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  • 03/06/2024 9:25 PM | Anonymous

    Home Rule  by Tom Reynolds

    We may be generally familiar with the term Home Rule as a local defense against the overreach of state government.  Home Rule is definitely an obstacle to those that would wish to consolidate all power in Albany and, it seems, Home Rule is being backdoored in Governor Hochul’s budget.

    First, some background.  The following is from the 2016 report on Constitutional Home Rule by the New York State Bar Association

    “In New York State, local government has a greater impact on the day to-day lives of the public than any tier of government...since the 19th Century, “Home Rule” — the authority of local governments to exercise self-government — has been a matter of constitutional principle in New York. The continuing dilemma has been to strike the right balance of furthering strong local governments but leaving the State strong enough to meet the problems that transcend local boundaries.”  (Emphasis added)

    “Article IX, the so-called “Home Rule” article, contains protections for local government that are more extensive than those in many other states. Constitutional Home Rule is established by granting local governments affirmative lawmaking powers, while carving out a sphere of local autonomy free from State interference.”

    “Despite Article IX’s intent to expand the authority of local governments, Home Rule in practice has produced only a modest degree of local autonomy. The powers of local governments have been significantly restricted by two legal doctrines developed through decades of litigation: “preemption” and “State concern.”  Thirdly, local governments must also follow mandates enacted by the State Legislature.”

    “Under the preemption doctrine, a local law is unenforceable when it collides with a State’ statute. But even in the absence of an outright conflict between State and local law, a local government may not act where the State has acted comprehensively in the same area.”

    ”The state concern doctrine represents an exception to the constitutional limitations on the State Legislature’s authority to enact special laws targeted at one or more, but not all local governments. Under this doctrine, the State Legislature is empowered to regulate local matters which also relate to State concerns, such as waste disposal on Long Island, sewers in Buffalo, and taxicabs in New York City.”  (How are NYC Taxicabs the concern of state government?)

    “Home Rule is further limited by the State Legislature’s imposition of mandates that compel local governments to provide specific services and meet minimum State standards, often without providing fully supporting funds necessary to comply with such mandates. New York imposes more unfunded mandates on localities than any other state in the nation.”  (Probably every county in upstate NY has complained about these.)

    John Droz Jr. is a physicist who has written a public warning about parts of Governor Hochul’s new budget that endanger Home Rule.  What he describes should be familiar to 2nd Amendment defenders and though his letter does not deal with 2A, it seems important enough to pass on as our Home Rule constitutional rights may about to be overthrown.

    Droz writes:

    As you know the NYS Governor (and legislative allies) have been steadily chipping away at the rights of NYS citizens for several years now. Their basic mentality appears to be: if we can get away with a power grab, then let's go one step further to see if we can get even more.

    This is very much like a child testing parental limits.

    In this case — although they don't want you to see this — the Governor, et al work for you!  In other words, you are the parent here.

    Their next major extraction of NYS citizens' rights is found in the FY 2025 Executive Budget Legislation.

    A favorite trick is to label power grabs with innocent-sounding titles. In this case, it is:

    Transportation, Economic Development and Environmental Conservation Article VII Legislation.

    An accompanying trick used by those trying to take more power is to bury their actions in an omnibus bill overflowing with legalese.

    Just this one section has 260 pages!

    I was alerted about a problematic energy section: "Part O", starting on page 129.

    I perused the next 30+ pages, and (as an energy expert) none of it seems to be in the best interest of the public.  (Emphasis added.)

    That said, pages 150 and 151 of this polemic are particularly egregious, as they appear to kill any remnants of Home Rule Rights that NY communities still have. (For reference and a refresher on NYS Home Rule Rights, see this good discussion.)

    The State is attacking your Home Rule rights as they contend that they have the moral high ground: they are "saving the planet." Your interest in the health, safety, and welfare of your family and community are a pittance compared to their virtue signaling.

    Briefly, right now NYS communities have some legal rights to regulate wind and solar facilities. If the "2025 Budget" is passed with these proposed words, the resulting citizen/community rights will be almost non-existent.

    I'm not an attorney, but it seems to me that the legislature cannot simply pass a law that will negate provisions of the NYS Constitution — e.g. the Home Rule Rights stipulated in Article IX. However, as I stated above, they will do it if they think they can get away with it.

    I'm playing a Paul Revere role here: alerting you to what is imminent. What you do to defend your rights is your call.

