This ‘Unprofessional’ Case Against Western Ranchers Shows Why Americans Are Right to Fear Government

Governments are prone to abuse, especially when unchecked.

Recently revealed actions by the Bureau of Land Management, a federal agency under the Department of Interior charged with managing federal land, are reminiscent of the IRS scandal in which that agency targeted conservative tea party groups for extra scrutiny.

A federal judge ruled Dec. 20 that she was throwing out the Bureau of Land Management’s case against Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy because the prosecution withheld key facts.

On Monday, the same judge ruled that the case could not be tried again due to the actions of the prosecution, which she said had been “outrageous” and “violated due process rights,” according to azcentral.com.

The story broke before Christmas, but hasn’t received the attention it deserves. It perfectly underscores the pernicious problem of unaccountable agencies and how quickly they can become abusive to citizens.

The trial involved a dispute over grazing rights between Bundy and the federal government, a persistent problem in western states.

The government claimed Bundy owed money for public land use fees going back to the early 1990s, which the Bundy family refused to pay.

After years of trying to recoup the fees, the Bureau of Land Management, working in conjunction with the FBI, tried to impound Bundy’s cattle in 2014.

The story hit national headlines after Bundy, his family, and supporters got into an armed standoff with authorities that fortunately ended without violence. Bundy and his sons Ammon and Ryan eventually were arrested and charged with various offences.

However, the actions of government agents badly damaged the credibility of the case and raised questions about the power of supposedly independent agencies to deliver justice responsibly.

What is particularly worrisome is that the Bureau of Land Management appears to have acted punitively against political and religious groups they simply didn’t like.

An investigative report by one of the bureau’s own special agents revealed that the agents in the Bundy case acted with “incredible bias” and likely broke the law, as The Daily Caller News Foundation reported

The level of malfeasance of which one of its own accused the Bureau of Land Management is stunning.

Dan Love, the Bureau of Land Management law enforcement officer who led the 2014 raid on the Bundy compound in Clark County, Nevada, was fired recently amid charges of corruption. That was something prosecutors denied until pressured to release his fellow agent’s report to the defense.

Worse, an investigative report by one of the bureau’s own special agents revealed that the agents in the Bundy case acted with “incredible bias” and likely broke the law, as The Daily Caller News Foundation reported.

In the memo, lead investigator Larry Wooten explained how agents acted maliciously toward the Bundys. He said the “punitive” and “ego-driven” campaign against the ranchers was all an effort to “command the most intrusive, oppressive, large scale, and militaristic trespass cattle impound possible.”

Wooten wrote: “The ridiculousness of the conduct, unprofessional amateurish carnival atmosphere, openly made statements, and electronic communications tended to mitigate the defendant’s culpability and cast a shadow of a doubt of inexcusable bias, unprofessionalism, and embarrassment of our agency.”

The agents called Bundy and his supporters “deplorables,” “rednecks,” and “idiots” among many other worse names, Wooten said. They also insulted the Bundy family’s Mormon beliefs.

Their behavior showed clear prejudice toward “the defendants, their supporters, and Mormons,” Wooten wrote.

Wooten claimed that fellow agents put him through a “religious test” of sorts on several occasions.

“You’re not a Mormon, are you?” they asked.

Wooten’s memo suggested that the attitude and ambition of Bureau of Land Management agents led them to inappropriately militarize the operation against the Bundys, even after the FBI had conducted a threat assessment and concluded that the Bundys weren’t dangerous.

The day after U.S. District Court Judge Gloria Navarro’s declaration of a mistrial, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions called for an investigation into the matter.

However, there is some frustration over the Navarro’s decision, especially among environmental groups that generally would like to boot ranchers from government-owned western land.

Erik Molvar, executive director of Western Watersheds Project, an environmental conservation organization, blasted the mistrial decision in The Hill.

“These federal agencies have been patient and cautious to a fault in their prosecution of the Bundys and their accomplices,” Molvar wrote. “It’s long past time to stop playing games with the prosecution of federal crimes, and instead lay all the facts on the table and let the judicial system work.”

But one doesn’t need to think the Bundys acted appropriately in the dispute to understand why the case had to be thrown out. Nor is it out of line to think it’s worrisome for government agents to act in such an aggressive and abusive manner no matter the guilt or innocence of the citizen.

As columnist Debra Saunders wrote, the disturbing facts that have come to light point “to the sort of federal prosecutorial abuses that give the right cause for paranoia.”

There are better ways of of dealing with Western land. Reducing the federal footprint would certainly help.

Ranchers have been using government land for grazing for many generations, as individuals generally don’t have the financial means to acquire the amount of property necessary to run their business.

But this setup is not a free ride or “welfare,” as some have suggested.

Studies show it is generally more expensive for ranchers to use public land, which, in addition to fees, they are required to maintain, than to use privately leased land. In fact this land use helps the government save a significant amount of money on management costs.

Many ranchers would much rather contract with private entities and pay for services rather than deal with the headache of negotiating with the federal government. In many cases, however, this is impossible.

>>> It’s Time to Reduce the Power of the Federal Government Over Western Land

In Nevada, the federal government owns over 80 percent of the land and creates serious problems for ranchers and others who want and need to use it.

In the past, the federal government was more likely to give ranchers freer use of this land. Government actually encouraged western migration and frontier settlement through policies such as the famed Homestead Act of 1862.

