Integrity Legal

Archive for April, 2011

30th April 2011

Over the years this blogger has seen large numbers of tourists flock to the Kingdom of Thailand as well as the neighboring nations of Laos, the Union of Myanmar (referred to by some as Burma), Malaysia, and the Kingdom of Cambodia. At the same time, this blogger has also witnessed the metamorphosis of some of these tourists into entrepreneurs by remaining in some of these countries (as well as other jurisdictions in Greater Asia such as Indonesia, Vietnam, China, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, Nepal, Macau, India, and Sri Lanka; to name only a few) in a business context for many years and; for some, even decades or a whole lifetime. Whatever the circumstances of those Americans Resident Abroad remaining in the region of economies increasingly being labeled by both the mainstream and alternative media outlets by their affiliation with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) one thing is clear: the economies of Asia are set to expand at an incredible rate by relative historical comparison. Therefore, it stands to reason that there are likely to be more Americans doing business in these jurisdictions. This state of affairs is occurring at a time when the potential of the internet and the World Wide Web first noted little more than a decade ago is beginning to become fully realized by businesses large and small. As e-commerce becomes an evermore ubiquitous facet of virtually every enterprise’s business strategy it is becoming more clear that many business functions are increasingly being performed by businesses of all sizes online and, in some cases, these businesses are even being maintained from an entrepreneur’s home.

This phenomenon is interesting for this blogger to note from the perspective of an American who is resident in Bangkok, Thailand as the Thai shop-house business model of maintaining a residence and business premises within close proximity has lead to a thriving small business community in the vast metropolis that is Greater Bangkok. This thriving business community, coupled with many of the other positive factors associated with doing business in Thailand, has lead to a vibrant economy that remains conducive to further foreign investment by entrepreneurs and businesses seeking to derive economic benefits both in Thailand and throughout the Asian markets. Of possible importance to Americans resident abroad or those thinking of residing abroad are the issues noted above as well as those associated with ownership of Thai property or Thai real estate especially in the form of a Thai Condominium.

In Thailand, as well as throughout many jurisdictions in Asia, there are restrictions placed upon foreign ownership of real estate. Although there are provisions allowing for foreign ownership of Thai property in many cases it is difficult, if not impossible, for a foreign national to secure freehold title (referred to as Chanote title in Thailand) in Thai real property such as land. However, it may be possible for a foreign national in Thailand, such as an American Citizen, to conveniently secure freehold title to a Thai Condo if the provisions of various laws and regulations on this issue, such as the Thai Condominium Act, are adhered to. Meanwhile, a foreign national who owns a Condo in Thailand may be qualified to receive a Foreign House Registration Booklet (referred to as a Tabien Baan for Thais or a Foreign Tabien Baan, or Yellow Tabien Baan for foreign nationals). Taking the aforementioned factors into consideration, in conjunction with the fact that for American Citizens and American Companies in Thailand there may be benefits pursuant to the provisions of various legal instruments such as the US-Thai Treaty of Amity which may provide the privilege of virtually 100% ownership of a Company in Thailand with “National Treatment” for certain business undertakings, one is left with little doubt that there are tangible legal benefits which could be accrued to the favor of Americans resident in Thailand conducting business in the ASEAN region as well as the regions of Greater Asia. Therefore,  investing in what this blogger would refer to as a “Thai Pad” (which non-literally alludes to the IPad-like gadgets allowing for increasingly easy real time access to the internet as well as the exponentially beneficial combination of privileges accruing to owners of Thai property registered on a Yellow Tabien Baan in conjunction with the advantages which may be had for Americans resident abroad utilizing a Thai company certified under the US-Thai Amity Treaty) could prove to have been prudent by future analysts in both tangible as well as intangible terms.

For related information please see: US Company Registration.

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29th April 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the discretionary powers accorded to Consular Officers at United States Missions abroad with regard to visa issuance are to be expanded to provide further latitude to Consular Officers with regard to the revocation of US visas. To quote directly from Justia.com:

This rule changes Department regulations to broaden the authority of a consular officer to revoke a visa at any time subsequent to issuance of the visa, in his or her discretion. These changes to the Department’s revocation regulations expand consular officer visa revocation authority to the full extent allowed by statute. Additionally, this rule change allows consular officers and designated officials within the Department to revoke a visa provisionally while considering a final visa revocation.