    SCOPE does not have any expertise in Home Rule matters but Droz has been level-headed in the past and if he is this concerned perhaps we should also be concerned.  Since most of NY’s land area is Republican and gun rights are important there, Home Rule may be one small arrow-in-our quiver to protect our rights.  Our best advice is that we need to know more.  Maybe it’s nothing but if it is anything like Droz suggests…

    Try writing your state Senator and Assemblyperson with a copy of Droz’s letter and asking, “What’s going on here?” 

  • 03/06/2024 9:16 PM | Anonymous

    A Way to Push Back – Write Gun Rights Legislation  by John Elwood

    It seems that all gun rights advocates hear is the constant drum beat of Democrat bills to circumvent the Second Amendment.  For example, in 2023 alone:

    California enacted an 11 percent tax on guns and ammunition, making it the only state with its own tax on guns and ammunition. 

    Illinois passed an assault weapons ban; the law prohibits the possession, manufacture or sale of semiautomatic rifles and high-capacity magazines. 

    Massachusetts is considering giving firearm licensing authorities’ access to some of an applicant’s mental health hospitalization history and expands the list of people who can petition the court to take away someone’s guns if they are deemed dangerous. 

    In New York State, citizens face the same extreme effort to take away, or at least infringe on one of the most important amendments of the United States Constitution – the Second Amendment; “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”   

    Five examples are a small sample of what New York Democrat lawmakers are pushing during the 2023-2024 legislative two-year period.  They include:
    A03314 requires liability insurance for owners of firearms, rifles, and shotguns.
    A00442 establishes the offense of unlawful possession of firearms by persons under twenty-one.
    Open carry talking points were provided by a SCOPE member to his New York State Senator Mark Walczyk and Walczyk recently introduced S8609, which expands the firearm license to have and carry concealed, without regard to employment or place of possession.  In other words, Open Carry in NY State. 
    S8609 was referred to the Senate codes committee on February 21, 2024, and is currently pending action.  Currently the bill does not have an accompanying NY Assembly SAME AS bill, but gun rights advocates are working to acquire that SAME AS bill.  SCOPE supports S8609
    Gun rights advocates must get off the defensive and onto the offensive by doing three things to fight back:

    A08443 grants the NY Attorney General (NYAG) the power to investigate, seek injunctive relief and prosecute any out of state individual or retail firearms seller should they knowingly sell ammunition to a resident of NY State without contacting the NY State Police for authorization.  This includes prosecuting any individual who purchases ammunition on behalf of a New York state resident.   

    S0093/A01566 restricts the sale of ammunition only to individuals authorized to possess such weapon and creates a no-gun database under the division of the criminal justice services.

    A00754 prohibits entry to gun shows to anyone under twelve years old. 

    You very seldom hear of gun rights bills introduced into the NY State legislature.  Why aren’t gun rights bills introduced in the New York State Senate or Assembly very often?  Why don’t you write gun rights legislation yourself and pass it to your legislator?  Times might start to change!

    Support S8609 by discussing and convincing lawmakers to support the bill. 

    Engage their lawmakers to write more gun rights legislation.  If need be, provide talking points to lawmakers, and follow up to ensure lawmakers are doing what gun right advocates want.  Fight fire with fire.  S8609 is an attempt by gun rights advocates to legislatively start fighting back. 

    Vote.  Winning elections has consequences.  By virtue of winning an election, the victor’s agenda takes priority above all else. It is estimated that between 3–4-million-gun owners don’t vote.  Do they feel that firearms legislation pushed by the left won’t affect them?  That couldn’t be farther from the truth.  If gun owners persist in not voting, the outcome is clear; our sons, daughters, grandsons, and granddaughters will not have the same gun rights as we do today. 

    Gun rights advocates must start flooding the New York state legislature with gun rights bills.  Individuals and SCOPE chapters should produce and track gun rights legislation of their choice and make sure legislators push their bill(s).  State legislators work for you.  Start putting them to work and then verify their efforts.

  • 02/28/2024 10:07 PM | Anonymous

    Saving Your Vote  by Tom Reynolds

    SCOPE wrote about the politically motivated “1 Man 1 Vote” decision of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) under Earl Warren.  But the Democrat Party will never stop until they can completely obliterate any challenge to them at the polls.   

    A 2021 New York City law aimed to create a class of voters eligible to vote in NY City municipal elections  but not state or federal elections.  (800,000 green card holders and illegal alien “DREAMers” who reside in New York City.)  Democrats assume these non-citizen voters will reward the Democrat Party that enfranchised them and vote Democrat.

    Thus, votes by United States citizens would be offset by non-citizen votes.   

    Thus, votes by people who were born in the USA or have sworn allegiance to the USA and forsaken any allegiance to a foreign power would be offset by people owing no allegiance to our Constitution, history, values and traditions.

