Tag Archives: Unconstitutional

Everyone should know just how much the government lied to defend the NSA

snowden woman

It turns out neither of two statements that held up in the nation’s highest court were true – but it took Snowden’s historic whistleblowing to prove it. Photograph: Philippe Lopez / AFP / Getty Images

 

The Guardian

If you blinked this week, you might have missed the news: two Senators accused the Justice Department of lying about NSA warrantless surveillance to the US supreme court last year, and those falsehoods all but ensured that mass spying on Americans would continue. But hardly anyone seems to care – least of all those who lied and who should have already come forward with the truth.

Here’s what happened: just before Edward Snowden became a household name, the ACLU argued before the supreme court that the Fisa Amendments Act – one of the two main laws used by the NSA to conduct mass surveillance – was unconstitutional.

 

In a sharply divided opinion, the supreme court ruled, 5-4, that the case should be dismissed because the plaintiffs didn’t have “standing” – in other words, that the ACLU couldn’t prove with near-certainty that their clients, which included journalists and human rights advocates, were targets of surveillance, so they couldn’t challenge the law. As the New York Times noted this week, the court relied on two claims by the Justice Department to support their ruling: 1) that the NSA would only get the content of Americans’ communications without a warrant when they are targeting a foreigner abroad for surveillance, and 2) that the Justice Department would notify criminal defendants who have been spied on under the Fisa Amendments Act, so there exists some way to challenge the law in court.

It turns out that neither of those statements were true – but it took Snowden’s historic whistleblowing to prove it.

 

                             

One of the most explosive Snowden revelations exposed a then-secret technique known as “about” surveillance. As the New York Times first reported, the NSA “is searching the contents of vast amounts of Americans’ e-mail and text communications into and out of the country, hunting for people who mention information about foreigners under surveillance.” In other words, the NSA doesn’t just target a contact overseas – it sweeps up everyone’s international communications into a dragnet and searches them for keywords.

The Snowden leaks also pushed the Justice Department to admit – contrary to what it told the court – that the government hadn’t been notifying any defendants they were being charged based on NSA surveillance, making it actually impossible for anyone to prove they had standing to challenge the Fisa Amendments Act as unconstitutional.

It’s unclear how much Solicitor General Donald Verrilli knew when he told the government’s lies – twice – to the justices of the supreme court. Reports suggest that he was livid when he found out that his national security staff at the Justice Department misled him about whether they were notifying defendants in criminal trials of surveillance. And we don’t know if he knew about the “about” surveillance that might well have given the ACLU standing in the case. But we do know other Justice Department officials knew about both things, and they have let both lies stand without correcting the record.

Lawyers before the supreme court are under an ethical obligation to correct the record if they make false statements to the Court – even if they are unintentional – yet the Justice Department has so far refused. As ACLU deputy legal director Jameel Jaffer explained, the Justice Department has corrected the record in other cases where it was much less clear-cut whether it had misled the court.

The government’s response, instead, has been to explain why it doesn’t think these statements are lies. In a letter to Senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall that only surfaced this week, the government made the incredible argument that the “about” surveillance was classified at the time of the case, so it was under no obligation to tell the supreme court about it. And the Justice Department completely sidestepped the question of whether it lied about notifying defendants, basically by saying that it started to do so after the case, and so this was somehow no longer an issue.

But there’s another reason the government wanted any challenge to the Fisa Amendments Act dismissed without being forced to argue that it doesn’t violate the Fourth Amendment: it has an extremely controversial view about your (lack of) privacy rights, and probably doesn’t want anyone to know. As Jaffer wrote here at the Guardian earlier this week, the government has since been forced to defend the Fisa Amendments Act, and it’s pretty shocking how they’ve done it. Here’s what the government said in a recent legal brief:

The privacy rights of US persons in international communications are significantly diminished, if not completely eliminated, when those communications have been transmitted to or obtained from non-US persons located outside the United States.

This is an incredibly radical view of the right to privacy. We already know the government does not think you have any right to privacy when it comes who you talk to, or when, or for how long, or where you are while you’re talking. Now the government has said, in court, that you don’t have any right to the content of private conversations with anyone who is located outside the United States – or to any domestic communication remaining private if it is, at some point, transmitted overseas, which happens often. Jaffer explained the consequences of this view:

If the government is right, nothing in the Constitution bars the NSA from monitoring a phone call between a journalist in New York City and his source in London. For that matter, nothing bars the NSA from monitoring every call and email between Americans in the United States and their non-American friends, relatives, and colleagues overseas.