But pressure from environmentalists outside and inside the agencies during the 20th century led to more restrictive policies on how ranchers may use the land.

This resulted in confrontations between the federal government and western farmers and ranchers, most notably the so-called “Sagebrush Rebellion” in the 1970s and 1980s, in which a coalition of westerners demanded that the government privatize land or transfer it to local authorities.

Confrontations and tension between ranchers and the Bureau of Land Management will likely continue as long as the government pursues such tight-fisted policies and insists that it’s more important to close off land use for the needs of the desert tortoise rather than those of ranchers and farmers.

Regardless of policy, Americans have a right not to be targeted by a government created to protect them and mete out appropriate justice.

The unfortunate facts of the Bundy case show how an unaccountable agency can become abusive toward citizens, and strikes at the heart of what we believe about republican government.

The Founders created our institutions to serve us and faithfully uphold the law, not be weaponized to attack individuals and groups in the shadow of darkness.

The post This ‘Unprofessional’ Case Against Western Ranchers Shows Why Americans Are Right to Fear Government appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Justice Clarence Thomas Opens Up on Life, Faith, and His Interracial Marriage

Justice Clarence Thomas has served 27 terms on the U.S. Supreme Court, and agreed to become the 341st leader interviewed for my Daily Caller News Foundation series.

Now at age 69, he is looking back on his life with gratitude and discernment with valuable lessons for others.

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People often want to define you by the bad things that happen in your life, he says, but there has been so much good amidst the challenges he told me, his wife, in this exclusive interview.

From a life that launched from economic deprivation, illiteracy, family dysfunction, and even time as a radical leftist, his accomplishments now reach to the U.S. Supreme Court—where he faces constant vilification and defamation. He says he learned the value of humility, patience, and persistence, but the bedrock of his rules for living came from simple aphorisms from his illiterate grandfather.

At a young age, he learned how to build bridges and find something in common with other people, be it sports, a hobby, religion or experiences, rather than focusing on differences and divisions. “Everyone has inherent value and is worth listening to,” he believes.

Looking back, he credits divine providence for path of his life. From the burning of a house, to being raised by his grandparents, to the nuns who taught in Savannah’s inner city, to attending the seminary and to getting his first job with Missouri Attorney General Jack Danforth, who was interviewing at Yale. Nothing could have foreseen his sitting on the Supreme Court today.

Faith, he says, gives him “the strength to do what I have to do every day, to assert the independence, to be willing to take the beatings, the criticism, the unfairness.” When he attends daily mass, he says, it helps him do his “job, a secular job, in the right way and for the right reasons.” It reminds him that his work has nothing to do with what is said about him, but is rather about doing what he took an oath to do.

“Everyone has inherent value and is worth listening to,” says Justice Clarence Thomas.

Thomas frequently turns to the “Litany of Humility,” which helps focus and insulate him from the distractions, criticisms, or praise that can come from this world. In his view, what really matters is whether you do what you are called to do.

As we talked about the biggest blessings of his life, he named being born in America, his faith, his son, and our marriage. He also spoke of his love of University of Nebraska athletics, motor homing over the last 18 years through “flyover country,” and the gift of being able to read. When you grow up surrounded by illiteracy with adults asking, “What this paper say?” reading becomes a true blessing. “It is like Christmas every day” when he reads.

On interracial marriage, he says, “If I were more progressive or liberal, [our marriage] would be considered progressive to be in an interracial marriage, but if you are not, then you are selling out.” He adds, “I don’t think of it as some statement. You’re my wife.”

>>> Flashback: 17 Things on Clarence Thomas’ Mind During Rare Public Remarks

Only after public outrage and congressional resolutions condemning the Smithsonian Institution’s refusal to honor Thomas in its African-American museum did an exhibit get modified. Ritual defamation by an antagonistic cultural elite who hope to reduce his popular currency and make his views radioactive, especially for any black American to emulate, has become the way of life for him.

Although he knows the difficulty of taking the public beatings for his views, he often remembers his grandfather’s advice in the 1980s of “Boy, you have to stand up for what you believe in.” He acknowledges a certain peace that comes from knowing you did the right thing, and talks about the importance of not allowing the critics to make you into someone you are not by overreacting negatively to them. He quotes the black author Richard Wright who said, “the worst I’ve ever been treated is when I told the truth.”

In an epic speech some 20 years ago to black judges in Memphis, Thomas boldly stated that he came not to defend his views, “but rather to assert my right to think to myself, to refuse to have my ideas assigned to me as though I was an intellectual slave because I’m black.” He wrote that speech, he says today, to draw attention to, “the right, among blacks, to think for themselves, the right to be that invisible man, to be the one who lays claim to his own thoughts.”

On the best part of being a Supreme Court justice, he praises our marriage to share the experiences, but also the joy of his four clerks each term. He promises his clerks that they “will leave this job with clean hands, clean hearts and clear consciences. They are “just a delight.” He enjoys the company of his colleagues, and misses those who have retired and passed away.

Don’t miss his jovial ending where he wanted to turn the tables on the interviewee.

For more, read Thomas’ autobiography, “My Grandfather’s Son,” see these articles or watch any of the 264 C-SPAN covered events of speeches he has given. To me, he is the best man walking the face of this earth!

Videographer Sean Moody is credited with the video work for this story.

