A DISCUSSION OF LAW AND JOURNALISM

Tag: tea party

Go Ahead, Critique the Commander-in-Chief

Marines

By Russell Smith

President Obama hasn’t hesitated to silence critics of his military policy.

First, he kept Private Bradley Manning in solitary confinement for months after Pvt. Manning allegedly leaked thousands of military documents revealing U.S. human rights abuses to the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks. Then President Obama pressured Yemen to jail a journalist who uncovered evidence that the U.S. was lying about missiles lent to Yemen and used in a strike that killed Yemeni citizens. Now President Obama is discharging U.S. Marine Corp Sergeant Gary Stein for posting critical comments of the president and his military leadership on Facebook.

Sgt. Stein is 26 years-old, a nine-year veteran, and a Tea Partier. His Facebook group, Armed Forces Tea Party, critiques liberal politicians and policies. An example the group’s sharp wit: superimposing the faces of President Obama, Vice President Biden and Rep. Nancy Pelosi onto the movie poster for “The Incredibles“, but with renamed title, “The Horribles“.

Okay, not that witty. But perfectly legal.

In 2010, the notoriety of the Armed Forces Tea Party got Sgt. Stein an invite to appear on MSNBC’s “Hardball with Chris Matthews” – but at the Marine Corps’ command, Sgt. Stein declined. At the time, Sgt. Stein was also directed to put a disclaimer on the Armed Forces Tea Party group, indicating it was not affiliated with the Marine Corps. He agreed and did so.

But two years later, Sgt. Stein received notice that his political postings constituted “serious misconduct” mandating the termination of his service to his country.

Sgt. Stein’s “other-than-honorable” discharge – resulting in a loss of rank and veteran’s benefits – has drawn reactions from politicians to pundits. Lawyers from the ACLU and the U.S. Justice Foundation have claimed that discharging Sgt. Stein for his political speech would violate his first amendment rights and have pledged to file a federal lawsuit on his behalf.  But some members of the media disagree, arguing that soldiers must give up their first amendment rights and fall in line behind their commander-in-chief.   (more…)

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Sen. Mike Lee’s Flawed Challenge to Child Labor Laws

Young Mill Worker

By Jillian Raines

Tea Party-backed Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) recently posted a video lecture on his YouTube channel in which he discusses his views on the United States Constitution. Specifically, Sen. Lee spends the majority of the video advocating for a reading of the Constitution that wouldn’t permit federal child labor laws.

In the video, Lee voices an interpretation of the United States Constitution that the Huffington Post calls “provocative.” And the Huffington Post isn’t alone. Across the board, scholars and news organizations have voiced concern that Sen. Lee is preaching convoluted constitutional analysis, but haven’t explained exactly why or how. To understand, it’s important to examine the Constitution and how courts have interpreted it.

According to Sen. Lee, under the Commerce Clause in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, Congress does not have the power to regulate child labor; it is a “local activity” which is up to individual states to regulate.  In addition, says the Senator, the Constitution’s text does not directly speak to child labor. These factors both lead Sen. Lee to the conclusion that when it comes to child labor laws, Congress is overstepping its bounds. In an attempt to support his position in the context of child labor, Sen. Lee relies on a 1918 Supreme Court case, Hammer v. Dagenhardt.

Does Sen. Lee’s rationale hold up? (more…)

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