Counties line up to tell Supremes to take a hike


Officials in a several counties in Tennessee are lining up to tell the U.S. Supreme Court to take a hike.

Well, not actually in those words.

But the court’s summer decision that created “same-sex marriage” is in the bull’s-eye in new resolutions adopted by at least three counties.

In Johnson County, officials voted “to affirm and go on record that Johnson County is vehemently opposed to the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell et al v. Hodges and supports the decision of any elected/appointed official challenging that unconstitutional decision.”

In Greene County officials adopted a very similar statement that pointed out that “since this country’s founding [states] have regulated and defined marriage without interference from the federal government or its courts.”

In McMinn County, officials pointed out the text of the Ninth and Tenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution “reserves all powers not explicitly delegated to the federal government to the people and the states.”

The votes weren’t close. Johnson County’s was approved 15-0. McMinn’s was 10-0 and in Greene, it was 17-2.

It’s all part of a move WND has reported of local officials, groups and individuals stating bluntly that the marriage decision is illegitimate.

WND reported just weeks ago when dozens of top legal scholars from the likes of Washington & Lee, Boston College, Kansas State, Notre Dame, University of Texas, Villanova, Vanderbilt, Hillsdale, University of Nebraska, Catholic University and Regent University issued a statement encouraging all state and federal officials to treat the Supreme Court’s recent creation of “same-sex marriage” as “anti-constitutional and illegitimate.”

“It cannot … be taken to have settled the law of the United States,” said the statement by the American Principles Project.

“We call on all federal and state officeholders: To refuse to accept Obergefell as binding precedent for all but the specific plaintiffs in that case. To recognize the authority of states to define marriage, and the right of federal and state officeholders to act in accordance with those definitions. To pledge full and mutual legal and political assistance to anyone who refuses to follow Obergefell for constitutionally protected reasons. To open forthwith a broad and honest conversation on the means by which Americans may constitutionally resist and overturn the judicial usurpations evidence in Obergefell.”

Robert George, founder of the project and the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton, said: “We stand with James Madison and Abraham Lincoln in recognizing that the Constitution is not whatever a majority of Supreme Court justices say it is. We remind all officeholders in the United States that they are pledged to uphold the Constitution of the United States, not the will of five members of the Supreme Court.”

Curious about who’s responsible for the sabotage of the American family? Get “Takedown,” by Paul Kengor, for the details.

They emphasize that what they want is not extreme. Nor is it, they write, “disrespectful of the rule of law.”

They quote from Lincoln’s first inaugural address, in which he explained that depending solely on the Supreme Court as a final arbiter would mean that “people will have ceased to be their own rulers.”

In the marriage case, the lawyers explain, the five justices who joined to create same-sex marriage, “by their own admission, can find no warrant for their ruling in the text, logic, structure or original understanding of the Constitution.”

The lawyers wrote that the majority “supplied no compelling reasoning to show why it is unjustified for the laws of the states to sustain marriage as it has been understood for millennia as the union of husband and wife.”

They noted the four justices who dissented didn’t simply disagree, they feared the damage the majority was doing.

For example, Justice Antonin Scalia called it “a naked judicial claim to legislative … power; a claim fundamentally at odds with our system of government.”

Justice Samuel Alito pointed out that it is “beyond dispute that the right to same-sex marriage is not among … rights” rooted in the nation’s history and tradition.

The lawyers warned that the consequences would include being denied the right to “hold out as normative, and particularly desirable, the only type of human relationship that every society must cultivate for its perpetuation.”

Further, those supporting traditional marriage could be “vilified, legally targeted, and denied constitutional rights.”

And additional redefinitions would come more easily and democracy would be undermined.

But “anti-constitutional and illegitimate”?

“Obergefell should be declared to be such, and treated as such, by the other branches of government and by citizens,” the statement says.

WND reported after the Obergefell decision was released that Liberty Counsel, in a brief on behalf of several family groups, explained to the Alabama judges there is precedent in the U.S. for a state Supreme Court to reject a “U.S. Supreme Court mandate which is unlawful.”