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities for this original content, email licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

The post Justice Clarence Thomas Opens Up on Life, Faith, and His Interracial Marriage appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Why Dissolving the Election Fraud Commission Is a True Loss for the Nation

This week, the White House announced the sudden, disappointing news that the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity was being dissolved.

Liberal advocacy groups, which for months have worked to obstruct the group’s efforts to examine the integrity and security of the ballot box, ecstatically declared victory. But their win is a loss for the nation, which remains blind to the true breadth and scope of fraud in American elections.

As if to emphasize that point, The Heritage Foundation has once again added a slew of new cases to its election fraud database.

Accounting for the new entries, the database now lists 1,107 verified instances of fraud, including 961 criminal convictions of proven fraudsters, 48 cases that ended in civil penalties, 76 cases that resulted in defendants entering diversion programs, and 22 that ended with either a judicial or official finding of fraud.

That’s quite a tally for a problem that supposedly doesn’t exist. But as alarming as that figure is, it’s only the tip of the iceberg.

Heritage’s database is not comprehensive, so for every case we identify and track through to conclusion, many more likely go undetected or hidden in court records that are not easily accessible.

That sad reality is a result of the lack of adequate safeguards in many states—policies such as voter identification and proof of citizenship requirements—that make it possible to detect fraud. Even when fraud is detected, many prosecutors opt not to pursue cases for the simple fact that their priorities lie elsewhere.

As long as these two facts are true, there’s little to deter fraudsters from undermining the core of American democracy. Simply put, they know our elections are vulnerable, and they are not above exploiting those weaknesses to advance their careers and causes.

Those weaknesses no doubt will persist now that liberal advocacy groups have pre-empted the election fraud commission’s efforts to investigate them and propose solutions.

Here are some of this week’s additions to the Heritage database.

Deszi Marquis Hayes

Deszi Marquis Hayes voted in the 2016 election—from jail. Hayes, a Florida resident, was serving a nine-month sentence following a felony traffic conviction. Nevertheless, he received and cast a mail-in ballot from the Indian River County Jail.

Florida state law does not permit convicted felons to vote, but his vote was accepted nonetheless because the process of removing him from the state’s voter rolls had not yet been completed.

Awais Jamil

Awais Jamil, a Pakistani immigrant residing in Ohio, voted in the 2016 presidential election despite not being a citizen. Jamil had initially indicated on Bureau of Motor Vehicle forms that he was not a citizen, but the state of Ohio nevertheless sent him a voter-registration packet.

Jamil then falsely claimed citizenship in order to register. He pleaded guilty to a fourth-degree felony illegal-voting charge, and was sentenced to one year of probation, with an underlying 14-month prison sentence. He now faces possible deportation as a result of the felony conviction.

Brandon Dean

Brandon Dean was elected mayor of Brighton, Alabama, in 2016, but he was ordered to vacate the office after a judge determined that 46 fraudulent absentee votes had been cast for him in the election.

Of those ballots, 21 were not signed by the voter, while 22 were actually mailed to Dean’s address, rather voters’ homes. Two absentee ballots were cast by people who were actually present at City Hall on Election Day, and one person voted despite not living within Brighton city limits.

Deducting those votes dropped Dean’s tally below the threshold needed to avoid a mandatory runoff, which Brighton must now hold.

Ultimately, all three of these—and the 1,100-plus other instances of fraud in the Heritage database—speak to the need for states to adopt, and vigorously enforce, election-integrity measures designed to secure the ballot box against fraud.

One vital policy is the routine inspection of state voter rolls and the purging of inaccurate registrations. The National Voter Registration Act, commonly known as the “Motor Voter” law, requires states to maintain the accuracy of voter-registration records—and with good reason.

Inaccuracies create avenues for fraud and abuse, and risk permitting ineligible voters and noncitizens to cast ballots.

Despite this, voter rolls are riddled with inaccuracies. A 2012 Pew study concluded that nationwide some 24 million voter registrations—nearly one in eight—were inaccurate, out-of-date, or duplicative. In 2017, the Public Interest Legal Foundation identified 248 counties in 24 states where the number of registered voters exceeds the number of adult residents.

The consequences of shoddy record keeping are real. The Public Interest Legal Foundation recently identified 5,556 noncitizens who had, since 2011, successfully registered to vote in the critical swing state of Virginia. Even more alarming, this same report identified 1,852 noncitizens who collectively cast 7,474 ballots in the state.

Another recent study, by the Government Accountability Institute, concluded with “high confidence” that as many as 45,000 duplicate votes were cast nationwide in last year’s presidential election. In an era of tight elections, even a handful—let alone thousands—of fraudulently cast ballots could alter the course of major races.

Given the importance of free and fair elections, it is eminently reasonable and commonsensical for states to devise procedures for identifying and purging records that are inaccurate or out-of-date.

Unfortunately, a case soon to be heard in the U.S. Supreme Court makes clear that even this is a bridge too far for some on the left.

The case, Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute, involves a challenge to Ohio’s procedure for removing ineligible voters, a process which requires years to complete. The state first sends notices to registered voters who have not voted in two years, seeking to confirm their residency. If voters do not return the confirmation, and fail to vote for four more years, Ohio removes them from the rolls.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Ohio’s process for cleaning up its voter rolls as a violation of the National Voter Registration Act. Two Meese Center scholars called the opinion “a sad example of statutory misinterpretation (including using a canon of construction that at least one Supreme Court justice has called ‘made up’).”

