Supreme Court Will Decide If Family Can Sell ITS OWN PROPERTY

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Supreme Court Will Decide If Family Can Sell ITS OWN PROPERTY

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HUDSON, Wisc. — The U.S. Supreme Court will decide if a family can sell a piece of property that’s been in the family for 57 years.

The decision in a case called Murr v. Wisconsin could impact the rights of property owners all over the country.

William and Margaret Murr purchased a 1 ¼ acre lot in 1960 and built a cabin, and then three years later bought a similar-sized property adjacent to them, the Leader Telegram reported. Three decades later, the couple gave the land to their children. The family subsequently asked the county about selling the vacant lot, but the county blocked the sale because of a rule requiring lots to have one acre of buildable land. Even though the vacant lot is about 1 ¼ acres, its buildable space is much smaller – less than one acre — after deducting the slope and wetlands area, the newspaper reported.

The family had hoped to use the funds from the sale to pay for renovations to the cabin.

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“All along we were receiving a property tax statement for that land, land that the county assessed as buildable property,” their daughter, Donna Murr, told the newspaper. “It was assessed at $400,000 and we paid $4,000 to $6,000 a year on it and didn’t think twice about it, because that’s what we were told it was worth.”

The problem: When her parents bought the land, the vacant lot was considered acceptable for building, but county ordinances later changed.

“An assessor told us then that the extra land was basically worth about $40,000, meaning we lost $360,000 in value because of the ordinance change,” Murr said. “If you do the math, since we owned the property, we paid $78,000 more in taxes than we should have. It just seems so unfair. If we hadn’t gone in, they’d still be assessing us. They told us it was our job to know about the ordinance.”

A group called the Pacific Legal Foundation sued the county and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources on the Murr’s behalf, claiming the government had violated the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution by taking the Murrs’ property without offering reasonable compensation. Lower courts rejected that argument, prompting an appeal to the Supremes.

“We aren’t going to be allowed to sell the second parcel, unless we tore down the cabin next door,” Murr said on a conference call with reporters. “We were stunned. We couldn’t believe that the government would happily take our property tax dollars for 50 years, and then deny us the basic property rights here.”

If the Supreme Court rules in the favor of the Murrs, it could clear the way for hundreds of similar suits across the country.

“This case has broad implications, because the Murrs are far from alone in confronting this issue,” John Groen, an attorney for the Foundation, told Reason. “The problem of bureaucrats and courts defining the parcel as a whole to include adjoining lots in common ownership presents itself throughout the country.”

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Supreme Court Nominee Neil Gorsuch: 5 Things You Need To Know

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Supreme Court Nominee Neil Gorsuch: 5 Things You Need To Know

WASHINGTON — President Trump moved quickly to fill the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court left by Justice Antonin Scalia’s death, and in nominating Neil Gorsuch – currently a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Denver – Trump instantly appeased his base.

But who is Gorsuch, and what can we expect from him?

1. Gorsuch is a life-long conservative. He co-founded a magazine and a newspaper while attending Columbia University in the mid-1980s. The publications were designed to promote conservativism and combat liberal views on campus. Gorsuch has contributed $3,050 to Republican candidates and causes in the past, according to a biography prepared by the Alliance for Justice. Gorsuch is so conservative that CNBC writer Jake Novak described him as a “Scalia clone.”

2. Gorsuch is highly qualified for the job. He studied law at Harvard and earned a doctorate at England’s Oxford University. At Oxford, Gorsuch studied under John Finnis, one the world’s top legal philosophers. He clerked for two different Supreme Court Justices: the late Byron White and current Justice Anthony Kennedy. Before being nominated to the federal bench in 2007, Gorsuch served as principal deputy to the associate attorney general during the George W. Bush administration.

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3. He might be on the Supreme Court for a very long time. Gorsuch is just 49 years old and would have a lifetime appointment. The oldest active Supreme Court Justice is Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who is 83.

4. Gun-control advocates are afraid of Gorsuch. “Neil Gorsuch’s record on gun-related cases indicates some willingness to make it easier for felons to own guns – something that puts our families and communities at risk,” Shannon Watts of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America told The Guardian.

5. The National Rifle Association (NRA) strongly supports Gorsuch.

“We will be activating our members and tens of millions of supporters throughout the country in support of Judge Gorsuch,” Chris Cox, the NRA’s chief lobbyist, said in a statement.

Do you support Gorsuch’s nomination? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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Scotland Wanted 1 Million Government Chaperones For EVERY CHILD. But Common Sense Won.

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Scotland Wanted 1 Million Government Chaperones For EVERY CHILD. But Common Sense Won.

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LONDON — Advocates of parental rights won a major victory in the United Kingdom when a controversial “chaperoning” law was struck down – and they won again when a court ordered the government to pay the legal bill.

As previously reported by Off The Grid News, the Scottish law would have appointed a government-approved guardian to every child in Scotland. The British Supreme Court rejected the law this summer, and then last month told the Scottish government it was responsible for a £250,000 legal bill from the No to Named Persons (NO2NP) campaign, which had filed suit against the law. The £250,000 bill is equal to around $315,000 in the U.S.

Scotland’s government would have violated the rights of parents and children by assigning a “named person” (an official such as a teacher or social worker) to monitor every child, the British Supreme Court ruled. The court also found that the scheme would have violated the European Convention on Human Rights by sharing sensitive and private information about family life with the government without consent.