Clearly, this rule would expand the authority currently granted to Consular Officers in adjudicating American visa matters. For those who are unfamiliar with this topic it should be noted that Consular Officers currently maintain virtually un-reviewable discretion in matters pertaining to US visa application adjudication. This discretion occurs pursuant to a doctrine referred to as Consular Non-Reviewability (or colloquially referred to as Consular Absolutism). Pursuant to the philosophy underlying this doctrine Courts in the United States are unlikely to review the decisions of a Consular Officer at a US Embassy or US Consulate abroad unless the Consular Officer’s decision in the matter appears “facially illegitimate” to the Court of competent jurisdiction.

Bearing this in mind the announcement went on to point out the reasoning behind the recent decision to make this rule change:

On occasion, after a visa has been issued, the Department or a consular officer may determine that a visa should be revoked when information reveals that the applicant was originally or has since become ineligible or may be ineligible to possess a U.S. visa. Section 221(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1201(i)) (INA) authorizes the Secretary and consular officers to revoke a visa in their discretion. Current regulations limit the circumstances in which consular officers may revoke visas. In light of security concerns, this amendment grants additional authority to consular officers to revoke visas, consistent with the statutory provisions of the INA. Although this rule eliminates the provisions that permit reconsideration of a revocation, it also allows for the provisional revocation of a visa when there is a need for further consideration of information that might lead to a final revocation. In cases where the person subject to a provisional revocation is found to be eligible for the visa, the visa will be reinstated with no need for reapplication. However, with the exception of provisional revocations, an applicant whose visa has been revoked must apply for another visa, at which time his or her eligibility for the visa will be adjudicated.

In this blogger’s opinion, this rule change could have significant ramifications for prospective visa applicants. That stated, it remains to be seen what the practical implications of this rule change will be. The administration of this web log strongly encourages readers to click on the above hyperlinks to learn more about this topic on Justia.com.

It should be noted that within the text of this memo it was pointed out that this rule is being promulgated pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act. To quote one final time from the aforementioned document:

This regulation involves a foreign affairs function of the United States and, therefore, in accordance with 5 U.S.C. 553 (a) (1), is not subject to the rule making procedures set forth at 5 U.S.C. 553.

Those who have read this blog in the past may recall that the United States Department of State maintains a mandate to conduct the foreign affairs of the United States and one of the duties that is entailed within this mandate is the duty to adjudicate applications for a US visa. This can include applications for visas such as the B-2 visa (for those wishing to engage in recreational travel in the United States), the K-1 visa (a US fiance visa for the foreign fiance of a US Citizen), the CR-1 visa or IR-1 visa (for the spouse of an American Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident), or, in increasingly rare instances, a K-3 visa (which is a non-immigrant spouse visa for the husband or wife of an American Citizen). It is even posited that this new discretion could have an effect upon adjudication of L-1 visa and EB-5 visa applications, as well as the possible aftermath thereof. In any case, increased Consular discretion is likely to have an impact upon visa applications across the categorical spectrum of American travel documents.

For related information please see: K-1 Visa Thailand or K-1 Visa Cambodia.

For information related to waivers of grounds of inadmissibility (ineligibility) please see: I-601 waiver or I-212 waiver.

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28th April 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has issued a new memorandum regarding the revocation of United States Passports by the United States Department of State. In order to better shed light upon this issue it may be best to quote directly from the interim USCIS memorandum itself:

DOS has authority to issue and revoke passports. Specifically, 22 U.S. Code (U.S.C.) 211a authorizes the Secretary of State and his or her designee (the U.S. Passport Office of the Bureau of Consular Affairs) to grant, issue, and verify passports. Through Executive Order No. 11295, 31 Fed. Reg. 10603, the President designated and empowered the Secretary of State with the authority to designate and prescribe the rules governing the granting, issuing, and verifying of passports.
DOS revokes passports in accordance with Title 22 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) sections 51.60-62, and 51.65. There are also several statutes under which passports may be revoked and that are incorporated into DOS’s regulations, including: 8 U.S.C. 1504 (the passport was illegally, fraudulently or erroneously obtained); 42 U.S.C. 652(k) (for non-payment of child support); 22 U.S.C. 2714 (for certain drug traffickers); 22 U.S.C. 2671(d)(3) (non-repayment of repatriation loan); and 22 U.S.C. 212a (adds authority to revoke passports of persons convicted of sex tourism). The regulations also require DOS to send written notification of the revocation of a passport to the bearer. See 22 CFR 51.65(a).

