How Far Does the Second Amendment Reach?

That’s the question the Supreme Court will answer next year in McDonald vs. Chicago.

Aside from the District of Colombia prior to 2008, Chicago’s extensive restrictions on firearms led many to suspect that the city’s ban on such weapons was also unconstitutional in the wake of D.C. v. Heller. Unsurprisingly, several Chicago citizens backed by the Illinois State Rifle Association brought suit against the city challenging the ordinances as violations of the Second and Fourteenth Amendment. Specifically, the case challenges the ordinances:

  1. Banning the registration of handguns, thus effecting a broad handgun ban;
  2. Requiring that guns be registered prior to their acquisition by Chicago residents, which is not always feasible;
  3. Mandating that guns be re-registered on an annual basis, including the payment of what amounts to an annual tax on the exercise of Second Amendment rights;
  4. and Rendering any gun permanently non-registerable if its registration lapses

The City of Chicago prevailed both in the district court and in the Seventh Circuit. How the Supreme Court will rule remains unresolved.

Will the Second Amendment be incorporated against the States? Will the Slaughterhouse cases of 1873 be overturned? What implications will this have to the rest of the Bill of Rights?

Stay tuned.

Petition for cert here.

Do you support a soda tax?

With the debate surrounding health care reform (Question: How do we pay for it?), another possibility to bettering the health of this nation is warranting a second look. (Answer: the soda tax). Certainly this possibility comes as bitter news to the sugary soda industry but lawmakers suggest that a nominal tax would help offset the trillion dollar price tag attached to universal health care.

I am favorably disposed to a soda tax because harmful actions should be discouraged; e.g. over-consumption of sugar.

As Derek Thompson from The Atlantic explains,

The added benefit of a sin tax is that by taxing something you consider harmful, you can win in two ways. If you don’t discourage consumption of the taxed good, revenues go up. If you do discourage consumption of the taxed good, then congratulations, you’ve reduced the sin you considered harmful in the first place. Considering the enormous impact of obesity on soaring health care costs, that would be a very good thing indeed.

Now, I do not believe it is the government’s role to dictate what we eat, how much we eat, and when we eat. I’m a firm believer in personal responsibility for my eating habits. However, I do believe the government has an interest in protecting the health of its citizens by passing regulations or taxes consistent with such goals.

And considering the enormous impact obesity impacts health care costs, it seems reasonable to tax those responsible for incurring such expenses.

I’m certainly curious to hear what others think. Why do you (or do not) support a soda tax?

File Under Obvious (Do Not Smuggle Heroin to Prisoners)

That message was apparently lost on Arizona attorney David DeCosta who was arrested today for providing heroin and other narcotics to a prisoner.

At the risk of stating the obvious, licensed attorneys are to maintain the integrity of the profession. The Model Rules of Professional Conduct, as promulgated by the American Bar Association, governs potentially ethic-entangling matters. Rule 8.4, covering misconduct, provides:

It is professional misconduct for a lawyer to:

(b) commit a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects;

True, DeCosta does not represent the majority of attorneys; and in almost every jurisdiction a “DeCosta” probably exists. Clearly, licensing does not confer moral uprightness.

But in the broader sense, DeCosta’s arrest illustrates that lawyers are indeed held to a higher standard than non-lawyers. The thought – rightly or otherwise – is that lawyers, like doctors or public officials, represent the blue ribbon of professional integrity. Lawyers especially are accountable for actions involving moral turpitude such as fraud and dishonesty. When a breach occurs, scandalous headlines emerge.

In sum, while DeCosta’s actions are disheartening, they are not representative of the title or position of legal advocates.

Note: Photo from Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office

Recession Slows Almost Everything: Even Marriage

As an array us U.S. Census data comes to light today, some of the findings are bleak: more people are unmarried now than ever before. While this may come as good news for seeking suitors, it appears they are in the minority.

The data suggests that Americans are delaying marriage for the sake of pursing higher education or due to lack of financial independence.

With people struggling to find work in this economy, the wait is understandable.

