highest law enforcement officer,oving, but apparently with our state authorities they’re either stagnant or in a state of reverse.represents a major dereliction of duty and, perhaps, a serious form of state failure.

Scott Garrett Accuses Obama of Violating Constitution

promoted by Rosi

Scott Garrett, who hates ObamaCare and has joined the rest of the GOP house in voting to eliminate it 3,987,032,784,725 times in the past four days, has put forward a House resolution accusing the Obama Administration’s decision to delay the employer mandate unconstitutional.

A new resolution from Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.) charges President Obama with violating the Constitution by delaying enforcement of ObamaCare’s employer health insurance mandate.

Garrett’s resolution, H.Con.Res. 45, says Obama violated Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution by postponing the provision requiring all companies with more than 50 workers to provide health insurance or face a fine. …

“[T]he executive branch’s unilateral decision to delay the implementation of a law sets a dangerous precedent under which legislation that is enacted through the passage of that legislation by the democratically elected Members of Congress and the signing of that legislation into law by the President will no longer have the force of law and will instead be relegated to having the status of a mere recommendation, which the President may choose to ignore,” it reads.

Does Chris Christie Regularly Violate The NJ Constitution?

promoted by Rosi

I, for one, am happy that Chris Christie got the medical care to help him lose weight and be healthier.  I hope he never wins another election, but lives a long life and gets to play with great grandchildren.

But there’s an important point raised yesterday by Rosi: While Christie was under anesthesia he did not transfer power to the LT Governor as required by the state Constitution. Here’s what he said:

Christie at a news conference Tuesday said that he was content with Fielding’s work and that he didn’t see any need to turn over the power of his office to Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno when he had the surgery Feb. 16.

“No, I was in charge,” Christie said. “It’s like asking if I decide to take a nap on Saturday afternoon, do I call her and say, ‘Hey, Kim, I’m taking a nap for 40 minutes, you’re in charge’? Ridiculous.”

Well, for one, it’s not like taking a nap because you can wake up immediately from a nap.  You can drive after you take a nap. You can sign legal documents after a nap.  You can’t do any of that while recovering from anesthesia.

But more importantly, we find out that he had the surgery done out of state.  And when the Governor is out of state he must turn over power to the Lt. Governor.  It’s not a choice, or something that can be ignored.  It’s explicitly stated in the constitution that when out of state the sitting Governor is not allowed to govern (my emphasis).

In the event of the failure of the Governor-elect to qualify, or of the absence from the State of a Governor in office, or the Governor’s inability to discharge the duties of the office, or the Governor’s impeachment, the functions, powers, duties and emoluments of the office shall devolve upon the Lieutenant Governor, until the Governor-elect qualifies, or the Governor in office returns to the State.

Governor Christie has spent a lot of time out of the state, whether campaigning for Mitt Romney or Tea Party candidates, raising money for conservative causes, speaking at GOP conventions, hanging with his ex-boss George Bush or getting medical care.  Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno may have been acting Governor for more combined days than Dick Codey.

It would be interesting to determine how many times Christie exercised the power of his office while ineligible to do so.

LGBT Families Shouldn’t Be A Punchline or Political Football

Perhaps Assemblyman Greenwald would like to join Team Blue Jersey at this year’s Equality Walk for Garden State Equality? You’d be the first legislator to sign up to walk with us, as befits an Assembly Majority Leader of Democrats. Plus, Team Blue Jersey is the defending champ in the pub quiz afterward. BOO-yah! Who wants to walk with us? Who wants to see some of our legislators in their sneakers? Team Blue Jersey! – promoted by Rosi

Last Thursday, President Obama made history, becoming the first President of the United States to announce support for marriage equality on national television.  As I said during the debate of the marriage equality bill in the Assembly, our Constitution stands for a fundamental truth–that each and every single one of our citizens has the fundamental right and expectation to be treated equally under the law.  That’s why I strongly supported marriage equality, and that’s why I’m proud of President Obama’s announcement.  

Unfortunately, the President’s historic announcement drew nothing but sarcastic joking from Governor Christie at a town hall.  It’s disappointing that the Governor seems to regard full equality under the law as nothing more than a punchline (or worse, as part of a platform to curry favor with national Tea Party Republicans).

There has been a great deal of commentary on President Obama’s evolution to supporting marriage equality.  Whatever your thoughts are on the President’s motivation in doing so, whether you think he should have done so quicker or more forcefully, we certainly can all agree that the President came down on the right side of history.  And he deserves our thanks and our support for that.

In the past, Governor Christie has defended his opposition to marriage equality by saying his feet were “firmly planted right next to President Obama’ on this issue.  Today, this is no longer true.  Yet in classic Christie fashion, the Governor chose to attack the messenger rather than face the fact that he’s on the wrong side of history.   But no amount of distraction changes the fact that there’s only one person obstructing full marriage equality in New Jersey today–Governor Christie.  

