What is the Supreme Court thinking? Get these eBooks free.

If you can’t sleep tonight because you’re anxiously awaiting the Supreme Court decision on health care reform, go to the Amazon.com Kindle Store and download these eBooks. They’re free for 24 hours starting at midnight tonight, in honor of the last day of the Court’s term.

“How the First Amendment Came to Protect Topless Dancing” tells the true story of the Supreme Court’s landmark decisions redefining the power of the federal courts and the federal government.

“The 37th Amendment: A Novel” is a legal thriller set in the year 2056, forty years after the Constitution was changed to get rid of “due process of law.”

Don’t have a Kindle? Download a free Kindle reading app for your computer, phone or tablet.

In just a couple of hours, you’ll be armed and ready for a verbal fistfight with your choice of Supreme Court justices.

Will they uphold the health care law? Strike it down? Cut out its heart and leave it thrashing on the ground? Or will they carry it over until next term, leaving all of us to wait another year to find out what it costs and what it covers?

In the early 1950s, Justice Felix Frankfurter arranged for the already-argued desegregation cases to be carried over to the next term in the hope that he could win over the other justices for a unanimous ruling. In the interim, Chief Justice Fred M. Vinson, who didn’t think the Court had the constitutional power to strike down state segregation laws, had a heart attack and died.

“This is the first indication I have ever had that there is a God,” Frankfurter told his law clerks.

President Eisenhower appointed Earl Warren to replace Chief Justice Vinson. The 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision was unanimous.

Read the whole story in “How the First Amendment Came to Protect Topless Dancing.” Extensive source notes and a bibliography are included.

30th Congressional District debate online

If you’re following the fun in California’s 30th Congressional District race, where yours truly is a Republican candidate running against dual incumbents Brad Sherman and Howard Berman, you’ll be happy to know that the debate on Monday, April 30, at 6:00 p.m. Pacific Time, will be live-streamed on the Internet.

So whether you’re in Washington or London or downtown Los Angeles — in other words, if you can’t possibly get to Northridge by 6:00 p.m. on Monday — you can watch the debate live at http://www.csunas.org/bigpolitics or a link nearby.

In honor of Monday’s debate at Cal State Northridge, and also in honor of the debate the next day at Pierce College in Woodland Hills, the eBook editions of “The 37th Amendment” and “How the First Amendment Came to Protect Topless Dancing” will be free on Amazon all day Monday, April 30, and all day Tuesday, May 1. The new eBook “Uncle Sam’s Nickel: The Five Percent Flat Tax that will Restore Freedom and Prosperity” is free all the time at www.UncleSamsNickel.com.

You can see clips from previous debates at the Susan Shelley for Congress YouTube channel, http://www.YouTube.com/user/SusanShelley2012.

The campaign’s going well. I’ve been endorsed by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. That’s the group dedicated to protecting Proposition 13, the initiative that has saved the homes of so many Californians who otherwise would have been taxed out of them. The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association fights for the voters’ right to vote on taxes, which is fundamental to a free society. I’m proud to fight with them.

Judicial activism and the health care law

President Obama said today the Supreme Court would be engaging in judicial activism if the justices throw out the health care reform law.

“For years we’ve heard that the biggest problem is judicial activism or a lack of judicial restraint,” the president said, “That a group of people would somehow overturn a duly constituted and passed law. Well, this is a good example. And I’m pretty confident that this court will recognize that and not take that step.”

Let’s look at these words more closely: “That a group of people would somehow overturn a duly constituted and passed law.”

The president is arguing that once a majority in Congress votes for a law and the president signs it, the U.S. Supreme Court has no legitimate authority to overturn that action.

But that is not our system of government. That is mob rule. The Constitution limits what a majority can do — you have rights that the government cannot infringe, not for the benefit of other people, not for your own good, not for any reason. The Constitution puts limits on the power of the federal government, and those limits are the essence of freedom.

The U.S. Supreme Court is not just “a group of people.” It is a co-equal branch of the United States government with the authority and responsibility to strike down a law that is unconstitutional.

That’s different than ‘judicial activism,’ which is a derogatory term for decisions by judges which change the meaning of the Constitution and effectively amend it without the explicit consent of the American people.

Don’t blame the judges, we are all responsible for it.

For more than eighty years, the American people have accepted “landmark” rulings as a substitute for constitutional amendments. For example, there never was an amendment banning race or gender discrimination, or requiring the states to provide jury trials in all criminal cases, or guaranteeing the right against self-incrimination in state courts, or protecting freedom of speech from infringement by state laws. The Supreme Court created all these rights through interpretation.

Our rights would be more secure if we amended the Constitution to state them in plain language. If we passed an amendment to ban race and gender discrimination, the country would be a lot calmer when a Supreme Court justice retired. We wouldn’t hear people yelling on television that civil rights and women’s rights could be rolled back fifty years if the wrong justice is appointed to the high court.

Nobody worries that the right to vote will be rolled back. The right to vote is in the plain language of the Constitution, put there with amendments as Article V provides.

The health care law relies on a wishfully expanded interpretation of the Commerce Clause, which allows the federal government to regulate interstate commerce. But there is no use trying to argue that the Commerce Clause gives the federal government unlimited power. The entire Constitution prohibits unlimited federal power.

“Shall the more doubtful and indefinite terms be retained in their full extent, and the clear and precise expressions be denied any signification whatsoever?” a frustrated James Madison asked in Federalist No. 41 when engaged in a similar debate.

The health care law is unconstitutional because the Constitution does not give the federal government the power to require Americans to purchase a product from a private company as a condition of lawful residence in the United States. In a government based on consent of the governed, nobody ever consented to give the federal government the power to do that.

The U.S. Constitution is not a musty old document in an archive. It’s not a lump of Play-Doh for brilliant legal scholars to mold into new forms. It’s an expression of the consent of the governed, and Americans have the right and the responsibility to hold the federal government to the contract we signed.

You have rights that the federal government cannot infringe. That’s what makes America a free country.

___________________

Susan Shelley is a candidate for Congress in California’s 30th district, the west and south San Fernando Valley. She’s the author of a history of the Bill of Rights titled “How the First Amendment Came to Protect Topless Dancing,” available in eBook format from Amazon.com.