“There is existing precedent for a state’s highest court to reject an unlawful mandate from the U.S. Supreme Court,” said Liberty Counsel’s founder and chairman, Mat Staver. “The hope of our constitutional Republic rests upon state officials and American citizens who will refuse to allow five, black-robed judges to rob us of our free, representative form of government.

“A judicial opinion without constitutional basis is not law and should not be followed by any state or citizen,” he said.

The brief submitted by Liberty Counsel to the state court notes that the Wisconsin Supreme Court refused to follow the U.S. Supreme Court opinion in Dred Scott, which “said that blacks were not entitled to full protection as citizens.”

In the Wisconsin case, the brief explains that even though the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the state Supreme Court, “in a final act of defiance,” the state court “never filed the mandates” which required people to return “fugitive slaves” to their owners.

At that time, the Wisconsin court opined, “I believe most sincerely and solemnly that the last hope of free, representative and responsible government rests upon the state sovereignties and fidelity of state officers to their double allegiance, to the state and federal government; and so believe, I cannot hesitate in performing a clear, an indispensable duty.”

The court also declared the federal law unconstitutional.

The Wisconsin court said, “Here is a distinct recognition of the power and duty of state judges, not to be bound by all the acts of Congress, or by the judgments and decrees of the supreme federal court, or by their interpretation of the constitution and acts of congress, but by ‘this constitution’ ‘and the laws made in pursuance thereof.’”

Simply put, they found, a Supreme Court opinion that wasn’t founded in the Constitution was not a judgment.

The McMinn County resolution points out the U.S. Constitution doesn’t mention marriage and the Supreme Court has held that when the Constitution was adopted, states “possessed full power over the subject of marriage and divorce.”

The current court, only two years ago, ruled specifically that was the case.

“It is the belief of the McMinn County Commission that the United States Supreme Court and many of the lower federal courts have by virtue of their decisions increasingly encroached on the rights of the states.”

It continued, “This body, duly elected to represent the citizens of McMinn County, requests the Tennessee Legislature and governor to take the legal and appropriate action as prescribed in Article V of the United States Constitutino to petition the United States Congrss to return those powers not expressly delegated to the United States by the Consttiution to the states and the people.”

The other resolutions were similar.

In another county, a resolution still is pending.

A commissioner in Blount County, Tennessee, introduced a resolution condemning the marriage decision and asking that Almighty God spare her county when judgment lands on America because of it.

A lawyer in the state, Jeff Cobble of the Cobble Law Firm, told WND on Thursday that there are hundreds and possibly thousands, of residents in his state already taking up the discussion of how to nullify the decision.

Cobble explained to WND that he’s discussed the issue with dozens of lawmakers, a multitude of local officials and state residents by the thousand through email chains and other social media.

Blount Commissioner Karen Miller is sponsoring a resolution asking the Almighty to “pass us by in His coming wrath and not destroy our county as he did Sodom and Gomorrah and the neighboring cities.”

Other commissioners have resorted to tricks to keep the item from coming up for discussion, but she’s determined to keep introducing it until the people have an opportunity to act.

The plan from Miller states, “We adopt this resolution before God that he pass us by in His coming wrath and not destroy our county as He did Sodom and Gomorrah.”


State claims to control prayer at Catholic school


The state of North Dakota, through its high school activities association, is laying claim to the authority to control prayer at a school.

A private, Catholic school.

On its own football field, with its own announcers, with its own students, parents – and the public – in attendance.

The fight erupted when Fargo’s Shanley High School advanced to the state football playoffs, and by virtue of the team’s performance during the course of the 2015 season, earned the right to hold a playoff game on Saturday on its own field.

The school, with a student population of about 330 and a promise on its website of “excellent educational programs where faith is integrated with academic subjects through weekly Masses, daily prayer and faith-sharing experiences,” had game-time prayer on its own PA system, on its own system, all season long.