Intelligence director James Clapper’s infamous lie to Congress – in which he claimed just months before Snowden’s leaks that the NSA was not collecting data on millions of Americans – will certainly follow him for the rest of his career even if it never leads to his prosecution. But while Clapper almost certainly broke the law, the senate committee members in front of whom he spoke knew the truth regardless.

The Justice Department, on the other hand, convinced the supreme court to dismiss a case that could have dramatically curtailed the NSA’s most egregious abuses of power based on false statements. And now all of us are forced to live with the consequences of that.

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The Obamacare “Tax” is Likely Unconstitutional, and Here’s Why

constitution

The Daily Sheeple

Nearly two years ago, Chief Justice John Roberts deemed the ACA’s individual mandate penalty a “tax” and saved Obama’s signature law.

But did he really save it – or did he doom it?

Many legal experts have disputed the classification of that provision of Obamacare as a “tax” – the ACA itself refers to it as a “penalty”.

Ilya Shapiro, an attorney and senior legal fellow at the Cato Institute, calls the a tax a “‘unicorn tax,’ a creature of no known provenance that will never be seen again.” In a column for Forbes, Shapiro explains that the tax that Justice Roberts “invented” is unconstitutional based on the Origination Clause:

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DNI Chief James Clapper Confirms Obama NSA Performed Warrantless Searches On Americans…

Weasel Zippers

Just a tad unconstitutional.

Via Guardian:

US intelligence chiefs have confirmed that the National Security Agency has used a “back door” in surveillance law to perform warrantless searches on Americans’ communications.

The NSA’s collection programs are ostensibly targeted at foreigners, but in August the Guardian revealed a secret rule change allowing NSA analysts to search for Americans’ details within the databases.

Now, in a letter to Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat on the intelligence committee, the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, has confirmed the use of this legal authority to search for data related to “US persons”.

“There have been queries, using US person identifiers, of communications lawfully acquired to obtain foreign intelligence targeting non-US persons reasonably believed to be located outside the United States,” Clapper wrote in the letter, which has been obtained by the Guardian.

“These queries were performed pursuant to minimization procedures approved by the Fisa court and consistent with the statute and the fourth amendment.”

The legal authority to perform the searches, revealed in top-secret NSA documents provided to the Guardian by Edward Snowden, was denounced by Wyden as a “backdoor search loophole.”

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Obama’s Executive Order Raising Minimum Wage For Employees of Federal Contractors Unconstitutional According To Supreme Court…

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Weasel Zippers

As if Obama gives a sh*t what the Supreme Court or Constitution says.

Via NRO:

The president issued an executive order last week purporting to raise the minimum wage for employees of federal contractors to $10.10 an hour. The order is unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court made clear in Youngstown Sheet and Tube Co. v. Sawyer that “the President’s power, if any, to issue the [executive] order must stem either from an act of Congress or from the Constitution itself.” Furthermore, “when the president takes measures incompatible with the expressed or implied will of Congress, his power is at its lowest ebb, for then he can rely only upon his own constitutional powers minus any constitutional powers of Congress over the matter.”

Nothing in the Constitution grants the president authority to set or raise the minimum wage independently of an act of Congress. Furthermore, although the president generally has authority to improve the efficient discharge of federal contracts, the president’s minimum-wage order is incompatible with the expressed and implied will of Congress.

Congress has made its will regarding the minimum wage for federal contractors abundantly clear in four separate statutes: The Service Contract Act, the Davis Bacon Act, the Walsh-Healey Act, and the Fair Labor Standards Act. Under those statutes, the minimum wage for many, if not most, employees of federal contractors is the prevailing minimum wage for employees in the specific job classification in the locality where the work is to be performed. For the remaining classifications of employees for whom no prevailing minimum wage exists, the minimum wage is slotted into the minimum for similar jobs, or is governed by the minimum set by Congress in the Fair Labor Standards Act, i.e., $7.25.

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Judge Rules Obama’s Spying is UNCONSTITUTIONAL

Free Republic

A federal judge said Monday that he believes the government’s once-secret collection of domestic phone records is unconstitutional, setting up likely appeals and further challenges to the data mining revealed by classified leaker Edward Snowden.

U.S. District Judge Richard Leon said the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of metadata — phone records of the time and numbers called without any disclosure of content — apparently violates privacy rights.

