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.
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.
In this famous case, L. B. Sullivan, a Montgomery, Alabama, City Commissioner, sued the New York Times for libel and won a $500,000 verdict in a state court. The Times had run a paid ad, that contain factual errors, critical of the way Alabama and some of its local police had treated civil rights activists. The Times appealed the half a million dollar verdict to the U.S. Supreme Court, claiming its rights protected under the First Amendment had been infringed by the state court ruling. The Supreme Court agreed.
In this episode, we get to talk liquor and Prohibition! In the recent case of Tennessee Wine & Spirits Retailers Association v. Thomas, the U.S. Supreme Court had to apply the 21st Amendment, which repealed Prohibition, to a modern licensing regime in Tennessee.
Everyone knows that the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment means you can not be criminally tried for the same thing twice, right? Well, you actually can.
The “Dual Sovereign Doctrine” allows for a state court AND a federal court to punish you for the exact same thing. That’s what happened to Terance Gamble, who was convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm in Alabama state court where he was sentenced to one year of incarceration. Then, because the federal government does not have enough to do, he was charged for the same thing in federal court where he received a 46 month sentence.
How important is stare decisis?
Two months ago the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, overturned a 40 year old precedent concerning the sovereign immunity of individual states. The majority opinion, written by Clarence Thomas, held that correcting the court’s constitutional mistakes outweighed the doctrine of stare decisis and the importance of abiding by precedent. The respect given to stare decisis and the willingness of the Court to overturn prior decisions will play a major role in upcoming Supreme Court decisions.
In episode 5 of The Law, D.K. Williams discusses the day federalism died, in the case of Wickard v. Filburn, in which the New Deal era Supreme Court held that Constitutional power to regulate “interstate commerce” authorizes Congress to regulate activity that is neither “interstate” nor “commerce.” Seriously. That’s what they did.
In this podcast, D.K. discusses the peculiar idea of “qualified immunity,” which basically means certain government agents are not personally responsible for their own bad choices and actions.
You can probably guess who the “Madison” in the case is, but who was Marbury? And why did he sue Madison? We’ll get into that historical perspective and why this early Supreme Court decision is so important, even today.
D.K. discusses the controversial 2010 case, Citizens United, that involves campaign finance laws, free speech, and government censorship. He also explains why most critics seem either to have never read Citizens United or intentionally misrepresent it in order to advance political agendas.
D.K. Williams talks about President Trump’s recent comments on how “flipping” should be illegal in a criminal prosecution. Was he right? Listen in, make up your mind, and learn the history behind it.
The 10th Circuit opinion referenced in this podcast, in the case of United States v. Singleton, can be found here.