Integrity Legal

Archive for the ‘US Constitution’ Category

12th January 2012

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand made no comment regarding the possibility of a Cabinet reshuffle although she did note that attendance at upcoming children’s day festivities is apparently encouraged by the Thai government. To quote directly from the official website of the Thai-ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) News Network at Tannetwork.tv:

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra avoided answering questions about a possible Cabinet reshuffle today and only smiled at reporters...The PM added that she would like to invite children to attend the Children’s Day celebration on Saturday at Government House as she has prepared some surprises for the kids…”

Concurrently it also came to this blogger’s attention that the government of Canada seems to have made some comments regarding same sex marriages performed in that nation. To quote directly from the website Advocate.com:

“Thousands of non-resident same-sex couples married in Canada may not be legally wed if the marriage is not recognized in their home country or state, according to the Canadian government…”

The issues surrounding the status of same sex couples has been an issue of debate in the United States of America especially as the Presidential elections continue to draw closer. However, politics does not appear to be the core concern of those who are the most effected by these issues. For example, those families wishing to maintain a same sex bi-national relationship with a non-American in the United States could be deeply impacted by both American and Canadian policy regarding same sex marriage. This issue could further be hypothetically defined where the same sex marriage (or civil union depending upon the jurisdiction) takes place outside of the United States as such a fact pattern could place the merits of the marriage under the purview of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). How this issue will ultimately be resolved in North America remains to be seen, there is one thing that seems to be a certainty: this issue is not one that will simply disappear since there are many in the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) Community who wish to see full equality in matters reflecting their marital status. American Courts have dealt with this issue in recent months although a definitive decision does not seem to have been reached hopefully this issue will be resolved in short order.

For related information please see: Full Faith and Credit Clause.

For general legal information pertaining to South East Asia please: Legal.

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20th August 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the chairman of the Malaysian Securities Commission was recently noted for comments regarding the future economic prospects of the ASEAN Community. In order to provide further information regarding these developments it is necessary to quote directly from the official website of The Philippine Star, PhilStar.com

KUALA LUMPUR (Xinhua) – As global stock markets tumbled over the week in response to the US credit woes and the Europe debt crisis, Malaysia’s Securities Commission chairman, Zarinah Anwar holds a positive view that markets in Southeast Asia is strong enough to fend off the crisis…”Domestic demand is still strong and ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nation) has to continue to look at its neighbours to pick up selective demands that may arise as a result of the economic woes in our traditional export markets,” she aded. ASEAN’s effort towards an integrated regional economy, with 2015 as a deadline, also contributed to ASEAN’s sound environment…Countries like Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines are in the process of developing a cross-trading arrangement linking their trading system, giving investors direct access to other markets. Currently, Bursa Malaysia, Singapore Stock Exchange, Vietnam’s Hanoi Stock Exchange and Hochiminh Stock Exchange, the Indonesia Stock Exchange, the Philippines Stock Exchange Inc have already linked up on a website labelled as “ASEAN exchanges” which provides investors with access to check the top stocks in the region…[sic]

The administration of this web log encourages readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above to read this fascinating article in detail.

There has been a great deal of discussion surrounding the future of the economies in the jurisdictions comprising the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam). In fact, there has even been discussion about a possibly unified ASEAN visa similar to that utilized by some of the members of Schengen area in Europe. As of yet, such discussion has yet to yield tangible results, but there are those who hope that further discourse on the topic may result in a unified visa of some kind coming into being. Hopefully, ASEAN continues along the path of economic growth to the benefit of all concerned.

In news pertaining to the continuing struggle for LGBT Equality it recently came to this blogger’s attention that the American government appears to have noted the un-Constitutionality of certain provisions of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) in the US Courts. In order to provide further insight it is necessary to quote directly from the website of Metro Weekly, MetroWeekly.com:

Back on July 1, the Department of Justice took a big step in defining what its Feb. 23 decisionthat the federal definition of marriage found in Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional would look like. In Karen Golinski’s case seeking equal health benefits for her wife, DOJ argued that the case should not be tossed out of court and should be allowed to proceed. On Aug. 19, DOJ went a step further, telling a judge in the Southern District of New York that Edith Windsor — who is seeking a refund of the more than $350,000 estate tax bill that she had to pay because her marriage to her deceased wife, Thea Spyer, was not recognized by the federal government — should be granted that refund because DOMA’s federal definition of marriage is unconstitutional…This is the first time the government stated affirmatively in court that a lawsuit requiring that Section 3 of DOMA be struck down as unconstitutional should succeed…[sic]

This blogger asks readers to click upon the hyperlinks above to learn more about these developments in detail.