    The bill first became law automatically after former Mayor Bill de Blasio and current Mayor Eric Adams both declined to either sign or veto it. De Blasio had openly expressed concerns “big legal questions.”

    The law was challenged I court Vito J. Fossella et al. v Eric Adams etc. et al., centered on the interpretation of Article II, Section 1, and Article IX of the New York State Constitution, which references “citizens.”

    Article II, Section 1, of the New York State Constitution states "Every citizen shall be entitled to vote at every election for all officers elected by the people...provided that such citizen is eighteen years of age or over and shall have been a resident of this state, and of the county, city, or village for thirty days next preceding an election."

    Election Law § 5-102(1) also states “[n]o person shall be qualified to register for and vote at any election unless he (she)is a citizen of the United States."

    Seems pretty clear that one needs to be a citizen to vote in any New York election.  But clarity never stopped the Democrat Party leadership so the law was passed and the Fossella lawsuit against it was filed.

    Staten Island State Supreme Court Justice Ralph Porzio ruled in June 2022 that the law was illegal.  (It would seem to have been an easy call.)

    But NYC Mayor Eric Adams and the City Council attempted to overturn the ruling since they were ‘playing with house money’ (taxpayer money) and Fossella had to be financed privately.  Adams et al appealed.

    Recently, in a 43-page order authored by Associate Justice Paul Wooten of the Appellate Division for the Second Judicial Department in New York the lower court’s ruling against the law was upheld, by a 3-1 majority decision. (3-1?  One judge didn’t believe citizen meant citizen?)

    Wooten wrote: "Thus, pursuant to the New York State Election Law, eligibility to vote in a municipal election is dependent upon United States citizenship."  In addition, and contrary to a dissenting opinion, Wooten noted there is not "any legislative history reflecting an intent to confer upon municipalities the power to make noncitizens eligible to vote."

    "The plain language of this provision provides that the right to vote in 'every election for all officers elected by the people' is available exclusively to 'citizen[s],' as there is no reference to noncitizens, and thus, an irrefutable inference applies that noncitizens were intended to be excluded from those individuals entitled to vote in elections," Wooten surmised. 

    If the law had not been ruled unconstitutional, can there be any doubt that Democrat strongholds elsewhere in New York State would have passed similar laws?  Non-Democrat votes would have been further disenfranchised which was, of course, the whole purpose of the law.

    Will Adams and company seek to further appeal this decision since, as stated earlier, they are ‘playing with house money’?

    There is an interesting twist to this.  Adams is complaining that NY City is being driven broke by the cost of subsidizing illegal aliens.  If the law had not been annulled, those same illegal aliens would have been voting in NY City on even more subsidies for the illegal aliens.

    Of course, Mayor Adams knows that the illegal alien problem is Donald Trump’s fault.  (Sarcasm intended.)

  • 02/26/2024 2:03 PM | Anonymous

    Senate Bill:  S3589

    Matthew 18:20: “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

    Merrick Garland and the FBI will also be joining them!

    On January 16th, Senators Ed Markey and Laphonza Butler (both Democrats if you couldn’t guess) proposed Senate bill S3589 which has since been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.  It’s stated purpose is: “To…prohibit unauthorized private paramilitary activity, and for other purposes.”

    Per S3589: “The term ‘private paramilitary organization’ means any group of 3 or more persons associating under a command structure for the purpose of functioning in public or training to function in public as a combat, combat support, law enforcement, or security services unit.”

    Apparently, Senators Markey and Butler are NOT familiar with the United States Constitution, even though they took an oath to uphold it.

    • Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech” or “the right of the people peaceably to assemble.” (Amendment I, 1791)
    • “The right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.”  (Amendment II, 1791)

      So, we have another proposed law that would seem to violate a few parts of the U. S. Constitution.  Any other problems with their proposal?

      Democrats have a habit of designing laws that are broad enough for political hacks like Attorney General Merrick Garland to drive a tank through.

      “…any group of 3 or more persons associating under a command structure for the purpose of…function(ing)…as a…security services unit.” 

      If a church deacon or VFW post commander should organize and train a security force of 3 or more people, would Merrick Garland dream of charging them?  What if the church had dared to say there were only two genders, making them terrorists in Garland’s eyes?

      And you don’t have to act with the group to run afoul of this proposed law.  If you have a firearm or ammunition that has crossed state lines (try buying any that hasn’t crossed state lines at some point) and trained with two other people: “It shall be unlawful… while acting as part of or on behalf of a private paramilitary organization and armed with a firearm, explosive or incendiary de vice, or other dangerous weapon…to publically (sic) patrol, drill, or engage in techniques capable of causing bodily injury or death.” 

