Constitution in Crisis :: March Newsletter

US Capitol Dome. Blue night sky behind.
Bipartisan Support For Repealing Presidential Blank Check for War Grows
March 1, 2018
54 Organizations Demand A Public Hearing on Racism & Violence by Washington DC Police
March 1, 2018

Breaking News! Yesterday, Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Chris Murphy (D-CT) announced they were introducing a resolution to end the United States’s unconstitutional and unauthorized participation in the Saudi-led war in Yemen. Because it is a “privileged” resolution they can and will force a floor vote on it in ten days.

Whether you think the use of US military force in Yemen is advisable or not, the Constitution gives Congress, not the President, the power to declare war. The United States has increasingly escalated its involvement in Yemen, in spite of the fact Congress has never debated or voted on whether US intervention is justified.

Three Presidents, of both parties, have cited a 2001 Authorization of the Use of Military Force against the perpetrators of 9/11 as a blank check for endless war, allowing them to take military action against forces with no nexus to 9/11. Now Independents, Democrats, and Republicans are coming together to take an important first step in putting an end to this. The road ahead is hard. The Pentagon has circulated a memo claiming current US involvement in Yemen doesn’t legally constitute military force under the War Powers Act. But momentum is in our favor. Just a few months ago the House of Representatives overwhelming passed a non-binding resolution stating US military involvement in Yemen was not authorized by Congress.

Please contact your Senators today; we have a real chance to roll back the President’s blank check of war, but only if we all raise our voices.

In Solidarity,

Sue and Chip

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Toxic Brew: State Politicians, Gas & Oil Lobbyists, and ALEC Join Forces Against Environmental Protesters

Politicians in some states are none too pleased with the environmental movement, particularly with protests against pipelines and fracking. Aided and abetted by extractive industry lobbyists and the powerful and secretive American Legislative Exchange Council, they have started to pass legislation to stifle the protests.

In Victory for the Right to Boycott, Judge Issues Preliminary Injunction Against Kansas Anti-BDS Law

“The conduct the Kansas Law aims to regulate is inherently expressive. It is easy enough to associate plaintiff’s conduct with the message that the boycotters believe Israel should improve its treatment of Palestinians. And boycotts—like parades—have an expressive quality. Forcing plaintiff to disown her boycott is akin to forcing plaintiff to accommodate Kansas’s message of support for Israel.”

In Growing Crackdown on Foreign Media, Lawmakers Call for Al-Jazeera to Register As Foreign Agent Due to Its Investigative Reporting on Pro-Israel Lobbyists

A group of lawmakers are angry that an Al-Jazeera reporter partook in an undercover investigation of Israel lobbyists. As a result, they are calling on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to force the network to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). Such a move would clearly be a retaliatory act against investigative journalism.

Celebrating Fred Korematsu in an Era of Racism and Fearmongering

Senator Maizie Hirono (D-HI) has introduced a resolution honoring Fred Korematsu, who fought President Roosevelt’s internment of Japanese Americans. Her resolution declares January 30, 2018 as “Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution.”

What the Heck is Going On?

If you don’t applaud for the president, you are accused of treason? Meanwhile, across the aisle, critics of the president are latching onto the FBI and CIA as the saviors of democracy, and casting anyone who criticizes them as unpatriotic?

Foreign Agent Registration Bill Advances in House on Split Vote: Could Affect Nonprofit Cross-Border Programs

Congress has responded to concerns about foreign influence in U.S. elections by introducing several bills to amend the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA), an obscure law requiring registration and disclosure by those acting “for or on behalf of” foreign governments and entities.

Bipartisan Support For Repealing Presidential Blank Check for War Grows

The Constitution gives Congress, not the President the power to declare war. The United States is currently engaged in escalating military operations in a number of countries, including Syria, Yemen, Somalia, and Niger. None of these conflicts have been authorized by Congress. The executive branch has cited an anachronistic AUMF as a way to sidestep a congressional debate.

Don’t Punish Students for Participating in Democracy!

Across the United States, high school students are walking out of their schools, and in some cases marching on state capitals, demanding legislators take action on gun control. These historic protests come as a direct response to a horrific shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that left 17 people dead.

Trump’s Civil Rights Nominee Has A Record Of Squashing Dissent–Help Us Stop Him

Marcus has shown little interest in defending the civil rights of vulnerable people, but he has shown a strong desire to distort civil rights law to silence political speech he disagrees with. This is unacceptable. Demand your Senators oppose Marcus.

Defending Rights & Dissent Leads Civil Liberties Groups In Raising Free Speech Concerns with Russia Report

One cannot safeguard democracy against foreign interference while delegitimizing dissent at home.

Defending Rights & Dissent Joins Civil Rights and Human Rights Groups in Opposing Missouri Anti-Boycott Bill

This law would penalize supporters of Palestinian human rights who boycott Israel by denying state contracts to companies and non-profits who support such boycotts. Such a move is blatantly unconstitutional.

Another Victory for the Right to Boycott, This Time In Massachusetts

On Thursday February 8, 2017, supporters of the right to boycott scored a major victory, when a Massachusetts anti-boycott bill was sent to “study.” The defeat of this bill was not a foregone conclusion. It was the result of the tireless work done by the Freedom to Boycott Massachusetts Coalition. Groups like Freedom to Boycott Massachusetts prove that grassroots activists have the power to push back against anti-boycott bills and win.

IOWA: An expansive bill takes aim at protesters, with huge penalties and frightening rhetoric.

Iowa State Senator Jack Shipely (R-Nodaway) claims that activists have engaged in “terrorist activity” while protesting against the Dakota Access Pipeline, and he claims that there aren’t enough laws on the books to prosecute this supposed terrorism.

LA Fights DHS/FBI Criminalization of Youth: Report Back from Feb 3rd CVE/PVE Retreat

The Stop LAPD Spying Coalition, Palestinian Youth Movement, Immigrant Youth Coalition, Black Students Union, Youth Justice Coalition and other partner organizations and community members held an in-depth meeting on Saturday February 3rd at 10 AM to strategize against the LA City’s plans to implement Department of Homeland Security and FBI’s programs that criminalize and profile youth.