The full article can be read here.

On the bright side, 76% of those who have ever been married have married just once.

See here.

Until Death Do Us Part: Arizona’s Efforts In Strengthing Marriage – A.R.S. 25-901

Although not heavily broadcast, Arizona is one of three states that has legislation strengthening the bonds of marriage when it passed A.R.S. 25-901 – otherwise known as the “covenant marriage” statute. Louisiana and Arkansas are the only two other states recognizing this union.

Why “Covenant Marriage”?
Covenant marriage strengthens families by removing the easy out secured by “no-fault” divorce legislation. By denying a spouse the ability to cite “irreconcilable differences” as grounds for separation, it encourages couples to confront issues, communicate, and ultimately strengthen the family. Divorce is often quite painful. The wedding day vows recited purport to last “until death do us part.” The reality sadly is this: if the marriage does not last, the pain from divorce probably will. Even worse, its effects ripple not only though the couple, but also through the children.

As fairly inferred from the statute, covenant marriage differs from a traditional marriage license by imposing certain requirements. These requirements essentially glue the marriage together not only by limiting the grounds for divorce but also by requiring full disclosure regarding the intent and seriousness of the marital sacrament. Here are the two main requirements:

  1. 1. A written statement of declaration:

    We solemnly declare that marriage is a covenant between a man and a woman who agree to live together as husband and wife for as long as they both live. We have chosen each other carefully and have received premarital counseling on the nature, purposes and responsibilities of marriage. We understand that a covenant marriage is for life. If we experience marital difficulties, we commit ourselves to take all reasonable efforts to preserve our marriage, including marital counseling. With full knowledge of what this commitment means, we do declare that our marriage will be bound by Arizona law on covenant marriages and we promise to love, honor and care for one another as husband and wife for the rest of our lives.

  2. 2. Pre-marital counseling
    A pre-marital counselor or member of the clergy must discuss the seriousness of marriage and the limited grounds for divorce. Furthermore, a sworn, notarized statement must be submitted by the marital counselor.

These two main requirements serve the foundation for entering into a covenant marriage. This is not entered into light-heartedly. The statement the spouses swear impose upon them an obligation: preserve the marriage, seek help in times of discord, love, honor, and care for the other throughout the rest of their lives. Granted, those last words are oft-repeated, but often fall by the wayside in stormy times. But promising those words under A.R.S. 25-901, and coupled with marital counseling, it ensures that when the storms of marriage arise, the couple will weather through them.

Grounds for Divorce:
A covenant marriage strengthens the cords of marriage; it does not lock a couple into an airtight bond with no basis for breach. Grounds for divorce exist, but only under the eight reasons as established by A.R.S. 25-903. Of those eight, half codify a finding of serious fault: adultery, felony conviction with imprisonment, physical or sexual abuse, and abandonment. The last four allow for more lax standards: agreement by both spouses to dissolve the marriage, drug or alcohol abuse, and spouses living in separate domicile for two years or legal separation for a period of time.

The most significant departure from “no-fault” divorce is that no one spouse may simply obtain a divorce without cause. Seeking divorce outside one of these eight permissible categories is virtually futile; even within them, a divorce is not necessarily automatic. After all, the couple agreed to take reasonable measures to preserve the marriage – including marital counseling.

What if I’m already married?
Even those already married are eligible to convert their marriage into a covenant marriage. The main requirement, besides a nominal fee, is a signed declaration of intent to convert the marriage into a covenant marriage. This is not uncommon.

Some Arizona courts already have pre-printed forms to fill out. Once the clerk of the court files the document, the work is complete. Unlike those entering into covenant marriage initially, those already married need not complete marital counseling.

For more information, or to initiate the process of obtaining a covenant marriage license or converting to one, contact the court for information (for formatting’s sake, I am including both Pima and Maricopa county and not every county court). Alternatively, click here for more information.

