Category Archives: Constitution

One Nation Under a Groove





By June of 1788, ten States have ratified the proposed Constitution. While the technicalities of Article IX have been met, most people understand that the reality is that for the Union to survive, it must be unanimous. Or at least everybody except Rhode Island, which we will deal with separately.

New York is next up on the clock, and already the sniping between the Federalists, led by Alexander Hamilton, and the longtime Governor of the State, George Clinton (a Revolutionary War General and close friend of Washington’s) has become both intense and deeply personal. Hamilton is deeply connected to the wealthy landowning elites, while Clinton is much more of an introspective “man of the people.” His policies have endeared him to the Middle Class, while the wealthy landowners (Hamilton) have been cut out of New York’s political spoils.

Of all of the States, New York is virtually the only one that – because of Clinton’s economic policies – emerged from the depression of 1780 in good shape. In fact, the State Treasury has over $3 Million (in 1788 dollars) in surplus. Clinton is wisely using this to improve New York’s economy and – of course – keep the votes of the middle and lower classes. Hamilton, who married the daughter of the man Clinton upset in the 1777 Gubernatorial election, opposes the policies that keep New York’s money in New York and not allowing Congress to take over the impost (tax) money that New York is collecting. In fact, at one point New York reluctantly agrees to hand it over to Congress, but petulant Rhode Island torpedoes the deal by refusing to agree. Of course.

More than anyone though, it is these two men, Hamilton and Clinton, who will face off in New York over the Constitution. Clinton will become the very embodiment – in fact, he is the man for whom the term is coined – of the Anti-Federalist. He is not an anti-nationalist. He believes strongly in the Union and in liberty. But he opposes ratification. Hamilton is co-writing the Federalist Papers. it doesn’t take long before the hotter-headed of the two begins to take shots -metaphorically – at the other in the media. 

When everything is said and done, One of them will become a two time Vice-President, mostly forgotten despite his accomplishments. The other will become a controversial figure and the centerpiece of rewritten history…



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Leno’s Lament


 


At long last, the Virginia Delegates to the States Ratification Convention arrive in Richmond. Unlike other States, the Virginia Convention will be open to the public. It will be raucous and passionate and it will feature some of the biggest names in American history.

The Federalists initially outnumber the Anti-federalists by a slim margin with at least four delegates undecided. Everybody already knows what everybody’s position is on the matter of Ratification. But the debates must go on, and those who oppose ratification, led by the greatest orator in America, Patrick Henry, will state their position with clarity and firmness.

And when it is all over and done, Virginia will become the 10th State to ratify the Constitution. It’s what happens after that which makes Jay Leno’s lament all the more poignant…


CT – Double Trouble



 


The prohibition on double jeopardy extends back in human history at least the Roman era. It’s covered in Greek law, the Talmud and of course, English Common Law.

In the United States, the concept of dual sovereignty has been the guiding rule since 1847. The general idea is that the Federal government and the State Governments are both “sovereign” and therefore the prohibition on double jeopardy doesn’t apply. If the State prosecutes a person and then the Federal Government also prosecutes for the same act, the Courts have long held – some thirty-one Justices over 170+ years have expressed their belief in and support for the rule – is just fine.

Now, there are some reasons for the Dual Sovereignty rule. It has long allowed either side to “correct” an injustice, such as happened during the Civil rights era when “people were killed or worse.” And in general, the Feds have only rarely stepped in to charge a person after a state conviction.

 

But down in Alabama a few years ago (See September 27th Show), a convicted felon on parole was driving a car with a burnt out headlight. Of course, he got stopped. And of course, the Police found the gun he had in his possession. The State of Alabama convicted him for it, and then the Feds stepped in and also convicted him for the same crime.

And that brings us to the Supreme Court hearing in which the Petitioner (Gamble) insists that the Dual Sovereignty component of double Jeopardy should be eliminated. Now… if the Court agrees, he’ll get one sentence or the other. But it is the effect on another possible case that is really the entire reason for this argument.

And that person is Paul Manafort.


 

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