But for the playoffs, the North Dakota High School Activities Association, warned the school that “prayer before the football game is prohibited by the Supreme Court’s decision fifteen years ago in Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe,” said a letter from officials with the Thomas More Society, a national public interest law firm that is working on behalf of the school.

See what American education has become, in “Crimes of the Educators: How Utopians Are Using Government Schools to Destroy America’s Children.”

“Santa Fe is certainly binding on public schools when it comes to the question of prayer before sports games. However, the case is completely inapposite here. Shanley is not a governmental actor. It is a private school, with a religious identity. When it hosts sports events, it does so as a private actor, and its religious expression cannot legitimately be characterized as that of the state,” the letter to the association said.

Officials with the NDHSAA declined WND’s request to comment on the dispute.

Shanley already defeated Dickinson’s Trinity High School, another Catholic school, in the quarterfinals, 41-7. Its semifinal is scheduled Saturday against Central Cass.

But The Thomas More letter, from attorneys Peter Breen and Jocelyn Floyd, to Executive Director Matthew Fetsch and Justin Fletschock, the assistant director for football, said the idea that the association is sponsoring the playoff game and that “somehow converts Shanley’s football field into state property and Shanley into a state actor” is wrong.

“To every player, student, parent, and other participant or attendee of this game, it appears identical to every regular season game. They will see Shanley representatives selling tickets, they will hear a Shanley representative making the announcements, they will purchase concessions from Shanley representatives,” the letter sent Thursday to the state group said.

“And they will be looking down on a massive Christian cross, featured in the Shanley crest, which is emblazoned in the center of the field at the fifty-yard line. Therefore, it is our opinion that the distinction between the regular season and playoffs has no merit in support of the association’s assertion that it is required to treat playoffs differently in order to avoid an Establishment Clause violation,” the letter said.

Further, any prohibition on the school’s standard practice of having a prayer, “is a violation of the Free Speech and Free Religious Exercise rights of the school, as a private and religious entity. The Supreme Court has clearly held that it is unconstitutional to require private entities to give up their religious identity in order to participate in government sponsored programs.”

The letter said, “Shanley’s identity as a private actor, with a religious identity, gives it the right to engage in religious expression on its own property. A policy by the association forcing Shanley to give up that right in order to participate in a merit-based sports post-season requires the school to choose between participating in a government activity, which it has earned, and engaging in the speech rights that are protected by both the United States and North Dakota Constitutions.”

The letter urged the state to suspend its prohibition on prayer and “respect Shanley’s constitutional rights.”

Honoring the Heroic Foes of Prohibitions Past and Present

Each week, Mr. Reed will relate the stories of people whose choices and actions make them heroes. See the table of contents for previous installments.

Barely a century ago, the hatchet-wielding “temperance” fanatic Carrie Nation smashed bars and saloons in Kansas and Texas. Some of the targets of her rage posted signs in their establishments that read, “All Nations Welcome Except Carrie.”

Arrested at least 30 times for her self-described “hatchetations,” Nation died in 1911 at age 64. Less than a decade later, her “good intentions” were realized when the federal government attempted to accomplish with guns and police what Carrie had so eagerly pursued with a hatchet.

Carrie Nation was not a hero and is not the primary subject of this article. Years before Nation appeared on the scene, former president Rutherford B. Hayes wisely rejected her sentiments when he wrote about the temperance movement in an 1883 diary entry:

Personally I do not resort to force — not even the force of law — to advance moral reforms. I prefer education, argument, persuasion, and above all the influence of example — of fashion. Until these resources are exhausted I would not think of force.

So if not Carrie Nation, who is the real hero of this story? No one person, but many: all those Americans who opposed Prohibition and thereby paved the way for its repeal after almost 14 years of futility and violence. We have much to learn from them today.

Prohibition assumes everybody who touches the prohibited stuff deserves to be treated as a criminal, and that just isn’t so. 

