I’ve mentioned in the past my daughter’s obsession with Hamilton, the musical. We were in the car this afternoon listening to “One Last Time,” in which George Washington tells Alexander Hamilton that he is stepping down as president after two terms and asks Hamilton to help him compose his Farewell Address (which was actually published in the newspaper), I commented to my daughter that this was one of the greatest decisions ever made by a politician in our country’s history.

Until FDR, all other presidents had followed Washington’s precedent and chose not to run again after two terms. Following FDR, the 22nd amendment formalized this tradition, forcing a two-term limit on the presidency. Just think of what this arrangement, started by Washington, has saved our country.

There is no doubt, given the size of Barack Obama’s ego, that he would have run for a third term and, given the media bias – which was even worse in his favor, if you recall, than for Hillary – there is little doubt that he would have won. Which means that we would still be looking at a potential nuclear strike from North Korea, anemic economic growth, high unemployment and the continued corruption of the FBI and intelligence services that have only come to light since President Trump was elected. Thank you, General Washington!

The other key lyric in the song is when Washington says “I want to warn against partisan fighting.” It’s a pity that our politicians didn’t heed that warning. Imagine what President Trump could accomplish if he didn’t have to spend so much time and effort defending himself against made-up charges and fighting against for-no-other-reason-than-they-hate-the-fact-that-they-lost obstruction by the Democrats.

Don’t forget to hit DaTipJar!

A conservative student gave me a Christmas gift I relish. The individual wrote in the course evaluation that I was one of the few teachers who allowed conservative opinions in my classes.

“Professor Harper is a breath of fresh air in the God-forsaken, liberal, biased school. Unlike almost every other professor, he didn’t push his political beliefs or personal preferences on anyone. And he didn’t make me feel less respected or validated when my opinion differed from the majority, and I expressed my conservative beliefs. He is highly intelligent and well-informed when it comes to politics and the true agenda of the media and the leftist state,” the student wrote in this semester’s evaluations.
I teach at an extremely liberal university in an extremely liberal city with an extremely liberal faculty and student body. Conservative students are often tossed to the wolves in classrooms either by the professor or fellow students.

I taught two sections of Journalism and the Law. The class can be a tough trick. The course is required for graduation, and most students admit they expect the class to be boring when I pose the question at the beginning of the semester. Moreover, the class tackles some tough issues, such as hate speech.

During the semester, I take the students through a document few people really understand: the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Without imposing my political views, I point out some important truths:

–Unpopular speech, like hate speech, is protected by the U.S. Constitution.

–Journalists have roughly the same rights as all U.S. citizens. Freedom of speech appears before freedom of the press.

–The First Amendment isn’t the most important one. In fact, the amendment was actually the third in the original draft of the Bill of Rights. The first two were defeated during the ratification process. Therefore, the right of freedom of the press shouldn’t make journalists feel so special.

–The First Amendment, however, should make journalists feel grateful.

–Privacy isn’t mentioned in the U.S. Constitution but should receive as much, if not more, protection than freedom of the speech.

–Ethics and the law are not the same. What may be ethical may not be legal; what is legal may not be ethical.

–Anonymous sources must be chosen carefully and infrequently. The U.S. Supreme Court doesn’t provide much protection for journalists if they decided to use such sources. Journalists must testify before grand juries about anonymous sources and must pay damages to sources if reporters break the agreement for confidentiality.

By the time the class is over, the students are generally grateful for the course in how to work as a journalist under the law. More important, the students have a greater understanding about the rights they have as a citizen and how precious those rights are.

The student evaluations do provide some constructive criticism when I go over the top. During the class, I rant about the amount of government intervention especially the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC is one of the most powerful government bodies, which regulates broadcasting, satellite transmission, wireless telephones, and myriad aspects of our daily lives.

Moreover, the FCC is one of the few government entities that has the powers of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches all rolled into one. To me, the agency is what’s wrong with government.

One student called me out in the evaluations: “Maybe a small amount less of his opinions on government restrictions.”

