Tag Archives: Michigan

Five Years After Snowden, Michigan Set to Be First State to Impede NSA’s Warrantless Surveillance

On the heels of the fifth anniversary of whistleblower Edward Snowden’s disclosure of classified National Security Agency (NSA) documents to journalists, one state legislature has recently taken steps to hold the government agency accountable for its warrantless surveillance programs by making it illegal for state and local governments, including law enforcement and public utilities, to support the NSA’s warrantless spying on American citizens.

According to Michigan’s Fourth Amendment Rights Protection Act, also known as Public Act 71 of 2018, state and local governments can only assist or provide support to the federal government’s collection of data if there is a search warrant or the informed consent of the targeted party. The bill is set to take effect in just a few weeks on June 17th.

While the NSA has no publicly disclosed facility in the state, the bill’s proponents have asserted that it sends a clear message to the federal government regarding the lack of popularity for its warrantless wiretapping of millions of Americans in violation of the legal protections granted to them by the Constitution.

“It hangs up a sign on Michigan’s door saying, ‘No violation of the Fourth Amendment, look elsewhere’,” said Republican state Rep. Martin Howrylak, the bill’s author, according to the Washington Examiner. “Democrats as well as Republicans would certainly stand very strong in our position on what this law means.”

“This new law guarantees no state resources will be used to help the federal government execute mass warrantless surveillance programs that violate the Fourth Amendment protections enshrined in the U.S. Constitution,” Howrylak said soon after the bill was first passed earlier this year in March.

“Michigan will not assist the federal government with any data collection unless it is consistent with the constitution,” he added.

The Michigan law seeking to condemn the NSA’s most controversial program is not the first of its kind. However, it is the first to have been passed successfully without having been  subsequently watered down. For instance, in 2014, state lawmakers in Maryland sought to shut off power and water to NSA headquarters but many of its sponsors dropped their support of the bill after a powerful political backlash. A similar bill was floated in Utah’s state legislature at the same time, but went nowhere after it was rejected by the state’s governor.

“It hangs up a sign on Michigan’s door saying, ‘No violation of the Fourth Amendment, look elsewhere.'”

The only state to have passed a bill similar to Michigan’s is California, which passed the Fourth Amendment Protection Act in 2014. However, that piece of legislation protects the Fourth Amendment in name only as it bans local assistance “in response to a request from a federal agency” and “if the state has actual knowledge that the request constitutes an illegal or unconstitutional collection.”

Despite the efforts being made by state legislatures to restore the Fourth Amendment, such efforts have been largely absent at the national level in recent years. Earlier this year, in January, Congress voted to extend the government’s warrantless surveillance of American citizens for another six years. However, Congress’ reauthorization of the program was more than a mere extension of the program as it actually helped expand the NSA’s authority by codifying some of the more controversial aspects of the program, suggesting that interest in protecting and restoring the Constitution is largely found at the state and local levels of government.

Libertarian Candidate for US Senate Seeking to Arm the Homeless

Ann Arbor, MI – A Michigan candidate for US Senate, Brian Ellison, who is expected to be the Libertarian party’s candidate in the November midterm election, set his sights on raising at least $10,000 to buy 20 pump-action shotguns and provide training for homeless people. Ellison is calling his fundraising campaign “Arm the Homeless,” and the drive has already made international news.

Saying that homeless people are “constantly victims of violent crime,” Ellison believes that providing the homeless with firearms to defend themselves would serve to act as a deterrent.

A 2014 study, entitled Violence and Victims, highlights the disparity in violent victimization of homeless individuals versus the general population:

Individuals who are homeless have an increased risk of experiencing myriad social problems including victimization and violence. The prevalence of violent victimization in the homeless population has been estimated to range from 14% to 21% and approximately one-third report having witnessed a physical attack on another person who was homeless. This rate of violence is highly disparate when compared to the general population in which only 2% report experiencing a violent crime.

When Ellison was asked by Michigan Radio if he trusted the homeless people with guns, he questioned why there was judgement and bias against homeless people.

“I don’t know why the homeless are viewed as such a different type of people as the rest of us. I carry a gun with me all the time, and I don’t victimize anyone. I wouldn’t expect that the homeless would use their weapons to fight off the police who are asking them to leave. I think the homeless would use their weapons to protect themselves from being victims of violent crimes,” he said.

“Not only are the homeless constantly under threat from would-be criminals,” said Ellison, “but they are also under threat from governments at various levels that criminalize activities that homeless people rely on for survival.”