America Wants To Know investigates: Who is Mark Reed?

How do you clean up corruption in government? That’s a question I’ve been asked often since entering the race for Congress in California’s 30th district last September.

There are two answers to that question. One is the old joke about politicians being like diapers — they should be changed often, and for the same reason.

The other answer isn’t a joke. To clean up corruption in government, elect honest people to office.

But how do you know who’s honest? And how do you know who’s a liar?

You can do research. But it’s time-consuming and sometimes expensive. Most people rely on the word of people they trust. That’s why politicians court endorsements.

But what if politicians lie to the people they ask for endorsements?

Then the voters are fooled into thinking they’re voting for someone who’s honest.

Fooling the voters is not the way to clean up corruption in government.

When I entered this race last year, there was one other Republican who already had declared his intention to run. His name is Mark Reed. He ran in 2010 against Rep. Brad Sherman in the 27th district and lost by a landslide. He decided to run against Sherman again, and against Howard Berman, in the new 30th district, although Reed does not live in the 30th district.

Mark Reed was quite unhappy that I entered the race. He began telling people in the Republican party, and anyone else who would listen, that I was not “viable,” that I had “no money,” that I had not “filed,” that I was not going to “file,” that I was “holding off filing,” that I would “probably not get on the ballot,” that I was “just doing this to sell books,” that I was “diluting” his vote, that I was “not fit to run,” and that I was “working for the other side.”

Really.

For the record, let me state that I have a letter in hand from California’s Secretary of State, Debra Bowen, confirming that I have qualified to be a candidate for the office of U.S. Representative in the 30th district for the June 5, 2012, Presidential Primary Election. The Susan Shelley for Congress committee is registered with the Federal Election Commission, Committee ID number C00515130. I have been endorsed by the California Republican League (Pro-Choice, Environmentally Conscious and Fiscally Conservative) and a list of prominent and respected individuals of diverse backgrounds and views.

Mark Reed continues to lie about me, and it is time that I responded. I am going to tell you the truth about him.

Mark Reed, who calls himself “the only viable Republican candidate” is currently on probation following a 2010 conviction on two counts of having a concealed dangerous weapon. On Monday, April 2, 2012, he is scheduled to appear before a judge at the San Fernando Courthouse, Department 137, at 8:30 a.m., to ask for early termination of his probation. He will be represented by Bar Panel attorney Murray S. Berns, from the Los Angeles Bar Association’s office of Indigent Criminal Defense Appointments.

One of the conditions of Mr. Reed’s probation was the payment of attorney fees totaling $2,297. He failed to pay, and the court warned him that if the fees were not paid by February, 2012, the case would be sent to collections. In September, 2011, Mr. Reed was ordered to pay $25 per month until the full amount was paid off. He missed his January 2012 payment and was called to court again in February, at which time he paid $50.

Mark Reed, who calls himself a successful businessman and who will be identified on the June 5 ballot as “Businessman/Rancher/Actor,” has been certified by the Los Angeles Superior Court as an indigent criminal defendant. He was initially represented in the concealed weapons case by a deputy public defender, but due to a conflict of interest the court appointed an attorney from the office of Indigent Criminal Defense Appointments to replace both the public defender, Peggy Loveman, and the alternate public defender, Jody Rubel, who succeeded her.

This is all in the public record. I have obtained Mark Reed’s complete records from the criminal division of the Los Angeles Superior Court. Download a summary here and download the complete record of his court proceedings here.

Mark Reed, who told a meeting of the San Fernando Valley Republican Club that America is “morally bankrupt” and that he would bring back moral leadership, has been arrested in Los Angeles County six times: twice for narcotics, twice for driving on a suspended or revoked license, once for possessing a prohibited dangerous species, and once for having a concealed dangerous weapon.

The complete records may be downloaded here.

The record shows a consistent pattern of disregard for the law: probation violations, failure to appear, bench warrants, bail revocation, and repeated warnings to comply with the court’s orders or face additional penalties, right up to the present day.

On Monday, Mark Reed will be in court with his Bar Panel attorney to ask for the early termination of his probation. Currently, as a condition of probation, he is prohibited from owning or possessing any firearms, knives, or concealable weapons. In 2010, the Los Angeles Police Department confiscated all of Reed’s firearms and transported them to a gun dealer to be sold.

That’s a bit different than the story he told the Republican Party of Los Angeles County earlier this month at the party’s endorsement meeting. “They’ll take my gun when they pry it from my cold, dead hand,” he said.

Not quite.

The following is a summary of the information in the public records of the Los Angeles Superior Court about Mark S. Reed, Sr., indigent criminal defendant. The summary can be downloaded in pdf format here, and the complete records of every court proceeding (it’s a big file, please be patient) can be downloaded here. The complete file includes the status report from the California Secretary of State showing that Mark Reed’s corporation, Mark’s Pool Plumbing, Inc., was suspended by the Franchise Tax Board for failure to comply with franchise tax requirements.

__________________

Mark Reed
Arrest Record

Summary

As of
3/28/12

MARK REED ARRESTED, CONVICTED, ON PROBATION

FOR POSSESSION OF A CONCEALED DANGEROUS WEAPON

Currently represented by a Bar Panel attorney

from the Indigent Criminal Defense Appointments office

of the Los Angeles Bar Association

Case No. 9SR00526

The People of the State of California vs. Mark Steven Reed,
Sr.

Law enforcement Agency effecting arrest: LAPD – Foothill
Area

Case filed on 01/29/09

Mark Reed charged with one count of possession of a
concealed dangerous weapon [12020(A)(1)], on or about 01/08/09.

Case called for arraignment on 01/29/09. Mark Reed not
present. Represented by Deputy Public Defender Peggy Loveman.

Case called for further proceedings on 08/26/09. Court
orders complaint amended to add violation of 12020(A)(1) as count 02.

Case called for arraignment and plea on 08/27/09. Mark Reed
pleads not guilty to both counts.

Case called for “traffic school completion” on 09/30/09.
Mark Reed represented by Deputy Public Defender John H. Cho.