For those unfamiliar with the current immigration implications of DOMA it should be noted that said legislation precludes accordance of US visa benefits such as the K-1 visa, the CR-1 visa, or the IR-1 visa to same sex couples even where the couple has entered into a same sex marriage in a American State jurisdiction which legalizes such unions. Currently, proposed legislation such as Representative Jerrold Nadler‘s Uniting American Families Act and the Respect for Marriage Act would rectify this current discrimination to one degree or another, but the ultimate fate of these bills remains to be seen.

For information related to legal services in Southeast Asia please see: Legal.

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14th August 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the United States Consulate in Chennai, India has issued an apology statement pertaining to remarks made by a Consular Officer in that jurisdiction. In order to provide further insight it is necessary to quote directly from the official website of Yahoo News at Yahoo.com:

The United States has apologised for controversial remarks made by a US diplomat who spoke of “dark and dirty” Indians, calling the comments “inappropriate”. US Vice-Consul Maureen Chao told Indian students on Friday that her “skin became dirty and dark like the Tamilians” after a long train journey, according to Indian media — referring to people from the southern state of Tamil Nadu. During her speech in the Tamil Nadu capital, Chennai, Chao was quoted as saying: “I was on a 24-hour train trip from Delhi to (the eastern Indian state of) Orissa. “But, after 72 hours, the train still did not reach the destination… and my skin became dirty and dark like the Tamilians.” Following her speech, the US Consulate in Chennai on Saturday issued a “statement of apology”. “During the speech Ms. Chao made an inappropriate comment. Ms. Chao deeply regrets if her unfortunate remarks offended anyone, as that was certainly not her intent,” the US Consulate said on its website…”As US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently noted, the US-India partnership is based on our shared values of democracy, liberty, and respect for religious and cultural diversity,” the US consulate added…

The administration of this web log strongly encourages readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above to read this article in detail.

Although the comments noted above are unfortunate, inappropriate, and downright impolite it should be noted that mistakes do happen. Notwithstanding the fact that the individual in question is a civil servant of the United States government she is also human and therefore not immune from making mistakes. It is admirable that the US Consulate noted above took the opportunity to quickly and maturely respond to the comments and issue an apology. Hopefully the whole situation will stand as an example to future American State Department personnel.

In news related to the continuing struggle for LGBT equality, it recently came to this blogger’s attention that there has been further analysis of the factual situation surrounding the story of a same sex married couple who may be compelled to separate due to enforcement of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA). In order to provide further information it is necessary to quote directly from the official website of CNN, CNN.com:

Anthony Makk was trying to become a permanent U.S. resident – like many heterosexual couples do – so he could stay with his loved one who he married seven years ago in Massachusetts. Makk, who has been with Bradford Wells for 19 years, is also doing it because he is a caregiver for his husband who has AIDS.

Frequent readers of this web log may recall that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has allowed for the legalization/solemnization of same sex marriage through intra-State licensure protocols. Notwithstanding the fact that this sovereign American State and other jurisdictions such as the State of New York have legalized such unions they are neither recognized nor granted routine Full Faith and Credit pursuant to the United States Constitution’s Full Faith and Credit Clause. There are currently cases pending in the US Courts which address these issues, but a final resolution has yet to come to fruition. To continue quoting from the aforementioned article on CNN.com:

..But the federal government denied his final appeal two weeks ago on the basis of the Defense of Marriage Act which doesn’t recognize their same-sex marriage. “The claimed relationship between the petitioner and the beneficiary is not a petitionable relationship,” the government’s ruling said. “For a relationship to qualify as a marriage for purposes of federal law, one partner must be a man and the other a woman.” The U.S. Department of Citizenship and Immigration Services echoed the sentiment, saying as long as DOMA was in place, they will continue to operate under that standard…The couple is calling for the U.S. government to step in and allow Makk to stay and care for Wells. The couple said they feel the federal government is doing everything to keep them from being able to do what any other heterosexual couple already can do. “I feel that my government is trying to destroy my marriage,” Wells said. “And my government is trying to impose a great deal of harm on my life for no reason whatsoever. I feel like I’m being bullied by my government.” But the fight to stay together has strengthened the couple’s bond, Makk said. “We made a big commitment to each other and the harder they make it, the stronger our relationship is.” What’s more frustrating for Wells, who says that the couple never intended for this to become a public debacle, is that they make sure to do everything that all married couples are required to do – like pay joint taxes, but get none of the benefits. “We have all the responsibilities, do the penalty parts of marriage, but then when it gets to the same benefits, we’re told no, you don’t qualify,” Wells said. “The government has decided they don’t like who I marry. For the federal government to say this isn’t a marriage – it’s degrading.” Still, the couple holds out hope. Hope that President Obama could step in to the battle that’s already raging in Congress over a repeal of DOMA, which he said he would support…

This blogger asks readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above to read this article in detail.

