Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘United States Senate’

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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17th July 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that members of the American Armed Services were recently noted for their apparent presence at a recent march in support of equal rights for the LGBT community. To quote directly from the official website of the Reuters News Service, Reuters.com:

A group of U.S. service members marched in a San Diego gay pride parade on Saturday, in a demonstration organizers touted as an unprecedented step for gay and lesbian military personnel under the Pentagon’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy…The march came a day after a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals temporarily reinstated the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy on gays, but blocked the Pentagon from penalizing or discharging anyone for being openly gay. The decision marked a reversal from an earlier order to immediately end the policy…

The administration of this blog asks readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above to learn more about these developments.

Frequent readers of this web log may take note of the fact that the 9th Circuit’s decision in the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” matter came down almost contemporaneously with the decision by the United States Bankruptcy Courts to begin allowing bankruptcy petitions from same sex couples if a couple in question has entered into a same sex marriage in one of those jurisdictions which permit such marital unions. This news comes after the announcement that the United States Senate is set to hold hearing regarding the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” and a possible substitute for that legislation in the form of the Respect for Marriage Act. In fact, it was recently announced that the chairman of said proceedings has already been named. In order to provide further insight it is necessary to quote directly from the website of News Radio WGMD 92.7, WGMD.com:

Senator Chris Coons will chair the second panel of the Senate Judiciary Committee which will consider legislation that would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.  Coons is a co-sponsor of the Respect for Marriage Act and says that DOMA is discriminatory and deserves to be repealed.  Coons says this hearing is important as it will study the impact that DOMA has had on American families.

This blogger asks readers to click upon the links above to read this posting in detail.

It currently remains to be seen how the presence of Senator Chris Coons chairing the upcoming committee meeting will impact the overall debate on DOMA, but readers may recall that Representative Jerrold Nadler recently introduced both the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) and the Respect for Marriage Act in the United States House of Representatives. These pieces of proposed legislation are designed to put an end to, at least, some of the current legal discrimination being borne by the American LGBT community. UAFA merely deals with the discrimination currently being applied to the LGBT community in an American immigration context while the Respect for Marriage Act was designed to provide a kind of legal certainty to those same sex couples who have married in one of those jurisdictions which legalize and/or solemnize such unions.

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

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28th May 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that there appears to be some further international competition occurring within discussions in the context of the recently vacated IMF Managing Directorship. To quote directly from a very insightful article appearing on the website rediff.com:

The scramble for International Monetary Fund managing director’s chair has escalated into a war of sorts with developing nations calling for a change in the power equation. Most of the developing nations seek an end to European dominance over the IMF’s top job. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday said the developing countries should be together in the attempt to reform the global financial institutions.

The administration of this web log strongly encourages readers to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to read this story in full in order to gain further insight into the developing nature of this situation.

It is interesting to note that this posting brings up the apparently increasing international intrigue which seems to exist as the jockeying for the position of IMF Managing Director appears to continue unabated. The aforementioned post was recently vacated upon the arrest of former Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn in New York City. Mr. Kahn has yet to be proven guilty of a crime to the best of this blogger’s knowledge and therefore remains innocent until proven guilty pursuant to United States law. Relevant to that news the Secretary-General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) raised the issue of broader international representation within the IMF in favor of developing nations with specific emphasis upon an Asian context. This announcement occurred virtually simultaneously (in a relative context) with a joint statement from the so-called BRICS nations. To quote further from Rediff.com:

Although some European nations have declared their support for French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde, the BRICS nations — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — have issued a joint statement in Washington questioning the methodology of selection of IMF chief on the basis of nationality.

Although the BRICS have something relevant to say on that issue, certainly as relevant as the opinions held by the member nations of ASEAN, it is interesting to note that there appears to be some speculation regarding the efforts of China to secure some sort of position for a Chinese national within the International Monetary Fund. To quote further directly from Rediff.com

BRICS said it is time to ‘abandon the obsolete unwritten convention that requires that the head of the IMF be necessarily from Europe’. Meanwhile, unconfirmed news reports said that the European Union has offered the post of the deputy managing director of the IMF to a Chinese candidate in exchange for its support to Christine Lagarde.

Again, this blogger encourages readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks above to learn more.

This blogger was somewhat amused upon reading the paragraph noted above as the scene is placed in perspective as the angling for positions at the IMF can be seen to have the same political dynamics that may develop when seeking positions in other official capacities, in both a national and international context, as competition for such positions can be as political as the competition in the United States of America for an office in the public service at both the federal and State levels. It would seem that under the circumstances there must be someone whom all of these various factions can agree upon, but by all appearances a consensus is far from reached. An inability to find someone to fill the void could theoretically require further discussion.