Ellison, a veteran who served in Iraq, told The Guardian that he decided to run for office “just to try and make a difference.” While he admitted that his “Arm the Homeless” campaign has shock value— meant to bring attention to his campaign— Ellison said he believes that as a third-party candidate going up against well-funded Democratic and Republican opponents, shock value is necessary to break the media marginalization of third-party candidates. And while the shock value gets publicity, he said the true intent of the campaign is to bring more attention to the high rates of violence experienced by homeless individuals and their dehumanization.

When asked by The Guardian, as to whether he thought his plan was dangerous, Ellison responded with a question of his own.

“Well, are you worried about the police being armed with military weapons?” he asked. “I am. The world we live in is a scary world, where the police who used to dress in short-sleeved shirts and carry a revolver now have long rifles with scopes and bulletproof vests and armoured vehicles.”

“And quite frankly that scares me much more than a homeless person trying to defend themselves with a shotgun,” he said.

Ellison noted that he would aim to “pre-qualify” homeless individuals wanting to receive one of the shotguns, and that no one would be forced to carry pump-action a firearm.

“The first thing that we’re gonna do is ask them if they think this is something that would benefit them. We’re certainly not trying to force anything on anybody,” Ellison said.

In addition, Ellison told Vice that “the idea is to go around and pre-qualify people who we think will meet the criteria by simply having a conversation with them and trying to get a feeling of who they are, whether or not they seem like they’re stable, seeing if they have an ID and if they’d pass a background check.”

On his fundraising page, Ellison pointed out that case law provides that police have no duty to protect individuals and highlighted the recent school shooting in Parkland as an example.

How long can we as a society sit back and allow peaceful citizens of this great country to be targeted for those that view them as weak targets? According to case law in the decision of Warren v. District of Columbia, the police do not owe a specific duty to provide police services to citizens. What this means is that as individuals we can not count on the police to protect us, as they are under no obligation to do so. We saw this recently in the Parkland shooting when Broward County Sheriff Deputies stood outside while a gunman killed 17 students and teachers. I believe it is time we take a stand against the injustice and victimization of the homeless.

Although Ellison originally felt giving away handguns would be ideal, he settled on pump-shotguns.

“Frankly I think the ideal weapon would be a pistol,” he told the Guardian, “but due to the licensing requirements in the state we’re going to have a hard enough time getting homeless people shotguns as it is.”

Judge Dismisses Felony Charge Against Jury Nullification Activist

Mecosta Circuit Judge Kimberly Booher dismissed a felony obstruction of justice charge on Wednesday against jury nullification activist and former pastor Keith Wood.

According to MLive, Judge Booher however is allowing a misdemeanor jury tampering charge to move forward. 39-year-old Wood had been arrested on both charges in November of 2015 while handing out flyers promoting the concept of jury nullification outside of a Michigan courthouse.

Jury nullification is a term that describes scenarios in which a jury refuses to convict a guilty defendant under the rationale that the law itself is unjust or inappropriately applied. Wood is facing charges for handing out flyers produced by the Fully Informed Jury Association which argue that jury nullification is a right belonging to jurors.

[RELATED: Judge Jails Former Pastor For Jury Nullification Education]

Prosecutor Brian Thiede alleges that Wood chose to hand out flyers that day to target potential jurors in a land-use case against an Amish man. WOOD-TV is reporting that Wood admits to knowing the man, who later pleaded guilty to charges, but denies that he was trying to reach jurors in that case.

I’m convinced the rest of the case will be dismissed based on First Amendment rights,” said Wood’s Attorney David Kallman.

Thiede claims that Wood’s behavior erodes the rule of law and could lead to a future in which juries set violent criminals free if they believe in the motives behind their attacks.

[RELATED: Judge Drops Jury Tampering Charges Against Denver Jury Nullification Activists]

And certainly, if we were to allow Mr. Wood’s conduct here, we could have every trial stopped,” Thiede said in court according to FOX 17 West Michigan.

Judge Booher ordered the court to return a $15,000 bond deposit that Wood had paid pursuant to the felony obstruction of justice charge.

The felony obstruction of justice charge would have involved a maximum penalty of five years in prison, and the misdemeanor jury tampering charge carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail.

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Shocking New Details Revealed In EPA’s Failure To Stop Flint From Drinking Lead Water

By Michael Bastasch – Environmental Protection Agency officials apparently weren’t willing to “go out on a limb” for Flint, Mich., as it became apparent the city’s water supply had been contaminated with high levels of lead, according to an internal agency memo revealed at a Tuesday congressional hearing.