 

 

 

If the Supreme Court still followed the letter and the spirit of the Bill of Rights and the Constitution there is only one possible decision they could reach in the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.  Because this case involves freedom of speech and freedom of religion they would have to rule that they have no jurisdiction over this case.  The purpose of the Bill of Rights is specifically to restrain the federal government from involving itself in any in matters involving rights protected by the Bill of Rights.   The framers of the Constitution believed if the federal government had jurisdiction over the Bill of Rights they would ultimately abuse this power and strip us of our rights.

The states alone have jurisdiction over God-given Natural Rights.  The Bill of Rights of the Unites Sates does not apply to the states.  The states have their own bills of rights to protect the rights of those living in the states.  I know this may seem controversial to a great many readers of this article.  That is only because the true meaning of the Bill of Rights and the Constitution has been distorted by so many institutions of this country.

Academia, the federal government, and the media are responsible for advancing these distortions.  They only preach the modern belief that the Supreme Court can overrule the Sates on cases involving the Bill of Rights.  There is no proof of this located anywhere in the actual text of the Constitution, the text of the Bill of Rights, or the transcripts of the writing and ratification of those documents.  There is abundant evidence supporting my claim that the Bill of Rights prevents the Supreme Court from ruling on cases involving the Bill of Rights.  In response to the Alien and Sedition Acts, Thomas Jefferson wrote the Kentucky Resolutions, in 1798.  The full text has been reproduced here.  Resolution 3 is proof that the Bill of Rights prohibits the federal government from interfering with rights protected by the Bill of Rights and prohibits the Supreme Court from ruling in cases involving those rights.

Resolved, That it is true as a general principle, and is also expressly declared by one of the amendments to the Constitutions, that “the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, our prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people”; and that no power over the freedom of religion, freedom of speech, or freedom of the press being delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, all lawful powers respecting the same did of right remain, and were reserved to the States or the people: that thus was manifested their determination to retain to themselves the right of judging how far the licentiousness of speech and of the press may be abridged without lessening their useful freedom, and how far those abuses which cannot be separated from their use should be tolerated, rather than the use be destroyed. And thus also they guarded against all abridgment by the United States of the freedom of religious opinions and exercises, and retained to themselves the right of protecting the same, as this State, by a law passed on the general demand of its citizens, had already protected them from all human restraint or interference. And that in addition to this general principle and express declaration, another and more special provision has been made by one of the amendments to the Constitution, which expressly declares, that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press”: thereby guarding in the same sentence, and under the same words, the freedom of religion, of speech, and of the press: insomuch, that whatever violated either, throws down the sanctuary which covers the others, arid that libels, falsehood, and defamation, equally with heresy and false religion, are withheld from the cognizance of federal tribunals.

During the ratification of the United States Constitution there were numerous calls for a Bill of Rights that would protect our most important rights by preventing the federal government from interfering with them.  There were few, if any, calls for additions to the US Constitution that would restrain the states in any way.  During the writing of the Bill of Rights in the House of Representatives seventeen amendments were written.  Sixteen of the amendments applied to the federal government alone.  The seventeenth amendment, written by James Madison, did specifically apply to the states.  Here is the debate involving that amendment, which took place on August 17, 1789

Article 1, section 10, between the first and second paragraph, insert “no State shall infringe the equal rights of conscience, nor the freedom of speech or of the press, nor of the right of trial by jury in criminal cases.”

Mr. Tucker.–This is offered, I presume, as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, but it goes only to the alteration of the constitutions of particular States. It will be much better, I apprehend, to leave the State Governments to themselves, and not to interfere with them more than we already do; and that is thought by many to be rather too much. I therefore move, sir, to strike out these words…

This transposition being agreed to, and Mr. Tucker’s motion being rejected, the clause was adopted.

This amendment was one of seventeen passes by the House of Representatives.  Here is the list.  That amendment was not passed by the Senate.  Here is the transcript of the joint resolution of the Bill of Rights that passed both houses.  It does not include the amendment that applied to the states.  It was also missing from the Bill of Rights that was ratified.

I know the fact that the Bill of Rights does not apply to the states distresses a lot of people because they believe the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution alone grants all rights to every single individual in this country.  That is untrue because all rights are granted to us by God.  The Bill of Rights only protects our rights by preventing the federal government from interfering with them in any way.  Every state has a bill of rights to protect the rights of those living in the states.  The people of the states are the ultimate defense against the states encroaching on their rights.  This is far better than leaving these monumental decisions in the hands of nine unelected individuals, who are essentially appointed to the Supreme Court for life.  The Constitution created a bottom up government not a top down government.