Case called for jury trial on 10/26/09. Public Defender’s
Office declares a conflict; Alternate Public Defender’s Office is appointed.

Case called for pre-trial hearing on 11/04/09. Public
Defender declares conflict of interest. Court appoints Bar Panel attorney
Murray Berns from the ICDA (Indigent Criminal Defense Appointments) office of
the Los Angeles Bar Association.

Case called for jury trial on 03/23/10. Mark Reed testifies.
Court orders the testimony of the arresting officers.

Case called for jury trial on 03/24/10. Mark Reed pleads
Nolo Contendere to count 01. The court finds the defendant guilty. Mark
Reed pleads Nolo Contendere to count 02. The court finds the defendant
guilty.

Mark Reed placed on probation for 36 months under the
following terms and conditions: “serve 1 day in the Los Angeles County Jail,
less credit for 1 day”; court security assessment of $30.00; “criminal
conviction assessment” of $30.00; $2,297 in attorney fees; restitution fine of
$100; total due, $2,457.00. In addition: “not own, use or possess any dangerous
or deadly weapons, including any firearms, knives or other concealable
weapons”; “the weapon involved in this case is ordered confiscated and
destroyed by the arresting agency”; “defendant is ordered to pay a probation
revocation restitution fine” of $100.

Case called for further proceedings on 04/16/10. Defense
attorney states that Mark Reed has found a gun dealer who will buy his firearms
and asks to have firearms released to defendant for purpose of transporting
them to gun dealer. Request is denied. Los Angeles Police Department will
transport the firearms to the dealer. Court orders Mark Reed to pay $2,297 in
attorney fees by 04/19/11.

Case called on 04/16/10 for fines and fees. Mark Reed pays
$245.

Case called on 04/19/11 for fines and fees. Mark Reed fails
to appear. Case referred to financial evaluator.

Case called on 04/22/11 for proof of restitution. Mark Reed
fails to appear. Notice of delinquency is mailed.

Case called on 05/25/11 for attorney fees payment. Mark Reed
is present, not represented by counsel. Case continued.

Case called on 08/25/11 for attorney fees payment. Mark Reed
is present, not represented by counsel. Mark Reed is told that if he does not
pay the $2,297 in attorney fees by February 21, 2012, the matter will be
referred to collections.

On 09/12/11: Mark Reed appears for evaluation.
Recommendation: “Defendant to pay total due at the rate of $25 per month on the
21st of every month beginning 10/21/11 and each month thereafter.”

Case called on 09/21/11 for “miscellaneous.” Mark Reed’s
motion to have attorney fees reduced is denied.

Mark Reed paid $25 on 09/21/11, $25 on 10/20/11, $25 on
11/21/11, $25 on 12/15/11.

Case called on 02/21/12 for fines and fees. Mark Reed is not
present and not represented by counsel.

Case called on 02/28/12 for fines and fees. Mark Reed is
present, not represented by counsel. Payment of $50 is made.

On 03/13/12, Mark Reed and his Bar Panel attorney, Murray S.
Berns, file a motion for early termination of probation.

Next scheduled event: 04/02/12, 8:30 a.m., motion for
early termination of probation, San Fernando Courthouse Department 137.

Custody status: On Probation.

MARK REED ARRESTED
TWICE FOR NARCOTICS

Case No. LA003709

The People of the State of California vs. Mark Steven Reed

Law enforcement Agency effecting arrest: LAPD – Narcotics
Division

Case filed on 05/07/90

Mark Reed charged with one felony count of possession
of a controlled substance [11350(A)], on or about 04/25/90.

Bail set at $2,500.

Case called for Preliminary Hearing on 09/05/91. Probation
memo forwarded. Mark Reed ordered to report to Probation Department within 24
hours.

Case called for Diversion Hearing on 09/07/90. Court orders
charge diverted as follows: For 24 months, Mark Reed may not “use or possess
any narcotics, dangerous or restricted drugs or associated paraphernalia”; may
not “associate with persons believed to be or known to be narcotic or drug
users”; must “stay away from places where users, buyers or sellers congregate”;
and must “obey all rules and regulations of the Probation Department.”

Case called for Probation Supplemental Report on 03/06/91.
Count 01 is dismissed.

_________________________________________

Case No. 90P09063

The People of the State of California vs. Mark S. Reed

Law enforcement Agency effecting arrest: LAPD – Narcotics
Division

Case filed on 08/21/90

Mark Reed charged with one count of soliciting another
person to commit a drug offense
[653f(D)], one count of driving on a
suspended or revoked license
[14601.1(A)]  and one count of driving without
a license [12500(A)] on or about 08/16/90.

Bail set at $8,000.

Case called for jury trial on 10/22/90. Continued.

Case called for jury trial on 11/29/90. Mark Reed not
present in court. Bench warrant issued in the amount of $8,000.

Case called on 12/3/90. Mark Reed pleads guilty to
count 01 and count 03; count 02 “dismissed due to plea negotiation.”

Mark Reed placed on probation for 18 months, ordered to pay
a fine of $500 or serve 16 days in jail less credit for 1 day, with penalty
assessment and restitution costs, total due is $1,113.50. Ordered not to drive
without proper license and insurance; ordered not to possess or seek to
purchase any controlled substance or drug paraphernalia; ordered to “submit to
urine analysis testing if requested to do so by a police officer.”

Case called for fines and fees on 03/04/91. Mark Reed not
present in court. Bench warrant issued in the amount of $8,000.

Case called for probation violation hearing on 05/29/91. Probation
revoked. Bail forfeiture.

June 1991 – September 1992: A series of hearings on
probation violation, substance abuse treatment, community service, Cal Trans
work.

MARK REED ARRESTED
MULTIPLE TIMES FOR DRIVING ON A SUSPENDED OR REVOKED LICENSE

Case No. 91F07244

The People of the State of California vs. Mark Steven Reed

Law enforcement Agency effecting arrest: LAPD – Valley
Traffic Division

Case filed on 07/17/91

Defendant charged with having committed, on or about 5/23/91,
one count of driving on a suspended or revoked license [14601.1(A)] and
one count of driving without a license [12500(A)]

Case called for jury trial on 09/05/91

Complaint amended to add one count of driving at an unsafe
speed which endangers the safety of persons or property [22350]

Mark Reed pleads guilty to count 03, counts 01 and 02
“dismissed due to plea negotiation.”