Utah Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the House oversight committee, revealed an internal EPA memo during a hearing Tuesday between agency officials responsible for overseeing clean water operations in Michigan. The September 2015 memo said, “I’m not so sure Flint is the community we want to go out on a limb for.”

The EPA administrator says that Susan Hedman was courageous for resigning,” Chaffetz said in the heearing. “It didn’t take us but a couple hours once we got these memos to find the problem here. you can take down that. Why isn’t flint the community they go to?”

“You know, of all the communities out there, the one that’s having the toughest time is the one that needs the most protection,” Chaffetz said. “You can shake your head and say, oh, yeah, but the EPA had every opportunity to make — make the right move here, and they didn’t… because one of the things that is fundamentally and totally wrong here is they had the information and they would not release it to the public.”

For months, Flint has been grappling with a lead crisis in the city’s water stemming from state regulators failure to apply the correct chemical treatment after the city switched water supplies form Lake Huron to the Flint River. State regulators finally admitted in October 2015 that it had applied the wrong chemical treatment to Flint’s water, resulting in corrosive water leaching lead off old pipes and into people’s drinking water.

[dcquiz] EPA officials, however, knew of the lead leaching for months before the news went public. EPA spent months quietly warning state regulators of the lack of corrosion controls for Flint’s water supplies. The EPA told the state it needed to use chemical treatments to prevent lead lines and plumbing from getting into Flint’s drinking water, but the agency did nothing to publicize its concerns over the city’s water despite the state’s refusal to control against lead poisoning.

The Detroit News reported that EPA Region 5 Administrator Susan Hedman said “she sought a legal opinion on whether the EPA could force action, but it wasn’t completed until November.”

Hedman resigned in January 2016 after she was implicated in Flint’s water crisis.

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Flint, Mich. Mayor Calls State of Emergency Over City Water System’s Lead Content

Newly-elected Flint, Mich. Mayor Karen Weaver declared a state of emergency on Monday over elevated lead content levels, connected to a problem with the city’s tap water system, that have been found in blood tests of local children.

A September study by Hurley Medical Center found a “rise in blood lead levels of children less than 5 years old living within Flint zip codes 48501-48507 after the switch to Flint River water as the source.

The city disconnected from Detroit’s water system in 2014 and began drawing tap water from the Flint River in an effort to save on costs. The switch led to a rise in complaints by residents saying that their tap water had taken on a foul odor and cloudy appearance.

[RELATED: Massive Environmental Damage in Brazil Following Collapse of Two Dams]

On Oct. 8, in the wake of Hurley Medical Center’s study, Republican Mich. Gov. Rick Snyder provided $12 million from the state’s budget to assist Flint in reconnecting to Detroit’s water system. Gov. Snyder’s press secretary David Murray told The Washington Post that even though Flint’s water system has been disconnected from the Flint River, “some families with lead plumbing in their homes or service connections could experience higher levels of lead in the water that comes out of their faucets” due to corrosion remaining in the system.

Lead at any level can be associated with decreases in IQ, behavioral disorders, even an association with certain juvenile delinquency as these children get older,” Michigan Department of Health and Human Services chief medical executive Dr. Eden Wells said in comments to CBS News.

Parents of children with elevated blood-lead levels have filed a federal class-action lawsuit against state and city officials for swapping their safe Detroit-supplied water with less-expensive-but-toxic Flint River water.

[RELATED: Food Safety, Environmental Groups Demand Investigation into USDA]

I am requesting that all things be done necessary to address this state of emergency declaration, effective immediately,” Mayor Karen Weaver said on Monday according to MLive. Her state of emergency declaration seeks state and federal funding to deal with problems that she feels will arise in the future due to the exposure of local children to lead in tap water. She called on the federal government to send funds for special education, mental health, and criminal justice resources to assist in addressing those issues.

Judge Jails Former Pastor For Jury Nullification Education

BIG RAPIDS, Mich., December 2, 2015– Former pastor Keith Wood, 39, was arrested last week for handing out fliers that informed passerby about the practice of jury nullification on the sidewalk in front of the Mecosta County courthouse.

Wood was distributing fliers from the Fully Informed Jury Association.