The chaperone-for-every-child law was passed in 2014 and was set to go into effect this year, with around 1 million children and minors receiving guardians.

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“The first thing that a totalitarian regime tries to do is to get to the children, to distance them from the subversive, varied influences of their families, and indoctrinate them in their rulers’ view of the world,” Lord Patrick Stewart Hodge, a Supreme Court Justice, wrote in his ruling. “Within limits, families must be left to bring up their children in their own way.”

Scotland Wanted 1 Million Government Chaperones For EVERY CHILD. But Common Sense Won.

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“Secondly, those provisions may in practice result in disproportionate interference with those rights, with limited safeguards available to individuals affected,” Hodge wrote. “As presently drafted, they are at risk of placing those tasked with delivering the scheme on the ground in breach of important regulations protecting privacy and confidentiality.”

Child Protection or Big Brother?

As part of its “The Getting it Right for Every Child Strategy,” the Scottish government wanted to assign a named person to monitor the welfare of every child in Scotland. The person could have been a teacher, social worker or an employee of Britain’s National Health Service.

Advocates claimed the scheme would have made it easier for social services to help children and family.

“Giving a health visitor or teacher formal responsibility for collating information is a key part of the early warning system we need to make sure every child in Scotland is protected,” Barnardo’s, a charity that backed the scheme, told the BBC.

Critics dubbed it the “state snooper” law.

“The Big Brother scheme is history,” Simon Calvert, the spokesman for No to Named Persons, told The Telegraph. “It’s wonderful news for mums, dads and children all across Scotland who no longer have to worry about this unjustified invasion of their private lives. To many of them the Named Person scheme felt like a legal battering ram to gain access to their homes. The court has taken sides with ordinary families and put the Scottish Government back in its place.”

What is your reaction? Do you fear something similar might be tried in the U.S.? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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Supreme Court Justice Warns: Police Now Can Stop You For ‘Whatever Reason’ They Want

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Supreme Court Justice Warns: Police Now Can Stop You For ‘Whatever Reason’ They Want

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A new US Supreme Court decision will allow police to stop, detain and search citizens without a warrant anytime they want, according to at least one justice.

“This case allows the police to stop you on the street, demand your identification, and check it for outstanding traffic warrants — even if you are doing nothing wrong,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor warned in a dissent this week in Utah vs. Edward Joseph Strieff Jr.

“The Court today holds that the discovery of a warrant for an unpaid parking ticket will forgive a police officer’s violation of your Fourth Amendment rights,” Sotomayor wrote in her dissent.

Court Upholds Warrantless Search

The case involved Strieff, who was stopped and questioned by a detective after walking out of a suspected drug house in South Salt Lake City. The detective had no warrant and no evidence Strieff had done anything wrong, but he still took the man’s ID and ran it through a police database.

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The database revealed that there was a warrant for Strieff for illegal drug possession, and he was arrested and charged. His attorneys appealed to the Utah Supreme Court, which ruled his Fourth Amendment tights had been violated.

The Supreme Court reversed that decision this week along a 5-3 vote. Sotomayor and Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan dissented. Chief Justice John Roberts, and justices Clarence Thomas, Stephen Breyer, Samuel Alito and Anthony Kennedy supported the ruling.

Thomas said the detective’s “discovery of the arrest warrant attenuated the connection between the unlawful stop and the evidence seized incident to arrest.”

Sotomayor disagreed.

“This Court has allowed an officer to stop you for whatever reason he wants—so long as he can point to a pretextual justification after the fact,” Sotomayor wrote. “When we condone officers’ use of these devices without adequate cause, we give them reason to target pedestrians in an arbitrary manner. We also risk treating members of our communities as second-class citizens.”

“The officer’s control over you does not end with the stop,” Sotomayor added. “If the officer chooses, he may handcuff you and take you to jail for doing nothing more than speeding, jaywalking, or ‘driving [your] pickup truck . . . with [your] 3-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter . . . without [your] seatbelt fastened.’

“It implies that you are not a citizen of a democracy but the subject of a carceral state, just waiting to be cataloged,” Sotomayor wrote.

Which side do you support in this case? Share your views in the section below:

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BREAKING NEWS: Obama, EPA Lose MAJOR Property Rights Case At Supreme Court

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Obama, EPA Lose Major Property Rights Case At Supreme Court

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Homeowners and landowners won a major victory over the EPA and the Obama administration Tuesday when the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that property owners have the right to challenge, in federal court, efforts to use the Clean Water Act to restrict land use.

The court ruled that property owners can go directly to court if the US Army Corps of Engineers says the land falls under Clean Water Act restrictions.

The Obama administration had argued that property owners must wait to sue until they are denied a permit – a lengthy bureaucratic process which could take years.

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“If that were correct, the Act’s ominous reach would again be unchecked by the limited relief the Court allows today,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote of the federal government’s argument.

The justices, in an 8-0 decision, ruled that Hawkes Company, which mines peat in Minnesota, has the right to file a suit challenging a Corps of Engineers decision not to grant a permit to dig peat on the property. The Corp ruled that the area was part of the “water of the US.”

“They may proceed without a permit and argue in a Government enforcement action that a permit was not required, or they may complete the permit process and then seek judicial review, which, the Corps suggests, is what Congress envisioned,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote of Hawkes.

The Corps argued that it had the right to stop Hawkes from digging peat because it was mining in wetlands on a tributary of a river.

If Hawkes Company proceeds without a permit or court ruling on its side, it would be subject to fines as high as $37,500 a day.

