IN TODAY’S EDITION
- The Supreme Court sides with religious liberty in a baker’s case.
- Pelosi derides the “soaring costs” of Republican tax cuts.
- Legal plunder as law enforcement — a.k.a. civil asset forfeiture.
- The unrelenting leftist hatefest is due to Trump Derangement Syndrome.
- MSM’s much ado about nothing with Mueller probe.
- Daily Features: Top Headlines, Memes, Cartoons, Columnists and Short Cuts.
“It is proper you should understand what I deem the essential principles of our government… Equal and exact justice to all men, of whatever persuasion, religious or political.” —Thomas Jefferson (1801)
In a major defense of religious liberty and artistic expression, the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in favor of baker Jack Phillips in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. Recall that Phillips had been charged by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission of having unlawfully discriminated against a homosexual couple for refusing to bake them a customized wedding cake. He had objected based on his strongly held Christian beliefs. Rather than simply find another baker, of course, the couple sued, seeking to force Phillips into compliance.
The Court’s majority opinion, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy and joined by all but the dissenting Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor, stated, “The laws and the Constitution can, and in some instances must, protect gay persons and gay couples in the exercise of their civil rights, but religious and philosophical objections to gay marriage are protected views and in some instances protected forms of expression. While it is unexceptional that Colorado law can protect gay persons in acquiring products and services on the same terms and conditions as are offered to other members of the public, the law must be applied in a manner that is neutral toward religion.”
The Court did not, however, totally settle the issue of whether religious objections cover a multitude of denied services. Kennedy said larger questions “must await further elaboration.”
During oral arguments, Justice Kennedy notably criticized the Colorado Civil Rights Commission for its disparagement of Phillips’ religious convictions. The commission outrageously compared his beliefs to defenses of slavery and the Holocaust. Kennedy stated at the time, “This sentiment is inappropriate for a commission charged with the solemn responsibility of fair and neutral enforcement of Colorado’s anti-discrimination law — a law that protects [against] discrimination on the basis of religion as well as sexual orientation.” The commission’s hostility to Phillips’ view was the basis for the SCOTUS ruling.
Politically speaking, there are two reasons Democrats will seize on this decision for 2018. First, they will argue this decision is why Demos must control the Senate, so as to keep Trump from appointing any more judges. Second, they will also do so because, even though homosexuals are a minuscule percentage of the population, their biggest supporters are Demos’ biggest and most loyal constituency, women voters.
This ruling should be welcomed by all Americans who hold our religious liberty in high esteem. The Founders certainly did. It’s why they crafted the First Amendment. But there will be more battles on this front in the coming years, so keep your powder dry.
Not a single Democrat voted for the Republican tax cuts late last year, and thus Democrats are heavily invested in vindicating themselves by convincing voters that those tax cuts were bad. The cuts can’t be good, you see, because someone else got a bigger cut than you. Democrat economic policy is based on envy, and Nancy Pelosi is leading the charge.
No sooner had we reminded readers Friday that she once called the tax cuts “Armageddon” before dismissing them as “crumbs” than the minority leader was at it again. “May’s jobs report shows that strong employment numbers mean little to the families hit with soaring new costs under the Republicans’ watch,” she insisted. What a depressingly dour — not to mention false — view of a booming economy.
Headline unemployment dropped to 3.8%, the best since 2000. U-6 unemployment is at 7.6%, the lowest since 2001. Black unemployment hit a record low of 5.9%. Female unemployment is at 3.6%, the lowest since 1953. And Pelosi says the sky is falling.
Just for giggles, let’s take a trip down memory lane to look at “soaring new costs” implemented by a political party. Anyone remember ObamaCare? Yes we do, because we’re all still paying its soaring costs, month by month in higher premiums and then again when our renewals jump double-digit percentage points. No Republicans voted to saddle Americans with those soaring costs, which Democrats imposed during a recession/stagnant recovery. Yet Pelosi blames premium hikes on “Republicans’ cruel, cynical health care sabotage.” The hypocrisy is stunning.