The first question this blogger would pose under the circumstances is: Could the Attorney-General of the United States not issue a hold on this deportation in much the same way that a hold was placed on the removal of the New Jersey same sex civil union partner of an American Citizen? Notwithstanding the fact that the provisions of DOMA preclude the accordance of American visa benefits such as the K-1 visa, the CR-1 visa, or the IR-1 visa to same sex couples the American Attorney-General has rescinded a deportation apparently to scrutinize the Constitutional issues at play where a State has licensed a marital union. Under the circumstances in this case it seems only prudent to infer that there may be even more significant Constitutional issues because the underlying union is a same sex marriage and not a civil union. As noted previously on this blog, it is this blogger’s opinion that once a State sovereign has exercised their prerogatives with respect to the licensure of marriage, then the imprimatur of that State’s recognition of the underlying marriage should be accorded both inter-State Full Faith and Credit and federal recognition. Under the current situation with respect to DOMA, the States’ Rights are being marginalized and the American Citizenry’s individual liberties are being infringed.

Meanwhile, American legislators such as Representative Jerrold Nadler have introduced legislation such as the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) to directly address the current discrimination being imposed upon same sex bi-national couples. Furthermore, the provisions of the Respect for Marriage Act would seem to deal with the Full Faith and Credit issue by according same sex marriages performed in those States which legalize and/or solemnize such unions with federal “certainty“. How this issue will ultimately be resolved in the American Congress or Courts remains to be seen.

 

–Benjamin Walter Hart

 

For related information please see: Consular Processing.

For information pertaining to legal services in Southeast Asia please see: Legal.

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13th August 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that an 11th Circuit Court of Appeals decision apparently found certain sections of the law enacting American health care reform to be unconstitutional. In order to provide further details this blogger is compelled  to quote directly from an article written by JENNIFER HABERKORN and posted to the website of Politico, Politico.com:

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday ruled that the health care reform law’s requirement that nearly all Americans buy insurance is unconstitutional, a striking blow to the legislation that increases the odds the Supreme Court will choose to review the law…The 2-1 ruling marks the first time a judge appointed by a Democrat has voted to strike down the mandate. Judge Frank Hull, who was nominated by former President Bill Clinton, joined Chief Judge Joel Dubina, who was appointed by George H.W. Bush, to strike down the mandate…

The administration of this blog asks interested readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above to read this interesting and insightful article in its entirety.

Where governmental officials impose restrictions upon individual rights there may be an argument that said activity violates the United States Constitution. Meanwhile, it remains to be seen whether this case will be appealed to the United States Supreme Court and, if it is appealed; whether the Supreme Court will grant Certiorari. Even if the Supreme Court opts to review the matter it is difficult to speculate as to their decision since Supreme Court decisions should never be considered foregone conclusions. Hopefully the ultimate decision in the matter benefits all concerned while remaining in compliance the the law and principles of the United States Constitution.

In news pertaining to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), it recently came to this blogger’s attention that the Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN for ASEAN Economic Community was noted for comments regarding ASEAN’s perspective on economic issues in the United States and Europe. To provide further elucidation on these developments it is necessary to quote directly from the website MYSinchew.com:

MANADO, Indonesia, Aug 12 (Bernama) — The Association of Southeast Asia Nations (Asean) learns a lot from debt crisis in Europe and the United States, looking ways to avoid such disaster, a high-ranking official at the Asean Secretariat told Xinhua news agency in an exclusive interview on the side lines of Asean Ministers Meeting in North Sulawesi provincial capital city of Manado. Deputy Secretary-General of Asean for Asean Economic Community Sundram Pushpanathan said that in term of the current situation in Europe, Asean has agreed to stay vigilant. “After experiencing two crises in the region (in the past), ASEAN recognizes the importance of coordination of policies and keeping each other informed, so that the region stays stable in the situation. And of course, I think that from the EU, we have learned a lot of lesson,” he said…[sic]

This blogger asks readers to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to read this article in detail.

