Some recent events have made it an opportune time to take another look at the first two amendments to the Constitution.
Let's begin with the First Amendment. The First Amendment to the Constitution covers a great deal in very few words. Specifically it states: "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, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
If there is one word that is the most significant among the 44 words that comprise the amendment it is the word "Congress." The amendment is intended to prevent "Congress," and by Congress meaning the government, from enacting laws that would violate an individual's right to practice his or her religion or exercise his or her right to free speech, a free press, assembling peaceably, or petitioning the government.
I recently had the opportunity to listen to Congressman Jamie Raskin address the Women's Democratic Club of Montgomery County and provide some insight into the current political climate.
If you are one of the many Democrats who wake up each morning wondering how a Trump presidency could have happened, how a man so unfit for office could be living in the White House, whether there is any reason for hope, then hearing Raskin's presentation would have provided you with some level of comfort, maybe even inspiration.
Congressman Raskin made it clear that we are living in troubling times with the administration of one Donald J. Trump. However, the congressman also made it clear that it is the Constitution that gives us hope that our democratic ideals will ultimately win out and protect American values.
Maryland and D.C. file suit against Trump claiming emoluments clause violation
WASHINGTON D.C. – Attorneys general for Maryland and the District of Columbia announced Monday that they are suing President Donald J, Trump for violating one of the U.S. Constitutions antcorruption clauses.
At a press conference Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh and District of Columbia Attorney General Karl A. Racine filed a lawsuit against the president, citing his real estate properties – including the Trump International Hotel in Washington D.C. – and alleged business deals between foreign governments at the Trump Organization as evidence the president violated the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause.
The Emoluments Clause is a portion of the Constitution the states the president cannot receive a title of nobility from a foreign government or a salary other than the one Congress pays the president.
“I can tell as I look that as I look out the window and see the tower of the Trump International Hotel, we know exactly what’s going on every single day,” Racine said. “We know that foreign governments are spending money there in order to curry favor with the President of the United States.”
The First Amendment to the Constitution covers a great deal in very few words. Specifically it states: "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, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
If there is one word that is the most significant among the 44 words that comprise the amendment it is the word "Congress". The amendment is intended to prevent "Congress", and by Congress, the government, from enacting laws that would violate an individual's right to practicing his or her religion or exercising his or her right to free speech, a free press, assembling peaceably, or petitioning the government.
Freedom! Don't take away my freedom! I have my rights! It's in the Constitution! Second Amendment! These are the cries of members of the gun establishment expressing their National Rifle Association-instilled fears that any commonsense gun safety measures, such as universal mandatory background checks as a requirement to purchase a gun, will infringe on their Constitutional right to carry a gun without any restrictions or safeguards whatsoever.
Court rulings, for the most part, have as their legal basis court precedent. Where no precedent exists, new precedent is established. It is the role of the court, including the Supreme Court, to interpret those previous rulings and apply them to the particular set of circumstances in today's society and, in the Supreme Court's case especially, ensure that the court's decision is consistent with Constitutional intent. The Supreme Court, under the leadership of Chief Justice John Roberts, has been rather infamous for not allowing itself to be burdened with the precedent established in previous Supreme Court rulings. In the Heller case in 2006, it ignored substantial precedent regarding gun ownership by individuals. An even more egregious ignoring of precedent came in the Citizens United case in 2010 in which the court ignored much precedent designed to limit spending in political campaigns. The gutting of the Voting Rights Act is another example.
Maryland law since 1995 has provided that persons convicted of certain sex offenses must register with at State Sex Offender Registry. The federal Sex Offender Registration & Notification Act led to changes in Maryland’s statutes in 2009 and 2010, to adopt a uniform tiered approach to the requirements of registration.