Ohio appealed, and the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case on Jan. 10.

At the end of the day, it is the responsibility of all the states to take seriously their role in preserving the integrity of our electoral process.

Some on the left may wish to bury their heads in the sand, dismiss the evidence, and reflexively resist election-integrity measures, but Americans should not pay them any mind.

There are far too many cases of documented, proven fraud to ignore. Election fraud is a serious problem demanding serious solutions, and it is high time we tackle it.

The post Why Dissolving the Election Fraud Commission Is a True Loss for the Nation appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Group That Tried to Sue Trump Over ‘Emoluments’ Clause Just Got Booted Out of Court

A federal judge recently dismissed the first of three lawsuits against President Donald Trump that claim it’s unconstitutional for a president to own and profit from a business while in office.

Judge George Daniels of the Southern District of New York authored the opinion, filed Dec. 21, giving a win to Trump. But more generally, the opinion defends the principle that people cannot sue politicians in order to settle political debates in court, instead of in the legislature or at the ballot box.

The watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington sued Trump last January, claiming that his extensive business interests constitute ongoing violations of the Constitution’s foreign and domestic emoluments clauses.

Those provisions serve to keep certain federal officials from taking compensation from foreign state actors, Congress, or the states, in exchange for favorable official treatment.

The domestic emoluments clause (Art. II, § 1, cl. 7) explicitly refers to the president and his salary. But the foreign emoluments clause (Art. I, § 9, cl. 8) does not, and several legal scholars (particularly National University of Ireland Maynooth Law lecturer Seth Barrett Tillman) have persuasively argued that it does not even apply to the president, or reach fair market value transactions, such as an ambassador paying the going rate for a room at the Trump Hotel.

While the government conceded only “[f]or purposes of this motion” that the foreign emoluments clause binds the president, the court did not ultimately decide whether there was any merit to the plaintiffs’ novel and far-reaching legal theories.

Daniels, an appointee of President Bill Clinton, dismissed the lawsuit because the plaintiffs lacked standing—a constitutional requirement that a plaintiff demonstrate that whoever they are suing has caused them some actual, concrete injury that the court can remedy.

As many legal scholars and journalists have, Daniels rejected plaintiffs’ theory that they had standing to sue the president because their lawyers—ethics experts and law professors—have been “forced” (although their activities have been entirely voluntary) to spend time and resources investigating Trump’s business interests, rather than devoting time to other pursuits.

They sought a declaration by the court that Trump’s business profits are unconstitutional, along with an order for him to divest himself entirely from his business interests.

Had the lawsuit proceeded, the district court would have invited future lawsuits filed merely to recover the costs of litigation that was filed because of political disagreements.

As Daniels wrote, “Under [the plaintiffs’] unbounded definition of standing, for example, a news organization could sue the president by alleging that one or more of his statements forced it to divert resources away from a different story it might have pursued. Surely, something more is required.”

Perhaps recognizing the weakness of its own standing claim, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington had teamed up with hospitality and restaurant workers in New York and Washington, D.C., who claimed that they could sue the president because it is unconstitutional for them to have to compete with his various restaurants and hotels, which allegedly were being patronized by people seeking to curry favor with Trump.

Daniels described that claim as “wholly speculative” and unlikely to be resolved by any court order. People may visit Trump’s hotels and restaurants for any number of reasons, the judge wrote, “including service, quality, location, price, and other factors related to individual preference.”

He continued, “[T]here is no remedy this court can fashion to level the playing field for plaintiffs as it relates to overall competition.”

But even if there were, Daniels wrote, it is for Congress, and not the court, to consent or not to the president’s business arrangements.

In Baker v. Carr (1962), the Supreme Court ruled that, although the plaintiff in that case had presented a justiciable issue, courts may be barred from hearing cases that present a political question.

The court’s six-factor analysis asked in part whether the text of the Constitution commits the issue in question to another branch of government, and whether another branch of government must first reach some discrete policy determination before a court can resolve the issue.

The foreign emoluments clause provides that:

… no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under [the United States], shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.

Daniels found that because the text gives Congress the power to consent to a federal official’s receipt of “any present” or “emolument” from any “foreign state,” the issue is “committed exclusively to Congress … .”

“If Congress determines that an infringement has occurred,” he continued, “it is up to Congress to decide whether to challenge or acquiesce to [Trump’s] conduct.”

The question now is, will Congress take up the emoluments issue?

It doesn’t have to. After all, by receiving profits from domestic and foreign business interests, Trump is merely following well-established precedent set by previous presidents, from George Washington and Thomas Jefferson selling farm goods abroad to Barack Obama and John F. Kennedy selling their books around the world.

Still, plaintiffs’ lawyers have said that they will appeal the December ruling.

And the two other emoluments lawsuits against Trump present slightly different facts in different courts, so a different outcome is, at least theoretically, possible, although unlikely.

Last June, two state-level attorneys general—Brian E. Frosh, D-Md., and Karl A. Racine, D-D.C.—sued the president in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland. Two days later, nearly 200 Democratic representatives and senators sued the president in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Andy Grewal, a University of Iowa College of Law professor who has written extensively on the emoluments issues, has described the House and Senate Democrats’ lawsuit as “the absolute weakest,” stating that “disgruntled legislators cannot sue the president in this way.”