Many of the jurisdictions which comprise ASEAN (Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam) have shown strong growth in economic terms. Meanwhile, further integration facilitated by trade is likely to lead to further economic advantages for the ASEAN region in the coming months and years. Discussion regarding a unified ASEAN visa could result in tangible benefits to business travelers and those wishing to streamline regional business operations.

For information about legal services in Southeast Asia please see: Legal.

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11th August 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that officials from the jurisdictions which comprise the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are being encouraged to implement the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Blueprint. In order to provide further insight into these developments it is necessary to quote directly from a fascinating article posted to the Live Trading News website, LiveTradingNews.com:

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Wednesday was urged to implement the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Blueprint 2015 timely. “This year’s ASEAN Economic Ministerial meeting takes place at a critical juncture when there is so much uncertainty about the global economy given the fiscal situations in the United States and members of the European Union. From Indonesia’s perspective, it is imperative that ASEAN implements the AEC Blueprint 2015 on time as this will bring benefits to all of its members and allow ASEAN to grow together with our dialogue partners,” said Indonesian Trade Minister Mari Elka Pangestu…

Readers are encouraged to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above to read this article in detail.

Those who read this web log with any frequency may be aware of the fact that there have been many significant developments pertaining to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). One major announcement, from this blogger’s perspective, was the broaching of the subject of a possibly unified ASEAN visa similar to the Schengen visa scheme currently utilized in Europe. Concurrently, in the context of the Kingdom of Thailand; there has been discussion surrounding the idea of creating Thailand Plazas throughout the ASEAN jurisdictions in order to promote Thai business interests in the region. With respect to geopolitics, ASEAN has been in the news recently as this organization seems poised to eventually promulgate a formal declaration with respect to freedom of navigation in the South China Sea. How such matters will ultimately evolve remains to be seen.

In news pertaining to United States immigration, it recently came to this blogger’s attention that the Governor of the sovereign State of Arizona has petitioned for Supreme Court review of that State’s recently enacted immigration law. In order to provide further insight it is necessary to quote directly from the official website of Politico, Politico.com:

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer announced late Wednesday she has filed a petition asking the Supreme Court to consider her state’s appeal to a lower court ruling that put on hold key parts of Arizona’s anti-illegal immigration law. “I am hopeful that the U.S. Supreme Court will choose to take this case and issue much-needed clarity for states, such as Arizona, that are grappling with the significant human and financial costs of illegal immigration,” Brewer said in a statement released by her office. “For too long the Federal government has turned a blind eye as this problem has manifested itself in the form of drop houses in our neighborhoods and crime in our communities. SB1070 was Arizona’s way of saying that we won’t wait patiently for federal action any longer. If the federal government won’t enforce its immigration laws, we will.” Brewer, a Republican, vowed this spring to take the case to the high court after a ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejecting her motion to throw out a district court’s ruling that blocked implementation of parts of the law. The deadline to do so was Wednesday…

This blogger asks interested readers to click upon the relevant links above to read this article in detail.

As noted previously on this web log, the powers related to immigration and often wielded by the federal legislature and the federal executive are plenary in nature as immigration is one of the relatively few areas in which the United States federal government maintains virtually unfettered seemingly exclusive jurisdiction. That stated, how said jurisdiction interrelates with reserved States’ Rights and prerogatives is an interesting and almost interminably unsettled question. Hopefully, the Supreme Court of the United States can provide insight into these issues and possibly delineate a framework which will facilitate a better understanding of all of these issues and their interaction within the context of the United States Constitution.

For information related to US immigration from the Kingdom of Thailand please see: K1 Visa Thailand.

For information pertaining to general legal services in Southeast Asia please see: Legal.

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9th August 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that some media outlets are noting the comparatively positive aspects of the economies which comprise the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). In order to provide further insight to the reader it is necessary to quote directly from the official website of The Wall Street Journal, WSJ.com:

JAKARTA—Investors and companies should look to Southeast Asia as they seek shelter from the world-wide markets meltdown, said the secretary general of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Surin Pitsuwan noted that Southeast Asia is growing, it is nestled between India and China and it dealt with its own scary debt problems over a decade ago, making it an attractive alternative amid the global volatility triggered by concerns about how the U.S. and Europe will deal with their debt, as well as whether the U.S. economy will slide into recession again. “If they are looking for a safer haven, this is it,” he told The Wall Street Journal in an interview. “The Chinese and the Japanese that are worried will want to look around for better prospects for their investments and this is one of the hopeful regions…”

The administration of this web log strongly encourages readers to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to read this well written article by Eric Bellman in detail.

