Miscellany Blue - New Hampshire Politics

Karen Testerman declares Obamacare unconstitutional

Last year the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, but Senate hopeful Karen Testerman isn’t buying it. “Thank God for Ted Cruz,” she writes:

Now we have a statesman like Cruz who actually read the Constitution and understands what our founding fathers meant in the Tenth Amendment when they said, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” This means that most of our federal departments and laws like Obamacare are in violation of the Constitution.


Quote of the Day: Szabo concedes

It would appear that the Citizens of Hillsborough County are not yet ready to have their Constitution restored. … I am very grateful for the opportunity to have educated so many people about the role of the County Sheriff. I urge them to not let this knowledge fade.

Frank Szabo, Hillsborough County sheriff candidate, conceding defeat after yesterday’s Republican primary.

Szabo made headlines earlier this year when he told WMUR that, if elected, he would not rule out the use of deadly force to prevent an abortion from taking place.


More on O’Brien’s unconstitutional temper tantrum

In an extraordinary interview with Patch’s Ryan O’Connor, state House Speaker Bill O’Brien explains that he barred Concord Monitor reporters from attending a State House press briefing earlier this month because they are “Democratic propagandists" and are not "legitimate journalists."

"What has become apparent is that they have a political agenda and it maps very neatly with what the Democrat agenda is, to distract people from the issues, to talk process, to talk personality, to implement Saul Alinsky’s Rule No. 5, which is to demonize and marginalize the leadership of the opposition," said O’Brien. …

"Are we going to deal with them as if they’re legitimate journalists? No, they’re propagandists," he continued. …

"If you choose your stories and you choose your reporting against a background of the attempt to carry forward one side or the others messages then you are no longer participating as a normal media and you no longer have the right to expect to be treated that way."

"You know, I love talking to the people of New Hampshire, (but) I’m not talking to Democratic propagandists."

O’Brien might be advised to heed the words of U.S. District Court Judge Samuel King, who in 1974 ruled that a Hawaiian mayor had a Constitutional obligation to open his press conferences to all reporters — even if they are not accurate and objective.

A free press is not necessarily an angelic press. Newspapers take sides, especially in political contests. Newspaper reporters are not always accurate and objective. They are subject to criticism, and the right of a governmental official to criticize is within First Amendment guarantees.

But when criticism transforms into an attempt to use the powers of governmental office to intimidate or to discipline the press or one of its members because of what appears in print, a compelling governmental interest that cannot be served by less restrictive means must be shown for such use to meet Constitutional standards.


Experts: O’Brien reporter ban violated Constitution

When state House Speaker Bill O’Brien barred two Concord Monitor reporters from a State House press briefing, many observers — including the paper’s editor — condemned the action but agreed that O’Brien did not have a Constitutional obligation to allow the reporters to attend the press conference.

Not so fast, writes attorney Stephen Gordon. In a Monitor op-ed, Gordon makes a case that O’Brien’s action may very well have interfered with the paper’s First Amendment right to cover the news.

First, the press conference was held on state property by a state official addressing a matter of legislative concern. There is thus state action.

Second, the Monitor was banned because O’Brien took personal offense to a Monitor cartoon…. By picking and choosing who can attend a public press conference in the speaker’s office, O’Brien is allowed to curry favor and choose friendly reporters, more willing to shape his message in a light more favorable to the speaker, a not so subtle form of propaganda.

Third, the banning of a reporter because of political views can have a chilling effect on the press gathering function, as news and access are the currency of the profession and the press may become less willing to criticize if there is a fear that a vibrant dialogue will result in banishment.

Northeastern University journalism professor Dan Kennedy agrees with Gordon. Writing in Huffington Post, Kennedy points to a court ruling that followed a similar episode in Hawaii when Mayor Frank Farsi banned a Honolulu Star-Bulletin reporter from City Hall news conferences.