Or what about the “stimulus”? That Democrat spending spree was supposed to keep unemployment below 8%. It topped out above 10%, and the nation was burdened with $1 trillion in extra debt that went straight to the pockets of Democrat cronies. Worse, the “stimulus” became a new spending floor, meaning the federal budget is permanently higher because of it. Each American bears the soaring costs of that Demo debt bomb.
“Democrats know that the American people deserve A Better Deal, with Better Jobs, Better Wages and a Better Future,” Pelosi’s statement declared. That “Better Deal” is nothing more than what Mark Alexander called “a cheap knock-off of Franklin Roosevelt’s 1933 ‘New Deal’ slogan and an updated do-over of FDR’s failed socialist policies while cloaking them in the language of Donald Trump’s middle class appeal.” The New Deal prolonged the Great Depression by several years. Democrats want to try it again, and, combined with identity politics and Trump Derangement Syndrome, that’s what they’re offering come November.
- North Korea summit back on, Trump says (National Review)
- Giuliani threatens legal battle with Mueller over subpoena (ABC News)
- Congress to crack down on Chinese influence in U.S. (The Washington Free Beacon)
- California bans travel to Oklahoma based on its “discriminatory” LGBT adoption law (USA Today)
- Supreme Court erases ruling against government in illegal immigrant teen’s abortion case as moot (USA Today)
- Boeing South Carolina bastion breached by union in rare win (Bloomberg)
- Newt Gingrich predicts “red wave” in November (Washington Examiner)
- Bill Clinton: “Political press” gave Obama better coverage in part because of his race (The Washington Times)
- Trump calls for “immediate action” to prevent coal, nuclear power plants from closing (ABC News)
- Facebook gave device makers deep access to data on users and friends (The New York Times)
- Policy: The college dropout problem most education advocates don’t talk about (American Enterprise Institute)
- Policy: Was May’s job report the best ever? (Investor’s Business Daily)
For more of today’s news, visit Patriot Headline Report.
Most will skim this headline and think, “Nah, this doesn’t apply to me.”
Well, yes it does.
If you own property that could be stolen from you and then used in some type of criminal activity, your property, once recovered, doesn’t have to be returned to you. If you simply possess a large amount of cash and are stopped and searched, the money can be taken and held for an administrative review to determine if, indeed, it was lawfully obtained or possessed. It may not be returned.
So, in reality, there’s a real possibility your life may be impacted by the issue of civil asset forfeiture. Regardless, it’s an issue that emphatically demonstrates the metastasizing cancer of bureaucratic government.
What is civil asset forfeiture and why should you care?
Civil asset forfeiture is the confiscation of property by law enforcement at the federal, state and local levels when that property is alleged to have been derived from or used in the commission of a crime. Unlike criminal asset forfeiture, property is seized and held from individuals or entities without a conviction or even formal charges filed. In short, there is no requirement of proof of guilt, a conviction or even formal charges. It’s entirely legal, and there’s often little recourse against it.
Despite reforms or the abolition of civil asset forfeiture in roughly half the states since 2014, the federal government is still using this tool as a tactic in fighting drug- and gang-related crimes. Too often, it sweeps up innocent people. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is a proponent of the tactic when fighting true organized drug trafficking and gang activity that notoriously deal in cash. Unfortunately, that means increasing the use of it.
Granted, in 1985 when the Justice Department’s Asset Forfeiture Fund first collected $27 million, it was within its intended bounds to address money involved in drug trafficking. However, in 2015, near the end of Eric Holder’s tenure as AG and despite Obama administration declarations that the practice of property confiscation without a conviction had stopped, the fund had ballooned to $5 billion.
So why has the practice become so widespread?