Frequent readers may recall that the ASEAN region as a whole, and the component jurisdictions therein, have shown tremendous economic strength in recent months. Meanwhile, these jurisdictions are believed by some to have substantial economic potential in the future. There has been some discussion in recent weeks regarding the prospect of a possible ASEAN visa not unlike the Schengen system currently employed in Europe. Whether such a program will ultimately be implemented remains to be seen. In any case, there is certainly strong evidence to support the inference that the ASEAN jurisdictions will be increasingly important in a geopolitical and economic context moving forward.

In news pertaining to the continuing struggle for LGBT Equality in the United States, it recently came to this blogger’s attention that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) of the United States appears to be refusing recognition of same sex marriages, even those legalized and/or solemnized in an American State jurisdiction. To provide further information this blogger is compelled to quote directly from the official website of MSNBC at MSN.com:

For all those same-sex newlyweds in New York, Lawrence S. Jacobs has a message: Enjoy the Champagne and the honeymoon, but expect no gifts from the IRS. Jacobs, a lawyer in Washington, specializes in estate planning for same-sex couples — and in delivering the bad news that their unions aren’t legal in the eyes of the IRS, a policy that will cost them time and money during tax season.Same-sex couples in Washington, which last year legalized gay marriage, must fill out a federal return to make calculations required for their D.C. joint return. But then they must set that work aside and fill out separate federal returns because the IRS doesn’t regard their union as legal, Jacobs says. “You just spent decades getting your marriage recognized, and now the feds say, ‘No, you’re not,’” says Jacobs, who as a partner in a same-sex marriage has firsthand experience of the problem.

The administration of this web log strongly encourages interested readers to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to view this story in detail.

Frequent readers may recall that the issue of same sex marriage has been a “hot button” issue in recent months as Senate Judiciary hearings have recently been held to scrutinize the Constitutionality of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) in light of proposed replacement legislation in the form of the bill colloquially referred to as the Respect for Marriage Act (RFMA). In an immigration context, the issue of federal recognition of same sex marriage is of substantial importance since agencies such as the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) and each and every US Embassy or US Consulate overseas is legally compelled to disregard a same sex marriage when adjudicating family visa matters pursuant to the provisions of DOMA. Therefore, bi-national same sex couples cannot obtain a travel document such as a K-1 visa, CR-1 visa, or IR-1 visa in the same manner as their different-sex counterparts. Meanwhile, there is some hope that this current legal discrimination will be overcome as some US Courts have ruled that DOMA’s non-recognition, at least at the federal level, of State licensed same sex marriage is Un-Constitutional. Concurrently, the United States Bankruptcy Courts have begun allowing joint bankruptcies for same sex married couples.

It remains to be seen whether same sex couples will ever be accorded the same benefits as their different-sex counterparts in the eyes of American law, but the overall situation appears to be gradually improving.

For related information please see: Americans Resident Abroad.

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4th August 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that a United States Federal Court may soon hear a case involving a plaintiff bringing suit against a former Secretary of Defense which alleges that the plaintiff was subjected to extra-legal abduction and torture. In order to provide further insight it is necessary to quote directly from the official website of the Associated Press, AP.org:

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal judge has ruled that former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld can be sued personally for damages by a former U.S. military contractor who says he was tortured during a nine-month imprisonment in Iraq. The lawsuit lays out a dramatic tale of the disappearance of the then-civilian contractor, an Army veteran in his 50s whose identity is being withheld from court filings for fear of retaliation. Attorneys for the man, who speaks five languages and worked as a translator for Marines collecting intelligence in Iraq, say he was preparing to come home to the United States on annual leave when he was abducted by the U.S. military and held without justification while his family knew nothing about his whereabouts or even whether he was still alive. The government says he was suspected of helping pass classified information to the enemy and helping anti-coalition forces get into Iraq. But he was never charged with a crime, and he says he never broke the law and was risking his life to help his country…

The administration of this web log asks readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above to read this article in detail.

The issues in the case noted above are likely to cause tension in a political context as matters pertaining to national defense can be the source of strong opinions. That stated, it would appear that the Court sees the case as being meritorious enough to warrant allowance of this personal lawsuit. That stated, until such time as a final ruling on the matter has been handed down all parties are viewed as innocent of any charge until culpability is proven. Hopefully justice will prevail.