      Firearms are capable of causing bodily injury or death, so the mere possession of one while on security patrol would be a crime. 

      If one person is patrolling on his own, will the other, non-participants be liable also? 

      But the U S Supreme Court has given the Democrats a peg to hang their hat on.  It ruled in 1886—and repeated in 2008—that the Second Amendment “does not prevent the prohibition of private paramilitary organizations.” District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570, 621 (2008) (citing Presser v. Illinois, 116 U.S. 252 (1886)).

      So, three people will now constitute a paramilitary organization if this bill passes? 

      You may laugh but liberal judges only need to get their toe in the tent in order to let common sense fly out that opening.

      This would be yet another law that the government would defend to the death with taxpayer funding while attempting to bankrupt anyone who would dare oppose them.  The best way to prevent that is to not have these people in the legislature, so they cannot propose something like that, in the first place.

      I believe that is called voting.

    • 02/23/2024 11:13 AM | Anonymous

      Trump Trial  by Tom Reynolds

      Unless you have been living in a cave, you probably know something about the Manhattan trial where Donald Trump is supposed to pay $355 million in damages The Manhattan Contrarian posted an excellent article explaining in more detail – but very understandable detail - just how corrupt this was and how dangerous it was to all of us.  It is reprinted below.  (Emphasis added).

      The Stalinist New York Attorney General Scores A Big Win Against Trump (For Now)

      February 20, 2024/ Francis Menton

      Josef Stalin set the example for the world as the most ruthless practitioner of the art of using a thoroughly corrupt and subservient “justice system” to eliminate all political opposition. Many, many others have since followed Stalin’s lead. Current notable examples include the recent murder of Alexei Navalny in prison in Russia; Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, who fled that country in late 2023 after his arrest was threatened by the Maduro regime; and Pakistan’s former Prime Minister and current opposition leader Imran Khan, convicted in January 2024of “disclosing a state secret” and sentenced to 10 years in jail. Funny how the countries that engage in such practices virtually always have failed economies as well.

      The United States has been remarkably free of such practices during its history. But we have seen a sudden complete reversal of that commendable history with the efforts of multiple political actors and prosecutors to use the courts to take down former President Trump. Readers here are likely familiar with the long list of such efforts, from the two federal Jack Smith criminal prosecutions, to the Fani Willis criminal prosecution in Georgia, to the Alvin Bragg criminal prosecution in Manhattan (supposedly for incorrectly recording the blackmail payment to Stormy Daniels in financial statements), to the many efforts to remove Trump from primary and general election ballots.

      Of all the multitudinous “get Trump” efforts, the most proudly and nakedly Stalinist is the civil fraud case brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James. What distinguishes the James crusade from all the others, as political as those might be, is that the others all have had at least a pretext of investigating some known or suspected wrongdoing. With James, by contrast, from the start it has always been about finding some way, any way, to take out the man. James initially ran for AG in 2018 on a campaign explicitly promising to get Trump, who was President of the United States at the time. My first post covering James’s vendetta against Trump was on December 13, 2018, shortly after her first election victory and before she took office. That post quoted at length from an interview James had just given to NBC News. In her interview, James emphasized that her focus in office would be on somehow getting Trump, and she essentially conceded that she had no basis at the outset to believe that wrongdoing had occurred. A short excerpt:

      “We will use every area of the law to investigate President Trump and his business transactions and that of his family as well,” James, a Democrat, told NBC News in her first extensive interview since she was elected last month. James outlined some of the probes she intends to pursue with regard to the president, his businesses and his family members. They include: - Any potential illegalities involving Trump’s real estate holdings in New York.

      In other words, when the investigation began, James had no inkling of what, if any, wrongs might have been committed “involving Trump’s real estate holdings,” and no complaining party asking for redress.

      I had a second post about the James jihad against Trump on September 21, 2022 — shortly before James was re-elected to a second four year term in November of that year. The September 2022 post was titled “A New Low For New York Attorney General Letitia James.” The occasion for the post was that James, now nearing the end of her first term, had finally announced the big Complaint against Trump that everyone had been waiting for. The Complaint listed some ten attorneys in the AG’s office as participating — a truly extraordinary investigatory team. My comments in that post have stood the test of time, so rather than re-writing them, I will quote a few of the more notable items:

      • First, there are no criminal charges.
      • [T]his is almost entirely about . . . alleged over-valuation of properties when preparing unaudited personal financial statements as part of getting loans.
      • I can’t find any allegation that any of the loans in question has ever been in default or not paid on time. (Indeed, the proof at trial was that all of the loans were always paid on time.)
      • [T]here is no one claiming harm.
      • [H]ow much equity was there? The Complaint doesn’t say. If there’s lots of equity to spare, then various overvaluations are just so much meaningless puffery, and likely would be immediately obvious to a reader with any sophistication.
      •  I have no doubt that Trump gave some ridiculously high values for some of his properties on his financial statements. My reaction is, so what? Particularly in the absence of any defaults after many years. Nothing about that is nearly as serious a matter as the ethical violation of New York’s chief law enforcement officer in misusing the office to select a target on the basis of politics without any reason to suspect particular wrongdoing. Such conduct should get the AG disqualified from running for office and even disbarred.
      • This case is brought under something called Executive Law Section 63(12). That statute gives authority to the Attorney General to enjoin someone who is engaging in “repeated fraudulent or illegal acts” or “persistent fraud or illegality.”
      • The judge notes — correctly — that the statute does not require three elements that are usually part of actionable fraud, namely intent, reliance, and damages. However, the judge skips over the problem that the statute does not do away with the element of “materiality.” Materiality is a critical element of a claim of fraud, and proof of it was completely missing here.
      • The State Comptroller at the time the statute was passed in 1956 was a guy name Arthur Levitt. Engoron quotes Levitt as saying at the time “Why not grant the Attorney General authority to enjoin anyone from continuing in a business activity if such person has been guilty of frequent fraudulent dealings?” Well, Mr. Levitt, now you know your answer. To remove the ancient common law requirements of intent and reliance from proof of fraud is to give a politicized Attorney General way too much power to attack political adversaries.
      • Several bankers from Trump’s lender, Deutschebank, testified that they did their own valuations of Trump’s properties instead of using the valuations provided by the borrower. That testimony completely undermines any finding of materiality.
      • The monetary relief is characterized as “disgorgement.” The idea is that Trump paid less interest than he would have paid if he had honestly valued the properties, and therefore he should have to give up that ill-gotten gain. But where does the “disgorgement” go? The answer is that Engoron orders the money to go to the “plaintiff,” or in other words, the AG’s office. (Does it even go to the state general fund? Good question.).

      Well, James drew for the case a judge worthy of a Stalin show trial named Arthur Engoron. After previously granting summary judgment to the AG on one count, Engoron conducted a trial from October through January to determine liability on the other counts, and also to determine damages, if any. Justice Engoron issued his 92-page decision on Friday, February 16. Readers likely know that Engoron found the defendants liable on all seven counts (not all defendants on all counts). As monetary relief (technically he calls it “disgorgement” rather than “damages”) the judge ordered a total of some $355 million payable by Trump himself, plus interest from various dates, which could add tens of millions more.

      Here are a few legal notes:

      Trump at least theoretically gets two levels of appeal from here — first to the Appellate Division, First Department; and then to the state’s highest court, the Court of Appeals (which only takes cases by its own discretion, like the U.S. Supreme Court). Unlike the federal courts, the Appellate Division in New York has the statutory authority to review findings of fact. Likely before the appeals proceed there will be a battle as to whether Trump is entitled to have enforcement of the judgment stayed pending the appeals.

      The Appellate Division, First Department has long had a reputation as a non-politicized court. I do not have any confidence that that reputation remains deserved today, and particularly in this case. Should it so choose, the Appellate Division has ample authority to reverse or drastically reduce the judgment, the most obvious grounds being lack of materiality and lack of damages.

      All business leaders in New York, including those who hate Trump, should rightly be concerned about what has happened here. If a Stalinist Attorney General and one judge can do this to Donald Trump, they can do it to anyone they want. Jamie Dimon, David Solomon — this means you. Trump also thought he had the politicians bought off with political contributions.

      The New York legal establishment has also shamed itself in this matter. Where are the lions of the bar calling out Letitia James for her conduct? I can’t find that. A few days ago, somebody finally brought an ethics complaint against James for the obvious conflict of campaigning to “get” a particular individual and then remaining involved in the subsequent investigation and trial. The complainant is Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, a known Trump ally.

      Every day New York becomes more known for descending to third-world country status.

      Correction / Comment by  Professor Jonathan Turley

      In order to file an appeal, the courts require a deposit for the full amount of the damages or a bond covering the full amount. Even with escrow options, the call for cash or collateral can be enough to put some executives in a fetal position."

      "It can be challenging enough for many companies drained from years of litigation. For Donald Trump, the demand for $355 million plus $100 million in interest could force a fire sale on properties to pony up just the deposit."

    • 02/22/2024 12:22 PM | Anonymous

      Weaponized Government

      Weaponizing the government against political opponents is unamerican but there can be little doubt that it is wide spread and currently occurring.  Is there any doubt that a weaponized government is being used to back door the 2nd Amendment and attack a presidential candidate frontrunner.

