Independence Day: Remembering The Cause

Fifty-six delegates to the Second Continental Congress risked their name and honor in declaring their colonies’ independence from the English Crown on July 4, 1776 in Philadelphia. The document became known as the Declaration of Independence. Digital version of this famous painting is retrieved from en.academic.ru

Clay Olsen | July 4th, 2013

“Objects of the most Stupendous Magnitude, Measures in which the Lives and Liberties of Millions, born and unborn are most essentially interested and now before Us. We are in the very midst of a Revolution, the most [complete], unexpected, and remarkable of any in the History of Nations.”

– John Adams

By the late 18th century, the British colonies in North America were becoming frustrated with Great Britain’s growing control and incessant taxes. The epicenter of these feelings was undoubtedly in the colony of Massachusetts, in a town called Boston. Tensions were high due to events like the Boston Massacre, the Boston Tea Party, and the implementation of the Coercive Act. Out of the furnace of Boston came John Adams. The firsthand experience of the imperialism of Great Britain had given him a clear view of what all thirteen colonies were likely to face if they did not comply. Adams believed that the continuous addition of taxes was a plot by the British to enslave the colonists. He would become a major role throughout the revolution, including a key member of the Continental Congress. The first meeting of the Continental Congress occurred after the Coercive Act was brought to the colonies. It was here that grievances and petitions to King George III began. War with Britain was generally accepted to be a last resort if it was even a consideration on the table. However, about eight months later in April of 1775, the first shot was fired and war was on the horizon.

As Great Britain rallied her fleets at home, petitions were continually sent from the colonies to the crown. The British government felt that the colonists needed to be taught a lesson through power and force in order for there to be peace again. So as the British were building up an army to hastily crush the rebellion, the Continental Congress met again to discuss the reality of declaring independence. The choices were quite simple at this point: bend the knee to the British and ask for forgiveness or fight for independence. It was not a question as to which path was easier, but as to which path was right.

A committee was formed of five men (Adams, Jefferson, Franklin, Livingston, and Sherman) to draft a declaration of independence that would lay out the case for why the colonists were rebelling. The document was not a grievance that there were not enough regulations on the colonies. It was not a complaint that the rich colonists got to keep too much of their money. And it was not an objection that the British government did not have enough control over their lives. Instead, this was a document claiming that a government thousands of miles away, with no relationship to the governed, was unsuitable to a people with God-given rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The document was a cry against big government and taxation without representation. And it was a call for the transfer of powers from the state to the individual. The document was debated and edited. It was finally agreed upon on July 4th 1776 and sent out to the world as the Declaration of Independence.

The American Revolution was a revolution that called upon ordinary men in order to succeed. Thomas Paine, a simple tailor, wrote the very famous pamphlet known as Common Sense. Paine was not a wealthy man; he was not involved in politics or law, but he had the ability to explain revolutionary ideas in plain English. People came to love the pamphlet that he wrote in which he claimed, “an island cannot rule a continent.” Three months after its publication, 150,000 copies of Common Sense were circulating the colonies. Support for what was now being called “The Cause” was on the rise.

Inexperience seemed to be the one thing the Continental Army was well supplied with. Colonial soldiers were mostly militia while the British force consisted of a professional army and navy as well as mercenaries. The average British solider was 28 years old with seven years of experience while the average colonial solider was 20 years old with six months of experience (if any at all). The British attack force closing in on the colonies was larger than the population of Philadelphia, the most populace colonial city at the time. Try to imagine the army of colonists, made up of men ages 15 and up, marching towards New York to face one of the most powerful militaries at the time and a navy that was unmatched by any other. Perhaps the biggest advantage that the Continental Army had over the redcoats was their spirit. The British soldiers and mercenaries fought for a paycheck. Colonists fought for Liberty, for themselves and also for generations to come, for you and for me.

The hunger for independence would soon be satisfied because of the brave Americans that gave their lives for “The Cause;” because they believed that a people should not be bullied by their government, especially one in which they had no representation in. On Independence Day we remember this sacrifice, but may we never forget the responsibility that a representative government has given every citizen: to voice their beliefs and keep the government accountable so that our nation does not become a continent ruled by an island of bureaucrats. Our country was founded on trust in the individual, the governed, rather than the government. In a time of need, the cry of Liberty called not only upon men of great power, but also on those from humble walks of life. Thomas Paine, a tailor, was able to influence a nation.  May we as Americans never accept the proposition that we are merely numbers in a pool of statistics. We each have the power to positively affect our nation in many different ways. Our country was founded by brave individuals who were willing to give up their lives for the freedom of their family and of their fellow countrymen. Our armed forces today show us that we continue to be a nation of courageous individuals. We are a land of the free because of the brave men and women that volunteer to protect our nation. May we never forget our history and may God continue to bless the United States of America.

