Thursday, October 27, 2011

Temecula Constitution Study: 24th Amendment, Poll Taxes, and Open Primaries

Tonight at 6:00 pm at Faith Armory in Temecula we will be discussing:

Amendment 24: Poll Taxes and Open Primaries

The 24th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution ratified in 1964 that made it illegal for a state to use payment to all taxes as a requirement to vote in national elections. Few blacks could vote because they had a little money. The poll tax to vote was $1.50. A woman decided to take the poll tax issue to court. In October 1965, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear Evelyn T. Butts' appeal. In 1966 the Supreme Court of the United States declared Poll Taxes unconstitutional.

A poll tax is a uniformed tax levied on every adult in the community. Poll taxes have their roots in ancient tax systems and have been criticized as an unfair burden on the poor. Historically, in the U.S., they were enacted in the South as a prerequisite for voting disfranchising many African Americans and poor whites.

A number of States have been passing laws enabling their States to make their election primaries open to all voters. In other words, you can vote for anyone you want regardless of party during the primary. These are called “Open Primaries.” Some proponents of the Open Primaries contend that Closed Primaries are unconstitutional - a violation of the 24th Amendment.

Though I am not a big fan of a "party system," I realize it is a natural result of human nature. We tend to attract to those that think like ourselves, and parties ultimately form. But to allow voters to cross party-lines in the primaries is dangerous, and nullifies the whole point of the primaries.

I understand that not all States have primaries, and the rules for choosing candidates for a particular party varies from state to state - as it should. States are given the authority to make their own election rules, and maintain the elections in their state, according to Article I, Section 4 of the United States Constitution. This is why the Florida-Chad controversy should have never resulted in the federal courts getting involved. The decision on what to do should have remained at the State level.

Open primaries allow members of opposing parties to vote in their opponent's primary in the hopes of affecting the outcome, and putting the weaker candidate on the ballot so that their own party has a better chance to win. If both parties of a two party system is doing such, the result will always be the two weakest candidates facing off against each other. How is that a good thing?

However, as previously stated, there is a number of supporters of Open Primaries who contend that Closed Primaries are in violation of the 24th Amendment because limiting who can vote in a primary by party membership is a poll tax as per implied law.

Poll Tax: NOUN: A tax levied on people rather than on property, often as a requirement for voting.

A poll tax is a uniformed tax levied on the voters in the community in an effort to discourage or disfranchise voters of the lower income levels. In the United States poll taxes were used in the South as a prerequisite for voting to stop the vote of blacks and poor whites. Few blacks could vote because they had a little money. The poll tax to vote was $1.50.

The poll tax issue wound up in court. In October of 1965, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear Evelyn T. Butts' appeal. In 1966 the Supreme Court of the United States declared Poll Taxes unconstitutional. Their decision was based on the 24th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution ratified in 1964 that made it illegal for a State to use taxes as a requirement to vote in the national elections.

A poll tax is a poll tax, however, and is not being applied in today's primary. One may suggest that the 24th Amendment "implies" that no action can be taken to close any election to any person - but primaries are simply party oriented, and the people who couldn't vote in the primary will be able to in the general election.

Simply put, the law specifically indicates poll taxes, and poll taxes are not in play here. Therefore, closed primaries are not unconstitutional.

Unfortunately, neither are open primaries.

-- Political Pistachio Conservative News and Commentary

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Constitution Class in Temecula - Amendments 18 through 23

The following is a short summary of tonight's topics (we meet at 6:00 pm):

Amendments 18 and 21, Prohibition:

Amendment 18 was ratified January 16, 1919, bringing the prohibition of alcohol to America. The amendment was repealed by Amendment 21, December 5, 1933.

Christian churches worked to bring about prohibition as far back as the 1840s. Through the use of pressure-politics the goal of nationwide prohibition was achieved during World War I with the ratification of the Eighteenth Amendment.

