For the first time in ages, I got sick. And, for the first time in longer than that, I was too sick to go to work. In fact, I was so sick I didn’t even take advantage of being home; to work on my blog. But that was before I decided to put aside the music playlist I was compiling to peruse the blogosphere to sample materials related to these nationwide ballot challenges. Now, I am so angry that, I am actually angrier than I am sick. Fingers crossed, I will feel better if I write.
I have decided to compile a frenemies list from among those on-line characters spewing their interminable fixes to the glitches implicated either directly or tangentially in undermining our electoral system. The bizarre ‘cures’ championed, accepted by too many unwitting citizens as true, are doing more damage to our political system than was already accomplished in the past by sheer apathy. Because those of us who know better and who truly want our government to work as we presume the Founders intended; and who have been exercising our considerable energies (and finite monetary resources) to educating those of our fellow citizens without access to our information or facts or powers of analysis, often with only psychic remuneration; now are additionally compelled to expend our finite resources de-programming those same citizens who have been indoctrinated with this poisonous tripe.
Here’s how Urban Dictionary defines the word “frenemy“:
An enemy disguised as a friend.The type of “friend” whose words or actions bring you down (whether you realize it as intentional). The type of friend you ought to cut off but don’t cuz…he’s nice… good…you’ve had good times with him. He’s good people you can count on to bring you down again sometime in the near future.The friend you may or may not have cornered about his quicksand-like ways and keep around rationalizing “its in the past”…. The person who will continue to bring you down until you demand better for yourself.
So, who has aroused my ire to the point of becoming the first frenemy on my brand new list, the person who whether intentionally or through a personal character flaw is leading you astray under the guise of helping you to find your way?
Leo Donofrio, Attorney at Law.
And what precisely after all of this time has put me into a ‘I’ve-had-it-up-to-here’ stance with respect to Mr. Donofrio’s seemingly endless deluge of fecal matter-cum-legal critique? That *!*!*!* 200+-page amicus brief he assembled and is submitting to every ballot challenge forum he can find, from the GA OSAH hearing to the IL election commission.
(Note: For the purpose of this article, I am intentionally omitting any discussion as to the propriety of submitting such a brief in the first place.)
At first, I only intended to dismiss the brief as irrelevant, by specifically pointing to Leo’s reliably faulty analyses of so many other issues in the past few years. (Note: I am not charging here that everything Leo writes is legally unsound, but only that assuming it is unsound is safer than a detrimental reliance on its validity.) For example, more than 3 years ago, I drafted those military complaints after seeing those many failed attempts by Plaintiffs to address the issue of Presidential eligibility through the federal courts, whose cases were tossed out on procedural grounds. Looking for a way to get around the ‘standing’ problem they encountered, I found the the Federal Declaratory Judgment Act, which led to the idea that people seeking redress in federal court could ask for a Declaratory Judgment, using state National Guard Plaintiffs subject to federal recall. Naturally, when drafting the military complaint, I cited to the applicable federal law. Yet, Leo criticized my proposal as un-Constitutional, absurdly arguing federal courts could not issue declaratory judgments! Now, it’s true, the Constitution explicitly says, the authority of the federal court is restricted to deciding “cases” and controversies.” http://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/controversy But, of course, the Federal Declaratory Judgment Act provides a mechanism for obtaining the court’s opinion within the framework of this restriction. (His rationale in this instance represented a common flaw that appears in Leo’s reasoning: he looks narrowly to the ‘plain language’ in a passage without considering its practical meaning in the larger legal and political context.) (FYI, here is the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure on Declaratory Judgments. http://www.law.cornell.edu/rules/frcp/rule_57 For a comprehensive explanation as to when the federal court may issue declaratory judgments, see http://www.law.cornell.edu/anncon/html/art3frag21_user.html)
Then, there was the time he argued that he had found a federal law allowing a member of the security division of the Executive branch to withhold ‘secrets’ from the President, the boss of the Executive, based on a determination, this is in the public interest. I spent hours explaining, especially on CW’s blog, this is not what the law means. For definitions of the terms contained in this section of the law, you have to look at another section of the law. And those definitions spelled out, the law Leo claimed applied to the President applied only to contract employees. (Or you can use your common sense!) Indeed, I intended to make my case that any ‘legal’ work produced by Mr. Donofrio is irrelevant; by searching through years of internet postings, in which I refuted such tripe; and even began such a search. But I found the task overwhelming. (Readers of the CW blog familiar with this exchange might look it up and send here; I will post.)