      One of the ways the government is being politically weaponized is in the area of intelligence gathering.  Our 5th Amendment was specifically passed to protect our rights against “unreasonable searches and seizures.” 

      The following is a letter from Liberty Counsel that does a good job of outlining one of the sources of abuse.  It’s well worth reading and will, hopefully, motivate you to take action.

      Liberty Counsel Action and the ACLU have a rare moment of agreement urging the House to do more to protect U.S. citizens. The reason for this is simple. Steven Bradbury of The Heritage Foundation warns that "the FBI has come to pose a clear threat to the liberties of Americans."

      One court found that for more than four years, the FBI violated the law and invaded the privacy of Americans even when there was "no reasonable basis to expect they would return foreign intelligence or evidence of crime."

      "Since 9/11, the FBI has increasingly directed its broad intelligence-gathering powers at political movements that threaten the Washington establishment, such as Donald Trump's presidential campaigns, and at the exercise of free speech (usually speech that dissents from the government's preferred policy positions), religious liberties, and other constitutionally protected rights by ordinary Americans," according to the Heritage Foundation.

      The threat of Communist China, Hamas and other terrorists, drug traffickers, cartels, and others seeking to harm our nation, some level of monitoring foreign threats is necessary.

      However, the FBI used FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) to monitor politicians, political donors, people in D.C. on Jan. 6, and hundreds of thousands of other Americans.

      No one was safe from the FBI's prying eyes.

      The FISA law must be reformed to protect law-abiding Americans from the abuse of the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice. The U.S. House is considering two bills that will make small changes to Section 702. Yet, sweeping reforms are needed. Urge the U.S. House to act now to put in place much broader reforms.

      Demand Congress safeguard our constitutional protections and stop the FBI abuse of FISA.

      Law-abiding citizens have routinely been targeted by the FBI. Instead of investigating foreigners suspected of crimes, the FBI used this database for political or ideological purposes. It targeted Americans based on political affiliations.

      The FBI unlawfully spied on President Donald Trump and knowingly spread false information about an alleged connection with Russia in order to suppress information about Hunter and Joe Biden during the 2020 election.

      "Because Section 702 does not involve individualized court approvals, it allows surveillance of a much wider array of foreign targets than traditional FISA. Thus, in 2022, the 702 program was used to monitor 246,073 foreign targets, while the government obtained only 337 court orders for traditional FISA surveillance," according to Heritage Foundation's investigative report.

      This abuse MUST STOP. Congress must reign in the FBI and reform Section 702 of the FISA law. Urge Congress to stop the FBI's abuse of FISA.

      It would be bad enough if this were just happening in the FBI, but this is a pattern that extends to the Department of Justice, the IRS, and many other federal agencies. These agencies are being weaponized against Americans to favor one party.

      Even the Inspector General of the Department of Justice is recommending that Section 702 of FISA be reformed by Congress to stop the abuse.

      This FISA law comes up annually, and the authorizations are reapproved every year. But not this year.

      Now the government wants Congress to pass a five-year authorization plan. Why? Because Donald Trump will most certainly be the Republican nominee for president. The agencies want the FISA authorization to exceed the term of the next president.

      We need the U.S. House to stop FISA abuse now.

      Ask Congress to pause, consider what has happened here, and strengthen the proposed language in this bill to address these problems at an even deeper level.

      Government agencies are being weaponized. Attorney General Merrick Garland issued a five-page memorandum to the FBI warning that people who complain about lockdowns and mask mandates at school board meetings were a "threat" that needed to be monitored. This is wrong and FISA must be reformed NOW!

      Mat Staver, Chairman
      Liberty Counsel Action

    • 02/21/2024 4:33 PM | Anonymous

      One Man One Vote by Tom Reynolds

      The Supreme Court (SCOTUS) under Chief Justice Earl Warren was one of the most liberal SCOTUS that the USA has ever had and, hopefully, ever will. Many of the divisive issues we face today are directly related to rulings during Warren’s reign. Associate Justice John Marshall Harlan II accused the Warren Court of repeatedly amending the Constitution through its opinions, rather than waiting for the lawful amendment process.

      One of the Warren Court’s worst decisions was Reynolds v Sims, which ignored the Constitution in order to remove political power from conservative rural areas and give it to liberal cities; it’s known as “one man one vote”.

      • In 1946, before Warren was appointed to SCOTUS, in Colegrove v. Green the court continued its long-standing position that legislative apportionment was a “political thicket” into which the judiciary should NOT intrude.