The attorneys general, however, raise several novel theories for why they should be able to sue the president, including an argument that, similar to the restaurant workers’ claim, it is unlawful for enterprises owned or funded by the state to have to compete with businesses that the president owns.

Even if a court decides that one or both of these parties has standing and agrees to hear the case, Daniels’ conclusion that Congress must act before a court can rule on the emoluments issues would apply.

Still, some in Congress have consistently attacked Trump’s extensive business interests since Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., sought to make them grounds for impeachment after Trump’s election.

With nearly 200 Democratic members of Congress suing Trump and one unsuccessful attempt, initiated by Rep. Al Green, D-Texas, to impeach him, the issue is unlikely to go away anytime soon.

For now, Daniels has provided a well-reasoned opinion that should influence how the two other district courts view this effort to pull the courts and the Constitution into a political fight.

The post Group That Tried to Sue Trump Over ‘Emoluments’ Clause Just Got Booted Out of Court appeared first on The Daily Signal.

How Trump Administration Will Fight Voter Fraud After Shutting Down Panel

After issuing an executive order late Wednesday closing his commission to investigate voter fraud, President Donald Trump now stresses the need for more voter identification and has tasked the Department of Homeland Security with ensuring the integrity of elections.

The White House so far is not saying that the president will call for a national voter ID system. But his tweets Thursday seemed to suggest so:

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders didn’t have a decisive answer Thursday on whether the president favored a national voter ID system.

“We are still going to continue to review the best way forward,” Sanders said in a response to a question from The Daily Signal during the press briefing.

“Just because the election commission is no longer in existence, we are going to send the preliminary findings from the commission to the Department of Homeland Security and make determinations on the best way forward,” she said.

Asked why the Department of Homeland Security instead of the Justice Department, which traditionally investigates voting irregularities, is taking up the matter, Sanders told The Daily Signal: “That was the agency that was best determined by the administration, and we are moving forward and letting them take over the process.”

Vice President Mike Pence was chairman of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach was vice chairman. The president appointed the bipartisan commission, also known as the Voter Fraud Commission, in May.

Kobach, a Republican, has been a longtime advocate of voter ID, but will not advise the Department of Homeland Security going forward, a spokesman said.

“At the president’s direction, the department continues to work in support of state governments who are responsible for administering elections, with efforts focused on securing elections against those who seek to undermine the election system or its integrity,” Tyler Houlton, the department’s acting press secretary, told The Daily Signal in an email. “Mr. Kobach is not advising the department on this matter.”

The commission’s work was besieged from the outset by lawsuits and uncooperative state officials, according to the White House and some commission members.

“Foes of election integrity lost their seat at the table,” J. Christian Adams, president of the Public Interest Legal Foundation and another Republican commission member, said of the panel’s folding in a written statement Wednesday.

“Now the important work of improving the integrity of the election process will be done by people who believe in election integrity, not by those who seek to preserve vulnerabilities in the system,” Adams said.

Adams, a former Justice Department lawyer, continued:

Over the years, demonstrable and empirical data has been developed showing noncitizen voting, double voting, and defects in the election system that no credible observer could deny. Some news outlets and activists have decided to ignore those facts, as if they do not exist.

Unfortunately, there are plenty of well-funded groups, activist academics, and individuals who are not credible who sought to undermine and sabotage the commission’s work. They may delight today in the dissolution of the commission, but before long they’ll realize that advocates of election integrity have more stamina, support, and perseverance than they realize.

The White House commission was made up of seven Republicans and five Democrats. Among the Democrats was Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, who sued the commission while he was a member, accusing it of not sharing information.

Despite dissolving the commission, Dunlap said, the Trump administration still will have to honor a federal court order to provide him with information.

“I didn’t want to go to court,” Dunlap told The Daily Signal in a phone interview. “All I wanted, honest to God, was to participate and get an answer to all of my questions.”

Dunlap said he is concerned with the Department of Homeland Security’s role.

“How many driver’s license has Homeland Security issued?” he asked rhetorically. “None. How many elections has Homeland Security run? None.”

“I was alarmed when the Obama administration classified election administration as critical infrastructure, that gives the federal government so much leeway,” Dunlap said. “Part of the goal for some people has been a national voter ID law.”

The White House commission asked every top state election official for basic information on voting in his or her state, but at least 18 states and the District of Columbia refused to cooperate. Many of those states had particular problems with voter fraud in the past, as The Daily Signal has reported.

Numerous liberal groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the Brennan Center for Justice, sued to stop the commission from doing its work. One group, American Oversight, helped represent Dunlap in his lawsuit against the administration.

Commission member Hans von Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation, said state officials blocked the panel from finding the truth.

“Unjustified refusal from some states to work with us and dozens of meritless lawsuits; those two things made it next to impossible for the commission to do its work,” von Spakovsky told The Daily Signal in a phone interview Thursday. “They don’t want the American people to find the truth about [voter] fraud and errors and double voting.”

Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson, a Republican who is chairwoman of the National Association of Secretaries of State, also was a commission member.

“We do not have a comment or anything further to add on the topic of the election commission,” Lawson spokeswoman Valerie Warycha said.

The post How Trump Administration Will Fight Voter Fraud After Shutting Down Panel appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Jeff Sessions Should Go If He Won’t Ensure ‘Transparency,’ 2 House Conservatives Argue

Two prominent conservative lawmakers say Attorney General Jeff Sessions should stop leaks to the media about the Russia probe or step down as attorney general.