Sentenced to pay a fine of $75 or perform 33 hours of
community service and pay a state penalty fund assessment of $108.

Proof of completed community service filed on 11/21/91.

_________________________________________

Case No. 91F07262

The People of the State of California vs. Mark Steven Reed

Law enforcement Agency effecting arrest: LAPD – Foothill
Area

Case filed on 07/17/91

Defendant charged with having committed, on or about 4/20/91,
one count of driving on a suspended or revoked license [14601.1(A)] and
one count of driving at an unsafe speed which endangers the safety of persons
or property [22350]

Case called for jury trial on 09/05/91

Mark Reed pleads guilty to count 02, count 01
“dismissed in furtherance of justice” per section 1385 of the California penal
code.

Sentenced to pay a fine of $100 or perform 42 hours of
community service and pay a state penalty fund assessment of $135.

Proof of completed community service filed on 11/21/91.

MARK REED,
“RANCHER,” ARRESTED BY CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND GAME

Case No. 1PN04865

The People of the State of California vs. Mark Steven Reed

Law enforcement Agency effecting arrest: Cal Dept of Fish
and Game

Case filed on 10/03/01

Mark Reed charged with one count of possession of a dangerous
species
[2118], on or about 06/05/01.

Case called for arraignment on 10/30/01.

Mark Reed pleads Nolo Contendere. The court finds the
defendant guilty.

Mark Reed placed on summary probation under the following
terms and conditions: “shall pay a restitution fine in the amount of $100”;
“ordered not to own, possess or maintain any animals without obtaining all
proper permits”; “make a $500 charitable contribution to SPCALA, deliver
contribution to City Attorney.”

Case called for progress report on 11/15/01. Mark Reed is
not present in court. Probation revoked. Bench warrant issued in the
amount of $1,000.

Case called for progress report on 11/26/01. Mark Reed
stipulates to violation of probation. Court revokes and reinstates probation
under same terms and conditions, charitable contribution made through City
Attorney’s office.

On 09/19/08: “By order of the supervising judge of criminal,
case file ordered destroyed pursuiant to government code section 69153.”

On 12/15/08 at 5:30 a.m., “Case file destroyed.”

MARK REED,
“BUSINESSMAN,” HAS CORPORATION SUSPENDED BY STATE OF CALIFORNIA

On August 1, 1991, the Franchise Tax Board of the State of
California suspended Corporation No. C1071382, Mark’s Pool Plumbing,
Inc.; Mark S. Reed, Chief Executive Officer; for “failure to meet franchise
tax requirements
(e.g. failure to file a return, pay taxes, etc.).”

Currently the Yellowbook directory for the San Fernando
Valley lists “Pete’s Pool Plumbing” at the same address, which is Mr. Reed’s
home address in Shadow Hills, California.

Complete records of court proceedings are here:
http://www.extremeink.com/congress/Mark_Reed_Defendant_Superior_Court_Records.pdf

Update on November 11, 2012:

This YouTube video shows Mark Reed at Democrat Howard Berman’s headquarters on Election Night. He’s standing among the Berman staff members as the congressman addresses volunteers, staff and supporters.

Speaking truth to power about health care reform

This week, Democratic lawmakers cheerfully marked the second anniversary of the passage of the health care reform law.

Two years ago, I was so angry over it that I became personally involved in politics, volunteering for a GOP candidate for Congress as director of communications.

This year, I’m running for Congress myself. Last week, I had the opportunity to tell a Democratic lawmaker exactly what that health care reform law has meant out here in the real world.

Here’s the clip:

You can visit the campaign website at www.SusanShelleyForCongress.com. If you, like me, have had enough of these arrogant, out-of-touch incumbents, who never see a bill for their health care, donate five or ten dollars to the campaign at this link.

Share this video with your friends.

Incumbents don’t defeat themselves, as hard as they might appear to be trying.

In California’s 30th District, Brad Sherman and Howard Berman are in a death match to win the 49% of registered voters who are Democrats. They’ll split that vote, and in the new open primary, the election could be decided by the 26% of voters who are registered Republicans and the 21% who are registered “decline-to-state.”

You can make a difference in this election. Join me in this fight.

_____________

Susan Shelley is running for Congress in California’s 30th District, the west and South San Fernando Valley, against incumbent Democrats Brad Sherman and Howard Berman. She’s the author of a history of the Bill of Rights titled “How the First Amendment Came to Protect Topless Dancing.”

In Memoriam: Andrew Breitbart, 1969-2012

The shocking and sad news this morning of the death of conservative writer and activist Andrew Breitbart was a blow to everyone who loves freedom and admires courage.

Mr. Breitbart was a rare individual who was not frightened, not intimidated and not impressed by powerful Democratic Party incumbents and the powerful media elites who keep their secrets. His revelations of Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner’s tawdry habit of sending lewd photos to women he met online led to a special election in New York’s 9th District, where the voters elected a Republican for the first time since the 1920s.

In 1998, the Drudge Report, where Mr. Breitbart contributed for many years, revealed the details of a story that NBC News had worked on but never aired: President Bill Clinton was having an affair with a White House intern.

If not for the Internet, a handful of people in the media would have the ironclad power to block for their political favorites, keeping the voters from discovering facts that could change the way they vote.

If not for fearless individuals like Andrew Breitbart, sleazy and dishonest people could be elected and re-elected forever.

That’s because when voters go to the polls, they assume that someone would have told them if a candidate or incumbent had a history of the kind of conduct that would keep anyone else from ever being hired for a job. But the truth is that most people who know, won’t tell.

Why?

Maybe they prefer to have the power that comes with the implicit threat that they might tell. Maybe they have their own secrets and are frightened into silence. Maybe they consider it bad sportsmanship.

The voters have a right to know the character of their political leaders and those who seek to become political leaders. The voters do care.

Andrew Breitbart proved that, and it will be his legacy.

