D.K. Williams is a rare bird. He’s a lawyer who understands economics, cherishes freedom, and loves ideas. That’s why he’s part of the Speakeasy Ideas crew!
In his weekly podcast, THE LAW, D.K. judges what the courts say about the law according to the standards of the U.S. Constitution as well as the timeless principles of individual freedom, private property, and natural justice.
D.K. is available for teaching, consulting, inspiring, & public speaking. He’s quite good. Just send an email to [email protected] and we’ll make it happen.
United States Supreme Court Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch’s book, A Republic, If You Can Keep It, attempts to explain to non-lawyers the importance of the constitutional framework of our federal government. And he succeeds. He discusses how the separation of powers, when followed, protects our rights and liberties. He clarifies the job of federal judges and, more importantly, explains what judges are not supposed to do. We discuss all of that, and more.
Just last month, the Fifth Circuit upheld a lower court ruling that the individual mandate portion of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is no longer constitutional. Despite wailing from some who support the ACA, the 5th Circuit is correct. The Supreme Court, in 2012, upheld the mandate on the sole basis of Congress’s power to tax. That tax was lowered to $0.00 in 2017. Since there is no longer a tax, there is no longer any constitutional authority for the mandate. We discuss what it all means.
The recent movie directed by Clint Eastwood, Richard Jewell, dramatizes the actual events surrounding a pipe bomb explosion during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. When I first saw the trailer for the movie, I was yelling at the screen “DON’T TALK TO THE POLICE, RICHARD! SHUT UP!” Fortunately, my yelling was internal. In this podcast, I discuss the constitutional issues raised by the movie and the actual events it portrays, including the Fifth Amendment protection of the right to remain silent and the First Amendment application to freedom of the press and defamation.
In this 5-4, 1997 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court declared certain key provisions of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act unconstitutional. While the Brady Act was an attempt at federal gun control, this is not a Second Amendment case. It is a Tenth Amendment case. Justice Scalia, writing for the majority, held that Congress is constitutionally prohibited from infringing on the sovereignty of states by commanding local law enforcement agents to participate in a federal regulatory scheme, subject to federal sanction if they do not.
he Township of Scott, Pennsylvania, ordered Mary Jane Knick to allow the public on her property because it contained a private cemetery. She opposed that directive. This Supreme Court case from earlier this year deals with two important topics: The Fifth Amendment Takings Clause and stare decisis. The 5-4 majority in this case allowed Knick to bring a federal lawsuit against her local government for depriving her of her rights as an owner of private land without first exhausting all potential state remedies. In so doing, the Court overturned a 1985 ruling that held to the contrary.
This is a special edition of The Law. We discussed the 10th Circuit opinion Baca v. Colorado (2019) back in episode 48 of The Law. Micheal Baca (yes, he spells his first name Micheal, not Michael) is the plaintiff in that case, and he graciously agreed to talk to me about how he became a Presidential Elector, why he did not vote for Hillary Clinton as state law required, and what happened when he refused to rubber stamp a ballot with only one name on it.
Everybody loves movies! In this 1948 Supreme Court case, the US Department of Justice brought an antitrust case against most of the major movie studios and movie distributors for anti-competitive practices. This case is another example of how the judiciary rewrites statutes passed by Congress.
The Fourth Amendment prohibits federal agents from wrongfully arresting you and searching your house without a warrant. But what if they do? What if they enter your house without permission, ransack your house without a warrant, wrongfully handcuff you in front of your wife and child, take you away and subject you to a strip search?
Marvin Miller was convicted of violating California’s criminal obscenity law when he sent unsolicited mailings advertising the availability of some dirty books and a movie. The U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, upheld his conviction. This is one of several cases from this era where the Court struggled to define the limits of free speech under the First Amendment.
Birthright citizenship and the 14th Amendment have been in the news recently. President Trump does not believe birthright citizenship is required by the 14th Amendment. The U.S. Supreme Court discussed the issue in some detail in an 1898 case, U.S. v. Wong Kim Ark.
This case, otherwise known as the Peaches’ House Party Case, deals with probable cause and qualified immunity of police officers. Justice Thomas wrote the opinion for a unanimous court overturning judgments of almost $1,000,000 awarded to partygoers for what the lower court found to be their unlawful arrest. Turns out, the plaintiffs had entered an unoccupied house and, well, had a party. When neighbors complained and the police showed up, some of the partygoers were arrested.
Impeachment has been in the news lately. In a 9-0 decision from 1993, Nixon v. U.S., the United States Supreme Court made it clear that impeachment by the House of Representatives and trial by the Senate are purely political processes. There is no judicial review of either process.
In the 2018 case, Janus v. AFSCME, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned one of its earlier decisions, the 1977 case, Abood v. Detroit Board of Ed. The 1977 Abood decision held that unions could deduct “agency fees” from union non-members without their consent. The Court in Janus, in a 5-4 decision, ended that practice as an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment.
Almost 20 years ago, the presidential election between George W. Bush and Al Gore was decided by the results in Florida. Due to the failure of Florida to execute the election and ballot counting process in a competent manner, the United States Supreme Court had to address the Equal Protection issues raised by the state when it changed the process of how it would count the votes and the state did not apply any consistent standard as to how disputed ballots were to be counted. This 5-4 decision halted an unconstitutional third recount of the votes. Bush won Florida’s 25 electoral college votes and the presidential election by fewer than 600 popular votes.
In a dark stain on the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence, a 6-3 majority held that the fear of potential “espionage and sabotage” from American Citizens of Japanese heritage, during World War II, was enough to justify interning (a euphemism for “jailing”) Americans of Japanese descent.
Lower courts have come to opposite conclusions on whether or not states can bind their Electoral College voters to rubber stamp the popular vote or if electors can use their discretion and vote how they want. If this question is not decided by the U.S. Supreme Court by November 2020, our next Presidential election could result in a disputed Presidency…like we are Venezuela or something.
Whether or not members of the Electoral College can use their discretion when voting, or if states can require electors to vote a certain way, remains in the news. Last week, in episode 48 of The Law, we discussed the 10th Circuit’s ruling on the issue in Baca v Colorado. This week, we discuss a recent Washington state Supreme Court ruling that directly contradicts Baca. How do these two cases arrive at completely opposite conclusions? The Law answers that question.
A “progressive” anti-electoral college group is funding lawsuits to actually enforce Art II, Section 1 of the Constitution and the 12th Amendment in order to free presidential electors from any state imposed restraints. A divided 10th Circuit panel ruled in their favor and have struck down Colorado’s statutory requirement that presidential electors must cast their vote for whomever gets the most votes in the state.