(Excerpt) Read more at capitalisminstitute.org

Video

If Obamacare is a Tax, it Was Not Legally Passed

Ben Swann takes a look at new support for a lawsuit claiming that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional because of how the bill originated.

– See more at: http://www.thedailysheeple.com/if-obamacare-is-a-tax-it-was-not-legally-passed_112013#sthash.isNvdx4V.dpuf

Americans will soon have standing to destroy Obamacare

Freedom Outpost

The American people can stop Obamacare. It will take some guts and some risk,  but we can shut it down tomorrow. Let me explain.

In National  Federation of Independent Business et al v. Sebelius, Secretary of Health  and Human Services, et al., the Supreme Court ruled the Patient Protection and  Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) penalties to be a tax, not a penalty. Chief  Justice Roberts was chastised for this action. It has always been my belief  that  Justice Roberts’s actions and opinion was brilliant and eventually history  would  vindicate his decision and his wisdom.

Roberts gave America a skillfully crafted opinion and the opportunity to shut  down the law. He also avoided having his court—a court that he will preside  over until he retires or dies—from being accused of legislating from the  bench; at least by liberals who were stoking the fires of discontent during the  US Supreme Court Obamacare hearings.

The U.S. Constitution’s Origination Clause (Art. I, Sec 7) require all tax  bills to originate in the House of Representatives. Obamacare or the Affordable  Care Act originated in the Senate making the laws tax unconstitutional. No  argument was made over the penalty provision of the law. Only that the laws  mandate was unconstitutional.

All bills for raising Revenue shall originate  in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or  concur with Amendments as on  other Bills.

–Article 1, Section 7

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The Sequester, the Constitution & President Obama

Family Security Matters

During the State of the Union Address, we heard the President say how  much he disagreed with and abhorred the fast-approaching “sequester”; the  budget-hacking debt and deficit measure that an ad hoc committee from  both houses of Congress cobbled together so that the federal government could  say they did something – at least for then – on the generational problem facing  our country that is a spendthrift federal government. Of course, after all the  congratulatory back-slapping died down, thinking people understood that the  “agreement” to which Republicans in that ad hoc committee signed on to  was politically horrendous. Some of us, armed with an ability to read and  comprehend the Constitution, even understood the whole of the effort to be  unconstitutional.

Over the first term of Mr. Obama’s reign as President of the United   States,  I have – on many occasions, questioned just how it came to be that he can claim  the mantle of “constitutional scholar.” Truth be told, without a full vetting of  his college transcripts (to which we are denied access) all we know is from time  to time he lectured to a constitutional law class at the University of Chicago  under the title of “senior lecturer.” As he was not a seated professor at the  UofC, his position was little more than a trophy title and one that is routinely  bestowed upon political figures. Again, because we have no proof that Mr. Obama  took – or even passed – a constitutional law class in either undergraduate or  graduate school, his qualifications to teach – and his knowledge of the subject  – is unclear.

I provide the aforementioned thoughts because two aspects to the so-called  “sequester” have everything to do with constitutionality.

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Obama Is Not The Legitimate President Of The United States

Western Journalism

On election day, we know there were major problems of voting machines switching votes from Romney to Obama—voting machines, by the way, owned and operated by a former company of Obama crony Chuck Hagel.

We know Obama suppressed the traditionally conservative military vote.

We know thousands of military absentee ballots were “lost”—in one case supposedly burned to a crisp in an airplane crash—although no one seems to know the details of which plane it was, where it crashed, whether anyone was killed, etc.

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NDAA: The Most Important Lawsuit in American History that No One is Talking About

Despite a mainstream media blackout on the topic, the alternative media is abuzz with this week’s hearing on the constitutionality of the clearly unconstitutional NDAA. In case you don’t remember, section 1021 of the NDAA, which Obama signed into law on December 31 of last year, allows the government to lock up U.S. citizens indefinitely without a trial. At the time of signing, Obama penned a pathetic letter to many of his outraged supporters where he basically said he signed it but he won’t use it. Thanks pal!

In any event, the Administration is showing its true colors by appealing an injunction that judge Katherine Forrest issued against it in May. The injunction was in response to the lawsuit filed by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Chris Hedges and others. While the NDAA clearly vaporizes the 5th and 6th Amendments of the Constitution, I believe the real target is the 1st Amendment.

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