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HIGHLIGHTS: On SCOTUS Decisions in Windsor & Hollingsworth

Photo Courtesy of The Atlantic Wire

Danny Zeng | June 26th, 2013

It’s all over the news, so I’m not going to cover the basics but instead dive straight into these cases. Just in case you were living under a rock though, 1) Section III of DOMA that defines marriage as a social institution between a man and woman for purposes of federal law was struck down today by the Supreme Court; 2) Prop 8 was vacated and remanded to lower court on procedural ground, namely that petitioners (proponents of Prop 8) were found not to have standing, so the Court did not consider the merits in Hollingsworth – meaning California will have same-sex marriage. Most are direct quotes and passages from the cases that I think are relevant for the sake of understanding different arguments. I expounded on some of them with my own comments and explanations. I also put a heavier emphasis on Windsor because it includes arguments on merits and not just on procedural jargons. I know everyone’s busy and won’t have the chance to go through 100 pages of legal writing (I did – don’t judge), which is why I “sparknoted” the cases for you into 4 pages! My goal is to stimulate a conversation about these cases using highlights from original documents and to let more people know what they are and are not about.

UNITED STATES VS. WINDSOR (DOMA SECTION 3)

KENNEDY, MAJORITY

“By history and tradition the definition and regulation of marriage, as will be discussed in more detail, has been treated as being within the authority and realm of the separate States…” but the federal government could pass “limited federal laws that regulate the meaning of marriage in order to further federal policy,” but DOMA goes too far.

“The recognition of civil marriages is central to state domestic relations law applicable to its residents and citizens…the Federal Government, through our history, has deferred to state law policy decisions with respect to domestic relations…The significance of state responsibilities for the definition and regulation of marriage dates to the Nation’s beginning” BUT “Despite these considerations, it is unnecessary to decide whether this federal intrusion on state power is a violation of the Constitution because it disrupts the federal balance.” What? Did I miss something? Kennedy all the sudden slams on a gas pedal that’s going 90mph on  a state highway only to hit I-10 and starts to lose steam. His federalism argument stops short of arguing that states should be able to decide on marriage altogether as what Justice Alito alludes to in his dissent. Instead, Kennedy changes gear a little and attempts a different set of arguments …

“The history of DOMA’s enactment and its own text demonstrate that interference with the equal dignity of same-sex marriages, a dignity conferred by the States in the exercise of their sovereign power, was more than an incidental effect of the federal statute. It was its essence”

“DOMA’s principal effect is to identify a subset of state ­sanctioned marriages and make them unequal. The prin­cipal purpose is to impose inequality, not for other reasons like governmental efficiency.”

“It [state enactment of marriage equality laws] reflects both the community’s considered perspective on the historical roots of the institution of marriage and its evolving under­standing of the meaning of equality”

“The avowed purpose and practical effect of the law [DOMA] here in question are to impose a disadvantage, a separate status, and so a stigma upon all who enter into same-sex marriages made lawful by the unquestioned authority of the States”

“And though Congress has great authority to design laws to fit its own conception of sound national policy, it cannot deny the liberty protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.”

“This requires the Court to hold, as it now does, that DOMA is unconsti­tutional as a deprivation of the liberty of the person pro­tected by the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution”

“While the Fifth Amendment itself withdraws from Government the power to degrade or demean in the way this law does, the equal protection guarantee of the Fourteenth Amend­ment makes that Fifth Amendment right all the more specific and all the better understood and preserved”

ROBERTS, DISSENT

There is no evidence that DOMA “codifies malice” or that “no legitimate government interests.” Deference to the legislative branch – Roberts does not address heightened scrutiny needed to consider for issues of sexual orientation. Scalia and Alito dodge this line of reasoning as well and defer to rational basis. This almost rings Robert’s framework in the Obamacare decision: it’s not the court’s prerogative to decide on political questions best left to other branches of government

“I would not tar the political branches with the brush of bigotry.” Roberts is concerned about the Court having to adjudicate on states’ definitions of marriage in the future; he attempts to circumscribe the bounds of the majority opinion.

SCALIA, DISSENT JOINED BY THOMAS

“The ‘prudential’ discretion to which both those cases refer was the discretion to deny an appeal even when a live controversy exists—not the discretion to grant one when it does not.” Scalia takes issue on majority’s interpretation of judicial review and its logic on Windsor’s standing.