I also figured Leo likely had only reached the 200-page milestone by incorporating into this amicus brief much of that same flawed ‘legal’ reasoning I had already de-bunked over the years. That’s when I decided to skim the brief. And, sure enough, this document contains many of those ‘legal’ arguments conjured up only in Leo’s imagination, which arguments even if they could be said to validate his personal private machinations; nonetheless still detract from the practical approach required to engage an active citizenry in shoring up our electoral system so as to ensure, only the candidate who is a NBC, can be elected for the job.
PLEASE, LEST YOU ARE TEMPTED AT THE OUTSET OF MY ANALYSIS TO COMPARE, CONTRAST, OR CHALLENGE RESPECTIVE CREDENTIALS WHICH HAVE BEEN MADE PUBLIC BY US ON-LINE PUNDITS; STOP! I have asked readers to consider our respective legitimacy only by examining on-line track records based on criteria that include reliability of analysis, and accurate reporting of facts, a feat which can be accomplished even absent full access to the particulars in his or her CV. (Let’s start with this fact. The legal and political analyses of issues related to presidential eligibility which I began in 2008 in response to voter concerns, led me to recommend at that time, given existing state laws, the mechanism for keeping Barack Obama out of the WH was to keep his name off the state election ballot. Leo only accessed this mechanism for redress of the eligibility dilemma, 3 1/2 years after the fact.) CHALLENGING BO’S ELIGIBILITY TO GET ONTO THE GENERAL ELECTION BALLOT AS THE DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE FOR POTUS)
Leo begins the amicus brief with his assumptions of these facts: 1) Barack Obama was born in HI; and 2) his father was a British subject at the time of his birth. Then, based on these assumptions, he argues, Barack Obama is not a NBC because Minor v. Happersett defines only those citizens born in the U.S. of 2 U.S. citizen parents are NBCs.
No, it does not. And I have explained several times, it does not. For example, see SENSE and non-SENSE, relying on such sources such as the Legal Information Institute of Cornell University School of Law. Nor does Minor in any way limit the definition of NBC to only those people born in the U.S. of 2 U.S. citizen parents.
The decision from the lower courts which was appealed to the Supreme Court in Minor was quite narrow:
The question is presented in this case, whether, since the adoption of the fourteenth amendment, a woman, who is a citizen of the United States and of the State of Missouri, is a voter in that State, notwithstanding the provision of the constitution and laws of the State, which confine the right of suffrage to men alone.
Thus, the main focus of this case was not on citizenship; in fact, everyone involved in the case already agreed, based on the wording of the 14th Amendment, she was a citizen. Rather, the question presented to the high court was whether privileges and immunities connected to citizenship included the right to vote. The lower courts had ruled, it did not. Minor disagreed; that’s why she appealed. But before the high court could issue what would then become a legal “fact” with respect to voting as a privilege and immunity of citizenship; it first had to determine whether those “persons” now classified in the 14th Amendment as (having always been) citizens with a right to privileges and immunities, (historically) included women. If yes; the court would then determine whether voting had historically been treated as a privilege and immunity of citizenship, so as to determine whether it would be a privilege and immunity of citizenship, now. For this analysis, the court looked back at the history of women-qua-persons-who-would-have-been-considered-citizens pre-14th Amendment. Determining Minor was always considered a citizen (and thus, would have enjoyed the privileges and immunities of citizenship) even before the formalization of that designation in the 14th Amendment, was easy. As the court pointed out, given her specific set of circumstances – she was a woman born in the U.S. of 2 U.S. citizen parents – the literature was consistent. Thus, at a minimum, she was a citizen entitled to the same privileges and immunities of all citizens. Then, the court ‘just’ had to consider whether voting was one of these privileges and immunities which had historically been attached to such citizenship.