Clearly, as can be ascertained from the above citation, the Department of State is authorized to issue and revoke United States Passports. This can be of acute concern to those abroad with an outstanding warrant in the United States as Department of State officials routinely rescind passports upon finding that an American Citizen has a pending criminal warrant, fugitive warrant, or even a warrant in connection to domestic matters such as failure to pay American child support. Once a passport is revoked, an American may be issued a travel letter for the specific purpose of returning to the United States of America. For those unfamiliar with so-called travel letters it may be best to quote directly from the Foreign Affairs Manual:

Posts should issue travel letters only in rare or unusual circumstances described in this Appendix, where it is impossible to issue a passport. These circumstances include: (1) Law enforcement related travel letters in situations other than extradition. Such travel letters must be expressly authorized by CA/PPT/L/LA, which works with the U.S. law enforcement authority on matters related to revocation of the passport of the subject of an outstanding federal warrant. (See 7 FAM 1380 Passport Denial, Revocation, Restriction, Limitation and Surrender.)

Clearly, the Department of State only issues travel letters under rare circumstances, but US Passport revocation and travel letter issuance can occur especially in the context of Federal warrants. That said, the authority reserved to the Department of State regarding passport issuance and revocation would appear not to extend to the Department of Homeland Security‘s USCIS. To quote further from the USCIS memo cited above:

USCIS lacks the authority to revoke or confiscate a U.S. Passport. If reasons to doubt the validity of a passport come to the attention of USCIS, USCIS will not seize the passport, instruct the bearer to return the passport to DOS, or otherwise notify the bearer that there may be issues with the passport…In recent months, USCIS employees have on occasion informed customers that their U.S. Passports were invalid and should be surrendered to DOS. Upon review of certain cases, DOS determined that the passports were, in fact, valid and recognized in accordance with DOS policies and statutes. DOS has requested that USCIS direct any concerns regarding the validity of passports to DOS and not to the bearer of the passport.

It would seem from the quotation above as though the Department of State is in the best position to make a decision regarding the validity of a US Passport as such matters are within that Department’s bailiwick. As noted in the the US visa process, some matters pertaining to travel and immigration are bifurcated between the USCIS and the Department of State. Based upon the above memorandum and the Foreign Affairs Manual it would appear that Passport issues remain almost entirely within the Department of State’s mandate.

For related information please see: Arrest Warrant or Federal Warrant.

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27th April 2011

As the issue of equal rights for the LGBT community continues to evolve the political facets as well as the legal aspects of this issue continue to develop in real time. It recently came to this blogger’s attention that some groups are questioning the decision by the California Judge in the Proposition 8 case to act as adjudicator in that case which found that depriving same sex couples the right to marry in the same manner as their different-sex counterparts is a violation of same sex couples’ civil rights. In order to shed more light upon this issue it may be best to quote directly from an article recently posted on the official website of the Associated Press written by Lisa Leff:

At the center of the dispute is Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker, who issued the ruling last August declaring Proposition 8 to be an unconstitutional violation of gay Californians’ civil rights.

“We are not suggesting that a gay or lesbian judge could not sit on this case,” attorneys for the backers of Proposition 8 wrote in their motion filed Monday to overturn the landmark ruling. “Simply stated, under governing California law, Chief Judge Walker currently cannot marry his partner, but his decision in this case … would give him a right to do so.”

They claim Walker should have disclosed the relationship while presiding over the case and said if he had any interest in marrying his partner.

The administration of this blog strongly recommends that readers click upon the hyperlinks above to read further from this insightful article.

In the article cited above it was noted that some have argued that the Judge in this case should have recused rather than adjudicating the case. However, not everyone agrees that recusal was called for. Meanwhile, the issue of recusal simultaneously raises the issue of whether one’s sexual orientation is relevant to fulfilling public functions such as acting as an adjudicator. To quote further from the article noted above:

Experts in judicial ethics said Tuesday that carefully parsed line of reasoning is unlikely to prevail.

They pointed out that while courts have not yet had to wrestle with sexual orientation as grounds for judicial recusal, judges typically have rejected efforts to remove jurists based on personal characteristics such as race, gender, religion or even the contents of their investment portfolios.

“I don’t think this judge had any more duty to disclose his sexual orientation than a Christian or Jewish or Muslim judge has a duty to discuss their religion or a heterosexual judge has his duty to discuss their sexual orientation,” retired Illinois state Judge Raymond McKoski said.