It took a constitutional amendment (the 18th) and a law of Congress (the Volstead Act) to outlaw the “manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors” in January 1920 and another constitutional amendment (the 2…

White House releases text of TPP trade deal

(THE HILL) The much-anticipated release of the final text of a sweeping Asia-Pacific trade agreement became a reality on Thursday morning, kicking off what is expected to amount to months of intensive debate on Capitol Hill.

The U.S. Trade Representative’s office dropped the details of the massive 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal — 30 chapters and more than 2,000 pages — exactly one month since the agreement was completed on Oct. 5 in Atlanta.

The text of the TPP deal will be under congressional and the broader public’s microscope for at least 90 days before President Obama can sign the agreement between the United States and 11 other nations — Australia, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Vietnam, Brunei, Chile, New Zealand and Singapore.

There’s No Such Thing as a Political Problem Solver

The yard sign said, “Elect a Problem Solver President.” As I drove by, I wondered why I saw no candidate’s name.

It turns out the sign was not for any particular candidate but for a “No Labels, Problem Solver” convention held in October in Manchester, New Hampshire. Eight presidential candidates from both parties attended; after all, what political candidate doesn’t want to be known as a problem solver?

The purpose of the “problem solver” convention is to begin to “build a National Strategic Agenda” to, among other things, “create 25 million new jobs over the next 10 years.”

During debates and interviews, candidates are drilled on how they will solve all types of economic and social problems. “Solutions” come in sound bites. It seems that more and more Americans wish to be relieved of what Friedrich Hayek describes in The Road to Serfdom as “the necessity of solving our own economic problems and … the bitter choices which this often involves.”

Asking to Be Lied To

Does a prosperous American economic system depend on electing a president who is a problem solver? What does it say that our leaders have to pretend that they can know everything and tidily solve all problems? Are we to be servants to the ends our leaders have chosen for us, working for them by the means that they select?

As we pursue opportunities, we allow for a discovery process that automatically solves problems. 

A focus on solving problems is inconsistent with a market economy. In a Cato Journal article, “<a href="…

Carson ‘takes scalpel’ to Hillary’s lead

Dr. Ben Carson (Image: Fox News screenshot)

Dr. Ben Carson (Image: Fox News screenshot)

Donald Trump and Ben Carson are in a virtual tie on the national run for president, according to a new Quinnipiac University survey released Wednesday.

And for the second time this week, Carson’s poll numbers actually put him neck and neck with Democrat Hillary Clinton.

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The new numbers: Trump comes in with 24 percent; Carson, 23 percent; Sen. Marco Rubio, 14 percent; Sen. Ted Cruz, 13 percent; and former Gov. Jeb Bush, 4 percent.

The remaining candidates all fall below the 3 percentage mark.

Carson, meanwhile, comes in first place on the favorability factor, with 82 percent.

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Moving up on the favorability front is Chris Christie, whose numbers in this area jumped from 32 percent in March to 57 percent.

“Is there a doctor in there house? There certainly is and at the moment, Dr. Ben Carson is delivering a troubling diagnosis to Secretary Hillary Clinton,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the poll. “With the election one year away, Ben Carson has surgically cut away all but one GOP opponent and taken a scalpel to Hillary Clinton’s lead.”

Malloy also said: “Clinton gets crushed on character issues, pounded by Carson and closely challenged by Sen. Ted Cruz, Donald Trump and Sen. Marco Rubio.”

Star Trek’s Pseudo-Economics

A fan convention dedicated to comics, graphic novels, anime, manga, video games, toys, movies, and television is not the place you’d expect to find a panel on economic theory. But economists and geeks joined forces at the recent New York Comic Con to discuss “Trekonomics,” the economics of Star Trek.

One of the major issues was whether the Trek universe is one of “post-scarcity,” and the implications the popular science fiction franchise poses for traditional economic theory.

The participants seemed confused about the role scarcity plays in economic theory.