But you didn’t stop there.
Referring again to the Minor court, you wrote, “Their holding was that natural-born citizens were citizens at birth who do not require the 14th Amendment to establish their membership in the nation.” No, it was not; the holding in Minor had absolutely nothing to do with citizenship. Remember, the lower courts all agreed, Minor was both a citizen of MO and of the U.S.; and that voting wasn’t a privilege and immunity with respect to such citizenship. Minor appealed to the high court on the narrow grounds, she believed voting was a privilege and immunity tied to her citizenship under the 14th Amendment.
Here’s the holding in Minor, again, closely correlated to the narrow question asked:
Being unanimously of the opinion that the Constitution of the United States does not confer the right of suffrage upon any one, and that the constitutions and laws of the several States which commit that important trust to men alone are not necessarily void, we AFFIRM THE JUDGMENT.
As for your statement that the court [said] Minor was a citizen before the 14th Amendment, well, of course, it could not say otherwise, since everyone who was a U.S. citizen before the 14th Amendment was still a citizen after its passage; and no one who wasn’t already a U.S. citizen was made a citizen by this Amendment. The court actually said,
There is no doubt that women may be citizens. They are persons, and by the fourteenth amendment “all persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof” are expressly declared to be “citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.” But, in our opinion, it did not need this amendment to give them that position. Before its adoption the Constitution of the United States did not in terms prescribe who should be citizens of the United States or of the several States, yet there were necessarily such citizens without such provision. There cannot be a nation without a people. The very idea of a political community, such as a nation is, implies an [p166] association of persons for the promotion of their general welfare. Each one of the persons associated becomes a member of the nation formed by the association.
Read the legislative history; the 14th Amendment did not confer a new status of citizenship on anyone not already a citizen before its passage, whether native, natural born, or naturalized. It merely had to find that http://www.law.cornell.edu/anncon/html/amdt14a_user.html#amdt14a_hd1
And then, you really went off the deep end. “The Court determined it was necessary to define the class of natural-born citizens, and the definition remains current legal precedent.”
Leo, for goodness sake, get a grip. The court explicitly only set out to confirm that the word “citizen” appearing in the 14th Amendment also meant women who ‘belonged’ to this country before the 14th Amendment officially codified they were citizens. Because once it confirmed that women had always been considered ‘citizens,’ from the founding of this country and, therefore, that all of the privileges and immunities attached to such citizenship, beginning at that time, should apply now under the 14th Amendment; it could then figure out whether voting had been treated as a privilege or immunity of that citizenship. It made no difference to the analysis rendered by the court whether Minor could be said to be a native, natural born, or naturalized citizen but only whether she could be said to have been a citizen even before that word was codified in the 14th Amendment; and only because the rights enumerated in the 14th Amendment were limited to citizens. Yes, by reasoning that Minor was a citizen before the 14th Amendment the court also confirmed, the amendment did not confer new citizenship status or rights but merely ‘codified’ s status which already existed with respect to Minor. However, it did not, as you would suggest, confirm, in dicta, that the only “citizens” who were citizens before the 14th Amendment were NBCs; rather, it only confirmed that, at least, NBCs (like Minor) were citizens before the 14th Amendment.
Thus, consistent with the lower courts, the Supreme Court agreed, Minor was a citizen according to the language in the 14th Amendment. Then, examining the implications of citizenship before the 14th Amendment, the court found, in fact, Minor rightly could be considered a citizen before the 14th Amendment. But, alas, having examined the historical privileges and immunities ancillary to citizenship before the 14th Amendment; it also agreed, voting appears not to have been one of those privileges and immunities of citizenship. Thus, the court did not have to enforce a right to vote in MO. (Interestingly, the court virtually invited the electorate to cure this mistake.)
We have given this case the careful consideration its importance demands. If the law is wrong, it ought to be changed; but the power for that is not with us. The arguments addressed to us bearing upon such a view of the subject may perhaps be sufficient to induce those having the power, to make the alteration, but they ought not to be permitted to influence our judgment in determining the present rights of the parties now litigating before us. No argument as to woman’s need of suffrage can be considered. We can only act upon her rights as they exist. It is not for us to look at the hardship of withholding. Our duty is at an end if we find it is within the power of a State to withhold.