The issue of sexual orientation and legal scrutiny thereof is one which will likely need to be adjudicated by the United States Supreme Court. Recently, the Obama administration clarified its position on this issue through the promulgation of the recent memorandum between Attorney General Eric Holder and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. The administration seems to believe that the issue should be accorded “heightened scrutiny” by the United States Supreme Court. To be clear, this blogger believes that same sex couples’ rights are inalienable natural rights (reserved to the American People pursuant to the 10th Amendment) which cannot be infringed upon by mere governments. That stated, under the current system in the United States, the best method for gaining equal protection under the law for the LGBT community in a practical sense would be through legislative and/or judicial action. However, this blogger truly believes that the best argument in favor of recognition of same sex marriage stems from States’ Rights since multiple sovereign States have either allowed for legal recognition of such unions or actively legalize and/or solemnize same sex marriages. Another argument in favor of full recognition of same sex marriage stems from an Equal Protection analysis. As implied by the Holder memo, some believe that heightened scrutiny should be applied to these cases. This blogger does not disagree with that argument per se, as it does seem as though so-called “heightened scrutiny” or “intermediate scrutiny” might be more appropriate under the circumstances than, say, strict scrutiny. In any case, whatever level of scrutiny is utilized it is this blogger’s opinion that Federal lack of recognition of same sex marriage as well as the current ban in California pursuant to Proposition 8 are both in violation of the Constitution based upon either an analysis of the Full Faith and Credit Clause or the Equal Protection Clause.

In this blogger’s personal opinion, the Judge noted above should not have had to recuse under the circumstances for many of the reasons noted above. That said, this blogger remains convinced that the currently pending appeal of a similar decision in Massachusetts Federal Court is more likely to result in gains for the LGBT community as that case rests upon more sound Constitutional footing (namely, States Rights: the reader is asked to bear in mind that the Framers of the U.S. Constitution believed that the most sovereign power under the U.S. Constitution resides with the American States). Whatever the outcome in either case, the struggle for equal protection of the LGBT community under the law of the United States must continue until the current grievances are redressed.

On the legislative front, it was recently announced that Representative Jerrold Nadler as well as other Federal legislators are currently supporting legislation such as the Respect for Marriage Act and the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) which would overcome the current legal hurdles placed in the way of LGBT couples by the provisions of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA). At the time of this writing it remains to be seen whether these bills will be enacted.

For related information please see: US Visa For Same Sex Bi-National Couples.

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26th April 2011

It would appear as though Representative Ron Paul will soon be joining the list of Presidential hopefuls which would currently appear to include names such as Donald Trump, Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, and Gary Johnson (not to mention the incumbent President Barack H. Obama). To shed more light upon these developments it may be best to quote directly from the National Journal‘s official website NationalJournal.com:

Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, whose outspoken libertarian views and folksy style made him a cult hero during two previous presidential campaigns, will announce on Tuesday that he’s going to try a third time.

Sources close to Paul, who is in his 12th term in the House, said he will unveil an exploratory presidential committee, a key step in gearing up for a White House race. He will also unveil the campaign’s leadership team in Iowa, where the first votes of the presidential election will be cast in caucuses next year.

Clearly, Rep. Paul appears poised to make another run for the White House following a recent win of the CPAC straw poll which saw Mainstream Media outlet Fox News take criticism for their coverage of the event. The author of the aforementioned article seemed optimistic about Representative Paul’s chances in the upcoming election:

This would seem to be an ideal year for Paul: Since the last election, the Republican Party has moved much closer to his view on deficit reduction, which made him an early tea party favorite. All of the party’s top-tier presidential hopefuls are focusing on lowering debt, government spending, and tax rates, issues Paul has long advocated.

Readers of this web log are strongly encouraged to click upon the hyperlinks above to read about these developments in detail.

It is interesting to this blogger that of all of the coverage of the 2008 elections the speeches and comments delivered by Representative Paul along with those made by Representative Dennis Kucinich seem to have been both prescient as well as the only comments which were at all noteworthy in that campaign. However, during that campaign both Representative Paul and Representative Kucinich were considered far from “mainstream” candidates. Clearly, the shift in paradigm regarding Representative Paul as a candidate is attributable to changed conditions both in the United States and abroad.

As noted in previous postings on this blog, the Presidential elections can have a tremendous impact upon the international community. This is especially true in an Asian context as China and the economies comprising the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) become increasingly important in a global economic context. It is likely that a Ron Paul administration would have policies which could be construed as substantially different from those of his predecessors. How events will play out in the lead-up to the election remains to be seen, but with issues such as the economy becoming of increasing concern to Americans this election could prove to be one of the most important in United States history.