Maricopa County
201 W. Jefferson
Phoenix, AZ 85003
(602) 506-3676

Pima County
110 W. Congress
Tucson, AZ 85701
(520) 740-3200

No Surprise Here: U of Arizona’s Political Science Department Lacks Diversity

Although I rarely read the student newspaper, The Daily Wildcat, I glanced at it today and was bemused to read that that the University has zero Republican professors. While I dislike conflating the labels “Republican” and “Democrat” with “conservative” and “liberal”, political party is a rough indicator of probable social, moral, and economic values. With a whopping zero Republican instructors, I find it hard to think that any significant counter-balance exists to the liberal truths expounded from mouths of the left-leaning professors; but maybe the university simply cannot find any.

But that presumption is probably far too generous. Yes, conservative ideas are often at odds with liberal principles. Yes, a staunch conservative would be viewed as radical to bleeding heart liberal. Yes, it might seem outrageous to believe that the Constitution does not provide a general right of privacy. But if the University was looking for a token professor with unconventional beliefs, they found it in Bill Mishler.

Political science professor Bill Mishler said he hasn’t “committed voting” since roughly 1980. He called voting a waste of time and said anyone who doesn’t believe in the luck of roulette shouldn’t believe his or her vote makes a difference.

Mishler was the head of the Political Science Department from 1997-2004.

The political science department accepts these students, teaches them, and sends them into the “real world” a bit more “educated.” Let’s not forget that many of these students are only 18, 19, 20, and 21 years old – still relatively fresh from high school. Fill them up in the “facts” of a particular course; sprinkle in some snide political comments and soon these students become talking mouthpieces for the professors themselves. (Maybe Mishler is a reason the younger generation suffers from voter apathy). Even those with a inkling of conservative ideas are susceptible to these liberal leanings. And once those students are “educated”, it can be difficult to remain conservative.

Still, the solution is not through instituting quotas based on political affiliation. Rather, one answer resides within erudite students or blossoming professors to seek positions within institutions of higher education. Those students having withstood being boiled in the cauldron of liberalism should seek professorships and fellowships and to replace those fanning the flames of left-wing indoctrination.

The next time the University seeks a professor with unconventional beliefs more “radical” than Mishler’s non-voting conviction, it could do well to search among the conservative ranks.

Remembering 9/11

I was a senior in high school eight years ago when I turned on the TV and witnessed the terrorist attack on American soil.

That morning, I had woken up early and turned on the television; this was a bit uncommon for me. On the screen, billows of greasy smoke poured from the first World Trade Center building. Shortly thereafter, smoke billowed from the second one too.

2,993 Deaths.

If there is ever something that touches the cords of my humanity, it is the death of innocent lives. Even though eight years have passed, I pray to God that I never forget or become dulled by passing time.

In its aftermath, America managed to project a clarion call: attacking freedom will not go unanswered.

Below is an exert from President Bush’s speech to Congress; it acknowledges that while grief will subside, America’s fight for freedom and justice will continue.

It is my hope that in the months and years ahead life will return almost to normal. We’ll go back to our lives and routines and that is good.

Even grief recedes with time and grace.

But our resolve must not pass. Each of us will remember what happened that day and to whom it happened. We will remember the moment the news came, where we were and what we were doing.

Some will remember an image of a fire or story or rescue. Some will carry memories of a face and a voice gone forever.

And I will carry this. It is the police shield of a man named George Howard who died at the World Trade Center trying to save others.

It was given to me by his mom, Arlene, as a proud memorial to her son. It is my reminder of lives that ended and a task that does not end.

I will not forget the wound to our country and those who inflicted it. I will not yield, I will not rest, I will not relent in waging this struggle for freedom and security for the American people. The course of this conflict is not known, yet its outcome is certain. Freedom and fear, justice and cruelty, have always been at war, and we know that God is not neutral between them.

God Bless America.

Working Mothers – Homemaking Isn’t Enough

Get the kids out of bed. Make breakfast. Send them to school. Wait. Wait. Wait. Make dinner. Help kids with homework. Go to bed. What to do with those afternoon hours…

If I didn’t know any better, I would almost think that being a mom would be a walk in the park, a part time job. Some women might agree.