“I’m a disciple of Jesus Christ. Jesus said ‘the truth will set you free’ and I want people to know the truth,” said Wood regarding why he decided to hand out the fliers entitled What Rights Do You Have as a Juror That the Judge Won’t Tell You About?

“If you don’t use your rights, you lose them,” Wood said.

While Wood was handing out the fliers, a courthouse employee approached him and told him that the judge wanted to speak with him. Wood asked the employee if he was being detained and before telling the employee that he would rather stay put.

Shortly after the first encounter, a court deputy approached Wood and also told him that the judge wanted to speak with him. The deputy reportedly informed Wood that if he refused to speak with the judge, the Big Rapids police arrive to arrest him.

Wood said that after being threatened with arrest, he went inside where Mecosta County District Court Judge Peter Jaklevic ordered a deputy to “place him in custody for jury tampering.”

Wood was immediately jailed and a $150,000 bond was ordered. After sitting in jail for approximately 12 hours, Wood made bond and was charged with jury tampering, which is a one-year misdemeanor. He was also charged with obstruction of justice, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

“It’s just outrageous,” said Wood’s attorney David Kallman. “The
government can’t just come in and step on people’s First Amendment rights.”

According to Kallman, Wood had no case at the court, knew of no cases and no jury had even been seated at the time he was handing out the educational material.

“There was no jury to tamper with,” Kallman pointed out.

Last August, Occupy Denver affiliated jury rights activist Mark Iannicelli was arrested on seven felony counts of jury tampering after he allegedly distributed educational flyers promoting the concept of jury nullification outside of the Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse in Denver, Colorado. Iannicelli reportedly issued the flyers from a booth with a sign reading “Juror Info.

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Rand Paul Surpasses Trump and Fiorina, Wins Michigan Straw Poll

GOP Presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) won the straw poll at the Mackinac Island Republican Leadership Conference in Michigan on Saturday, surpassing current GOP frontrunners in the polls such as Carly Fiorina and Donald Trump.

Paul received 22 percent in the poll, and he was followed by former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina with 15 percent, Ohio Gov. John Kasich with 13.8 percent, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tx.) with 13 percent, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush with 9.7 percent, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) with 8 percent, and billionaire mogul Donald Trump with 6 percent.

The Detroit News, which released the results of the poll, noted that in addition to winning the 2015 straw poll consisting of 785 ballots, Paul also won the conference’s straw poll in 2013.

The Detroit Free Press noted that while some officials with other campaigns “complained the Paul campaign made a concerted effort to bring people to the island to register for the conference so they could vote in the straw poll,” Paul’s national political director, John Yob, insisted that’s “what organizational contests are all about,” and predicted that “Rand Paul is going to over-perform in organizational contests around the country.”

“This is an organization test that indicates that Paul will over-perform in other organizational contests such as Iowa, Nevada, Minnesota and other caucus states that come before the March 8 Michigan primary,” Yob said.

[RELATED: First Official Poll Shows Rand Paul Lost Debate By Landslide]

Paul’s victory in the poll comes days after a defeat in polls following the second GOP debate on Wednesday. According to the first official poll released after the debate, 2 percent viewed Paul as the debate winner, putting him far behind Trump, who received 21 percent support, and Fiorina, who won with 33 percent.

According to the results from the Michigan straw poll, Paul surpassed both Trump, who has consistently been the GOP frontrunner since he announced he was running in June, and Fiorina, whose poll numbers rose drastically after her performance in the recent debate.

For more election coverage, click here.


Michigan Mom Jailed for Failure to Pay $10 Dog License Renewal Fee on Time

On June 23, 47-year-old Michigan mother Becky Rehr was shocked to find herself behind bars after she stopped by the Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office to show proof that she had paid to renew the license for her 11-year-old dog Dexter.

My fault, my bad for misplacing and forgetting the license renewal,” said Rehr, who admits she renewed the license over three months late, to The Kalamazoo Gazette. “I had every intention of taking care of it, but with the end of the school year and my job, it just totally got put on the back burner.

However, the fact that she had paid the license renewal fee already did not stop police from arresting her in connection with an arrest warrant for her failure to pay it on time, as the ownership of an unlicensed dog in Kalamazoo County is treated as a misdemeanor criminal offense, punished by a $100 fine and up to 90 days in jail.

[Police] frisked me and put me in this intake cell with all these inmates in orange jumpsuits. I was pretty nervous,” said Rehr. As she languished in a holding cell for three hours, her 14-year-old daughter waited in the car for her to return from what was originally expected to be a quick stop. “Luckily, she had her iPhone,” said Rehr.