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25th April 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the Peoples’ Republic of China may soon be taking measures to decrease that country’s position in United States dollars. To quote directly from Xinhua at Xinhuanet.com:

BEIJING, April 23 (Xinhua) — China should reduce its excessive foreign exchange reserves and further diversify its holdings, Tang Shuangning, chairman of China Everbright Group, said on Saturday. The amount of foreign exchange reserves should be restricted to between 800 billion to 1.3 trillion U.S. dollars, Tang told a forum in Beijing, saying that the current reserve amount is too high. China’s foreign exchange reserves increased by 197.4 billion U.S. dollars in the first three months of this year to 3.04 trillion U.S. dollars by the end of March. Tang’s remarks echoed the stance of Zhou Xiaochuan, governor of China’s central bank, who said on Monday that China’s foreign exchange reserves “exceed our reasonable requirement” and that the government should upgrade and diversify its foreign exchange management using the excessive reserves.

The administration of this blog recommends that readers click on the links above to learn more.

The Chinese media are not the only outlets reporting that the dollar holdings of the Chinese could be diminished. In fact, some media outlets are noting that China’s economy appears to be ascending in relation to the United States. To quote directly from MarketWatch.com:

For the first time, the international organization has set a date for the moment when the “Age of America” will end and the U.S. economy will be overtaken by that of China. And it’s a lot closer than you may think. According to the latest IMF official forecasts published two weeks ago, China’s economy will surpass that of America in real terms in 2016 — just five years from now.

The administration of this blog strongly encourages readers to click on the hyperlinks above to read further from this story to gain context and perspective.

This news could be very important for the international business community and for those conducting business in China. At the same time, this news could prove important for the business community in the economies comprising the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The ultimate effects of this news will likely play out over the coming months.

In the context of United States Immigration these developments could prove to be a boon to prospective immigrant investors seeking an EB-5 visa to take up Lawful Permanent Residence in the United States because the dollar could prove in coming months to show weakness. As a result, currency utilized by prospective immigrants could strengthen in relation to the United States dollar and thereby facilitate a less costly investment in real terms.

How this news impacts business and politics in the United States of America, the Kingdom of Thailand, and Greater Asia will likely be the topic of further postings on this blog in the future.

Those interested in information regarding legal services in Southeast Asia please see: Legal.

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24th April 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that a screener for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has been arrested in connection to charges stemming from child pornography. To quote directly from Philly.com:

A passenger screener at Philadelphia International Airport is facing charges that he distributed more than 100 images of child pornography via Facebook, records show.

Federal agents also allege that Transportation Safety Administration Officer Thomas Gordon Jr. of Philadelphia, who routinely searched airline passengers, uploaded explicit pictures of young girls to an Internet site on which he also posted a photograph of himself in his TSA uniform.

The administration of this web log highly encourages readers to click upon the hyperlinks above to read further from this story in order to gain perspective.

This arrest comes amidst calls from State and Federal legislators to reign in the activities of Transportation Security Administration personnel as such activities are coming to be increasingly viewed by many as arbitrary, capricious, and quite possibly in violation of Constitutional protections designed to protect the inalienable rights of United States Citizens. To quote directly from myfoxdfw.com

DALLAS – Full body pat-downs at airports are under heavy scrutiny in Austin. Representative David Simpson of Longview is sponsoring a bill that would make it illegal for Transpiration Security Administration agents to enforce full body searches without justification. The agent conducting the enhanced pat-down could face a felony charge and jail time. “We’ve got a draw a line somewhere,” Simpson said. “We’ve got young children, autistic children, seperated from their mother saying, ‘Stranger danger! Stranger danger!’ Man, oh boy. We’re teaching our children it’s indecent. It’s wrong to let these people in these areas except for a doctor.”

The administration of this blog asks readers to click upon the links above to view this story in further detail.

Texas is not the only sovereign American State to question the methodology of the Transportation Security Administration as this blog previously reported that some New Hampshire State legislators are attempting to take measures to curtail the TSA’s activities. An update on that story can be found by quoting directly from the website WHDH.com:

MANCHESTER, N.H. — A new proposal in New Hampshire would make some controversial TSA security exams a crime. The bill, which is clearly aimed at the Transportation Security Administration, would make an invasive pat down at the airport felony sexual assault unless the screener has probable cause to do the search. “We’re telling the TSA, if they violate our laws and they sexually assault our citizens, we’re going to do something about it,” said Rep. George Lambert, legislation co-sponsor.