Sessions “has recused himself from the Russia investigation, but it would appear he has no control at all of the premier law enforcement agency in the world,” Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., and Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, write in an op-ed published Thursday by the Washington Examiner.

“It is time for Sessions to start managing [the Justice Department] in a spirit of transparency to bring all of this improper behavior to light and stop further violations,” the lawmakers wrote.

Meadows, chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, and Jordan, a former chairman of the group, write that the attorney general hasn’t done enough to stop leaks about special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, including alleged collusion with Donald Trump’s campaign:

The alarming number of FBI agents and [Department of Justice] officials sharing information with reporters is in clear violation of the investigative standards that Americans expect and should demand. How would New York Times reporters know any of this information when the FBI and DOJ are prohibited from talking about ongoing investigations?

They add:

If Sessions can’t address this issue immediately, then we have one final question needing an answer: When is it time for a new attorney general? Sadly, it seems the answer is now.

The FBI is part of the Justice Department, which Sessions runs as attorney general. The former Alabama senator recused himself from any Russia probe because of his role in the Trump campaign.

The two lawmakers specify a Dec. 30 story in The New York Times that they say used “four current and former anonymous intelligence officials to suggest that George Papadopoulos, a Trump campaign volunteer, was a ‘driving factor’ who triggered the FBI’s spying on the Trump campaign.”

The Times reported that Papadopoulos, a low-level foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, told an Australian diplomat that Russia had emails embarrassing to Hillary Clinton, Trump’s opponent in the election.

The lawmakers lay out detailed questions, in five categories, that they say must be answered to understand why government officials leaked the information in the first place.

Their last group of questions:

Why won’t the FBI answer questions from Congress on this very topic? Why do they continue to refuse transparency on whether they paid Christopher Steele for the Russian dossier? We in Congress have asked them repeatedly to tell us what was in the application they took to the FISA court to get a warrant for spying on the Trump campaign. Did they use the dossier in their application?

Steele, a former British intelligence officer, authored a document containing allegations about Trump’s connections with Russia. Steele wrote the so-called dossier for Fusion GPS, a research company that was paid by the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign.

“It seems remarkably odd that instead of the FBI answering the critical questions that Congress has repeatedly asked, they instead leak a far-fetched and ill-supported story to the New York Times,” Jordan and Meadows write. “If this is the truth, then give us the documentation we’ve asked for to prove it.”

The post Jeff Sessions Should Go If He Won’t Ensure ‘Transparency,’ 2 House Conservatives Argue appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Conservative Lawmaker Demands Answers to These 18 Questions About Russia, FBI

One member of Congress says “the American people deserve answers” to 18 questions he has regarding Russia and the FBI.

“We’d like for the FBI and the [Justice Department] to turn over the documents that Chairman [Devin] Nunes has requested, give the documents to Congress that we requested, that’s first and foremost,” Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, told The Daily Signal in a phone interview Wednesday.

“We’d like answers to the two fundamental questions, the questions that we started with: did the FBI pay Christopher Steele, [and] were they paying him the same time that the DNC and the Clinton campaign were paying?”

Former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele authored a dossier, which contained allegations that Trump had connections with Russia. The dossier was written for Fusion GPS, a research firm that was paid by the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign.

Fox News reported last week that “House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes is blasting the Department of Justice and the FBI for its ‘failure to fully produce’ documents related to an anti-Trump dossier, saying ‘at this point it seems the DOJ and FBI need to be investigating themselves.’”

“Unfortunately, DOJ/FBI’s intransigence with respect to the August 24 subpoenas is part of a broader pattern of behavior that can no longer be tolerated,” Nunes wrote in a Dec. 28 letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, according to Fox News.

“As a result of the numerous delays and discrepancies that have hampered the process of subpoena compliance, the committee no longer credits the representations made by DOJ and/or the FBI regarding these matters,” he added.

On June 8, former FBI director James Comey said the dossier was unverified, and Jordan says nswers are still needed from the FBI.

“Did they substantiate the dossier?” Jordan asked. “Did they actually even check and see, is this thing accurate? [Former FBI Director[ James Comey said it was salacious, non-verified, right, so Comey testified under oath that it wasn’t accurate, but what work did the FBI do to figure out if it in fact was accurate?”

A full list of Jordan’s 18 questions is below:

 

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The ‘Dreamers’ Have No Right to Demand Anything

Nearly 200 protesters were arrested on the steps of the Capitol earlier this month.

The occasion? Thousands had gathered there to demand that Congress pass “Dream Act” legislation to protect from deportation young “undocumented” immigrants brought to this country by their illegal-alien parents.

Many of those who took part in that demonstration—as well as in an encampment on the National Mall and in a series of sit-ins in congressional offices—are themselves these so-called “Dreamers,” who would be the beneficiaries of the legislation they’re demanding Congress enact.

Far from being in “the shadows,” as we are constantly told, these illegal immigrants are unabashedly out in the open at these demonstrations.

“I am somebody! And I demand full equality!” about a dozen of them bellowed last week in the corridors of the Russell Senate Office Building, according to a report in The Washington Post. “Right here. Right now.”

Can we just say it? There’s something unseemly—and unsavory—about anyone who is in the country illegally “demanding” anything.