Pursuant to the United States Constitution and the notions of due process of law emanating therefrom; individuals, particularly American Citizens, must be accorded certain procedural formalities prior to having their liberties abridged. For example, in order to bring a person under the criminal jurisdiction of an American Court of competent jurisdiction it is generally required, absent exigent circumstances, that a valid arrest warrant be issued. In some cases, US Courts opt to issue a bench warrant whereby a judge issues a warrant directly from the bench. Meanwhile, in situations where an individual has fled a particular jurisdiction there are instances where a fugitive warrant is issued. The procedure for bringing a fugitive from one jurisdiction to another is generally referred to as extradition.

Meanwhile, in matters pertaining to the region of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN); it recently came to this blogger’s attention that the former King of Cambodia is traveling to Beijing, China. In order to provide further insight into these developments it is necessary to quote directly from the website of The Straits Times, StraitsTimes.com:

PHNOM PENH – CAMBODIA’S ailing former king Norodom Sihanouk left his country for Beijing on Wednesday to undergo medical tests, officials said. The 88-year-old monarch, who remains a revered figure in Cambodia, was given a red-carpet sendoff by his son King Norodom Sihamoni, Prime Minister Hun Sen and other senior government officials at Phnom Penh airport…’He goes back this time to have his health checked to stay healthy and live longer among his people,’ Prince Sisowath Sirirath, second deputy president of the royalist Funcinpec party, told reporters. He said he didn’t know when Sihanouk would next return…

This blogger asks readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks above to read this poignant article in its entirety.

Former King Norodom Sihanouk remains a respected and highly venerated figure in the Kingdom of Cambodia notwithstanding the fact that his son King Norodom Sihamoni has taken up the responsibilities of Kingship. Hopefully, the former King’s upcoming health check up will result in benefits to his health as it is clear that the hopes and prayers of his people are with him.

For information pertaining to legal services in Southeast Asia please see: Legal.

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2nd August 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that personnel of the United States Justice Department have filed a case challenging the provisions of a recent State immigration law enacted by the sovereign State of Alabama. In order to provide further information this blogger is compelled to quote directly from the website AL.com:

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama — The U.S. Justice Department today filed a lawsuit challenging Alabama’s new immigration law, which is slated to go into effect next month. In its lawsuit, the Justice Department says Alabama’s law unconstitutionally interferes with the federal government’s authority over immigration. “To put it in terms we relate to here in Alabama, you can only have one quarterback in a football game. In immigration, the federal government is the quarterback,” said Joyce White Vance, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama. Justice Department lawyers write in the lawsuit that the department is filing the action “to declare invalid and preliminarily and permanently enjoin the enforcement of various provisions” of the state law, according to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Birmingham this afternoon. Provisions within the state’s immigration law “are preempted by federal law and therefore violate the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution…”

The administration of this web log asks readers to click upon those relevant hyperlinks noted above in order to read this insightful article in detail.

Frequent readers of this blog may have noted that this blogger has rather strong feelings regarding inherent States’ Rights and the inherent prerogatives which are reserved to State sovereigns notwithstanding the enumerated powers of the federal government pursuant to the United States Constitution. That stated, American immigration is one of the relatively few fields in which Congress has virtually monopolistic power regarding the imposition of laws, rules, and regulations. This is due to the fact that immigration falls into the jurisdiction of Congressional and executive plenary power. Therefore, it is little wonder that this recent case was filed since the Alabama law would seem to be operating in violation of that aforementioned plenary power. How this case will ultimately be resolved remains to be seen, but clearly issues pertaining to US immigration can be dramatic in a political context.

Of further interest to those who find the information above to be noteworthy, it recently came to this blogger’s attention that the American Congress seems to be attempting to create some sort of extra-Constitutional body for legislative purposes. To provide further elucidation regarding these developments it is necessary to quote directly from the official website of the Huffington Post, HuffingtonPost.com

This “Super Congress,” composed of members of both chambers and both parties, isn’t mentioned anywhere in the Constitution, but would be granted extraordinary new powers. Under a plan put forth by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and his counterpart Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), legislation to lift the debt ceiling would be accompanied by the creation of a 12-member panel made up of 12 lawmakers — six from each chamber and six from each party. Legislation approved by the Super Congress — which some on Capitol Hill are calling the “super committee” — would then be fast-tracked through both chambers, where it couldn’t be amended by simple, regular lawmakers, who’d have the ability only to cast an up or down vote. With the weight of both leaderships behind it, a product originated by the Super Congress would have a strong chance of moving through the little Congress and quickly becoming law. A Super Congress would be less accountable than the system that exists today, and would find it easier to strip the public of popular benefits. Negotiators are currently considering cutting the mortgage deduction and tax credits for retirement savings, for instance, extremely popular policies that would be difficult to slice up using the traditional legislative process…

This blogger asks that readers click on the appropriate hyperlinks above to read this article in detail.