On Monday, the Kalamazoo County prosecutor’s office dropped the charges against Rehr, noting the fact that she had paid the license fee. Chief Assistant Prosecutor Carrie Klein told The Kalamazoo Gazette that dog licensing misdemeanor charges are typically dropped after the defendant proves that he or she has paid the required fee. “Every case needs to be evaluated, but if it just completely got away from you and there’s nothing else going on, it likely will get dismissed,” said Klein, explaining why police arrested Rehr.

Kalamazoo County Animal Control director Steve Lawrence said that he had contacted Rehr multiple times to remind her to pay the fee. “We prefer not for this stuff to go to court. It’s just a $10 license. For some reason, some people like to make it hard for themselves,” said Lawrence according to CBS Detroit. “We’re not looking to punish people. We’re just looking for people to get their dog license,” he added.

Rehr originally reported to the local sheriff’s office because she had received a June 22 letter indicating that a warrant had been issued for her arrest for failure to renew the license. However, she happened to have renewed the license 4 days earlier. “I already had the license and I’m a law-abiding citizen,” said Rehr, who thought that she would be able to take the renewed license to the sheriff’s office to “get [the warrant] taken care of” rather than being booked into the jail.

Rehr told The Kalamazoo Gazette that she finds Kalamazoo County’s criminal punishments for those who fail to renew their dog licenses to be too extreme and that a civil penalty with a fine would make better sense.

Man makes bomb threat, drives truck through Coast Guard Station in Michigan

A Michigan man, who claimed to have a bomb with him, drove his truck into the U.S. Coast Guard Station on Lake Michigan early Sunday morning.

The man who remains unnamed, but according to CNN, is 34-years-old, drove his truck through the fence and onto the Grand Haven Coast Guard Station. After breaking into the station, the man supposedly told Coast Guard personnel there a bomb was in his truck. No bomb was found at the scene, but officials were still investigating the area.

No Coast Guard or other personnel were injured during the incident, partially thanks to a phone call intercepted by an Ottawa County dispatcher, according to the AP. The intercepted call was allegedly from the driver of the truck who stated during the call he had a bomb in his truck and planned on blowing up the Grand Haven Coast Guard Station.

Senior Chief Petty Officer Justin Olson said, according to MLive, the phone call allowed the station to enact their “in-place bomb threat procedure,” which “assured the safe evacuation of all” within the station. “We would like to thank the Grand Haven Department of Public Safety and our other partner agencies for their assistance and quick response to the incident,” said Olson. 

A report from the Grand Haven Department of Public Safety stated, according to the New York Daily News, “The incident was initially investigated as a potential act of domestic terrorism due to the circumstances.” The report then claimed the investigation had so far revealed no link to any foreign or domestic terrorist organizations.

The Grand Haven police have also indicated the man is a suspect in an Oceana County house fire. The home supposedly belonged to the driver. All investigations are currently ongoing.

Michigan triggers Article V Constitutional Convention?

LANSING, Mich., April 4, 2014–  Michigan’s recently passed resolution calling for an Article V convention of the states to amend the federal Constitution may have been the catalyst to finally put the process in motion. At the magic number of 34, Michigan joins multiple other states that have successfully passed a resolution calling for a federal balanced budget amendment (BBA). Tennessee passed its BBA resolution only a couple weeks before Michigan.

Michigan Senate Joint Resolution V calls upon Congress to allow Michigan to join other states in requesting an Article V convention of the states.

“A JOINT RESOLUTION to petition the congress of the United States to call a convention to propose amendments to the constitution of the United States to require a balanced federal budget.”

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder (R) has been calling upon the state legislature to pass the resolution since the beginning of the legislative season.

Ambiguity surrounds Article V. Some pundits have claimed that because multiple states have rescinded their applications the magic number requiring Congress to call a convention to move forward has not been reached. Furthermore, because all of the state resolutions differ in many ways even though they may have the same general theme, it is not immediately clear whether or not they will be considered germane.

New York Times best-selling author and constitutional scholar Dr. Kevin Gutzman says states cannot rescind their applications.

“The Constitution makes no provision for a state to rescind its application for an amendment convention.”

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R- Cali.) pressed House Speaker John Boehner last Tuesday to determine if Michigan was the final state to cross the threshold for this specific classification of convention.

Although it may seem these states will only be allowed to propose a BBA at the convention due to their state resolutions (applications) saying this is the reason they are requesting Congress call the convention that simply is not true.