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Supreme Court Just Allowed The FBI To Hack Into Any Computer, Anywhere, At Any Time

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Supreme Court Just Allowed The FBI To Hack Into Any Computer, Anywhere, At Any Times

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The FBI soon could get the power to hack any computer, anywhere thanks to a new under-the-radar US Supreme Court decision.

A slight change to what is known as Rule 41 makes it easier than ever for Uncle Sam to do an end-run around the Fourth Amendment.

“Under the proposed rules, the government would now be able to obtain a single warrant to access and search thousands or millions of computers at once; and the vast majority of the affected computers would belong to the victims, not the perpetrators, of a cybercrime,” US Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) said of the action in a press release. “This is really a big issue when you’re talking about expanding the government’s hacking and surveillance authority.”

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The Supreme Court approved the tweak to Rule 41 — part of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure – late last month. The changes would allow a federal judge to issue a warrant authorizing the FBI agency to hack into a computer or smartphone anywhere in the US.

Under the current rules, federal judges and magistrates generally can only issue warrants within their jurisdiction. Under the new rules, a federal judge in New York could issue a warrant for an agent to hack into a computer in California.

The ruling by the Supreme Court came not in a typical court case but as part of the judge’s annual overview of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, The Atlantic reported.

“These are complex issues involving privacy, digital security and our Fourth Amendment rights, which require thoughtful debate and public vetting,” Wyden complained.

The senator accused the court of making law by proposing the change. The new rule will go into effect December 1 unless Congress overturns it.

“Substantive policy changes like these are clearly a job for Congress, the American people and their elected representatives, not an obscure bureaucratic process,” Wyden said.

Google, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation had written a letter to the Judicial Conference Advisory Committee on Criminal Rules, opposing the proposed change, Newsweek reported. Google argued the change would be a “substantive expansion” of the government’s search capabilities and would “authorize remote searches of millions of computers.” Significantly, the new rule allows the FBI to search any computer that is damaged or infected with malware, which one estimate placed at about 30 percent of all computers nationwide, Google claimed.

“[This] raises a number of monumental and highly complex constitutional, legal, and geopolitical concerns that should be left to Congress to decide,” Google wrote.

What is your reaction to the FBI’s new surveillance abilities? Share your thoughts in the section below:  

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County Bans Sale Of Family’s $698,000 Off-Grid Land — And Refuses To Compensate

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County Bans Sale Of Family's $698,000 Off-Grid Land -- And Refuses To Compensate

A Wisconsin family has had to appeal all the way to the United States Supreme Court to get permission to sell or build on property they have paid taxes on for decades.

The family, the Murrs, are trying to get fair compensation on a rural river-front property that government regulators say they cannot sell. The Murrs claim the land along the St. Croix River is valued at $698,000.

The family actually owns two pieces of land along the river: the vacant lot and an adjacent lot where a cabin resides. Although the family long has considered the two pieces of property separate – they pay separate property bills and have considered the vacant lot an investment property – authorities merged the two against the family’s wishes, and then said they could not split them, reported.

St. Croix County collected taxes on the lots, separately, for years. The Murrs, in fact, say they paid $78,000 more in property taxes than they should have if the county’s $40,000 assessment is correct.

New regulations in the mid-1970s limited construction along the river, but because the properties were bought in the 1960, they were grandfathered, the Leader-Telegram reported. If any other family had owned the plot of land, they could build on it. But because the same family owns both plots, the Murrs are limited in what they can do.

New county regulations that didn’t exist when the property initially was bought say that a plot of land must have one acre of buildable area in order to be sold or developed. The vacant lot is less than that.

The case may seem complicated but involves a simple question: Can the government combine two adjacent lots against a family’s wishes, and then prevent them from selling one of them?

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The Supreme Court will hear the case this fall. The Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) is representing the family.

“In short, when [the vacant lot] was created in 1959, and purchased in 1963, it was of sufficient size, width, and zoning to allow development of a single family house. Indeed, that is the use allowed for all the parcels within the St. Croix Cove Subdivision. However, because of the restrictions that came into place … the parcel was now defined as ‘substandard,’” PLF attorneys wrote in a petition to the Supreme Court.

John M. Groen, the principal attorney for the Pacific Legal Foundation, said that “everyone who values property rights should welcome the court’s decision to hear this important case,”

“This litigation asks whether government can get away with telling property owners, in essence, ‘The more land you own, the less we’ll allow you to use,’” Groen said. “We’re challenging a practice that is all too common among land use regulators, where they tell a landowner she can’t use her property, based on the excuse that she also happens to own a neighboring parcel.

“In other words, bureaucrats will treat two, legally distinct parcels, as if they were one unified parcel, so they can prohibit all development on one of the parcels without providing compensation as required by the Fifth Amendment,” Groen added.  “As we will argue to the Supreme Court, this kind of regulatory sleight of hand cannot be permitted if the Constitution’s Takings Clause is to be respected.”

The takings clause is the portion of the Fifth Amendment that states: “nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” The Foundation is arguing that St. Croix County and the state violated the clause by merging the lots and then by not offering just compensation.

Who do you support – the county or the Murrs? Share your views in the section below:

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BREAKING: The US Supreme Court Just Issued A Major Second Amendment Ruling

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BREAKING: The Supreme Court Just Issued A Major Second Amendment Ruling

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The US Supreme Court has vacated a Massachusetts court ruling that had declared stun guns and other non-lethal weapons are not protected under the Second Amendment.