In the recent past it appeared as though only State legislators were scrutinizing this issue intensely, but it recently came to this blogger’s attention that State legislators have been joined by a Federal legislator in calling for a rollback of what are perceived to be invasive and questionably Constitutional tactics currently employed by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). To quote directly from Townhall.com:

In the latest battle of David vs. Goliath, Rep. Jason Chaffetz is taking on the TSA again, this time against the backdrop of a revolting video showing a TSA pat-down of a 6-year-old girl. Chaffetz has introduced a bill that would call for parental consent before minors are subjected to pat-downs at airport security. A parent would also be allowed to be present for the pat-downs. According to Utah’s Daily Herald, Chaffetz’s 15 year old daughter was forced to undergo a private pat-down without parents present. The bill, just introduced, does not specify what would happen if a parent refuses consent for a pat-down of a minor. Chaffetz has challenged the TSA several times on invasive and unproven security procedures like the full body scan machines and the detailed pat-downs, but TSA continues to be inconsistent in their policy implementations. Back in November, the agency said that there would be modified pat-downs for children under 12, since there was no intelligence — even internationally — that children that age were being used in terrorist attacks. However, the video circulating the internet shows no body areas of the 6-year-old girl were off limits in the frisking.

Those reading this blog are encouraged to click on the hyperlinks above to view this story in detail.

Readers interested in seeing the video of the groping of the 6 year old child alluded to above are encouraged to click HERE.

In light of all of the events and issues noted above this blogger would ask the reader to take the time to read the following:

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 describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

How are “random” searches reasonable? Under the specific facts seen in the video above, how is it reasonable to assume that it is okay to grope a six year old child without probable cause? Where is the rule of law? Meanwhile, are any of these searches occurring pursuant to a warrant based upon probable cause and supported by an oath or affirmation? If not, then under what authority are these searches occurring?

In response to the incident involving the child the TSA web log noted:

A video taken of one of our officers patting down a six year-old has attracted quite a bit of attention. Some folks are asking if the proper procedures were followed. Yes. TSA has reviewed the incident and the security officer in the video followed the current standard operating procedures.

This blogger cares very little for the justifications being posed by the TSA on this point as they are simply naked assertions which are not based upon anything other than the TSA’s unilateral opinion. Under the United States legal system the “current standard operating procedures” are always to be in compliance with the 4th Amendment, especially if a search concerns an American Citizen. If they are not in compliance with the 4th Amendment and the US Constitution, then such procedures are, in this blogger’s opinion: unlawful. Hopefully TSA will rectify their behavior as it seems likely that further tensions could arise as State and Federal legislatures along with local authorities take it upon themselves to protect the civil liberties of their Citizenry and constituents. It is hoped that these issues will be resolved to the benefit of all concerned, but clearly issues surrounding American Citizens’ right to freedom from unreasonable search and seizure must be dealt with in order to uphold the American Peoples’ Constitutional protections.

For related information please see: Necessary and Proper Clause.

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23rd April 2011

Much to her credit Secretary of State Hillary Clinton once declared:

“Gay rights are human rights.”

Although this blogger may not have personally agreed with every one of the opinions espoused by Mrs. Clinton over the years, he can at least state that she has been a zealous and effective advocate, where possible, for the rights of the LGBT community. However, this blogger might add that the statement quoted above could be construed as incomplete.  In order to elucidate why this statement may be incomplete this blogger would need to quote directly from a recent posting on the website Lez Get Real:

Sen. Al Franken is the newest co-sponsor of legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate late last week that would give binational same-sex couples the same rights as married couples for immigration purposes. The Uniting American Families Act is authored by Democrat Patrick Leahy of Vermont and is sponsored by 18 other Democrats. Even though same-sex marriage is legal in seven jurisdictions in the United States, couples in which one partner is not a citizen do not have any right under current federal law.

Frequent readers of this blog may recall that Representative Jerrold Nadler recently introduced similar legislation in the United States House of Representatives. To continue by quoting an interesting question raised in the previously cited posting on Lez Get Real:

DOMA’s repeal will enable gays and lesbians – same-sex spouses – to sponsor foreign spouses for green cards so why do we need both bills before an unfriendly house at the same time?

The administration of this web log strongly encourages readers to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to read the full story on the website cited above in order to gain further insight and perspective into this posting.

The question above raises a great many issues that are both complex and, at times, controversial; but go to the heart of the current struggle to secure equal rights for all Americans under the law of the United States of America.  Getting back to Mrs. Clinton’s remark: it is perhaps incomplete because it fails to take into consideration the rights of the Several States. The United States Constitution is composed of 50 co-equal sovereign States as well as a Federal government which has enumerated powers to perform certain functions while reserving the residual inalienable rights to the States and the People respectively. One of the rights which the States have always reserved unto themselves is the right to legalize and/or solemnize a marriage within their jurisdiction. Notwithstanding this fact, the United States Federal government decided to pass legislation referred to colloquially as The “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA). By doing so, they rode roughshod over the rights of the States to make decisions regarding the intra-State definition of marriage and how State sanctioned marriages between two people of the same sex would be treated by other States (including the Federal government which is a separate sovereign from the 50 States), but at that time this was not readily apparent due to the fact that States had yet to change the law regarding what constitutes a marriage.