______________________

Susan Shelley is a candidate for Congress in California’s 30th District, the west and south San Fernando Valley.

Rick Santorum throws up

The difference between a free country and a dictatorship is that in a dictatorship the government can do whatever it wants to do, whenever and to whomever it chooses; while in a free country, the government’s powers are limited.

The United States is a free country because the U.S. Constitution limits the power of the government. It’s important to understand and appreciate the brilliant and complex design that is too often disregarded by people who, in their effort to solve a problem, don’t realize that they are undermining the structure that holds up our freedom and keeps us from slowly collapsing into that other system of government.

Just to save you the click over to Wikipedia, here is a one-paragraph introduction to the U.S. system of government.

The United States of America is made up of separate states which each have their own government. There is also a national government, headquartered in the nation’s capital. This system, called federalism, was unique in the history of the world: Two governments over the same physical area, the state government and the federal government, co-existing through a separation of powers. Under the U.S. Constitution, which had to be approved by the states before it could take effect, the national government in Washington has “enumerated” powers that are listed in the Constitution. All other powers remain with the state governments. As an additional safeguard on freedom, the powers of the national government are divided among three branches — the executive (the presidency), the legislative (Congress) and the judicial (the federal courts). These branches have limited powers and they also have checks on each other’s powers.

Now you know why it’s so hard to get anything done in Washington. Most of what Washington is trying to get done, the Constitution prohibits Washington from doing.

That’s what makes the United States a free country. If the government could do whatever it wants to do, whenever and to whomever it chooses, we would be living in a dictatorship.

President George Washington warned in his Farewell Address, when he voluntarily left power after two terms in office, that the people of the United States should be on their guard against the tendency of government officials to usurp power and push the limits of the Constitution. “If in the opinion of the People, the distribution or modification of the Constitutional powers be in any particular wrong, let it be corrected by an amendment in the way which the Constitution designates,” Washington said. “But let there be no change by usurpation; for though this, in one instance, may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed.”

At different times and for different reasons, especially over the last hundred years, our Constitution has been changed not by amendment, but by usurpation.

Today hardly anyone knows that the Bill of Rights was intended to apply only to the federal government. It did not restrict the powers of the state governments at all. This was confirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1833 case of Barron v. Baltimore, and it was confirmed over and over again after the Fourteenth Amendment’s ratification in 1868. In the 1900 case of Maxwell v. Dow, the Court said the first ten amendments to the Constitution “were not intended to and did not have any effect upon the powers of the respective states.” As recently as 1922, in the case of Prudential Insurance Co. v. Cheek, the Supreme Court held that the First Amendment “imposes upon the States no obligation to confer…the right of free speech.”

It’s hard to believe, but true. In an 1804 letter to Abigail Adams, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “While we deny that Congress have a right to controul the freedom of the press, we have ever asserted the rights of the states, and their exclusive right, to do so.”

James Madison wanted the Bill of Rights to contain an amendment that read, “No state shall violate the equal rights of conscience, or the freedom of the press, or trial by jury in criminal cases,” but he couldn’t get it through the Senate.

Most of the Bill of Rights applies to the states today because the U.S. Supreme Court invented something called the Incorporation Doctrine, which holds that certain rights are so fundamental to the idea of liberty that they must apply to the state governments, because the Fourteenth Amendment says the states may not deny liberty to any person without due process of law.

You can find constitutional scholars who will examine the legislative history of the Fourteenth Amendment with a microscope and declare that the lawmakers intended to make the Bill of Rights apply to the states, but they can’t explain why no one could get that argument through the Supreme Court until everyone who voted on the Fourteenth Amendment was dead.

Judge for yourself.

The problem with the Incorporation Doctrine is not that the decisions have had a bad result. Much of what the courts have done is admirable, even heroic. The problem is that the American people have been completely cut out of the process of making many of the laws they have to live under.

The Incorporation Doctrine holds that a state may not infringe a fundamental right unless it has a compelling reason. A rational reason isn’t good enough. This is sometimes called “strict scrutiny” or “heightened scrutiny.”

What this really means is that federal judges substitute their judgment for the judgment of the elected state and local governments. Does a state have the power to ban the sale of violent video games to children? What about a ban on noisy protests at military funerals? May a school ban students from wearing Nazi armbands? Anti-war T-shirts? American flag T-shirts? Can police set up roadblocks to search for drugs? Drunk drivers? Weapons? May a state require parental consent for minors seeking abortions? Birth control pills? Tattoos?

It all depends on whether the state can convince federal judges that there is a compelling reason that the law or rule is necessary, and that it’s narrowly tailored to achieve a permissible purpose. Whether a reason is compelling or merely rational depends very much on the personal values of the judges making the decision.

The personal values of judges are now a topic of discussion whenever there is a vacancy on the federal bench, and especially when there’s a retirement on the U.S. Supreme Court. That’s because the Senate confirmation hearings for federal judges are the last opportunity for the American people to have any say at all over many of the laws that deeply concern them.

If we had followed George Washington’s advice, there would have been a constitutional amendment for privacy rights and not a Supreme Court ruling usurping the states’ power to decide when abortion is legal and when it is not. There would have been a constitutional amendment to ban discrimination on the basis of race instead of a patchwork of Supreme Court decisions defining which kinds of racial discrimination are prohibited and which are mandatory. There would have been a constitutional amendment to bar the states from establishing a religion, instead of a contentious series of decisions about prayer in the schools, God in the Pledge, and Ten Commandments displays in the courthouse.

Under our federalist system, the U.S. government was prohibited from establishing a religion, but the states were completely free to do so.

There is a bitter debate going on in U.S. politics over the separation of church and state in America. On Sunday, presidential candidate Rick Santorum told ABC News he became nauseous when he read President John F. Kennedy’s famous 1960 speech to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association.

“The first line, first substantive line in the speech, says, ‘I believe in America where the separation of church and state is absolute,’” Santorum said. “I don’t believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute. The idea that the church can have no influence or no involvement in the operation of the state is absolutely antithetical to the objectives and vision of our country.”

ABC News host George Stephanopoulous wondered about the nausea reaction. “You think you wanted to throw up?” he asked.