The Supreme Court, the rest of the federal government, and a great many individuals have been operating under the delusion that the Fourteenth Amendment incorporated the Bill of Rights down to the States.  I discuss this at length in this article,

It is wrong that the state of Colorado is forcing individuals to violate their right of conscience, which is one of the most important God-given Natural Rights.  It would be a far greater wrong if the Supreme Court stripped the right of conscience from every individual in this country by ruling incorrectly on this case.  That is why the framers of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights never granted the Federal government jurisdiction over our rights

Many college students have become increasingly strident in their views about the U.S. Constitution despite understanding little about the document.

These trends have grown more troublesome in the past few years in the media law course I teach. In the past, most students recognized that they didn’t know too much about the U.S. Constitution. Now many think the most important treatise in U.S. history got many things wrong.

This generation–known as iGen–were born between 1995 and 2012. These young people have spent much of their lives with a smartphone in their hands. Jean Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University, has written about this generation–many of whom populate today’s colleges and universities. “Opposing viewpoints can’t just be argued against; they have to be shut down,” she wrote recently in The Wall Street Journal. For the most part, it appears that these viewpoints come from the social justice warriors they had as teachers.

In an online discussion for my law class, some students said they simply want to do away with the U.S. Constitution and start over. “The Constitution is America’s sacred cow,” one student wrote. “It was written by a bunch of rich, white men to protect other rich, white men. The framers did not trust ‘ordinary’ people to make every day decisions. It is a racist document, although others would argue this. It is completely ambiguous. It was written in 1787 and it is now 2017 and we still refer back to this document and debate what the framers truly meant…. Progressives want government to change things while conservatives favor the status quo.”

The student was nonplussed when I pointed out that 12 states—almost all controlled by Republicans—have passed legislation to call a constitutional convention. The central focus of the bid to rewrite the U.S. Constitution comes from people who want to limit government power. For more information, see http://prospect.org/article/march-toward-constitutional-convention-slows-crawl

The argument that the U.S. Constitution is racist and sexist was a constant theme in the students’ responses.

A typical response came from one student. “It was stated that slavery was not prohibited, and it basically encouraged taxing on these human beings that were deemed as property. One simple section made way for racism, prejudice, and everything in-between…. Since this was the foundation of our country, it has obviously led to more issues involving race hundreds of years later.”

It was rather ironic when I asked if anyone in class whether they could describe the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments for me. No one could. These amendments eliminated slavery and provided the power to enforce the change. No one could name the five freedoms guaranteed under the First Amendment–let alone provide the protections of more than two or three amendments. Alas, that is probably true for many Americans.

Other complaints centered on the right to bear arms under the Second Amendment—a constant meme from leftists, including many educators.

“[T]here is no reason a regular citizen needs an assault rifle for ‘protection,” one student wrote. “It is too vague and has allowed for people to get away with literal murder in some cases because they can invoke their ‘right to bear arms.’”

Anti-Trump sentiment appeared in many comments. Many students thought that the Electoral College should be abandoned because Hillary Clinton won the popular vote in 2016. One student argued that the law should require that presidential candidates must have political experience.

Another student maintained that no one over 50 years old should be allowed to seek the presidency.

“If anyone under the age of 35 is considered too young, then anyone over the age of 50 should be considered too old,” the student argued. “They are still yearning for the good old days, and they try to replicate their youth or young adulthood. They are not in touch with the changes that are going on around them, or they refuse to accept the changes.”

I pointed out that such a requirement would violate laws—much like those against racism and sexism—under which age cannot be used as a criterion for discrimination.

Simply put, the attitudes in the discussion struck me as a fundamental change in the views of my students. I think these attitudes are largely a result of the increased number of social justice warriors in academia.

Unlike many of my colleagues, I don’t impose my conservative views on my students. Nevertheless, I do try to point out the logical fallacies of many of the positions leftists take about the U.S. Constitution.

It appears that I have a lot of work to do this semester.