Lost Liberty Hotel

Irony is a dish best served… well, funny.

On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled that the process of eminent domain to seize private property for private development. Well, Logan Darrow Clements is trying to do just that. The truly ironic part is, he’s trying to get Justice David H. Souter’s land. The same Justice Souter that voted with the majority to allow this.

The best part, the hotel’s proposed name is The Lost Liberty Hotel, featuring the “Just Desserts Cafe” and a mueseum showcasing the loss of personal liberties in the U.S..

You can find a copy of the letter sent to the Code Enforcement Officer of Weare, New Hampshire, here.

Gonzales v. Raich

(All quotes are referenced from the following document: Supreme Court Slip Opinion local mirror here.)

On Monday, the Supreme Court released its decision on Gonzales v. Raich. For those of you who don’t know, this was the medical marijuana case from California. Two Californians had their medical marijuana plants seized and destroyed by DEA agents even though they had prescriptions to use the drug.

They challenged the government’s right to do this, as they believed it violated the Commerce Clause and other constitutional provisions. The Ninth Circuit found that they had “a strong likelihood of success on the claim that the CSA is an unconstitutional exercise of Congress’ Commerce Clause authority as applied to the intrastate, noncommercial cultivation and possession of cannabis for medical purposes as recommended by a patient’s physician pursuant to valid California state law.” (Syllabus pg. 1)

The Supreme Court ruled in a 6-3 decision that the government does in fact have the right to regulate the ability to locally grow and use cannabis. This is seen by some to be a rather large infringement into state’s rights. Below, I’m going to attempt to explain it as I understand the decision (after reading the court’s decision, the concurring opinion and both desents).

The court heavily relied upon two cases when deciding this case, United States v. Lopez, 514 U.S. 549 and United States v. Morrison, 529 U.S. 598. Other cases referenced include Perez v. United States, 402 U.S. 146, 151 and Wickard v. Filburn, 317 U.S. 11, 127-128.

In this case, the Supreme Court reaffirmed that Congress has the power to regulate purely local activites that have a substantial effect on interstate commerce (established in Perez v. United States, 402 U.S. 146, 151). However, in this case, they did not require the federal government to prove that entirely local cultivation, growth and use of the product had this “substantial effect” as they have previously. The court ruled that the ease with which the product could be diverted into interstate markets was a significant enough impact to allow the federal government to step in.

This is based upon the ruling in Wickard that said: “That appellee’s own contribution to the demand for what may be trivial by itself is not enough to remove him from the scope of federal regulation where, as here, his contribution, taken together with that of many others similarly situated, is far from trivial.” (Opinion of the Court, pg 15) This applies to the case because, like the wheat farmer in Wickard, the Californians are, “cultivating, for home consumption, a fungible commodity for which there is an established, albeit illegal, interstate market.” (Opinion of the Court, pg 15)

What I find troubling about this decision is the following section of the Court’s Opinion: “Thus, as in Wickard, when it enacted comprehensive legislation to regulate the interstate market in a fungible commodity, Congress was acting well within its authority to ‘make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper’ to ‘regulate Commerce … among the several States.’ U.S. Const., Art. I, Sec. 8. That the regulation ensnares some purely intrastate activity is of no moment. …” (emphasis added)

This means that, if Congress places some statue in a large regulatory passage that regulates purely local activity, they are within their power. State’s rights be damned, it is part of a group of laws to regulate the interstate market, so it is legal. With all the tacking on of non-related bills to various laws that happens now, this could be a dangerous idea.

The dissenting opinions echo this belief, and also take issue with the breadth that the court is placing on the Commerce Clause, expressing the concern that allowing the government to regulate intrastate activity as part of a comprehensive interstate plan removes the Constiutional limits on the government.

They also take issue with the definiton of what falls under the Commerce Clause, which the Court’s Opinion describes as any activity involving the production, distribution and consumption of commodities. By this definition, nearly all human activity falls under federal regulation via the Commerce Clause.

It is my belief that this ruling by the Supreme Court is going to result in an enlargement of the U.S. government’s powers and a reduction of State’s rights. Most federal law is tied to the commerce clause, and as the definition of commerce is broadened in this way, a whole new class of activities has the potential to fall under federal legislation, be they intrastate or interstate activities.

I don’t normally care about comments, but in this post I’m going to ask a few things of would be commentators:

  • Keep the discussion on the impact this ruling has on State’s rights and off of drugs. The Court’s Opinion states that this is not a ruling on the legality of the Due Process claim or the medical necessity claim as neither of these were addressed by the Court of Appeals (Opinion of the Court, pg 30)
  • Keep it constructive.
  • Keep the language PG, I know you may have strong opinions, but what you have to say can be said more coherently without swearing.
  • Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction

    The BBC is reporting that the US’s Chief Weapons Inspector in Iraq, Charles Duelfer, has closed the investigation into Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. Their conclusions?

  • No Weapons of Mass Destruction were found.
  • No weapons were moved to Syria prior to the war.
  • Saddam’s weapons program has produced a pool of weapons experts.
  • Some nations and/or terrorist groups may try to recruit these experts.
  • So, our justification for going to war with Iraq has been confirmed, by the US government, as having no basis in truth. Why then did we go to war?

    Hubble Space Telescope

    Yesterday marked the 15th anniversary of the Hubble Telescope’s launch. Since then, it has taken more than 750,000 pictures of the universe and helped scientists gain a better understanding of how the universe worked and how old it is.

    In honor of this anniversary, the following two pictures were released by NASA:

    The Eagle Nebula, a giant gaseous formation in which new stars are formed.

    This is the famous Whirlpool Galaxy, 31 million light years from Earth.