In political matters of a more national complexion for American readers it recently came to this blogger’s attention that headway might be made in the struggle for equal LGBT rights. To quote directly from a very inspirational posting by the administration of the UnitingAmericanFamilies.Net website:

Immigration Equality reports that a hearing on UAFA before the Senate Judiciary Committee has been scheduled for June 3. I just have to believe that every phone call, every letter, every blog entry has got to have contributed to this. But this is just a hearing – not a vote, and then, even if it gets voted out of committee in the Senate, the same will have to happen on the House side, and then there will have to be votes by the full House and Senate (IF there are enough votes in the Senate to stop a Republican filibuster). So don’t for a second think that our work is done! Call your two senators and your one Congressperson. Tell your story…

The administration of this blog strongly recommends that readers check out the hyperlinks noted above as well as the overall website as it has a great deal of very pertinent information regarding the Uniting American Families Act, previously introduced into the United States House of Representatives by Representative Jerrold Nadler. There is an especially intriguing article regarding the difference between passage of the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) and the repeal or overturning of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA), which this blogger finds repugnant to the Constitution on the grounds that it unnecessarily usurps the Several States’ sovereign power to license marriage within their jurisdiction, but it would appear that some feel the more modest measure of UAFA enactment would be a more effective remedy for this particular discrimination suffered by the American LGBT community, in both a bi-national and national context, at the hands of an overreaching federal government in a pique over the fact that they are not legally entitled to dictate to the several States what shall constitute a valid marriage. Six States, notwithstanding the District of Columbia, have already permitted such unions which in this blogger’s humble opinion, should be accorded Full Faith and Credit pursuant to the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the United States Constitution.

Bearing all of the above in mind, those interested in seeing the Uniting American Families Act, or any act like it; become law, are well advised to contact relevant federal representatives as any equitable relief to same sex bi-national couples currently separated by legislation such as DOMA would be better than the current legal situation in which they are now placed. Due to the currently applicable provisions of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” same sex bi-national married couples (even those who have a had a marriage solemnized and/or legalized by a sovereign American State) are not permitted to apply for the same United States immigration benefits as their different-sex counterparts. Passage and ultimate enactment of UAFA would at least permit same sex bi-national couples to petition and apply for substantially the same immigration benefits routinely accorded to different-sex couples.

For related information please see: Legal.

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12th May 2011

It recently came to the attention of this blogger that legislation has been introduced in the jurisdiction of the sovereign State of South Carolina which would incorporate provisions for “sound money” or “legal tender reform” therein.  To quote directly from the website of Midlands Connect at MidlandsConnect.com:

COLUMBIA (WACH) — South Carolina lawmakers are proposing a bill that would give the state another form of legal tender. Sen. David Thomas, a Republican from Greenville, wants to make gold and silver coins another option in the Palmetto State.  Lawmakers are calling it the Sound Money Legislation. “I’m no financial expert but am I smart enough to know that you can’t keep printing money when it has no backing,” says SC Republican Representative Mac Toole. Thomas also wants a special joint committee to study the need and process for establishing an alternate currency.  Read the entire bill here.

The administration of this web log strongly encourages readers to click on the hyperlinks above to gain further insight on this developing story.

Readers of this blog may be aware that the sovereign Commonwealth of Virginia appears to have a similar bill in her legislature while the Governor of the sovereign State of Utah recently was reported to have signed similar “sound money” legislation thereby apparently enacting legal tender reform in that State.

Meanwhile, the issues associated with States’ Rights are coming to a head in the context of the sovereign State of Arizona as that jurisdiction may see a bill brought to the State legislature which would divide the State into two separate sovereign States. To quote directly from what appears to be a Reuters story posted on Yahoo News Canada:

TUCSON, Arizona (Reuters) – A long-simmering movement by liberal stalwarts in southern Arizona to break away from the rest of the largely conservative state is at a boiling point as secession backers press to bring their longshot ambition to the forefront of Arizona politics. A group of lawyers from the Democratic stronghold of Tucson and surrounding Pima County have launched a petition drive seeking support for a November 2012 ballot question on whether the 48th state should be divided in two.

Readers of this blog are asked to click upon the hyperlinks above to learn more about this interesting state of affairs.

Under American law it is generally considered possible in an intraState context to see a State legally and peaceably subdivide herself. This is not a common occurrence within the American political system and the ramifications on a geopolitical level could be tremendous. At the same time, such a subdivision could have an important impact upon American national politics as the addition of a new American State to the United States of America would mean that the United States House of Representatives and and the United States Senate could see new membership traveling to those hallowed halls from a newly created “Baja Arizona” (the current label apparently being applied to the as-yet unborn State).

How all of these issues will play out over the course of the coming weeks and months remains to be seen, but one thing is clear: it is an interesting time to be an American.

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

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