This blogger would argue that this proposed so-called “Super Congress” is a prima facie violation of the United States Constitution since there is no explicit reference to such an institution within the text of the Constitution itself and because Congress cannot delegate their lawmaking function to this institution per the doctrine of nondelegation. As noted in the quotation above, under the proposed scheme “rank and file” Representatives and Senators would not be able to make amendments or changes to proposed legislation emanating from this questionably Constitutional body, but would be required to vote “yes” or “no” only. This blogger would not have a Constitutionality issue with the proposed scheme if it were proposed as an Amendment to the Constitution and not as a statute since, again, the Nondelegation precludes such a transfer of power and therefore any law passed pursuant to this scheme may not be in compliance with notions of due process of law in American jurisprudence since there is a specific Constitutional framework for enacting legislation which does not include a “Super Congress”. For those who wish to understand this issue through the prism of analogy there are certain parallels between the argument that this scheme violates the Nondelegation doctrine and the argument that the so-called federal “line item veto” violated the Presentment Clause of the American Constitution. The future circumstances of this scheme have yet to unfold, but clearly there are many legal aspects of this plan which could face challenge down the road.

– Benjamin Walter Hart

For information pertaining to legal services in Southeast Asia please see: Legal.

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28th July 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that some in the American Capital are urging the United States President to unilaterally raise the American debt ceiling notwithstanding apparent lack of Congressional approval for such action. In order to provide further elucidation on these developments it is necessary to quote directly from the official website of Politico, Politico.com:

Rep. James Clyburn and a group of House Democrats are urging President Barack Obama to invoke the 14th Amendment to raise the debt ceiling if Congress can’t come up with a satisfactory plan before the Tuesday deadline. Clyburn, the third-ranking House Democrat, said Wednesday that if the president is delivered a bill to raise the debt ceiling for only a short period of time, he should instead veto it and turn to the phrase in the Constitution that says the validity of the U.S. government’s debt “shall not be questioned…”

The administration of this blog strongly encourages readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above to read this fascinating article in detail.

An interesting facet of the quotation cited above is the fact that political obfuscation seems to be in use in order to misdirect the public from the glaring logical disparity between the notion of an American President unilaterally raising the American debt ceiling and the clearly delineated separation of powers in the Constitution (the separation between the powers of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches) which explicitly rejects such a notion. Furthermore, some commentators have noted that Congress has explicitly set a debt ceiling thereby manifesting their political will with regard to the raising of American debt. To provide further insight it is necessary to quote directly from the Financial Times website, FT.com:

If there is no increase in the debt ceiling by August 2, then the Treasury will not have enough money to meet all its commitments without borrowing more money, which it will not be able to do without breaking a wartime law from 1917 that created the debt ceiling.

This blogger asks readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks above to read this article in detail.  Further relevant insight is found by quoting directly from the aforementioned section of the 14th Amendment which is posted upon the Wikipedia website, Wikipedia.org:

The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States…

This blogger asks readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above to read about the 14th Amendment and its history in detail.

The important phrase in the above citation is “authorized by law”. To provide illumination regarding the importance of this phrase it is necessary to understand how American law is made. In order for a law to be enacted in the United States it must be passed by the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate before being placed upon the desk of the American President for either signature (which denotes enactment) or veto (which can result in the overall defeat of a proposed bill). Should the President veto a piece of proposed legislation then that piece of legislation can overcome said veto only if the House and Senate vote by a 2/3 majority to enact said legislation. Nowhere has it ever been noted that the American President may unilaterally impose debt upon the American public without authorization from the peoples’ representatives in the body of the United States Congress. In fact Article 1, Section 8 of the United States Constitution vests exclusive authority to raise debt in the Congress, to quote directly from the enumerated powers of the United States Constitution as noted on the Wikipedia website Wikipedia.org:

The Congress shall have power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

To borrow Money on the credit of the United States;

To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

To establish a uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;

To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;

To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current coin of the United States;

To establish Post Offices and post Roads;

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;

To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offenses against the Law of Nations;

To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

To provide and maintain a Navy;

To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;

To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings;—And

To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

The administration of this web log asks readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above to read more about these powers.