Gutzman warns that although the idea of a runaway convention is “absurd” the current convention being pursued would allow states to propose any sort of amendment they want. For example, Hawaii passed its resolution and wants to make Obamacare part of the federal Constitution. According to Gutzman, Hawaii would be allowed to propose such an Amendment at this convention if it is not constrained.

According to Gutzman, there is a way to ensure states only propose a BBA and nothing more in this type of open convention. When state legislatures pass their resolutions they can bind their delegates to vote only on the proposed amendment at the convention. Gutzman says that founding father George Nicholas expounded upon the notion that individual state legislatures would be able to control this convention process.

This can also be accomplished through what has been named “Compact for America“. The compact process consolidates the convention process and ensures that only the amendment proposed by the state legislatures may be considered (video below).

“If there were an interstate compact such as the Compact for America (so far approved by the Georgia Legislature and one house each in Alaska and Arizona), it would be true to say that states would be limited to only proposing a balanced budget amendment. This is an open convention (currently being pushed), and thus its agenda cannot be limited–just as at Philadelphia in 1787.”

Gutzman believes that an open convention is likely to produce either no amendment proposal or an undesirable amendment proposal. Meanwhile, he believes that the Compact for America BBA would actually limit spending, and it would do so in a far less time consuming fashion.

Furthermore, after additional research, Gutzman has concluded that the resolutions most likely deviate from one another too widely for them to be considered germane to a single Amendment, which would warrant Congress calling the requested convention.

For proponents of the convention, it seems as though the only way to ensure that Congress call one would be to utilize the compact process. This ensures that all resolutions are identical and could not be considered non-germane.

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*An earlier version of this story read “Congress has no option: Michigan triggers Article V Constitutional Convention”. Upon further investigation, the expert opinion provided by Dr. Gutzman was changed to reflect the current version of this ongoing story.

BREAKING: Can new Michigan legislation nullify all NSA activities in the state?

LANSING, March 25, 2014 – A bipartisan group of Michigan legislators have introduced a bill, which would ban the state from providing material support to the National Security Agency (NSA). The introduced legislation would also block some immediate practical effects of federal warrantless surveillance programs from within the state.

House Bill 5420 (HB5420), the Fourth Amendment Protection Act, was introduced by Rep. Tom McMillin (R-Rochester) last Thursday to prohibit any state support of the NSA. Cosponsors include five Republicans and five Democrats.

“There is a clear assault by federal government agencies like the NSA on Michigan citizens’ fourth amendment rights,” Rep. McMillin said. “We should do everything we can to stop that assault.”

Michigan joins a host of states including Arizona, California, Tennessee and South Carolina which are considering similar legislation to push back against NSA spying this year.

Practically speaking, HB5420 addresses three areas where the NSA relies on state assistance to continue their programs.

The legislation prohibits the state of Michigan and its subdivisions from providing “material support, participation, or assistance in any form that aids in collecting electronic data or metadata concerning any person, if the collection is not pursuant to a warrant that particularly describes the place to be searched and the person or thing to be seized.”

Currently, five schools in the state of Michigan have been labeled by the NSA as a “center for academic excellence.” These university partnerships provide critical research that helps the NSA to expand. Continuance of such programs would be banned should HB5420 become law.

Finally, the legislation would ban the state, including local law enforcement, from using in a criminal investigation or prosecution any electronic communications obtained without a warrant “that particularly describes the place to be searched and the person or thing to be seized.”

While the NSA does not currently operate a data or “threat operations” center in Michigan, Tenth Amendment Center communications director Mike Maharrey said states around the country need to pass similar legislation to make NSA expansion more difficult.

“We know the NSA has aggressively worked to expand its physical locations because it maxed out the Baltimore area power grid in 2006. They’ve built new locations in Utah and Texas, and expanded in several other states,” Maharrey said. “Since the NSA is expanding so wildly, it’s not unlikely that they’re planning to build new data centers and ‘threat operations centers’ in other locations. We can’t wait until the NSA opens up shop. Passage of the Fourth Amendment Protection Act puts the NSA in a pretty tight box, one that we don’t plan to let it out of.”

HB5420 includes criminal charges for state officials that decide to collude with the NSA and aid their spying program. Any state agent or employee who violates the act would commit a “misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 90 days.”