      • In 1962, in Baker v. Carr, the Warren Court ignored SCOTUS’ own precedent and forced the Tennessee legislature to reapportion itself on the basis of population.

      • In 1964, using its own Baker v. Carr precedent to validate its action, the Warren Court cited the Baker case as a precedent and held in Reynolds Sims that both houses of a two-house legislature had to be apportioned according to population. This is known as “one man one vote”.

      As a result of Reynolds v Sims, virtually every state legislature was reapportioned, ultimately causing rural areas’ political power to be given to urban areas. This flew directly in the face of the founders’ intent when it established the federal Senate with two votes per state in order to preserve some power in the small states. In essence, the Warren Court ruled that the U.S. Constitution was unconstitutional.

      In defense of the Warren decision, many states had abused their senate districting, which prompted the Warren decision. However, Warren wanted to fix the problem in the worst possible way and that is exactly how he did it, in the worst possible way. But the best way for Democrats.

      Warren based the decision on the 14th Amendment’s “equal protection of the laws.” Justice John Marshall Harlan II wrote a dissent that said the majority had chosen to ignore the language, history, and original intent of the Equal Protection Clausewhich did not extend to voting rights.

      As a result, minority parties in many states, such as NY State, do not have an effective vote in state matters, which negates our “equal protection of the laws.” 

      Every issue must be viewed in context; statements can mean very different things when taken out of context. The US Constitution set up the rules and overall framework for how the federal government would operate, but it also had another purpose; to use those rules to protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority. Every part of the Constitution should be interpreted within the context of protecting the minority from the tyranny of the majority. “One man one vote” goes against that principle.

      The Constitution contains many examples that contradict “one man one vote:

      • The power to make laws is vested in our elected representatives in the House and Senate, not in a vote by the majority of the people (Article I Section 1).

      • Each state has two Senators, no matter what the population (Article 1 Section 3 and Amendment XVII).

      • Power is divided and the Executive department has the power to run the government and enforce laws (Article II Section I) but not to make laws (Article I Section 1).

      • The President is elected by the Electoral College, where each state has the number of votes equal to its total number of Representatives and Senators (Article II Section I). Almost all states allocate their Electoral College votes on a winner take all basis, not a percentage of votes (state laws).

      • In case no one gets a majority of the electoral votes, the decision is made by the House of Representatives where each state has only one vote for President, no matter what the population. (Amendment XII)

      • Only the House of Representatives is based on population and it is not truly “one man one vote”. The smallest state gets at least one vote (Article I Section 2). Six states are below the average representation.

      • Congress passed the law that sets the number of SCOTUS judges at nine and there is no requirement for equal representation throughout the USA.

      Why is it important to gun owners that our Constitution is not in any way based on one man one vote? Currently, New York has a bicameral (two house) legislature where both houses are based on an equal percentage of the population. What if, instead of “one man one vote”, the NY State Senate was apportioned by each county having one Senator, no matter what the population was of the county? Rural counties would then have a voice that is currently denied them because of NY City’s overwhelming population. In NY State, the principle of “one man one vote” effectively means that people in rural counties have no vote. Rural counties are subject to the tyranny of the majority.

      Stare decisis is a legal principle where courts rarely go against principles established in previous rulings. Unless of course you are a liberal court, then the only principle that matters is your current political position. Liberals respect stare decisis only when it works in their favor. The Warren Court frequently ignored Stare Decisis. Unfortunately, Stare Decisis also protects bad rulings as we have seen with “one man one vote”.

      Federal judges are nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate (Article 2 Section 2); they are not elected. (Another example that goes against “one man one vote”.) 2nd Amendment defenders face an extremely grave time with the Senate and Presidency both in gun grabbers’ hands; they have run rampant in approving far left judges who will make political rulings, such as the Warren Court made, instead of judgments based on the Constitution. Elections have consequences and we need to ensure that future Presidents and Senates only appoint conservative judges who believe in the rule of law.

      Perhaps, someday, we will have judges who recognize that “one man one vote” was another constitutional aberration of the Warren Court and needs to be overturned. That would overcome the tyranny of the majority that is now the rule of law in NY State and give gun owners and Upstate NY a voice in their government that is currently denied to them.

    • 02/20/2024 4:39 PM | Anonymous

      Another Congressional Redistricting  by Tom Reynolds

      The Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC) was created by a NY constitutional amendment that was approved by the voters in 2014.  The IRC is composed of ten members who are appointed in various ways.  It was supposed to do the redistricting for Congress and the NY Senate and the NY Assembly after the 2020 census was completed. 