In sum, with respect to the 14th Amendment and citizenship, NO U.S. CITIZENS, REGARDLESS OF WHETHER THEY SATISFIED THE CITIZENSHIP REQUIREMENTS IN THEIR INDIVIDUAL STATES OR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, NEEDED THE 14TH AMENDMENT TO ESTABLISH THEIR U.S. CITIZENSHIP. BOTH THOSE CITIZENS WHO WERE CITIZENS ON THE BASIS THAT THEY WERE BORN HERE OF 2-CITIZEN PARENTS; AND THOSE CITIZENS WHO WERE CITIZENS ON THE BASIS THAT THEY WERE BORN HERE OF NON-CITIZEN PARENTS; AND THOSE CITIZENS WHO WERE CITIZENS ON THE BASIS THAT THEY WERE NATURALIZED HERE,WERE ALREADY CITIZENS OF THE NATION BEFORE THE 14TH AMENDMENT, EVEN IF THESE SAME U.S. CITIZENS FAILED TO QUALIFY AS CITIZENS OF INDIVIDUAL STATES UNDER THE LAWS OF THOSE INDIVIDUAL STATES OR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA. THUS, ALL OF THESE CITIZENS WHO WERE ALREADY CITIZENS OF THE NATION BEFORE THE 14TH AMENDMENT, WERE MENTIONED IN THE 14TH AMENDMENT ONLY FOR THIS NARROW PURPOSE: TO MAKE SURE THAT EVERYONE NOW KNEW, BEING CITIZENS MEANS, BEING ENTITLED TO THE SAME DUE PROCESS, EQUAL PROTECTION, AND PRIVILEGES AND IMMUNITIES AS ALL OTHER CITIZENS FROM NOW ON.
Got that now? And the only reason the court even reached the analysis of Minor’s citizenship was so as to confirm the word “citizen” and “person” as used in the new 14th Amendment necessarily meant even before the 14th Amendment, women who were similarly situated, that is, women born here of 2 citizen parents, but only because Minor was a woman born here of 2 citizen parents. Once it determined the threshold issue, that is, the new Amendment did, indeed, apply to the woman named in the present case; it stopped the ‘citizen’ aspect of its analysis and reached the voting qua “privileges and immunities” of citizenship core of the case. The Minor court only ruled, for the first time, under this new right vested in citizens by the 14th Amendment, voting cannot be said to be a “privilege or immunity.” It did not rule that only citizens born here of 2 citizen parents are NBCs.
Then, Leo contradicted himself.
The Minor Court’s construction of the natural-born citizen clause was the independent ground by which the Court avoided construing the 14th Amendment’s citizenship clause.Therefore, such construction is precedent, not dicta, despite Presidential eligibility not being an issue in that case. The Court determined it was necessary to define the class of natural-born citizens, and the definition remains current legal precedent.
As I have stated, the Minor court did, in fact, undertake a legal and historical analysis which, as a threshold issue, determined that, as the word “citizen” was used in the new 14th Amendment; Minor was a citizen even before the 14th Amendment. Thus, having considered the issue of Minor’s pre-14th Amendment citizenship (status) in order to “construe” that the word “citizen” in the 14th Amendment means her; the court cannot be said to be simultaneously “avoiding construing the 14th Amendment’s citizenship clause.” It did construe the 14th Amendment’s guarantee to equal privileges and immunities of all citizens, to mean all “persons” who have ‘belonged’ to this country even before the 14th Amendment, including women. At this same time, it did avoid an exhaustive exploration of all of the possible iterations of ‘women belonging to a country’ which also might rightly have triggered the designation “citizen” that appears in the 14th Amendment and, thereby implicated the “privileges and immunities” clause. And it avoided an exhaustive consideration of these ancillary issues because in the present case, it did not have to reach these issues in order to render its ruling on the case before the court.
Finally, Leo again raises the specter of Vattel. For goodness sake, give up that ghost! DEFINITION on DEMAND