The legislation is based off the long-standing legal principle of the anti-commandeering doctrine, which prohibits the federal government from requiring, or “commandeering” the states to carry out their acts. The Supreme Court has upheld the doctrine in four major cases going back to 1842.

In the Prigg case of 1842, the Supreme Court held that the federal government was not allowed to require the states to help carry out federal slavery laws. The same verdict was reached more recently in Printz v. United States when the Court ruled that states could not be forced to implement federal gun control measures.

HB5420 will first be voted on in the House Judiciary Committee, where it will need to pass before being considered by the full state house.

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Property owner arrested, charged with felony at public meeting for talking too long after city stole his property

BRIDGEPORT TOWNSHIP, Mich., March 19, 2014 — After the city township stole his property, a 59-year-old Michigan property owner was arrested and charged with a felony resisting and obstructing police earlier this month for violating the three-minute public comment rule at a township board meeting.

“You (city township) ordered the destruction of everything I built. You came for my BBQ grill, you came for my bird feeders,” said Mark Adams.

According to Adams, he handed board members a four-page document with 21 grievances against the township and other government officials prior to speaking. He also requested he be heard for fifteen minutes instead of the standard three.

Among those grievances were claims that the board violated the state open meetings act and Freedom of Information Act.

According to Adams, he requested documents from the township through a FOIA and was met with police force multiple times. “You’ve got this place on lock-down,” he said.

“I have a right to redress my grievances,” said Adams just before he was arrested March 4 by three officers.

Township officials claim that they had to remove Adams twice before, but this was the first arrest.

In addition to his felony charge, Adams was also charged with a disturbing the peace misdemeanor.

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LOTFI: Is Rep. Justin Amash’s challenger doomed?

ellisIn a recent interview with the Weekly Standard, Brian Ellis, who is GOP Rep. Justin Amash’s primary challenger, provided a statement that should put the final nail in the coffin of his own campaign.

Ellis told the Weekly Standard that Amash should stop voting against bills because he thinks they violate the Constitution. “If something is unconstitutional, we have a court system that looks at that,” Ellis said.

Ellis’ statement needs to be dissected in order to understand the strain of big-government neoconservativism he personifies.

First, it should be noted that the oath of office demands that federal representatives are obedient to the Constitution itself, and not to the Court.

By Ellis’ logic, African-Americans are property and not humans. Why? The Supreme Court said so in Dred Scott v. Sandford.

By Ellis’ logic, the federal government can force you into the insurance market. What will happen if you refuse to comply? You will be forced to pay a “fine.” Why? The Supreme Court said so in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius.

By Ellis’ logic, a farmer can’t grow wheat for himself to feed his family and his animals during times of economic hardship. Why? The Supreme Court said so in Wickard v. Filburn.

By Ellis’ logic, the federal government can take all police powers away from the states. Why? The Supreme Court said so in Champion v. Ames.

By Ellis’ logic, the federal government can control essentially every ditch of rainwater, machine and employee, regardless of lines of commerce. Why? The Supreme Court said so in United States v. Darby.

The list goes on and on. It is essential for Americans to realize that the Supreme Court is not the final arbiter of law in this Republic.

It is important to remember that the Court offers an opinion, not a decree of final arbitration. We can refer back to Federalist No. 78 and Madison’s Report of 1800 to recall that the Court ceases being the final arbiter when the Court has become party to an unchecked, unconstitutional government. This right belongs to the people and the states respectively.

By Ellis’ logic, five individuals can pervert and redefine the Constitution at any given moment depending on the political and economic climate of the year.

If Americans wish to understand why our federal government has become a creature of vast usurpation of delegated powers, they should turn their eyes toward politicians like Ellis.

Rather than uphold their oath to the Constitution, they unconstitutionally delegate such tasks to a Court which hasn’t acted within its own constitutionally delegated power since Chief Justice John Marshall purposefully, and knowingly, corrupted the Court with his 1803 ruling on Marbury v. Madison.

With Ellis perpetuating such logic throughout the GOP, supporters of limited government need beware of his campaign to unseat Amash, a true champion of limited government.

(Opinion) Follow Micahel Lotfi on Facebook & on Twitter: @MichaelLotfi

Breaking: Michigan nullifies NDAA Indefinite Detention

Guantanamo Bay Prison

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder (R) signed into law yesterday SB0094. The bill attempts to nullify Section 1021 of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Michigan joins other states who have sought to nullify the NDAA’s controversial indefinite detention clause.