The reality is simple: the Governor’s veto of marriage equality is indefensible.  Our state’s thousands and thousands of LGBT families don’t deserve to be treated like a political punchline in a stump speech.  And they certainly don’t deserve to have their constitutional rights as a minority subjected to the whims of the majority.  That’s why we have a Bill of Rights, and that’s why everyone’s rights — especially those with whom we might disagree — should be upheld and respected.

I hope the Governor will reflect further and truly look into his heart on this issue.  I hope he will look beyond cheap 30-second sound bites and national Republican ambitions.  I hope he will realize that all our families deserve full equality under the law, and they deserve it without delay.  

Protecting the right to protect yourself

I am always amazed at how far career politicians will go to test the bounds of their dignity when confronted with the simple question, “where do you stand on the Second Amendment?”

More often than not, they will provide an abstract answer tailored to placate the audience currently in front of them. Nothing is more disingenuous than a politician with manicured hands standing in a duck blind trying to prove that he believes in the right to bear arms.

I believe that an honest man will never have to worry about remembering what he has said or who he said it to. I believe that the Second Amendment is crystal clear, “The right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

The Second Amendment is a fail-safe woven into the fabric of our Constitution that ensures the God given rights and freedoms upon which this country was built. The Second Amendment isn’t just about preserving gun ownership, hunting rights, or target sports.

It is about each and every law abiding citizen having the right to play a role in ensuring our collective freedoms. It is the manifestation of our resolve to exercise our right of self-determination. It is a means to protect the lives and liberties of our families and to ensure that our Republic will endure.

Our government goes to great lengths to protect the freedoms of speech, of religion, to peaceably assemble, and frequently does so in situations that bear great public opposition. It defies logic for our government not to protect our right to keep and bear arms with the same zeal as our other Constitutional freedoms.

Sadly, we find ourselves in a society today where The Second Amendment is restricted by over thousands of state and federal regulations. America’s greatness is founded in personal accountability and community awareness. Unnecessary over-regulation does nothing to strengthen our communities, decrease crime, or to ensure our safety.  Overreaching firearms laws do however increase the chance that an otherwise law abiding citizen may overlook an obfuscated regulation and unwittingly become a criminal.

Imagine if the same standards applied to the rights protected by the First Amendment. What if the federal government required a permit to publish a newspaper? Would you pay a fee, and then endure a waiting period to go to the church of your choice? What if your state decided that it was simply going to outlaw public assembly?

To me, the words “keep and bear arms” means that every law abiding citizen is a vehicle through which we collectively preserve the means to protect ourselves.

Concealed carry permits should be issued without any unreasonable hurdles, exorbitant fees, or arbitrary justification. In my home state of Maryland, in order to obtain a concealed carry permit, I need to provide a lengthy application with a non-refundable fee and “documented proof” of threats against my life. A judge will then arbitrarily decide if I deserve the privilege to protect myself.

The years of street experience that I accrued as a law enforcement officer with both the NYPD and the Secret Service imparts a personal perspective regarding the responsibility that carrying a firearm implies. I was raised in the inner city. I didn’t grow up hunting and I had never fired a gun until I was on the police force.

While serving in law enforcement, I shot regularly to maintain a high level of proficiency. I carried a gun every day for 17 years while working. Although I may not be what you would call an avid gun enthusiast, I am a lover of freedom and I do cherish our civil liberties.

The arguments for restricting our Second Amendment rights on the grounds of public safety seem fraudulent at best. Perhaps the goal isn’t to eliminate guns, but is instead a pathway by which to silence the voices of freedom. Either way, the Second Amendment is the only one designed to ensure all of our freedoms and any encroachment upon them are unacceptable.

NYPD Investigating Newark Muslim Community: Are We Not Americans, Too?

The author is West Ward councilman, City of Newark. – promoted by Rosi

The Star-Ledger reported last week that in mid to late 2007, the New York Police Department (NYPD) conducted extensive surveillance of Newark Muslim based businesses and mosques. The sad part of this poster child for religious profiling was that it was done with the full knowledge and cooperation of former Newark Police Director Garry McCarthy and without the knowledge of Newark Mayor Cory Booker, his boss. Even sadder is the fact that the 60-page Ccompiled report cited no evidence of terrorism or criminal behavior.

In a post-9/11 world in the tri-state area, most would understand an investigation based on probable cause or some intelligence indicating a national security threat. But  this type of arbitrary investigation, only known to an out of jurisdiction law enforcement agency, and the head of the investigated jurisdiction’s police department, apparently without federal cooperation based on some evidence of terrorism, is anti-American and chilling to all of our rights as citizens under the Constitution. We all need to be offended and embarrassed by the act and the lack of remorse by the NYPD.