A Scarcity of Sense

At one point in the panel, the moderator Felix Salmon asked economist Brad DeLong, “What is post-scarcity?”

DeLong answered:

Gene Roddenberry tried to paint our future by saying: “Wait a minute! What’s going to happen in three centuries? In three centuries we are going to have replicators. Anything material, gastronomic that we want… we are going to have. What kinds of people will we be then and how will we live?”

We are quite far on that transition already.…

Right now … here in the United States what used to be the principal occupation of the human race — farming — is at satiation.… We have about three times as many people in our medical and health-support professions working to try and offset the effects of excessive calories as we do growing calories and nutrients. Thus we are now rapidly approaching a post-scarcity economy.

And it is not just for food. If you go and look at containers coming in from China, we are approaching it with respect to things physically made via manufacturing processes as well. And that’s one of the things Star Trek is about.

It is…

Why Tennessee Forces Seventh Graders to Learn Islam

How big is the distinction between education and indoctrination? Not terribly, if you ask some Tennessee lawmakers. They are pushing to remove any mention of religion from Tennessee’s State Academic Standards. At issue is an apparently controversial unit in seventh grade world history class that spends some time exploring Islam. At some point, the students even need to commit the five pillars of Islam to memory.

Needless to say, this issue has generated a lot of heat on all sides. State Representative Sheila Butts (R) believes that exposing students to Islam threatens to indoctrinate them. Others argue that students can’t effectively learn about world history without developing an understanding of the religions that shape that history, which includes Islam. (And for the record, the Tennessee State Academic Standards cover Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, and Shinto; it just so happens that in seventh grade world history, students cover Islam before other religions.)

Let’s put aside the question of what the right way to teach history is, at least for a moment. What worries me, as a school choice advocate, is that within a public school system, whatever decision is made will be a political one, and the results will apply…

Iran’s ayatollah: ‘Death to America’ chant about policy

Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. (Image: CNN screenshot)

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. (Image: CNN screenshot)

Iran’s supreme leader, the ayatollah Ali Khamenei, put out a website message Tuesday insisting the “death to America” chant that’s played across the Middle East is not as dark and foreboding as it sounds – that it really refers to policy, not people.

“[The] aim of the slogan is not death to American people,” he said, the Associated Press reported. “The slogan means death to U.S. policies and arrogance.”

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Khamenei also said the mantra gathers “strong support” in Iran.

He made the clarification while meeting with Iranian students in the leadup to the Nov. 4 anniversary of Iran’s 1979 storming and takeover of the U.S. embassy in Tehran. That event led to the holding of 52 American hostages for 444 days.

What’s next? Find out in “Showdown with Nuclear Iran.”

Diplomatic ties between American and Iran have been severed ever since.

“Death to America” is a frequent mantra slung by Iranian and hard Islamist factions in the Middle East, along with “Death to the West” and “Death to Israel.”


The Enemy of Affordable Housing

Will restricting housing options for the wealthy benefit the poor? Is more regulation the solution to problems created by past regulations? And how can we avoid the interventionist cycle that Ludwig von Mises warned us about?

Critics of Airbnb are not asking these questions. In California, they have proposed stringent regulations to reign in the Internet-based, home-sharing business.

Aligning Interests

One of the marvels of the unhampered market is the way it aligns the interests of buyers and sellers. If the price is too high, a potential buyer is better off keeping her money; if the price is too low, a potential seller is better off keeping his product. When the price is right, trade happens because both expect it to make them better off.

Even when economists note possible exceptions to this harmony of interests — such as market power, asymmetric information, externalities, or behavioral “irrationalities” — most recognize that entrepreneurial competition in a free market will limit or even eliminate their negative effects over time.

A win-at-all-costs attitude in political debate is not conducive to rational and civil discourse.

In this case, which would be better? Having the government regulate the behavior you disapprove of, or getting rid of the bad rules that prevent people’s own choices from regulating it? When there is public outcry over certain entrepreneurial practices, the political reaction is to compel an outcome that…