“Well, yes, absolutely,” Santorum answered. “To say that people of faith have no role in the public square? You bet that makes you throw up. What kind of country do we live in that says only people of non-faith can come into the public square and make their case? That makes me throw up.”

A lot of Americans have that same reaction to politicians who want to force their own religious beliefs on other people through the laws passed by Congress.

The framers of the Constitution dealt with this problem — it’s not new — by prohibiting the national government from establishing a religion without imposing a similar prohibition on the states. It’s unlikely that the people of any state would support the establishment of a state religion today, but under the original understanding of the Constitution they would have the right to make their own laws requiring, allowing or prohibiting prayer in the schools, Nativity scenes in public buildings, and Ten Commandments displays on the courthouse lawn.

Federalism is a sophisticated system of government that allows people of different beliefs to co-exist peacefully.

The world could learn much from it. We should study it ourselves.

© 2012
_________________

Susan Shelley is a Republican candidate for Congress in California’s 30th District, the west and south San Fernando Valley. She’s the author of a modern history of the Bill of Rights titled, “How the First Amendment Came to Protect Topless Dancing,” which is available in the Kindle Store at Amazon.com.

Setting the record straight on Jewish Journal publisher Rob Eshman’s false statements

An open letter to journalists covering the Jewish Journal’s February 21 candidate forum in the 30th congressional district at Temple Judea in Tarzana:

I’d like to formally set the record straight and answer Jewish Journal publisher Rob Eshman’s continuing false statements that my campaign is not “viable,” that I haven’t or hadn’t “filed,” and that my campaign is “just a website.”

On January 5, 2012, the Woodland Hills-Tarzana Chamber of Commerce held a 30th congressional district candidate forum in which I participated along with Mark Reed and the two Democratic incumbents. Shortly thereafter, the Jewish Journal decided to hold its own candidate forum in California’s 30th district. They invited Congressmen Brad Sherman and Howard Berman, but they invited only one of the two Republican candidates. They invited Mark Reed and they did not invite me. Someone tipped me to this before the forum was announced, and I wrote to Rob Eshman to inquire if I was going to be invited. He wrote back that he had established “criteria” of fundraising, endorsements and political organization, and that the three invited candidates met the criteria. He thanked me for “understanding.”

I wrote back and made the case that he had no valid basis to include Mark Reed and exclude me, but I received no response.

Gary Aminoff, the first vice chairman of the Republican Party of Los Angeles County, wrote to Mr. Eshman the next day and stated that he considered me to be a viable and well-funded Republican candidate, one of two, along with Mark Reed, who were running in the 30th district race. He wrote that he had spoken to Republican Party elected officials including County Supervisors Mike Antonovich and Don Knabe and Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, and that all were “appalled” that the Jewish Journal was excluding a viable, well-funded candidate from the forum. Mr. Aminoff received no response for days, and then when he followed up, Mr. Eshman wrote back that I was not a “real contender.”

When the forum was announced, reporters called Mr. Eshman to inquire why I was being excluded. He told the Los Angeles Times that I lacked “name recognition.” He told the Los Angeles Daily News, “When we were putting this together, she hadn’t even formally filed.” He compared my campaign to that of a local gardener who is trying to get on the ballot, telling both papers that all I had was a website.

Mr. Eshman’s statements are factually false.

The fact that reporters and others called the Jewish Journal to ask why I was being excluded from the forum demonstrates a degree of name recognition, although Mr. Eshman never cited that as one of his “criteria” at the time he told me that I was excluded from the forum.

The filing period for the race opened on February 13, 2012. None of the candidates had “formally filed” at the time the Jewish Journal was “putting this together.” Some candidates pulled “signatures in lieu” papers on December 30, 2011, in order to collect enough signatures to reduce their filing fee, but there is no reason that this should be considered evidence of “viability.”

If Mr. Eshman was referring to FEC registration, which he never cited to me, this is not a valid basis to include Mark Reed in the forum while excluding me. Mr. Reed’s FEC registration is carried over from his unsuccessful 2010 run against Brad Sherman in the 27th district. According to his FEC reports for 2011, he raised significantly less than the $5,000 necessary to register a campaign committee for the 2012 race and at year-end had less than $4,000 cash on hand. I entered the race in September, and in January I had not yet reached the $5,000 level myself. I will be registering my committee with the FEC shortly.

My campaign is much more than just a website. My campaign consultant is Nancy J. Spero, the state executive vice chair of the California Republican League. My senior adviser is Susan Abato, formerly the San Fernando Valley regional co-chair of the presidential campaigns of John McCain and Rudy Giuliani. I have been endorsed by former Republican congressional candidate David Benning, for whom I served as Director of Communications in 2010, by Bradly Torgan; president of the Log Cabin Republicans of Los Angeles, by Paul M Fredrix, chair of the 42nd Assembly District Republican Central Committee; and, outside the world of politics, I’ve been endorsed by Dick Carson, the Emmy-winning director of “The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson,” “The Merv Griffin Show,” and “Wheel of Fortune,” for whom I worked at an earlier time in my career. I’ve given lengthy live radio interviews to KFIV AM in Modesto, California, and to WCUW FM in Worcester, Massachusetts, and my campaign has been covered by the Los Angeles Times, the Los Angeles Daily News, the online local news publication Patch.com, The Burbank Leader, and even the Jewish Journal. I’ve been invited to candidate forum events organized by the Woodland Hills-Tarzana Chamber of Commerce, the Granada Hills Chamber of Commerce, the Economics and Political Science Department of Pierce College, and the Porter Ranch and West Hills Neighborhood Councils. I’ve been invited to speak to the Woodland Hills Republican Women Federated Club as well as the RWF clubs in Encino and West Hills, the Log Cabin Republicans of Los Angeles, and the San Fernando Valley Republican Club. Far from being a gardener, I’m the author of the novel “The 37th Amendment,” and of a modern history of the Bill of Rights titled, “How the First Amendment Came to Protect Topless Dancing.”