Congress passed the "Volstead Act" on October 28, 1919, to enforce the law, but most large cities refused to enforce the legislation. As the federal government went after bootleggers, it became quickly apparent that the understaffed agencies were fighting a losing battle. Meanwhile, though there was a slight decline in alcohol consumption around the nation, organized crime increased in the larger cities. Alcohol became a high demand cash crop that the criminal element could not resist.

As Prohibition became increasingly unpopular, the perceived need for tax revenue during the Great Depression encouraged a repeal movement. The hope for tax revenue, and weakening organized crime, led to the Twenty-First Amendment, which repealed the amendment that had brought Prohibition to America. The repeal returned the legalities of alcohol to the States. Though Prohibition was over nationwide, some counties remained "dry counties," forbidding the sale of alcoholic beverages.


The Nineteenth Amendment is the Amendment that established uniform voting rights for women. It was ratified on August 18, 1920.

The Constitution gives the States the right to determine its own rules for elections. Though a few states and territories allowed women to vote prior to the Nineteenth Amendment, for the most part women were not allowed to vote around the nation. The women's suffrage movement worked to bring about an amendment that would give women voting rights nationwide. The amendment was first proposed in 1878, and it took forty-one years before it was submitted to the States for ratification. It took about a year to receive enough votes for ratification.

A challenge to the Nineteenth Amendment (Leser v. Garnett, 1922) claimed that the amendment was unconstitutionally adopted, and that the rules for elections was implicitly delegated to the individual states because of the need to preserve state sovereignty. However, the very fact that the change in voting rules was through amendment made the argument against the Nineteenth Amendment a moot point.

After the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified, with this new power, women were able to attempt to elect those who shared their beliefs, hoping that other measures that would push forward the fight for women's rights would also emerge.

After the Nineteenth Amendment passed, the percentage of women in the workforce increased to about 25 percent. Though discrimination continued, and women rarely held decision-making positions, it was definitely a step in the right direction.

During World War II, women were needed in all areas since many of the men went overseas to fight. The percentage of women in the workforce increased to 36 percent. The boom for women was short-lived, however. When the war ended, and the soldiers returned home, 2 million women were fired within 15 months after the end of the war to make room for the men.

Despite such setbacks, by the 1980s, the percentage of women in the workforce exceeded 50 percent. However, the percentage of women voting has not equaled the original push shortly after the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment.

Question for discussion: the States and territories that allowed women to vote were in the frontier. Why do you suppose that was the reality?


Amendment 20, Election Rules

Ratified in 1933, the Twentieth Amendment establishes the beginning and end of the terms of the elected federal offices.

The amendment moved the beginning of the Presidential, Vice Presidential and Congressional terms from March 4. Congress would convene on the third day of January, reducing the amount of time a lame duck Congress would be in session. The terms of the President and Vice President were moved to the 20th day of January.

Also, another key point as a result of this amendment, is that if the Electoral College fails to resolve who will be the President or Vice President, the newly elected Congress, as opposed to the outgoing one, would choose who would occupy the unresolved office or offices.


Amendment 22, Presidential Term Limit

The Twenty-Second Amendment was passed in 1951. It was designed to ensure no president could seek a third term. Though the Constitution did not limit the number of terms a president could serve prior to this amendment, many consider the fact that George Washington choosing not to seek a third term as evidence that the Founding Fathers saw two-terms as the expected standard.

James Madison and James Monroe also adhered to the two-term principle. Few Presidents sought a third term, and no President achieved it, until Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1940 became the only president to be elected to a third term. World War to has often been cited as the reason. In 1944, while World War II continued to rage, Roosevelt won a fourth term. He died before he could complete that term.


Amendment 23, Washington DC Electoral Votes

The Twenty-Third Amendment allows the citizens in Washington DC to vote for Electors for President and Vice President. The amendment was ratified in 1961.

Washington DC, prior to this amendment, was literally being taxed without representation. However, one must consider that Washington DC was not supposed to have a population in the first place. The District of Columbia was intended to only be the seat of government.

Since Washington DC is not a State, the district is still unable to send voting Representatives or Senators to Congress.

The amendment restricts the district to the number of Electors of the least populous state, irrespective of its own population. That number is currently three.