If you don’t remember the movie scene, you’ve likely seen the memes on social media of Tom Cruise playing Jerry McGuire, a high-priced sports agent, yelling into the phone to please his celebrity-athlete portrayed by actor Cuba Gooding, “Show me the money!” Just as in professional sports, it seems there’s an underside of law enforcement that’s earning its ill-repute around the notion of money. You see, the assets seized are liquidated with the revenues going to the arresting agency.
Still, there’s no way innocent people are caught up in this, right?
Yes, they are. The most recent abuse of this practice occurred in October 2017 at the Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, where Rustem Kazazi boarded his first flight connecting to Newark, New Jersey, on his way to his native Albania to make repairs on a family home and property. As a result of a routine security check, airport security seized and held the $58,100 in cash placed in his carry-on luggage.
A retired Albanian policeman, Kazazi had been selected in 2005 through the visa lottery to enter the U.S. and he became a citizen in 2010. Due to concerns about the integrity and safety of 12 years of savings in weak local banks in Albania, he decided to travel with cash. Kazazi arranged his personal treasure in three separate bundles along with bank receipts documenting withdrawals and records pertaining to his property in Tirana, the capital city.
At the Ohio airport, however, officials refused Kazazi access to an interpreter and denied him the ability to contact his family for help. They physically searched him extensively, finding no drugs, no contraband and no connection to an alleged or actual crime. His “crime” was to have a large amount of legal currency on his person as he legally traveled.
After the interrogation, Kazazi was given a receipt for “U.S. Currency” with no dollar amount recorded. Now, more than seven months later, the savings of this family are still being held with only a notice of seizure declaring, “Enforcement activity indicates that the currency was involved in a smuggling/drug trafficking/money laundering operation.” No formal charges. No court date. No evidence. Instead, the Kazazi family has had to resort to a lawsuit to have their money returned.
There are many other incidents of the seizure of cars, property, homes and cash without conviction of crimes or even charges filed.
What Fourth Amendment?
Civil asset forfeiture, as noted in the above citation of seizure, is permitted through the jurisdiction of in rem, the Latin term meaning “against the property.” This refers to the power given a court over real property within that court’s jurisdiction. Pure and simple, the use of civil asset forfeiture regards the action against the inanimate object or property, not the perpetrator, and thus circumvents the need to charge a criminal.
Does this sound like a justice system or a legal system styled to convolute, obstruct and run out the clock? Granted, where legitimate crimes are committed, related assets seized should be liquidated to offset costs of pursuit, prosecution and incarceration. That’s called restitution. But as The Heritage Foundation cited in its 2015 report and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has recognized, abuse of this practice is not uncommon and must be halted.
In Frederic Bastiat’s timeless 1850 book The Law, the French economist spoke of the legal plunder of excessive taxation. He argued that the seizure of property from one to employ for another’s use is criminal for all but the State. In 2018, civil asset forfeiture, while intended by some as a tool for good, has become legal plunder to fuel the treasuries of various agencies.
So, if you’re ever asked to show your money, it better not be in cash.
For more of today’s memes, visit the Memesters Union.
For more of today’s top cartoons, visit the Cartoons archive.
MORE ANALYSIS FROM THE PATRIOT POST
- An Unrelenting Leftist Hatefest — Hate and hysteria, rigidly enforced by rank hypocrisy, is the dominant mindset of the Left.
- MSM’s Much Ado About Nothing With Mueller Probe — Trump lawyers’ letter to Mueller only bolsters argument against possible obstruction charge.
- Trump Raises Specter of Tariffs Against Allies — Predictably, those allies respond in kind as potential trade war battle lines are drawn.
- The Risky Paris Climate Accord Scheme Isn’t Over — In order to solidify the U.S. position, Trump should take it to the Senate.
- Video: On? Off? On Again? — NoKo summit is on again? Is Trump the most disorganized president ever or is there a bigger play?
- Video: Stuckey and Witt on ‘Toxic Masculinity’ — Will Witt sits down with Allie Stuckey to talk about #MeToo, toxic masculinity and feminism.