To shed more light upon these issues it may be best to quote directly from an extremely insightful article on the subject of Full Faith and Credit by Justice Robert H. Jackson and posted on the website, RobertHJackson.org:

By other articles of the Constitution our forefathers created a political union among otherwise independent and sovereign states. By other provisions, too, they sought to integrate the economic life of the country. By the full faith and credit clause they sought to federalize the separate and independent state legal systems by the overriding principle of reciprocal recognition of public acts, records, and judicial proceedings. It was placed foremost among those measures(n69) which would guard the new political and economic union against the disintegrating influence of provincialism in jurisprudence, but without aggrandizement of federal power at the expense of the states.

To quote the Full Faith and Credit Clause directly:

Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof.

Some have discussed the issue of Full Faith and Credit at length with this blogger and cite the quotation above noting that Congress does have the power to prescribe laws regarding the “Effect” of State legislation. This blogger would concur with such an assessment, but the current provisions of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) do not merely regulate the Effect of duly solemnized and legalized same sex marriage in the States which allow such unions, but instead DOMA makes such legislation wholly INEFFECTIVE because that law simply refuses to recognize the validity of same sex unions. In this blogger’s opinion this is clearly violative of the U.S. Constitution as true Full Faith and Credit has not been accorded to same sex marriages legalized within those sovereign States.

In Justice Jackson’s concurring opinion in the case of Youngstown Steel & Tube Co. v. Sawyer the following framework was created for analyzing executive action:

In determining whether the executive has authority, there are three general circumstances:

  1. When the President acts pursuant to an express or implied authorization of Congress, the President’s authority is at its greatest.
  2. When the President acts in the absence of either a congressional grant or denial of authority, he can only rely upon his own independent powers, but there is a zone in which he and Congress may have concurrent authority. When this is the case, the test depends on the imperatives of events and contemporary imponderables rather than on abstract theories of law.
  3. When the President takes measures incompatible with the expressed or implied will of Congress, the authority of the President is at its lowest.

This blogger asks that readers click on the hyperlinks above to understand this case further.

To continue analyzing this issue: it is this blogger’s opinion that States’ Rights issues in connection with Full Faith and Credit could be analyzed in a similar manner to the first prong of the analysis used by Justice Jackson to adjudicate Presidential authority. When the Sovereign States act pursuant to an express or implied authorization of their legislatures or pursuant to the will of the People (ex. a State referendum), then shouldn’t the greatest amount of Full Faith and Credit be accorded to the laws created therefrom? Why does the Federal government get to override sovereign prerogatives clearly reserved to the States and the People, respectively? Clearly, from the plain language of the Full Faith and Credit Clause Congress can make rules regarding the regulation of the Effect of such legislation on other States which do not have similar prerogatives, but, in this blogger’s opinion, the Federal government simply cannot unilaterally overrule, either preemptively or after the fact, State prerogatives simply by citing their power to regulate the Effect of such prerogatives.

To get back to the issue of the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) vs. repeal of DOMA (either outright or through a statute similar to the Respect for Marriage Act). In this blogger’s opinion the reason that both of these bills are on the floor stems from the inherent tensions which arise as a result of the fact that the USA uses a federal system within her Constitution providing concurrent jurisdiction for 1 Federal government as well as 50 State sovereigns. Institutions within government, especially the US Federal government, are often loathe to give up power. By recognizing that refutation of marriages solemnized and legalized within sovereign State jurisdiction is outside of their bailiwick the Federal government could be construed to have conceded to a practical loss of authority on such issues (which this blogger believes that they do not have to begin with).

Concurrently, there are sound political reasons for having both bills out there on the floor of the Federal legislature. One, it provides a better chance of seeing at least some progress on this issue. If a DOMA repeal is not possible within this session, but passage of UAFA can occur, why not take it? At the very least passage of UAFA could lead to reunification of same sex bi-national couples who are geographically separated due to the provisions of DOMA. Therefore, this blogger would argue that such a strategy is sound, but those within the LGBT should not lose sight of the ultimate goal: full equality under the law. IF UAFA can be secured along the way, all the better, but mere passage of that legislation should not be viewed as the end of the struggle.