The Star-Bulletin went to court. And in the 1974 case of Borreca v. Fasi, U.S. District Court Judge Samuel King ruled that Fasi had to open his news conferences to all reporters. King wrote:

[When there is] an attempt to use the powers of governmental office to intimidate or to discipline the press or one of its members because of what appears in print, a compelling governmental interest that cannot be served by less restrictive means must be shown for such use to meet Constitutional standards. No compelling governmental interest has been shown or even claimed here.

Judge King made it clear that no member of the press was entitled to special privileges. If the mayor wanted to grant interviews to some reporters but not others, that was his prerogative. If he refused to answer a reporter’s questions, that was within his rights as well. But he could not discriminate against some members of the press when scheduling a formal, official event such as a news conference.


Rep. Itse Likens Social Programs to Armed Robbery

Self-proclaimed constitutional expert Rep. Dan Itse has a rather creative interpretation of the U.S. and New Hampshire Constitutions.

Appearing on Speak Up, which is televised by Access Nashua, the GOP chairman of the House Constitutional Review and Statutory Recodification committee maintained government has no authority to provide assistance to people in need. Helping those living in poverty buy food is akin to armed robbery, he said.

Itse: Government has no power that the people themselves don’t originally have. Just take the idea of food stamps. Do you have the power to go to your neighbor, stick a gun in his belly and demand that he pay for your children’s food?

Avard: Absolutely not.

Itse: How, then, can you delegate that power to government? If you don’t have it, you can’t delegate it. Government ought not to be exercising any power that any of us can’t exercise individually.


Constitutional Scholar Kelly Ayotte: Debt Ceiling Legal

Sen. Kelly Ayotte has analyzed the 14th Amendment declaration that “the validity of the public debt … shall not be questioned” in relation to Article 1, Section 8, Clause 2, which grants Congress the power to “borrow Money on the credit of the United States,” and determined “the President does not have the authority to ignore the statutory debt limit.”

That conclusion is expressed in the Senate resolution she co-sponsored. She’s entitled to her (legal) opinion, of course. But who can forget the last time Ayotte argued constitutional law? That time, the Supreme Court said she had it all wrong — and it cost the state of New Hampshire $300,000 to settle the case and pay the legal costs of the opposing party.


Frank Guinta’s “Patently Unconstitutional” Budget Bill

When campaigning for Congress, Rep. Frank Guinta told a Dover town hall, “Whether Congress is discussing a bill on health care, education, taxes, spending or another issue, the primary concern for any representative should be whether the proposed law is constitutional.”

Ignoring his own advice, Guinta yesterday became a co-sponsor of H.R. 1255, The Government Shutdown Prevention Act. The bill states that if the Senate does not pass a long-term budget resolution by April 6, the Continuing Resolution passed by the House would become “law of the land,” without Senate approval or the president’s signature, but just because the House says so.

Members of both parties complained the bill was clearly unconstitutional and ridiculed it. 

Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) brought to the House floor a copy of “House Mouse, Senate Mouse,” a children’s book on how a bill becomes a law that is sold in the House gift shop.

Rep. Alcee L. Hastings (D-Fla.) came to the floor with a drawing of the “Bill” character from the Saturday morning cartoon “Schoolhouse Rock.”

"My friends know how a bill becomes a law. What we’re doing here is symbolism," Hastings said. "We’re wasting our time on a patently unconstitutional measure.”

Steve Benen had a blunter assessment.

It’s as if the country elected children — slow, dimwitted, ill-behaved children — to run the U.S. House of Representatives.


Frank Guinta’s Ineffectual Legislative Band-Aid

Rep. Frank Guinta has a self-professed “common sense approach to new legislation.” Holding up the U.S. Constitution, he says,

“This is what I walk around with, this is what I will hold on the floor of the house to make sure that every piece of legislation I vote on, adheres to this basic principle.”

His solution to ensuring constitutional legislation is requiring every bill to have a statement citing the constitutional authority to enact the proposed legislation.

"One thing that is different about this Congress from previous ones is the new House rule adopted yesterday, requiring every bill and joint resolution be accompanied by a statement explaining its constitutionality. As long as we stay within the limits allowed by the Constitution, we can act with the confidence as we do the people’s business.”

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