Special Thanks to: Faith Armory, 27498 Enterprise Cir. W #2, Temecula, CA 92562; 951-699-7500, - For providing us with a classroom to meet in.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Temecula Constitution Study - Amendments 16 and 17


Lesson 13 - The Rise of Progressive Economics

Lesson 13.1 - Amendment XVI, Income Tax and the Federal Reserve

The income tax was never supposed to come into existence. The Founding Fathers prohibited direct taxes in Article I, Section 9, Clause 4 of the U.S. Constitution, and the proposed amendment was never expected to be ratified by the States. . .
Progressivism was on the rise in the United States around the turn of the 20th Century. Americans were concerned about the large national debt that remained with the United States as a result of the Spanish-American War, and the growing social inequality between the rich and the poor. The idea that there should be a tax that “soaks the rich” began to take root among progressives of both major parties. The Democrats took to progressivism more than the Republican Party, and the liberals of the Democrat Party were looking for a way to embarrass the conservative arm of the GOP so that they could gain some traction in the next election. . .

During World War II Franklin Delano Roosevelt saw the income tax as a way to vastly increase revenue, and initiated a policy of withholding from “all” wages and salaries, not just the highest incomes enjoyed by the rich. Rather than the rich paying the tax at the end of the year, the tax was collected at the payroll window before it was even due to be paid by the taxpayer. This style of collection shifted the tax from its original design as a tax on the wealthy to a tax on the masses, mostly on the middle class. . .

In addition to violating the original intent of Article I, Section 9, the income tax also opposes the 4th Amendment which requires that a citizen’s privacy be protected. An income tax enforced by the Internal Revenue Service violates the privacy of the home, business, personal papers and personal affairs of the private citizen. Since the tax is based on income, the IRS has the task of making sure everyone pays his fair share. This task is physically impossible without prying into the private papers, private business and personal affairs of the individual citizens. . .

The Federal Reserve Act surrendered control of the monetary system to the international banking cartel and guaranteed the eventual abandonment of the gold standard. The Federal Reserve's debt-based money guaranteed the enslavement of every American under a crushing debt burden. The Federal Reserve guaranteed the ability of the international banking cartel to confiscate wealth through artificially created boom/bust cycles. . .

The welfare system was created to compensate for the damage caused by the Federal Reserve and the income tax. . .

The income tax is in line with the Marxist philosophy of destroying a capitalist society by steeply graduating taxes on income and heavy levies upon the estates of people when they die. . .

Lesson 13.2 - Amendment XVII, Abolishing State Representation in the United States Congress

. . . The dynamics of the federal government were set up to prevent any part of government from having access to too much power. Too much power in any one part of the system could be dangerous, and this included too much power in the hands of the people. . .

This nation is not a democracy. All of the voting power was not given to the people. Even the voting power was divided so as to ensure the republic was protected from the mob-rule mentality of democracy. . .

The Senators were appointed by the State legislatures. The State legislators are voted into office by the people of the State. Therefore, during the early years of this nation, the Senators attained office by an indirect vote of the people. . .

Remember, the federal government exists because the States let it. The powers derived by the federal government were granted to it by the States. The federal government is not supposed to be able to do much of anything without the State’s permission. The Senate was the representation of the States so that the States could ensure the federal government remained within its authorities. . .

The people wanted the government to be more like a democracy, and they got it with the Seventeenth Amendment. . .

Karl Marx once stated that “Democracy is the road to socialism.” . . .

The Seventeenth Amendment, combined with the creation of the Federal Reserve, and the implementation of an income tax, was all a part of a scheme to change the American System into a model of socialism through the guise of democracy. . .

We are not a democracy, and we were never meant to be a democracy. The Seventeenth Amendment moved us in that direction. The Founding Fathers continuously spoke out against the dangers of democracy. They knew that democracies lead to mob-rule. As much as the government couldn’t be trusted with too much power, neither could the voting public. . .

Join us at 6:00 pm at Faith Armory, 27498 Enterprise Cir. W., Temecula, CA

-- Political Pistachio Conservative News and Commentary