SB0094 sponsor Michigan Senator Rick Jones (R) told us:

“Historically Michigan first asserted 10th Amendment rights in 1855 when we passed a law to block the Fugitive Slave Act. I thought of this great history as I pushed the bill to nullify the NDAA. No US citizen should have to fear being thrown into jail or prison without charges. I got support from both sides of the political spectrum. With the Governor’s signature, Michigan states no local police, state police, sheriff or Michigan National Guard will assist the feds with holding a US citizen without Habeas Corpus.”

Senate Bill No. 94 reads:

  • AN ACT to prohibit any agency of this state, any political subdivision of this state, any employee of any agency of this state or any political subdivision of this state, or any member of the Michigan national guard from assisting an agency of the armed forces of the United States in the investigation, prosecution, or detainment of any citizen of the United States under certain circumstances.
  • No agency of this state, no political subdivision of this state, no employee of an agency of this state or a political subdivision of this state acting in his or her official capacity, and no member of the Michigan national guard on active state service shall aid an agency of the armed forces of the United States in any investigation, prosecution, or detention of any person pursuant to section 1021 of the national defense authorization act for fiscal year 2012, if such aid would place that state agency, political subdivision, employee, or member of the Michigan national guard in violation of the United States constitution, the state constitution of 1963, or any law of this state… (Read the rest of the bill HERE)

According to Tenth Amendment Center national communications director Mike Maharrey:

“This is a great step forward in protecting the basic due process rights of people in Michigan and gives activists there something to build on. Moving forward, I would love to see the Michigan legislature expand the policy in two ways. First, I would like to see it include protection for all people, not just U.S. citizens. After all, every person has a right to basic due process, no matter who they are or where they are from. Second, I would like to see a bill expanding the ban on cooperation to any future federal law or regulation that purports to allow indefinite detention. No federal act can justify kidnapping. None.”

Maharrey does note that the bill needs some work. He calls it “a fantastic start.”

“By including a caveat – “if such aid would place that state agency, political subdivision, employee, or member of the Michigan national guard in violation of the United States constitution, the state constitution of 1963, or any law of this state”  – the bill is not an express prohibition.  Rather, since no official determination has been made on such constitutionality as of yet, it leaves the decision of constitutionality to discretion. But, the new law does provide legal backing for those sheriffs, law enforcement officers, and other agencies and employees, who refuse to assist the federal government in such activities based on their own constitutional determination.”

The bill’s bite is rooted is anti-commandeering doctrine. This doctrine, which has been well established by the United States Supreme Court (Printz v. United States), dictates that the federal government cannot force state legislatures to enforce federal laws.

According to Justice Scalia’s majority opinion in Printz v. United States, state legislatures are not subject to federal direction. Although Congress may enforce its own laws, they may not force the states to carry out their duties in such laws. According to the Court, the Constitution establishes a system of dual sovereignty where states and the federal government exercise concurrent authority. Giving Congress the power to force states in to service would greatly enhance federal power, and the Court ruled this could not stand.

Follow Michael Lotfi on Facebook & on Twitter @MichaelLotfi

College Professor Rant Caught On Tape: “Old,” “White” Republicans “Raped” America

Academia is often thought to be liberal, but this professor arguably crossed a line.

William Penn teaches Creative Writing at Michigan State University (MSU). He was recently caught on tape calling Republicans “old,” “white” people who are deliberately trying to stop African Americans from voting.

Penn delivered the rant on MSU’s first day of classes.

He said, “If you go to the Republican convention in Florida, you see all of the old Republicans with the dead skin cells washing off them. They are cheap. They don’t want to pay taxes because they have already raped this country and gotten everything out of it they possibly could.”

He continued, “This country still is full of closet racists. What do you think is going on in South Carolina and North Carolina? Voter suppression. It’s about getting black people not to vote. Why? Because black people tend to vote Democratic.”

“Why would would Republicans want to do it? Because Republicans are not a majority in this country anymore. They are a bunch of dead white people. Or dying white people.”

The unsettling video has caused an investigation into the situation. Kent Cassella, a spokesman for MSU, said on Tuesday, “MSU is thankful we’ve been made aware of the situation. We will be looking into it.”

According to the administration, MSU prides itself on creating an environment where students feel comfortable voicing their own beliefs. Cassella said, “At MSU it is important the classroom environment is conducive to a free exchange of ideas and is respectful of the opinions of others.”

Do you think Penn should be punished for his rant? Or was he merely practicing his First Amendment rights? Let us know in the comments section below.