As Tucson news reporter Jenny Anchondo finds, working moms may actually be happier moms. How can this be? Although hardly a representative sample, one woman explains:

Usually when I was unhappy, it was being driven by guilt. Guilt because I wasn’t giving enough at the office or guilt because I didn’t feel like I was giving enough at home,” said Klewer, a working mom and CPA who runs Ludwig Klewer & Co.

Now, [she has] found [her] own ways to make [herself] and [her family] happy.

Klewer realized she’s a better mom when she’s working outside the home.

The logic behind this conclusion is absurd. It sounds as if Klewer found herself at a cross roads trying to balance her career and her family. While originally driven by guilt by not committing enough time to either endeavor, she rationalized that by working she would be a better mom. I will grant that working women do develop useful skills that carry over in raising families. They may occasionally burn the midnight oil; they understand the importance of social interaction; they realize the importance of competency and know the risk of dismissal.

While these skills are transferable, I disagree that they serve as license to balance full-time career and family.

Ms. Anchondo further reports that mothers in Buenos Aires, Argentina work guilt-free. I sincerely question the validity of that conclusion. Even if it were correct, there is probably a large segment of women in America that agree.

My biggest complaint with this article is that it implicitly legitimizes – under the guise of objective reporting – the notion that career and family are separate entities both of which may be pursued equally and in tandem.

Being a mom is not a part-time job; it is rigorous, time consuming – but fulfilling. Her job descriptors: “housekeeper, day care center teacher, cook, computer operator, facilities manager, van driver, psychologist, laundry machine operator, janitor and chief executive officer.” How much time is left for her other “career”?

Obama’s Speech to School Children – Really That Bad?

Many people are up in arms over Obama’s speech to school children scheduled for tomorrow, September 8th. While I am by no means championing his agenda, I will not be the one to bring down the political fire and brimstone.

Not everyone sees this as a small deal; Govern Pawlenty took a bit more forceful stance: “At a minimum [the speech is] disruptive, number two, it’s uninvited and number three, if people would like to hear his message they can, on a voluntary basis, go to YouTube or some other source and get it. I don’t think [Obama] needs to force it upon the nation’s school children.”

I do see this as political, but I also see this as a teachable moment.

As a democratically elected official, Obama needs the support and prayers of the American people. I am not saying that major decisions need not be vetted; there can be room for disagreement (and with Obama, conservatives and especially Christians have *a lot* to disagree about). But is this speech the right fight, or is there a more global picture we should recognize?

I looked at the proposed teaching materials; the lesson plan could have been developed by any instructor and geared toward any speech.

If I were a parent homeschooling my children, this would be just another tool that I could choose to use as a short lesson. Maybe I would use it, maybe I wouldn’t. Listening to this speech is not mandatory and these questions are not inherently geared to supporting a socialist agenda.

Questions for instructors:
Who is the President of the United States?
What do you think it takes to be president?
Why is it important that we listen to the president and other elected officials, like the mayor,
senators, members of congress, or the governor? Why is what they say important?
What is the president trying to tell me?
What is the president asking me to do?
What do you think the president wants us to do?
Does the speech make you want to do anything?

There is no reason to become apoplectic. Believing this speech will indoctrinate young, impressionable, school students is missing the forest for the trees. The Department of Education sets the standards, proposes the initiatives, disseminates information to be spoon-fed to districts, schools, and classrooms throughout the nation. This happens every single day.

So the question truly becomes: who is educating your children? Is it the parents who take Obama’s speech and reviews it with the child? Or is it the public school teachers who accept the curriculum set by the administration and may have a political agenda their own? If children in public schools are being brainwashed, parents are also accountable for being complicit with the process. Protesting September 8th makes me wonder if other parents believe that all the other days are devoid of overt secular teaching. How much difference does one day make if all the other ones are spent in the same classroom by the same teacher?

Proverbs 22:6 is both a promise and a warning: “Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”