- Humor Video: Starbucks Sensitivity Training — Starbucks closed its stores for sensitivity training on May 29. What might have happened…
BEST OF RIGHT OPINION
For more of today’s columns, visit Right Opinion.
OPINION IN BRIEF
Gary Bauer: “Former Obama Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes has just written a new book. Rhodes was one of the major architects of Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran. He later bragged about lying to the media in order to sell the deal to the American people. In his book, Rhodes tells us that Barack Obama didn’t take Trump’s election very well. ‘Maybe this is what people want,’ Obama reportedly said. ‘No facts. No consequences. They can just have a cartoon.’ The obvious implication is that Obama thinks Donald Trump is a cartoonish caricature of a president, not a serious leader. Well, this ‘cartoon president’ is smart enough to know that life begins at conception. Barack Obama said that was ‘above my paygrade.’ This ‘cartoon president’ instinctively knows why Israel and the U.S. are natural allies. This ‘cartoon president’ has never confused enemies like Iran with friends like Israel. Obama said he believed in American exceptionalism just like he believed in Greek exceptionalism. Translation: No nation is exceptional. This ‘cartoon president’ is determined to make America great. This ‘cartoon president’ delivered the greatest defense of Western civilization since Ronald Reagan. During his eight years, Obama defended Islam more aggressively than any president we have ever had and hopefully ever will have. This ‘cartoon president’ defeated two political dynasties in one election — the Bush dynasty and the Clinton dynasty. He’s also done a good job of crushing the Islamic State caliphate, something Obama did not do. If we’re making entertainment analogies, what we had for eight years, and what Hillary Clinton would have continued, was a horror story starring the monsters of socialism, progressivism, identity politics, etc.”
The Gipper: “We are the showcase of the future. And it is within our power to mold that future — this year and for decades to come. It can be as grand and as great as we make it. No crisis is beyond the capacity of our people to solve; no challenge too great.”
Blind squirrel finds a nut: “[The press] did treat [Barack Obama] differently than other Democrats and Republicans because … they liked him, and they liked having the first African-American president.” —Bill Clinton
And now back to Non Compos Mentis: “I did say publicly, on more than one occasion, that I was sorry. That’s very different. The apology was public. … A lot of the facts have been conveniently omitted to make the [Monica Lewinsky] story work. I think partly because they’re frustrated that they got all these serious allegations against the current occupant of the Oval Office and his voters don’t seem to care. I think I did the right thing. I defended the Constitution.” —Bill Clinton
The BIG Lie: “The President’s reckless policies are exploding gas prices, wiping out the few meager gains that some families should have received from the GOP tax scam, as wages remain stagnant.” —Nancy Pelosi (First, Democrats hypocritically want to hike gas taxes. Second, wages aren’t stagnant; they’re rising.)
Braying Jackass: “There’s no defending Samantha Bee and yet it’s hard to ever empathize with President Trump when they’re asking, you know, for empathy since he torches people all the time too. … How is it that the president is not responsible for this tone?” —MSNBC’s Chuck Todd
Birds of a feather flock together: “Spineless. Support your talent TBS. Instead, you made [Samantha Bee] apologize.” —"comedian" Kathy Griffin
And last… “[Justice] Sotomayor is the most consistently hostile Justice on the Supreme Court towards religious liberty. Ginsberg comes close, but Sotomayor is more predictably hostile. … One danger of Masterpiece is it will teach left-leaning bureaucrats that they can stifle religious practice so long as they don’t say so publicly.” —Erick Erickson
Join us in daily prayer for our Patriots in uniform — Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen — standing in harm’s way in defense of Liberty, and for their families. We also humbly ask prayer for your Patriot team, that our mission would seed and encourage the spirit of Liberty in the hearts and minds of our countrymen.
Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis
Nate Jackson, Managing Editor
Mark Alexander, Publisher