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Entries in Supreme Court (3)

Saturday
Oct072017

What the Second Amendent Really Is All About

As an argument for gun control, the Left likes to tell us that the Founding Fathers never envisioned the Second Amendment applying to weapons that we have today.

Horse hockey.

Actually, our Founding Fathers never envisioned full-time politicians and  a permanent political class.

They created the Constitution and its Bill of Rights, including the Second Amendment, to protect inalienable rights for citizens, reserve most governing decisions to the states, and restrict federal government to specific enumerated powers.  

How do you think the Founding Fathers would feel about a federal income tax? About the IRS, which targets the political opposition of those in power? About a Supreme Court that no longer just interprets law, but redefines words, including "marriage"?

How do you think the Founding Fathers would feel about a bloated federal government with nearly 3 million employees, including thousands of unelected, career bureaucrats in control of so much of our lives, including education and health care? Since the founding of this country, the federal government has grown inexorably, like a cancer, moving ever closer to the tyrannical authority that our Founding Fathers hoped to prevent, but realized was almost an inevitability. That's why they included the Second Amendment. It had nothing to do with the specifics of the firearms themselves.

If Thomas Jefferson could see what's happening today, I think that he would say, "An AR-15? You're worried about an AR-15? Hell, I think that every citizen should have a tank in his garage."

Monday
Nov032014

Should We Support New CWA Rules? I'm Not So Sure . . . 

Some sportsmen groups support the new rules proposed for the federal Clean Water Act (CWA).

For example, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, of which B.A.S.S. is a member, says this: “Sportsmen must speak up for strong, science-based protections for waters upon which America’s hunters and anglers rely. Tell the Army Corps and EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) you support their efforts to clarify the Clean Water Act and urge them to finalize a rule that protects wetlands and headwater streams.”

I’m not so sure. For months I’ve argued with myself about this. Yes, I want to protect wetlands and headwater streams, but . . .

The original Clean Water Act was passed by our elected representatives and senators and signed into law by the President. It clearly was implemented with the best interests of the public and our aquatic resources in mind.

These rules were formulated by the EPA for the EPA. Public input was solicited, but no bureaucracy is going to institute rules detrimental to its own best interests. It’s going to create regulations that strengthen it and expand its powers.

And what recourse do citizens have in dealing with unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats who, more and more, are making the rules that we must live by? Not much.

EPA insists that these new rules simply “clarify” its regulatory role in protecting waters upstream of navigable waters. It needs to do so, it asserts, because of Supreme Court decisions that created uncertainty.

Critics of EPA and Corps overreach counter that those decisions reined in those agencies, which is why they now are proposing new rules.

I could present you with an almost endless list of testimonials from both sides, but I’ll keep it to a couple.

EPA’s Nancy Stoner says this:

“So EPA and the Corps are bringing clarity and consistency to the process, cutting red tape and saving money. The proposed Waters of the U.S. rule does not regulate new types of ditches, does not regulate activities on land, and does not apply to groundwater.”

Mike Freese, an attorney for the Oregon Farm Bureau counters:

“This is also going to affect counties, cities, home builders and land use anywhere near a waterway . . . The Clean Water Act will become a land management tool for federal agencies.”

If my decision to align with one side or the other were based only on the rules themselves, I’d probably side with the sportsmen groups and EPA. But it’s not.

There’s also interpretation and enforcement by the bureaucrats in those agencies, and the track record there is not good. Ask Mike and Chantell Sackett up in Idaho about that. After obtaining necessary local permits and consulting with the Corps, they were filling in their lot with dirt and rock, preparing to build a home in a neighborhood where other houses have stood for years. Suddenly, federal officials showed up, demanding that they stop construction because their .63-acre lot is a protected wetland.

Seven years later, they’re still fighting for the right to build their home. In 2012, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously on their behalf, but its judgment said only that the couple has the right to seek judicial review in opposing the EPA.

Also in 2012, a top EPA official, Al Armendariz, resigned after a video surfaced of him making a speech in which is compared the agency’s enforcement strategy to Roman crucifixion.

“It was kind of like how the Romans used to, you know, conquer villages in the Mediterranean,” he said. “They’d go in to a little Turkish town somewhere, they’d find five guys they saw, and they’d crucify them.

“And then, you know, that town was really easy to manage for the next few years.”

More recently, bureaucrats in another agency have refused to cooperate with Congress on another water-related issue. The Interior Department ignored a subpoena to provide documents regarding this administration’s rewrite of the 2008 “Stream Buffer Zone Rule.”

"The administration's response to the committee's oversight efforts has been downright shameful. Their actions are unjustifiable and show blatant disrespect to the transparency they promised the American people,” said Rep. Doc Hastings, chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee.

Yes, we all want clean water.  And thanks to the original CWA we’ve made tremendous strides in improving water quality and fisheries. The question now is how to balance continued improvements with maintaining a government that is mindful of and respectful to its citizens and their rights.

(This was published originally in B.A.S.S. Times.)

Monday
Nov052012

President, Congress, Supreme Court Also Deserve Blame for Asian Carp Threat

Writing in the Great Lakes Echo, Gary Wilson makes a great point about the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers being a convenient scapegoat for fact that Asian carp are perilously close to entering the Great Lakes --- or might have already:

We’re rapidly approaching the three-year anniversary of the discovery of Asian carp environmental DNA past electrical barriers designed to keep the carp out of Lake Michigan. That event triggered massive fish kills, lawsuits, a call for separation of the Great Lakes from the Mississippi River and a flood of media exposure that shows no signs of abating.

Since then, the Army Corps of Engineers, proprietors of the barriers, insists they’ve been effective. Lawsuits brought by Michigan and other states requesting definitive and quicker action by the Army Corps continues to wind its way through the legal system. And studies to determine the feasibility and cost of physical separation are in process.

Through it all there has been one consistent theme: Blame the Army Corps of Engineers. Everyone needs a scapegoat it seems, and politicians, environmentalists, and editorial boards have found one in the Corps. The complaints: It’s too slow, bureaucratic, and even “clueless,” according to one editorial writer.

You’ll find no defense of the Corps here. It needs to be held accountable like everyone else. But the Army Corps is only a small part of a big federal picture charged with protecting the Great Lakes from Asian Carp. One policy analyst with years of Great Lakes experience recently made that case. Noah Hall says “all three branches of the federal government aren’t doing the job” when it comes to keeping Asian carp out of the Great Lakes.

Read the full story here.