The high court’s ruling was a win for owners of such weapons, although the court – technically — did not overturn the law.

The case involved Massachusetts resident Jaime Caetano, a single mother who started carrying a stun gun for protection after her ex-boyfriend injured her so badly she ended up in the hospital. When police discovered that Caetano was carrying the weapon, she was arrested for violating a state law that bans private ownership. Her attorneys filed a lawsuit and when they lost at the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, they took their case to the US Supreme Court.

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The Supreme Court issued a page and a half unanimous ruling calling the Massachusetts court’s decision “inconsistent” with the Supreme Court’s Heller decision protecting individual gun rights. The Supreme Court sent the case back to the Massachusetts court for “further proceedings.”

But Justice Samuel Alito, with Justice Clarence Thomas joining him, said the court should have overturned the law. Their 10-page opinion raised the prospect that the law would have been overturned if Justice Antonin Scalia had not died. The court currently has only eight members.

“Electronic stun  guns  are  no  more  exempt  from  the  Second  Amendment’s  protections,  simply  because  they  were  unknown  to the  First  Congress,  than  electronic  communications  are exempt  from  the  First  Amendment,  or  electronic  imaging  devices  are exempt  from  the  Fourth  Amendment,” Alito wrote.

Alito in his Monday opinion added that the Massachusetts court’s “reasoning   defies   our   decision in  Heller, which rejected as ‘bordering on the frivolous’ the argument ‘that only  those  arms  in  existence in  the  18th  century  are  protected by the Second Amendment.’

“While stun guns were  not  in  existence  at  the  end  of  the  18th  century, the same is true  for the weapons  most commonly used today for self-defense, namely, revolvers and   semiautomatic pistols,” Alito noted. “Revolvers were virtually unknown until well into the 19th century, and semiautomatic pistols were not invented until near the end of that century.”

Alito criticized the Massachusetts law for making it difficult for residents to protect themselves.

“By arming herself, Caetano was able to protect against a physical threat that restraining orders had proved useless to prevent,” Alito and Thomas wrote. And, commendably, she did so by using a weapon that posed little, if any, danger of permanently harming either herself or the father of her children.”

“Under Massachusetts law, however, Caetano’s mere possession of the stun gun that may have saved her life made her a criminal.”

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A Nation’s Quandary: The Future of the Supreme Court & the Constitution

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     This past weekend the nation’s political attention was on the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, and how his replacement could re-focus the direction of this country and the authority of the Constitution.  If you step back for a moment, it is almost bizarre to think that the future of this nation rests on the shoulders of one man.
     Yet, that is what Justice Scalia’s son, the Reverend Paul Scalia spoke at his father’s funeral mass:  “We are gathered here because of one man, a man known personally to many of us, known only by reputation to many more; a man loved by many, scorned by others; a man known for great controversy and for great compassion.”   The one man that the Rev. Scalia was speaking about?  Not his father … “That man, of course, is Jesus of Nazareth.”
     Bravo, Reverend Scalia!  I’m sure that your father would have been proud!  Because the understanding of true Justice, after all, comes from knowing that God authorizes those who will become ministers of His justice over us.  And in writing the Constitution, and establishing the Supreme Court, I believe that the Founding Fathers understood that as well.  Consider this statement: “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other” (John Adams).

     Now follow that statement with this thought:  An important aspect of our system of government is that it is based on the Rule of Law. This concept is a direct descendant of Hebrew law and the Ten Commandments. Together with the concept of unalienable rights from God, these concepts helped ensure a way of life that respected the dignity of every individual. The combination of these biblical concepts is a foundation of our government that helps subjugate political power of potential tyrants. One only has to notice how every tyrant has a practice of changing the country’s constitution to suit himself (or to butter the bread of those who put him in power (Courtesy of
     So how far off track has the highest Court in the land come from these founding ideals?  Let’s see … they have removed the Bible from the public square and our schools, thereby removing the moral absolutes that the Word of God established, and allowing anyone to set his own standards.  They have consented to the murder of 57 million innocent lives since 1973 (Roe v. Wade).  They have endorsed same-sex marriage while legislating against American businesses who oppose it on a Biblical basis.  And our liberties in regards to free speech, the right to bear arms, States’ rights, and our rights to be secure in our persons and privacy are coming under increasing attack.
     If we, as Americans, truly understood the enumerated powers given to the Supreme Court under the direction of the Constitution, we would be screaming Judicial Tyranny!  It would be blatantly apparent that the Court has overstepped its bounds and is acting above the Law of the land.  Case in point …. Did you know that “Judicial Power” refers to a court’s power to hear and decide cases. Art. III §2, U.S. Constitution, lists the cases which federal courts are permitted to hear. They may hear only cases:  
a) Arising under the Constitution, or the Laws of the United States, or Treaties made under the Authority of the United States [“federal question” jurisdiction];
b) Affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers & Consuls; cases of admiralty & maritime Jurisdiction; or cases in which the U.S. is a Party [“status of the parties” jurisdiction];
c) Between two or more States; between a State & Citizens of another State; between Citizens of different States; between Citizens of the same State claiming Lands under Grants of different States; or between a State (or Citizens thereof) & foreign States, Citizens or Subjects; [“diversity” jurisdiction].
    Anything else, is outside the powers given to them by the Constitution!  As Alexander Hamilton, one of the delegates to the Constitutional Convention, who helped draft the document wrote: …the judicial authority of the federal judicatures is declared by the Constitution to comprehend certain cases particularly specified. The expression of those cases marks the precise limits beyond which the federal courts cannot extend their jurisdiction…
     What I’m trying to tell you is that the Supreme Court has no legal jurisdiction to hear the cases on abortion, same-sex marriage, Obamacare, gun rights … let alone declare them law!  Let me say that again … Constitutionally, their rulings are not law.  Judges are appointed to discover and apply the Law, not to re-write or to re-interpret it.  Yet, we the people of this nation, have been lax in holding the branches of government accountable to the Constitution.  We have been conditioned to relax our vigilance and to accept their overreach of power.
     President Andrew Jackson said it best:  “If the Supreme Court is to be the final arbiter (to decide differences) of what the Constitution says, then (the American people) we have ceased to be our own rulers (under God), and the Supreme Court is our ruler.”   It may seem trite to refer to them as “activist judges”, yet that is what they are — legislating from the Supreme Court bench to suit their own prejudices and those who put them in power.
     So, you can see how important the next appointment to the Supreme Court really is, and why the other two branches of government are going to fight for the authority to name him or her.  Have we gone too far in allowing the Court to overstep their authority?  Have we gone so far that the Constitution has lost its power to restrict the limits by which they influence the law?  And finally, I wonder if it will be impossible to find a Judge who not only understands that it is his responsibility to respect and abide by the Constitution, but that the Law of God is at the foundation of the establishment of this nation’s laws.
     As was stated by the Supreme Court Decision in Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States, 1892: “Our laws and our institutions must necessarily be based upon and embody the teachings of the Redeemer of mankind. It is impossible that it should be otherwise; and in this sense and to this extent our civilization and our institutions are emphatically Christian…This is a Christian nation.”  We have strayed from this principle and the condition of our nation and the gutting of the Constitution is ample proof of our failure to uphold this doctrine.   The selection for the next Supreme Court Justice may very well determine the future of our country and the Constitution.  Pray for mercy and wisdom!