On February 13, the day the filing period opened, I took out nomination papers and paid the full $1,740 filing fee, as can be seen on the County’s website, www.LAVote.net. I have collected in excess of the forty signatures of registered voters necessary to qualify for the ballot and most likely will have filed them at the county offices in Norwalk by the time you read this.

Mr. Eshman continues to state that I am not a “viable” candidate, which I believe is a statement in opposition to my candidacy, and to exclude me from the forum, which I believe is detrimental to my campaign. My attorney, Mark Bernsley, has filed a complaint with the IRS against Tribe Media Corp., owner of the Jewish Journal, a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization prohibited by law from taking any action to support or oppose a candidate.

Yours sincerely,

Susan Shelley
Republican candidate for Congress
California District 30
www.SusanShelleyForCongress.com
818-850-2131
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/#!/profile.php?id=100002192215308
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/SusanShelley2012
_________________

More information:

The L.A. Daily News
http://www.dailynews.com/news/ci_19944926

The Los Angeles Times
http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/california-politics/2012/02/excluded-candidate-files-complaint-with-irs.html

L.A. Observed
http://www.laobserved.com/boyarsky/2012/02/hot_times_before_big_debate.php

About Susan Shelley
Susan Shelley is a Republican candidate for Congress in California’s 30th district, the west and south San Fernando Valley. She’s the author of the novel “The 37th Amendment” and of a modern history of the Bill of Rights titled, “How the First Amendment Came to Protect Topless Dancing.” She graduated from California State University Northridge with B.A. in American history and went on to work for Merv Griffin Enterprises as a secretary and then a production assistant, eventually becoming the Associate Producer of “Jeopardy!” before going on to be a full-time writer. Her work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Los Angeles Daily News, and other papers around the country as well as on the Internet. She served as the Director of Communications for Republican congressional candidate David Benning in 2010.

Tune in tonight

I’ll be the guest on Christopher Maider’s radio show “The Meat & Potatoes Show,” tonight. It’s conservative talk radio in Worcester, Massachusetts, at midnight Eastern time. Tune in to 91.3 FM if you’re in or near Worcester, or listen on the Internet at www.wcuw.org. That’s midnight Eastern time, 9:00 p.m. Pacific. Tune in, it will be fun!

_________

Susan Shelley is running for Congress in California’s 30th district, the west and south San Fernando Valley.

Campaign diary: So not kosher

As you know if you read America Wants to Know regularly, the writer of this blog is running for Congress in California’s 30th District, the west and south San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles. This is the district where longtime Democratic incumbents Brad Sherman and Howard Berman are running against each other, thanks to the redistricting by a citizens’ panel that was instructed to draw the lines without regard to the effects on incumbents.

Redistricting by a citizens’ panel is one of two reforms imposed on the political process in California by angry voters. The other one is the new “top-two” primary system. Instead of each political party having its own primary ballot on June 5, there will be one ballot for all voters, regardless of party registration. All candidates of all parties will be on the ballot, and voters of any party can vote for any one of them. The two candidates with the most votes go on to the November general election, which is effectively a run-off.

These reforms didn’t happen by accident. The ballot measures passed because California voters are upset with their incumbents. It’s fine to say, “People can always vote them out,” but when incumbents can draw safe districts for themselves and raise tons of money by selling access and favors to special interests, potential candidates don’t bother to run against them. No one in the same party can raise the resources for a primary challenge, and no one in the opposing party can raise the resources to run in a district that every political expert rates “safe” for the other side. So when voters go to the polls, there’s effectively (sometimes literally) only one name on the ballot.

This explains the apparent contradiction between the overwhelming re-election victories of longtime incumbents and the overwhelming disgust with longtime incumbents.

Keep that in mind, and let me tell you the story of how I came to be excluded from the upcoming candidate forum sponsored by the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles.

Beginning in late August or early September, the Jewish Journal began to report that I was a candidate in this congressional race. Columnist Bill Boyarsky and reporter/blogger Jonah Lowenfeld told their readers that I was a Jewish Republican. Mr. Boyarsky compared my longshot chances to the campaign in New York’s 9th District, an area with a large Jewish population that recently elected a Republican for the first time since the 1920s.

My e-mail correspondence with both reporters was very cordial.

Then on January 5, I participated in a town hall forum with Congressmen Sherman, Congressman Berman, and Republican candidate Mark Reed. You can see some clips on YouTube here and here, and they may hold clues to the reason for what happened next.

I received a call from Jewish Journal reporter Jonah Lowenfeld. He asked me, in a tone so frosty it could be served in a paper cup at Dairy Queen, if I had “registered” as a candidate.

The filing period for the race doesn’t open until February 13, which is the first date anyone can pull the papers necessary to get on the June ballot, and the Federal Election Commission doesn’t require or accept the forms for a registered political committee until a candidate has raised or spent $5,000. Since I’m doing my own website, video editing, artwork, writing and thinking, I haven’t yet had to raise or spend the kind of funds necessary to hire people to do those things for me, so I haven’t yet raised or spent $5,000.

“How much have you spent?” he asked me. I told him.

“That’s my only question,” he said.

I had heard that the Jewish Journal was planning to sponsor a candidate forum, and before I let him off the phone, I asked if I was invited to it.

“I’m not the one working on that,” Jonah Lowenfeld said, “but there are different criteria that are being considered for who will or won’t be included.”

That was the end of the phone call, and I didn’t hear another word about it until last Thursday afternoon, when someone alerted me that the Jewish Journal’s candidate forum for the 30th congressional district had been scheduled for February 21, and my name wasn’t on the list of those who would be participating.

So I sent an e-mail to the Jewish Journal’s publisher and editor-in-chief, Rob Eshman, asking if I was going to be invited. This is what I received in reply:

Subject: Re: Hello from Susan Shelley, GOP candidate in the 30th congressional district
From: Rob Eshman
Date: Thu, January 19, 2012 5:50 pm
To:

Hi Susan:

The criteria we established were based on fundraising, endorsements and political organization. The three invitees qualified by those criteria. We will have editorial space in the paper prior to the election to present all the candidates, but we chose to limit the debate due to logistics and time. Thank you for understanding.