      The IRC was pushed by the Democrat Party because, at that time, the NY Senate was in Republican hands and this was a way to change that.  But then, the Democrats unexpectedly won control of the NY Senate and they didn’t like the IRC idea, any more.  The Democrats wanted to return to the old way where the Senate majority decided on the districts – since they were now in the majority.

      The redistricting fight after the 2020 census reflected the Democrats desire to neuter the commission and was so bad that it led to a court stepping in and doing the final redistricting.

      Semifinal?  That was not the end of it.

      Democrats viewed the new congressional districts as too fair to Republicans, who made gains in the 2022 elections, even though Democrats still held the vast majority of NY seats in Congress.  Democrats managed to get the process reopened.

      Last week, by a vote of 9-1, the IRC approved a new congressional map, to replace the too-fair-to Republicans-map.  It could help NY Democrats make slight gains in this year’s U.S. House elections, but it falls well short of the electoral windfall for the Democrats that they were expecting.

      The new map now moves for final action to the Democrat-controlled NY State legislature, where its fate is unclear. Democrats in the state legislature have final say over the map, holding the power to reject the commission’s plan and take over the line-drawing themselves. But that would risk another round of legal fights, with Republicans likely to challenge any map they view as an overly aggressive gerrymander. Several Democrats remained noncommittal.  The last thing the Democrats want is another judge drawing the final districts – unless they can pick the judge.

      The IRC’s map leaves largely undisturbed much of the present districts, with only a few major exceptions.

      According to the NY Times, with tears of regret in its eyes, “The commission’s map includes modest tweaks that would help Democrats flip one seat in Syracuse, and would most likely make a pair of vulnerable incumbents — one Democrat and one Republican — safer in the Hudson Valley.”

      The Times continued, “But it does not touch lines on Long Island or in Westchester County, both major suburban battlegrounds where Democratic campaigns were looking for a leg up, or on Staten Island, where the party has long coveted a right-leaning seat. Even subtle shifts in those areas could have made a handful of Republican-held seats virtually unwinnable for incumbents in November.”

      Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the NY State Senate majority leader, said “We are committed to concluding it in a manner that upholds fairness and democracy.”  (Who said Democrats don’t have a sense of humor?)

      With the Special Election victory of Democrat Suozzi, the House has a slim Republican majority of 6 (219-213).  There are three special elections scheduled for this Spring to fill out the three open seats and two are in heavily favored Republican districts and one is in a heavily favored Democrat district.  If all goes as projected, when the dust settles, Republicans will hold a seven-vote majority. 

      At least until the November elections.

      The redistricting is especially important to Democrats as the major issues with voters (inflation, crime, immigration) would all seem to be negatives for them.  Getting more favorable districts may be their main election strategy.

      And of course, to Second Amendment defenders, the Democrat party has made itself into the enemy of our gun rights, so this should be of great interest to 2A defenders.

    • 02/16/2024 3:39 PM | Anonymous
      Defying SCOTUS  by Tom Reynolds

      Last Wednesday, February 7th, SCOPE sent an email titled Chevron Dying. It raised an important question about courts, legislatures and executives that defy United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS) rulings and get away with it. Specifically, we asked:

      When judges, legislators and executives openly defy the Constitution, that also opens the door to abuse and some action needs to be taken.  Without threat of punishment, there is little downside to ignoring SCOTUS and the Constitution.

      We have a problem that needs to be addressed. With all the legal brainpower in Washington, there must be some possible solution? Of course, there has to be the will to solve the problem. 

      Yesterday, Ammoland contained an article titled, 'Is the U.S. Supreme Court Losing Control Over Lower Courts', which is a reprint from “Arbalist Quarrel.” The article raised the same issue that SCOPE did a week earlier about lower courts openly defying SCOTUS. However, this article went beyond SCOPE in that it gave multiple examples of states defying SCOTUS.

      And it raised the same unanswered question: what can we do about it? It’s not only a NY problem but it’s a bigger problem than you might have imagined.

      It is worth reading to see the volume and types of cases where SCOTUS is openly defied.

      Is The U.S. Supreme Court Losing Control Over The Lower Courts

    • 02/15/2024 12:27 PM | Anonymous

      See this 7 minute 40 second video which lays out the situation in NY very well:

      A New More Sinister Way For NY To Disarm It's Citizens

      Comments made on this video:

      -Former NYer here. I waited 12 weeks for my pistol permit. And that was 20+ years ago. 

      -They’ve normalized tyranny in that state. 

      -It’s been generational programming. 

      -Life long residents think the suppression of their rights is normal and acceptable.

    A 2nd Amendment Defense Organization, defending the rights of New York State gun owners to keep and bear arms!

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    East Aurora, NY 14052

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