To sum up, the issues associated with accordance of Full Faith and Credit to same sex marriages solemnized and legalized by a sovereign State with appropriate jurisdiction are myriad and few, if any, have been resolved, but they continue to be some of the most interesting issues to be currently debated in the realm of U.S. Constitutional law. In conclusion, although it is not debatable in this blogger’s mind that Gay Rights are Human Rights. Perhaps Gay Rights are States’ Rights as well?

For related information please see: Same Sex Visa.

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22nd April 2011

It would seem as though Southeast Asia is not immune to geopolitical tensions as it recently came to this blogger’s attention that conflict along the disputed Thai-Cambodian border may be increasing. To quote directly from the official website of the BBC, BBC.co.uk:

Troops from Thailand and Cambodia have again exchanged fire over their disputed border. Unconfirmed reports, quoting a Thai army spokesman, said that one Thai soldier had been killed and seven more were wounded. Each side has accused the other of starting the latest exchange. Tensions have been high since a skirmish in February at the Preah Vihear temple, which is claimed by both countries. The latest exchange was about 100km (62 miles) south-west of the temple. Thailand said its troops had been on routine patrol and Cambodia fired first.

The administration of this blog strongly recommends that readers click upon the hyperlinks above to read this story in further detail. Meanwhile, in order to gain further insight and perspective on this issue it may be best to quote directly from Xinhua‘s official website at Xinhuanet.com:

PHNOM PENH, April 22 (Xinhua) — Cambodia and Thai troops exchanged fires at two separate temples at border area, located about 200 kilometers west of disputed temple of Preah Vihear, military sources said on Friday. The sources said the clash occurred at around 6:00 am on Friday at Ta Moan and Ta Krabey Temples. Neak Vong, deputy commander of brigade 42 at Ta Mon Thom temple, said that all kinds of weaponry have been used. “Now the exchange fire between Cambodia and Thai troops is continue,” he told Xinhua by telephone as the sound of weapon explosions on the background. [sic]

Again, the administration of this web log encourages readers to click upon the hyperlinks above to learn more.

In recent months, the area along this border region has been in dispute by authorities in Thailand as well as Cambodia. It was hoped that these tensions could be resolved through diplomatic channels. In fact, it was initially suggested that the United Nations play a role in arbitrating the dispute. At the time of this writing it is this blogger’s understanding that there is no UN arbitration, but the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has apparently been involved in attempting to mediate the dispute between Thailand and Cambodia. Clearly, such efforts have yet to bear fruit.

The legal and political issues involved in this dispute are both complex and controversial. It remains to be seen how this situation will unfold, but hopefully, this dispute can be resolved to the benefit of all concerned.

For related information please see: BRICS.

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21st April 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the official blog of the American White House posted an article regarding Immigration reform. For those who are not familiar with the current debate in the United States regarding immigration there are many factors which touch upon this controversial issue that continues to vex lawmakers and law enforcement officers in virtually all areas associated with visas and immigration. To quote directly from Melody Barnes on the official White House Blog:

As we work toward immigration reform, the Administration will continue to look for ways to improve our legal immigration system, secure the borders, and enhance our enforcement strategy so that it is smarter and more effective at removing criminals and prosecuting unscrupulous employers. But enforcement alone will not solve our immigration problem.  We need reform that affirms our history as both a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants – and to do that, we need to work together to pass legislation.

Immigration reform has always been a bipartisan issue, and the President believes it can and should be again.  Democrats, Republicans and Independents working together can enact meaningful, lasting reforms and make the right choices for our future.

It should be noted that Melody Barnes is an Assistant to the President and Director of the Domestic Policy Council. The administration of this blog strongly encourages readers to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to read this blog posting in detail in order to gain some perspective and context on this important issue.

This blogger sincerely hopes that any type of Comprehensive Immigration Reform, would take into consideration those same sex bi-national couples who are currently unable to receive immigration benefits of the same quality as their different sex counterparts pursuant to current policies stemming from the enactment of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA). It was recently reported that Representative Jerrold Nadler has reintroduced legislation colloquially referred to as the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA). This legislation would allow the foreign same sex partner of a United States Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident to receive immigration benefits as a “permanent partner”. As a result, the current restriction on same sex visas could be legally circumvented. Meanwhile, legislation such as the “Respect for Marriage Act” would grant Federal recognition to same sex marriages legalized and solemnized within the jurisdiction of those sovereign States which currently license such unions or in those foreign nations which legalize same sex marriage.

How the overall issue of Comprehensive Immigration Reform and equal rights for the LGBT community will ultimately play out has yet to be discerned, but hopefully through prudent leadership this issue can be dealt with to the benefit of all concerned.

For related information please see: Legal.

 

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