Best

rob

Rob Eshman | Tribe Media Corp.
Publisher and Editor-in-Chief
The Jewish Journal
TRIBE Magazine
jewishjournal.com
everyjew.com

t 213.368.1661 x 108
Robe@jewishjournal.com

I wrote back and said on the contrary, I did not understand why the Jewish Journal was excluding a Republican candidate who is Jewish. I laid out the case for my inclusion in the forum, and I heard nothing back.

On Friday, Gary Aminoff, first vice chairman of the Republican Party of Los Angeles County, sent an e-mail to Mr. Eshman and David Suissa, the editor of the Jewish Journal. “Dear Rob and David,” he wrote,

“I believe that you are making an egregious error in excluding Susan Shelley from the Congressional candidate forum on February 21st.

Susan Shelley is a viable candidate for the 30th Congressional District. She is well-funded and is supported by many Republicans in Los Angeles. She is going to pay the fee rather than pulling a “signatures-in-lieu” form. Filing for the seat doesn’t open until February 13th, so she will not be able to file her application until that time.

Susan will be a major force in that race and it would be a mistake to exclude her or ignore her. There are two Republicans in the race: Mark Reed and Susan Shelley. Both should be included in the candidate forum. Both are viable candidates. By the way, Susan Shelley is Jewish, and has the backing of a lot of the Republican Jewish community in the San Fernando Valley.

I urge you to reconsider your decision to exclude her. I have spoken with County Supervisors Mike Antonovich and Don Knabe, to Congressman Howard “Buck” McKeon and to other elected officials. All of whom are appalled that you have decided to exclude a viable, well-funded candidate from the forum.”

On Wednesday I was invited to participate in a 30th congressional district candidate forum to be held at Pierce College in Woodland Hills, tentatively scheduled for March 12, and I was invited to participate in a 30th congressional district candidate forum sponsored by the Granada Hills Chamber of Commerce and the north and south neighborhood councils, tentatively scheduled for April 12. But the Jewish Journal, as of this writing, has not responded to my most recent e-mail, and they have not answered the e-mail sent by Mr. Aminoff.

Why?

In fifteen minutes of Internet research, I had the answer.

On May 12, 2010, the Los Angeles Times reported that in 2009 it was uncertain if the Jewish Journal “would make it to its 25th anniversary next year” but thanks to an $800,000 donation by four philanthropists, the weekly publication “appears to have extended its life expectancy.”

“A group of leading Los Angeles Jewish philanthropists has announced a major financial commitment to The Jewish Journal, the flagship newspaper of the Los Angeles Jewish community,” reported the online publication ejewishphilanthropy.com two days later. “A philanthropic group led by The Journal’s Chairman of the Board, Irwin Field, committed a significant multi-year financial contribution to the undertaking. The group consists of Arthur H. Bilger, founding partner and managing member of Shelter Capital Partners, Peter Lowy, group managing director of the Westfield Group, and an anonymous donor. These philanthropists will join the Board and Executive Committee of Tribe Media Corp. along with Leon C. Janks, Managing Partner of Green, Hasson & Janks LLP.”

On September 12, 2011, Irwin Field made two campaign donations of $2,500 each to Howard Berman. Peter Lowy made two donations of $2,500 to Howard Berman on September 30, 2011. The legal maximum for an individual’s donation to a candidate’s campaign committee is $2,500 per election cycle, so that means they gave the maximum for the June primary and the maximum for the November general. Mrs. Janine Lowy also made two $2,500 donations to Howard Berman on September 30, 2011.

Donations to the three SuperPACs known to be raising “independent expenditure” money for Howard Berman are not public, at least not yet.

Peter Lowy donated $2,500 to Brad Sherman on June 29, 2011, but that was before the new district maps were final, and it was not yet certain that Mr. Berman and Mr. Sherman would be running against each other. The checks totaling $10,000 that went to Howard Berman on September 30 were written in full knowledge that Mr. Berman was running against another Democrat.

And two Republicans.

All four of us participated in a town hall forum sponsored by the Woodland Hills-Tarzana Chamber of Commerce on January 5, yet the Jewish Journal chose to exclude the female Jewish Republican from their own forum.

You can judge for yourself why the people who support Howard Berman would like the Republican alternative to be Mark Reed and not me, but there may be another problem with the Jewish Journal’s icy freeze-out of a GOP candidate described by Republican Party officials as viable and well-funded.

When the Jewish Journal was bailed out by an $800,000 donation from four philanthropists, it reorganized itself into Tribe Media Corp., a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, non-profit organization.

Its mission, reported eJewishPhilanthropy.com: “To strengthen the Jewish community through independent journalism and promote positive values across multiple media platforms.”

“To be tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code,” says the IRS website, “an organization must be organized and operated exclusively for exempt purposes set forth in section 501(c)(3), and none of its earnings may inure to any private shareholder or individual. In addition, it may not be an action organization, i.e., it may not attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities and it may not participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates.”

The Jewish Journal is tax-exempt so it can engage in “independent journalism” that strengthens the Jewish community. It may not “participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates.”

And it is excluding a viable Republican candidate who is Jewish from a candidate forum, while at least two of the four people who kept the newspaper in business make maximum donations to Howard Berman.

When the restructuring was announced in 2010, Tribe Media Corp.’s Executive Vice President for Advertising and Marketing, Steven Karash, said, “The new structure will allow us to help advertisers reach an influential, upscale and involved demographic.”

Won’t those advertisers be surprised when the demographic reaches back.

If you’d like to ask the Jewish Journal’s advertisers why they’re giving their ad dollars to a paper that’s excluding a Republican Jewish woman from a 30th congressional district candidate forum, call:

SAPAPA, Aminach mattresses
1-855-SAPAPA-5
(818) 980-8045

Museum of Jewish Heritage
(646) 437-4209
info@comingofagenow.org

Skirball Cultural Center
(310) 440-4500

UCLA Extension
(310) 825-9971

Los Angeles Jewish Chamber of Commerce
(866) 257-6117

Shiva Sisters
(310) 447-4123

Hear-X, HearUSA, Inc.
(800) 323-3277

LimmudLA Conference
(310) 499-1787
office@limmudla.org