Thank you to and for valuable information for this post.

2 Chronicles 19:6    He told them, “Consider carefully what you do, because you are not judging for mere mortals but for the LORD, who is with you whenever you give a verdict.”

The Need For Righteous Judges

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     I wonder if most Americans understand the profound implications of the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.  There is no doubt that he was a lightning rod on the highest court in the land … you either loved him, or hated him.  It all depended on which side of the political spectrum you fell.
     I have no doubt that his legacy will find him to have been a Justice which believed in an “originalist” and “textualist” theory of the Constitution.  In other words, Justice Scalia believed that judges should decide cases according to the “public meaning” of the words in the Constitution (or its Amendments) as understood by the American people in their state constitutional ratifying conventions.   He was even quoted as saying, “The only good Constitution is a dead Constitution”, meaning that he didn’t believe in the concept of a “living” or “evolving” document.  As Bruce Allen Murphy, a writer for The New York Times, stated, “For [Scalia], the Constitution was static, unchanging and enduring, and should only be changed by the voters through the amendment process.”
     And that brings me to a comparison of our nation’s current situation and the history of the Judges of Israel.  There is a whole book in the Bible devoted to the Judges of the nation of Israel, so that tells me it is a pretty important topic to God.  There is a 400-year gap in the history of the Bible that tells the story of the Judges.  This gap covers the time period between the conquest of Canaan and the establishment of the Hebrew monarchy.   Just before the conquest of Canaan, God had commanded Israel to completely destroy the inhabitants of the Land and to avoid serving other gods and adopting pagan customs (Deuteronomy 20:16-18).  Israel failed to accomplish this command and the people were given into captivity.  The Book of Joshua records the exploits, battles, and success of Joshua, and his obedience to God; and there followed a pattern of disobedience, repentance, deliverance, and more disobedience — even though Joshua reminded them of all that God had done in blessing their nation.
     But the generations that came after Joshua did not remember the things that God had done for Israel.  They inherited the land, but chose to compromise and be influenced by those which God had commanded them to destroy.  They were infected with paganism which led them even further away from God and His blessings.  The sins of the father had taken root, and rebellion against God was the outcome. Even though God chose to discipline them at the hands of their enemies, He would not break covenant with them, and “raised up judges who delivered them out of the hand of those who plundered them”  (Judges 2:16).
     I see that pattern in our own nation.  I believe in my heart and spirit that God established this nation for His glory.  But like the Israelites we have engaged in cycles of disobedience and repentance, only to be given reprieves by God’s grace and mercy.  But we have grown up generations who have forgotten from Whom our blessings have flowed.  And that is why the Judges that God raised up for Israel impacted their history — and the Judges we have been given by His Divine Hand are so important to the future of our country.  And it is quite apparent that there is going to be a huge battle over who will replace Justice Scalia.
     The balance of our current Supreme Court is in jeopardy.  The Justices appointed in my lifetime have tipped this nation towards Godlessness and apostasy; at least towards the abandonment of any consideration of God’s will in the decisions regarding public prayer, abortion, and same-sex marriage, just to name a view.  The next Supreme Court Judge appointed to the bench will determine if the laws of this land honor God, or if they serve our human desires.  Will Judge Scalia’s death mark the end of our Second Amendment rights? Will it mean the end of restraint on the Executive Branch?  How will his death affect the attacks on our free speech; freedom of religion; right to assemble?  And finally, does the death of Antonin Scalia herald the end of the Constitution, itself?
     Because you see, I strongly believe that our Supreme Court Judges are the ministers of God’s will for this nation.  Remember that Romans 13:1 says that there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.  Therefore, good Judges, who administer justice according to God’s will, are under Divine direction; and bad ones, who disobey His will and commands, are under Divine restraint.   That being said, if there is no repentance by our nation, and we continue down the road of disobedience and rebellion towards Him, I believe that God will remove His hand of restraint, He will hand us over to our wicked ways, and we will get the Supreme Court Justice we deserve.
     As the historic theologian Matthew Henry wrote, The authority of God is to be submitted to, in those governors whom his providence [or will] places over us. But when justice is turned from what is right, no good can be expected. The evil actions of public persons [cause public harm].
     So, how will our leaders respond?  Will they appoint a Judge who will decide cases according to God’s will and the Constitution?  Or will we get a Judge that is God’s discipline upon a disobedient nation?  If that is the case, it is hard to imagine that our descent away from God will not be rapid and final.  Yet, if His remnant continues to pray and repent, we can hope that we have a few years left to return this nation to one that honors and glorifies our merciful Lord …. and that some brilliant young lawyer, who has been influenced by Judge Antonin Scalia’s judicial opinions will emerge to replace another of our aging Supreme Court justices.  Only God knows His plan … and we will have to trust in His justice and righteousness, and hope it pervades our land.