Emboldened by eight years of President Barack Obama’s de minimis efforts to stem the tide of illegal immigrants flooding into the country, the estimated 700,000 “Dreamers” in effect are saying, “We have a right to stay.”

No, they don’t.

Is this any different than shoplifters demanding that they be allowed to keep what they—or, in this case, their illegal-immigrant parents—have stolen?

No, it isn’t.

There are laws on the books against being in possession of stolen property, even if you weren’t the one who stole that property.

The heartstring-tugging “they were brought here through no fault of their own as kids” PR campaign by the “Dreamers” and their megaphones in the liberal media doesn’t change that fact.

Orchestrated by countless immigrant rights groups, the demonstrators have denounced President Donald Trump’s tough immigration policies, which have reduced illegal border crossings to a 45-year low, according to a Dec. 5 report by the Department of Homeland Security.

But the protests are now primarily intended to bring pressure to bear on Democrats in Congress to find a way to replace Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals executive order, an unconstitutional action that shielded the “Dreamers” from deportation and enabled them to receive renewable two-year work permits, seemingly in perpetuity.

Obama promulgated DACA in June 2012 after repeatedly acknowledging he had no legal—much less, constitutional—authority to do so.

As such, Trump had little choice but to rescind it, although he did give Congress until March 5 (when the work permits begin expiring) to enact DACA, or something like it, into law in proper, legal fashion.

A number of bills before Congress would do just that, allowing the young illegal immigrants to remain in the country legally (and presumably permanently), cleaning up the mess Obama created.

In a galling show of ingratitude, however, those same “Dreamers”—the would-be recipients of our solicitude, which we’re under no obligation to provide—are demanding that any Dream Act legislation be a “clean” bill.

By “clean,” they mean that the legislation should not accede to Trump’s insistence that DACA be coupled with other provisions to strengthen border security and to reform our immigration laws.

The “Dreamers” were furious at Senate Democrats last week for their unwillingness to try to hold hostage a stopgap government funding bill to get DACA passed.

There was delicious irony in Democrats being hoisted on their own petard over not wanting to be seen as responsible for shutting down the government in the process.

This was an uncharacteristic instance where, when the open-borders lobby yelled “Jump!” Democrats didn’t whimper, “How high?”

It’s not bad enough that the “Dreamers” are making demands that they have no right to make in the first place. They also want those demands fulfilled on their own terms.

That should be a nonstarter, because Trump and the GOP border hawks hold all the cards in this debate.

Republicans should not blithely deal those cards away, despite the 35 centrist and liberal House Republicans providing them cover in calling for the “Dreamers” not only to be legalized, but also to be given a 10-year path to citizenship.

It’s not clear whether these three dozen Republican lawmakers are suicidal or merely self-delusional in thinking they or their party would get any credit, much less votes, from the illegal immigrants—who comic Jay Leno once half-jokingly called “undocumented Democrats”—if they were granted citizenship, and with it the right to vote.

The Republican leadership on the Hill has indicated that floor time will be set aside for debating Dream Act-style legislation in January, but if that was a signal that they might be going wobbly, Trump made it clear Dec. 29 that he is not.

“The Democrats have been told, and fully understand, that there can be no DACA without the desperately needed WALL at the Southern Border and an END to the horrible Chain Migration & ridiculous Lottery System of Immigration, etc.,” the president tweeted Friday morning. “We must protect our Country at all cost.”

The “Dreamers”—who, remember, have no right to be here in the first place—should have no say, much less a veto, over the terms under which we grant them what they “demand,” if we choose to do so at all.

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The Rich Legacy Orrin Hatch Will Leave in the Senate

Washington, D.C. is filled to the brim with skilled politicians and bright people. What it has in short supply are people who possess those characteristics and who also are wonderful human beings.

Orrin Grant Hatch, the senior United States senator from Utah and president pro tempore of the Senate, is one of that very small number of people.

On Tuesday, he announced that he will retire from the Senate when his current term ends a year from now. When that happens, the Senate will lose one of its historic figures.

Hatch has a reputation for believing in the importance of our Constitution, including its limitations. That is no mean feat in modern-day politics.

People generally don’t care what the Constitution says. People want the federal government to make their lives not just secure, but easy, free from any obstacle that could interfere with their personal happiness.

The American public has come to demand that the government solve every problem that life throws their way, regardless of whether the federal government has the legal authority to do so.

“Who cares what the Constitution says? I’ve got a problem, and the federal government should fix it. Besides, every other member of Congress has promised to fix it. Constitution, smonstitution. Just fix the problem, legality be damned!”

The truth is different. No government can solve every problem and make life nothing but strawberries and cream. Any Congress that tried would only leave matters worse.

Like the Framers, Hatch knew that. And like the Framers, he feared the type of arrogant, omnipotent polity that we have come to take for granted.

Why? A government that tries to solve every problem won’t do everything well and will create more problems than it can solve. The Framers knew that 200-plus years ago, and Hatch has known that since he first assumed office in 1977.

Hatch had the good fortune to be in the Senate in 1981, when Ronald Reagan became president. In that position, Hatch was able to play the lead role in shepherding through the advice-and-consent process and onto the bench judges—like Robert Bork and Antonin Scalia—who made landmark changes to the proper methodology of constitutional analysis.

