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Executive Orders

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In his first full day in office, Pres. Trump signed a number of executive orders. His actions have rekindled fierce debate on the legitimacy of EOs. A lot of people seem to adopt one of two extremes. On the one hand, many argue the president can legitimately issue executive orders with virtually no limitation. The […]

Constitution 101: A General Government for Limited Purposes

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If you delve into the ratification of the Constitution, you will often see the federal government referred to as the “general government.” This terminology tells us a great deal about how the founding generation understood the role of the government it created, and its relationship to the states and the people. Samuel Johnson’s 1755 Dictionary […]

Constitution 101: Executive Power

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Article II of the Constitution defines the role and qualifications of the president. As it does for Congress, the Constitution delegates specific powers and responsibilities to the executive branch – the power of appointment, the power to make treaties with the advice and consent of Congress, veto power, etc. These specific powers are relatively clear […]

Constitution 101: Constitutional Interpretation – Living and Breathing is Dead

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The first and governing maxim in the interpretation of a statute is to discover the meaning of those who made it.” –James Wilson, Of the Study of Law in the United States, Circa, 1790 Many Americans today view the Constitution as a “living, breathing” document. By living and breathing, they mean the Constitution was written […]

Constitution 101: Privileges and Immunities

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Article IV, Section 2 of the Constitution states that “the citizens of each state shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several states.” Often referred to as the “comity clause,” Alexander Hamilton called it “the basis of the union.” In his paper Origins of the Privileges and Immunities of State […]

Constitution 101: First Amendment Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses

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Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof… The establishment clause of the First Amendment probably counts as the provision in the Bill of Rights most twisted from its original purpose. The establishment clause was intended as a further limitation on federal power, prohibiting the establishment of […]

Constitution 101: Freedom of Speech and the Press, the Palladium of Liberty

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Freedom of speech and freedom of the press were among the core liberties many American believed needed express protection in a bill of rights from infringement by the newly created federal government. Freedom of speech and the press find their roots in the same soil – liberty of conscience. If people have the right to […]

Constitution 101: The Fourth Amendment

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The Fourth Amendment protects our privacy and our person from unreasonable infringement by federal agents. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly […]