The BIG Dodge

Where is the constitutional authority for a federal mandate that individuals must buy health insurance?

Sen. Ben Nelson, a Democrat in red-state Nebraska, pleaded the Fifth: “Well, you know, uh, uh, I don’t know that I’m a constitutional scholar, so, I, I’m not going to be able to answer that question.”

Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-HI) likewise dodged the question, saying, “I’m not aware of [any constitutional authority], let me put it that way. But what we’re trying to do is to provide for people who have needs and that’s where the accessibility comes in, and one of the goals that we’re trying to present here is to make it accessible.” Right. “Provide” for them by mandating they do something under penalty of massive fines and/or imprisonment — that’s leftist “compassion” for you.

Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) answered, “The United States Congress passed laws regarding Medicare and Medicaid that became de facto mandatory programs. States all the time require people to have driver’s licenses. I think that this is a bit of a spurious argument that’s being made by some folks.” Uh, states require licenses only for the privilege of driving.

Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), a member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee — one of two committees that wrote and approved health care legislation — pointed to precedent as justification: “Let me see. I would have to check the specific sections, so I’ll have to get back to you on the specific section, but it is not unusual that the Congress has required individuals to do things, like sign up for the draft, uh, uh, and do many other things too, which I don’t think are explicitly contained [in the Constitution]. It gives Congress a right to raise an army, but it doesn’t say you can take people and draft them, uh, but since that was something necessary for the functioning of the government over the past several years, the practice on the books, it’s been recognized, the authority to do that.” So because Congress has acted unconstitutionally before, they can do it again now? Our guess is he understands health care about as well as he comprehends the Constitution.


Sen. Barbara Boxer is trying to pull a fast one!

Sen. Barbara Boxer is trying to pull a fast one!

She wants to force her outrageous Boxer-Kerry cap-and-trade energy rationing and taxing scheme through the Senate Environment and Public Workers Committee this week, while the country is focused on health care.  Sen. Boxer is even trying to force it through without the official EPA analysis of what’s in the bill and how much it will cost.

It’s bad enough to try to pass the biggest tax hike in history, hidden in what’s supposed to be an environmental bill.  But slamming it through a committee when it hasn’t even been analyzed by the EPA is wrong.  The public has a right to know what’s in the bill and what the EPA thinks it will cost.

Committee votes matter, because once a senator supports something in committee it’s very hard for them to change their mind on later votes.  That makes it even more outrageous that the first votes could be cast while much of the bill-and its sky-high costs for regular Americans-remain secret.

SWAT raid on food storehouse heading to trial Family sues over confiscation of supplies, computers

By Bob Unruh


Jacqueline and John Stowers

A lawsuit brought by an Ohio family whose children were held at SWAT-team gunpoint while their food supplies were confiscated is scheduled to go to trial this week.

John and Jackie Stowers are suing the Ohio Department of Agriculture and the Lorain County General Health District over the raid on their “Manna Storehouse,” an organic food co-op that operated in LaGrange.

The Stowers and their 10 children and grandchildren were detained in one room of their home for six hours while sheriff’s officers confiscated 60 boxes of fresh farm food, computers, phones and records, including USDA-certified meat from the children’s mini-farm, according to lawyers for the plaintiffs.

The state and county are accused of 119 counts, including unlawful search and seizure, illegal use of state police power, taking of private property without compensation, failure to provide due process and equal protection and a multitude of constitutional rights violations, including the right to grow and eat one’s own food and offer it to others.

WND reported when the case developed a year ago.

At that time, a state agent from the Ohio Department of Agriculture pressured the Stowers to “sell” him a dozen eggs, then returned with a SWAT team to detain the family’s children and confiscate food supplies.

The case brought by state and local authorities against the Stowers came to a head Dec. 1, 2008, when police officers used SWAT-style tactics to burst into the home, hold family members, including children, at gunpoint and confiscate the family’s personal food supply.

Two organizations, the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund and the Buckeye Institute’s legal arm, the Center for Constitutional Law, initially started working to defend the family.

But now the family is on the offense, accusing the government agencies and their individuals of rights violations.

David Cox, an attorney for the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, confirmed that nothing ever resulted for the family after the confiscation of the food.

There were no charges, “civil, criminal or otherwise,” he said.

In an audio podcast posted online, Maurice Thompson of the Buckeye Institute said the family has run the Manna Storehouse, focusing mainly on organic supplies, for several years near Cleveland.

The confrontation began developing several years ago when local health officials demanded the family hold a retail food license to run their co-op. Thompson said the family wrote a letter questioning the requirement and asking for evidence that would indicate they were operating a food store.

The Stowers family members simply “take orders from (co-op) members … then divide up the food,” Thompson explained.

“The health inspector didn’t like the tone of the letter,” Thompson said, and the result was that law enforcement officials planned, staged and carried out the raid on the family’s home.

The “sale” of the eggs to the undercover agent was entrapment, the family’s lawyers have contended, since the family members had told him they didn’t sell food to the public and couldn’t help him.

Eventually, when he refused to leave, the family gave him a dozen eggs to hasten his departure, Thompson explained.

The case goes to trial Thursday and Friday in Elyria.

Among other things, the case demands the return of the family’s property, as well as an injunction prohibiting enforcement of any licensing requirements of the Ohio Uniform Food Safety Code upon the cooperative.

The case focuses first on the “paramilitary style execution of a search warrant against a peaceful family” whose only alleged crime was not getting a state permit. The second is a challenge to government claims the cooperative is a retail food establishment.

“Between the physical things they took and the emotional and spiritual trauma they caused in our lives, it’s our hope we can somehow help others with this [lawsuit],” Jacqueline Stowers said.

In a video posted both on YouTube and on the Buckeye Institute’s website, the couple explained how they just wanted to provide a resource for both farmers and consumers.

Officials with the Weston A. Price Foundation, a nutrition education non-profit, said several of their members had been participating in the co-op, but now their food supplies are disrupted.

City to homeowner: Let us in, or get out! Man evicted from house for resisting warrantless inspections

Sunday, October 04, 2009

WorldNetDaily Exclusive

City to homeowner: Let us in, or get out
Man evicted from house for resisting warrantless inspections

Posted: October 04, 2009
11:33 pm Eastern

By Drew Zahn


City notice posted on Michael Marcavage’s duplex

A Pennsylvania man who refuses to allow city officials to enter his home without a warrant has been forced out to stay in a hotel instead, evicted by a notice posted on his door that forbids him from using or occupying the building he owns.

Borough Ordinance No. 1188 of Lansdowne, Penn., requires all rental properties – including the private residence of the landlord, if he lives onsite – be subjected to annual inspections, with or without a warrant.

But Michael Marcavage, who lives in half of a Lansdowne duplex he owns, renting out the other half, believes the city knocking on the door and demanding warrantless entrance and inspection of his private residence – just because it also happens to be part of a rental building – is a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment.

The Fourth Amendment states in part, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause.”

Marcavage has not been accused of any wrongdoing, nor has any warrant been sought to inspect his property. In fact, he’s been fighting the borough’s rental inspection ordinance as unconstitutional for years, both for himself and his tenants. He’s even been issued a citation and fine in the past for refusing to permit warrantless search of his home.

But earlier this week, the borough stepped up the battle.

Two days ago, city code officials posted a notice on Marcavage’s door informing him his house was deemed an “unlawful rental property” and allowing him to the end of that same day to obtain his rental license or get out.

Now Marcavage is staying at a hotel, but he vows to fight the city’s ordinance and actions in federal court, if necessary.

“I cannot and will not bow to these tyrannical actions by government officials,” Marcavage stated. “The notice posted on my front door was not only a notice to me, but a notice to all Americans, that if you are unwilling to forsake your constitutional rights, the government will make you suffer.”

WND contacted Michael Jozwiak, Lansdowne’s director of zoning and code enforcement, who said Marcavage’s talk of inspections was “putting the cart before the horse.”

“The notice says nothing about inspections,” Jozwiak explained. “Mr. Marcavage failed to file for his rental license, and that’s the reason for the notice.”

But Marcavage told WND the dispute still comes down to mandatory entry into his home and the homes of his tenants. He intentionally refused to sign the renewal forms Jozwiak alluded to, because they required compliance with the city’s warrantless search ordinance.

“I could not in good conscience agree to the terms of the license renewal, thus signing away my Fourth Amendment rights,” Marcavage said. “I explained this to Mr. Jozwiak and sent him U.S. Supreme Court rulings demonstrating the city’s ordinance as unconstitutional. I even offered to file the necessary forms unsigned.”

Marcavage highlighted the 1967 Camara v. Municipal Court of City and County of San Francisco case, in which the Supreme Court overturned conviction of a tenant for refusing a housing code inspection.

“We hold that administrative searches of the kind at issue here are significant intrusions upon the interests protected by the Fourth Amendment,” the court ruled, “that such searches when authorized and conducted without a warrant procedure lack the traditional safeguards which the Fourth Amendment guarantees to the individual.”

Marcavage also told WND that he is seeking an injuction that would enable him to move back into his home without violating the notice posted on his door and possibly risking an arrest.

“We’ve got to defend our rights,” Marcavage said, “especially after the Supreme Court’s recent decisions on eminent domain.”

Marcavage also pointed to a case in Red Wing, Minn., to argue that it’s not just renters and landlords that need to be concerned about the erosion of the Fourth Amendment.

In the 2006 case of Stewart v. City of Red Wing, landlords similarly rejected the city’s attempt to require warrantless code inspections. During the case, however, it was discovered city officials were considering the inspection of rental properties as only a first step, before seeking the ability to inspect all private residences in the city.

Though Red Wing has since explicitly backed away from the plan to inspect all homes, Marcavage warns Americans need to remain vigilant:

“I believe it was Thomas Jefferson,” Marcavage said, “who warned of the government encroaching on our rights, not all at once, but in increments.”

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