Judges 2:18   “Whenever the Lord raised up a judge for the Israelites, the Lord was with him and saved the people from the power of their enemies while the judge was still alive.  The Lord was moved to pity whenever they groaned because of those who were oppressing and afflicting them.”

The New Supreme Court Case That Could Take Away Your Second Amendment Rights

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The Newest Supreme Court Case That Could Take Away Your Second Amendment Right

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The US Supreme Court may take up a case soon that could lead to citizens being banned from owning stun guns and other non-lethal self-defense weapons.

At issue is a case called Caetano v. Massachusetts, in which Massachusetts’ highest court ruled that the Second Amendment right to bear arms does not apply to non-lethal weapons and that the state’s ban on them could stand. That case involved Jaime Caetano, a woman who was carrying a stun gun in her purse for protection from an abusive ex-boyfriend. The ruling was appealed to the Supreme Court, which has yet to determine if it will hear it.

The fact that a different court – the Michigan Court of Appeals – ruled that stun guns are protected under the Second Amendment only increases the chances the case will be heard. The Supreme Court is more likely to hear a case if there are divided rulings in lower courts.

The US Supreme Court has never ruled on whether the Second Amendment applies to non-lethal weapons like pepper spray and stun guns. In Massachusetts, even law-abiding citizens can face criminal charges for carrying a stun gun.

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“The ability to possess a stun gun instead of a handgun is an important aspect of the right to keep and bear arms,” Caetano’s attorneys wrote in an appeal to the US Supreme Court. “Some people have religious or ethical compunctions about killing. Other religious and philosophical traditions, such as Judaism and Catholicism, believe that defenders ought to use the least violence necessary.”

The attorneys also noted that there are cases when less-lethal force is preferable.

“Still others might be reluctant to kill a particular potential attacker, for instance when a woman does not want to kill an abusive ex-husband because she does not want to have to explain to her children that she killed their father, even in self-defense,” the attorneys wrote. “Some might fear owning a gun because it might be misused by their children or by a suicidal roommate.”

The Massachusetts law, the brief said, deprives citizens of choice.

“Some people who do own guns may prefer to own both a firearm and a stun gun, so that they can opt for a nonlethal response whenever possible, resorting to lethal force only when absolutely necessary,” the attorneys wrote.

Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island all have laws against the ownership of at least one type of non-lethal weapon.

Do you believe stun guns and other types of non-lethal weapons should be banned? Share your thoughts in the section below:  

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It’s A New Year … Expect New Changes