“The ‘judicial Power’ is not, as the major­ity believes, the power “‘to say what the law is,’” – only when the case has actual standing to sue, which Scalia believes not. The justice reasons that Windsor had already won her case at the district level. The book should have closed there.

“If a President wants to insulate his judgment of unconstitu­tionality from our review, he can. What the views urged in this dissent produce is not insulation from judicial review but insulation from Executive contrivance.” [emphasis mine] Scalia is saying that of course the court has the power to judicial review but that is not contingent on say Obama administration refusing to defend DOMA

“If Congress can sue the Executive for the erroneous application of the law that ‘injures’ its power to legislate, surely the Executive can sue Congress for its erroneous adoption of an unconstitutional law that ‘in­jures’ the Executive’s power to administer—or perhaps for its protracted failure to act on one of his nominations. The opportunities for dragging the courts into disputes hitherto left for political resolution are endless” – This goes back to Scalia’s dissent on Windsor ever having standing because if so, this would lead to dog-eat-dog litigation between Congress and White House…

…Congress already has numerous tools to ensure enforcement i.e. power of the purse and power to confirm presidential appointees. “Our system is designed for confrontation” leave it to political branches

“Placing the Constitution’s entirely anticipated political arm wrestling into permanent judicial receivership does not do the system a favor. And by the way, if the President loses the lawsuit but does not faith­fully implement the Court’s decree, just as he did not faithfully implement Congress’s statute, what then? Only Congress can bring him to heel by . . . what do you think? Yes: a direct confrontation with the President.” – classic sass from Scalia…Congress should confront the President if he fails to enforce the laws not the Court

“The decision is based on Fifth amendment due process grounded in liberty not exclusively or primarily on Fourteenth Amendment. “In accord with my previously expressed skepticism about the Court’s “tiers of scrutiny” approach, I would review this classification only for its rationality.” Tier scrutiny elevates the ground for judicial consideration because such case considers sexual orientation and sexual relationships, something that the majority had done; but Scalia disregards that and judges based on the lowest threshold: rationality

“DOMA avoided all of this uncertainty by speci­fying which marriages would be recognized for federal purposes. That is a classic purpose for a definitional provision” Scalia fights back with a reason for section III definition – to provide uniformity to federal law enforcement

“Some might conclude that this loaf could have used awhile longer in the oven. But that would be wrong; it is already overcooked.” I love this quote…Scalia is referring to “substantive due process” a complex class of constitutional jurisprudence which he’s not a fan of – this goes along with his skepticism toward Kennedy’s reasoning in the majority. “The sum of all the Court’s nonspecific hand-waving is that this law is invalid (maybe on equal-protection grounds, maybe on substantive-due process grounds, and perhaps with some amorphous federalism component playing a role) because it is motivated by a ‘bare . . . desire to harm’ couples in same-sex marriages” I find this a strong objection to the majority’s opinion. What exactly is Kennedy basing his decision on in terms of precedence?

Scalia concludes that the decision helps no one, that “the Court has cheated both sides, robbing the winners of an honest victory, and the losers of the peace that comes from a fair defeat. We owed both of them better. I dissent” partly because he points out the flaw of the majority opinion – which I fully agree – that it comingles multiple constitutional logic that weakens its argument

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Nothing Gold Can Stay

Courtesy of Washington Post

Courtesy of Washington Post | Jonathan Ernst / AP

College Republicans at Texas | January 21, 2013

“That while freedom is a gift from God, it must be secured by His people here on Earth…That is our generation’s task — to make these words, these rights, these values — of Life, and Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness — real for every American.” – President Barack Obama, Second Inaugural Address

The President and the Vice President were sworn in yesterday for their second terms per constitutional stipulation. As the inaugural ceremony today coincides with MLK Day celebration nationwide, it is worthy to reflect on our country’s future and how far we have come. The legacy of Dr. King roots in civil disobedience, protests, and active participation as means to pursue alternative policies. For young people like ourselves, we are much hopeful and optimistic, despite current economic forces at play that hinder our economic opportunities and social mobility.

Economic freedom is percursor to a free society, and what is Freedom if there is no sight of Opportunity? At the onset of Mr. Obama’s second term, we challenge the President to work toward creating this kind of society in which all people who choose to make something of themselves would have the chance to do so for them and their families.  This means fixing the complex and outdated tax code so they expand opportunity and not restrict it, reforming our nation’s broken entitlement system to ensure that Government lives up to its promises to its people, and further encouraging and cultivating an entrepreneurial culture, by lowering barriers against self-employment and innovation, and indeed invigorating new intellectual life into our nation’s institutions of higher education.