Clearly, Congress is the only branch of the American government with the enumerated power to authorize the borrowing of funds in the name of the American People. Therefore, the notion that a President taking such action unilaterally and without the approval of Congress is spurious, fallacious, and downright dangerous as it goes against the plain language of the enumerated powers noted in the provisions of the Constitution itself. Here is an interesting further point to ponder: could the unilateral action of a President which raises the debt level of the United States, notwithstanding Congressional refusal to do so, be construed to be a “debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States” since said action would expressly contradict the will of the Congress (as manifested in the form of the debt ceiling itself) which, pursuant to the provisions of Article 1, Section 8 of the United States Constitution, has the exclusive authority “To borrow Money on the credit of the United States”? It is a rather subtle point, but an interesting one nonetheless.

Issues pertaining to the American debt ceiling can, as noted in previous postings on this web log, have an impact upon Consular Processing since every US Embassy, US Consulate, or American Mission abroad could face closure in the face of a US government shutdown that could arise as a result of a failure to reach an agreement regarding the American debt ceiling. There is a theoretical possibility that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) could remain open despite a Government Shutdown since that agency is self-funded. However, such a development remains to be seen. That stated, in order to overcome this obstacle American legislators need to engage in a good faith negotiation regarding the US debt. Using specious arguments to propose questionably legal activities serves no good purpose since such activity could result adverse circumstances for all concerned.

–Benjamin Walter Hart

For information related to legal services in Southeast Asia please see: Legal.

 

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23rd June 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that American federal legislators appear poised to introduce legislation aimed at legalizing marijuana in an intra-State context (although there do appear to be measures in place to deal with the possibility of inter-State smuggling and issues associated therewith). To provide better perspective on this issue it may be best to quote directly from Yahoo News Canada at Yahoo.com:

A group of US representatives plan to introduce legislation that will legalize marijuana and allow states to legislate its use, pro-marijuana groups said Wednesday. The legislation would limit the federal government’s role in marijuana enforcement to cross-border or inter-state smuggling, and allow people to legally grow, use or sell marijuana in states where it is legal. The bill, which is expected to be introduced on Thursday by Republican Representative Ron Paul and Democratic Representative Barney Frank, would be the first ever legislation designed to end the federal ban on marijuana. Sixteen of the 50 states as well as the District of Columbia have legalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes…

Readers are strongly encouraged to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to learn more about these developments. Readers are also prudent to note that as of the time of this writing, marijuana is either illegal or its usage is highly restricted in many jurisdictions around the globe. Those Americans interested in learning more about such matters are encouraged to contact a licensed attorney in their jurisdiction. Readers should further note that usage of marijuana is strictly prohibited in the Kingdom of Thailand.

These developments are interesting as it would appear that the real impetus behind this legislative move stems from what would appear to be a genuine bi-partisan desire on the part of legislators to find new sources of tax revenue at the State and federal levels while simultaneously relaxing restrictive regulations that diminish the civil liberties of the American Citizenry. Readers are asked to recall that Representative Barney Frank has been a proponent of a more permissive regulatory structure pertaining to online gaming. Meanwhile, Representative Ron Paul has been an ardent advocate for American civil, individual, and States’ Rights for a number of years. It will be interesting how this proposed legislation fares in the nation’s Congress.

Although seemingly unrelated to the developments in the United States, officials on the island of Taiwan have recently noted that there is to be a relaxation of restrictions placed upon tourists coming to that location from Mainland China. In order to place these developments in context it may be prudent to quote directly from the website News.com.au:

TAIWAN has lifted a decades-old ban on travel to the island by individual Chinese tourists, saying visitors would act as “peace ambassadors” for the former arch foe. The first batch of independent mainland tourists, from Beijing, Shanghai and the city of Xiamen on the southeast coast, were expected to arrive next Tuesday, local media reported. Travel between the island and mainland stopped at the end of the civil war in 1949, and mainland tourists have so far only been allowed to visit Taiwan in groups due to official concerns they might otherwise overstay their visas and work illegally…

The administration of this blog recommends that readers click upon the relevant hyperlinks above to learn more details on this developing story.

Clearly, intra-China tourism is likely to increase revenue and commerce for all concerned. As noted previously on this blog, China continues to show signs that there will be significant economic growth moving forward. It stands to reason that such growth may have beneficial consequences for other jurisdictions in the region as Chinese tourists travel to other locales and Chinese businesses trade and increase their presence in foreign venues. Hopefully these developments will be an economic boon to the Taiwanese economy.

For information related to pending legislation in the United States please see: Uniting American Families Act or Respect for Marriage Act.

For information related to legal services in Asia please see: Legal.

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