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      I’m wondering if 2016 is going to fly by as fast as 2015 did; and if we are going to continue to see the rapid changes in our lives that we experienced last year.  If the docket of the Supreme Court is any indication, we could see further transformation and upheaval in our social fabric.  Here are the issues that will come before the Court:
     Abortion.  The state of Texas will find out if it can enforce two new regulations that could effect the availability of abortion among its population.  Texas would like to require that clinics use only doctors with admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, as well as require abortion facilities to match the standards of an outpatient surgical center.
     The Supreme Court must decide if these measures will protect the health of women — as state lawmakers assert — or hinder reproductive care “by drastically reducing access to safe and legal abortion” in large parts of Texas, as abortion-rights advocates contend.   It seems to me that these measures are simply trying to call into question the accountability (and the quality of services) of those doctors and clinics that wish to perform abortions.
     But, of course, we can expect to hear arguments that the measures violate the Constitutional “right” of a woman to end the life of her baby, and that “right” supersedes safety measures — never mind the “rights” of the unborn child.
     Affirmative Action.  Once again, the State of Texas is in the spotlight regarding a controversial decision.  In December, the Court heard Fisher vs. University of Texas for a second time to decide whether the school’s admission policy is constitutional.  At the center of this court case is the question, Does the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment permit the consideration of race in undergraduate admissions decisions?  Abigail N. Fisher, a Caucasian female, applied for undergraduate admission to the University of Texas in 2008. Fisher was not in the top ten percent of her class (which guarantees admission by the University’s application process), so she competed for admission with other non-top ten percent in-state applicants. The University of Texas denied Fisher’s application.  Fisher then filed suit against the university, citing the aforementioned Equal Protection Clause.
     Fisher has appealed the District Court decision, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit; both of which found in favor of the university.  The Supreme Court found in favor of Ms. Fisher, holding that the lower courts did not conduct a sufficient strict scrutiny examination in this case.  So, now it appears as if the Supreme Court could finally decide if the Constitution and civil rights laws forbid schools and colleges from admitting students based on their race.
     Union Fees.  The High Court will hear a free-speech challenge to pro-union laws in more than 20 states that require all public employees pay a “fair share fee” to their union, even if they are opposed to the union and refuse to join.  This case will clearly show us if the Constitution still has any teeth in it.
     Voting Districts.  This case has clear and strong implications for the future reliability of our election process.  Currently, voters elect representatives to Congress, state legislatures and city councils in districts that are drawn to represent equal numbers of people.  Texas is challenging the fact that these “equal numbers” are not comprised of eligible voters.  At the present time, the system counts all people, including children, immigrants and prisoners.  Texas’s appeal relies on the “one person, one vote” rule established in the 1960s. If the justices agree in the case of Evenwel vs. Abbott, the ruling could have a major effect in states such as California, Florida, New York and Illinois because they have large populations of immigrants.  I think it is evident how easily this system could be abused and corrupted.
     Contraceptives.  This year, the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear its fourth case on The Affordable Care Act, and the second involving a religious-freedom challenge to a regulation that requires employers to include no-cost coverage for contraceptives in their health insurance policies.  At this time, churches are exempt from this requirement. Under a separate accommodation, religious nonprofits, such as Catholic charities or the University of Notre Dame, need not provide nor pay for the coverage, but they must notify the government of their religious objection.  But in a series of lawsuits, Catholic bishops and Protestant colleges contend that opening themselves up to government scrutiny of their religious objections could open the door to challenges that would force them to provide the contraceptives and make them complicit in what they consider sin.  In essence, they feel they should be afforded the same exemption as churches, or the accommodation needs to be strengthened in their favor.
     Immigration.  In The United States vs Texas, the Supreme Court has perhaps its most contentious case in this Presidential election year.  The outgoing Administration is pulling out all the stops in its effort to shield immigrants from deportation.  Under the President’s latest immigration action,  as many as 5 million immigrants who have lived in the country illegally for at least five years, and have a child who is a citizen or legal resident, could come forward, qualify, and be offered work permits.  But a judge in Texas and the 5th Circuit Court in New Orleans, blocked that action as un-Constitutional because it was done without seeking approval from Congress.
     UPDATE:  Under the President’s unilateral directive, the Department of Homeland Security published (on New Year’s Eve) a 181-page rule which focused primarily on giving work-permits to foreign college-grads.  This not only puts foreigners in direct competition with American college graduates, who are already struggling to find jobs and pay off college tuition debt, but it calls into question new security concerns as it covers categories of immigration utilized by migrants from the Middle East and nearby regions.
     Undoubtedly, it will be extremely important that the Supreme Court agrees to hear the case of The United States vs Texas.  Until then, it looks as if the President is more than willing to test his power to change immigration policy without seeking approval from Congress.  If the justices turn down the appeal, Obama’s action(s) will likely remain on hold until he leaves office.  I’m sure that is exactly what he has planned.
     So as you can see, the very foundation of who and what this country will become is at stake in this coming year.  There is a lot on the line … the freedoms for our unborn children, our rights to equal education and job opportunities, the entitlement to fair and honest elections, the right to be allowed to practice our faith as we see fit, and whether the checks and balances of our government will be upheld — not to mention the very security of our homeland.
     And I do not know how we survive any of it without faith in the protection from our Lord.  Man, himself, is on a collision course with his own pride and self-centeredness.  It is up to those of us who know we have been called to a higher purpose to seek ways to impart the Kingdom of God into each of these circumstances, as well as the unexpected situations we will encounter.  The world is not greater than the power and authority we have in Jesus Christ.  The forecast for the future may look dismal… but we know we can change that, don’t we?  Nothing is impossible with our God.  Let’s live our lives as if we truly believe that!

Psalm 37:37    “Mark the blameless and behold the upright, for there is a future for the man of peace.”


No Constitutional Right To Homeschool, Supreme Court Justice Says

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No Constitutional Right To Homeschool, Supreme Court Justice Says

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Parents do not have a right to homeschool under the US Constitution, says Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

Scalia also believes there is no right to school choice within the Constitution.

The conservative justice often is a favorite among those on the right and even among those within the homeschool community, but on these two issues, he strongly differs.

“The notion that everything you care a lot about has to be in the Constitution is a very dangerous notion,” Scalia said during an appearance at Georgetown University. “Because it begins with stuff we all agree upon, ‘Oh, sure, we ought to be able to educate our children the way we want.’ That was one of the early substantive due process [cases] — don’t get me going on substantive due process.”

Parental choice in education is among the important rights not guaranteed in the Constitution, Scalia told the law students at Georgetown University in mid-November, Education Week reported.

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The Constitution is “not a perfect Constitution,” and many “important rights are not contained there,” he said. For example, “my right to raise my children the way I want. To teach them what I want them taught, not what Big Brother says. That is not there.”

Educational choice is “simply not in the Constitution” and “I will not enforce it from the bench,” he said.