Looking ahead, College Republicans are optimistic about our future. We have faith in our peers. We have faith in the American people. And we have faith in our nation’s dogged pursuit for freedom and liberty that characterize who we are as Americans. As students of Dr. King, someone who challenged the status quo of his days, we, too, at the beginning of the President’s new term, challenge the prevalent governing philosophy of those in power that has increasingly become more expansive and intrusive. We accept the President’s challenge to shape our own debates:

“You and I, as citizens, have the obligation to shape the debates of our time — not only with the votes we cast, but with the voices we lift in defense of our most ancient values and enduring ideals”

It is necessary to note that it’s Opportunity that invigorates the soul of every man and woman to excel in his/her own right; without which, the drive to pursue human excellence and progress would be all together obliterated. Once we take away the possibility of improvement, we then condemn ourselves down a path of mediocrity and stagnancy. That is the broad thesis upon which we wage this War of Ideas against the Liberal establishment.

Today we celebrate the endurance of our founding as we usher in another term of constitutional stability. We wish the President all the luck in the world for his Second Term. At the same time, we are ever more cognizant of the fact that Freedom, as an idea, had yet to fail the hopes of aspirant people throughout the history of mankind; and that the restriction of Liberty, economic or otherwise, had yet to be shown as a viable path to prosperity and stability.

On this occasion, we pray for our President, our Congress, and our nation. And may God continue to bless America and all freedom lovers around the world.

A Day that will Live in Infamy

Pearl Harbor survivor William Muehleib stands at attention during the National Anthem during the Pearl Harbor memorial ceremony, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2011, in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Today marks the 70th anniversary of the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor Naval Base which pulled the US into a war with Japan. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)

Pearl Harbor survivor William Muehleib stands at attention during the National Anthem during the Pearl Harbor memorial ceremony, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2011, in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Today marks the 70th anniversary of the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor Naval Base which pulled the US into a war with Japan. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)

College Republicans at Texas Executive Board | December 7th, 2012

Today, we pay tribute to thousands of brave Americans who lost their lives on December 7th, 71 years ago, as result of sudden aerial attack from then Imperial Japan. There should be no doubt that the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was a game-changer in history: it allowed the U.S. to give up its isolationist stance and proactively intervene abroad. The U.S. involvement during the war arguably ended it sooner, allowing countries to rebuild and return to normalcy after years of global suffering. The men and women stationed in O’ahu were believers of freedoms and liberty. The world was divided at that time between peaceful nations and imperial hegemonies. On the European front, the Nazis invaded Soviet Union and advanced to the gates of Leningrad by December of 1941. In the meantime, thousands of Jewish people were sent to concentration camps, deprived of life, liberty, and basic human dignity. On the Asian-Pacific front, the Sino-Japanese war has been raging on mainland China for years. The Japanese forces ruthlessly massacred thousands of Chinese civilians in the city of Nanjing in 1937, raping innocent women and committing massive looting across the city. The atrocities committed during the war seem so far-fetched from present realities, at least among free nations. However, let us not forget that even today there are many injustices remain around the world, in certain parts of Africa and in the Middle East. History would have turned out differently if the Americans were not involved during the war. If we have indeed chosen to pursue isolationism at the time, then we would have forsaken the cause of liberty for all, and the free world would have then been at the mercy of violent dictators, whose psychopathic avarice for power was an affront against human progress. The brave men of women who fought under our banner in WWII deserve our utmost respect and gratitude for their sacrifices not only for our country but indeed for humanity. Their memories will live on as we proceed to preserve and maintain the legacy of freedom passed down to our generation. God bless America.

Yes, We CAN Believe in America: Vote for Real Change

Governor Romney has been performing well in the polls leading up to the Election Day on Tuesday.  The Gallup poll last week from 10/22-10/28 had Romney leading Obama by five points! Governor Romney is up in Florida by 6 points according to a latest poll in the state. Romney is up slightly in Virginia. Rasmussen reports on 11/1 that Romney is tied in Ohio and Wisconsin. Rasmussen also reports a Romney lead in Colorado by 3 percentage points and Iowa by one percentage point. The latest poll in New Hampshire has Romney tied with Obama.

For more than a year and a half, young Republicans like myself have grown accustomed to hearing the inevitability of Obama winning re-election here on the UT campus. Not long ago, the Honorable Nancy Pelosi came out and smugly dismissed the chance of Mitt Romney ever winning the White House.  Well, good thing we know the former speaker doesn’t really have a track record of reading the public mood. This narrowing down in the polls speaks more to the will of the American people who are disillusioned with what they were sold in 2008 and are ready for real change.

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