No longer was the text of the Constitution merely an opinion, a guide, or mere advice. No longer could a judge take or leave it when the text didn’t support the result that the judge wanted.

Hatch believed that the text was “law” in every sense that mattered. Though he did not serve on the Supreme Court, he helped Reagan and both Presidents Bush appoint judges who had the same view of constitutional law that he held.

Does that mean he does not realize the hardships that can befall people? Far from it.

Hatch wasn’t rich. His father was a metal lather. He grew up in a home without indoor plumbing. He had eight brothers and sisters—two did not survive infancy, and one died in combat in World War II.

He had his share of adversity, and no one who ever knew him could honestly say he was not moved by the suffering of others. He was—he just didn’t believe that public life should be just another version of The Oprah Winfree Show or Dr. Phil.

I will confess that I am prejudiced. I worked for Hatch in the 1990s when he was the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. I had the opportunity to know him in a way that only those people who worked closely with him could hope to learn.

Many staffers for other senators do not have the same experience that I did. But that is because Orrin Hatch is a special person.

I came away from that experience with three conclusions that have stayed with me to this day. America has been a better place because he has dedicated his life to public service; the Congress has been a better institution because he has been a part of it; and everyone who has had the privilege of working for him is a better person because we were able to know someone who is one of God’s greatest gifts to us all.

Come January 2019, Hatch will leave the Senate so that someone else can serve as a U.S. senator from Utah. When he does, he will leave big shoes to fill.

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Why the Supreme Court Shouldn’t Bow to Government Agencies

Many Americans would be surprised to learn that a series of Supreme Court decisions allow officials in administrative agencies—rather than judges—to have the final say in interpreting statutes and rules.

Administrative agencies touch on nearly every aspect of Americans’ daily lives—from highways to electricity to health, and often with limited supervision from the other branches of government. All three branches of government have acknowledged the problems posed by unaccountable government bureaucrats who perform legislative, executive, and judicial functions.

Congress has its Article I project to regain authority lawmakers have ceded to agencies over the decades, and President Trump is requiring agencies to cut two old regulations before enacting any new ones.

Now it’s time for the Supreme Court to fix the problem it created when it mandated deference to administrative agencies.

>>> Read more about “Doomed Deference Doctrines” in this new Heritage Legal Memorandum.

In that series of decisions, the Supreme Court turned on its head Marbury v. Madison’s declaration that it is “emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is.”

The high court held in Chevron v. National Resources Defense Council that when reviewing an administrative agency’s interpretation of laws it is charged with carrying out, judges should defer to the agency’s judgment if the law is not clear and the agency’s interpretation is reasonable.

Decisions in Bowles v. Seminole Rock & Sand Co. and Auer v. Robbins require judges to defer to an agency’s interpretation of its own regulations unless that interpretation is plainly erroneous or inconsistent. Under National Cable & Telecommunications Association v. Brand X Internet Services, an agency’s interpretation of a statute can supersede a court’s interpretation, and City of Arlington v. FCC requires courts to defer to an agency’s jurisdictional determinations.

Taken together, these decisions stack the deck in favor of agencies. They require judges to “bow to the nation’s most powerful litigant, the government, for no reason other than it is the government,” as 3rd Circuit Judge Kent Jordan wrote in a concurring opinion earlier this year.

Several Supreme Court justices have expressed concerns about these deference doctrines and indicated their interest in chipping away at Seminole Rock and Auer, in particular.

Justice Clarence Thomas frequently has commented on the constitutional problem created by both Seminole Rock and Auer. In a 2015 concurring opinion, Thomas explained that “giving legal effect” to an agency’s interpretation of regulations “effects a transfer of the judicial power” to the agency.

In the same case, Justice Samuel Alito wrote that he would like to explore “the validity of Seminole Rock” and the “aggrandizement of the power of administrative agencies.”

Chief Justice John Roberts also indicated that he “await[s] a case in which the issue is properly raised and argued.” Though Roberts was more guarded in his views than some of his colleagues, he appears to be open to the possibility of revisiting—and potentially reversing—Seminole Rock and Auer.

Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote a powerful concurring opinion when he was an appeals court judge, arguing that the Chevron decision is “difficult to square with the Constitution.” Though the case addressed judges deferring to agency interpretation of statutes, his criticisms apply with equal force to judges deferring to agency interpretation of regulations.

The Supreme Court justices won’t have to look far to find such a case. A petition currently pending before them squarely presents the opportunity to review Seminole Rock and Auer.

In Garco Construction Inc. v. Secretary of the Army, a construction company that had a contract with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to build Air Force housing in Montana is seeking to recoup extra costs it incurred due to the Corps’ contradictory interpretations of an applicable regulation. The company lost in the lower courts (with the appeals court deferring to the government’s interpretation of the regulation) and asked the Supreme Court to take up the case.

The justices will have a chance to review and discuss this petition on Friday, Jan. 5, their first conference of 2018.

With any luck, the court will agree to hear the Garco case and heed the words of the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who said a government agency “is free to interpret its own regulations,” but “courts will decide—with no deference to the agency—whether that interpretation is correct.”

The rationale for Seminole Rock and other deference doctrines is crumbling. It’s time for the Supreme Court to take back its authority to say what the law is.

>>> Listen to “SCOTUS 101”: Elizabeth Slattery and Tiffany Bates bring you up to speed on their Supreme Court podcast.

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