The Supreme Court did uphold parental choice in two cases in the 1920s with which Scalia seems to disagree. In a case called Pierce vs. Society of Sisters in 1925, it struck down an Oregon law that mandated public school attendance. In another case called Meyer v. Nebraska in 1923, it overturned a state law banning the teaching of foreign languages to children.

No Constitutional Right To Homeschool, Supreme Court Justice Says

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“Justice Scalia’s comments show that homeschoolers—and every single family—cannot fear attacks on parental rights solely from the left, but also from the right,” William A. Estrada, the director of federal relations for the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) wrote on the organization’s website.

Estrada noted that Scalia, who is regarded as a conservative, has been asserting this position for years. Scalia made his position clear in a 2000 case called Troxel v. Granville.

“Our U.S. Constitution was drafted by our Founders to limit the role of the federal government, and to leave fully protected every fundamental right, including the right of parents to direct the education and upbringing of their children,” Estrada wrote.

HSLDA chairman Mike Farris wrote a 2006 article in which he said his fear is that a future Supreme Court might use Scalia’s logic to justify a ruling against homeschoolers.

“In short, Scalia believes that no right is protected unless it is expressly stated in the text of the Constitution,” Farris wrote. “While most of us like this theory if it is used to reverse Roe v. Wade, we would be quite alarmed if parental rights were suddenly no longer a protected constitutional right.”

The next President could appoint as many as four Supreme Court Justices, Washington Times writer Dave Boyer recently noted. Boyer pointed out that three justices – Scalia (80), Anthony M. Kennedy (80) and Ruth Bader Ginsburg (83) – will be at least 80 when the next president takes office. A fourth, Stephen G. Breyer, will be 78.

“Justice Scalia’s recent comments are a sobering reminder that we do indeed need an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that enshrines the current Supreme Court precedent protecting parental rights in the black-and-white text of the U.S. Constitution,” Estrada wrote.

What is your reaction to Scalia’s comments? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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This Supreme Court Case Soon May Remove Your Right To Hire A Lawyer

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The Supreme Court Soon May Take Away Your Right To Hire A Lawyer

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The US Supreme Court could grant prosecutors the power to stop you from using your own money to hire a defense attorney in a major case the justices are considering.

In Luis v. US, the federal government is arguing it has the power to freeze all of a defendant’s assets, including those not earned through crime.

“What the government proposes to do is financially cripple someone before they’ve been convicted, before they’ve had a trial and not allow them to use assets that are theirs to try to match the government in the courtroom,” defense attorney Howard Srebnick told the media, referencing the Nov. 10 oral arguments.

Srebnick is representing Sila Luis, who owns home health care companies and is accused of a scam to defraud Medicare. The US attorney froze all of Luis’s assets, including money not related to the alleged fraud, after it indicted her in 2012, NPR reported. Srebnick contends that deprives Luis of her Sixth Amendment right to counsel by taking away money she could use to hire a defense attorney.

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Federal prosecutors contend that Luis would not have enough money to pay restitution to Medicare if she is allowed to use the money to hire a lawyer. Interestingly enough, the government admits that at least part of Luis’s money did not come from the purported scam.

The Sixth Amendment, among other things, guarantees “the right to have the Assistance of Counsel for … defence.”

The justices seemed divided. US Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer was skeptical of the government’s argument.

“The principle is that the government, without proving that he’s guilty of any crime beyond a reasonable doubt, can take all of his money,” said US Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer referencing not Luis but a theoretical defendant. “… I’ve never heard of such a principle.”

Breyer added: “And I’m saying it’s pretty hard for me to think in a country which says that before he’s convicted, you have to release him on bail except in unusual circumstances, that nonetheless, you can take all his money away so he can’t hire a lawyer.”

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But Justice Samuel Alito asked tough questions of Srebnick, arguing that if all of the money is spent, there will be no money left for the victims if Luis is convicted.

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“Your answer is that the defendant’s right to hire counsel of choice takes precedence over the rights of the victims, and you would say that no matter how strong the proof is?” Alito asked.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, often the swing vote in close cases, wondered what would happen if the government wins the Supreme Court case.

“It seems to me if the government prevails in this case, every state in the union, every locality could say that in the event of … any crime involving bodily injury … that the government is entitled to [freeze assets] even if the consequence is that in most of those cases most people would not be able to afford counsel,” Kennedy said.

Said Chief Justice John Roberts, “This could apply to any law on the books.”

The issue in the Luis case is “tainted” and “untainted” assets. Tainted assets are moneys generated by a crime or property or investments purchased with such funds. Untainted assets are funds people earn though legal activities, such as salaries.

Deputy Solicitor General Michael Dreeben contends that prosecutors have the right to freeze assets in fraud cases because there is no way of knowing how much of a defendant’s money came from the crime.

“This is basically a zero-sum game,” Dreeben told the justices. “Either there will be money available at the end of the case for the victims or the money will have been spent on lawyers.”

Bloomberg columnist Noah Feldman argued that the Founding Fathers would have sided with Luis.

There should be, Feldman said, the “right to an attorney … to create some fairness between a person who’s supposed to be innocent until proven guilty and the all-powerful government.”

“The Founding Fathers never dreamed of appointed counsel, so when they provided a right to an attorney they must’ve meant a right to hire your own,” Feldman wrote. “… [I]t’s frankly shocking that the government can accuse you and then block you from hiring a good lawyer, saddling you instead with a public defender provided and paid for by the government.”

Which side do you favor? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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